As a blogging coach since March 2018, these are the steps I’ve taken to modify my work and develop a more holistic business approach.
Whether you’re a coach, an entrepreneur or just a regular blogger looking to make a mark in the online space, I’m hopeful that this post will be relevant to you.
Two years ago, I very tentatively and nervously launched my blog coaching and consulting business.
Nervous, because even though I’d been blogging for over 10 years, the idea of stepping into the teaching space as a blogger came with its share of challenges.
For one thing, would I have a client base? Would I actually have people interested in hiring me for the work that I do?
For another, what kind of a mindset would this involve? What would I have to be prepared for?
And I must admit that it was not all rosy and seamless, as most entrepreneurs would have you believe. There are far more challenges to being a solo entrepreneur than you know.
Yes, you’re your own boss; but you lose the safety net of a regular paycheck at the beginning of each month.
Some months can be good while others can be demotivating, especially when you’re in the red.
For over 2 years, I tried my hand at a number of tips, strategies and marketing techniques that led me to very good clients. But there was a downside and it wasn’t pretty: Burnout.
By June 2020, I was perilously close to chucking the whole thing and just walking away from the business.
That’s when three important things happened which completely transformed my approach and my business strategy.
First thing: I had a mentoring session with a quiet yet immensely successful entrepreneur. In an hour-long session he chalked out why I did what I had chosen to do and how to make it work in my favour.
Second thing: I took a two-week break from work and social media to rest my brain and refocus my priorities.
Third thing: I came across George Kao, the most authentic business coach I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from in the online space.
These three incidents shaped my new business strategy like nothing else could. In listing them below, it’s my hope that you too find inspiration if you’re struggling with direction, over-exertion or lack of focus in your chosen niche.
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Redefine what success means to you
Have you ever felt this sense of uncertainty when it came to defining success? What does success mean, actually?
Is it more money? More visibility in your niche? More clients on your roster? More page views on your blog?
While all of those things can be used to define success, I had to take a large step back and listen deeply to my heart to come up with the answer that worked for me.
This exercise released a ton of pressure that sat heavy on my heart and my mental well-being.
When I did, it was simple: Success for me meant that I’d end every day, week and month with the satisfaction of knowing that I did my best in that time.
That would also mean that if money/clients/visibility came along the way, it was all a bonus. But none of it was a yardstick for my personal success.
My personal success was being able to go to sleep with the comfort of having done my best each day.
Fun fact: I get anywhere between 10k and 15k page views a month, but they are the most engaged readers ever. That is more important than just numbers, any day.
PRO TIP: Ask yourself what success means to you, truly. That answer will help you re-align your goals and your behaviour.
Do what you are good at
You remember that mentorship session I mentioned earlier in the post?
The thing that it helped me with was to help me re-examine why I began blogging and by extension, why I became a coach.
My intention, as a parenting blogger, was to help other parents through my personal stories of failure and success.
My goal, as a coach, is to teach other bloggers to genuinely and sustainably grow their brand in an authentic manner.
In other words, my primary objective has always been to help people, be it as a parenting writer or a blogging coach.
Once the mentor put that for me in such crystal clear terms it was a revelation that made all the difference.
I didn’t have to change who I was or what I was good at.
I just had to learn to listen to my heart and do what came naturally to me.
PRO TIP: Find out what you’re good at; work deeply and with dedication on that.
Don’t follow the crowd
This is one of the most challenging changes I had to make because we’re all so driven to follow the herd.
Okay, let me rephrase that.
We’re tempted to follow the paths of success carved out by people who’ve been there and done that. This is fine.
However, what tends to happen is we end up following them blindly without figuring out if it’s the right thing for us!
So, what happens?
We end up using a template or a cookie-cutter approach to our blog or business. We end up sounding exactly the same as the people we follow.
And when we follow the crowd, there’s no way for our voice to truly stand out and make a mark.
That’s why my one on one coaching sessions are ideal because I help you understand if the approach you’re taking is right for YOU! I listen to your concerns, your limitations, your budget and your needs and then craft a game plan that will work for you.
PRO TIP: Figure out what makes you unique; learn from people but don’t follow them blindly.
Believe in what you share
In any field, it’s important that you both learn and un-learn while constantly being willing to re-learn.
Okay, that’s a mouthful!
In simpler terms, be ready to let go of preconceived notions when it comes to your business or your strategy for your blog.
Just because something used to work ages ago, doesn’t mean it always will; for instance: posting on Twitter for traffic.
On the flip side, some things will always work; for instance: writing high quality content.
Find something that you believe in and champion it strongly. Over time, people will appreciate your candour and your genuine, helpful nature.
Build deep connections
You must truly and deeply care about your readers, clients and subscribers.
Get to know them; learn what they need and how you can help them. Listen, deeply and carefully.
Believe implicitly in what you practice and preach. Remember that you should never promote an idea, a course or a product just because it will make you money.
I’ll share a quick example.
Earlier today, I sent out an email to my select group of subscribers about the Stay at Home bundle flash sale.
Since I only promote things that I personally use, I naturally bought the bundle myself.
After reading the mail, one subscriber reached out to specifically ask if I had an affiliate link for a single product from the bundle since she’d rather spend money on that item than the whole bundle.
Now, if my only intention was to make money, I’d have urged her to purchase the bundle.
Instead, I did the research, found the link to the direct product and shared it with her. No affiliation was involved.
See what I mean?
Care for your audience. The returns will be far greater than you can imagine.
Read more and write more
This was the best thing I ever did, both on a personal and professional level from July 2020.
Getting back to reading regularly put my focus back where it belonged: Learning and growth
Getting back to writing regularly fine tuned my writing muscle like nothing else could. I wound up writing every single day for 21 days on Medium and the thrill was something else.
That also opened up another insight: You don’t HAVE to get a large audience for your work; a small, niche, engaged audience is worth their weight in gold. Cherish them and listen to them.
Stop offering unsolicited advice
This was again a lesson I learnt the hard way, but am so very grateful for it!
As a coach (or teacher) I used to have this basic flaw in my system: The urge to correct people when I see them going wrong.
Or the need to convince them that the thing they’re doing is not quite the right way to do it.
A few months ago, this kind of blew up in my face when I offered unsolicited advice to a fellow blogger on a design they’d created.
They didn’t ask for my opinion. I offered it out of the ‘goodness of my heart.’
Naturally, they didn’t take it well and responded with a rather curt ‘Thank you’.
That’s when it hit me: It wasn’t my job to offer advice out of the blue; it was my job to help those who came asking for it.
What a colossal mistake!
Ever since I’ve been extra careful and only offer explicit advice when people ask me for it. After I’ve given it, the choice to execute the advice lies solely with the person who’s asked. That’s it.
Learning this was a huge stepping stone for my business, especially in my free Facebook group. It meant I could take my time to craft my responses and also stay away from offering advice when it wasn’t welcome.
Reduce the ‘Hustle’ mentality
This is the BEST lesson I learnt in my new business strategy and I owe it completely to George Kao and his principles of Authentic Business and Authentic Selling.
Marketing and strategy, if you follow the digital coaches and consultants online, always seems to be some sort of hustle or hurry or ‘get things done’ approach.
I assumed that this HAD to be true and wound up spending over 11 hours a day on my business in the first year or so.
Quite frankly, this made me start viewing the whole thing as a circus and a chore!
After I read George Kao’s books (you HAVE to read them all) I switched tracks completely.
They are (in my order of favourites):
Principles of Authentic Business
Authentic Content Marketing
After reading the books, here are some of the practices I’ve begun to follow:
I scaled back on aggressively marketing my products and services.
I worked instead on updating my content, adding links to my products and paying more attention to my clients and potential enquiries over email.
I drastically reduced looking at my Direct Messages and gently directed people to e-mail me instead. Over time, this has now become the default action and it took just a month or so of repetition.
I began to take weekends off from work (Save the last weekend of the month when I conduct my group coaching sessions)
Next I committed to strict cut off times for my devices and my work. 8 PM to 8 AM became sacred and personal time. No phones at this time. It stayed outside my bedroom and in the home office, charging overnight.
Screen time, overall, also reduced significantly, as I trained my energies on doing more things offline.
I focused on getting more sleep every night, from a minimum of 7 to 8 hours nightly.
Then, I began to pay more attention to my health; working out daily became a priority over checking Instagram/Facebook/Twitter first thing in the morning.
Net Result: Even without talking about my work, I began to get clients, readers and subscribers. We’re not even halfway through September and I’ve already made more from my business than I did in August.
Work on Action instead of Motion
For this tip, I give full and undiluted credit to my favourite author, James Clear.
Clear explains this beautifully in his book ‘Atomic Habits’ and I’m sharing a small extract here:
“When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.
Here are some examples…
- If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually write and publish an article, that’s action.
- If I email 10 new leads for my business and start conversations with them, that’s motion. If they actually buy something and turn into a customer, that’s action.”
Do you see the difference?
I especially was falling victim to the ‘motion’ part of the business when I spent endless time strategizing and hardly any time actually doing anything.
Now, every time my mind asks me to ‘strategize’, I consciously ask it to stop and work on doing something instead, say, publish a blog post or send out an email to my list or connect with a potential client.
While the strategizing ‘feels good’ and makes you think you’re being productive, the blog post writing is you actually being productive.
I explain this in more detail in my post on how to actually make more time to blog.
I’d like to end this with the open admission that I have a lot to learn and always will. But, if any of these lessons are able to help you with your business, your personal brand or your blogging journey, I’d love to hear from you.
Drop a comment below or send me an email at email@example.com