Never Start A Blog For The Money

Never Start a Blog For the Money

I’m going to repeat that for you.

NEVER START A BLOG FOR THE MONEY.

Every once in a while, I get a client who is brand new to the world of blogging and they admit that their ultimate goal is for their blog to be their primary source of income. They aren’t sure how exactly they’ll make that happen, but online classes and workshops will eventually be in the picture, maybe a shop, oh and of course working with big advertisers. Target maybe? Or J. Crew? They’re not sure. But they’ve got big plans.

And then we have a talk. We’ll skip the part where I try not to dash their hopes and dreams by telling them that it’s totally possible and it would be so much fun. Let’s skip to the part where I tell them why they need to back up and reevaluate their plans and come up with a different reason for starting a blog. One that has nothing to do with money.

Why?

It’s HARD to make a good income from blogging.
At the very least, you’ll spend the first six months trying build up any sort of following that advertisers would even be interested in. You’ll be busting your butt, commenting on every blog you follow, posting all over social media, sending out emails to bloggers you love, and paying your hard earned money for sponsor spots all over the blogosphere. And if you aren’t exhausted and questioning what the heck you’re doing after those six months, you’ll end up working with small brands that don’t have much to offer you, definitely not anything that will help you pay the bills. Next step? Maybe collaborating with a business people have actually heard of. While blogging might seem easy, like something you can do in the evenings when you’re bored, it’s not. It takes hard work and stamina to really get anywhere.

You’re missing the point.
By putting your focus on making money, you’re missing the point. Blogging is so incredible. You make so many friends and connections from all over the world that love the same things as you and really GET you. You get to share the lessons you’ve learned and the skills you’ve been taught to other people. You get to help! You get to have a voice where you can start discussions with other people about things that matter to you. You get to be creative and call all the shots and have a place all your own. And yeah, maybe sometimes you make money. But when you put your focus on something so material, you’ll miss out on all the other amazing stuff.

Your readers will see right through you.
Blog readers are smart. They follow lots of other blogs and they have for a long time. They’ve seen their favorite bloggers sellout and start only doing sponsored posts. They’ve seen their favorite bloggers get busy and quit. They’ve drama happen between the lines. They’ve seen a lot. They are very observant. And when you sound salesy or push some sponsor product on them that neither you or them care about, they’ll smell it coming from a mile away and they will leave. The less genuine you are and the more you try to make money off of your interested readers, the less they will stick around and stay interested.

The most successful bloggers focus less on money and more on creating genuine content.
When I look around at all the blogs out there, the ones that are successful are the ones that let themselves shine through their content. They work hard on making each and every post meaningful. They’ll stay up till 2 a.m. working on a post because they are so excited for readers to see it, not because they have a deadline with a sponsor. When bloggers put their heart and soul into their work, brands and businesses notice them and want to work with them.

So yes, making money off of your blog is totally doable. But there is so much more! Don’t let the money blind you from seeing it’s much much bigger purpose!

 

Running Fun And Successful Blog Collaborations

blog-collaborations

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind, mostly due to my tendency to bite off more than I can chew (both literally and figuratively). As you probably already know, I recently launched the Collaboreat which seems to have taken over my life, presenting me with loads of learning opportunities, joys, struggles, and fun. One of the greatest parts about this new project is learning to handle, have fun with, and make the most of collaborations.

The Collaboreat, as the name suggests, is a collaborative project. Not only do we have a small team working constantly to make our blogazine better, but we also run on the submissions and contributions of other bloggers all over the world. While I’ve done smaller collaborations in the past, I have never done something so large and so reliant on other people!

To be honest, I’m not sure where I got the idea to start something so group-oriented. I’m typically not a team player. As in, the one time I worked on a team professionally I was the one that liked to take on the solo projects and sit in my cubicle by myself, headphones on so I could tune out the world. I have a giant ego and love my own ideas and, being incredibly stubborn, I don’t like to give those ideas up in favor of someone else’s. I love creating my own processes and I hate having to teach those processes to others, mostly because I’m a sucky teacher but also because I like to just do the work. Team stuff is just not my thing.

Yet here I am, working with a team and constantly working with more and more new people that are eager to help out! And boy has it been awesome.

I couldn’t run the Collaboreat without my awesome team. I’ve been able to hand off tasks that I don’t have the time or I’m just not well-suited for (my ego had a hard time admitting to that). As I’ve listened to their ideas and really been open to their thoughts, I’ve learned so much and have been able to improve our processes and content in ways that I never could’ve come up with on my own. Not to mention I’ve been able to get to know these amazing people and what they’re all about!

So my blogging friends, I must highly encourage you to get involved in an awesome collaboration with another blogger RIGHT AWAY.

Don’t be afraid to reach out!
If you have an idea and you think another blogger would be a perfect fit to help you out, don’t be afraid to send that initial email and see if they’d be interested. Whether or not it’s up their alley, they’ll be flattered that you thought of them to work with you on something that you care about! And chances are, they just might want on board. Regardless, you’ve opened up the door to get talking and start a relationship with that blogger. It’s a win win all across the board.

Be open to working with new people you may not have ever thought about.
I have to be honest with you, my team is made up of people I never really expected to work with. It’s not to say they aren’t talented or not perfect for the job, but they weren’t close friends or people I’d known for a long time. One I had never even had a real conversation with and another I met only a month before. Turns it, we make a great team! I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out and I’m so lucky that they wanted to be a part of this dream of mine! So don’t underestimate people or set your expectations too high or expect your best blogging friend to want to instantly jump on board. Keep an open mind!

Participate in smaller collaborations!
Your first collaboration doesn’t have to be epic or longterm or extensive. Try your hand at a quick one-time project, like the recipe swap I hosted with Latrina. Cohost a linkup that you like taking part in. Gather a group of bloggers to post on a certain theme with you. Try out something smaller and see how it goes! Have fun getting to know other bloggers and working with them.

Play to your strengths and recruit others and their great strengths.
I know I’m no good at social media. I’ve done a lot of research on it and know my stuff but I hate the actual work of managing social accounts and posting regularly. It’s a chore to me and because I hate it so much I don’t do the best that I can simply because I just want to get it checked off my to-do list. So I asked someone to help me with that! In the meantime, I can focus on what I do best- coming up with ideas, editing content, providing the image for our work, and managing the bigger picture of it all. If you know you aren’t great at something, reach out to others that might be better and would want to join you! Create the perfect team full of all the skills and strong-suits that you project needs!

Get creative and team up with other great bloggers to start something fresh and new. Blog collaborations can be so much fun and can teach you so much about making your own content better as well as how to work with others. Definitely give it a try sometime!

Life Could Be A Dream Blog Design

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve shared the projects I’ve been working on. I promise I’ve been working! I promise! I’ve recently finished up projects with a number of awesome clients and I’m so excited to be working with more! And today I’m so excited to share one of those awesome clients with you. She’s a lovely lifestyle blogger that I’ve been following since my early days of blogging and I was so thrilled when she wanted to work with me! Take a minute to get to know her and the blog design I had the pleasure of working on!

Life Could Be A Dream Brand Board by Love Grows Design

portfolio-image

Meet Jana of Life Could Be A Dream

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m a wife to my college sweetheart and a momma to a super active almost 2 year old boy. I have a degree in culinary arts, so it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with food. I’m passionate about blogging (le duh!), fashion, beauty, and pretty things.

Tell me about your blog!

Well, I have too many loves to be a really specific niche blogger, which is why Life Could Be a Dream is a lifestyle blog. I write a lot about blogging and social media strategy, food, fashion, beauty, and mommy/wife life.

Why did you start your blog?

Like almost every newlywed in America, I started my blog right after I got married to document my new life with my husband. I quickly realized that blogging could be so much more than an online journal. I fell in love with the community and I have been hooked ever since.

What are your goals with your blog?

My biggest goal is to be able to inspire people–whether it’s one person or thousands. I want to share my struggles, my hopes and dreams, the things I learn and the things that bring me joy. Hopefully the story of my life can be enriching and inspiring to someone else!

It’s been amazing to me to realize that I can help provide for my family with my blog as well. How cool is that? I feel so blessed to be able to make money staying at home with my son, living my life, and sharing about it.

Why did you want a blog redesign?

I had reached a point with my blog where I was just feeling disenchanted with the look and the functionality of the design. I wanted something that was easier to navigate and I wanted a design that would help propel my blog toward my goals–something that would make people feel comfortable, welcomed, and wanting to stick around.

How do you feel about the completed design?

I am 100% in love with it. It’s so clean, happy, and classy. :)

What is your favorite part about the new design?

The accordion fold category navigation on the sidebar. I love that people can use it to get really specific when browsing my blog’s content. It’s been amazing how much more I have people commenting on old posts because they are that much easier to find!

What posts should everyone make sure to read?

If you’ve been Twitter challenged (like I totally used to be), you should check out this post on how creating a Twitter schedule changed my life.

And if you’ve ever wanted to jump into fashion posts, but you’re feeling intimidated by it, this is the linkup for you. :)

Be sure to check out Life Would Be A Dream for some great blogging tips, fashion posts, helpful DIYs, and sweet snippets from her family!

 

In need of a new blog design for yourself? I’m now booking clients to begin in September!

Check out my portfolio and find more information about my blog design package over here!

 

Why Creative Entrepreneurs Should Have A Blog

Why Creative Entrepreneurs Should Have A Blog

Every time I work with creative entrepreneurs, I encourage them to start a blog for their business if they haven’t already. Some tell me they just don’t have the time or wouldn’t know what to blog about or just don’t want to, but I cannot express how helpful it can be to your business. Why? Here’s four reasons for you!

Showing you’re an expert

One of the greatest parts about having a blog is being able to show my readers I’m an expert in my field by sharing advice and tips. Not only do I get to help people that might not be able to afford my services, but I position myself as a professional worth trusting. When people see that I’m an expert, they are more likely to hire me because they’ve already got a taste for my skills from my blog. More often than not my clients find me because of my blog, and those that don’t start following it and can learn more from the information I share here. Remind your readers why they should hire you!

Building up a faithful following that will be loyal to you and your work

By having content that readers can read and follow along, they become faithful to you and your work. You become a friend to them whose life and work they can follow, encourage, and support. Whether or not they can afford or need to work with you, they’ve come to know and trust you and want to share what you’re doing! I’ve taken on a number of clients that found me because a follower (who I never worked with) recommended me! Open up to your readers and let them help your business!

Having a way to remind people about the work you do

By having regular content, you can remind everyone about the work that you’re doing. Each time your posts show up in their feed, they remember the work that you do and the services you offer. The great part is, you aren’t shoving your business down their throats by constantly shouting at them that you’re a creative entrepreneur for hire. Instead, you have great content that they want to read and share that will gently remind them how much of an expert you are and that you can help them further if they hire you!

Learning more about your field and the questions people have

One of the unforeseen benefits of having a blog to market my business has been gaining greater insight into my field as well as the questions my readers and potential clients have. I’ve learned so much by researching and studying the topics I blog about and then I receive feedback from my readers via comments and emails where they can ask me questions or share their experiences. I’ve learned so much from this process and have been able to better my business because of it.

I can’t imagine where my business would be if I didn’t have a blog. I’ve learned so much, have met so many incredible people, and my business has grown because of it!

Are you a creative entrepreneur with a blog? What have been some of the benefits for you and your business?

How I Efficiently Manage Projects

Efficiently Manage Projects

When I decided I wanted to be a designer, I had NO CLUE how much time I’d spend managing projects and running a business. Sure, I knew there’d be management, but I thought my time would mostly be spent creating and designing. Now it seems that I spend most of my time running a business, not being creative.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about how to be productive and I’ve come up with plans and processes to help me spend more time doing what I truly love- designing! It’s been a lot of work and trial and error, but I’ve been able to create processes that work for me and help me to be better at my job!

Staying organized

There are a LOT of files to keep track of and a lot of information I need to remember to make a project run smooth. If I lose any of them or don’t keep them organized well, I waste a lot of time going through folders and trying to remember things that were said at the beginning of the process. So I have two methods for keeping everything straight.

  • Dropbox folders
    I keep all of my client’s files on Dropbox so I can access them from anywhere. They have a folder specifically assigned to them and in that folder I store all of their associated files. When the process is over, I hand over the files and then move the rest to a hard drive to free up space and keep my Dropbox clean.
  • My client binder
    I started this binder a long long time ago when I first got started. Inside I have a copy of all my documentation and process guides to help me remember what information each of my clients have. Then I have monthly tabs where I keep each clients files based on the month that their project began.  I print out a copy of their agreement that includes all the specifications of the package, their requests for the design, as well as our plans for the art direction. I have a section for notes that I make during consultations and throughout the communication process so I don’t forget anything we’ve discussed. I also keep the copies of all of their invoices. Have the physical copies of everything helps me to stay organized and I can see everything at a glance.

Staying on top of my email

I’ve shared a bit of my process before with my email management tips  that have helped me to stay on top of communication with my clients. I’ve looked into project management tools to help me communicate with clients, but I’ve chosen to stick with email as it’s easy for both of us, no learning curve is required, and I’ve put in place many tools to help make the communication easier. I do ask that all of my clients keep their emails on the same thread so I never lose track of any comments made throughout the process.

A huge part of being productive and efficient is having canned responses that I can use throughout the process. Because most of my projects use the same process, I’ve been able to set up responses that include all the information they need so I don’t waste hours writing and double checking emails. Instead I can paste in the canned response and edit it so it fits my client’s needs. I held off doing this for a long time because I didn’t want to be impersonal with my clients, but I’ve found that  since I started using these responses I’ve been able to save a ton of time but can still make it personal by editing it and adding in personal messages.

Using a checklist

Throughout the process, I’ve used a checklist with all of the package inclusions to make sure I complete each step of the process and I don’t forget any of the pieces of the project. But recently, I’ve taken some advice from Kory and have created a master checklist for each of my offerings. The checklist includes everything from what files to create to what emails to send to what step in the design process I’m on. It’s been a huge help in keeping me on track and saving time so I don’t have to go back or try to remember what’s next. It’s all right there for me to see! *Thanks Kory!*

I’ve tried out a number of different tools and apps to keep my on track, but I’ve found I do best with the basics. Checklists, binders, to-do lists, organization. Simple as that!

What are your best tips for managing projects? How do you stay productive throughout the process?

blog-tour

Today’s post is part of the Sparkling + Divine Support Blog Tour, hosted by Indigo Colton, the creator of Sparkling + Divine Support, a must-have virtual assistant-esque service for creative types, entrepreneurs, and anyone working on the web. Each stop will teach you about being productive, drawing from the personal experiences of each productivity super heroine on the tour. Find out more here.