More on the business of blogging…
Following on from last week’s epic tale of what I’ve learned this year about the business of blogging, I’m excited to bring you part two – thank you for coming back for more!
I was thrilled with the overall response to part one and the thing that leapt off the page for me was the sharing is definitely caring mantra. If we pick up some valuable hints and tips along the way of our chosen self-made pathways, why shouldn’t we share without worrying that in might inhibit our own successes? I’m a strong believer in give and you’ll get back.
As a one woman show, the one thing I always struggle with is time – there’s never enough of it. Unfortunately I can’t pass on the gift of extra hours in the day but I can share a few more things that have worked for me this past year in the blog business world – they might save you time…and a little pain in the future!
I hope you find them useful…
When I first started making some money from blogging, I went straight out spent it. Every last damn penny…on clothing and accessories. Which I guess is kind of a re-investment but not the kind I mean here!
I’ve since learnt the importance of having a cushion fund for the unexpected and a pool of money for general expenses etc. Add to that a really important factor – the reinvestment you need to allow your blog to continue to keep pace and grow. If I had to choose the two most important areas to plough some funds into, they would be photography and site design.
Image quality is all in the world of blogging and Instagram so for the past year I’ve been utilising Marlene Lee’s amazing behind-the-lens skills as often as I can. If I’m working with a brand on a big collaboration or project, where possible, I aim to factor in her fee so that I can produce the best quality imagery to accompany the post. When you have the funds to do so, find yourself a great photographer who can work with you on regular gigs.
My other investment in this area has been the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MK II camera and 45mm lens for those occasions when I’m able to capture images myself. My abilities with this are still very much a work in progress but I figured you have to start somewhere.
The other is great site design and maintenance and I signed up with Chloé Digital a year or so ago – this was by far the best thing I ever did. They help me to maintain a secure and efficient site as well as working with me on improvements and re-design as required.
Never underestimate the need to invest in this. Without a functioning blog, I have no business!
Staying inspired is crucial – because lets face it, if that dries up completely, as a blogger you aren’t left with much. In order to maintain a healthy level of inspiration and creativity, you’ll need to actually step away from the desk sometimes to allow that to flow. And that can be really hard!
It’s the same thing as I mentioned in part one about going backward in order to move forwards. It’s better to post less for a short while and build up an inspired bank of content that you’re passionate about and really want to share with your readers.
Devote time to seeking out the things that inspire you (here’s a few ways that I try to achieve this) and if necessary, shift your focus where it matters. This year I had to give up a couple of regular freelance gigs in order to even think about fitting in time to grow the blog and remain creative.
This was pretty scary as it was a regular income but it’s sometimes necessary. Which leads me nicely onto…
Make an income plan
A major factor that I was slow to catch on to – plan ahead where possible when it comes to income. My lateness to the party with this is pretty shocking when you consider I came from a finance background!
With sponsored content and affiliate marketing being my main sources of income, this isn’t always an easy thing to do. You can’t predict when a brand might get in touch with a sponsored content proposal and you cant guarantee that your readers will shop from those links and artfully created collages you include in your post.
But you can pitch ideas to brands. You can adjust your fees in order to work with smaller brands with smaller budgets on smaller pieces of content rather than just hanging out for the big brands with big bucks.
This is something I’m only just learning…to my detriment! I recently experienced that horrible gap whereby project timings and hugely varying payment terms can add up (or not!) to leave you with a big income gap.
An editorial calendar is your best friend!
Again it was my Creative Consultant, Monica who encouraged me to take time out to create and use an editorial calendar – and what a bonus resource this has become. I honestly don’t know how I got by for so long without it!
My inner Excel spreadsheet geek from my finance days was let loose once more and I created a simple yearly calendar. Prior to this I had notes in a notebook, notes in Evernote and even blog post prompts in my iMac calendar.
A good editorial calendar should have your year to view in one tab – this helps to keep track of which of your categories you’re posting in and also if you have sponsored content to factor in where you’ve agreed to a publish date. Looking back on this I can see where my income gap came in – I had no sponsored content for three months as I failed to give myself time to plan, get out there and pitch ideas.
Have a second tab as a place to capture scribbles and ideas for future content. You can also keep a list of regular post features or series you run and gifts or samples you’ve been sent that you’d like to include somewhere in your content. Having everything in one place is essential and far more efficient.
For those times when I’m on the move and an idea pops into my head, I tap it out into an Apple note on my iPhone and then just copy/paste it into the calendar when I get back to my desk.
There’s more about editorial calendars here on another Amanda’s blog and a link to download one.
Prepare to fail
Accept you wont always get it right, realise that a few bloopers are waiting for you just around the corner and know that the To Do list is never ending… and will remain so forevermore.
Learn to embrace your mistakes and just ask what you can learn from them moving forward – obviously after you’ve run from the room screaming and taken the opportunity to vent by banging your head firmly on the desk!
I’ve made some HORRENDOUS mistakes in the past and allowed myself to be ripped off, taken advantage of (in the blogging & not biblical sense I would add!) and generally been walked over more times than I care to remember. I’ve rushed headlong into some things and procrastinated on others for so long that I well and truly missed the boat on some great opportunities.
I know it sounds corny but without experiencing all of that, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Providing you can learn something, mistakes are good and will be the making of your blog as a business.
Phew…and I thought part one was full on! I hope you found the post useful – even if its in a nodding along kind of “Me too!” way.
There are so many paths to success, particularly when it comes to the world of blogging – that’s what makes it so god damn brilliant in my opinion. For me success is measured by a sense of achievement and the amount of times I remember how much I truly love what I do.
If you’re thinking of making your blog into a business, I wish you every success and enjoy the ride, even the bumpy bits!
p.s. If you missed the first instalment, catch it here!
recommended reading and resources
One from my creative consultant Monica – How To Re-Commit To Your Blog & See Tangible Progress.
Five Ways To Treat Your Blog More Like A Business – A Beautiful Mess
6 Must-Have Factors Brands Look For In A Blogger – Blogging For Keeps
Chloé Digital – The Business Of Blogging | When To Grow Your Team