Everyone has a blog. Your grandma probably has a blog. Heck, MY grandma probably has a blog. Having a blog isn't anything special. But, what you DO with your blog can be. Here are some of the important ways I took NellieBellie from a hobby to a full-fledged business...
Working on a business, rather than a blog.
In my case, my blog was simply a way to show my talents and give me a platform from which to jump from. It allows me to create content for magazines, newspapers, e-books, developing cookbooks, speaking engagements, photography classes, and more. My blog is, in essence, a giant adjusting resume. It PROVES my expertise. Sure, I could keep adding and adding content to add to my expertise (and I do!), but for what? I need to DO something with gathered expertise. Expertise for the sake of expertise doesn't further my future. Sure, more people coming to my site brings me additional ad income, that's true. But ad income isn't all it's cracked up to be (ad income is becoming less and less a guaranteed source of income for websites) and certainly isn't going to build me a long-lasting brand and career. I need more.
Waking up in the morning and treating NellieBellie as a business is what has allowed me to become successful in this creative space. I am a successful blogger, sure. But I am so much more. NellieBellie continues to morph and grow into other places then this single address on the internet. Places that produce even MORE opportunities to grow. Every opportunity brings a level of growth on a financial level, skill level, brand level, networking level, and more. Building a business is ultimately building NellieBellie into the future.
Sure, there are those that don't want to make money or a career at blogging. I get it. I have a couple of things to say to that...
- Don't. Every person needs a hobby.
And a hobby is, by definition, something you don't NEED to do to meet your financial needs. No need to explain.
- Bloggers that make money are no longer bloggers.
Do NOT for one second think that those bloggers you see making money with their blog are spending a few minutes banging out a post, sticking it up on the internet, and sitting back while the bucks roll in. These people are business-minded individuals with mad skills. They are skilled entrepreneurs that have used their internet address to push their message and brand. They are content creators, magazine authors, book authors, web design specialists, social media marketers, and a million other skill-sets that are marketable to the business world at large. They have worked like crazy for every. single. inch of their success. For real.
- I'm relieved.
It is really, really hard to make a career at blogging. Especially in the year 2018. The internet is so heavily saturated with new GOOD blogs that want a little piece of the pie they have been eyeing. Sadly, they will never see a dime. I'm asked often to help someone start a blog to help them make money. I tell them...only if you don't want to make any significant profit for at least 2 years. That is why I'm so thankful that you DON'T want to make money at blogging. It's dang hard. Especially if you start now. And I don't want hard for my friends.
Adopt business hours, business dress, and a business environment.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first realized the profitability of NellieBellie (remember, this was a couple of years ago...when blogs still had a chance at being something) was not creating honest to goodness work hours. And sticking to them. I kept telling people that one of the best parts of working as a blogger was the ability to stay in my pajamas and work from home. There are a couple problems with that statement, for me personally...
- At that point in the journey of NellieBellie I was no longer just a "blogger" and should not have classified myself simply as that. Not that being a blogger is less than something else. But, it didn't do justice to my work. I should have classified myself as a content creator. Or, at that time, website developer. Or even a social media strategist. But, I didn't see any of those skills in myself at that time. Nevermind that I was building 5 websites a day...I didn't see myself as a website developer. Nevermind that I was creating content FOR magazines and websites that never saw a moment on my site...I didn't see myself as a content creator. I simply underestimated my value. And in so doing, allowed others to underestimate my value. Which didn't allow me to grow as I should have. How can I become something I don't believe I can?
- Thinking that "staying in my pajamas" was something to strive for. Do you know how bad it is for your psyche not to develop a good morning routine? To dress well. To put on your "face" and otherwise be the best version of yourself you can be? Again, I was setting myself to be underestimated completely. By myself and by others. I was the very thing keeping myself from being the best. I was my own worst enemy.
- Believing that "working from home" was the ultimate goal. I believed, at that time, that working from home was the ultimate in the measure of success. This came partly from my conservative upbringing and environmental culture that believed women working away from home was secondary to men doing so. Not intentionally, in any way. And I'm all for women staying home if they desire. In my case, I thought that working AND being at home was the ultimate in culture's eyes. But I wasn't truly working from home very well, it was utterly the worst thing for me. But, at that time, I knew what other's view as success and didn't realize it wasn't my own measure of success. Now, I rent a small office space only minutes from home and physically go to work at least 3 days a week. GOING to work is something that I wasn't raised to believe would ever be for me. Being able to do it feels amazing, successful, and SERIOUS.
Get off the internet!
This is utterly the WORST time killer. The worst!! Being a business that lives almost entirely on the internet, social media, and email spaces you would think that staying connected to all of those places is vital.
Exactly the opposite!
If you are a blogger that wants to create real, honest, genuine content you need to log-out and STAY logged-out for huge chunks of your productive hours. Otherwise, you are spending so much time distracted and connected to outside of your productive place that you don't create content. Or if you do create content, it's disjointed and less than it can be. You will waste away your opportunities online. Shut it down.
DO your business. LIVE your life. BE with people. From these places you will create your best and most authentic content. And your business will thrive.
Invest in your business.
Think of your blog as any brick and mortar business...it takes initial start-up investments. Sure, you can start a blog without a dollar invested but if you want it become successful you WILL have to invest some money and serious time. AND lots and lots of energy. Just like any start-up. Thinking that a successful blog doesn't require that is utterly wrong.
Ask any successful blogger how much time and money they have spent to get where they are? How much did they spend before they turned a profit? They will all do this...
Laugh. Make a joke about how stupid they were and how patient their husbands were. And then tell you it was hours and hours (they really don't know how many... it was so many) and hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Just like a true start-up.
Then. Then-- when you DO get your successful blog up and running you have to CONTINUE to invest. You will have to pay to automate, hire help, maintain your site, pay for advertising, the list continues. Not doing those things isn't an option if you want to simply maintain the level you are at. To grow? You got it...you have to spend MORE money, time, and energy.
Just like any brick and mortar business.
Do you get where I am going with this? A successful blog IS a business. Not "kind of like". It IS absolutely and completely a business. With taxes and accounting and all.
Not treating it as such is a complete and utter mistake and a recipe for failure. 100% guaranteed.
Take yourself seriously and force others to do the same.
I've touched on this in the other points but I need to stress, stress, stress the need to take yourself seriously. If you don't see yourself as a business person full of skills that are valuable to the business world...start! The minute you take yourself and your brand seriously forcing those around you to do the same, things will move.
Realize that your time is valuable. Force your family to recognize your business hours. Try to say no to friends that ask for favors during business hours. Turn off your phone, if necessary. These habits will take time to develop, especially if you don't have any of these habits already developed. Just start. Get up in the morning and put on your power outfit, turn on some inspirational music, head to your desk (or office...if you can!), shut the door, shut off your phone and notifications, and work.
Some of the tools, apps, and companies that I use for my personal organization or for NellieBellie...
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Shoot Fly Shoot | When I realized how necessary taking good photo's was to the success of my site, this is the photo class I took and loved. I recommend this to everyone and still watch the video's occasionally for refreshers.
CoSchedule | I use CoSchedule to keep my editorial calendar organized, help me see what content I need to create for the week, and schedule some of my social media messages. It also allows me to keep my team organized easily.
Pomodoro Timer | On days that it is a struggle to stay on task, I employ this timer. Mine is set to 25-minute intervals. I find I can do anything for 25 minutes. And don't mind telling others to wait that long for my attention.
Day Designer | This is my personal planner that I have used for a couple of years. I also highly recommend Planner Pads | because of their wonderful funnel system that keeps distracted people focused!
StudioPress Themes for WordPress | These are the Wordpress themes that I have used almost exclusively for all of my blog development ( for the many years I did that) and for NellieBellie. They are clean, well designed, and full options.
HostGator | This is the hosting company I used when I first started and still recommend for new and small blogs