This is a sponsored post
When I started Tech Savvy Mama in 2008, I never imagined that my place on the web could develop into a full time business and brand. Last week when my site relaunched with a brand new shiny design, I had an opportunity to pause, reflect, and think back to the very beginning when I was proud that that I had hired a web designer to customize my Blogspot template.
Thinking about what my site looked like when I first started to what it is now lets me realize how far I’ve come.
I’ve seen blogs come and go. I’ve seen friends rebrand while others have shut theirs down completely to pursue amazing job opportunities, write books inspired by content from their blogs, and use their sites as launching points for media empires. I’ve seen the space evolve but through it all I’ve grown personally and professionally and am proud of my business and the brand I’ve built along the way.
If you’re one of the many who have thought of starting a blog but haven’t taken the leap yet, or are looking to move beyond blogging as a hobby, here are 9 pieces of advice that come from my years of experience that I wish someone had shared with me long ago.
9 Tips for Moving Beyond Your Blog as a Hobby
1. Find Your Passion
Over the past eight years I’ve seen blogs come and go but I’m still here, writing about what I love. And that’s key. If you’re going to sit down and write, write about something you care about. Your knowledge and passion will resonate with your readers and be an endless source of content.
But don’t be surprised if there are days that you sit down to write and the words just don’t flow.
It happens to each and every one of us regardless of how passionate we may be.
2. Define Your Own Success
Thanks to social media, it’s way too easy to compare yourself with everyone else. Someone will always have more followers, be working with an amazing brand you want to work with, have the coveted press sample, or be on a press trip that you wish you were invited on.
Before you get bogged down with the daily FOMO that exists in the blogging industry, stop and ask yourself about your goals.
What is the pie in the sky goal that you are working towards as part of your long term vision? What are the smaller and more actionable items that you’re checking off your list in the short term? What can you do now to elevate your brand and keep your business heading towards the long term goal?
Everyone has a different measure of success. Define yours before you let others define it for you.
3. Develop a Network
Blogging can be isolating. Most days I’m writing in my home office with my dog as my companion. As loveable as our Yellow Labrador, Oliver is, he’s not much of a help with it comes to brainstorming, answering my questions, or providing feedback.
Think about the friends you have in the space that you’re constantly interacting with. Do they give as much as they take? Is there someone who:
- inspires you
- is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge
- is a wordsmith who helps you brainstorm headlines or post ideas
- makes you laugh on a regular basis
- supports you as much as you support them
- keeps it real and calls you on your BS
- is your shoulder to cry on and loves you unconditionally
If you answered yes to each and every one of the above then you’re very lucky to have such an amazing network of friends who truly get you and can count on when you need them the most.
Don’t take your network for granted. Support them as much as they support you and rid yourself of toxic business or personal relationships.
Tools like Skype, Facebook Messenger, and texting help you communicate with those in your circle in an unobtrusive way. I love using Skype chat, Messenger, and texting as my virtual water cooler since they allow me to check in with friends in my network regularly but in an unobtrusive way.
4. Audit Your Skills
What things do you love and at what things do you excel? What things do you wish you could do better?
It’s ok to not be good at everything and honestly, I would worry if you were. No one can do everything.
Taking a good hard look at your skills allows you to see where your strengths lie and focus on those. Be honest and truthful with yourself and know that it’s ok if you don’t know everything. That’s where your network comes in! They can help teach you what you need to know and for all your other needs, outsource. See below.
5. Know When to Outsource
If you’ve audited your skills and know where your weaknesses lie, considering outsourcing these tasks to someone who can handle them so you can focus your energies on the areas where you excel.
I know. It’s hard to let go but you need to. Trust me. It took me years to learn this and I’m glad that I did.
Let’s use me as an example. I know that I’m good at writing and it’s my voice that helps me make money through my site and consulting. I’m good at communicating how I can help brands be authentic and reach their target audience.
I’m constantly evaluating how my time is best spent building my business. Tasks that take time away from me writing, consulting, and developing new business leads is not the best use of my time these days.
I’m not saying that I’m too good for some of the things required to run my site these days. I’m saying that I know my strengths and recognize that the things I’m not good at would take me far longer to do than if I hired someone else to help me.
It’s about being wise with your time but even smarter about your money. When you’re ready to outsource, ask around. So many times you do get what you pay for and you always want someone who will work as hard as you do and has a solid reputation for doing what they do well.
6. Operate from a Place of Yes
One of the biggest lessons my mother taught me that applies to the business of blogging is, “It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no.”
Put yourself out there. Take a deep breath before you send a pitch. Never be afraid to ask.
If you never ask, then you’ll never know what might have been possible. Operate as if they’ll say yes and do a happy dance when they really do. Only your dog is there to watch you.
7. Always be Professional
At the end of the day, you only have your reputation. And while always being professional goes without saying, it’s worth including on this list. After all, everyone wants to sleep well at night feeling good about themselves.
8. Invest in Yourself
I am a lifelong learner who loves to learn new things whether they’re found online, tips and tricks shared by others in the space, or through blogging conferences. Don’t discount the importance of your own professional development and be sure to devote time to your own learning. An investment in your own learning is also an investment in your business.
9. Invest in Your Business
If you truly want to take your blog to the next level, it’s important to invest in your business. From small costs like business cards to major costs like office space, at some point it becomes critical to spend money. Here are some ways you can invest in your business to convert your hobby to a source of income:
- Become an LLC
- Redesign your website
- Hire a business coach
- Rent office space for your growing team
- Retain a virtual assistant for a set number of hours per month
- Upgrade your equipment
- Attend a blogging conference
- Hire an accountant
- Secure a URL that reflects your online destination
If you’re still using a third-level domain (for example: person.blogprovider.com) securing a dotME extension is perfect for personal blogs because of its unique and customizable nature. A .ME domain name serves as an extension to your blogging business and provides a personal, yet professional, look and feel to your site.
Since I mentioned attending blogging conferences as a way to invest in yourself and your business, .ME often sponsors blogging conferences, allowing you to meet branding experts and get tips on things like creating a strong media kit. Domain.ME is dedicated to building strong relationships with its community members and supports peer-to-peer learning through posts like this.
This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.