This article was written by my friend and fellow RV blogger Ashley Mann. I have been so impressed with her blog RVInspiration and the relatively quick success she’s had. She was kind enough to write this post and share the 8 things she learned in her first year of blogging as a business. I hope you enjoy it and learn some valuable tips!
8 Things I Learned In My First Year Of Blogging As A Business
About a year and a half ago, I had the idea of starting a website for RV owners. I had never built a website before, and although my husband was a web developer, what he did seemed way too complicated for me to ever learn (at one point I actually tried learning to code through a free online course but gave up after just a few days).
My husband was really encouraging. He told me I could do it without coding by building a blog in WordPress—he helped me get set up with a domain name, and hosting, and install a WordPress theme. I started learning to customize my site and write articles, and in June 2017, I officially launched RVInspiration.
It’s hard to believe that was just a little over a year ago, not only because of how far my website has come but because of how I’ve changed. Now, I think of myself as a business owner and entrepreneur, when a year ago I would have felt fake calling myself either of those things. Even though I still have a lot to learn, the end of my first year of blogging is a good time to reflect on what I’ve already learned and share it with others.
1. Blogging As a Business Is a Marketing Job
I quickly learned that running a blog as a business instead of a hobby meant few of my work hours would be spent writing. In order for people to actually see my blog articles—and in order for me to make money—I have to spend a significant amount of time marketing my blog. Most of my “blogging” time is really spent doing things like
- Writing emails
- Posting on social media
- Saving content to Pinterest boards (see example below)
- Researching topics I’m writing about
- Designing images to promote blog posts
- Educating myself about topics related to blogging
For a visual of a similar process, check out this article 5 Simple Fixes To Turn Your Blog Into A Business.
Fortunately, I enjoy all of those tasks, at least when they’re helping me achieve my blogging goals!
2. There’s a Technology Learning Curve
As an older millennial, I’m fairly tech-savvy. I don’t typically struggle to find information online or learn new software, and at previous jobs, co-workers would often come to me for computer help. Still, as a blogger, I have run into technology challenges beyond my ability, and sometimes (especially early on) even the solutions were above my head.
It has gotten easier, however. I would compare my experience learning the technological aspects of blogging to my experience learning a new language: at first, it was overwhelming and everything sounded like gibberish, but as I immersed myself in it, I started picking things up here and there. Now I can read an article about a WordPress plugin, SEO strategy, or CSS hack and actually understand what it’s talking about.
Getting to that point required a willingness to learn and figure things out, and, more importantly, a desire to succeed strong enough to keep me pushing through problems that arose.
3. Blogging As a Business Can Qualify You For Other Work
One unexpected benefit of learning the skills required to effectively turn my blog into a profitable business was the realization that I’m now qualified for marketing and virtual assistant jobs that I wasn’t previously qualified for. If I decide I no longer want to run my blog, I’ll be able to earn money while working from home (my RV), because there are business owners willing to pay people to do for them the kinds of things I do every day as a blogger.
This is also an option for bloggers who aren’t yet meeting their income goals through blogging alone. I personally know several bloggers who currently supplement their blog income by offering blogging and marketing-related services as virtual assistants.
4. A Successful Blog Fills An Information Gap
Friends and family members sometimes ask me for blogging advice, and I always tell them if they want to start a blog, they need to identify an information gap their blog or website will fill.
I started RV Inspiration because I saw that RV owners were asking the same questions over and over again in RV Facebook groups (“How can I organize my RV kitchen?” “Can I paint the walls in my RV?” “Has anyone ever removed their dining booth?”), and because when we were shopping for our own RV I spent hours sorting through content on Pinterest looking for RV makeover photos and organization ideas. I thought someone needed to make a website where RV owners looking to make their camper or motorhome feel more homelike could find the information they were looking for all in one place. I decided to be that person.
More Than a Wheelin’ is another great example of a website that fills an information gap: Camille knows many Rvers and nomads are looking for ways to earn money while traveling full-time. Her background makes her uniquely qualified to help people do that, so she’s built her blog around that topic.
A blog can be informative yet still feel personal. Katie Nathey of Mountain Modern Life shares a glimpse of her life in a motorhome while explaining how to do DIY projects; Bryanna Royal writes tips for family travel and RV destination reviews while chronicling her family’s travels on her blog Crazy Family Adventure; Liz Wilcox entertains readers with stories of her own misadventures while also providing them with useful resources through The Virtual Campground. But what draws visitors to these blogs is not merely interest in the life of the author, but a need for the information these blogs provide.
5. Goal Setting Is Key
The superintendent of the school I used to work for required us teachers to set S.M.A.R.T goals–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (Google it!)–at the beginning of each school year. To be honest, the biggest goal driving me as a novice teacher was just to make it to Friday each week, and as a result, the goals I wrote were often something I came up with more or less to fulfill the requirement.
Working as a blogger is different because no one is forcing me to start work at 8:00 a.m. every day. If I feel like spending the morning shopping online instead of writing an article, I can. But the flip side is, unlike teaching where I know when I’ll get paid and how much, and exactly when the school year will end, I have no idea when I’ll achieve my blogging goals because it depends entirely on how much effort I put in and how efficiently I’m managing that effort.
The key to the success I’ve seen so far has been:
- Clearly defining my vision of what I want to accomplish
- Outlining a plan for how I intend to get there
- Choosing a date for when I’ll do each step
Turns out I am a fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals; I just needed sufficient motivation to use them!
6. You Get What You Pay For
Running my website has always required monetary investment. Starting out, I had to pay for a domain name and hosting. I also decided to take my husband’s advice and pay for my WordPress theme (around $50 I think) instead of using a free one. Pretty soon I was looking for ways to promote my blog and gain email subscribers, and it seemed like all the best tools for doing this cost $15-$30/month.
That’s not to say you have to be rich to start a blog. You can definitely start out by paying for nothing but hosting ($10/month or less) and scale up when you can. It’s been my experience, though, that paying for software helps bring me more website traffic. As soon as I was able, I reinvested all of my blog earnings until my blog was easily paying for its expenses. Because of this my site has grown faster and started generating income sooner than I believe it would have otherwise.
7. Other Bloggers Are My Most Valuable Resource
As a newbie blogger, I often felt intimidated by other bloggers who I perceived as more successful or experienced than me. I was hesitant about emailing them and nervous that they would view me as an imposter. Fortunately, a few of the bloggers I respected ended up reaching out to me, and I realized that a) they were just people, and many of them were facing or had faced the same difficulties I was experiencing, and b) we had much more to gain by helping each other than remaining isolated and viewing each other as competition.
However, there’s a secret to my being able to relate to other bloggers as peers without feeling I’m stepping on their toes or asking too much from them: In exchange for the countless ways other bloggers help me (by linking to me, by letting me include their photo in an article, by sharing my content on social media, by publishing my guest post!), I look for ways to provide value to others whenever I can, not only to the people who help me but also to newer bloggers who are in the position I was in just a few months ago.
Once I was confident I had something of value to offer, I no longer worried so much about what others thought of me because I knew my own worth.
8. Being My Own Boss Is Worth It
It wasn’t easy to keep blogging month after month before finally seeing the initial fruits of my labor (which for me was about 6 months after I launched my website and 9 months after I started building it). At times I felt guilty blogging instead of doing something more profitable with my time, and I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been for me to stick with it if I’d also been parenting or working at another job (I had so much respect for bloggers who do that!).
But earning financial freedom while having the flexibility to work from home on my own schedule is so important to me, that whether through a blog or by some other means, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. If that’s your dream too, and if you have something you’re passionate about sharing with others through writing, I believe a blog can help you get there.
In this article, blogger, Ashley Mann shared what she learned from blogging as a business in just one year. She’s accomplished so much by learning all she could, staying focused, and investing in herself and her blog. Be sure to check out her awesome RV makeovers, storage ideas, decorations, and more at RVInspiration.
If you want to gain massive traction and earn income from your blog, be sure to tune into the Remote Work Retirement Show podcast on July 25, 2022. I interview my new, favorite blog coach and we dig deep into what it takes to create a highly profitable blog business.