I started blogging because I thought I could help somebody. Pretty high hopes to have. It wasn’t meant in an arrogant way, worst than that, it was sincere.
I used to feel imprisoned by my 9-5 and would scour the internet looking for help. Looking for a blink of light in the dark cave that surrounded me … I wanted to create another light.
In this post I’ll share my worst mistakes, explain how they impacted Freedom2Try.com, and offer tips on getting it right yourself.
Disclosure: Based on personal opinion, not to be taken as advice. Seek a professional if required.
Is F2T A Business Or Not?
Blogs cost money, and burn time. There is nothing wrong with expecting a financial return on the money and time you put in, but finding the right way to do that can be challenging.
When I started Freedom2Try I wasn’t thinking, ‘this is a business’, but I knew from my prior experience that it had the potential to be. I knew that, with enough traffic, it could be monetised in some way. The main problem I’ve had is settling on a way to do that.
I write about how we escaped the rat race:
Step 1: Live a frugal life, save loads of money and never really spend.
Step 2: Find a hobby you enjoy and start a hobby business -be frugal with the business as well.
Step 3: Work on the business until it is able to pay the bills.
Step 4: Escape the rat race!
Now, I have a reasonable understanding of how to make money online, and we earn our living online. But, I didn’t like the idea of selling general items to readers who turn up for saving tips. Especially not expensive items. It’s not what this site was for, or about. For that reason I found it difficult to create affiliate links for each post.
I didn’t like the idea of creating an eBook or e-course to sell, mainly because I was happy sharing the information here. More-so, I’ve seen other people selling eBooks with little value and didn’t want to join the club. I did think about writing a more substantive book, but for a number of reasons, never did.
Over the year, I’ve created free budget printables and a premium budget bundle, for those with money to spare. As cheap as they may be, I still have no reason to ‘sell’ you premium options for items I offer for free (albeit, not in A5 or US half letter).
That leaves the last viable option: Advertising.
While not perfect, advertising is something that people are exposed to on a daily basis. I’ve even written a post on the nature of advertising. I figured, of all the options available to me, advertising worked the best for F2T. Even better, I wouldn’t have to ‘sell’ you anything. You could decide if you were interested in the Ad or not.
You may wonder, why not just sell stuff?
Mainly because it changes the way I write, and what I’ll likely write about. Even now, I write some posts in order to attract more viewers, and struggle to get the balance right. And, the balance is important because this is about fun – about getting a kick out of it, while hopefully helping somebody. Without those factors, I may as well start an ‘Apple Tips & Reviews’ website and chase the cash upfront (nothing wrong with that btw).
Further, I write about frugal living. It just feels disingenuous, trying to feed off people who need to save money.
There are also other areas of concern, including: If it’s a business I should post more, hustle more, promote it more -and do the other things on this list!
Ultimately, the answer to this question is: Freedom2Try will convert into a business pretty quickly, should I attract the high number of visitors required to make those Adverts pay.
Until then, it’s a hobby that buys me a coffee every now and then.
Linking Our Online Crafts Business
A big part of our story is our ‘online crafts business’.
It’s a missing part of the picture which is understandably a hindrance for the reader; it would make a lot more sense if you could go and check out our site, and see how we apply our tips first hand.
When I first started this blog I was a much more private person and didn’t want to provide that level of insight. I figured, the information I offer is true, and it should be evident from the very common sense nature of it.
Also, as far as driving traffic, I wanted Freedom2Try to achieve success independently.
Lastly, F2T discusses a wide range of topics that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to our crafts audience.
All that said, it was a blogging mistake, but one I’m happy to live with.
We’ve spoken about linking the two, but it has to be for a reason that benefits us, and the reader, in some productive way.
A Friendly Face
If you want to have a successful blog you really need to understand how to promote your site. On the whole, that means understanding how humans respond to visual stimuli.
Visual stimuli? Yep.
My next blogging mistake is not having a nice big picture of my face on the sidebar, and on my social media profiles.
You can get free traffic without it, but a nice friendly face goes a long way.
Failing that, a friendly/professional design/logo, and reasonable knowledge of search/social media algorithms, is required.
If you had the option of clicking a link with a face in the profile, or a logo, which would you choose? The face. Unless the company was already known to you, such as Nike.
There should be a big picture of my face, with a big cheesy grin, staring back at you from the sidebar right now. But I just can’t swallow my pride and take the damn picture.
Poor Social Media
Social Media is a tiresome task for anyone trying to promote a blog. I hate most of it, but do enjoy working with Pinterest.
Pinterest suits my personality, and sends me traffic.
It’s a blogging mistake to only focus on 1 or 2 social medias. I know I should be doing more, but don’t like Twitter and many of the others.
I mean, setting up the same tweet to go out 15 times a day is just irritating to me. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I hate going to profiles where the same tweet is logged all the way down the page. But that’s the state of play, and I guess, I’m not playing. More fool me.
A niche is important for a blog because the reader is likely looking for something in particular. You’re more likely to appear at the top of search engine results if you focus on 1 topic, which in turn presents you to that reader.
You could drive followers away by covering too much. Imagine if you followed a food blog and they started writing about basketball, you’d likely stop reading, right?
The problem with writing about ‘escaping the rat race’ is, the subject is so diverse. Especially the way we did it: with an online crafts business.
While all of those things are definitely connected to the subject of ‘escaping the rat race’, the reader may be surprised by the leap.
If they came to read about WordPress, they may be irritated to get emails about Frugal Living, and vice-versa.
I have somewhat accepted that this will have to be a very General blog to fully explain how we escaped the rat race. However, if I wanted to do better with those algorithms, and retain as many readers as possible, I’d niche down.
Having An Opinion
I started this blog, as a blog. That means I offered an opinion from the start.
The problem with having an opinion is that you’re writing a blog, not creating a sales platform, which is the motivation for many.
Ideally, (as far as I can see) your blog niche should be something you’re passionate about (and nothing to do with Frugal Living or Escaping The Rat Race) -A niche area that would be easier (ethically) to ‘sell’ on. It’s hard to sell something to a person who’s potentially in debt, or starving (I accept that most aren’t, but it’s possible).
I’ve decided to stick with sharing my opinion, because that’s where I started with this thing. So, it’s just a matter of finding the best way to do that.
I’ve found that sharing the opinions which sit most closely to common sense, is best.
I believe we all have something in common; On some basic level we hold a similar view of the world -we ask the same questions.
I try to remain true to my inner voice, in hope that it sounds the same as yours.
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You can also find me on Pinterest.