I started my first blog back in the mid-1990s. They didn’t call them blogs back then, but that’s what it was – a dated, online diary of random thoughts.
Since then, I’ve had hundreds of blogs – some personal, some that were just datafeed sites, some that only existed for their link farm value, and many more that were niche-specific and commercial in focus.
It was only recently, though, that I shifted my entire focus to online publishing. For many years, I ran blogs as a part-time diversion – something to keep things interesting while doing less enjoyable affiliate campaigns and client work.
Though I’m very happy with the switch, there are definitely a few things I wish I’d known before I did it…
Even if your blog is making good money, get a plan for outsourcing SOME aspects of it before you go full-time.
If you really enjoy your blog, it’s very easy to become a control freak about it – and that makes it really hard to let someone else take over some of the related tasks.
Even simple things like social media posts will just sound better in YOUR voice, and you may not trust someone else to have good judgment in their replies. And blog posts? Nobody writes ’em quite like you do, right? All of this is even truer if you’re the public face of your site, or the blog revolves around your life.
While it’s true your high standards and love of the site might make you the BEST person for virtually any task, that doesn’t mean you’re the one who should be doing them. If you’re like me and you hate letting go, the time to do it is before you’re blogging full-time and trying to launch new projects and rapidly grow the site.
I’m still working on getting better at this, but it does become a bit easier when I look at the traffic on some of the old posts I paid for, then multiply the traffic by my average ad RPM to see the return on investment. It’s a lot easier to outsource when you see that a $30 post turned into a return of $200-300+ (and those multiples only grow as your site and following do).
You have a lot of options when it comes to social media. You can’t – and shouldn’t – be pursuing all of them.
When blogging was a side thing, I focused 90% of my social media efforts on a single platform, purely because my time was limited and I had to get the most value for my investment.
When I shifted to blogging full-time, I initially thought it would be worthwhile to pursue all those other platforms I’d been neglecting. Realistically, though, not every platform is going to deliver returns for every site.
Although I always knew that, some weird sense of obligation made me feel like I should be spending more time on having a presence everywhere. Maybe it’s from working with too many corporate clients who have endless budgets to be everywhere.
These days, we choose our focus based on the site, and we only continue with those that quickly justify the time and expense. Even though there’s TIME to post to Twitter, it’s better spent writing more posts, creating more products, or growing our presence elsewhere.
For example, on the British TV site, we focus primarily on Facebook and Pinterest, with Instagram as a very distant third priority. Twitter is virtually useless, and places like SnapChat and TikTok are not going to have the older audience we cater to.
More time to blog doesn’t mean you get more blogging done.
It happened to me back in 2008 when I quit my “real” job, and it happened again when I stepped away from client work to focus on blogging/publishing. You think about how many hours you used to spend on whatever it was you were doing for a living, and you just sort of assume you’ll fill all those hours with new, wonderful, productive things.
It’s a lie.
With the time pressure off, you’ll invariably find all sorts of new and stupid ways to waste a good chunk of that new time. If you do manage to fill all of it, you’ll almost definitely burn yourself out and end up spending the following days totally unproductive.
While there’s little you can do to totally guard against this, you can help yourself out by making sure that whatever your strategy and whatever you decide to outsource, the tasks left on your plate are varied enough to keep you engaged and productive and not totally burning yourself out.
Even those of us who have been working for ourselves for 10+ years can go a bit funny when we suddenly have a lot of new free time.
You will almost definitely feel frustrated by slow progress.
I’ve built tons of blogs to the 4-figure/low 5-figure stage, so I’m well familiar with those early stages of growth. Once a site gets a little traction, it’s fun and exciting and full of lengthy stretches where you double or triple your traffic every month.
Even the intermediate stages are fun, with solid growth and increasing paychecks. The problem, though, is that by the time you’re ready to go full-time, your blog is probably big enough that the growth is starting to slow.
While you would have been over the moon about a 10k monthly visitor increase a year before, it might amount to a 3-5% increase in your traffic now. It’s good, but it doesn’t give you quite the same feeling of excitement.
You may be extra disappointed in yourself once you’ve been doing it full-time for a while. Again, it’s that tendency to expect big things with more time.
What’s more important is that you use that time to work towards your big long-term goals – whether that means just maintaining what you’ve got, expanding and building an empire, or creating additional sites to diversify your income.
Blogging is not always very exciting. Sometimes, it’s incredibly dull.
Okay, let’s start with some perspective. I’ve worked enough jobs to know that blogging is still better than about 95% of what’s out there – and that’s before you think about commuting and co-workers and begging your boss or HR rep for a raise of that comes close to the increase in your rent.
To those of us born to be independent, jobs are all-around terrible.
That said, blogging can be a real slog, especially if you don’t have other projects on the side. Before, I had the occasional thrill of signing a new $6k/month client or landing a $12k copywriting job.
These days, I’m focusing on slow and steady growth, and it’s easy to forget that every $1k in increased average monthly profit is adding somewhere between $10,000-40,000 to the total value of the blog (should it ever be sold).
That’s a LOT more exciting than a new client, especially since blogging income is at least partially passive. Still, it’s easy to forget that when you’re working hard and seeing fairly modest monthly income growth.
And of course, all of this is relative to what you earned before. If you were a retail cashier earning minimum wage, a couple thousand in monthly income earned from home will have you over the moon. If you were earning a healthy six figure income consulting for big corporate clients, it’ll be harder to get excited about such small figures.
The same goes for your daily tasks. Blogging can get very monotonous. There’s a lot of stuff you do over and over and over. Many of your best posts will be the ones you least enjoy writing (like lengthy resource posts where you spend more time gathering and editing images than anything).
It’s not coal mining, but it’s also not a fairytale land of creativity and fun and overflowing buckets of money. The reality is somewhere in between, and that hits home much harder when it becomes your full-time occupation.
Absolutely! Even though it’s challenging and not always as fun as I might like, it’s still a career I willingly chose over plenty of other lucrative options.
I can’t think of too many jobs that let you work from almost anywhere, have near-complete control over your work, and build a six to seven figure salary – all while building an asset you could sell if you ever really wanted to.