‘How is it possible blogging can be a full-time job and how the heck does that even work?” Yea, that’s exactly what I thought too. My careers councillor at school never brought travel blogging up as a career option for me and I really wish she had because it’s awesome!
I really believe in being open and sharing information to help other people learn and grow, so today I wanted to share some information on how I run my blog as a full-time job. Hopefully, it helps people who are new to blogging, those thinking about starting a blog or wanting to take their blog to the next level. If you are interested in learning more about this stuff I offer one-on-one Skype coaching sessions, which you can find out more about here.
I treat my blog like a business
I’ve worked enough dull office jobs and sat in enough boring meetings to know how real business works. While I was working in those soul-destroying jobs I was actually learning how to run a business, it turns out they gave me skills I never knew I needed. Thanks, crappy office jobs!
I take my blog really seriously and treat it like a business because that’s what it is, it’s my business. Seeing it as a hobby in your own mind will degrade it and make you feel guilty for spending a lot of time on it. If you love your blog and want it to be your full-time job, GO FOR IT! Believe in it. Want it. Do it.
LGB is my job, my passion and my source of income and happiness so it’s important to treat it accordingly. Remember, you get what you give, so if you treat it like a second rate hobby that you slap together at the last minute, that’s what you’ll get. Be proud of what you do and treat it with respect and love.
Matt and I run LGB together so we regularly have meetings where we talk about what work we’ve got to do and what’s coming up. We have clear and defined job roles so we know who does what and there’s no overlap, meaning no wasted time. We also have a shared vision for LGB and clear objectives so we know what we’re working towards, why and how we’re going to get there. We regularly set targets for ourselves and monitor them. We use a large whiteboard as a perpetual year planner and write our goals and big tasks on the board too.
In addition to this, we do lots of fun things like having the occasional corporate retreat, an annual planning day, intermittent review days and special lunches or dinners to celebrate seasons (i.e. Christmas) or achievement.
I run my business intuitively
Okay, so there’s all that really technical stuff and then there’s the other side to it; intuitive living. When it comes to making business decisions I rely heavily on my own intuition to guide me. That means I trust my heart first and foremost and don’t let my head make the big decisions.
My experience and knowledge tell me that I need to get a tax receipt so I can keep my accountant/the Australian Tax Office happy, so I do that. But I use my heart to guide me on business decisions like deciding where to visit next, what content I post and who I work with. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it.
I also do quite a bit of meditation to help give me guidance and insight on where LGB is heading and what I need to focus on. I make sure I use resources that align with my way of running my business to help me learn. My friends at The Little Sage are great for this, as is Jaclyn over at Blog Society. Both of these groups combine intuitive living and business perfectly and I rely on them a lot to be my cyber-mentors.
My intuitive living approach also flows through into how I work. Because I love what I do I sometimes feel guilty about it and think I should work longer and harder to make up for it and I really had to learn how to treat myself with kindness. Now I structure my day gently, to make sure I get the most out of my creativity and my time. I allow myself breaks during the day, I let myself sleep in if I’m tired, I schedule in meditation and make sure I always stop for a tea break and stop working at certain times. After all, you can only do what you can do.
Being professional is key
Here’s the thing… brands don’t have to work with you. There are enough talented writers, photographers and bloggers in this world that if a brand doesn’t want to work with you they don’t have to. So being unappreciative or uncooperative isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Media agencies network a lot and the people who work at them move between agencies and all PR people talk. So if you’re not great to work with there’s a good chance word is going to get out. It’s really, really important that you are honest, polite, appreciative and hard-working so you build a reputation built on reliability and quality. You’re likely to get a lot more work if you adopt this attitude. Set yourself apart from the pack of millions of bloggers by being the most professional.
By the same token, I look for professionalism in the brands and agencies I work with too. If someone contacts me and they can’t spell my name right or are difficult to work with or unprofessional, I won’t work with them because it makes me unprofessional by association. If it doesn’t feel right, I just tell them it doesn’t feel right and that I don’t want to work together on the project.
If you’re lucky enough to get an unpaid or paid trip somewhere you should be very thankful for it and let the people who organised it for you know. Always say thank you and be polite and professional with every person you deal with, that means everybody from the media agency to the front desk staff and housekeepers at the hotel. These people make your stay possible and without them, you may not even have a travel blog.
I also share my media where possible, so if I stay somewhere or take part in an activity and get some great high-res images of that place/thing, I’ll send them to the client afterwards. They love to have them and they’ll probably share them and link back to you, so it’s to your benefit. Also, they’ve just given you something great so you should give them something back to, even just as a ‘thank you’. Just be a good human… treat clients how you’d treat your Grandma!
I’m clear on who I am and what I provide
I took some time to sit down and really work through what LGB is and what it provides. It’s really important you do this, you need to know for yourself and for your readers and potential clients what it is you do. This can be as simple as sitting down and asking yourself a few questions and writing down the answers.
Take a really good, hard look at your blog and write down, in a few words, what it is. Be honest, be simple and be concise. What is your blog? What does it give people? What sets you apart from others? What are your values?
Once you are rock solid on these things, you can make sure every aspect of what you create reflects these. Readers and brands should ‘get’ this from your website and all your social media accounts. It must be consistent and clear. This kind of thing can take your blog to the next level because it creates something really clear in your mind and you know, every time you create something, what it needs to be and why.
Honesty and openness are paramount
I’m always honest with myself, with readers and brands. If you’re going to create a successful blog you simply cannot do it by faking it because at some point someone is going to see through it and you’ll come undone. Besides, I can guarantee you more people will connect with you if you let your true self shine through. I used to hide who I was and write what I thought people wanted, but as soon as I shared from the heart, more people connected with my words. Be honest. Be yourself. Trust me, it’s a LOT more FUN when you can just be your weird self and let your freak flag fly on the internet…
Also, I’m really honest upfront with any brands I work with. I make sure they know what they’re getting from me and I understand what they want too. If I ever feel like I can’t meet what they’re after or that something about it feels ‘off’, I just tell them. I have never, ever had a client get angry at me for telling the truth. I’m always honest, respectful and realistic and they always appreciate it.
Learn to shake it off because haters really are gon’ hate
Yes, you will encounter the haters. You will get trolled. You will receive nasty comments and, worst of all, you’ll probably have a few people in your life make some nasty remarks, put you down or belittle what you do. It’s really easy to take all of that to heart and let it get you down, so you’ve got to learn to deal with it. This can be hard, especially if you’re a people pleaser (me).
But, here’s what you need to learn:
- What other people think of you is NONE of your business
- You should never ask questions you don’t really want the answer to (i.e. ‘Why do you hate my blog?’)
- Their dislike for what you do is a reflection of unhappiness within their own life, you’re just mirroring it back at them
- Your happiness is not based on what other people think of you, your happiness is determined by you and only you.
- I am rubber and you are glue, it bounces off me and sticks to you! 🙂 a.k.a Don’t take anything too seriously, have fun and remember we’ll all be dust soon enough so, stuff it! Do what you want!
At the end of the day, I work really, really hard and nobody else needs to know that to appreciate it. I know it and I appreciate it. That’s what matters.
How I find work and how I earn an income from blogging
This is something I’ve covered in a previous blog post, here, but I’ll paraphrase it in this post too.
Sometimes I find work and sometimes it comes to me. I may be approached by a media agency to stay somewhere, do a review, attend an event or work with them in another way. Other times, I might approach agencies, hotel groups, tourist attractions or tourism boards directly to see if there’s a way we can work together to promote a place I’m visiting.
If I’m approaching someone I always outline who I am, what I do, what I’m looking for from them, what I can offer in return and why it would be a benefit to them to work with me.
My income from blogging is derived from a few different sources. I get a lot of offers to place advertising on the site but I choose not to as I don’t like advertising. When I started the blog I defined my boundaries and decided I wanted to work with brands directly so I could honestly recommend their product. So, my income is derived from reviews, photographs, videos and other written content I place on the site.