When I started this blog, I had no real idea what I was doing. I had been a blogger for a while by then (I had a personal blog for many years) but I’d never done it seriously and certainly not as a business. Me being me, I set out to learn everything I could about blogging as I was doing it weekly. I joined a heap of Facebook groups about blogging, went to a live class, bought some online classes, and tried really hard to make my blog look like all these people said it was SUPPOSED to look.
Immediately, I signed up for Google Ads and plastered them all over. I tried to connect then understand my Google Analytics. I stressed out about things like how often to post on social media, where to source photos from, and how many links to have in each article. I lived in fear that god forbid the Google gods would penalize my site for some random rule I broke. I learned a ton about stuff like “no follow links” and affiliates and link trees. One of the classes I went to gave you a “report card” and when I saw mine, I got super upset. Basically they told me I was doing it all wrong. Ugly background. Not enough pretty pictures. Not the right hosting platform. On and on this thing went, and it made me feel awful – the women who ran that course were making MEGA bucks from their blogs, so OF COURSE they knew their stuff and I had to do what they suggested.
I started to do all the “right” things these classes and groups told me to. I created a media kit. I chased after sponsorships. Removed the background they didn’t like. I tried to collaborate with other brands. I focussed on growing all my social media numbers. I reached out to a ton of people to write for them for free. I asked for people to guest post on my site. I tried to sign up with a bunch of social media influencer agencies, only to learn my numbers meant nothing and were too small for them to care. I went to (shock horror!!) networking events with other bloggers. You name it, I did it. I wanted this thing to be a success so I took every bit of advice I could. Freaking hell if I was going to be a professional blogger you bet your hot scones I was going to be the BEST ONE I COULD BE and that meant doing all this stuff people told me I had to do.
Almost none of it worked, or at least not as well as I’d been told it would. That media kit I worked so hard on getting right? Nobody bought ad space from me. I never got a sponsor for the blog as a whole either. The few sponsored articles I wrote were flops. The competitions I ran were okay, but not brilliant. I still have no real idea how to read Google Analytics, and I can’t tell you on any given day how many social media followers I’ve got. Cake business is also too niche and doesn’t fit into ‘mom blog’ ‘business blog’ ‘lifestyle blog’ categories but that never stopped me trying to do things in the way traditional blogs do. Eventually all I got was a sense of dread and hate for all that kind of stuff and I started to resent how much this blog felt nothing at all like what I intended…and spoiler: I wasn’t making any money (unless you count the $100 it took me TWO YEARS to make from Google Ads.)
When I started the blog, I wanted to be a writer. A story-teller. A motivator. A friend. A mentor. What I did NOT want to be was a woman obsessed by metrics or trying ever more desperate tactics to make it work. Hmm. Funny that. After probably a year (or more) of trying to make someone else’s model of business work, I finally realised it wasn’t going to work FOR ME. So I ditched it all. The media kit, the ads, the sponsorship hopes, the competitions. I just went back to doing what I planned to do, and I found a way to make a living out of it, rather than make a living the way others have done. There’s nothing wrong with those methods, they work …just not for me.
Once I started doing my thing in my way, my career as a blogger got a lot better and I was a lot happier about it – and I started to make a real living out of it. Time and time again throughout my blogging experience, I’ve been told I HAVE to or SHOULD do things a certain way. Oh dear god I’ve been told SO MANY times that I don’t do things as I am supposed to. My logo is outdated, I should have a membership site, people won’t pay more than $29.99 for business classes, my book will never sell….on and on and on and ON.
That being said, I like to have an open mind. So most of the time I’ll listen to what others say, then look into it. If that method of doing business or that idea doesn’t suit me, I let it go. I no longer feel like I have to follow someone else’s method all the time. I don’t think someone else’s BIG FAT AMAZING IDEA is ALWAYS the key to the lock. In truth, sure, maybe there are times when doing it someone else’s way would have made me more money or been more successful… but it would feel like I was wearing pants that were two sizes too small. Sure, they fit – but they’re not comfortable and you live in fear of an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.
These days – I learn all the things, check out all the things, and then (and only then) do the things which I want to try, which suit my business, which intrigue me, which I think have merit BEYOND “so and so said it’s a good idea.” I’ve learned that “my business, my rules” ALSO applies to caring about certain things. For example, I’ve learned that I don’t care about the metrics even though I’m supposed to. I have NO IDEA how many downloads the podcast gets per month, no idea how many hits this website gets, no idea how many Instagram followers I’ve got…and I could care less, because those metrics mean NOTHING when you are a writer, a story teller, a motivator and a friend. They’re nice numbers to smile at admiringly once in a while. That’s about it. The only REAL number I care about is my bank balance – not because I care about the real dollar amount per se, but because I care about paying my mortgage, feeding all of us, travelling and making sure my business is viable. That’s it. Any other numbers are totally meaningless to me, other than the number of lives I’ve touched..and since that number grew beyond one, I stopped counting. One is enough for me to feel like it’s been worth it. That the number is then one is a gift I’m very, very proud of.
Stop caring about stuff that doesn’t matter to you or doing stuff which doesn’t suit you or the way you want to conduct business. Go. Learn. Then go and DO YOUR OWN THING, maybe with that knowledge or maybe not. Point is, nobody gets to tell you how to do things in your business other than you. The only thing you SHOULD do is trust your gut.
How does all of this apply to you? In your business, I suggest you avoid making choices solely from a place of what you think you “should” be doing. I’m not saying do things the hard way, or figure everything out yourself all the time. I’m saying do the learning, gather up the information, then MAKE A DECISION about which of those ideas and plans you really are interested in trying. Don’t ever do them because somebody else told you (or tried to shame you) that their way was the only one. Modify those ways you’ve learned about or come up with ways of doing things which suit you and your style of doing business.
Not because I said you should.
Because that’s what you actually WANT to do.