It isn’t uncommon for me to get emails from readers asking about how I got started blogging, and what advice they would give to folks who want to become bloggers, particularly in the niche of product reviews and giveaways. I’d love to share a few of the lessons I have learned and some changes I have made recently that are having a positive impact on my bottom line (my income).
So without further ado, allow me to impart some wisdom!
Blogging is easy
If you want to blog, it is SO ridiculously easy to get one set up. If you have something to say and you want to share it with your friends, your family, or even the whole darn world, then what are you waiting for? Jump right in and start banging on that keyboard! The beautiful thing about owning a blog is that YOU OWN IT. You don’t have to meet any particular deadlines or answer to anyone or write content that you don’t like. There is so much freedom in that!
Blogging for more than 3 months is hard
Ok, so it is true that blogging is super easy and that you can do whatever you want with your site. But if one of your primary goals is to earn money with your site, that’s a whole other can of worms. Today I want to share a few things that learned in my first 2 years as a blogger that have helped me have staying power and are a huge part of the reason that I’m still going, and that I’m still growing.
What I wish I had known on day 1
When I started my blog in September 2009, I really felt as though I had SO much to share with everyone. After all, I had been a parent for 7 1/2 WEEKS….so I was pretty much an expert by that point, right?! I kid at myself now, but at the time, I really felt that way. And that’s totally fine. It’s all the motivation I needed to get started. But I also wanted a piece of that pie….the STUFF pie. I didn’t know that bloggers actually earned money, but I knew that they got a whole lot of free stuff. Sign me up, baby!
Do you sometimes think the same thing? Its ok if you do. I’m being totally honest in sharing with you that I thought it. And I get asked all the time how I get so much “free stuff.” But here’s what I have learned: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE STUFF, at least not when it comes to blogging. Something is free if it is given to you and you have no obligation, either implicit or explicit, to do anything in return. I have never had a company send me something without a request to write about it. And blog posts DO NOT write themselves. They are hard work. When I write a post, I have to choose to not do something else, be it spend time with my kids, prepare a meal, have a meaningful conversation with my spouse, or even stare at the wall. I can’t do anything other than write. So I trade my time and my talents for the stuff. In many cases, the blogger is on the losing end of that trade. Several times early on, I traded away an hour or more of my time for a product that retailed for $6 or 7, and it may not have even been a product that I would have purchased on my own. I think this is why many product review and giveaway bloggers burn out…it seems like such a swag-tastic gig, but in reality, it is a whole lot of work for some stuff that you may or may not have wanted in the first place.
The other lesson I want to share with you today was one I learned at my first blogging conference. One of the keynote speakers said this to the audience:
Before I heard those words, I was so afraid of disappointing people who were reaching out to me to work together that I said yes to almost everything, even though in many cases, it would mean doing a lot of work for very little pay (and at that point, the pay was still only in products, not money). That is the single most important lesson I have learned as a blogger. I realized that I was headed down the road to blog burn out, and if I kept agreeing to arrangements that didn’t make any sense for me, I wouldn’t be a blogger much longer. Now I ask for what I need. And I often get it. I also often DON’T get it, and that is perfectly fine. I’m at peace letting those opportunities go to others, because I now realize that they were not good fits for me and that I would be frustrated as I performed the work agreed upon. That is SO liberating! And after learning this lesson, I also started to get brave about asking for money. And I’ll tell you more about how to do that in a future post! (And there’s a little bonus tip for you: leave your audience wanting more!).
I have a lot more to share with you about my journey as a product and review giveaway blogger, but for now, I want to share with you a tool I have been using for the past month and that has already resulted in some very positive changes in the way I run my business (and yes, my blog IS a business!). If you are a blogger or are thinking about starting a blog, you need The Blogging Planner.
I have tried for the past 3 years to fit my blog work into traditional planning calendars and it has never worked. What DOES work is having a calendar just for your blog! I am able to keep detailed to do lists, calendars of post dates, keep up with income generated (and invoices due…very important to know who still owes you money!). It also has dedicated space for brainstorming or ideas you might get while reading blogs are doing some professional development. There’s even a section for PR contacts to help you keep track of the folks you want to touch base with from time to time, just to make sure you are on their radars.
The Blogging Planner is the creation of two professional bloggers who created it after an exhaustive search for a planner that would work for a blog business. That search came up empty. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, and this is a fantastic one! I will absolutely FOR SURE 100% be purchasing another Blogging Planner when I have used mine up. It has given me a separate space for my work commitments, my goals and my dreams. It really is a mental game-changer for this stuff to not be on the same list as “fold the laundry.” Both are important. But one pays the bills, so in my book, it gets first dibs on my time. 🙂
The Blogging Planner can be started at any point in the year. It isn’t a January-December kind of thing. You fill in the calendar starting exactly when you want to start! So why not start right now??? I firmly believe this is a good investment for anyone who wants to monetize their blog or start out on the right foot as a new blogger and not give your your time away, as I did. You can purchase The Blogging Planner for $57.99. Yes, that’s a chunk of money, but a good planner is worth its weight in gold. And this is so much more than a good planner. Promise.
Next month I’ll let you take a peek inside my planner to see all the juicy details!
If you have any questions about The Blogging Planner, or about blogging in general, I’d love to hear them!
I received a complimentary planner for review purposes and am sharing my honest opinions here with you. The post contains affiliate links. I only sign up for affiliate programs when I’m NUTS about a product, so that should tell you something!