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Boost Your Blog #10: Create a Hire Me Page

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

10. Create a Hire Me page

This won’t relate to all bloggers but if you have a skill or service that you can offer your readers, don’t just assume that they’ll come knocking. Sometimes they need to see that you offer a service and hear about what it would entail.

A page linked prominently on your blog that shows the needs you’re able to help with, and outlines how the service might work (the costs and logistics) could be something that drives you significant income over the long term. Hat tip to Chris Garrett for this suggestion.

Does your blog have a Hire Me page? If not, should it?

The 7 Cs of Business Communication: Make Your Posts Shareworthy Every Time

This guest post is by Marya of Writing Happiness.

When I finished my MBA degree about a decade ago, I undertook a course which taught me how to write great content for my blog.

Sceptical? I know what you are thinking: blogging wasn’t even around then! I know. Allow me to explain.

Doing MBA, I did many subjects like Marketing and Management which are great for anyone who is a webpreneur or looking to become one. That being said, Business Communication was, by far, the most enjoyable subject of the whole course. And I knew it would come in handy one day.

I just didn’t know that blogging would be the area that would benefit the most from it.

Time to dig through the dusty old boxes, locate the Business Communication textbook and revisit the well thumbed pages once again!

Blog writing is effective communication

We all agree that at the heart of great content lies effective communication. If you don’t, you are almost guaranteed to fail at whatever you are trying to accomplish with your posts.

To compose effective written or oral messages, there are certain principles that we need to apply. These also provide guidelines for your choice of content and style of presentation, be it a post or a video on your blog.

These are 7 Cs of communication:

Completeness

Your post is only complete when it contains all the info that your reader requires in order to have a reaction you want them to have.

Remember when you are writing a post, only you are aware of what’s happening inside your head—the readers don’t. They don’t have access to all the voices in your head. For them to interpret the message as you intend, make sure you provide them with all the necessary information.

That could be a back-story to your post; it could be the questions you were contemplating while that thought popped into your head to do your post. Readers need to know what motivated you to write your post. Answer all the questions that are bound to come up and relate to your purpose.

Give your readers the whole picture, laying down the benefits, and talking about the results to convince them. Bring your reader to the page where you begin, or much context will be lost or misinterpreted.

Conciseness

Ahh… I am really partial to this one—it’s easily my favourite child of them all!

Conciseness is saying what you have to say in the fewest possible words—without sacrificing the other C qualities. Pay attention to the last bit as this is gold. It won’t help you to write briefly if you haven’t provided complete information, lack clarity, and are not courteous.

A concise message saves time for both you, the blogger, and for your readers. By being concise you are showing respect for your readers’ time. You lay emphasis on important ideas by eliminating unnecessary words, including only relevant information and avoiding needless repetition.

Wordiness has been the bane of writers for ever. So avoid long introductions to your post, omit unnecessary explanations, and don’t insult your readers.

Cut down pompous words, trite explanations, and gushy exclamations. Stick to the purpose of your post. When combined with the “you view,” which I’ll explain in a moment, concise posts are that much more interesting to your readers.

Consideration

Write each post with your readers in mind. What do they need? How much of a difference will your post make in their lives? Be aware of their desires, problems, circumstances, emotions, and expectations.

Put yourself in their shoes. This is “you view.”

Most new bloggers are actually surprised to find that the most important word in their posts is you and not I. Yes, it might seem contradictory; I mean, you started blogging to air your thoughts, right? Well, that’s probably not entirely true. Don’t let your posts become an exercise in navel-gazing: write with the goal of helping your readers in some way, be it educational or entertainment.

Show them the benefit of reading your posts, and gently encourage them to take the desired action—sharing your post, commenting on it, or buying something from you.

Clarity

Getting the meaning from your head into the head of your reader—accurately—is the purpose of clarity.

Choosing the right words to convey your message will work wonders for your writing.

Be conversational, and avoid being superior in your writing. Your writing doesn’t need to be pretentious to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter how big your vocabulary is, you won’t achieve any results if nobody understands you. Use familiar language, and words that you are well versed in, and are appropriate for the situation.

Use short words if you have a choice between using long or short. Avoid using technical jargon and, when you have to, explain it once for people who might be beginners in this area.

Construct effective sentences and paragraphs by laying emphasis on the main idea. Generally, short length works best, and be sure to have unity and coherence in your sentence structure. Look into style elements if you feel you need some help in this regard.

Courtesy

Do you reply to your comments? Do you thank people for sharing your posts, tweeting them, and linking to them?

Your sincere “you attitude” makes you courteous—and it makes you likeable. Courtesy is politeness growing out of respect and concern for others.

Be thoughtful, appreciative, helpful, and truly respectful to your readers. Remember you are building a community here, so you want to promote values that define you as a person.

Concreteness

Be specific, definite, and vivid in your writing, rather than vague and general.

Use active verbs rather than passive, and choose image building words. Use analogies to make comparisons when appropriate, and avoid dull language. Show off your personality and your voice—that’s what makes readers hang on to every word.

And lastly, an extension of that is the final C.

Correctness

This issue is the easiest to fix, and should never ever see the light of the day—there is simply no excuse for it.

Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Check the accuracy of facts, figures, and words. For oral presentations, substitute spelling with speech etiquette. Enough said—you are a bright reader, I can tell.

Do you follow these 7 Cs of communication when you write your blog posts? Tell us your approach in the comments.

Marya is a communicator of ideas, exploring the human face of blogging. She offers quirky insights into personal development for bloggers. Catch more of her posts at Writing Happiness.

Online Success Need Not Be Measured in Enemies

This guest post is by Margie Clayman of margieclayman.com.

One of my favorite Elvis Costello choruses goes like this:

“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?”

I have always liked that song, but I never really thought I would live in a time where that question would resonate. I always thought, “Well, that was written when peace and love seemed hokey, perhaps, or maybe impossible. It was more than a rhetorical question when Elvis first sang it.”

And yet, as I sit here in the year 2011, I have to ask the same question. What is so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding? It sure seems like all three concepts are running into a PR crisis in the online world.

“You’re nice. That’s so boring.”

I have gotten picked on a bit over my year in the world of social media. Why? Because I’m nice. I’m lovey dovey. People have told me that it’s really boring listening to someone like me because I never ruffle any feathers.

To put it kindly, I think that’s a totally ridiculous sentiment.

Sure, you get a powerful response if you call someone out, bash someone, hurl insults, or say that someone is really stupid. There’s no question that ruffling feathers tends to be great for attention-grabbing and traffic spikes. So what?

If you want to entice people to read your blog posts, what about the concept of writing really good content? Really thought-provoking content? What about writing about something people aren’t writing a lot about? Like, I don’t know … like being nice, maybe? Why does excitement in the online world, or interest, have to be synonymous with cruelty or malicious intent? I’d rather be boring and nice than enjoy a modicum of success at the expense of others.

“If you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong.”

This is another phrase I’ve seen a lot in the online world over my year navigating the wild Internet waters, and I also think it’s utter nonsense. Why are we measuring success by how many people hate us? There is no other realm that I can think of in the human world where we measure success that way.

“Congratulations, Daisy. Everyone in your department hates you so we’re going to promote you now!” That just doesn’t happen. So why do we need to pull out haters instead of a yardstick when we talk about measuring online success? What is this need to have people attack us all about?

How do I measure my online success? I look at how many people say they enjoy my posts. I look at the solid relationships I have built. It’s not exactly a revolutionary concept, folks.

“Women can’t be successful because they can’t be narcissistic morons.”

My friend Sean McGinnis ran into a post that made this claim: that women may not find as much success in the world because women just can’t be egotistical or selfish enough.

First of all, let me tell you about some of the women I’ve encountered in my life. If you want to know about knife stabbing, in-it-for-herself, ruthless, downright cruel women, I could spin ya a yarn, sonny jim. That’s not an issue.

Second of all, what?!? Are we really saying that success rests on how much you make people want to throw up when they see you? I mean, that doesn’t sound like success to me. That sounds kind of like, I don’t know … crazy-sauce?

The glorification of “Ick!”

Next to the glorification of failure, I find the glorification of crassness or cruelty to be the most nauseating thing I’ve encountered on the Web. You should not be applauded for breaking your Censor button. You should not gain accolades because every other post has an f-bomb in it. Surely there is more to online success than being someone who invites comparisons to male and female genitalia? I mean, really. Can we aim a little higher?

Then again, maybe I’m just a boring nice person.

You tell me what this is all about.

Margie Clayman represents the third generation at her family’s marketing firm. She is the resident librarian at the Blog Library and is the resident blogger at www.margieclayman.com.

Boost Your Blog #9: Create a Resources Page

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

9. Create a Resources page

One page on ProBlogger that has worked well for me is a Blogging Resources page (it is actually a page I need to update further).

The page serves as a starting point for bloggers when creating blogs, and includes a mix of free and paid resources (some of which are affiliate links to paid options). This page is linked to from numerous places on my blog. I’ve been thanked for it by readers, and it’s a page that has made me money over the years, too.

Hat tip to Dr Mani for the suggestion.

Do you have a Resources page on your blog? Can you build one today?

What’s Your Blog Worth? How to Value Web Properties

This guest post is by Sunil of Extra Money Blog.

I have sold an ecommerce website for $250,000 and several other niche websites for a five-figure price tag. I want to share with you one valuation method you can use to put a price on your web property today.

Whether a website owner or a blogger starts with the initial goal of selling their site one day, it is my belief that every successful blog owner has at some point thought about the potential of selling their web property. At least they will have wondered how much their web property is worth—especially when it begins to generate a decent amount of money.

valuing blogs

Copyright Jakub Krechowicz - Fotolia.com

In fact, I think almost no one thinks about a sale as an exit strategy when they first start. It’s usually a passion, hobby, or something other than a potential sale that motivates a person to get started making money online—unless of course they run an online business, such as an ecommerce website, from day one.

When a website becomes profitable, it has the potential to become saleable. You may deliberately be contemplating selling either because of boredom, because you’ve found a better alternative use of your time, because of a potential use of the financial proceeds, or any of several other reasons.

If so, do you know what your website is worth?

When a web property starts to generate profits, it becomes an income-producing asset, much like a rental property or a small business. Just like property and businesses are valued and sold in the open market, a website or blog can be too. Therefore, valuing a web property is not much different from valuing any other income-producing asset.

The quantitative aspect of web property valuation

The quantitative aspect of valuation is not rocket science, in my opinion.  You take a site’s current earnings and expenses, figure out what the net cash flows are, and then project a value based on an earnings multiplier.

The net earnings, or cash flows, is commonly referred to as EBITDA in the business world. That means: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.  The multiplier is applied to this number to come up with a value, or price, for the property.

Earnings and expenses are what they are: they are not subjective by any means. But where do you get an earnings multiplier from? Evaluate recent sales of websites that are similar to yours to get an idea of what kind of multiplier was paid for each one. This number will be larger in stronger economic times, and smaller in weaker economic times like those we’re in today.

There is no standard multiplier, however. Similar to real estate, if figures are available from recent blog sales, great. But if not, your website’s value is only as much as someone else is willing to bid for it. Obviously you have the option not to sell for what you might feel is a low-ball offer.

One more thing to consider is whether the website is as monetized as it can be today. Is there opportunity to add more private ads to the sidebar, and generate more profits on a residual basis, for example?  A buyer would definitely evaluate this monetization potential and factor it into their purchase decision.

The qualitative aspect of web property valuation

Here is where the subjectivity in blog valuation comes into play.  An active business sold at an earnings multiplier of two may not be comparable with a same-size passive business, because a passive business requires a lot less effort to manage and sustain. Consider how much cost and effort the owner of the web property will have to invest in the passive business to generate a dollar in profits. Then ask how this compares with an active business.

Factors such as effort, operating cost structure, sustainability, long-term relevancy, and prospects all play an important part in determining what the reasonable value of a particular web property should be. At the end of the day, none of this is exact science, but these are some ways to arrive at a justifiable or rational price.

For example, no one knew the long-term scalability of Google or LinkedIn. In fact, no one knows today.  The market had a certain estimate (multiplier) set at the time each company went public, and has a different one today. It will likely have another one by the time you are done reading and commenting on this post. Expect the multiplier to evolve, especially in an ever-changing and dynamic industry like this one.

A practical example

When I was initially solicited by an Ebay power seller to potentially sell my ecommerce business, the business was generating roughly $60,000 annually in profits. After weeks of discussion back and forth, we settled at a sale price of just under $250,000, or roughly four times the annual earnings of $60,000.

The quantitative piece of the deal was straightforward. The qualitative piece is what dragged out the negotiation.  The power seller had previously purchased a similar ecommerce business at an earnings multiple of three.  They had paid $90,000 for a business that was generating $30,000 in annual profits.  However, I was not willing to accept a price of $180,000, which was three times the annual earnings of my site.  Further, my business showed a consistent rising trend in terms of web traffic, customer acquisition, sales, and profits.  These qualitative measures needed to be “baked” in to the deal for it to be viable for me.  I was able to persuade the buyer of that, and we sealed the deal at four times the annual earnings.

The key lesson here is that although acquisitions based strictly on earnings multiples sound good in theory, they rarely work out practically, whether at my level or at the Fortune 500 level.  Our repeated attempts to narrow the nature of deal making to a pure science have never worked, and likely won’t in future.  Valuations, although driven mostly by the underlying financials, rely heavily on qualitative aspects that are subjective and unique to each buyer and seller.

What do you think of this valuation method? Do you have any alternatives to share? Is this a fair way to value your web property? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

If you want to be brave and bold and open your kimono to me and fellow readers: what do you believe your web property worth is today in the open market, if you use this valuation method?

Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time, a FREE report you can download instantly from his Extra Money Blog, where he discusses how to create multiple streams of passive and residual income, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, blogging and personal finance.

How Guest Posting is Like a Personal Loan

This guest post is by Frank Angelone of SocialTechZone.com.

Have you ever lent a friend money? If so, was this someone you thought you could trust? If you answered in the affirmative, as they say in The Social Network, than you will want to keep reading.

The thought may already have crossed your mind, “how does lending money to a friend relate to blogging?” Well, I’m glad you asked because when it comes to guest blogging, the blog owner is lending you their blog just like when you lent money to your friend.

Let’s start off with a story and we’ll bring this all together later on.

The perils of lending property

Let’s dive right into this personal story of mine and I’ll show you the best practices to take when using my experience in your guest blogging ventures.

A friend of mine, who I once considered my “best friend” had been in multiple financial jams when it came to paying rent, bills, or (let’s be blunt!) anything with a due date.

So, like any friend would, I decided to lend him the money to help pay his half of the rent and any other bills.

Little did I know that this pattern would continue down a path of destruction. What started out as me helping out a “brother” turned into me supporting him.

There are two things to point out: I shouldn’t have been so oblivious that he was taking advantage of me, and I’m not the only culprit on his list of lenders.

My friend swindled me out of about $1,000. It became so bad that it was starting to affect my financial situation and the best thing that happened to me was finding a way out of that terrible situation by returning home.

When a friend takes advantage of multiple people who lend their resources, they’re obviously not a friend, but someone who gets by through manipulation. The bottom line, as the saying goes, is “If you want to lose a friend, lend them money.” It’s safe to say I don’t talk to this individual anymore.

Guest posting? You’re borrowing a blog

I mentioned in my story above that I loaned money. Well, when it comes to guest blogging, you need to be aware that the blog owner is lending their blog to you. Their resources, whether that be their audience, their reach in the blogosphere, or even their own reputation, are made available to you when you share your voice on their property.

The resources the blog owner gives to you are like a personal loan. You need to pay the blog owner back for giving you the opportunity to share your insight with his or her audience. Obviously you’re not paying back a monetary value, but you should still be looking to give back in some way.

I know most people are going to feel that you “pay back” the owner of the blog by writing a high-quality article for their audience. That’s not enough. It’s too generic a way to give back. Writing a great article should be understood as a basic part of the exchange, not an added bonus.

The last thing you want to do is disappoint the owner of a blog after they decide to publish your article on their site. This can ruin the relationship and ruin your personal reputation, just like my friend did by taking advantage of many of his so-called friends. Also, if you don’t return the favor of the individual who lends your their blog, that news can spread like wild fire among the popular bloggers—especially if you have an article published on an A-List site.

I want to pay back the blog owner. What should I do?

First and foremost, I always email the blog owner directly after seeing my guest post go live and thank them for the opportunity. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the strength of the the emotional connection you will hit with the blog owner in doing this.

They are expecting that you are using the guest post as a marketing strategy to bring traffic back to your blog. That’s understood because that’s what everyone is doing when it comes to guest blogging. However, you can take it a step beyond the publicity that you are being given, and work on continuing to build the relationship with that blog owner.

A personal email would be like the old-school version of mailing a letter. People like the written word, not a “thank you for the opportunity” message on Twitter. That’s not showing the effort, nor are you “paying” the owner back.

The personal email means more. Just think how you feel when someone emails you and thanks you for commenting on their blog. It sends a powerful message.

You can also ask the blog owner in the email if there’s anything you can do for them! Maybe they have a new product or post coming out and they need help promoting it. They may even have a service that they’d like you to test out. Anything of this nature that shows you are trying to make an effort to “repay your lender” is great, but do it in a genuine way—not just because you feel you have to.

Gain opportunities and build the relationship

There aren’t enough people who give back, in my opinion. My friend never gave back the money he owed me, nor did he really ever do anything to show our friendship meant something. The blog owner is looking for this same feeling of being your friend.

Everyone always wants more friends, and to develop new relationships. When you give back to them after they lend you their resources, then it can strengthen the friendship or business relationship.

You run an almost 100% guarantee of ruining the relationship if you screw over the blogger by not responding to comments left on your guest post or refraining from continuing to keep in touch with that blog owner. By doing so, they will know you were “using” them for one thing … one-time self promotion.

My friend used me and I was gullible enough to allow myself to be taken advantage of. Hopefully these insights along with the integration of my personal story paints a clear picture of how to give back to those who help you out.

What have you done after having a guest post of yours go live to “repay” the blog owner? What were the outcomes of those actions? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Frank Angelone provides social media strategies and tech tips through personal stories on SocialTechZone.com. His goal is to help and give back to people from his own experiences. He would love to exchange personal interactions with you, so please subscribe to his newsletter and receive his free blueprint to improve the speed of your computer.

Boost Your Blog #8: Incentivize Your Email Opt-in

Continuing our discussion of things you should be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

8. Add an incentive to your email opt-in

Chris Garrett suggested this one on Google+ when I raised the topic of this post, and he’s a guy who has seen real benefit from doing it.

Chris offers a couple of ebooks when you subscribe to his list, and from what I can tell it significantly increase the opt-in rates to his lists. Of course, increased opt-ins can lead to many benefits over the life of your blog.

Have you incentivized your list subscription? Can you do it today?

7 Steps to Setting Blogging Goals that Stick

This guest post is by Tim Brownson of A Daring Adventure.

I suspect that all the technical information you could ever need to be a successful blogger is out there in the public domain. If that is the case, why do the vast majority of blogs fail when it comes to providing the owner an income they can live comfortably on?

Dreaming goals

Copyright Mark Aplet - Fotolia.com

Firstly, I think many bloggers grossly underestimate the psychological side of blogging and what is needed to get their heads right in the first place.

Secondly, few bloggers that I speak to start off with any real plan or goal to keep them on track if and when things don’t go according to expectations. They simply dive into the process with no real idea of where it will take them.

Today I want to show you a seven-step process for goal setting that will exponentially improve your chances of succeeding with your blog.

You may well be familiar with the SMART method of goal setting because it’s been around for decades. Bear with me though as I expand on that process and make it way cooler and more useful for you—and far more likely to help you succeed.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with SMART, let me give it a quick run through.

Specific

Is your goal specific enough that somebody else could read it and know exactly what you mean? A goal of having a popular blog misses this aspect because it’s too vague and subjective.

I have a popular blog, but if I gave my readers to Darren and took his in return he’d be pretty unhappy with the deal—he has about 40 times more than I do.

“Owning a blog with at least 5,000 subscribers that earns $500 per month from AdSense” is the kind of goal that nails this element.

Measurable

Using the last example, you can see at any point in time where you are in your plan. If you have 2,500 subscribers, you are half-way there. If you are earning $400 per month, then you’re 80% of the way toward that goal. Having a measurable goal is important to keep your motivation going and for you to know whether things are working or not.

Action-oriented

Any goal, if it’s to be a real goal, requires input in some form from you. In other words, you have to act and actually do something to make it happen. Lying in bed hoping people are buying your ebook that you haven’t promoted properly isn’t a goal—it’s wish or a dream, and it’s almost certain to fail miserably.

Realistic

I’m not big on this aspect of the SMART method, because unless something is physically or scientifically impossible, then to me it’s still realistic.

If Darren had told people eight years ago that he intended starting a blog called ProBlogger and by 2011 he’d have 150,000 subscribers and be one of the top 2,000 websites in the world according to Alexa, people would have been lining up to tell him he was being unrealistic.

He wasn’t, so don’t worry too much about being realistic. Understand there is a huge difference between something being very difficult and being impossible. Landing on the moon was very difficult; landing on the sun is impossible (unless you go at night!).

Time-bound

This is probably the most under-appreciated element of SMART goals. Without a timeframe, goals have a habit of slipping.

Most people are busy and, as such, are responding and reacting to events. Therefore, without an end game in sight there will always be more pressing issues for you to attend to.

There is a great reason why people work more efficiently up to deadlines. It’s because the brain kicks off a mini fight-or-flight response, which allows them to focus more efficiently.

Okay, so that’s the traditional model and it’s all well and good, but I want to help you make your goals even more effective by turning SMART into SMARTER.

Ecology

When you’re setting goals you have to be aware of the effect they will have on you and those close to you. So you want to be a problogger and intend spending as many hours as necessary to achieve that?

How will that affect relationships with your loved ones? How will it impact your social life and your health? How will you pay the bills as you build up your following?

The answers aren’t reasons not to try, or to quit before you start. But they are things that need to be taken into consideration now, so they don’t trip you up further down the road.

Reward

This is the really big one as far as I’m concerned, and it’s the thing that so many people miss out on or just don’t get.

What is your reward for having a successful blog?

I’m not talking about money here: I’m at a deeper level than that. We are talking about values and what is fundamentally important to you at the level of your identity.

What really drives you? If you think that’s money, what does that money give you? Maybe it’s freedom, peace, security, significance, or maybe you want to leave a legacy.

It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you know. This is what’s going to motivate you if and when things get tough.

If you can’t come up with a reason that will get you out of bed at 5.00am enthusiastic about the day ahead, then there’s a high probability you will burn out sooner rather than later.

As an example, I am a Life Coach because I love helping people. I don’t earn as much money as I did when I worked in sales, but I’m way happier and, more importantly, I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. Do you?

Tim Brownson is a Professional Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and published author. He runs the A Daring Adventure blog where he writes about self development. If you would like a free copy of his book How Do I Set Goals That Work? Click the link.

Why the Road to Blog Success is Bumpy (and What to Do About It)

This guest post is by Jane of Find All Answers.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does it always happen to me?”

I am sure you have. It always happens. Whenever you have a shiny goal for your business project, or whenever you want to start a new business, you face them—challenges.

They are everywhere just waiting to welcome you. You don’t like them and you wonder why it always happens that you need to take the hard, bumpy road to success.

But wait. It’s not just you. Whoever travels the path to success for the first time faces this. The road is never smooth and it is never as expected.

Why is the road bumpy?

There are so many reasons. But the fact that it is bumpy doesn’t mean that it is bad. And it is also true that you will learn a lot of lessons by traveling down a bumpy road.

Let me discuss some of the causes of a bumpy road.

You are at it for the first time

Usually when it is your first time, it is rough. If you are in a project for a first time, if you are trying a new business idea, taking a new blogging initiative, and so on, you cannot expect a smooth road.

Your expertise, your ability to handle the outcomes, your capability to anticipate and develop alternate plans under pressure—all these factors depend on how well you know the ground. If you are in business for more than two years, you already know what to expect. You already have a Plan B for Issue X.

But if you’re starting a totally new business, say blogging for instance, you neither know Issue X nor Plan B. And there can be so many Xs in the whole process! All these make the road bumpy. You end up running like a headless chicken if you are not prepared for it.

But the road may not be bumpy just because you’re taking it for the first time. There may be another important reason…

You don’t have a plan

You can avoid a bumpy road—or at least anticipate it so that you sustain the least damage—if you have an action plan.

Whatever kind of business you’re in, you absolutely need an action plan. There are so many reasons to devising one, and one is to help you avoid at least some of the potholes in the bumpy road. Having a proper goal and an action plan will save you lot of hardship. This way, you work smarter, not harder.

You don’t learn from your mistakes

Let me make one thing clear. Here, I am not talking about those who start a business or a project without a proper goal or an action plan, then wander through all storms and deserts to get somewhere they never wished for.

Such persons invite the challenges for themselves. They don’t have a goal, so they don’t have a plan either. When they don’t know what exactly they want to achieve, they have not defined their own success.

But there are people who are really prepared for what’s ahead—who know what to achieve and how to achieve. However, since they are starting out in a new business, some unexpected events may occur. When they happen, they tell the individual that they have to learn a lesson.

So let’s say you take Plan A and execute it. With it comes Issue 1, which you never managed to anticipate. So you struggle somehow to manage the chaos, get Issue 1 solved, and get on with Plan A.

Now the next time you execute Plan A for a different purpose in your business, you now need to anticipate Issue 1 and incorporate it into your plan. Not just that, but you also have a solution to Issue 1. The second time, you’ll have learned from your previous execution of Plan A.

If you have failed to learn your lesson (you may be forgetful, negligent, or lazy), then you’ll have to face all the chaos the next time too!

What to do about bumpy roads

Anticipate them

This is a brilliant way to face an issue: expect the worst. You don’t have to be pessimistic or surround yourself and your business with negative thoughts. But always remember that you may have to face something bad, something serious, or something that could drive you totally mad.

If you have a plan, you could easily anticipate that problem.

Be flexible

This is another great thing to do. Face the hurdles, but don’t be hard on yourself. If things didn’t turn out as you planned, you don’t have to panic. Just stay calm and go with the flow.

Adjust yourself and your business to unexpected hard times. You will adapt to the trouble soon. Just don’t develop a comfortable attitude to hard times. If you do so, you will never travel smoothly.

Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors

Of course they don’t! If everything’s perfect from start to end, you won’t get smarter and sharper. You won’t learn skills or attitudes, and you won’t learn about your competition and your capabilities.

You have to have some hard roads in the beginning. These will make you learn skills that are needed to overcome issues. You may learn that you have a tough competitor in you business only after you face an issue.

You might learn what you are capable of only after you have attempted to do something beyond your limits, and failed.

You might learn that you need to develop a particular skill only once you realize that you are unable to develop a major part of your business.

The school of life

My Ph. D. supervisor Aneta Stefanovska used to tell me that life is a school. We learn lessons everyday. We learn all different sorts of lessons, and we always learn. This applies to our business, too.

A bumpy road teaches us a lot. Such a road is not always bad. Sometimes failures in your business are essential in helping you to get smarter and sharper, and preparing you for a tough ride the next time.

When you happen to come across a bumpy road, evaluate. Stay calm, evaluate the causes and see what you can learn from it. Find out ways in which you can take your blog to success along a road that gradually becomes smoother.

Jane writes about Blogging Tips, Relationships and Self Improvement at her blog Find All Answers. She wants to tell you that you absolutely need a blogging action plan.