Hopefully, by now you know that blogging isn’t a business.
It can be a tool for your business or a way to jump start your business idea by building an audience first. Blogging is a platform you can use to reach more people than once thought possible. You can blog about anything (literally, anything!), but more and more people choose to blog about topics they don’t have much experience in. I’ve seen brand new blogs that blog about how to get paid blogging. Trust me, you can’t fake authority, experience, or expertise.
Here’s the problem; bloggers think like bloggers and the semi-successful ones teach other bloggers to do the same. The same methods are re-hashed over and over again — from sales funnels and facebook ads to various methods for overnight success. The focal point of most meta-blogs is to teach strategy rather than to emphasize the importance of the journey it takes to get there.
Blogging doesn’t have to be complicated.
Blogging is easy, but they make it seem very, very hard. You don’t need a course to learn how to blog or to figure out how to find topics. What you need is to be interested in something enough to blog about it.
And you need to be honest.
If you’re learning as you go, then be clear about that —people won’t mind learning with you. As a matter of fact, they’ll be excited to share what they’ve learned with you, also! It’s a journey that you and your readers can take together.
But, if you’re blogging just to get paid, ultimately, your readers will take your freebies, unsubscribe from your list, and move on to the next blogger until they find one that’s authentic and transparent with them.
You should start with a topic that you are actually fascinated by or obsessed with. In turn, consistency won’t feel like a chore and your blog has the opportunity to develop into something that’s actually worth reading. Blogging has taken on this new culture of strategy, monetization tips, SEO rankings and the like.
We can all appreciate a little direction, but the problem is new bloggers start right away on these strategies without building a good foundation to work from.
It’s almost like working door-to-door sales (which I’ve done, and I haaaated). You get your own neighborhood to work/scout and you’ve got to convince these people to buy something based on how you’ve been told to sell it. It’s a numbers game and you turn into a paranoid, sleep-deprived somewhat decent writer, checking your stats every few hours. You lose sight of the main goal.
What’s the main goal of a blogger?
Release & Connect
Usually, a blog that doesn’t follow this two-step formula is dry as the Sahara desert. The owner might do everything well except build a blog on content that matters.
Step One — Release
Everyone blogs for different reasons. It might be because you’ve got a wealth of knowledge and want to help people. You might blog because you’re learning something new and you want to keep it documented. Maybe you blog because there’s something you love and you want to put a stamp on your personal style/approach to a category (like fashion). Some people blog to understand their health problems, or work through life struggles.
No matter why you blog, at the heart of it all, a blog is designed to help you release something. When done right, blogging should feel therapeutic— not like a paper you have to finish by midnight to go out tomorrow. The first thing you want to ask yourself is… What do I need to release?
Blogging Vs. Business
What thoughts, feelings, emotions, information do you need to write down just to get it out of your system? I’ve heard the saying that your blog is not about you, it’s about your readers.
The thing is, I disagree with that.
Blogging is allowing people into your head — your personal space. With a blog, you share a bit of yourself with the world. But, your business behind the blog is all about your customers.
What do you obsess over?
In real life, I’m obsessive about business. Starting and growing businesses is what I wholeheartedly love to do and have been doing it for years before SipBlack came to be. I love making mistakes and learning from them, even when I’ve sacrificed everything.
There have been times I jumped in with both feet and gone completely broke (stale bread and cheese broke) —but, I’ve never said, “I wish I never started this business.”
As a matter of fact, I appreciated the moment because it pushed me to think creatively:
How can I keep going with no money, no support, and no resources?
How can I get more customers?
How can I get them to pay more?
How can I get people to pay for just an idea so I can make this idea happen and save my business?
The truth of my success is that I’ve never given up. Not ever. Not even when I probably should have. Every business I’ve sold or passed on was profitable & sustainable when I left it.
I love it so much that even when I’m on a date (worst place to talk business), my favorite topic is business development. When I’m with friends, I remark on what I like or don’t like about the businesses we visit.
Often times, if the owner is there, I’ll speak to them, ask questions, and make suggestions (sometimes I’ll unintentionally get hired).
The point is… I live and breathe my blog topic. As a result, I need a place to get it all out because I want to make sure my thoughts (and perspectives) have a place where they can mature.
Also, I needed this because hearing me talk about business all the time can get annoying, so a blog helps me to release those thoughts.
How to focus on your release
Stop buying into someone else’s dream.
How another blogger structures their posts, what they talk about, or how they make their money isn’t necessarily the right way— it’s their way. They’ve perfected it because it’s comfortable for them. Every industry evolves and you have the opportunity to be a part of the evolution.
Trying to copy their tactics is more work than it’s worth, honestly.
When I first started blogging (somewhere around 2008), I’d comment on about 15-20 blogs almost every day. At the time, no one really blogged for money. They started a blog to share different parts of their life. But, the moment an “expert blogger” (aka marketer) told me to comment on at least five blogs a day, that started to feel like work.
I commented on blogs based on analytical information and struggled to find something “interesting” to say even when the blog post itself was bland and boring. I’d read other comments and wonder what they were seeing that I didn’t. I didn’t belong there.
How does “releasing” make money?
So far, we only know of a few established ways to make money from blogging. Amy Lynn Andrews has an entire post dedicated to these key ways to grow your blogging income with these methods.
— Sponsorsed Posts
— Digital Products (ebooks, ecourses, etc.)
— Affiliated Sales
— Selling Products
I’m sure that if everyone approached these income streams in their own way (not replicating someone else’s success), this list would be twice; or maybe three times as long as it is now. But, we’re stuck. Only seven concrete ways to make money from such an easy-entry business model?
If you can’t tell which one will work for you, then look at what you currently have in abundance — a great indicator as to what you like working on.
Here are a few examples:
If you are planner oriented and enjoy creating tons of worksheets then consider a membership program in which your readers pay monthly for a frequently updated arsenal of information.
If writing is the easiest part of your blogging journey and you have hundreds of posts, consider combining those posts to write a book. Even though all the information is on your blog, some people don’t want to go through the hassle of looking through every single one of your posts. They may prefer reading it in a book, with each post connected to the other.
The release part of this formula is all about the exhale.
On the inhale, you take in information, experience, and knowledge. You learn and explore. You’ll fail, make mistakes, and you will also have your wins.
On the exhale, you filter through what matters to you, what you’ve learned, and you release it to the people who care. You also can’t exhale without the inhale. What I mean is you can’t copy and paste your success.
(Pin this image so you can always find your way back!)
Step Two — Connect
As human beings, it is in our nature to connect with people whom we can relate to. Facebook is the perfect example of this behavior. There’s a Facebook group for anyone and everyone; connecting people who have at least one thing in common. Blogging is no different.
By loving what you do, of course, you’ll throw yourself into the community (interacting with other people who also love what they do). Relationship building, connecting, and community is not a strategy. It’s natural bonding. [Tweet “Relationship building, connecting, and community is not a strategy. It’s natural bonding.”]
The more you write and share with your readers, the more you’ll seek out other people going through the same experience. Blindly following others; leaving half-hearted comments on their blog, and sharing articles you haven’t read isn’t going to make you successful and it really isn’t going to help them either.
I love blogs that have such strong community, most blog posts continue the conversation elsewhere (in the comments or on social media). There’s a passion that transfers from the owner to their audience, then among each other. It’s not just engagement, but a relationship. You can see readers referencing previous posts they’ve read because the discussion surrounding it made it memorable.
Someone who does this quite well is Regina. She’s all about her readers. As a matter of fact, she’s so wrapped up in them that she frequently uses inside jokes (Regick?) while communicating her original, well-developed ideas. Standard word count— what’s that? Each of her posts can likely pass as an entire chapter of a book.
But, her readers digest every single word, no skimming. She’s a content-making-machine and that’s because she loves what she does. Do you love what you do? Passionately? Fervently?
If not, it might be because you’re holding back, playing it safe and trying to do things the way you’ve been taught.
How to focus on connecting
If an article doesn’t speak to you, just move on from it. No need to waste time leaving a half-hearted comment on anything you didn’t love/find useful/appreciate. If you do find someone you heart as much as Regina/Regick’s audience loves her, then reach out to them. Email them, tweet them, and find other ways to show how much you appreciate what they bring to the blogging industry.
A good way to tell if another blogger or business is worth connecting with is to ask yourself, “Is this someone I’d like to work with in the future?” That’s exactly how I ended up partnering up with Elizabeth on this post. I was drawn to her personality (and her hustle), so I fanned out — everywhere from Pinterest to Twitter — before approaching her about finding the best way to bring these tips to her audience.
Because I don’t spread myself too thin, I was able to focus a lot of energy into the article and reply to her followers who may have had questions. For me, it wasn’t about shares, but about how I can help to offer a new perspective to her readers.
How does “connecting” make money?
If you focus on building real relationships with people that you genuinely admire, revenue won’t be far behind. When you partner up with passionate people, both their audience and your audience will appreciate the projects that you work on together.
Also, as you continue to hustle on your end (ex: creating valuable products), the people you’ve connected it are more likely to promote and share them to their loyal audience.
[Tweet “A real endorsement is always better than a sponsored one.”]
When it comes to blogging, I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have all the answers. But, I do see what works and what doesn’t. That’s my specialty/ superpower and I choose to share that with you. I’m invested in your success, both literally and figuratively.
So whether you’re building a blog that can make money —or creating a blog to promote your business, remember the two-step formula: release and connect.
P.s. If you like this post, you’ll love this one on proven practices to follow through with your goals & finish what you’ve started. Happy blogging!