Hi everyone- and welcome to my blogging as a business update! This is my fifth update in the series (read months 1, 2, 3 and 4 to get you started!) but technically it will cover March and April- since it’s been a few months since I’ve updated! So, let’s get chatting about how things have been going. Grab a cuppa as I suspect this will be a long post which hopefully get you inspired for the week ahead! Don’t forget to share how your experience blogging as a business is going and join my FB group: Pitching for UK Bloggers if you want to start getting a bit more proactive in pitching to brands.
So first: Life Update
As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been experimenting with blogging as a business: at first, it was 2 days a week and then in March it felt like blogging was pretty much a 24/7 thing! Since I had work lined up teaching wise after the Easter holidays, I decided to try to see how I got on being a free agent in March and April- a mini experiment if you will as to whether I could go it alone as a full-time freelancer. Well, let me tell you: it was not as easy as I’d expected it to be and the grass isn’t always greener! At first, it seemed like so much time on my hands to try new things but then I quickly realised…
a) There’s never enough time to do everything you want with your blog. You’ve blogged and now what? Well, there’s scheduling your Pinterest, upping engagement on Instagram, sending out a billion tweets and chasing down opportunities that’ll actually make you money! No one’s paying you to edit that shot of a green smoothie within an each of its life.
b) My fantasies about attending every event at the drop of a hat did not come true. In fact, since blogging became more of a job, it seemed even more important to not take a day off and invest in train fairs to head to London. Perhaps this is just me and I should be making more of the opportunities I receive?
c) If you are going to take on more sponsored content, you need to make sure you’re producing more non-sponsored content too. Even though I feel a good job with making sponsored posts being super helpful, let’s be real: we all judge those bloggers whose content is nothing but sponsored.
So, as I am coming to the end of this little experiment- I am looking forward to heading back and doing some teaching 3 days a week; hopefully it will take the pressure off a little and let me enjoy the opportunities this blog brings without feeling I’m ‘wasting a day’ or need to constantly create.
What I learnt this month
DA isn’t as big a deal as it’s made out to be!
I still feel that DA is made to be the biggest stat for many bloggers but actually, I really don’t think it is. My DA dropped one to a fairly average of ’24’ and it didn’t really worry me. Most sponsored content this month didn’t ask about my DA- and although I am happy to have a mix of opportunities- those that are more interested in brand awareness and spreading the word, feel like a better fit for me. I also think when you get over a certain threshold, there’s very little difference in money between saying a DA 25 blogger and a DA30 one?
Use Time Wisely for Guest Posts: Always Think in Terms of Value
Given that I have a book that has recently been published, I have been chatting to the Publisher’s PR about guest posting. This is something I rarely did before because I never saw a proper return and also raises the question: should I ever write for free?
If you’re thinking of guest posting, I’d always think about ‘what’s in it for me?’: are you looking for a DA boost or some new readers? How realistic is that likely to happen from guest posting? Is it worth an hour of your time? What’s going to make a reader jump over to your site? It completely depends on the opportunity- I’ve seen some sites with a DA of 1 and 32 followers offer ‘exposure’- I’m not convinced on that one!
Also, think outside the box, there’s nothing stopping you pitching to guest post for sites like HuffPost or specialist publications (e.g. travel magazines or in my case, health publications) instead of fellow bloggers: this is where I have seen the greatest benefit as you know the audience are already interested. A very small feature in the Mail led to a huge number of new readers and brands have been in touch after finding me on HuffPost.
Guest blogging doesn’t have to take up hours of your time either- as a health blogging I’ve been building up a bank of quick 500 word articles on health (that take 30 mins or so to write) that I can pitch- then if nothing is gained, it was only a short amount of time spent! Why not spend an hour a week crafting a guest post or two and getting them out there? This has encouraged me to take more guest blogging chances as I already have content ready.
Value Everything: your time, your stats, your work!
I always want my content to be useful so I’ll think nothing at spending extra money on stock images or subscribing to Tailwind (which is money well spent as it Pinterest brings me around 500 hits a day- more on that in this post). However, I have started to be practical and realise that I need to think of these expenses for my business; not just something that is needed to make my posts look nice.
After seeing an advert on the tv, I signed up for an online expense tracker called Quickbooks and have just started a two-week trial! So far, I have connected it to my paypal and bank account; which imports all your payments and transactions- which you can then file for expenses and payments. This has been great as I realised I had a good £200 of expenses over the last few months- with things I subscribe to, stock images, train fairs, hosting fees and of course Paypal fees- which I never thought of adding! Now, this is fine as I know a lot of this can be declared on my tax return- but it also showed me how I really do need to think with a business brain! (Side note: You may detect a lot of enthusiasm in this paragraph but be assured that this is not an ad, I just thought it was a really easy service to use so thought I’d share!)
I also was kindly given chance to try out In My Bag backup service for free this month. It’s an insurance service specifically for freelancers and aims to protect all of your devices loss, theft & damage – as well as coming with Crashplan- which works by backing up all the files, settings and data on any of your devices so that if you lose/break a device, you just log in on the new device and restore all your settings. Now, I must admit I never used to back up anything on my chrome book: but since I realised all my invoices, pics, receipts and even my book manuscript (!) are stored on my chrome book, I decided this could be really beneficial to me. I will aim to update you more on how I am getting on with this and Quickbooks next month!
That’s all very good but can you get to the bit where I make loads of money from blogging?
I know you might be reading this, thinking ‘that’s really interesting but tell me how I can actually make some cold hard cash!’ Because I am on Month 5, I feel like future posts are going to be more about the practical sides of day to day freelancing- In month 3 I talked about how I found paid work and in month 4, I pretty much covered how I approach brands to pitch for both product collabs and paid ops. Another fab blog I’d recommend is Kirsty’s blog on how to reach out to brands. (she recently led a workshop on this at a blog conference). The Blogging Blog is also a great general resource for lots of tips on blogging.