When I started the blog that would eventually turn into this website I didn’t have a business. I wasn’t freelancing on the side or making money with affiliate links. I was still working a corporate job and blogging almost daily about all kinds of random stuff. Dudes, recipes, concerts, make-up, you name it.
And then suddenly I WAS freelancing and trying to get sponsors and trying to leave my job. And my website…it was kind of a mess.
Because I had spent years and years screwing around with my blog, not posting with any focus or consistency, I was pretty much starting from scratch.
I could have been 10 steps ahead of the game had I gone about things with even the slightest sense of purpose or strategy. But I didn’t, which meant my traffic was slow to grow, social media followers were even slower, and my email list was non-existent.
The thing is…bloggers that have large followings are not getting there by chance. They are prioritizing their blog in order to make those gains and opportunities happen. A cute outfit or photography skills only get you so far.
When bloggers put in the time to work on their design, write consistently, and chat with their audience, it shows. It shows in the way their blog looks, the way their audience grows and the opportunities they land. It shows in the way they always seem to have brilliant post ideas and a never-ending stockpile of beautiful photos.
Looking at blogging like a business BEFORE the opportunity to make money shows up is what separates those bloggers that shoot to popularity seemingly out of nowhere and those that never take off at all.
They weren’t lucky. They’d been practicing and they were prepared. They treated their blog like a business from the beginning and you should too.
Here’s how . . .
If your blog could turn into anything or bring you anything, what would it be? Do you want enough money to pay off those student loans or take a family vacation? Instagram stardom? Your own TV show? To not have to worry about making rent next month? To simply find people who love the stuff you love or hone your photography skills?
Businesses don’t move forward and begin working until they know where they’re going. Whether it’s a goal for this month or 5 years from now you’re simply wasting time creating blog content if you don’t have an intention and a direction.
Plan in advance
Once you’ve got a purpose you need to start planning in advance. Businesses don’t decide to create a new product or service expecting it to launch it the next day and you shouldn’t either.
This is especially important if you regularly struggle to update your blog consistently. Pick a time of day or a day of the week that you set aside to write. Does this mean getting up an hour early? Only watching one hour of TV at night instead of two? Spending part of your Saturday glued to your computer? Whatever the plan is, it’s more likely to get finished if you put it on the calendar weeks in advance.
Whether you’re just blogging to blog or blogging for your business, publishing content consistently can be one of most challenging parts of growing an online presence, but it’s also one of the most important.
Businesses cannot get away with marketing a product for a few days and then stopping, and then starting again for a day or two, and then taking three months off. But as bloggers we do this ALL THE TIME. Life gets in the way and since we haven’t prioritized and we haven’t planned we fall off the blogging wagon.
Without a doubt, if you publish new posts and promote your content on social media every single week your traffic and social media followers will begin to grow steadily.
Build a brand
Think about McDonald’s. Did they change the color of their logo every time they created a new print ad? No, they’re the GOLDEN arches. Did they send you to mcdonalds.blogspot.com? And what would they be without “We love to see you smile” and “I’m lovin’ it!”?? (Are you craving fries now too?)
Building a brand for your blog helps your content become recognizable no matter where it shows up on social media. You need to create a tagline, take a pro-looking headshot (even if you take the photos yourself), create a .com email address (I share how to do this in Dare to Blog) and invest in a professional blog theme or hire a web designer.
Not many people will share content from or follow blogs that look like an elementary school web design project. It’s time to pull yourself together and create an overall style that shows off what you and your blog are all about.
Track what you’re doing
Do you know how long it takes to write a blog post? Like REALLY. Not “a few hours” but 2 hours or 7 hours? Do you know many steps are in your blog posting process? Do you know which days of the week you’re most productive and which days you’re most likely to procrastinate like a teenager with 10 lbs of homework?
That’s like Target not tracking their inventory or a photographer not knowing how long it takes to edit 100 shots.
If you go at this stuff blindly you will never get it all done. Pick a system and a pay attention to where you’re spending your time and how long things take to finish.
Because you never know when you might need to turn things pro
I had ZERO intention of building a business when I restarted my blog in 2008. Years later, when I began to grow my freelance design business, it took time to create a more professional online presence, get headshots, change my email address, set up social media accounts, and publish content with strategy and purpose.
If I had known back then what I know now about building an audience I would have put more time into digging into a specific niche instead of writing about whatever felt interesting and hitting publish at two in the afternoon.
Just because you’re blogging to blog today doesn’t mean something awesome (like a sponsorship opportunity) or terrible (like a layoff) isn’t going to show up tomorrow. Would you be prepared?
Yes, you need to do this even if your blog is teeny tiny right now
I get it, it’s difficult to put time into your blog when like 4 people are stopping by every week. But just the act of choosing a more specific niche, stepping-up your style, planning in advance and posting consistently will help to jump-start your traffic.
And once things start to grow it will be easier and more exciting to create new content. Remember, you’re building an asset, so even if hundreds of people don’t see your posts right now you’ll still be able to tweet and pin them in the future once you have a larger audience and more traffic.
And one more thing most bloggers skip at the beginning that ALL businesses have . . .
An email list.
Most bloggers assume an email list is only for businesses and only for selling, when really it’s about connecting with and learning about your audience and saving you as social media makes it more difficult to get your content in front of people without throwing down cash. #effthat
Dare to Email is my step-by-step course to help you set up and grow your email list, so your blog can be serious and successful from the beginning.
Dare to Email will be available for $97 for a limited time.