“What do you do?”
Am I the only one that HATES that question? How do you explain, to someone who isn’t a blogger, that blogging actually IS a job?
But is it?
Because here’s a little secret about blogging that you might not know: If you’re making money through your blog, you’re not just a blogger. You are an entrepreneur.
Now, understanding that you are an entrepreneur–not just a blogger–probably won’t solve the dilemma of knowing what to say when someone asks you that dreaded question, but it is an important mindset shift all the same. In fact, I would dare to say that this simple mindset shift separates the average earners from the superstars, but believe it or not, 99% of bloggers never get there.
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And if you haven’t, don’t feel bad! Believe me, when I first started blogging, I didn’t have some big, flashy business plan. Honestly, I just thought it would be a fun thing to do, and something productive that wasn’t going to Target. I had always liked writing, so I figured it might be fun to try. I wasn’t looking at it as a business opportunity and didn’t have any expectations or clear goals. I didn’t even totally know what I wanted to write about. I just started writing about what was interesting me to the time.
But pretty early on, I realized that there was this whole world of blogging out there that I never knew about, and I also discovered that there were some bloggers making pretty serious money at it. I decided if they could do it, I could, too. And so I set out to learn everything there was to know about making money on a blog. I read countless articles and started testing things out. Some things worked; many other ideas tanked, but before too long, I started making a little bit of money.
But that was about the extent of it. Honestly, I was far too busy just trying to figure out what was working to really think about the big picture.
Even when my blog started generating a real income–enough for my husband to quit his job–I still wasn’t treating it like a REAL business. I was just a blogger.
My mindset–and the way I viewed myself–was totally wrong. And then, in 2014, I had an epiphany while attending a conference for online business owners. If you had been sitting there watching me at that moment, I’m pretty sure you would have seen the lightbulb go off above my head.
The Turning Point
But first, let me back up a few months.
You see, the 3 or 4 months leading up to the conference were a time of incredible, crazy viral growth for my blog. For some unknown reason, the powers-that-be at Facebook smiled upon my page, and for months, every post went viral, engagement was insane, and I was getting tons of traffic to my blog, which in turn sent my ad network revenue through the roof. I literally went from 30,000 followers to 500,000 followers from November to March. It was unbelievable, and I was on top of the world.
And then it all came crashing down.
On March 31, 2014, which just happened to be my 36th birthday, it all went away. My Facebook page engagement went from the amazing to ZERO — literally overnight.
I was devastated… and terrified. After all, I was the breadwinner. My husband had quit his job and this was our only source of income. I was all in! And in the midst of all that, I had this stupid conference to attend (one I had signed up for when things were going much better in my business).
I almost didn’t go; LAUNCH wasn’t really a blogging conference. It was more about how to launch a business, and I was pretty sure my business was in shambles. Thankfully, though, I decided at the last minute to attend.
But while I was there, something amazing happened. One of the speakers had us do an exercise that completely changed the way I thought about my business. As we listed out all the assets in our business, I quickly realized that my blog wasn’t my business.
So what was it?
My blog was an asset of my business. Even though it was a significant asset — arguably the major asset — it wasn’t the entire business.
There were so many other assets I didn’t even realize I had. I had an email list. I had expert-level knowledge on the topics I was blogging about. I had a Facebook page, a Pinterest page, products, books, an awesome team to support me.
I went from thinking, “My blog is my business, and my business is falling apart,” to “I’m an entrepreneur, and I have so many amazing assets to my business. My blog is only one of them.”
Just because one area of my business was struggling — in this case, my Facebook page —that didn’t mean my business as a whole was struggling. Since one asset wasn’t working, it was time to put my resources into other assets.
That’s when my entire mindset shifted.
And that is also the year my business really started taking off.
Blogger Betty vs. Entrepreneur Emily
Let’s take a look at this in action and see what happens to your business when you make this mindset shift (and what happens when you don’t).
We’ll use Blogger Betty and Entrepreneur Emily to illustrate.
Blogger Betty’s blog is the center of her business and her only source of income. All monetization for her business comes from her blog. Her main sources of income are ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate links.
To put it simply, all of her eggs are in one (blog-shaped) basket.
Because Betty is completely reliant on her blog for revenue, all of her time is spent chasing page views. Her revenue streams are completely dependent on a ton of people seeing her content, and if she doesn’t have page views, she doesn’t have revenue.
To get more traffic, Betty becomes a content machine, churning out five posts a week. Because she’s so focused on creating content, she misses out on other opportunities to create value for her audience AND more revenue for herself. She’s so completely caught up in her blog — who’s commenting, how many comments are made on each post, and how many page views each post is getting — that she misses out on creating a profitable and sustainable business.
To top it all off, Blogger Betty is also at the mercy of Google. If they change their SEO algorithm that keeps her from getting the traffic she needs, then POOF — her business is done.
Now, let’s take a look at Entrepreneur Emily.
Entrepreneur Emily starts out the same way as Blogger Betty: with a blog. But quickly realizes that while the blog is the face of her business, it’s not her whole business. If she wants to be successful, she knows she needs to diversify her revenue streams.
Whenever she writes a blog post, she makes sure it drives people to sign up for her email list. This allows her to build a deeper connection with her audience. Instead of spending all her time writing five free blog posts each week, she writes one post and focuses her time on developing products that add value to her audience.
When she looks at opportunities, she thinks in terms of the big picture. Instead of only chasing ad revenue, she focuses on her audience, her assets, and how she can leverage each area of her business for maximum impact.
What can we learn from Blogger Betty and Entrepreneur Emily?
When you look at your blog as your entire business, it limits your ability to drive revenue. When you look at your blog as an asset that’s part of a bigger picture, it opens the door to diversifying your income streams and building a real, sustainable business.
What’s Your Next Step?
Don’t get me wrong–I think blogs are pretty awesome. Not only am I a blogger, I also teach blogging. It would be a little silly if I wasn’t a fan.
But I don’t think blogs are awesome businesses, in and of themselves. Instead, a blog is an amazingly powerful asset to your business–it’s a home base, a testing ground, a marketing tool, a branding tool, a place to build community, and connect with your market.
In a traditional business model, you have to spend a ton of time, money, and energy developing a product. Then you spend even more time, money, and energy trying to find an audience to market it to. But blogging turns that business model upside down.
Instead, you start by building a connection with your audience and attracting the kind of people who connect with your message and what you have to offer. Then, when you’re ready to launch your product, you already have a built-in audience hungry to buy what you’re offering.So you really want to take your business to the next level, start thinking bigger than your blog.
Embrace the mindset of an entrepreneur.