There are a lot of bloggers who have been doing their thing for a long time. I should know; I'm one of the guilty parties! I’m also a pretty practical lady, so most of the time I share tips and challenges, but today I wanted to talk about the big picture of blogging and business.
A lot of conversation online about blogging recommends following one path: start a blog, find a few readers through commenting on blogs, focus on doing this more to grow, add ads to monetize it, make writing into a huge part of how you spend your time, work on posting a minimum of three times a week, and comment your heart out until you’re successful.
I get why this is attractive, but speaking plainly?
No one quits their day job with this plan.
No book deals arrive in the mail.
This is the territory of late nights, burn out, and feeling like you’re giving your all but can’t find a way forward.
You’re not alone. Many business owners and women with big dreams stall out here, and it's not because they’re not talented or smart – it’s because this path to success is broken. It only leads to working longer and harder.
Let me be clear: I don't think that pouring your heart into your work isn't worthwhile. I think that the overall narrative of ‘There's only one way to have a successful blog, and that comes from having a giant audience with tons of ads,' is both boring and misleading.
Of course, if you want to build a blog that generates money solely from advertising, no one is going to stop you. But if the New York Times hasn't found a way to make this work, I don’t think trying to crack that code is the best use of your time.
Over years of working behind the scenes of successful blogs and businesses, I’ve seen again and again that your little website (yes, yours!) has what it takes to start earning income.
Often times, we put off creating something or develop overly complicated ways to offer our services.
But the 100 or 200 people on your email list can shock you with their ability and willingness to show up and support you. Even a blog with under 10 comments a week might be the perfect place to start offering an online course, or sharing how you want to help make the world a better place.
What can creative entreprenures and micro-business owners do instead?
This is too much to cover in one post, and it’s the overall force behind what I write and teach about, so please subscribe if you’re curious. But to start, I think you're better served using your blog as a way to attract an audience, build trust, and connect with the people you want to help. Offer them a product or service that’s useful. It’s okay if you don’t know what that is now – knowing who you like and want to help (teachers? craft bloggers? artists?) is a great place to begin.
Your blog is a place to share your ideas, and to have conversations with the people you're interested in helping, no matter how you do that: through pattern design, photography, creating jewelry, writing stories, changing lives with psychology, or changing backyards by building patios.
Talk to people who have worked with you or purchased from you before. Ask them open-ended questions, without an agenda, about why they buy this thing or need this help. Ask them what they struggle with and what they want to feel like when they've used your creation or worked with you. If you haven’t worked with clients yet, volunteer your services. You don’t need a website.
Do what you do, and be curious about what happens. Ask for feedback from the people you help. Take notes.
Stop asking friends and family – who are wonderful and well meaning, but who aren't your ideal clients – for their advice. Ask them for their support & to celebrate with you instead.
Focus on writing posts that help your ideal people feel more of what they want to.
I know it seems more complicated than that. I get stuck on the details too, and it can make things harder than they have to be.
And what if you don't want to make money from your blog? What if it's incredibly vital and important to you, but not in that way?
Then throw a parade! That’s just as incredible and worthwhile. Nothing about that is settling.
The best thing about being a grown-ass person is that you get to define success for yourself. Your success online can look however you want it to. It can be about telling true stories, building community, stretching yourself at a skill, meeting new people who are exactly who you need to know, or anything else you can dream up.
But if you do have dreams of making your blog into a business, here’s what I've seen to be true again and again for blogs and businesses of all kinds:
- With a blog you update every few weeks, you can trade posts for entry to amazing events and experiences that you wouldn't get otherwise.
- You can have a big audience, advertisers, products and services, and still not break even. This is much more common than you think, and it’s also a problem that someone with experience can help you fix.
- A large audience or high ranking in Google isn't a magic bullet. You need to have systems set up to point that attention somewhere meaningful, and have offers that appeal to your people to make it work for you.
- With a blog that gets a few comments on every post, you can offer the very first version of the amazing online course you’re going to create.
- With an email list that has a few hundred members who trust you, you can make a side income that gives your family more freedom.
- With a little, low-traffic blog, you can offer services and create experiences that let you choose the life you want. You can approach work like that fun challenge you read about on the Internet.
It’s not too early or too late to write from the heart, experiment, find your voice and figure out who you are and who you want to be, one post at a time. It’s the right time to take chances, learn new skills, try something, see what you can learn, and then try again.
And no matter what you want from your blog, the Internet is big enough for dreams of all shapes and sizes.
What's your dream for your blog and your business? What’s the next step you could take to get closer to that?
ps – Feeling extra motivated? My coaching for business owners, bloggers, entrepreneurs and big dreamers is available now. Let's get your online presence reviewed & powered up!