Hello there! Today we’ll be talking about blogging secrets. Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone, they’re secrets!
Well, that’s not really true. These aren’t really secrets. It’s just that successful bloggers don’t often mention them because they’re usually too busy actually running their blogs and businesses to take a step back and analyze the bigger picture.
Nonetheless, if you’re a beginning blogger or online entrepreneur, you’d be wise to find out what you’re in for. 😉
I created my first website in 2003. In fact, if I remember correctly, christineon.com was the very first domain that I purchased (although back then I used it for a different purpose).
I have to admit, I didn’t always know what I was doing, and I wasn’t always successful. But over the years I learned what it takes to be a successful blogger. In the very beginning, I assumed that all I had to do was buy a domain name, a web hosting package, and publish posts consistently. Now I know: There’s so much more to it than that.
So, when I take a step back and ask myself, “What do beginning bloggers need to know in order to achieve long-term success?” 5 distinct ideas come to mind. I hope you find them helpful.
1. Blogging can be lonely
This is one of those not-so-obvious things that I completely underestimated when I first started blogging. For several years, I was the only person I knew who was really serious about blogging and making money online. Sure, a few of my friends had started blogs, but most of them got bored quickly and stopped posting after a few months.
So, who did I have to turn to for blogging advice, sharing wins, and commiserating losses? Well, for advice I turned to Google, and everything else I just had to keep to myself. I told myself that I didn’t need “blogging friends.”
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Without a support network, blogging gets lonely. So, that’s why I’m all in favor of making friends in the blogging and business world. Just like real-life in-person friends, they pick you up when you stumble, cheer you on when you succeed, and share tips and tricks that you may not have figured out on your own.
How you can take action and stop feeling lonely as a blogger and/or solopreneur:
Join Facebook groups. Facebook groups are a fantastic way to connect with other bloggers in your niche. You can ask questions, offer feedback, and generally just feel more supported in your blogging efforts.
Take online courses. Taking online courses is a great way to make virtual friends if the course comes with access to a private Facebook group. Truth be told, I have spent thousands of dollars on online courses. In my opinion, great course material provides only half of the value that I get from online courses. The other half is from private Facebook groups. That where you can ask all the questions you want, learn from other people’s questions, and exchange innovative ideas.
Attend conferences. I love attending conferences. Conferences attract some of the most dedicated bloggers and entrepreneurs. It’s easy to make friends because everyone is there for more or less the same purpose, and the in-person interaction means that you can connect on a deeper level than on the internet.
Promote yourself. Believe it or not, promoting yourself is one of the best ways to make friends within your niche. Those who are fans of what you are promoting will often reach out to you to ask questions, say hello, etc. By engaging with your fans, you’ll easily find yourself starting to make friends.
2. At some point, blogging takes a back seat to other profit-driving tasks
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people start blogging because they’re hoping that it will turn into some kind of money-making endeavor. In fact, that’s probably why you’re here now, reading this very article, right?
While it’s possible to make money solely from blogging, it’s actually much easier to make money blogging + doing something else. For example, you could start a blog and a podcast (and make money with sponsors). Or, you could start a blog and sell online courses. Or, you could start a blog and sell coaching sessions. There are lots of possibilities!
What I found is that once I had a product to sell, blogging suddenly didn’t seem very important. While I was sad to realize that fact, in the end, I concluded it’s actually perfectly okay. It’s completely normal for one activity to take precedence over another—especially if that one activity brings in money directly while the other one doesn’t. You can actually use the 80/20 rule to dramatically grow your business.
Anyway, I wanted to mention this phenomenon here because I think a lot of pro bloggers don’t really explain that once you have a product to sell, blogging takes on a very different role. Blog posts, although still integral to your brand and your success, are no longer solely about providing valuable content and gaining a following. Instead, blog posts become a marketing vehicle for your product.
And I know how that sounds to the anti-marketers out there. I can almost hear the collective groans.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to stop blogging or suddenly become a sleazy internet marketer. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Keep blogging, keep selling your product, and be happy 🙂
For the natural born marketers out there, what’s important to remember is that blog posts, even if they are a marketing tool, should still provide immense value to your audience.
Basic tips for maintaining your blog while turning your attention to profitable products:
- Update old blog posts
- Keep sharing evergreen content on social media
- Keep sending broadcasts to your email list
- Keep responding to comments
3. It is nearly impossible to do everything yourself
As your blog grows, you’ll find that more and more of your precious time is being taken up with maintaining your blog, writing blog posts, responding to your audience, and promoting your blog. If you are providing a service and dealing with clients, or if you are selling a digital product such as a book or a course you’ll have even more tasks on your to-do list.
The truth is that at a certain point, you will probably have to rely on someone else to help you with your blossoming business. This doesn’t mean that you’re incapable; it just means that your time may be better spent focusing on specific tasks that only you can do.
My advice to beginning bloggers and solopreneurs: Even if you’re just starting your blog, keep in mind which tasks you might want to outsource later. Not only does this make your to-do list feel less overwhelming, it also helps you stay organized. When you do finally add a new member to your team, you won’t have a logistical mess to untangle.
Things that you can offload to virtual assistants and other specialists:
- Checking and sorting email
- Replying to customer service inquiries
- Tech and IT
- Writing sales and promotional copy
- Social media promotion
- Graphic design
4. Blogging is a business
It might be hard to see how blogging is a business, but if you created your blog with the hopes of making money from it, I highly recommend that you switch to a business-minded mentality as soon as possible. Here’s what I mean by that.
Businesses operate in terms of cash flow. They require some capital up front to get started, and while they may not be profitable at first, business owners track expenditures and income so that they can calculate a number of crucial pieces of information:
- What their margins need to be in order to be profitable
- How many sales they will need to be profitable
- When the business itself will be profitable
The business of blogging is very much the same. You’ll need some capital up front to get your blog up and running. Then, by keeping track of your expenses, followers, and analytics you’ll be able to calculate:
- How to price your product
- How many sales you’ll need to reach your business goals
- How many sales you can expect, given the size of your following
Or, if you’re running a site that is monetized through affiliate marketing, you’ll be able to calculate:
- How much in commissions you can expect to make, given your traffic
- What kind of affiliate links convert best
The point is: It’s all about the numbers. Knowing your numbers will help you make informed decisions and grow your blog and/or business to new heights.
How you can start thinking about your blog with a business mindset:
Separate your personal and business finances. Even if you don’t have an LLC or a registered corporation, I highly recommend opening separate bank and credit card accounts exclusively for your business. That way, you’ll easily be able to keep track of your business expenses and income.
Keep track of your business expenses and income. If you’re like me, you abhor keeping track of finances. So, I use and recommend Wave for basic online business bookkeeping. Although it is not a true double-entry system like Quickbooks, it is very easy to use.
Monitor your growth. Every month (or every week), jot down the numbers associated with your blog. Keep track of the number of people on your email list, how many social media followers you have, and your search engine ranking. After a while, you’ll be able to see trends and forecast predictions.
Understand conversion rates. Conversion rates are super important. For example, if one email opt-in form is converting at a rate of 2%, but another form is converting at a rate of 10%, understanding why that difference is occurring is key in growing your following.
5. Cultivating the right audience is just as important as the creating great content
Sure, everyone wants a huge audience. I completely understand that sentiment. But it’s also incredibly important to cultivate the right audience. For example, if I want to attract customers to my ebook about, say, camper vans, it does me no good to write blog posts about my dad’s health.
Now, if that sounds ridiculous to you, and you’re thinking, “Who would ever do that?”
Uh … me. I totally did that. (I stopped once I realized how silly that was.)
But I know I’m not alone.
What I’d like to emphasize to all of the beginning bloggers out there is that it’s incredibly important to narrow your focus and stick to it. If you decide at some point to change your focus, you may need to start a whole new blog.
Here’s another example that might apply to you:
Let’s say that you want to sell a $799 e-course about scrapbooking. (Wow, that’s pricey!) Since the course you’re offering is being sold at a premium price, you’ll have to be very careful not to cultivate an audience that expects inexpensive goods. Avoid blog posts like “Cheap Scrapbooking Ideas” and “Money-Saving Scrapbooking Tips.” Those types of blog posts will attract a different kind of audience than blog posts that emphasize quality, craftsmanship, and aesthetics. When it comes time to pitch your premium course to your frugal audience, you may not get the warm reception you were hoping for.
Tips for cultivating the right audience:
- Focus on one niche
- Promote your blog posts where your audience hangs out
- Survey your audience and ask how you can best serve them
- Know your customer avatar