This guest post is by Laura Booz of Blogger Behave.
I started blogging because I caught a glimpse of its potential to give something back to me.
Can you relate? Sure, that “something” is sometimes money. But, as we all know, there’s got to be more driving us to the keyboard, or we’ll lose our enthusiasm. Blogging requires a ton of work, and if it doesn’t offer a sweet return, we get stressed out, our writing grows thin, and our impact weakens.
Though a nice deposit in the old bank account feels terrific, money can’t motivate us to love our work or grow in our craft. We humans need something more than money to be truly excellent, and truly happy. I don’t want to divert you from your financial efforts or goals; I just want to point you towards the thing that will keep you motivated long after the money is invested, gifted, or spent.
I want to remind you of the far greater reward that could actually increase your likelihood for making money: personal growth.
Think about the last time you shook off a bad habit or muscled your way into greater maturity: it rocked, didn’t it? Unlike money, the pay-off of personal growth is a permanent, deeply felt reward that will keep our affection over the long-haul.
At the end of this article, I’ll ask for your input about ways in which we bloggers can grow in our personal lives and in our craft. But for now, sit back and consider my top three ways to ensure that I’m getting the best possible reward from my blog.
1. Write a blog vision statement
In our home, we have a Family Vision Statement that helps each member—from the biggest to the littlest—join together in achieving the same daily goals. That’s what inspired my Blog Vision Statements, which help me to define what my blog looks like, where it’s heading, and the type of content I will keep.
My vision statement is a brief description of what my blog is all about. It helps me stay focused and not compromise for every passing whim and tempting online offer. I use it to evaluate what I write about, the amount of time I take to write it, and the ambitions I have for my public platform. It’s the permission I need to say, “yes” to beneficial opportunities and “no” to everything else.
Here’s how it works: my newest blog, TheHomeschoolBaby.com exists to “equip homeschooling families with wisdom, practical application, and personal encouragement for their children from birth to five-years old”.
So if I’m suddenly over-dosing on giveaways or product reviews, I’ll know I’m working outside of my vision statement and possibly jeopardizing the value of my blog. The hope is that I like my vision statement so much, I think long and hard before breaking it.
2. Keep an online budget
“Time is money,” isn’t it? We need to be very discerning about the amount of time we are investing in our blogs: does it cross the line into costing us more than it’s worth? For example, as a “mommy blogger” I must be vigilant about my time online. Though adding one more affiliate link might put twelve bucks in my PayPal account, taking the extra fifteen minutes away from my children is not worth it to me.
I evaluate the hours in my day and all of the things that are worth my attention. If I only have one hour available for blogging, so be it. My blog will be a one-hour-a-day blog. It might not pay off the mortgage or catch the eye of thousands of readers, but it’ll be as top-notch as I can make it within that time frame. I’ll divide that hour up into portions so that I can write posts, respond to comments, solicit guest posts, and work on other projects. When the online stopwatch buzzes, my time is up.
Sometimes the sacrifices sting and I wish I had more time to accomplish all of my online dreams, but I’m confident that I will not regret my choices in the long run. To tell you the truth, I’ve found that when I keep healthy parameters on my blogging time, I have much more to offer—even if I only have twenty minutes to think smart and type fast.
3. Write tough yet reasonable expectations
My second-grade teacher was so demanding that I saved almost all of my work from that year in a big trunk. I was so proud of my accomplishments! She had high expectations, and we children were delighted to meet them.
I think about her when it comes to blogging. Thanks to Miss C, I know now to keep my blog in line by asserting some high standards for it. For example, I expect my blog to improve my writing skills, develop my voice, and make me a more honest person. I expect it to help me think twice about my opinions, and five times about my facts. I expect that the feedback from my family, friends, and enemies makes me confess, buck up, or move on.
I expect my blog to influence, help, and encourage other people whom I’d never be able to influence otherwise. I expect it to stretch me out of my comfort zone, increase my compassion for other people, and spur me on into other worthwhile projects.
Over time, I’ve received every item on my list. Gaining so many personally enriching treasures keeps me positive about blogging. It also keeps me in control of my blog, and not the other way around. If I didn’t benefit from my blog on a regular basis, I sure hope I’d stop blogging.
If you find that the motivation to make money just isn’t enough for you, consider writing a vision statement, an online budget, and a list of expectations for your blog. Once you have these in place, you’ll find yourself looking for ways to grow in those areas. You’ll reach out for advice, insights, and opportunities that will help you to grow as a person, not just a blogger-with-a-bank-account. You’ll love the sweet return.
Now it’s your turn to be the wind beneath the wings of bloggers like me. How can we grow in our personal lives and in our craft so that we get the most out of our blogs?
Laura Booz is the author of the new eBook Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life so you can love both!. She writes at http://www.10millionmiles.com about homesteading, homeschooling, faith, and other things that fascinate her along the way.