February 6, 2015
6 Keys to Blogging as a Business
Blogging, of course, is a passion first and foremost, and no one should feel pressure to monetize their craft. But for me, even before Not Your Standard went live, I aspired to turn this blog into my full-time occupation. Last July, on Canada Day, I made that a reality.
Not Your Standard is approaching two and a half years since its initial launch, and while that’s certainly not enough time to label me a business expert by any means, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I wish I knew when I first started.
These 6 keys to blogging as a business have been especially important in shaping my path so far. I hope through my experience and the benefit of hindsight I’m able to offer a bit of valuable advice for some questions I’m often asked by my readers.
1. Be Present – Offline.
Developing your brand online is only part of the equation. Networking doesn’t happen behind a screen, so make an effort to attend industry events, store openings or conferences. A personal conversation beats an email every time. And don’t forget about print – one of my most fulfilling collaborations allows me to get creative in the kitchen and expand my audience offline.
2. Sell Your Skills, Not Just Your Website
One of the questions I get asked most is how a blog can make money. It’ll take you five minutes on Google to learn the answer; sponsored content, banner ads and affiliate links are three major revenue streams for any online business, and blogging is no exception.
The success of these three strategies is dependent on a simple equation: you need to have numbers to make numbers. Thinking outside the box and expanding your revenue streams is a great way to increase your income if you’re not quite rolling in pageviews just yet.
Get yourself in the mindset of a freelance artist and sell your talents, not your digital real estate. Can you style editorial shoots? Is photography your calling? Could you model a lookbook? Is your Instagram more valuable than your blog in terms of reach?
This recent project with DEYK is a perfect example of a creative partnership that allowed me to offer value in a way I would have otherwise overlooked.
3. Always Think About What’s Next
Early adopters always have a distinct advantage in terms of growing a large, dedicated following. But networks the scope of Instagram and Lookbook only emerge every few years, so stay on top developments in social media, digital marketing and your own industry to understand what’s worth pursuing.
One thing I can say with absolute certainty: what works for others is by no means an indication of what will work for you. So rather than playing catch up, be smart about what you can capitalize on a few months – even years – down the road.
Snapchat, for example, is a network that will undoubtedly intertwine with the world of digital marketing in the near future. These are things you should be keeping on the top of your mind instinctively.
4. Don’t Be a Afraid to Say ‘No’
Time is your most valuable resource, so be protective of every waking hour and make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible towards your goals. FOMO is a dangerous urge, but I’ve learned through experience that there are many events, proposals, collaborations or beta tests where respectfully declining would have been in my best interest. If you need to be convinced of something to commit, it’s probably best to let it be.
5. Create Structure for Yourself
Yes, it’s an incredible joy and privilege to lead a career outside of the 9 to 5, but it requires a considerable amount of discipline. I have the freedom to take three-day weekends, and sure, I could indulge in a half-litre of wine on a Tuesday, but when have you heard of an entrepreneur talk of achieving success with those habits? Setting my alarm for 7:00 every morning without exception keeps me in tune with a productive routine.
Many people are naïve about the time commitment to make a blog work when it’s your full-time job. Wearing something nice, taking photos, uploading them, and writing an article takes up maybe 30% of my day. Location scouting, email correspondence, bookkeeping, editing photos, newsletters, creating new recipes, dealing with customs, travel, project pitches, conference calls, invoicing, and developing/styling shoots are all part of the process – often daily.
Think about it this way: What happens when you skip a day at the gym? All of a sudden three weeks fly by before you think about your next workout again. Don’t let that cycle happen on the job.
6. Learn Something New Every Quarter
Remember what I said about all those daily essentials of running a blogging business? Chances are you’re not a pro at all of them – or even half – but the more of an effort you make to learn about things outside your comfort zone, the quicker you’ll propel your blog forward. This can be something as fun as mastering photoshop to the mundane task of learning the German self-employed tax system. The more aspects of your business you can own, the less you’ll have to outsource (and spend on) services. One thing I’m really focusing on for the first quarter of 2015 is producing video content for the blog.
I hope these insights have offered something to take away and apply to your blog or business, whether the two or related or completely independent.
I’m happy to answer any additional questions in the comments below…