Someone once said “Your dream job does not exist, you must create it” and never is this more prevalant than in the blogging game. There are few rules, there are limited guides and the most sucessful players are those that forge their own paths and do something unique. So how then, can you know where to turn when you start to feel sluggish? When the dreaded plateau hits? Or when you feel fresh out of ideas?
I read an interesting article by Penelope Trunk, entitled, “Reality check: You’re not going to make money from your blog” last week. In it she said, “Almost everyone should forget about making money directly from blogging. It’s so unlikely that it’s a total waste of your time trying. I am actually shocked at how ubiquitous the idea is that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme. Or even a get-rich-slowly scheme. It’s not. Blogging is a great career tool for creating opportunities for yourself.”
Whist on many points I wholeheartedly agree (a very small percentage of bloggers will be able to reach that holy grail of earning enough to quit the day job and the fact that people still think it’s ‘easy’ or a ‘get rich quick’ scheme baffles me). But I also want to give you some hope… Or maybe the kick up the backside you need if you’re sat there wondering “why isn’t it ever me?”
Blogging is hard work. The internet is littered with disregarded and abandoned blogs. Blogs that have been dropped as soon as the expected rewards didn’t come flooding in after 6 months. Let me give it to you straight. Blogging is not easy and making money from blogging is even more difficult. I work harder and longer than I ever have but it’s wonderful. I have the best job in the world and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. You have to have passion in this game. Without it you’ll give up in no time at all.
But I know for many of you, you see no end in sight. You wonder how you can possibly elevate your blogging from a hobby blog to one that actually makes you money or gives you the notoriety that you crave. So today I thought I’d give you some tough love, and share with you some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Work harder than everyone else
If you’re looking to other bloggers and always wondering why they’ve ‘made it’ and you haven’t, it’s probably down to a few simple factors…
Having a better idea – they’ve found a niche that no-one else has tackled but a lot of people are interested in.
Working harder than you – they work their butts off on their blogs and their brand every single day.
Having more luck – they’ve taken their idea and their hard work and been in the right place at the right time.
If you sit there thinking “I’ll do it tomorrow” then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Tomorrow you might have another idea you want to tackle. This is no time for excuses. If it’s not happening for you then you only have yourself to blame. It’s no one else’s fault. If your blog isn’t where you want it to be, look internally. Are you really working as hard as you possibly can?
When the going get’s tough…
Facing discouragement or bumps in the road is inevitable, but it’s how you deal with these obstructions that will make or break you. Do you wallow in your failures and always wonder why others seem to be getting the opportunities while you don’t? Or do you look at your setbacks as opportunities to improve or take a different path? No one wants to go to your pity party and nothing ever just falls in someone’s lap. You alone need to make things happen for you. If something doesn’t work out how you expected, think about what can you do to make things different next time.
Comparison is the thief of joy
I think one of the biggest problems newer bloggers face these days is that they spend too much time looking at where they want to be, or looking sideways at what other bloggers are doing. By doing this not only will you constantly be comparing yourself and putting your own achievements down (I’m a big believer in celebrating the small things!) but you won’t be able to see the opportunities or ideas that are right in front of you.
Stop using other blogs as a benchmark. By that I mean, just because they’re doing things a certain way and have achieved certain things, doesn’t mean you have to emulate them. The amazing thing about running your own blog is that you make your own rules! I know my blog is never going be as big or as popular as some of the mammoth US wedding blogs, but you know what, that’s fine! I’ll never be at the same level as Style Me Pretty but I don’t want to be. Abby and her team do an amazing job at running the biggest wedding blog in the world, and I’m perfecly happy hanging out here. I love the kinds of people who read my blog and I love the kinds of weddings that I get to feature. I’d much rather have a small but massively loyal group of readers than using my energy trying to be everything to everyone.
Stop spending too much time looking at where you want to be, and focus your energy on the here and now – take each day as it comes and improve your blog in your inimitable fashion. Blogging is not a race. There’s no finish line. Allow yourself to be proud of any little accomplishments.
Experiment and diversify
It’s vital to decide what works for you and your blog. To do this you need to experiment and diversify. Forget about the goal of making money. If it’s on the cards then, in time, it will come. First you need to get your blog niche and brand on the right track.
Blogs that only share one kind of inspration quickly get dull – for the blogger and the readers. For example, I love fashion and lifestyle blogs, but the ones I enjoy reading are not those run by bloggers who only post outfit photos of themselves. After a while, and no matter how inspiring I find their style, it becomes boring and repetitive. You need to change things up, add new features and keep coming up with engaging content. Make sure you strive to always keep things fresh – for yourself and your readers. The reason I love Gala’s blog so much is that I never know what she’s going to write about next. She started as a fashion and style blogger but now, alongside sharing gorgeous photos of herself, she gives life lessons, offers an opinion, shares inspirational links, and writes about things I’m genuinely interested in.
In a nutshell, if you’re bored, then your readers probably are too. Get off your computer, get outside and find some new inspiration!
The lesson all sucessful bloggers want to teach is ‘be yourself’. It’s vital for you to have your own ideas, your own opinion and your own way of sharing them. If there is another blogger doing the same thing as you, only better, then why would anyone want to follow your blog as well? You need to share a new perspective.
Write for yourself and attract the kind of readers who are just like you. If you try to emulate other bloggers, you’ll never get very far. Copycats are easy to spot. Susie Bubble is unlike any other fashion blogger because she has a distinctive and authentic style and one difficult to copy (without it being really obvious). Her opinions on the fashion industry are also different to many other fashion bloggers and people either love (or probably loath) her for it. In my opinion this is the key to her success.
Don’t write for money
Always always write for people. If you’re getting into blogging solely to make money then stop right now. People who write content only because they think they’ll earn money from it end up with sucky content. Same goes for SEO obsessives. No one wants to read articles that sound like adverts or like a spambot wrote it. Potential advertisers or brands interested in collaborations are attracted to bloggers with interesting content, unique ideas, engaged readers and passion for what they do.
Use your time wisely
It’s all too easy to want to do anything and everything that comes your way. Especially when you’re just starting to get recognition for your blog, it feels like if you don’t say yes to everything you’re hindering your progression. Make sure you take every new opportunity with a pinch of salt and realise that not everything will be right for your brand or worth you time.
For example, (wedding) magazines don’t pay bloggers for freelance writing. All the bloggers you see raving about their new regular magazine column are not getting paid for the time or promotional efforts. So why do they continue to do them? Because it makes them look good! I do contribute to a select few wedding magazines for free as I feel it’s important to keep getting my name out there (and I like them!), however I recently pulled out of my monthly column with Wedding Magazine because since changing editors, I felt my contributions were no longer appreciated. I wasn’t getting paid and it was taking up a lot of my time for little reward other than seeing my name in print each month. Best thing I ever did. I now have more time to focus my energy on the articles I do get paid for, (plus people who are willing to pay you generally appreciate your contributions more, just sayin’) as well as having more time to improve my business… including launching my own magazine!
If something is not working for you, or you’re putting a lot of effort and energy in and getting nothing out of it, then by all means stop doing it! I think sometimes we think we need to be everywhere, all the time. But with no payback we’re just wasting our time! For example, Flickr used to be big for me. I’d upload and share my images, I was part of many groups and forums (I found a lot of the early weddings I featured this way) and I got a reasonable amount of traffic from it. However these days, Facebook, Twitter and particularly Pinterest have taken the place that Flickr once had. Once the traffic I was getting from Flickr started to wane, I’d relocated my efforts into the places that were picking up.
Give it time
There is no such thing as an overnight success in this game. Unless you have some kind of cult following beforehand (or you’re already famous), you’re never going to simply arrive on the blog-scene and start raking in millions. For goodness sake give it time. Again, and I think this is a lot to do with wannabe bloggers looking too closely at what the big boys are doing, it can seem to some like there’s some kind of magic formula to success. Dude, if that was the truth, everyone would be doing it!
Firstly, what works for one blogger may not necessarily work for another and secondly, anyone you perceive to have been an ‘overnight sensation’ has probably worked their butt off, for a long time, before you even heard of them. I was blogging for over 3 years before I made a penny.
So newbie (and experienced) bloggers, I ask you – what areas are you struggling with? Do you feel you could use your time wiser or work harder? What changes are you going to make? Do you have any further advice for any bloggers feeling stuck in a rut?
All Photography Credit: Laura Ferreira