Waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the distance versus the incessant drum of an alarm. Working from a cozy couch instead of a dimly lit cubicle listening to a woman named Sharon talk about her cats new scratch post. A flexible schedule versus the boss’s raised eyebrow when you roll in at 9:03am. Ahh, the glamour.
Cut to me, braless, hair disheveled and unwashed, a moat of paper surrounding me as I try to do a million things, doing none of them particularly well. Those that work from home know what I’m talking about here. While the freedom this life brings is unequivocally one of the best perks of the job, there is a transitional phase that many aren’t prepared for as they enter solopreneurship.
Here are the Top 5 things I struggled with in my first year of blogging, and tips to help you overcome these challenges.
Work for yourself they said. It will be fun they said. And yes, it’s pretty darn amazing (I feel like Arie from the Bachelor has ruined this word for me forever). But starting out, I was surprised at how difficult the transition from boss man to better get your ass in gear cause ain’t nobody telling you what to do no mo’ really was. When you are no longer supported by structured days and clearly defined responsibilities, you can soon become overwhelmed.
Welp. I’ll just binge watch Netflix in my pyjamas and figure it out later. *Morgan Freeman Narrating: she did not figure it out later*
So, the girl that thrives on last minute deadlines & procrastination is now working for herself and needs to flex her productivity muscle. Ohhh boy. The first 6 months (I know, I’m embarrassed to say it took this long but hopefully this provides some peace for some of you) was spent pitter pattering around my apartment. I was doing odd jobs for the blog that probably should have been on the back burner while the real nitty gritty stuff needed to get done (and yes, I just used pitter patter and nitty gritty back to back. This is what happens when you talk to inanimate objects all day).
Here are three things I now do to increase productivity:
- I have a morning routine you can find here
- Batch Working (I’ll do a blog post on this soon but I structure my days like this: one day writing and creating content, one day doing graphic design and creating promotional materials in photoshop and lightroom, one day marketing & social media (email marketing, scheduling instagram, pinterest, Facebook etc) and one day for photography, editing posts and other admin/educational projects (learning new skills, reading other blogs, research etc)
- Planning ahead (I create quarterly editorial calendars that I now follow (this is flexible so when new ideas or events come up I tailor it as I go, but this structure allows me to have something to fall back on)
Whenever you’re working in a saturated market and trying to break into an industry that has matured so rapidly, it’s hard not to feel like you’re too late to the party.
Has everyone moved on to the after hours club and I’m just arriving in my party dress asking where everyone went? *Hurries to next club* “Wait, now they’re getting pizza?!”
As a beginner, you also struggle with wondering if you even have the authority to start this journey in the first place. Hello comparison syndrome! What I’ve learned thus far is that comparison doesn’t serve you unless it is inspiring you to think differently and more creatively. As cliché as it may be, we ALL have something unique to offer. I think I was doing myself a disservice by thinking I needed to have everything figured out right away.
The ways I’ve been able to kick self doubt to the curb
- Limit my time on social media
- Continue putting out content I’m proud of that is true to myself
- Reading inspirational books like these
- Tunnel vision when it comes to my goals and how to achieve them
Worrying too much
This definitely goes hand in hand with self doubt, but one of the things I wish I did less of in my first year of blogging was worrying. Worrying about building my audience and where I was taking things. While there is value in constantly checking in with yourself to see what feels good and aligns with your core values, most of the time worry can be counter productive.
Whenever you feel yourself being overwhelmed about the future, you can always counter that with gratitude. “Gratitude is the antidote to the things that mess us up. You can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously. So, gratitude is the solution to both anger and fear” – Tony Robbins
If I find myself worrying about the future, I go back to thinking about how blessed I am to be able to pursue a life I love and how proud I am for taking a risk. I’ve been learning a lot about the power of manifestation lately, and one tip I’ve learned is to picture your goals as already accomplished. Trust yourself and the process, and magical things start to happen!!
Feeling like I needed to do all the things
In the online world, it’s easy to look around and see people killing it on social media. Crushing it with a massive email list. AND holding down a consistent presence on podcasts, youtube and a blog. In the first year of blogging, I was scrambling around trying to keep up with every single social media channel and pump out blog content. I was also trying to learn tactics to grow an email list, up my photography game and figure out the beast that is video. I’m exhausted just writing this down.
One of the biggest lessons I learned this year was to just. go. slow. Yes, I’m sure you’re used to the megaphone sales pitch that screams “You gotta hustle! To stand out from the competition, you gotta want it more than anyone else!” For me, this mentality doesn’t align with what I want to get out of this profession.
You’ve probably heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”. While I think it’s possible to do a few things really well, it’s impossible to do it all. Especially when you are just starting out and your team consists of you, yourself and the imaginary friend that hangs out on our office couch you chat to sometimes (no? just me then?).
It has helped me to realize that there is only so much I can do as one person. It doesn’t serve me to compare myself to others because it’s apples to dragon fruit. I’ve also given myself grace to work on my own trajectory. To go slowly, figure out what I love to do and write about, and as I get better and develop my skills in one area, move onto the next intentionally. The internet is here to stay. No need to rush into things knocking shit over and arriving at your destination haggard and hangry.
Finding a Niche
I was reading my journal from my first year of blogging the other day and I had to LOL. I sounded like a broken record. “You know, I still don’t know where I’m taking the blog” ..”I don’t know what to focus on. I need to find my niche”. Honestly, if we could bag that word up, attach it to some weights and throw it into the ocean that would be grreeeeaaattttt.
There are a lot of people out there telling you “The riches are in the niches”. There are also those that say “don’t restrict yourself! Write about a variety of different things and you will figure out what works!” Neither of these are wrong, but I’ve found it helpful to take lessons from both views. While it is valuable to establish your target audience and narrow down your content, you won’t really know what resonates with your community until you create a lot of content.
When I was at The Blonde Abroad’s Blogging Retreat, she drove home the point that your audience will shape your content and your blog will evolve with you. So while it pays to keep your content fairly specific (try not to write about a vegan casserole one day and then tips for getting over your ex the next), experiment and play with different ideas and topics. Sooner or later, you’ll be niching it up without even knowing it. Stay tuned for the specific tactics I used to find my niche. In the meantime, download the free resource below! It will help you answer the tough questions needed to figure out your ideal audience! This will help you shape your content so much more intentionally!