The following is a guest post from Molly, a blogger with her husband Mike at (appropriately enough) Mike and Molly’s House. For the past two years Molly has been writing about how they cut back their expenses by more than half and expounding on other financial matters on her blog Molly On Money. Last month they launched a new blog called Mike and Molly’s House where they share their love of making, building, sewing and growing stuff and living on less. They live just outside of Santa Fe, NM with their two girls.
Mike and I have been blogging for two years now. When we started we didn’t worry about how often we did it, if we did it, or if we were getting paid. Our sole focus was the quality of what we were writing. It was a hobby. It turned out to be an amazing creative outlet that could encompass so many of our passions. As entrepreneurs we are always looking for ways to balance our creative outlets with making money. For the last six years we’ve been living split lives.
Our passions were saved for after work hours (and I’m not just talking about nookie ). In addition to full time jobs, we had full after hours schedules too! We played with our kids, blogged, gardened, raised chickens, ducks and bees. We built stuff. All kinds of stuff. A chicken coop, yurt, greenhouse…you name it we were building it. In the wee hours Mike could be found out in the workshop tooling away on his home made CNC machine. We talked about finding a way to integrate our passions with generating an income but there were always excuses.
This spring we decided it was time to take our creative energies and focus them on making a living. We stopped writing our individual blogs and combined our resources into one uber-blog. This fall finds us both laid off from work. We’re all in now!!
1. Focus, Determination & Drive
Back in May when we started toying with the idea of a new website that would make money we had to determine if we were willing to focus solely on the blog? Crystal is a maniac when it comes to blogging. You’ll find her all over the place guest posting, posting daily on her own blogs, and working on various other projects with other bloggers. It’s clear that focus, determination and drive got her to her goal of blogging full time. We decided it was worth it to put other things down for the time being while we nurtured our blog into a successful venture.
(Crystal’s Comment: You are too nice. I think you hit it spot on with “maniac”, lol. Now that advertising is my main full time job, I am actually watching bloggers like you to figure out how to properly stay on top of my own blogs. :-))
2. Write 5-7 posts a week
We researched the rise of other bloggers. We looked for consistencies and what we found is that they wrote a lot, 5-7 times per week.
Even though we are not working right now it still takes a big chunk of the day to write a post. It takes us 4-6 hours to write, photograph, edit and publish a post. We are looking for ways to shorten this but we aren’t willing to cut back on the quality of our posts. Since beginning on September 3, 2011 we’ve written 36 posts. 36 posts in 40 days ain’t bad!
(Crystal’s Comment: Holy moly!!! I only take about an hour per post, but they are not as informative as yours at all. I am beyond impressed about the work you put into posts like these!)
3. Write about what you love
This was the entire point of starting our site. We were both concerned that we would run out of content. It’s been the opposite. We can’t keep up with everything we want to write about. We have a spreadsheet that has a schedule of posts (in draft or idea form) 4 weeks out. On another sheet we brainstorm ideas. We have over ninety article ideas to pull from. We set it up on Google doc so we can share it with each other.
4. Sell Yourself
You must! Unless you want to write a journal for yourself you need to build an audience. We both find it difficult to ‘sell’ ourselves. We’ve had to find ways to spread the word about what we are doing. I use my strength as connector to reach out to other bloggers. I love to conversate and this gets me past my uncomfortable zone of selling. Mike uses his talent as a doer. He posts his work on sites like Instructables to interact with other DIYers. We are reaching out in other mediums as well. We’re writing an article for an art magazine and are going to be guests on a local radio talk show. These are baby steps but it continues to get the word out to new and different potential readers.
5. Interact with the world
Comment, comment, comment. Go to forums, find sites about topics you enjoy, and talk with others. The base of our readership has come from Personal Finance blogs because that’s who I was talking to when I was writing Molly on Money. Now we are reaching out to DIY and cooking sites. I try and put about 8 hours a week towards this. I find it to be a fun part of the job. It’s where you get to see what else is out there and find new ideas. On a scale of 0-5 (5 being the most difficult) this is a 1 for me.
6. Make it easy to subscribe
Readers are the heart of our blog. They are why we do what we do. Without them it would be a big vacuum. When readers subscribe they are committing to a relationship with us. We want to make it easy for them to do so.
I’m always amazed when I go to a blog and I can’t find where to subscribe. We use Google analytics to see where people click on our site. We noticed that even though we had several places on the homepage to subscribe it still was not clear enough. We let our design aesthetic get in the way of functionality. We wanted to keep the front page simple and clean but it was so simple not everyone recognized the icons as subscribe buttons! Although we haven’t resolved it completely it is on our to-do list.
7. Ad revenue
I saved advertising for last. This should be the top of our list and it’s at the bottom. If we don’t have revenue we won’t be able have the time to write quality posts regularly. We laid out our site so that it would be easy to insert ads. We’ve been focusing on building our readership. Now it’s time for us to go round up some sponsors. I do believe you should tackle those things that make you uncomfortable first and this one needs to be a higher priority for us.
The steps are straight forward- Generate great content, reach out and sell your great content to the world, get paid for it. Easy to say, harder to do. We have a white board next to our workstation where we break our goals down to discrete tasks. We can’t hide from it! It feels great when we get to wipe a task off the board and it’s a bitter reminder of what’s being avoided when that task stays for days and days. The payoff is that we will be able to do what we love for a living.
Crystal’s Comments: I think they are spot on. Thank you for a great guest post Molly and good luck to you both!