By Ruth Soukup, Founder, Living Well, Spending Less
Have you ever looked at your life and wondered “What happened? How did I get here? Who am I? And what happened to all those things I thought I wanted to do?”
It’s more common than you think.
For me, that moment happened after (yet another) huge fight with my husband about my out-of-control spending habits. At the time, I was the stay-at-home mom of our two young daughters, and while I loved my kids and loved being a mom, I was also bored out of my mind.
To fill the time, I focused on redecorating the house, and when that project was done, I just kept shopping, thinking that all those pretty accessories at Target would distract me from the fact that I didn’t really like who I had become.
And so, desperate for something to do that wasn’t shopping, I decided to begin a quest to simplify my life and stop spending too much money, and then document it all on a blog called Living Well Spending Less.
What I didn’t expect was how that blog would turn into a full-time business. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one struggling to manage my home and my finances, and as I wrote about my own experience, my audience grew wildly, and I soon realized that it was possible to take my passion and turn it into profit.
Today, Living Well Spending Less Inc. is a multimillion dollar company that is still growing by leaps and bounds. It’s even spun off a second brand called Elite Blog Academy, where I teach others how to create their own successful, profitable blogging business.
Here’s the truth I want you to walk away with today: you deserve to use your gifts, and it’s possible to do it without neglecting everything else you love in the process. I’m sharing with you today my top advice for getting started with it in 2018.
Decide to Start
The most fundamental core value in my company is this: Do It Scared. Because one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is that you’ll never feel truly ready to take on something new. Often we get the courage from the confidence we build just by taking that first step.
So if you’re looking to monetize your passion, and you’re thinking about how scary it will be to put yourself out there for the whole Internet to see, then you should know a) you’re so not alone, b) you should do it anyway, and c) you should start with a blog.
I know what you’re saying in your head right now, “Doesn’t everyone have a blog? Won’t I just be one more voice in the noise?” Or maybe it’s more like this, “I want a serious business. Aren’t blogs just for crafty people and hobbyists?”
I’m just going to stop you right there. I may have started my blog eight years ago, but I firmly believe it’s still the best place to start. The trends in business confirm this to me and only make me more optimistic about blogging. Here’s why …
First, you’ll be starting with a better business model. The blogging industry has turned the traditional industry upside down. Originally, it was about creating a product then finding a market for it. Blogging allows you to go the other way around — meaning, you find an audience and create a product that solves their problems. With a blog, you get an audience built in, so you’ll have all the information you need to create income streams that truly serve (and in turn, sell very well).
Second, technology is better than ever. It keeps improving, getting faster and more user friendly, which means that what was once only available to large corporations is now accessible for the small business owner. With those improvements, the startup costs and barriers to entry for blogging and business are better than ever so you have a high chance of making it successful.
Third, there is more potential than ever. E-commerce continues to grow and become more and more popular. Smartphones mean that almost everyone has access to the Internet all the time. So while there are more blogs than ever before, there are also more potential readers than ever before too. There truly is an audience waiting for every interest under the sun.
Have a Proven Strategy
When you start out with the goal of monetizing a blog or creating an online business, you should keep that goal in your mind, but not necessarily try to monetize from day one. There is danger in letting fear hold you back so you are unable to sell (and therefore, best serve) your audience and justify your time spent, but there is also danger in monetizing too soon before you know what you’re all about.
Because of how the blogging business model works, if you put in the time in the beginning, you’ll reap rewards down the line. In my experience, and in the experience of the students I teach, you need two key pieces in place before you really focus on monetizing.
Refine Your Message
First, you need to refine your message. Before you monetize, you want to make sure you’ve sufficiently refined your message. Ask yourself:
Do I know who I’m writing to?
Do I know their hopes and dreams?
Do I know their problems?
Do I know how my blog/product/service solves those problems?
Are those problems people are actively looking for solutions for?
Does my blog content address those felt needs and resonate with my readers?
Does the presentation of my blog convey my message as well?
The early days of your blog should be working to find out the answers to those questions. Knowing your audience —and creating content that’s super tailored to them — is the foundation of a great blog, and if you try to monetize without a strong foundation, the whole blog could crumble. You must know your audience members inside and out, so you can create the right monetization avenues.
Grow Your Audience
Second, you need to grow your audience. I think we can all agree that it’s tough to monetize your blog when there’s no one to actually sell anything to. If you have no email list and no traffic, it doesn’t matter what kind of monetization strategy you’ve got in place.
It’s important that you focus on growth until a) you have a big enough audience to realistically generate sales, and b) you’ve nurtured that audience to the point that they’re willing to buy from you. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 – 2K people on your email list before you try to sell. With those kinds of numbers, you have a big enough pool of people to generate income.
Monetize Your Platform
Third, you can finally monetize! This is the most exciting part, because you finally start to see the fruit of your labor. The first thing to do is to create a real monetization strategy — whether it’s advertising (great if you have lots of traffic), affiliate marketing, products, or services.
The best thing is that you get to choose based on your passion and your goals, and you’re not limited to one — although one is where you should start! As you and your business grows and develops, so will what your message and what you offer. Give it time and anything is possible!
Take Action Daily
Now you’re looking at all of that and wondering where to start and where to fit it in your busy day. The good news is that if you’re diligent about blocking out the time — even just 30 minutes each day — you can find yourself with traction in a little bit of time.
Here are a few activities to focus on in your 30 minute blocks of time so you know what to use it for:
Researching topics in your niche
Writing a blog post
Sharing content on social media
Engaging with your audience on social media
Emailing your email list
Doing a Facebook Live with tips
Responding to emails from your audience
Asking your audience questions to get to know them
Creating a new resource
These all seem like small tasks, but they add up for massive impact — even in a short amount of time. If you are diligent to do these throughout the months you begin, you will no doubt refine your message, grow your audience, monetize your platform, and build your business.
Creating income from your passion is easier than ever in 2018. The only thing you really need to do is start.
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