It seems that there is a market for every conceivable blog niche out there – which is fantastic news for the new solopreneur economy that’s been gathering strength over the last decade. More and more people are turning to blogging as a way to generate either and active or passive income – but in amongst the glitz of income reports and “how I made my first million by blogging” articles, there are some things that people downplay about what blogging really entails.
Writing a blog does so many things for you, on a personal and professional level. It can boost your self-esteem to see people commenting on and sharing your work. It gives you a portfolio to send to potential clients or employers. It provides a platform for you to share your thoughts with this crazy world.
But if you think blogging for business is a super easy and extra-fast way to make the big bucks, you have to hold your horses a little while, Chuck. First, you need to make sure you take these four not-so-great things into account, and see if you really feel like you’re cut out for blogging.
You’ll Feel Like You’ll Never Know Enough About Blogging
Your blog is your passion, your lover, your enemy, and your obsession. As soon as you start to build your website, you won’t stop thinking about it.
You’re going to join Facebook groups and online forums, get involved in deep discussions about word length, affiliate programs, Pinterest, finding your niche, your website layout… the list goes on. The more you learn about blogging, the more you’re going to feel like you have to learn.
People approach blogging in so many different ways that the cacophony you are blasted with on tips for this and advice for that can prevent you from filtering out the bits and pieces that are relevant to you.
You’ll read one thing one day, and conflicting information the next. There’s no way you can ever know enough about web design, coding, affiliate programs, or anything else. It’s a constant battle to learn anything and everything, and yet still find time to somehow implement this knowledge.
The solution: stop reading about what worked for other people, and start reading more about your industry and chosen niche. Blogging strategy only goes so far – but knowledge will open doors. Show people that you know what you’re talking about, and you won’t need any fancy strategies.
Make a list of goals that you want for your blog. Do you want to make money? Read about monetising your blog and affiliate programs. Do you want to have lots of visitors? Read about traffic building techniques. Do you want people to hire you for your knowledge? Keep writing informative blog posts about your sector. If you break down your blog goals like this, and focus only on the immediate goal, you’ll stop your mind from burning out with information overload.
Social Media Is Exhausting
I belong to a number of Facebook groups for bloggers, Pinterest group board, Tailwind Tribes*, and Twitter lists. If you think that sounds like a lot: I’ve only been using social media for my blog for a month or so. There are many more avenues to try.
To get any valuable engagement and build an audience of readers via your social media, you’re going to have to do more than promote your latest blog on all of your platforms. You need to share other people’s content, provide your opinion or experiences when someone asks a question, and get involved in discussions.
I’ve become used to the ‘turn off notifications’ button for Facebook posts in particular, because I ended up getting literally hundreds of notifications every day about new comments on posts. If there is a valuable conversation going on, I’ll follow it – or I’ll save the post and switch off notifications, instead going back later to the saved link to read everything in one go.
Many bloggers, like me, are natural introverts. We’re stay at home kind of people, who prefer a quiet night in than a party night out. The amount of social input you’re going to need can easily exhaust you if you’re not used to it.
The solution: build up your social media slowly, channel by channel, and keep to a select few favourite groups or feeds so you don’t spread yourself too thinly. Turn off notifications, and choose to spend only the time you schedule on your social media. You can also find ways to automate some social interactions, such as Tailwind for Pinterest (you can join my tribe via the affiliate link here), which can take some of the stress out of social media for bloggers.
You’ll Get Writer’s Block
Even if you have a list of blog titles for every week of the year, that’s not going to stop writer’s block. Every single blogger will experience this at some point, and it’ll usually happen just as your blog is starting to take off.
You’ll get The Fear. Suddenly, when you know people are actually subscribing to and reading your posts, you’re going to try and second-guess yourself. You’ll criticise every word that you write as stupid and not worthy of your readers.
It’s OK: it happens to all of us.
The other cause of writer’s block is feeling like you’ve already said everything there is to say. You have no new material. This is, of course, utter tosh, but your negative self-talk will create a wall that seems impossible to deconstruct. You convince yourself you cannot write a single valuable word for your readers
Writer’s block may resolve itself. Sometimes, all it takes is a day off, or a few hours to read through your favourite blogs by other people. Other times, it can take months. You will get past it, just keep persevering.
The solution: read around. Take inspiration from other blogs in your niche, or use the time to read a book about your area of interest. If you come across blogs you like, you could always challenge yourself to pitch them to host a guest blog from you. A new audience is always a good cure for The Fear.
Consider other ways to write about your niche: make a list of everything you know. For example, if you’re a whole-foods lifestyle blogger without any new recipes, consider looking at writing a series on organic farming, if the use of chemicals is something that led you to your chosen lifestyle.
Your Social Life Will Suffer
You’re going to start turning down invitations so that you can spend more time writing blogs, promoting on social media, developing your site, or analysing your analytics in microscopic detail.
Friends are going to stop asking you to things, because you’re going to always end up talking about blogging, your side hustle, or working from home. This is cool if your friends work from home, or understand what you do, but many will think you’re nuts for even trying. “There are so many blogs out there, how can you compete?” is a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion by a ‘well-meaning’ friend.
Then something weird happens. You start to gain traction, and your work gets noticed. As these ‘friends’ realise you’re becoming successful, they’re going to do one of two things: a) ask you to teach them (for free, in ten minutes) the secret to successful blogging, or b) try to hop on your fame trail and get you to promote their business or brand for free. Worse, they’ll ask you to write for them for free, and if you accept, will be demanding over deadlines.
So it seems like you can’t win: lose friends when you’re starting out, because you work too hard, or lose friends when you have success, because they’re freeloading.
The solution: surround yourself with positive people who understand what your mission and vision for your blog are. If your IRL friends aren’t like this, at least explain to them that you can’t come out as much because you’re investing as much time and spare cash into making your new side hustle a full-blown business.
Find your support network online, instead, in forums of other bloggers or social media pods. These people will ‘get’ you. They’ll be happy to talk at 3am about your coding issues. In fact, these people are great because they’re usually international – which means different cultural input AND different time zones, so there’s always someone awake to talk to.
If you now think that blogging sounds like too much of a sacrifice, that’s cool. It’s not for you, and that’s totally OK.
But hopefully you’ll have read these tips and realised that, actually, you’re happy to take all of these negative things on in order to create a successful blog… then you, dear reader, are the real MVP. Go forth and create!