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From Blog to Small Business: Tips for Taking Your Blog to a Whole New Level

A Guest Post By Deb Ng – Deb Ng is a freelance writer, professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs.

Four and a half years ago I started a blog filled with nothing but leads to available freelance writing opportunities. As I studied blogging and the various ways to generate traffic and revenue, the blog began to grow beyond my wildest dreams. After two years I was able to hire someone to help find leads and we branched out to also offering daily tips and advice. After three years, I added two more bloggers to the roster and today, it’s a flourishing blog network for freelance writers complete with 8 blogs. It’s now the number one online community for freelance writers. At some point in the past couple of years, it occurred to me I didn’t have merely have a blog. I had a business. In addition to paying other bloggers, I can now draw my own salary and don’t even have to take on clients if I don’t want to.

Someone once suggested it was luck that brought me to this place, but I respectfully disagree. Luck had nothing to do with it. Building FWJ from a blog to a network to a business took a lot more than luck. It took hard work, dedication and a thick skin. When I stopped treating my blog like a hobby and began working at it full time, it became a place that was both profitable and popular.

How did I get here?

  • I put in more than an hour or two each day – My blog became a full time job. If I wasn’t blogging, I was planning the next day’s posts, analyzing traffic patterns, and networking with others. It’s a day job, it’s a night job, and it’s a weekend and holiday job.
  • I read everything I could about traffic, community, monetization and other strategies needed to become a successful blogger. Keeping apprised of the latest tips and techniques helped me to achieve new levels of blogginess.
  • I networked within – and outside of – the freelance writing community – Yes, I participated in discussions at other freelance writing blogs and forums, but I also visited with other communities. Freelance writers participate in various niches and genres, it only makes sense to branch out beyond the obvious.
  • I networked offline – I attended professional meetings, meetups and conferences, and met potential advertisers, potential readers, and community members and people with whom I could share ideas and learn from.
  • I attended classes – I attended sessions at conferences and at the local community college. I invested in online courses and seminars.
  • I aligned myself with some influential people – Being a part of other networks increased awareness of my own community and generated interest in my blog network.
  • I learned I have to spend money to make money – While blogging may be an inexpensive startup, the truth is, if I didn’t invest in design, bloggers for hire, technical assistance, classes and conferences, I may not have achieved this level of success.
  • Did I mention I put a lot of time and effort into my blog?
  • I didn’t wait until advertisers came to me – I sought out sponsors, played with affiliates and yes, even rocked the Adsense. Now though, I sell many private ads to businesses and individuals who approach me instead of the other way around.
  • I didn’t let negativity stand in my way – People can be mean – they still are. If I let it get to me I wouldn’t be writing this today.

That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of luck, does it?

The truth is, there were times I questioned my ability. I was also getting a little tired of moderating snarky comments by a few community members who like to bicker about wages and jobs. It was hard seeing people write out and out lies about me on their blogs or suggest I’m only here by luck and not talent . There were plenty of times I wanted to throw in the towel.

Last month when a major online brand inquired about acquiring FWJ, I realized I built something very important and I was very proud. Proud enough not to want to sell.

If I can take my little freelance writing job blog to new heights in only four and a half years, what can I do in another five? I’m looking forward to finding out.

Sure, you can have a blog. You can post once a day and have a few hundred visitors. Or you can treat your blog like you would a job. You can put your passion behind it and give it your all. You can work for someone else or you can do everything possible to grow your own business. With blogging, you get what you give.

What do you want, a blog or a business?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Anna says:

    Congratulation on your success, Deb! Thank you for your article. It is very inspirational for me and now I know that through hard work and motivation, your goals of blogging full-time can be achieved.

  2. Deb,

    I remember when I was at b5media at the same time as you. I was always so impressed with you. I actually had bookmarked FWJ several weeks ago not realizing it was you behind it! I am very proud of you for the level of success you have achieved!

    xx

  3. Congratz. I have seen your blog before. Really, reaching where you are after 4 years need dedication. Most bloggers back out before 4 years.

  4. John Soares says:

    Excellent advice about how to really succeed with a blog. I picked up several useful tips.

    And I already follow your Freelance Writing Jobs site.

  5. Norman says:

    Thanks for the great article!

    This article is so true thinking of my two years of blogging. I am planning for to take my blog to the new level by seeking professional design, technical assistance and hiring of writers. It is the way to take the blog into a business.

  6. Prasanga says:

    Growing your blog towards a small business is not a matter of overnight. I think it is hard work and lots of dedication to grow your blog. Depending on the niche it can be done within 6 months. I think when there is a steady fulltime income then it can be considered a small business. I strated blogging without reading one e-book about it. I think there is a certain knowledge needed to get started as a blog to create a small business. I started my blogs as hobbies. I discover a great niche. I think the 6 months I can focus on making my blog a steady stream of income. I think it will take years to build a small business with my blogs.

  7. Andy says:

    Good on you for sharing your story and providing inspiration as well as information for us who are striving towards making it online. Sometimes it’s really hard to get past that negativity and questions of self doubt when you’re site is in its infancy, but to read your story and what you have achieved certainly helps to spur me on even when I start to wonder why I’m bothering. Good luck for the future and I hope your site continues to grow.

  8. Darren
    Great piece
    I am at a stage myself where I am trying to turn what I (hopefully) learned in 4 years of blogging at ‘Serge the Concierge’ into a source of income.
    My focus is on combining what I learned blogging with my bilingual skills (French-English) and my love of food and wine to help French food and wine producers promote their creations in the US.
    Your reflections also echo some of the themes in a book I am currently reading ‘The Adversity Paradox’.
    Good day
    Serge
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’
    http://www.sergetheconcierge.com
    @theconcierge

  9. Paul Hassing says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Deb. Confident and informative without being self serving. I agree that you thoroughly deserve your success and I hope to emulate your fine example. Many thanks for sharing your story. Best regards, P. :)

  10. Cirodin says:

    I really like that you stress it’s not a matter of luck but rather hard work and determination – with the most important points being network building (social media) and direct contact with potential advertisers. Blogging in general is much like business, substracted the detailed budgeting and financial work. You need to have a plan and implement it, adapt to changes etc. I just started up my own blog about shoes and fashion and I can tell you I’ve learnt alot in a short span of time!

  11. Jason says:

    What an Awesome Post! Great motivation to get out there and kick some butt!

  12. Srinivas Rao says:

    I have to agree with everything you have said year. One thing that I think people seem to forget is that nothing happens over night and that at least 1 year of work went into this success.

  13. Now this is inspirational! I am motivated to keep going!

    Thanks.

  14. scheng1 says:

    I guess you forget to mention that you love blogging.
    Blogging is a lot of hard work even when we love blogging. I guess blogging is impossible to sustain if we hate to write and hate networking.

  15. Way to go! There has got to be a hunger, curiosity, faith, and just plain ole work ethic. You had to lay it out because sometimes you don’t have a year to counsel someone into their dreams. Separation of the getting ready vs. the ready has to happen. It is good that anyone can make that decision today and align their actions with the desires. Good post!

  16. I can’t make blogging as a fulltime job, and I don’t want to because I think it will be boring if we blog every time you breath. I think I will keep blogging as my sidejob as well. Thanks for the tips :)

  17. Chip says:

    I’ve been freelancing for 5 months now, and started putting some passion into blog writing. I now see what I missed all these years.

  18. Günther says:

    This blog post is exactly what I needed. It gave me great ideas for my own blog. Thanks. I will follow your advices.

  19. I really enjoyed Debra’s podcast interview from perfcast by performancing. Great interview and she knows her stuff. I’d like to hear mroe form her and some podcasts too.
    thanks,
    Larry

  20. John says:

    Darren,

    This is very insightful and a great inspiration to get serious about writing.

    Thanks,

    - John

  21. A business.

  22. Dr. Jason says:

    Absolutely love this post!!!

    I have been blogging about 5 months and have always wanted to take it to a point where it would be a full time job for me.

    There is so much I have yet to learn about blogging, optimization, writing, monetizing, and so much more. I put in a lot of time on my blog right now and still feel like I’m moving nowhere.

    This post definitely helps me keep pushing.

    Thanks

  23. Your story is inspirational as well as informative. Thanks for providing additional motivation as well as a kind of road map for the rest of us.

  24. brian bluff says:

    Having owed an Internet marketing company (www.site-seeker.com) since 2003, I really appreciate you taking the time to dispel the myth that successful people (businesses) become successful due to luck. There is no substitute for hard work!

    Great job!

  25. Very powerful and inspiring post. Kinda makes me re-evaluate the lull I’m in right now: I guess I’ve stuck in the “few hundred daily visitors/one post a day” category. I just don’t have the energy to do anymore :(

    By the way, your site is down :(

  26. Amy says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been blogging for about 6 months and I haven’t quite figured out how to get/keep readers or make money. This post has opened my eyes a bit.

  27. Kindle says:

    Thank you so much for this article. i am bookmarking it. sometimes we need a little support in this crazy world that is blogging…skin….. getting thicker….NOW!

    blessings,
    Kindle

  28. Dave says:

    Excellent post, thanks.

    This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. It’s given me some new fuel.

    Hopefully in a few years I can write about how to create a blog whilst travelling the world working as a Snowboard Instructor.

  29. Karen says:

    This was very insightful. I am having trouble staying focused. I have to put what I learn into practice and that is hard sometimes to do. But thank you for giving me incentive to keep trying.

  30. Hello Deb,

    Wow, I do not know you but you come across as a quality person,

    This post is very inspiring for bloggers,
    thank you for putting your experience out there.

  31. Wow! Your post is very inspiring. I admire the dedication that you have. Blogging is a really good way to market a business for free. Also one way to profit online is by writing and sharing information to random people. One of the great advantages of blogs is that it is very easy to get search engine traffic since the robots love freshly updated site.

    Thank you.

    http://internethomebasedbusiness.startup-internetbusiness.com/advantages-of-blogging/

  32. Sarah Lynn says:

    To help out those new businesses I’m running a contest on my blog where you can win a logo design. A great opportunity for any new blogger/business owner out there. Design is a big part of a blog as well if you’d like to have some credibility and will help you gain trust in the eyes of your viewers too! Check it out!
    http://www.sarahlynndesign.com/logocontest.

  33. Deb…first super congrats on the terrific business you have created! Wow!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and most importantly the reality of what it took to get your business where it is today! I really appreciate the honesty…that it wasn’t a walk in the park…blogs are not magic in and of themselves. They simply provide a platform that has to be worked at every day.

    Also I think you really hit the nail on the head with your comment that when you stopped thinking of your blog as a hobby and started to treat it like a business things changed.

    Great inspiration and motivation!

  34. Ryan says:

    Your tips are gold! I appreciate the wealth of info you share on a daily basis. I hope you can visit my blog and let me know what you think!

    Cheers!

    Ryan

    http://blog.ryanjohnxxi.com

  35. Lucy says:

    Great post. Sounds like no matter where you go in the blogosphere there is always someone waiting to talk smack about you. Congrats on your success.

  36. David Morson says:

    Interesting story of your success dude, I liked it but what I liked most that you didn’t conceal any aspect of your success and gave a leadline to all others in getting such a success. Carry on…….

  37. Well done Deb, I’m glad all that hard work paid off. You obviously have the drive and determination to succeed and the desire to carry on doing it even when you don’t have to anymore. Great to hear of another woman who has made it in the Internet as they’re still a minority round here:)

  38. Pallav says:

    Congrats Deb!

    You’ve really inspired me to write a post on your blog. You’ve a flawless style of writing and I appreciate your struggle and glory. Your success story can be an eye-opener for many. Keep writing.

  39. I often read interesting articles, success stories, a variety of success, but few who tells it how to succeed, how to achieve such success. generally recommend a tool or goods at a specified price. just a story, without being able to take advantage for the reader. thank you for you who have shared

  40. Deb Ng says:

    Thanks once again to everyone for such kind and positive feedback, and thanks to Darren for allowing me to tell my story.

  41. Tracy says:

    Great post, Deb – vivid, informational and inspirational all at once. What a thrill, to be able to knock back a serious buyout, and to appreciate it for its positive reflection on the hard work you’ve put into your business!

    It was particularly inspiring for me (as well as cautionary!) as I’m currently in the R&D stage of my own move to the serious side of blogging (and freelancing). Looking forward to swapping guest posts with you one day… ;)

  42. turisuna says:

    This is inspiring post. Building a blog to be a business needs lot of effort more than just a luck. Hard working, work smart, spend time and money, networking etc. There’s no achievement that can come only by luck. You are talented writer Deb, no wonder if your blog grows fast :)

  43. marcus says:

    thanks for the tips on taking your blog to a whole new level. i have really learnt something new.

  44. Winning the competition is not easy, doing business online is to become one of the options to increase income, with all its challenges. Many more successful and failed without the slightest result. keep the spirit of making an interesting article

  45. @donpower says:

    As a writer myself, I no longer use the term ‘luck’. To me, it always implied a randomness without any consideration of effort or merit.

    Instead, I only use the term FORTUNE now because it implies reward for effort.

    Fortune favors the brave, right?

    Oh, and what ever you do, Never wish an Irishman Good Luck ;)

  46. Hi Darren,
    I was a great pleasure meting you.Reading your experience and views about blogs and its business performances.

  47. A very inspiring story.

  48. Tom Kadwill says:

    This is great advice.
    I was looking for advice on blogging for a business because I have a small automation technology business called Tekrux.

    However, I think that I can really use some of the advice here in running my business site and business blog.

  49. Thanks so much for sharing your story and most importantly the reality of what it took to get your business where it is today! I really appreciate the honesty…that it wasn’t a walk in the park…blogs are not magic in and of themselves. They simply provide a platform that has to be worked at every day.

  50. Aaron says:

    Great post Deb! Congrats on your success and for working your behind off! Don’t let anyone tell you it was luck!