Why You DON'T Need Numbers to be a Successful Blogger
Goodness, I feel like I haven't written a blogging advice post for ages. I think that's potentially because I haven't.
And that's simply because I've been knee deep in writing my new course, and wrapping the second season of my podcast which finished last week. But my blog? Yep, that's been left to gather dust. Despite the fact it is the start of my story and the root of everything I've achieved work-wise.
I'm inclined to blame the patriarchy for this......;)
That segues nicely into the fact I've been back at work for about four months now after taking nine blissful months off to enjoy maternity leave. I'm privileged to have been able to do that, but if you know me you'll have noticed that I never really stopped working.
Sure, I stopped pitching and chasing commissions for writing gigs. But what I did was quietly (okay not that quietly at all) squirrel away at my blog. I did a couple of courses, and focused heavily on what I could achieve because here's a little bit of honesty for you: I've always avoided trying to become a full-time blogger in case I failed.
Phew, glad that's off my chest.
So what did I get up to in my nine months of blogging experimentation? Well, I guess the bulk of it came from my the release of my weekly podcast, What She Said, which I'd been planning since late 2016.
But there was also a joy in just playing. With Instagram, with Squarespace, with networking and writing posts about whatever I wanted.
I acted as though I already was a full-time blogger, and that professionalism helped somehow.
I guess there was also an element of 'fuck it' because I had the comfort blanket of having a baby, being on maternity leave and not having to worry about appearing to 'achieve'.
But at the end of this strange sort of gap year, I realised a whole lot. I set goals I never really expected to achieve and went back to work on January 9th with hella trepidation. I fully expected to just go back to journalism and spent one whole week pitching like crazy on the two days I'd allotted for Anaïs childcare knowing that every hour I didn't get a commission I was going into negative salary for the month.
Then I chose something a bit radical. Well, it felt radical as I didn't have a blueprint I could folllow of someone doing the exact same thing anyway.....
I paid for a whole month of full-time nursery for Anaïs and I looked back over my goals from the previous year.
I wanted to make more passive income, it said.
Less sponsored content.
And less freelance writing.
I started a podcast
Starting a podcast hasn't just been a way for me to 'meet' and interview stacks of awesome bloggers. It's been a way to connect with my audience, some of whom had never heard my voice. It's been a way to share my opinions, have a giggle and fast-track how quickly my 'readers' get to know me.
Unlike my blog where comments are sparse at best, podcasting is such an intimate way to consume content (lots of people tell me they listen in the bath!) it's a really good way to show your 'real' personality in a less vulnerable way than on camera. I'm pretty happy on Instagram Stories but what changed things for me, what. made me truly comfortable being seen was my podcast. The interactions I have daily, the proven influence etc etc has all given me a huge confidence boost I'm worthy of my space on the web.
And on a truly literal level each week as listeners learned amazing tips and got inspired, I did too. My guests genuinely helped me as much as they helped my listeners and there's nothing like the power of community to spur you on to do amazing things.
I PUBLISHED MY BLOG STATS
I explained more about my Squarespace issues in a solo episode of my podcast last year but since I switched, and my stats dropped I've been so ashamed I didn't want to update my media kit. But then i stopped caring, realised I'm achieving my goals regardless and freed myself up to stick with Squarespace and stop worrying aout chasing vanity metrics.
But I took it a step further when I published this post putting my money where my mouth is and showing I really am HONEST to a fault. It had a good reaction and more than anything I proved to myself I could share something I wasn't proud of and I'd live to breathe another breath.
In all seriousness I didn't necessarily want to publish the post at first. But when Jen Carrington and I chatted she reminded me that honesty is kinda my 'thing'.....my niche. So I have to walk the walk! That gave me the push I needed and I'm so happy I pressed publish.
I INVESTED IN courseS
This one's a funny one because I often hear of people saying they've bought stacks of courses they haven't even started. And I agree e-courses are rife....some better than others and not all right for everyone. So I wouldn't encourage this step as something you should add to your 'blueprint for blogging success' but within the chuff I invested in two courses that genuinely paid off for me.
Firstly I bought Monica Stott's *The Blogger Course, which I've talked about on the podcast a few times, and I honestly didn't expect it to be as good as it was. Yes, there are some bits I don't feel I need to implement to be a success and some bits I initally struggled with before realising it's okay not to do every step, but Monica explains things in such an honest way I felt totally safe in the knowledge she wasn't asking me to do anything she hasn't done herself.
The course covers things like affiliate marketing (which blew my mind) as well as giving me a whole new perspective on press trips. The lessons are actionable and really practical and I'd earned the course fee back a few times over before I'd finidhed the course.
The other course I can't stop raving about is from Krista Dickson who I found when looking for tutorials about Teachable when I started writing my SEO e course. She's a bit of a Pinterest expert and has stacks of tutorials on her blog too, but I love her for creating the BEST e course ever! *Your First Course Launch does exactly what it says on the tin. I had some experience of using Teachable but in simple, actionable videos Krista explains the difference between an evergreen and open/closed launch, sales funnels and how to give value to your students (along with pricing, branding and helping you plot out the content too)
**I genuinely loved both courses, and my raving reviews are why I'm an affiliate of both (meaning I get a commission if you buy them through my links because.....well, a girls gotta eat.)
LISTEN TO THE LATEST PODCAST EPISODE
I stopped worrying about Pinterest
This one's pretty funny because this time last year I was convinced I'd become a Pinterest VA at some point. But realistically it's 100% against my values to encourage people to focus on Pinterest purely to gain meaningless traffic. I do believe it's a great way to grow your blog and especially when you have specific goals and a clear focus (see Jessica Rose Wiliams for a great example of this.)
I still recommend Pinterest as the best way to while away a blissfully happy hour, but I'm not worrying about it as a traffic growth strategy for now.
I ACCEPTED MYSELF AS I AM
This has been the biggy to be honest and I am STILL a total work in progress. But for so many years I've to'd and fro'd over 'who I am' and what my tagline is etc etc etc. I started as a beauty blogger, then a travel and beauty blogger, then a travel blogger because someone told me you 'can't merge those niches' then a lifestyle blogger with no focus. And after feeling completely over it all, Monica pointed out in her Blogger Course Facebook group that I totally have a niche -- my audience.
Leaning into who I am, and why people connect with me has been a game-changer. I'm not a fashion blogger and I'm not a mummy blogger or a food blogger or a travel blogger but the thing that merges everything I write about is me.
I write about my life so I guess that makes me a lifestyle blogger, if pushed, and guess what? I totally blog for other bloggers. I'll never be able to explain my blog in one snappy little sentence but I feel so much more comfortable with myself and my blog this year than any other year.
So yeah niche, I have one. It's me.