Do you really want to blog or start a business? Or are you just doing it because you think it’s a way to make money? This is a very crucial question and it’s something that I recommend every single person seriously asks themselves before they start on any project.

In fact, I’ve covered this in a podcast episode here: Starting a business? Don’t do it for the money

And I’ve talked about it in an article here: Why you should not start a business for the money

I encourage you to either read or listen to that topic when time permits.

This is why I don’t have ‘How to make money’ as a course or a service offering in my repertoire. It’s for the simple reason that I can’t teach you how to make money and do you know why? Because money is not a goal; it’s an accidental outcome.

And that’s why if you’re not comfortable with blogging for its own sake yet, you should keep your options of income open and varied. It’s far better to get into a decently paying job that will take care of the financial side of things while you explore the idea of a business or a blog or a creative pursuit because you enjoy it.

In fact, that’s precisely what I did for over a decade between 2007 and 2018. I blogged because I enjoyed it so much but I also worked other jobs – a few of those were freelance projects and two were full-time jobs. This ensured that I had enough time to think about the sheer joy I got from blogging, while the money was coming in from other sources.

However, one of the biggest problems I see in today’s space is the idea of starting a blog with the sole purpose of making money. There are a couple of challenges with that mindset. 

Working for the Wrong Reasons

The first challenge is that when you start a blog with the sole purpose of income, you start working from the outside. In other words, you set goals and benchmarks and then try to work towards that outcome. Why this is dangerous is because you haven’t really taken the time to dig deep and question your purpose behind your blog/business.

Why are you blogging? Why are you running a business?

Unfortunately, money cannot be a reason.

But what if you started a blog/business because you had something to share? Something to help other people? Something where you could serve people with intention and purpose and help them break through their mental blocks, circumvent their challenges and move forward without obstacles?

Back in 2013 when I wrote about the yelling-less challenge on my blog, there were two reasons I did it. One was to keep myself publicly accountable when it came to curtailing my yelling habit. This was inspired by my hero, The Orange Rhino. The other reason was that a couple of people said it would help them stay on track too, so they wouldn’t feel alone in the process.

In doing this 7-day project, I discovered something interesting. In one shot, I was able to marry two things: writing about my struggle and helping other people at the same time. That spurred me to keep blogging, publicly, about my lessons, my setbacks, my triumphs – all of it. It was a full 5 years later that I actually considered the possibility of my own coaching business.

And when I did, full disclosure, I was not worried so much about how much money I’d make, but how I could possibly help other people who were struggling with the idea of blogging or building a brand on social media.

Finding something more important than money

The second challenge with starting a blog or business has to do with money itself and what it stands for, especially when you are in your own business.

You see, money or a monetary ‘reward’ is not enough for us to keep blogging. Because ultimately, that’s an external trigger and not very reliable. It’s very much like the validation you get in the shape of likes, comments, views and shares on social media and yes, this includes the genuine validation from people who truly respect you and your work.

A way to keep blogging without any of that? That would depend on something far more important – intrinsic motivation.

Think about it. When was the last time you wrote something or shared something online with no expectations whatsoever? When was the last time you wrote because it was something you felt that you had to share, because keeping it inside you would make you feel like you’re ready to burst? Remember what one of the greatest writers of our time said:

There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

-Maya Angelou

Blogging is like that. Running a business is like that. It has to come from a space deep inside you that feels called to share a story because it matters and because it will help another person.

Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us explains that there are three crucial components that make up intrinsic motivation.

Autonomy. This is the need to self-direct.

Mastery. This is the intrinsic motivation to get better, to master a skill.

Purpose. This is the ability to connect to a larger cause.*

What this means for you and your blog/business

It’s actually true of anything, if you think about it. The only time you get better at something, anything, is when you choose to make the change. It doesn’t happen overnight, not due to watching an inspiring TED talk or even when a coach tells you that this is worth doing.

A deep-seated desire within you awakens and that’s the point when you’re ready to make the change. It just won’t happen otherwise and that’s the truth. I’ve seen this in my own life when it comes to so many things, not just business. When I learnt how to swim at the age of 32, it’s because I really wanted to do it. When I fell in love with Pinterest and learnt everything I could about it in late 2017, it was because I felt this urge to learn. And when I decided on what direction I wanted to take with my blog and business, it was because I was ready to make that decision.

Don’t blame yourself if you’re not consistent enough with your blog or showing up regularly in your business or doing all of the things that people tell you that you need to do for better visibility. Because, my dear friend, chances are you’re not yet ready for that kind of commitment and guess what? That’s okay!

What’s infinitely more important is to take the time to reflect, journal and discover what it is that drives you, makes you wake up in the morning and find your Ikigai. Once that happens, you won’t need any more external factors to help you build your business.

It will all fall into place, just the way it’s meant to be. What’s more, you’ll know that this was the right decision for you.

*Source: The 3 forces of intrinsic motivation 

More Resources:

The Three Elements of Intrinsic Motivation

Daniel Pink unravels the puzzle of motivation

How to work for mastery vs profit as an entrepreneur

Jessica Lahey’s book The Gift of Failure

Woman typing on a laptop working on her business. Text overlay reads: How to stay motivated in your business

Shailaja V

Hi, I’m Shailaja, a blogger who’s been writing since 2007. My interests include books of all kinds, digital minimalism, veganism, health, nutrition, fitness and staying open to learning all the time. Welcome! Click here if you’d like an email when I publish new posts