It didn’t really sink in until a few months ago. I’ve managed to mostly replace my mid-career-level income from the last job I left. And half or more of that (depending on my client load) is from my pet blog.
Ever since my first BlogPaws conference in 2012, I’ve wanted to turn my blog into my full-time job. Supporting myself financially while hiking, traveling, spending time with my dogs and writing about it sounded amazing. It would also allow me the flexibility to spend time doing what mattered most to me like taking care of my health and spending time with friends and family.
My blog started out as a hobby though. At best. When I started You Did What With Your Wiener? I barely knew what a blog was and thought they were stupid. But I discovered a passion and it turned into a solid hobby.
Now it’s a business, brings in a significant part of my income, and, with careful planning, it could bring in over 60k per year by next year.
Looking back, I can identify a few keys to my success. I want to share those with you.
To See Change, You Have to Change
No matter what your blog niche – pet, travel, lifestyle, or whatever – making these little shifts can make a big difference in how you think about and build your blog business.
Shift Your Mindset
Turning your blog into a business starts with treating it like one. This is definitely a case where “fake it until you make it” applies. I don’t mean embellish how successful your blog is, or keep telling others how successful you are, but shift your mindset.
There are many ways to shift your mindset to that of a professional pet blogger, but the biggest one for me was starting to approach all opportunities with the question “Is this good for my business?”
Set SMART Goals
Every business needs goals. I wasn’t good at setting goals until a couple of years ago and I know my blog would have grown much more quickly if I had. You have to know where you want to be in order to develop a plan and strategy to get there.
SMART Goals are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
I used to set “goals” like writing 2 blog posts a week or connecting more with my audience, but those don’t fit the SMART framework. They didn’t have clarity around what exactly I was trying to achieve by when.
A SMART goal related to connecting with my audience might be to increase Facebook comments by 5% by the end of September.
I still struggle with this one but I make more progress toward turning my blog into a successful business if my goals are concrete and measurable.
Invest in Your Business
I get not having money. I once lived in a 1-room plywood shack, drove a car with over 500k miles and a battery that boiled over frequently, and got my meals from the food bank or hand-outs from friends and family.
If you don’t have it, you don’t have it.
However, if you can find it, you should.
As the saying goes, “It takes money to make money”. That is true for any business. Even one with relatively low overhead like a blogging business.
It doesn’t have to be a lot but you need to be willing to invest in your business and yourself in order to grow.
For example, you spend all of your waking hours outside of your regular job and you’re still not making money from your blog. In order to do that, you need to learn more and do more, which you don’t have time or energy for either.
Invest in a blogging coach or mentor that can share their expertise with you to significantly shorten the learning curve, listen to your goals, and tell you what you need to do to get there.
Know Your Worth (and Ask for It)
I’m going to be honest. Brands and will pay you what you say you are worth.
Thy key is in truly KNOWING your worth and confidently communicating that.
Of course, you can’t just throw out some crazy number. You have to do the math.
You have to consider how much traffic your blog gets, the size of your online communities, your expertise, your skill level, and what the going rate in your industry is for what you are offering, etc.
I will say two things about this:
1) be sure you are not undervaluing yourself due to lack of confidence (speaking from experience *ahem*); and
2) only lower your fee if you choose to and the discount is being offset by a non-monetary value (experience, product, connections, or, yes, exposure) you’re happy with.
Don’t lower your fees because you feel pressured to do so. A “no” makes way for a yes and, believe me, there will be a yes if your rates are reasonable and you’re good at what you do.
Diversity Your Sources of Income
Someone who calls themselves a “Professional Pet Blogger” doesn’t necessarily make all of their money directly from their pet blog. In fact, I don’t know any blogger in any niche who does.
The ways each blogger who makes a full-time income from their blog varies. In most cases, income directly attributable to a blog include ad networks, affiliate sales, and sponsored content.
However, your blog itself, shouldn’t be your only source of income because it probably won’t be enough and you need a second or fifth source in case your traffic tanks.
A few of the most common ways to diversify your income are:
- leverage your blog into a contract job managing social media
- write for other people and companies as a freelance writer
- become a virtual assistant for someone
- develop eBooks and Courses.
Research all of the ways to make money from a blog and then do what fits for you and your blog.
The more income streams you can be successful at, the more income you can generate and the less your income will be impacted by algorithm changes or if your blog gets hacked.
Don’t Give Up
Making a living from your blog probably sounds real nice. But it’s real work. Hard work. And it never ends.
Only you are responsible for the success of your blog. You have to really want it and be adaptable.
You may have to try a lot of things and see what sticks. “Fail fast” is a phrase I always try to remember.
Pick a target and throw yourself into getting there. But, if you keep trying and you aren’t seeing any return for your efforts, change direction. Let go, set a new direction, and go after it with equal vigor. Eventually something will stick.
Becoming a professional blogger is a marathon and not a race.
Every blogger, like every business person or employee, needs to know the right tools to get their job done successfully. However, there is a point where the learning curve flattens.
It really hit me one day that I was addicted to learning. Perhaps it was because I was fearful of actually DOING. I don’t know.
One thing I can say for sure: The things I listed above have been key to my blogging business success.
Which one of these things do you need to start doing or be more consistent with?