Is Your Blog a Business or a Hobby?
Be honest–do you really think of your blog as a business? As bloggers it can sometimes be hard to take ourselves seriously. After all, how serious can a job be when you can do it in your pajamas?
But when I first started blogging, I definitely didn’t think about it as a business. There was no business model or even a plan, for that matter. I wasn’t really that formal about it. I just started blogging and thought, “hey, this is pretty cool!”
But then I had this moment. You know, the big AHA moment, in which I realized that there’s this whole great world of blogging out there, which people are actually using to make money. There are people out there actually doing this as their job. It was like a lightbulb was switched on in my head, and I realized that maybe I could blog as a job, too.
Of course, my husband thought I was being ridiculous. “You can’t make money on a blog,” he said, shaking his head, “and that might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” (In his defense, this was in the early days of blogging, and making a full-time income from it did seem pretty out there.) But I knew the opportunity existed, so I told my husband right then and there that I was going to make enough money from my blog for him to quit his job.
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And that, my friends, is how this whole blogging business started. But I didn’t always treat it like a business, so in this post I’m going walk you through my journey from hobby to business and what I learned along the way. (And wish I would have known sooner!)
The Beginning Stages of “Business”
I devoured everything that I could find about how to make money blogging. But even after having my AHA moment and realizing that my blog could be a real source of income, I still wasn’t looking at it quite as a business. It was just a means for making money.
After a few months of blogging, when I started to make some money, my husband (who, for the record, was still pretty skeptical), told me, “If you want to make real money on your blog, you should think about turning it into a business and look into incorporating your stuff.”
I still had zero idea what I was doing, but we went to see an accountant, who recommended that I create an S-Corp, so that’s what I did.
It felt very official. For about 10 minutes.
But even then, with all the official documents in hand, I didn’t really consider what I was doing as a business. It still felt more like a project or a labor of love — I was still trying to figure out exactly how to blog and, more importantly, how to make real money from it.
As time went on and I figured things out more and more, I had another AHA moment. I was definitely taking my blog more seriously, and I was great at the blogging part — but the money part? Not so much. Finances are SO not my thing. And I realized that if I was going to keep growing, I needed help keeping track of my finances. So I hired a bookkeeper.
That is to say… I hired a lady that I knew from church. She was lovely, but she wasn’t a professional, and she didn’t know what she was doing any more than I did.
So I kind of stumbled along for a while, looking at my blog as more of a hobby than a business. I was on and off — I’d work really hard for a while, then get bored or busy with the kids, and pull back a bit. Everything was really sporadic, and there was no real plan behind it. It was really hodgepodge and random.
But then I had AHA moment number 3, and I realized that I wasn’t going to make decent money until I got serious and treated my blog as a business. And so I got to work.
Creating an Actual Business
I knew so little about starting a business from scratch that I literally had to Google “How do you create a business?” But I learned, and I got started setting up my blogging business. Here are some of the steps I took:
Created A Business Plan
I put everything that I wanted out of blogging into a structured business plan. That gave me a roadmap and an overview of the steps that I needed to take to get to where I wanted to go.
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I also started being more intentional about the things I was doing on a daily basis, my goals, and how they contributed to my overall business plan.
I also started creating processes within my business and systematized different areas, e.g. by creating an editorial calendar so I knew what content I needed to write and when I needed to write it.
And then, after trucking away for a while, I one day looked up and realized that I had a business called LWSL Inc.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Letting Go of Guilt
As my business and my income grew, unfortunately, so did my guilt. I felt like I was doing something wrong. As if by taking the time that I needed to build my business, I was taking that time away from my husband and my children.
This experience is SO common among bloggers, especially moms. As a mom, there’s this idea that we have to be everything for everyone. We need to be Supermom and do everything for everyone else. And blogging, since it’s something that’s ours and that we do for ourselves, needs to happen on the sidelines so that it doesn’t take away from what we do for the family.
There’s this underlying guilt that creeps up every time we sit down to write a blog post or spend more than five minutes on building our business.
But guess what?
There’s no such thing as Supermom. And there’s no reason to feel guilty for devoting time to your blog and to your business. It took me a while to get here, but now I look at my blog as my job. I wouldn’t feel guilty if I were going into an office to work, so why would I feel guilty for taking time out of my day to work on my business at home? In fact, working on my blog allows me to devote MORE time to my family since I’m not driving to and from an office every day. It’s a win-win situation.
So here’s my advice: don’t feel guilty about taking the time to build your business.
In the end, building your own business — and the financial independence that goes along with it — is a good thing for your family. And if your kids occasionally have to watch Dora the Explorer for an hour so you can get some work done, don’t sweat it. Boots and Swiper can keep them company while you finish publishing your post.
In fact, I think it’s a good thing for your kids to see you working. Your little ones are going to see that mommy works hard and makes things happen. That’s a great thing to show your kids. It’s going to teach them about resilience and hard work. You’re going to be a role model. I’ve seen in it my family with my children, and it’s been an incredible experience.
This became VERY real to me when last Thanksgiving, I got a card from my youngest daughter, who’s seven years old. It read “Dear mommy, I’m thankful that you do your job, because without it we’d be out on the street.”
And I laughed and laughed. That card was just the best, and I’ll keep it forever, because it was the ultimate validation for me that I am doing the right thing and that my kids get it.
You’ve Got to Own It
But the reason my kids do understand is because I own it. I don’t apologize for having to work, and you shouldn’t either. Regardless whether your blog is making money just yet or not, you need to own it for yourself and look at your blog like a job, because it is. Even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, your blog is a legitimate business — when you start treating it as such, is when you’ll really start seeing things happen.
Because here’s the thing: if you treat your blog like a hobby instead of a business, it gives you a way out. If it’s just a hobby, you’re not accountable for getting it off the ground and making it happen. There’s no responsibility and no risk.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who runs a successful blog. She’s doing really well — like full-time income well. But her biggest downfall — and the reason she hasn’t hit that next level of success — is that she refuses to look at her blog as a business.
She’s stuck in a cycle: she’ll start doing really well and working really hard, and then all of a sudden she pulls back. That guilt hits her, and she thinks, “This blog is taking up too much of my time. Maybe I should be focusing on my family. I think I should call it quits.”
I had to get real and push her a little bit. I said, “Look, you’ve got to reframe the way you’re looking at this. What you’re doing isn’t taking away from your family. It’s contributing to your family. This helps pay for your children’s private school tuition. This has the potential to send your kids to college. This is directly contributing to making the dream of yourself, your husband, and your family a reality. It’s time to go all in. You’ve got to OWN it!“
Whether you’re just starting out or already have an established blog, that’s my advice for you, too. You’ve got to own it. Treat your blog like the business that it is, and don’t be afraid to take that leap.
Treat your blog like the business that it is, and don’t be afraid to take that leap. When you go all in, trust me — the net will appear.
This is the crossroads I’m at now. I’ve only been blogging since February, but it feels like a lifetime and I thought I would’ve seen more results by now. But, I know I’m not doing everything I could to turn this little side gig into a real business.
I write about personal finance – which I love. And in all honestly, I would probably write about without being paid for it. But at the same time, if I could work on my blog full time, that would be a dream come true. Time to get my business hat on and make some money from this hobby.