Personal finance has many facets. Earning money is one of those. As well as our personal growth, impact, and contribution. This year I have grown this blog and helped others leverage a blog to grow their business.
I see 10 main ways that a blog might be a great idea in 3 areas. Your current business. Your personal life. Or an entrepreneurial pursuit. I’ll denote which one each of these reasons applies to with a B for your Current Business. P for Personal Life. And E for an Entrepreneurial Pursuit. And I’ll also point out 3 really horrible reasons to start a blog!
1. Develop Writing Skills (P/E)
For people who have any interest in writing, a blog is the perfect practice ground. First, if you commit to a schedule it will help create the habit of sitting down to create each week. After 6 months to 2 years of consistently putting your thoughts and ideas into posts, writers start to find their voice. You can transition from sounding like your favorite author to sounding more like yourself. You will learn the habit of writing. Not blown about by inspiration, but the work of a professional writer. And you get instant feed back when what you are trying to say is actually being understood and resonates with your target audience.
If you ever want to get paid for the words you write, start privately in a little lab that is your blog. Learn and grow while the stakes are low and the critics are few. I heard Jen Hatmaker talk about how she wrote for years before anyone was reading and before anyone knew her name. And how important that time was to write to a small audience and develop her skill and style. Most people who are “an overnight success” and “come out of nowhere” were quietly putting words to paper long before anyone noticed. So for those of you who blog and it feels like “no one” is reading or noticing, you are still doing important work! Houses need to be built on strong foundations.
For those who one day aspire to have a book traditionally published, blogging is a great place to start! I heard one publisher reveal that 80% of their new authors have an established audience. Traditionally or self-published books rely almost exclusively on the authors marketing efforts. So it’s good if you have already built an audience to market to!
2. Become a Thought Leader (P/E)
Some people just have a unique way of seeing the world. A way of living that inspires. From parenting to personal finance, business, and marketing, community development, fitness or a thousand other things. The world needs that perspective. Blogging is a great way to develop those ideas. It’s the perfect test ground to see what sticks. To understand how to craft this message in a way that you can leverage it to create more impact. I think Seth Godin is a legit genius. He credits his blog as the place where ideas are born and take seed. Before it’s a best selling book. Before a sold out speech. It starts as a little post on his blog. I love this quote from him:
“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There are countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.” “If you know you have to write a blog post tomorrow, something in writing, something that will be around 6 months from now, about something in the world, you will start looking for something in the world to write about. You will seek to notice something interesting and to say something creative about it. Well, isn’t that all we’re looking for? The best practice of generously sharing what you notice about the world is exactly the antidote for your fear. Committing to having a point of view and scheduling a time and place to say something is almost certainly going to improve your thinking, your attitude, and your trajectory.”
3. Establish Authority (E/B)
Have you ever been caught off guard by the expertise of someone you thought you knew? They are crazy smart about something you don’t have a clue about! I think there a lot of experts in hiding. They know how to spot edible mushrooms in the forest. Or how to grow tomatoes in a short summer season. They can break a horse. Custom cabinet building. (Can you tell I’m from Montana yet? 😉 ) They make things that seem complicated or challenging to the rest of us appear easy.
A blog is an affordable, easy way to put that experience out into the world. It’s an easy way for people to quickly gain an idea of your breadth of knowledge. If you want to be able to leverage that expertise to get hired, get speaking gigs, do consulting work, or contract work, a blog is an amazing platform to display your knowledge and share it with the world.
4. Track Progress (P)
If you have a goal you want to track progress on, a blog is a great platform to do that. If you never want to do anything else with the space, you don’t need a self-hosted blog. Just sign up for a free word press platform. Track your health, track your finances, track any goal really. You can do it anonymously if you don’t want the whole world knowing your starting weight. But just the act of tracking your progress every week or each month will provide the long term focus you need to hit your goals. You will see a lot of bloggers check their progress each month on yearly goals, net worth, saving rate or expenses. The reason is that it works! We gain ground on the things we focus on.
5. Grow an Existing Service Business (B)
I don’t want to buy services from people who don’t blog. I just don’t. I don’t care if you are a hair dresser, lawyer, sell insurance, photographer, offer catering, therapist or CPA. We all like to do business with people we like, know and trust. I can’t get to like, know and trust you with a 5 line bio. I just can’t. I want to know we will get along. I want to trust that you have some expertise in your field. Show me that you know how to time an evening photography session. Or that you would never try to sell me whole life insurance because it’s a crap investment. Show me the tricks you use to make sure the food you cater will look great after the first round of guests goes through the line.
Help me get to know you. Why you do this? Why do you care about it? Why are you devoting your life to pastry catering? Because you are passionate about how food brings us together to celebrate life’s special moments? Was it time spent baking with your great grandmother? Let me know you. Then I will buy your service. This will be a 1000x easier if you blog. Just once a week. I might only need to read 5 or 6 posts. I might just scan the titles. But an impersonal website with a 5 line bio just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’ll bounce off your site and go to someone who took the time to help me like-know-trust them.
6. Build Community/Support (P/E)
It’s just better to run the race with others. And the community can be magic. The easiest way to find your tribe is to jump into blogging. Pick your niche, pick your passion, and start writing those ideas, stories, struggles, and victories down. Because there are other people out there trying to do the exact same thing. Blogging is a great way to find them. To become friends with them. There is so much support and community to be had. But we have to jump into the conversation.
7. Create Bigger Impact (P/E)
This is probably the biggest reason I blog. I can only have so many conversations. I can only mentor so many people. But if I write these ideas down and share them in this space, there is no limit. Instead of chatting with 1 friend, 10, 100, or 1000 people might read it. They might share it with others who need it the most. And I can reach into places that I had no chance of getting before. Cities and countries I’ve never even been (yet!). We get to share these ideas and chat about them in the comments.
If people have a message they want to share with the world, blogging is the most affordable and simplest way to do that. And you don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need to get hired as a speaker. Or invited on a podcast. Or offered a book deal. You just get to pick yourself. Which, honestly, is a bit harder. To believe that you have something to say and the world needs YOU to say it. Sure others have said similar things. But they aren’t you. They don’t have your story, your voice, your heart. No matter how many people are talking about something, there is someone who needs to hear it from you.
8. Attract New Business (B)
There is a reason that it seems almost all businesses have blogs. SEO. It stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s how Google decides which search results to show when a potential customer searches certain words. If someone searches “Best family photographer Flathead Valley rustic,” what websites will show up, and in which order? Smart businesses make sure that they have the answers to the questions their potential customers are searching for. Fresh content shows Google that this is a relevant, active website. Most websites can add a blog into their design and start to grab some of those warm leads. If not, you can add a separate blog which links back to your professional site.
9. Learn About a Topic (P)
I really like to read “learn as you go” blogs. If you are in a journey, just figuring it out as you go, creating a blog to document that will drastically help your learning curve! If you want to learn about how to eat and live by Whole 30, blogging about your success and failure each week will provide tremendous growth! I think every personal finance blogger can attest to things they have learned by blogging about money. There are so many things I am learning as I go! Setting tile being one of them. =) If you want to learn about investing in rentals, start blogging about it. If you want to become an adoptive parent, blog about it. You don’t have to be an expert to share your story. Just share your journey. What you are learning, trying, failing and winning at. Others will want to come along for that journey.
Taking a year off, then choosing not to hurry back to the 9-5 is a journey for us. We are figuring it out as we go. We are thinking out loud. Trying stuff. Quitting stuff. Changing our minds and perspectives. And then trying new stuff some more. It’s fun to watch people a few steps ahead of you try to figure things out and be in process. The act of writing down those things each week will help you pull 3x as much from the experience.
10. Your Longest Business Card (B/E)
Give great content away for free every week. Content that really helps people. Content that helps solve their problems. And if or when they need more, who will they turn to? The person who has already helped them so much.
This can happen organically. Or with a plan.
My mentoring and just happened organically. It wasn’t even a seed of an idea when I started this blog. People were able to “like, know, and trust” me. I had helped them with the blog posts. And they knew I could help more. So I set up that option to make it easier. (If you have ever emailed someone asking if they could provide a service that you aren’t sure they actually offer, you know it’s a terrifying and awkward process!)
If you want to really grow a business I suggest having a plan.
Let’s say you want to handle social media marketing for small businesses. (As in, you manage their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, create posts, images, put up pictures, promos and write ads.) A small business owner has about 1000 plates spinning at once. Posting on Facebook 5 times a week, oddly enough, isn’t at the front of their mind. 😉
So you start a blog about this.
- How to create effective FB ads.
- How to create Pinterest images.
- Different frequency strategies.
- How to naturally enter the conversation your customers are already having with your posts instead of constant “Buy, Buy, Buy” posts.
Everything you post is super on point, a quick win, and really helpful. (I would love to read this blog!)
There will be some people who read your blog and implement all your awesome tips. Your first kind of customers will be those who read it and say to themselves “I wonder how much they would charge to handle this for me?” The second customers will be those you go out and hustle for. But instead of just handing them a business card, you can direct them to your blog. They can easily see your view points, ideas, and breadth of knowledge. They can see this community that is being helped with your free content. You aren’t a random college kid trying to earn a quick buck, but a person committed and consistent in their field.
3 Horrible Reasons to Start a Blog
1. You Need Quick Cash
Nothing about blogging is fast. If you really need extra income in the next 3 months, blogging is a horrible choice. Even as a business growth strategy, you need to invest at least 6 months before your posts start gaining real traction with Google and help to convert warm leads.
2. You Need Fast Traffic Growth
It takes time to find your readers. It takes time for search engines to start showing your results. And if you want 100,000 visitors a month to support a full-time income from blogging it might take a few years, even if you do everything right. When I work with people on their life plan, we plot big changes 3 years out. I know it sounds sexier to talk about building an amazing “lifestyle” business in the next 60 days, but that is the extremely rare exception, not the rule. But given 3 years, I see people gain a lot of traction in most areas of life. Your health and fitness. Your platform. Your business. 3 months to set a trajectory, 3 years to see the results.
3. You Think it will be Automated or Easy
Blogging takes time and energy. Although this may seem crazy, you will need at least 4 hours per post that first year. And that is just to get the post written, edited, formatted, images up, and social shares. No other blog work included. Most bloggers I know that are serious about building their blog spend at least 20 hours a week on it!
If you are a business (or have the money), you can hire a writer. You can even hire a writer who will write in your voice, style and with your ideas. I encourage all business to use a writer at least part time to fill in the gaps in order to ensure you post consistently. But this STILL takes time. You have to find someone, share your vision, help craft a content schedule, review their work, provide direction and feedback.
It can do amazing things to help grow your business, but it will be 1 more plate for you to keep spinning. Maybe just 2 hours a month, but it’s still 2 hours a month that you need to focus on the blog, plus the cost of the freelance writer. (If you are looking for a freelance writer, shoot an email to bloggers you think would be a good match, many will take a few side jobs!)
Would you prefer to do business with a service provider (Dentist, lawyer, therapist, caterer, car mechanic, interior designer) if they had a business blog?
If you blog, any pros or cons you would add to the list?