The internet is hammered with ‘make money online’ articles, podcasts and videos on a daily basis and only a very few of those that claim to be making ‘real’ money online, are actually doing it – the rest are all-out lying.
I’m a blogger.
But, I’m a business owner first.
And no matter how successful I (hopefully) become online, and no matter how much money I make online, I will always be a businessman first, a blogger second. Why? Because it’ll help me make more money – plain and simple.
If you’re trying to make a living online, don’t get me wrong – this post isn’t about beating you up, or to try and deter you from achieving your goals. No. In fact, this post is about giving you a wake-up call, of sorts, and hopefully helping you realize that having the ‘professional blogger’ mindset won’t enable you to make a lot of money.
Now, before I go any further, lets get one thing straight – building an online business, and ‘blogging to make money’ are two completely different things – the purpose of this post is to get you into the ‘business owner mindset’, to help get you to the next level.
So, with that in mind, allow me to give you a few home truths.
Passion Alone Won’t Help You Build a Successful Business
In episode 20 of the New Business Podcast, I laid down 9 tips to help you take action as an entrepreneur. It was a really successful session, with thousands of downloads in just a few days following publication. One of the tips I mentioned in the episode was the fact that you can’t (and shouldn’t) build a business entirely on passion.
Just because you’re a super passionate rock climber, doesn’t mean that thousands of people are going to read your rock climbing blog each week, or buy your ’10 Extreme Tips to Rock Climbing Success’ eBook.
You’ve gotta get smart about the way you attack the set-up of your business, and the creation of the different revenue streams that will ultimately lead you to become a success, as a business owner.
Blogging and that eBook should just be tools to generating income. Perhaps down the line you’ll sell your own apparel, or offer rock climbing tours in different parts of the world. The possibilities (in almost every passion driven niche) are endless – but, a business mindset is needed to capitalize on them properly.
Yes, You Do Need a Business Plan (Even if it’s a simple one!)
Too many people nowadays like to use the idea of the entrepreneurial pivot as an excuse to not put a proper business plan in place. They believe they can just get started, and then figure it out as they go along.
Doing this will lead to failure, as I discovered myself with the one and only business (my third at the time) that I’ve started in this way – YourWebPA. This was to be like an outsourcing job posting site, but on steroids, with my team of outsourced workers doing all the work for you, instead of ‘freelancers’ you’ve never met, or worked with before.
It all felt great at first and the idea of selling the services based off of my outsourcing brand was what really fueled the whole thing. It failed. Within 4-months I pulled the plug and was down a year of my time (we were in beta for a while), and about $20,000 setting it up. Ouch!
You can hear the story behind this business failure, and more on how I’ve avoided doing it again in episode 16 of the New Business Podcast.
I recently launched a new business here in Cebu, Philippines. It’s a co-working space called Location63 and is the first of it’s kind here in the city. The concept of co-working is so new, in fact, that when a local newspaper came to our launch party and wanted to interview me, the first question they asked me was ‘Why is your internet cafe so expensive?”. It cracked me up!
I thought long and hard about starting this new business. And I decided to not depend on the local market at all. Our ‘residents’ at Location63 are virtual staff (from our Virtual Staff Finder clients), freelancers that can afford more than just an internet cafe connection and environment, as well as location independent entrepreneurs from around the world. Having that clear plan of attack in terms of our prospective clients means that although this business is only 8-months old, it’s working so far.
The lesson here is that not having a clear plan of attack (even a really simple one) is gonna cost you. This doesn’t mean that the pivot won’t rear it’s head, it probably will – especially at the rate that todays market changes (especially if you’re a B2C business), but being prepared will give you a fighting chance out of the gate.
Build a Team. Or Break Down!
One of the biggest reasons small businesses fail today is because the owner, the entrepreneur (that’s you!), believes they can run the show all on their own. Now, in the beginning this might be the case, and probably WILL be the case, as you bootstrap your way to business brilliance.
However, there will come a time where overwhelm will kick in, you’ll hit critical mass and will stop being productive.
This is the time to start building your team.
Getting smart at the right time and beginning the team building practice will enable you to grow your business in a more productive manner, as well as quicker than if you were to try and do it on your own.
The good news for the new-age entrepreneur out there is that you don’t a) need a permanent location to build your business, or b) a large team to help you get the work done. Outsourcing and working with virtual staff has boosted the efforts of todays business owners, and the result has been a more streamlined, productive business that ultimately has a much bigger shot at becoming a success.
Lastly, I want to talk about something that many people attempting to make money from blogging often forget about – as hard as it might be to believe.
And that’s… money.
Keep an Eye on Your Money. Seriously. A Close Eye!
My old man (that’s father for my non-British readers!) used to say “You look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves!”.
My Dad was right. Not always – but he was on this one.
One of the biggest problems with making money online is that as the PayPal notifications start coming through, you’re happy and excited to finally start seeing some income. Then, if you’re lucky, the money will continue to come in.
However, you’ll start to lose track of whats going out…
- Email marketing software.
- Domain and hosting costs.
- Staffing costs.
- Software and hardware costs.
- Plus, much more.
It all adds up. Not keeping a close eye on your money is a really simple recipe for disaster.
At least once a week, stop blogging. Stop creating. Stop thinking.
Instead focus on MONEY. Your money.
Look at what you’re spending it on. Is there a way to do something related to your business, but in a cheaper way? If so, do it (as long as it doesn’t hurt customer enjoyment, etc.).
Look at how much certain activities are generating income for you. Are they worthwhile? If not, dump them and move onto another idea. If they are worthwhile, then will doubling your efforts (or that of your team) mean generating more revenue? If so, go for it.
Do You Have the Right Mindset?
A couple of years ago I was in LA having coffee with my good friend, Srini from BlogcastFM. He was telling me that he was frustrated that the growth of his podcast (and his business) wasn’t really moving at the rate that he wanted it to. He said that he was reading every book he could find on the subject of blogging and social media, as well as speaking to as many bloggers as possible on how they were making money online, but still things weren’t taking off properly.
After a little more digging, I simply advised him to stop reading books on social media, and start reading books on starting and building businesses instead. I also advised him to start hanging out with more ‘real’ business owners, instead of just those in the online space.
2-years later and Srini has mentioned that story countless times on his own podcast, which has become one of the most popular on the internet. He has also interviewed over 300 guests, published multiple books, attracted show sponsors, and is well on his way to continuing to grow his personal media empire!
Why? Because he changed his mindset.
As I said at the beginning, this post wasn’t about discouraging you from starting an online business, or by making money through blogging (or other online activities for that matter). It was about getting yourself in the right mindset for business success. And that’s to start thinking like a business owner.
By switching our focus from ‘I want to make a living online’, to ‘I want to build a successful business’, we start programming our minds into thinking that we will do just that.
We begin to think like a business owner first, a blogger second.
What do you think about my views on this subject? I’d love to know below in the comments.