Getting serious about blogging
Earlier in the week I shared my aspirations for 2015, one of them being the aim to treat my blog as a business. I would love nothing more than to be able to blog and write from home for the rest of my days. I have no desire to take up a specific occupation or retrain for a new career. I really just want to write and connect with others while staying at home so I can be a better wife and mother for my family.
I have been blogging for more than 4 years now. For most of that time, blogging has been a hobby. Up until September last year I worked part-time and blogged in between work, caring for the family and keeping up with the house. I never treated blogging seriously and I never sought to draw an income from it – it really was purely a vehicle for me to share my thoughts and process the events of my life.
A health scare and a subsequent offer of a redundancy package gave me food for thought – maybe there was life beyond the office and the crazy commute and my ongoing over-commitments. Maybe it was time to consider getting serious with blogging?
When I started considering my future options I realised that it would be ideal if I could draw some income from blogging and writing. The first step to taking my blogging more seriously was attending the ProBlogger Training Event last year. The sessions I attended opened my mind to the possibility of making a life for myself at home. It was inspiring hearing so many stories of people chasing their dreams and being paid to do what they loved.
It helped me make my decision to accept the offer of redundancy. There are of course no guarantees – more than likely I will not make money and may have to re-enter the workforce, eventually. But the redundancy represented a once in a lifetime chance to chase my dreams and do things differently. I would have regretted choosing the safe option and staying put just because of fear of failure. I was clearly not happy and was obviously not good for my health. In the end, what did I have to lose???
The second step in taking my blogging seriously was creating a media kit and starting to more seriously consider some of the opportunities landing in my inbox. I had to first get over my fear of advertising, writing sponsored posts and “selling out”. It’s a huge mindshift to go from a hobby blogger to a problogger. I am happy to say that I have attracted some short term sponsorship and have joined up with Nuffnang to introduce advertising to my site. And my readers stuck around and the world didn’t end. However, after years of writing to my own tune it has taken some time to get used to more strategically look at my blog and ask myself some serious questions. What do I stand for? What do I want to represent? What is my brand? Why do I blog?
Which brings me to my third step – taking up online courses to better understand blogging as a business. In December I was part of Dorothy K’s initial group of bloggers undertaking her 21 Days from blog to biz course. It really laid a solid groundwork to answer those very questions. It helped me understand that I really do want to help people. Sure, if I can make a little bit of money along the way, that will be awesome. But more than anything I want to make a difference and share the little that I know with others who could most benefit. Dorothy’s guidance really helped me understand that desire and gave me the means to set up my blog to do just that.
I was also lucky enough to attend a presentation by Kellie O’Brien Media about uncovering the gold in your blog and optimising email marketing, concentrating on the posts that draw the most traffic. I really had no idea about email lists or how to strategically use analytics information until this presentation. I am yet to put all of Kellie’s tips into practice but one of my goals for the year is to really drive subscriber numbers up in preparation for launching my book and the podcast. The learnings I drew from this presentation will be invaluable once I start ramping that up.
More recently I benefited from advice from Dana from Talk About Creative who ran a session for bloggers on better understanding Google Analytics (GA). This was a huge eye opener. I hadn’t really needed to do much with GA before, save updating page view stats on my media kit. But this session showed us so much more. There are so many tools you can access in GA to better understand your audience and help you engage with brands, even with relatively low numbers. She has revealed a whole new world to me – I can thoroughly recommend her courses and will be investigating GA in more detail to discover what else I can find out about my blog, my readers and the posts that most resonate.
My fourth step is setting aside time every day to undertake targeted tasks – attending to emails, bulk writing posts, scheduling social media statuses and reading and commenting on other blogs. This is where I need the most help. There is so much to do – it could literally take every moment of every day to deal with the blog, let alone anything else. But I’m also writing a book and planning a podcast and eventually launching an online business. This is why I need to treat my blog like a business and make time for these tasks in a methodical way. I am putting together a schedule, in a diary, so I can allocate my time efficiently and get things down. Just like I would do in my previous paid position.
The fifth and final step? Believing in myself. Late last year I didn’t think I could make this work. I was already half-heartedly looking for paid work as I couldn’t see how I was going to have the discipline, the drive or the desire to start a business and successfully transition from work to home. I haven’t made a lot of money yet but I have a plan, a direction and a new certainty that I can make this work.
I now know that this is what I truly want to do. And I have to say that the freedom and the happiness that has come to me from that realisation is quite intoxicating!
Are you thinking of taking your blogging more seriously? If so, what steps are you taking to make that leap?