Ten years ago, starting a blog was fairly simple. (Who had Blogger blog with your friend’s badge in your sidebar?!) Monetization of personal blogs was in it’s newborn stage and most of us were just out here because we love to create content through writing and maybe photography. Social media wasn’t around to categorize us on how “influential” we were and thoughts of ads or sponsors were not even on the radar for most of us. In 2009 I started my first blog and wrote about everything from what recipes I found that week to family updates to inspirational quotes. The photography was mediocre and the web design left something to be desired, but it merely existed as a passion outlet. My love for writing and sharing were what fed me. It wasn’t meant to be anything terribly impressive.
Fast forward January of 2016. I was six months in to a new blog I started after the birth of my second child and during my introduction to Stay-At-Home-Mom life. The only difference between 2009 and 2016 was that I did a lot more homework on aesthetics and the obvious addition- a heavy social media presence. After a piece I wrote went viral and my blog was rapidly becoming popular in some mom group spaces, I learned that monetizing a blog is a thing and that I might just have the numbers to do it.
To make a long story short, that’s when I monetized. I like to jump into things with both feet and this was no different. While it has worked out well for me, it has certainly been a three year learning curve and I have learned a lot. I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should monetize your blog or whether or not you should aspire to be a career blogger; I’m just going to tell you a few things you need to evaluate with yourself before you make the leap. I truly feel that these subjects are all important to at least familiarize yourself ahead of deciding to make your blog a business.
Who are you serving? What help or resource are you offering? “To make a million, you must help a million.” is something I heard long ago that has always stuck with me. I’m not saying you have to niche down to the point of being a food blogger specifically for things you can make in a dutch oven, but have a clear idea of who you are and how your message will be something that people NEED. You need to be inspiring/motivating someone, teaching them, entertaining them, or doing the work for them somehow (shopping/DIY/recipes/etc.). No one is going to automatically care to see photos of your cute kids every day. You need to bring something to the table.
Your emotional setup.
I cannot emphasize this one enough. I have seen so many bloggers jump in to this crazy world and not be able to handle the emotional pressures. Oh, and guess what- that’s OK. It’s not easy and it’s not a right of passage to be able to withstand this cut-throat industry. Rejection multiple times a day is just part of your work day. Being told you aren’t this or this enough by brands or colleagues can be draining and disheartening. Trying to find friends in the business and failing (or finding friends and being let down) is very common and is something I hadn’t experienced in a decade. Being reintroduced to mean girl culture is tough on anyone, even with thick skin. Not having set hours and trying to create a work/life balance is nearly impossible and worse with kids in the mix. There are many reasons that this job is high stress and emotionally taxing and it’s OK if that’s enough reason to quit while you’re ahead.
From the jump, “Search Engine Optimization” is something you are going to want to at least know a little about. It is the cornerstone of getting consistent traffic and the key to being recognized by Google as a legit website. I am just now learning MORE about SEO and I only wish I had this knowledge three years ago. The time I am spending now to integrate what I have learned is time consuming and could have been done little by little earlier on. Don’t even understand the articles you are reading? Hire someone. Before you get started with a blog you hope to monetize, I highly recommend getting up to speed at least at a beginner level on SEO and how important it will be to your long-term success.
It’s 2019 and social media is no longer a small player on the internet. Great content is key, but promoting your content is even more important to create a buzz and gain traffic. Brands look at social media presence carefully when hiring influencers to promote for them, and rightfully so. I personally suggest reading up on the four basic platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) and the best ways to utilize them to market YOUR brand. Pinterest in particular is a very popular way that bloggers exponentially grow their pageviews.
As with any kind of self-employment or contract work, taxes are an annoying detail that can be laborious and exhausting. For instance, I have over 20 1099s from 2018 to submit to my accountant and a laundry list of expenses to deduct. I would say not to worry about this in the beginning, but I think it’s better to get a feel for taxes as an independent contractor before you wake up to 20 1099s and want to play in traffic. (Just kidding. Kind of.) You may even consider paying taxes every quarter so that tax time isn’t as overwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, I 1000% love my business, the brand I’m growing, and every drop of blood, sweat and tears that I’ve poured into it. But. There have also been nights I cried myself to sleep, days I wanted to burn my computer, and times I booked an extra therapy session because of this job. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve gotten wrapped up in the cattiness of the drama, I’ve had losses, and I have learned from ALL of those things. I am still learning every day and I don’t claim to be the end-all of blogging advice. I just want to be clear that this isn’t a business you can BS your way through. You have to live it, breathe it, and love it to be successful. After three years of being monetized, I simply wanted to share some core subjects that I think are directly related to success. I hope that it helps.