The majority of the women we meet and teach at The Blogcademy are just starting their blogs or businesses and most of them simultaneously hold down a full or part time job. Most of them tell us that their ultimate goal is to quit these jobs so they can focus on working for themselves. While we encourage them to do that when they’re ready, we’re also keen to share with them the huge benefits of working a day job while pursuing their dreams.
You won’t be stressing about money
You’re never going to be at your most creative when you’re stressing about money. Having a day job that pays the bills and puts food on your table really takes that pressure off your baby business. Stressing about money is never fun, so I’d encourage you to hold onto that safety net for as long as you can!
When I got to the stage where I felt like I wanted to quit my job as a TV producer Gareth (ever the voice of reason) said that I should really wait until I was earning the same – or more! – from Rock n Roll Bride as I was my day job. At the time this seemed like a huge benchmark to aim for (I am forever impatient) but in retrospect I am so glad that I followed this advice. Far from stifling me, having a job that paid the bills allowed me the freedom of growing my business without the pressure of worrying about money.
It was also a lot easier for me to reinvest in the business with any (however small) profit I was making from it. Spending money on my branding for example was a massive game changer for me and really helped step up the appearance of being a ‘professional blogger’. If I was solely relying on what I was earning from the blog at that time I would have not only have gone very hungry, but the blog wouldn’t have been able to progress as quickly.
It makes you a time management wizard
It’s amazing what you can achieve in a relatively short amount of time when you really focus! Let’s be honest, most of us ‘full timers’ probably spend half of our working days being productive and the rest of it on Facebook or watching endless cat videos on YouTube!
The holy grail for most bloggers is writing content that gets shared organically to the point of going viral. While many people before me have shared tips and tricks about making this happen such as stuffing an article with keywords, submitting it to various social platforms and content aggregators, and posting about it on forums, there really is just one thing you need to do – write content that resonates with people.
Easier said than done you might think, and you’d be right, but here are a few crucial questions you can ask yourself before you publish anything. Doing so will help you create something that your readers will want to share with others.
1. Who do you want to read it?
You need to know exactly who you’re writing your post for so you can use language and cover topics that will appeal to them. Your ideal reader is not everybody. If you’re in the wedding industry your ideal reader is not even ‘people getting married’. It is much more specific than that.
My ideal reader for Rock n Roll Bride is female and between the ages of 24 and 30. She’s planning an alternative, budget friendly wedding in the next 12 months. When it comes to formulating my content, I think about what this very specific person might like to read. There are always people on the fringes, of course, but by targeting this person precisely I am able to write in a much more cohesive way and easily second-guess what their reaction to it might be.
2. How can you help them?
Often it is the things that you think are really obvious that turn out to be the most popular. My Want Great Wedding Photographs? blog post is a great example of this.
Another of my posts that was widely shared was 50 Pieces of Advice for a Happy Marriage. I know my ideal reader is a girl planning a wedding, and so the likelihood is she’ll also be thinking about marriage too. What bride-to-be wouldn’t want to read 50 simple tips that she can easily implement to make sure her marriage is a happy one? This article was doubly successful because it also was an attractive read to those on the fringes that are already married.
3. What personal stories or insights can you share?
Putting your personal spin onto a story will create a much stronger message that one that’s just completely factual. If people enjoy reading your blog the likelihood is that they do so because they like your voice and want to hear your opinion.
I rarely set New Year’s resolutions and if I do they’re usually just intentions to do certain things better or more productively. Statistically speaking, New Year’s resolutions usually fail anyway so why set yourself up for a fall like that?! But I am a big believer in goal setting. Goals focus the mind and give you something concrete to aim for so you’re not just flailing around and making it all up as you go along (well, for some of the time). However, instead of waiting until January 1st to start that new project, I’d like to encourage you to start working on it right now. Here’s why:
One of the main reasons that I believe starting new things in January is a bad idea is that then mentally you’ve told yourself that you have the whole year to achieve it. This kind of time frame is perfectly acceptable of course, but the real problem is that in January, a full 12 months away from your deadline, there is no sense of urgency so you are unlikely to really jump in to it full steam ahead. Whereas if you start working on your plans now, in December, subconsciously you’ll feel like time (i.e. the year) is running out so you’ll be much more proactive and productive.
I don’t know if it’s just because I’m incredibly nosey, but whenever I go to a new blog or website and enjoy the content, the next thing I want to do is find out what the author looks like. It always nice to put a face to the name after all. A lot of us are afraid of having our photos taken or showing the world what we look like (why!? you are beautiful!) but having one is super important. Using a photo of yourself not only builds trust and makes people feel like they’re talking to/ reading the words of a real person but it’s a great way to filter out your non-ideal clients.
I obviously have quite a strong ‘look’. Some people will love the pink hair and tattoos and that’s awesome, we’ll probably get on great and I want them to keep reading my site. Others will look at me and think “What a hot mess, pink hair is tacky and tattoos are gross!” and that’s fine too, why would I want someone to keep reading my site if they think that? They clearly aren’t going to enjoy my content. It’s actually a great filtration method.
Even if your personal style isn’t a polarising as mine, having photos of yourself on your About page and as your social media profile photo is imperative. So stop being scared of the camera and start embracing the chance to show the world who you are and what you look like!
When it comes to taking a great About Me photo, here are some of the most important things to think about:
Photography is essentially painting with light so it is crucial for taking a great shot. There is no point trying to take the photo when it’s dark. If you schedule in a shoot, make sure you give yourself plenty of time before the sun goes down.
At the other end of the scale, never stand in direct sunlight. The harsh shadows on your face will not only be incredibly unflattering, but you’ll be squinting. Never a good look. If it’s a bright day, find a patch of shade to stand in. The diffused light will be a lot more forgiving.
Whether it’s shooting a wedding, speaking in public or having to send a client their final products, being nervous is a perfectly natural feeling. Although we hate them, and some of us find them massively crippling, nerves are actually very useful. They sharpen the mind, get the adrenaline pumping and really help you to focus. However if you let them they can take over and really get the better of you.
These days I do a lot of public speaking, but in school it was the thing I dreaded more than anything else. If I ever had to stand up and give any kind of presentation in class I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before and I’d do anything I possibly could to get out of it.
When I was first asked to speak in public as Rock n Roll Bride I was similarly terrified. In fact I’m still utterly crapping it before I have to do it now, but I’ve learnt a few things that have helped me get better at it. I now think back to that first ever talk I had to do (for the British Journal of Photography no less!) and I cringe so much about how bad I was. But you know what, you can only get better each time to do something right?!
Practice makes… better
So I totally stole this line from Paul Jarvis’ new book, Everything I Know,
which I’ve been reading recently (it really is ace by the way). “Perfection is a myth, so practice can never make perfect”, he writes, “In fact, all that striving for perfection can actually lead you away from launching anything. The path to perfection makes it almost impossible to get your work out the door, because nothing will ever be perfect. Focus instead on great enough to launch and perfect enough for your audience to enjoy.”
Contrary to the cliché, practice does not make perfect. There is no such thing as perfect. But what it does do is makes you better. With each and every try you are getting closer and closer to being better, good even. The more you practice something, the less intimidating it becomes, and the better you get at it. Simple.
Ask for feedback
Before you go to do the thing you’re nervous about, show it to someone who’s opinion you trust and ask for some feedback. Maybe you have a friend in the industry who wouldn’t mind looking over some of your work or you need to do a practice run of your speech in front of your partner.
I know what you’re thinking every time you press publish on your latest blog post, share the last photo you took or upload your latest design… please someone like it, please someone favourite that tweet, please won’t someone share the post or say I did a good job… please someone care. You want to be popular. You hate that word and the fact that it matters, but for some reason you still really crave it.
I know you do it because I do too. Every single time. We are desperate for validation, even if we don’t want to admit it. It’s why we share things online after all. We want someone else to say we did a good job or that we have a talent because inside we’re all deeply insecure. We’re worried that some day soon people will find out the truth. That we’re really just winging it, that we actually don’t really know what we’re doing and that we’re making it all up as we go along.