By Holly Reisem Hanna
It’s been four years since I began my entrepreneurial blogging journey and what an adventure it’s been. Like many entrepreneurs and bloggers, my journey started out of personal frustration.
When my daughter was born, I knew that I wanted to stay at home with her, but I also wanted to make some money. As I searched online for work at home jobs, I had a terrible time deciphering the scams from the legitimate opportunities. It was after months of frustration, that I decided to create my own website for women who wanted to work from home.
I had done a quite of bit research on blogging and monetization, that I figured it was a pretty simple and straightforward path. But with time and experience, I found that there was so much more than just creating content and making money through ad sales.
So in celebration of my four year blogging anniversary (which as actually, March 19th), I thought I would share some personal blogging and monetization advice with you gals who want to work from home in the blogging field.
There is no such thing as overnight success…
When I first started blogging, I would look at other popular bloggers and think, “Wow, it happened so quick and easy for them” but the truth is, it took a lot of persistence and hard work for these individuals to get where they are today. Take Heather Armstrong of Dooce, she started her blog in 2001 and while she has obtained a crazy level of success, it took her about four years to get there. Darren Rowse of Problogger, another success story, started blogging back in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he started making the big bucks. The point is, although blogging is fun it’s not easy, it takes a lot of time, dedication and patience to be a successful blogger.
Did you know that 95% of bloggers quit or give up?
According to Mikeachim, “Most bloggers struggle. They open a blog, post enthusiastically for a while, and then they either find a particular way to express themselves and/or a niche to fit into – or they lose heart and walk away. In 2009, this New York Times article cited data suggesting that 95% of blogs are derelicts. Their owners abandoned them, presumably because they never worked out what to do with them.”
I’ve also seen this phenomenon. Many bloggers that I connected with when I first started out are nowhere to be found, with abandoned websites and social media profiles floating in cyberspace. And it’s not just a few that have bit the dust, I’d say it’s more than half. Having the right mindset upfront and knowing that blogging is not a sprint, but a marathon, will help keep you focused for the long haul.
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” – Unknown
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to monetize my blog. For this reason, I made sure to treat my blog like a business, and one thing that you hear over and over again is to check out your competition. I followed this advice, but I made a careless mistake in doing so. I started to compare myself to other bloggers and gauge my accomplishments against theirs.
What this did this do for me?
It made me feel awful, jealous and insecure. Justin Zoradi from Storyline says, “The comparison game steals your joy, halts your momentum, and brings your greatest insecurities to the forefront of your mind.” All of which are not the right mindset that you need for being an entrepreneurial blogger. Once you start fully focusing on the joy of being you, you’ll find your own path, audience and success.
When I started this site, I thought I knew who I was targeting in terms of clients and sponsors. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, when I was on a mastermind call that a light bulb really turned on. On the call they were talking about Pareto’s principle (the 80-20 rule), which basically states that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. This got me thinking about what clients brought in the most money for my blog, and let me tell you, I was way off in who I thought my target audience was. Take the time to really narrow down your target audience. Had I done this from the beginning, I would have made more money along the way. Lesson learned.
My main monetization method when I started out was direct ad sales and Google Adsense. And while these served me well for a couple of years, out of the blue, Google banned me from Adsense due to what they called invalid click activity. While I would never jeopardize my Adsense account with false clicks, some hacker (my email server was hacked into during this time) or click bomber had no qualms about doing so. I appealed the case, but Google declined my request. This incident made me realize, that you can never count on any one revenue stream for your income.
This is also true for other things like website traffic. Things on the web are constantly changing and evolving, and if you want to make it as a successful blogger you need to be adaptable. This includes both how you make money and how you market your blog. Keep up to date on the latest news and trends and always be exploring other individual’s blogs, more than likely, you’ll learn something new.
Make Your Life Easier:
Often times when entrepreneurial bloggers are just starting out they try to do everything themselves, so that they can save some money. And while I’m an advocate for bootstrapping, often times you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches by using a professional system from the beginning.
For example, when I started out, I kept track off all of my income and expenses on a spread sheet. While this worked okay, it made tax time A LOT of work. Now I use an online bookkeeping system called Outright, while it does cost money to use, it is well worth it. It makes doing my taxes a snap, and it automatically pulls transactions from my financial accounts, so my bookkeeping is automated.
Here are some other areas where spending some money upfront will make your life easier. Purchasing premium plugins for advance blogging capabilities, hiring a web programmer or graphic designer to deal technical and design projects, using a reputable email marketing service and purchasing premium web hosting.
While I still have many blogging lessons to learn, my blog has afforded me the ability to work from home, and to make money doing something I truly love.
I wish you lots of success in your blogging journey!