I really hesitated before writing this post for a number of reasons. Firstly, ‘success’ is a relative term, so what I think of success online will be very different to others, see my post on being your own version of success for more explanation of that. Also, I by no means feel like an ‘expert’ or that I am really qualified write on this. However, I’ve had several emails from people asking me for advice and when I really think about it, I do earn a living doing something I love that is mostly online based. Maybe I’m more qualified to talk about it than I’d originally thought?
These tips are mainly geared up for those of us that want to take blogging or online business further. Theres also nothing wrong with blogging purely for pleasure and connection, in fact I’d say that’s the essential starting point for everyone. When I first started blogging I had no idea it would end up here, and on my way I had no guide map so I basically just winged it. I’ve certainly made a few mistakes, but such is life and from each mistake you learn. Now I feel like I have a fairly good handle on all this blogging and online business stuff, so here’s a few of my tips for being successful online, whatever that ‘success’ might mean to you…
p.s I get a bit sweary here so skip if you don’t like that kind of thing, but then I doubt you’d be here if you didn’t, see final point ;-)
If you aren’t passionate about what you write about and share, a) people will be able to see that and b) you’ll be so much more likely to give up when the going gets tough, and believe me there are tough times! I’ve had bad blogging and bad business days where something has happened and I’ve really been so tempted to just say fuck it and pack it in, however it’s the passion that keeps me going, as well as all the positive feedback I’ve had from you guys ;-) When I started a blog, it was purely for sharing my journey and offering me a creative outlet. That is something I’m still passionate about and I hope that you see that as well. My favourite blogs are by bloggers that are clearly passionate about whatever they blog about.
Don’t expect it to happen overnight
I was blogging for a good few months before I started getting more than 4 or 5 comments on a post. It was much longer than that before I made any kind of income and it’s taken me 4 and a half years of blogging almost daily to get here, so it definitely takes time and work. Enjoy the ride!
I do think it helps if you can be consistent in whatever you are doing. If that’s blogging, then having a roughly consistent schedule is good. I know I engage more with blogs that post consistently, which doesn’t have to mean every day or even every week, just with some kind of regularity. For online business and blogging I think that’s about being consistent in what you put out there on social media, although to be honest that’s another area where I tend to just wing it. You want consistency but not all robotic auto posts, share some of your life and personality too, that’s the whole point!
Develop a ‘brand’
I love and hate the word ‘brand’. On one hand it sounds really ‘businessy’ and overly thought out, but actually it’s just a name for what it is you are putting out there including your logo, the colours you use, your fonts and design elements, but most importantly, your voice, your words and what you stand for. I’ve had so much fun developing a brand for Wholeheartedly Healthy and my business, which I hope is unique to me, but really all that has been is me choosing things I think look good to me and represent me in some way. When it comes to my voice and words, all I to do is stay true to myself and try and be as authentic as possible (see below). Ultimately you want someone to see your stuff and instantly know its from you. Some blogs are hugely successful and don’t have that much of a distinctive ‘brand’ so perhaps that’s not so important, but for business it can really help communicate who you are and help attract the right people to you.
Be authentically you
There’s not much originality left in the world, but where you can’t be completely original, you can be authentic. There’s a fine line between being inspired and copying someone else’s content, voice and style, however it’s the authenticity that makes the difference. Always offer credit where credit is due, if someone or another blogger has inspired a recipe you damn well know I’m going to give them credit, even if I am putting my own spin on it. This issue used to wind me up quite a lot and I would get equally paranoid that others were, let’s say, getting overly inspired by my blog, but also that I was somehow inadvertently or subconsciously doing the same thing. Now I am really careful to ensure that doesn’t happen. Ultimately I just gave up stressing about it and now I try not to get too concerned with what others are doing and just be me as hard as I possibly can. I certainly don’t look at what other blogs are doing when I plan what I want to write about or else I’d drive myself nuts. I also think its about being honest and vulnerable sometimes, as long as that’s done in a genuine way. Some of my most commented on posts are the ones I’ve been afraid to hit publish on because they’ve been about my struggles. So whatever you do get inspired, give credit where credit is due, be honest and keep being you as hard as you can!
Don’t be afraid to make it up as you go along…
There’s loads of advice out there now about how to do blogging and online businesses ‘right’ which never seemed to be around when I started blogging. As I said before I just made this all up as I went along and learned from my mistakes. All of this advice is great, but ultimately plenty of successful blogs and businesses have done it their way and come out on top, however…
…but talk to others who have been there and get advice
If you want to look for more advice and guidance there’s some great articles on my Blogging and Business Pinterest board. It’s always great to chat to other bloggers and online entrepreneurs and get their advice as well as being able to get their support. I offer business mentoring coaching for entrepreneurs and bloggers and that has been great for supporting others in getting themselves set up. I wish I had someone like that I could have talked to a few years ago which was the whole reason I started offering that service.
Value your time
There’s been a lot of posts in the blogosphere recently about not working for free and charging your worth. They say it better than I possibly could, so check out Catherine’s post at Not Dressed as Lamb, Amber’s post on Forever Amber and Holly’s post on Decor8 for more info. Take a look at the great comments in those as well. Needless to say, once at a certain point whether in business or blogging, don’t work for free.
Don’t compare yourself to others
I’ve blogged many times about the comparison trap which is especially difficult to avoid when it comes to anything online. This is where it’s really important to tune in to what your version of success is. There’s always going to be another blogger with more readers and followers than you. Something I’ve done recently is jot down some goals / things to work on for the rest of the year and then on to 2015. I was starting to get caught up in that comparison trap for a while, and I needed to remind myself of my own measures of success. Now I could not give less fucks about what others are up to as long as I am working on achieving my own goals, and I have to say I feel really empowered by doing that!
Connect with other people
Online, in person, wherever you can, talk about what you do! Leave thoughtful comments on other blogs, tweet people you like and share their stuff in a genuine way. It took me ages before I actually told people I had a blog and even longer before I talked about being a health coach. Some of that comes down to confidence, and that will come the more you do what you do.
Believe the right people will be attracted to you
When you are truly passionate, authentic and consistent you better believe you’ll be attracting the right people into your life whether that’s readers, clients or customers. There’s loads of online marketing strategies you can use, but nothing compares to getting those three things right, it’s like magic. When your branding truly reflects you as well, it’s like an automatic filter, the people that ‘get you’ will stay and if you aren’t their bag they’ll leave (or occasionally leave you a shitty comment but that’s another part of blogging you just have to get on with!)
If you are a blogger, do you have any specific goals in mind, or do you blog purely for pleasure? What would be your top tip for someone just starting a blog or online business? As a reader, what do you look for in a blog?
images via Death to the Stock Photo