Tonight I’m sitting at my computer wondering what to write about because the blog post I had originally planned just wasn’t cutting it for me. I’ve committed myself to only write posts that will really help you with your business. And then as I ran through all the areas of blogging and business that I want to help you conquer I figured it out. How about I tell you about everything that I should have done a long time ago. Things that have changed my business for the better and would have grown my business much faster and more successfully had I implemented them months or years ago.
Now is your chance to learn from my mistakes because it took me a long time to not just realize these things, but to make them happen. The last few months I’ve seen so much growth from making changes that I knew in the back of my mind I needed to make, but didn’t know how. Or I was just in denial and wanted to do things my way, instead of the way that I knew was going to work for my business.
I am 100% certain that waiting to implement the changes I’m going to talk about below have caused my business to grow much slower, help less people and make less money. For real, don’t make the mistakes I made. Let’s talk about those mistakes...
You need a freakin’ email list
I am so serious, you guys. And I’m not talking people subscribing to your blog posts so they can get them in their inbox. I’m talking people who are signed up to get emails from you. These are people who like what you have to say and want more of what you have to offer them.
Everyone is always so focused on traffic. Traffic is great, but you know what’s better than randoms showing up on your site and then moving on? (And I’m telling you right now that’s the majority of the traffic you’re getting.) People who know who you are, what you’re about and trust you. Those are the people on your email list. Those are the people who you are going to impact the most and those are the people who are going to become your paying clients and customers. I am so dead serious. Go sign up for Mailchimp right this second and start collecting emails. Even if you aren’t sure what to do with them yet, it’s better to have them than ignore my advice and wish you had them in a year.
Get those ads off your blog
Looking back now all I can say is: “What the hell was I thinking?” I spent years with ads on my blog bringing in like 67 cents a month while I tried to get my traffic up so that I could make some money. Dude, listen to me. You would have to have mega traffic to make enough money for it to be worth it from any ad network. Like, ridiculous amounts of traffic. And you know what you’re doing with those ads? You are telling people to leave your website. You’re working your ass off to get traffic only to lead that traffic off your website. STOP.
STOP PUSHING SOCIAL MEDIA
I get it. You want people to follow you on social media. You want them to check out the pictures of your dog and show off your awesome Monday night margarita. Seeing that you have people following you makes you feel kinda cool and like these are your people, right? But if you are blogging for business does it make sense to draw your readers away from your website once you get them so that they can follow you on instagram/pinterest/twitter/whatever? What’s your end goal for people following you on social media? To get them to your website or blog. So when they’re already there, why are you telling them to go to your social media? It makes no sense. I’m not saying don’t promote your social media at all. But I am saying there’s no need to push it. These are people who are already right where you want them, try to get them to stick around instead of telling them to go away.
Find a niche and stick to it
Truth: I’ve been blogging since 2009. It took me until the end of 2015 to suck it up and realize that the same people that wanted to learn about blogging and business didn’t necessarily want to hear about my son turning 8 months old or see photos from our anniversary trip. You’re here because you want to grow a successful business and I’m going to take you there. I have seen so much growth since I decided to remove all of my lifestyle posts and stick to my niche of entrepreneurship and blogging. The funny thing is I knew what I needed to do, I was just having trouble letting go of my lifestyle blog and realizing that being transparent and authentic doesn't necessarily mean writing about anything and everything in my life.
Optimize Your Old Posts
After I niched down and removed all of my lifestyle blog posts I spent some time going through all the blog posts that were left and making them way (way, way) better. Some of them I added more information to. A lot of them had graphics that were from old branding that needed to be fixed or needed a pinterest optimized image. Honestly I’m still working through my archives, but I’m already much happier with the posts that are left and feel like they represent my business. And guess what? Those posts are doing so much better and getting way more attention than they were before. Shocker, I know.
Related post: 5 Ways to Make Your Existing Content Work for You
Join Facebook Groups (in your niche)
What the hell did I do before Facebook groups? Being an entrepreneur can be pretty isolating, especially if you’re like me and don’t know anybody with the same lifestyle or ambitions. Not many people I know in my everyday life quite understand so getting to interact with other bloggers, entrepreneurs and business owners is one of my favorite things to do these days. I mean, I don’t need another reason to sit on Facebook, but at least networking is a little bit more productive than scrolling through friends status updates for 15 minutes.
These groups are great for general chatting with other entrepreneurs, but also for bouncing your ideas off of and finding people to collaborate with. I’ve met so many kick ass people via facebook groups so if you haven’t joined any in your niche or line of business just type some keywords into that nifty little search box on facebook to see if you can find some relevant groups.
Don’t be afraid to give away your best stuff for free
To be honest, this is still something I struggle with. I used to want to save my best advice, my best information and my best skills for things I could charge money for. Not because I’m money hungry and greedy, but because this is what I want to do for a living and yeah, I want to make money doing it.
I’m slowly turning myself around and realizing that I can give my best stuff away for free because not only does that help my audience, but it shows that I know my stuff so that when I do charge I’ve proven that I’m pretty awesome and if my free stuff is amazing then can you imagine how good the products I’m charging for are?
Schedule dedicated time for the boring/hard stuff
I’m one of those people who is always “working”. I’m always doing something with my blog, brainstorming ideas for my next business idea, etc. But I never made sure I had dedicated time each day or week to take care of the things that were really important for my business. You know, the things that need to happen for my business to grow (explode!) the way I want it to. Instead I jumped from one exciting idea to the next without taking enough time to follow through. Make sure you take a good hard look at your business and what you really need to do to make sure it’s thriving (this post has some pretty smart ideas, just saying).
For example, I try to make every friday blog and business maintenance day. I go through my income/expenses, make any changes to my blog that I’ve been meaning to do, check in on my traffic, etc. All that stuff that can easily fall off your to do list each day because you’d rather be doing the fun stuff.
Stop questioning yourself
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with confidence. I think it’s just part of my personality that I overanalyze and ask myself why anyone would want to learn from little ol’ me. How pathetic. You know why? Because in reality I know that I know what I’m doing! I know I’m pretty kick ass at the things I’m putting out there and while I’m no CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation, I’ve started businesses, several of them. Some of them failed, some of them did great, some of them worked for me, some of them didn’t. But I know small business, especially creative business. I’ve been there at the beginning when you’re not sure where to start. I’ve been there in the middle when you’re sure you’re in over your head. One thing I remind myself is that there will always be someone even just a couple steps behind you who needs your guidance.
Add content upgrades that are actually helpful
While I’ve been giving away little freebies here and there on my blog (while it was still a confused lifestyle/business blog, ugh) I was doing it all wrong. I was giving away cute little art prints with fun little sayings that was geared toward pretty much the entire human population. What I should have been doing, and am doing now, is gearing my freebies (aka content upgrades) towards the audience I want to attract: entrepreneurs and bloggers. So figure out who you want to attract and then figure out what they want or need from you.
Some of my most successful content upgrades are:
Some examples of useful content upgrades:
- If you’re a beauty blogger, make a cheat sheet on your top 10 drugstore products.
- If you’re a fashion blogger, create a wardrobe staples list.
- If you’re a food blogger, try creating a sample meal plan for the week along with recipes and a shopping list.
- If you’re a fitness blogger, try a 7 day email course that gives a new 20 minute workout everyday
Just find out what your audience really wants from you and give it to them! This is a great way to build your email list with people who are truly within your target market.
Now I’m releasing you to go forth and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did. Which of the items listed above are you going to implement first? Take action today, tomorrow and the next day to level up your business and get it to where you want it to be.