Starting a blog or wanting to make a career out of yours can be a confusing and scary thing to do. But we all have to start somewhere! And for me that’s discussing WHY you want to do it and setting those BIG GOALS to help you achieve it.
This episode looks at all of the WHYS of starting a blog and helps you break down the big goal in a super helpful-very teachery-flow charty kinda way.
So grab a pen and paper and dive in!
And if you need a transcript of the show, then you can read it below.
I know you’ve heard an episode already but that was a kinda introduction to me and the podcast whereas THIS is where the fun starts!
I say fun, I mean if you’re a blogger or wannabe blogger it could be fun but if you’re like…a farmer…. Probs less fun but ANYWAY
In this episode, we’re going to look at the reasons why you start your blog and how setting goals can really help you find a direction and not feel lost in the big ol bloggersphere, so let’s go…
So what is the why? The why is why you first started your blog, or what made you want to start a blog.
I remember back in 2011, I was at uni training to be a teacher and all of my uni mates were so well put together and in my eyes, trendy. I started following fashion blogs to get an idea of what to wear – I’m the most unstylish person EVER and have never learned how to dress myself, from those days back where I solely wore Kappa bottoms and football shirts, to wearing a pin stripe waistcoat to my prom – I was useless, and I discovered these bloggers who could teach me what to wear.
From there, I discovered bloggers who were discussing more about their lives and experiences and I was hooked! There were bloggers I totally fell in love with, they felt like they could be my best friends.
So there was my why. I wanted to start a blog to be that friend to others and to get my passions out there.
What’s your why? Because there is no wrong, why.
Unless its to start a pro-Trump ultra right wing blog, then yeah… don’t do that.
But what I mean is, the reason you started your blog or want to start one is so personal to you. And there’s no one out there that can tell you your reason is stupid or invalid or won’t amount to anything.
You know, if you’re a brand new blogger, I hope this episode gives you some clarity and if you’ve been at it for years, I hope it helps you reflect back on why you started at the beginning – have you already achieved those things you set out to achieve? Do you have a new why? OR have you lost track and you need some realignment?
Your ‘why’ never changes but along the road your goals might.
Back when I first started blogging, it wasn’t this huge thing it is now. I had no idea I’d get free shit or be invited to events – I just thought I’d make some friends and have a few people read my words.
So my ‘why’ for starting my blog was just to feel a part of something, to own something, to channel my thoughts and boredom into SOMETHING.
So what’s yours? Because it’s totally OK if it’s for the free shit, the opportunities, the attention, the compliments and all of the GOOD STUFF that comes with starting a blog.
Because blogging is bloody great. I wouldn’t have started this podcast if it wasn’t. The doors it can open up, the connections it can foster, the enlightenment it can bring – is totally wonderful. And it’s great for all of the air quotes right reasons and it’s also great for all of the reasons we sometimes feel bad about admitting.
Yes it’s totally vain and probably not all that healthy to use blogging as a form of validation – people are reading what I write, I must be a good person – crack on mate.
It’s also totally ok to have seen the financial opportunities it brings and want to build something for yourself as a nice little earner.
And if you want to be on the next series of Love Island and think that growing a social media presence will help advance you through the auditions – you know what, that’s OK too.
Or maybe your why is a mixture of all of the good and all of the ‘Air quotes people judge you for admitting this bad’ type stuff. Hey there’s no judgement here! OK maybe if all you post about is free shit and I see you attention seeking there may be some judgement… lol
But do you get me? Whatever motivates your why, it’s yours.
It’s great if your ‘why’ has a direction attached to it – to become a full time job, to make money, to write a book, to boost a career, to learn new skills.
Because then you can work towards something. You can make it what you need to help you reach that goal. And we’ll talk about that in a sec.
It’s also just bloody great if your ‘why’ is because you want to do it for fun.
Because if that’s your why, then you can break away from getting caught up in all of the negatives of starting a blog – the pressure to be ‘something’, the comparison trap, playing the game – and you can just do you.
Theres not enough said about this actually….
So let’s look at some of the common ‘whys’ that people start a blog.
I figure the most popular ‘why’ is, ‘I want to be a blogger’ which means you want to do it for a job. And that was me! A year or so into blogging I began to fantasise about making it my full time job. I had Carrie from SATC themed fantasies of owning a sexy apartment, with a wardrobe of gifted clothes, meeting my blogger pals for brunch every day, taking a few photos, writing on my laptop and being happy.
But I had no idea how I was going to make that happen! And this is where my kinda thing about ‘the big goal’ comes in and I’ll talk about that in a bit.
But before I do, I urge you to think about this type of ‘why’.
Because the Carrieesque life is NOT what being a ‘full time blogger’ is. And what my ‘why’ REALLY was, was an escape. It was an escape from teaching – because I thought I was awful at it, and it was an escape from a previously crappy relationship.
I thought full time blogging would give me the freedom to be me, to answer to no one but myself and to not have to work ‘for the man’ any more – and in a lot of ways it totally is that!
But let’s break down what it really is… still sounds good? Great!
But I really want you to think about this ‘why’ and go deeper into why, this is your why. Why why why – how many times can I say it? Who’s playing why bingo?
Another popular ‘why’ is ‘to make money’. Maybe you’d like a side hustle to pay for your ASOS splurges, that dream holiday, Deliveroo bills or y’know ACTUAL bills.
So maybe you’re actually really happy in your job and your life but you want this as a hobby turned side hustle to get a lil bit extra spending money.
And this ‘why’ gives you a clear direction too. You know that you could start building your platform so that you can start working on sponsored content, get started with affiliate marketing and get that poundage coming through – and if that is you, then please stick with this podcast because we will be talking about how to make money as we go on.
But let’s be real, to make money you need an audience and a following. And you’re not going to build that supportive community around you if it’s clear from the outset that you’re just about the money. So you do also need to think about building your online presence, a brand, a persona, whatever you want to call it, because if you’re just an ad machine, people aren’t going to switch into you.
So reflect on that ‘why’ and think about how you’re going to shape your journey if that’s your ‘big goal’.
And actually all of that brings me to the best ‘why’ and it’s my why (so biased but k bear with) and that’s building a community around you. In business terms it’s your ‘circle of influence’ but in person to person terms, it’s reaching people, inspiring people and being inspired too.
So maybe like me, you’ve always found friendships tricky to navigate, you don’t always have loads in common, feel a bit awkward or left out or don’t have that solid group that’s moved with you from primary school to uni – and you see through blogging that so many people are building so many, new, solid relationships.
And then as you go on you see that bloggers have this amazing support network of people to tell them that their new hair do looks amazing, or that they’re proud of them for writing a book or that they want to wear a skirt to be just like them and you think – wow I want to engage with people like that. I want to make an impression. I want to leave a legacy.
I always encourage bloggers to think about their legacy. With everything being posted online and then living forever on the internet, what do you want future generations to remember about you?
So if your why is ‘to make it a job and earn money’ – how are you going to do that but also inspire, educate, inform and entertain so that your legacy is worth something more than the pound signs?
And if your why is to build that community, forge relationships and foster inspiration – what does that look like on the internet in 20, 30 years? It’s good to think about it!
But whilst you’re lost in the reverie and thinking, ‘shit what if my legacy is that I told people I went for a Nando’s every Sunday and continually shared the contents of my cat’s litter tray’, I’m going to start talking about goal setting.
Why is it important to set goals?
I think it’s important because…
In teaching we have Learning Objectives and a success criteria – it can be measured, – the big goal is the LO and the success criteria is how we get there and we can then set SMART targets – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound along the way.
Let’s talk about ‘big goals’ then. What do I mean? Or our LO…
Whenever I get together with bloggers – whether it’s pals, people at events or the ones I catch, I always ask them why they started blogging and what their ‘big goal’ is.
Because I believe that when you have ‘the big goal’ in mind, it’s easier to retrace your steps backwards to figure out what you need to do to achieve it.
It’s like going to a crime scene and seeing a messed up murder victim and next to that is a bullet shell casing and on that is finger prints and.. oh wait that took a dark turn – comparing blogging goals to murder. Can you tell I watched the entire second series of The Sinner this past weekend? BUT YOU GET ME.
Having this success criteria – Working backwards helps you to set smaller, more easily achievable goals and to track your progress.
So for arguments sake, seeing as this podcast is kinda designed to help bloggers who maybe want to make money or make it their full time gig, let’s start with that as our big goal and then work backwards – you got a pencil/notepad to hand because did I mention, there’d be HOMEWORK…
Ok so the big goal is to earn enough money through our blogs to make it a full time job. LO: I can become a full time blogger
And everyone’s version of ‘enough money’ is relative by the way – perhaps you don’t need all that much or perhaps you want to be earning 6 figures.
You decide that. Is it ‘enough’ to pay your bills and live a little or is ‘enough’ to have the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed about – but think in SMART terms OK because it’s v v v unlikely we’re going to be billionaires but I’m not here to shit on anyone’s parade, but you know LET’S BE REALISTIC.
So write that down at the top, we’re flowcharting it up here people.
Then how do you make money through blogging? Write these branches down… ‘affiliate income’, ‘sponsored posts’, ‘sidebar/on page ads’ ‘other revenue streams’
We’ll go into waaaay more detail on each of these branches in later episodes, but just generally, for flowchart purposes, let’s look at each briefly.
Let’s start with affiliate income, if you’re completely like, ‘da fuq is affiliate income?’ – it’s a partnership with a brand, called an affiliation, where by promoting their products you get a kick back on the sales that are made or you get a little bit of money each time someone clicks on the link you are sharing – there are different types and we’ll go into it another time but under this add in some more branches here.
We can make money from affiliates through – link placements in content., social media posts – tweets, facebook etc, swipe up on Instagram stories.
Now let’s break this down even further – we can all add links into our content once we’re approved by affiliate marketing platforms so we can leave that branch there for now and we’ll revise down the line. And sure we can all tweet links.
But we need 10k followers at present to swipe up in stories, so under that you’re going to have to put, ‘build a following’ and you know what, whilst you’re at it, put that under tweets and posts too because unless you’ve built a readership and a following – ain’t no one there to click those affiliate links.
So now we see that the most pressing thing when it comes to successful affiliate marketing is building this following. And that’s because people will only click or buy from the things we recommend if they trust us, if they aspire to have the same things as us or if we’re sharing links to things that are relevant to our audience. Therefore we need an affiliate marketing strategy – and that’s like GCSE level blogging so let us come back to that soon.
Now Let’s move over to sponsored posts. And again how are we going to start working on these?, Well we’ll need brands to recognise us. We’ll want them to see that by paying us to make content for them, they’re going to get a return on their investment.
How do they get that? Well, there are lots of reasons brands want to work with bloggers – it’s because of the quality of the content that can be made for sure but it’s also it’s by having your readers and followers engage with their brand or product, so let’s so ahead and write, ‘offer ROI to brands’ and then under that, ‘build a readership/following’.
Because unless a brand can see that we have an engaged following who trust our recommendations and buy what we’re effectively selling – why would they want to work with us?
Next, Sure you can make money off of sidebar ads, but again often you need a large readership and to be honest I’m not a fan.
Each to their own but for me, often sidebar ads can ruin the user experience of your blog and website.
This is a personal preference though and I know a lot of bloggers make good money from this aspect and y’know if someone wants to start paying me 4 figures a month to put a lil banner in, NO SHAME but it’s just not something I’ve considered up to this point.
Again though, you’ll often need a solid readership to be considered onto ad platforms – unless it’s Google Adsense but we can go over this all another time.
Then finally, we have ‘diverse streams of income’. SO what do I mean here? That to me is stuff like merchandise, books, downloadables, presets – all of the things a blogger themselves can make or have made that their readers/followers will want to buy and that is something that really won’t be coming into affect until you’ve built a solid following and a closely engaged circle of influence – so let us park that for now.
But what’s the overall message you’re getting from this flow chart? All points lead back to growing an engaged community of readers and followers around you – and that’s what we need to build over the next few episodes.
And that term circle of influence keeps cropping up, so shall we talk about that too whilst we’re at it?
GO ahead and get your notepad and pen again.
I want you to write your name in the middle of the piece of paper and draw a circle around you.
Outside of that circle is your nearest and dearest – the people who trust you implicitly, who respect you, who admire you – often that’s your friends, partner, family but as you build your online presence and start building this super engaged community, you’ll find that your readers and followers start to enter this circle too.
And then what happens? They recommend you as a trusted source on a whole manner of topics to their nearest and dearest, who then hopefully go on to spread your name too – and that’s how the circle widens.
The people who come closer to you in the circle are the ones who are going to make your goals a reality. They’re the ones who are going to help you on your why.
And they’re the ones really who you can’t ever forget about. And over this series of episodes we’ll be talking about them lots.
SO I want you to come and find me on Instagram and Twitter – @vixmeldrew, comment on the show notes blog posts and just tell me – what things are you already doing to build that circle and what barriers are you coming against?
I also want you to come and tell me about your why, your big goals and how this podcast could help you – because this here, and the whole exciting emails community – the newsletter, the facebook group – it’s all there to support you in achieving your big goals.
Next time we’re going to discuss why finding a niche and nailing your USPs are the first step in working towards those goals so hopefully you tune in again!
Don’t forget to leave ratings and reviews on iTunes, I’ll be shouting people out for being so kind to take the time!
Until next time then!