Why You Should Start Your Blog Already and Stop Making Excuses!
It is never the right time.
Starting a blog is not easy. At least, it did not feel easy to me: being an over-thinker and somewhat ambitious, blogging felt like a high risk venture. Not to mention, the fact that I had a bachelor degree (which was also accompanied with a very dear student loan) and am currently wrapping up my Master’s degree (which did not come cheap either). I might sound bitter, but I am not. I am not ungrateful for the knowledge, experiences and friends that I have accumulated during my student years. I do, however, often feel crippled by the fact that I am now burdened by the debt of those two degrees. Isn’t it ironic how being qualified has now put me in a situation where I feel I
have NEED to find a high paying job to compensate for all the money spent on the education? And now, because of all that pressure, it is easy to focus too much on short-term, easy money goals instead of longer-term passionate ones. For example, a boring office job with a stable pay as opposed to entrepreneurship and, in my case, blogging.
Whatever has happened, has happened.
How crazy is it to decide to put my qualifications aside and write about the most exciting noodle dish I had in Malaysia instead? Or start focusing on how to make six figures off my blog in less than 3 years? Was I being ridiculous? Was I being stupid? Was I wasting all that money I put into my education? The reality, however, is that whatever has happened, has happened! In this 9-5 world, we often get strung along thinking that our goal is to succeed school, succeed university and land ourselves a decent job with a decent salary (at least, that is how I was brought up). We are never encouraged to question the very concept of working: why am I working and do I enjoy it? Although, I, as many of you, have, for way too long, followed the majority, I finally brought myself to understand that all the time and money I spent on other things does not and should not affect my future life choices. Mourn all your sunk costs and move forward!
If other people can do it, so can you!
From the start, I knew my blog had to be mainly about food and travel. From a very tender age, I had my eyes glued to any t.v. food channel and would be addicted to food travelling shows : Anthony Bourdain, Ainsley Hariott, Jamie Oliver, and many others became my favorite people to watch. It amazed me how people could travel, eat and get paid for it! I remember telling my mom many times how this would be the perfect job for me. However, being a girl from a tiny isolated island, I saw this as merely a dream. Years later, my amazement reached a whole new level with Youtube! Normal people around the world started vlogging about their travels and food discoveries. I discovered Mark Wiens, Strictly Dumpling and SweetandTastytv : all these normal people who decided to take responsibility for their own happiness and success (I know that these people are mainly YouTubers but the same applies to blogging as well!). After doing some research, I discovered thousands of creatives all over the world, including bloggers, vloggers, photographers, yogis, singers and other artists, pushing forward with strong determination to find success. And many are finding it, so what’s stopping you?
Yes, blogging is still worth it!
In 2017, after being accepted for my Master’s degree, I finally seized this opportunity to start my blog. I remember sitting next to my German friend while she was clicking through a website with her name in the heading. I asked her what it was and she said she was editing her blog. “A blog!” I scoffed, “Is that even a thing anymore?” Everyone seems to be on YouTube these days and I was under the impression that the blogging era was over. However, maybe it wasn’t? If people still like to read then people would still have to blog, right? People are still reading magazines, that’s for sure: I see them when I get my weekly groceries! And also, not everyone likes to listen to information, they prefer to READ information. Could blogging actually still be a thing?
So after asking my friend if blogging was still even worth it, I completely stopped listening to her as I started clicking through google to figure the answer to my own question. She probably did tell me that it was worth it, or maybe she didn’t (we shall never know). Google showed me blog posts of people saying, yes blogging is great, but that did not convince me. Then Google showed me something called an Income Report. Income Report! That sounds money related. I started clicking and was amazed by what I found. I’ll stop rambling, here are some examples so you can decide for yourselves:
The above are just a few examples of blogs that make good money but you can find plenty of others in your own niche if you google it. So yes, people around the world are making more that the average salary from a blog!
A blog is hard work!
When reading the above, you might have felt that I was alluding to blogging as the action of sitting leisurely on your couch, writing about what you have for breakfast or the 4 things you cannot leave your house without. You click “publish” and magically the words appear in the right places on your already pre-designed website. Everything just works out with a few clicks and you can spend the rest of your day on Netflix or deciding what colour nail varnish you should try next.
For those who already blog, you feel my pain. Starting a blog is HARD. It is tiring and it seems that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong! Before the blogging part, there is the well-dreaded website designing part. Thankfully, there are companies out there who can make your life easier! First, think about how you want to call your blog website. This is called a domain name: you want to make it easy, personal and related to the main theme of your blog content. I chose chadveebitebybite.com because I want my blog to focus mainly on food and by adding my name, I added my personal touch to it. Also, having my name in my domain name was the easiest way to ensure that I had the domain name available. I decided to buy my domain name on Bluehost as it has great reviews, offers good support and allows you to connect easily with WordPress. If you want to check whether your domain name is currently available on Bluehost, just type the name in the box below:
Did it work? Yay! That’s the first step done! Now, what about the blog’s design? If you know nothing about web designing, do not despair!WordPress allows you to buy themes that can help you for around $50 (or you can start with a basic free theme). So write down what exactly you need on your website and start shopping. I bought my theme at Indieground and I am pretty happy with it. They offered great customer support when I was pulling my hair out because my website looked nothing like in the demo versions (this WILL happen to you as well so do not despair!). And then, the everyday life of a blogger includes: headers suddenly not working, adverts moving around, buttons disappearing and pop ups just not popping up for apparently no reason… You have to be prepared for many mishaps when you are a blogger. However, you will also have days when seeing how beautiful your website is will make you feel proud and satisfied 🙂
Only blog if you enjoy writing!
I know I started this blog post focusing more on the money aspect of blogging. However, I also questioned why you were still working for an employer in a job you are not passionate about. The reason I wanted you to think about this is that blogging is one of those things you HAVE to enjoy doing. That’s the only way you will be able to do it for a long time and achieve those lucrative money goals I talked about. If you do not like writing (and researching!) then you will not enjoy blogging! And then, you end up in the exact same situation you were in at your office desk. If you do not have passion, why are you doing it? In my case, starting a blog with zero traffic and, therefore, zero income, does not discourage me. I love researching, sharing, and writing. Like many of you reading this, I, also, have “write a book” listed as one of my life goals. So can I do this for a long time knowing that it will take a lot of work before I finally start making money off it? Yes, I can. Can you?
Find you niche.
Now that we have established that you do not want a regular job, you love writing and you also are ambitious to make an income off blogging, it is time to get more serious about how to blog! Finding your niche is essential. I fell into this trap during my first weeks of blogging. I felt I had a million great blogging ideas and would write them all down. I divided my menu into several parts including travels, food, food recipes, relationships, lifestyle, wellness, books, reviews, the list goes on… I was scared of losing opportunities to write about something I felt was interesting and might be interesting to readers. However, as the saying goes, jack of all trades, master of none! Blogging about many different things will confuse your readers and will not drive regular sustainable readership. Why will people follow you if they never know what you will post next? Make sure the information on your blog is consistent, interesting and reliable.
Start mentally and physically deleting all the random blog posts you had noted down and reflecting on your niche. If you need help finding your niche, here are some questions that guided me:
- What do I usually search on YouTube?
- What do I usually spend time on on my Facebook newsfeed?
- What do I feel compelled to comment on on Facebook (groups, pages, photos, friends’ statuses)?
- What do I get excited about when I am planning a day off/ holiday?
- What do I do on a regular day (what is my routine?)?
- What would I spend my end of year bonus on?
All the above are basically questions you should ask yourself to know what you would do naturally, without any external pressures. In my case, everything went back to the memory of my childhood years of being obsessed with food travelers. I could not keep ignoring it. I had to talk about food and travelling!
Make your niche Niche-ier!
Now, the next step is to make your niche NICHE-IER! I like traveling but I like traveling mostly for food. SO my niche is food traveling! However I also travel to look at historical, natural and cultural places. I am not much of a nightlife person , so that is one less thing to worry about. I do not like feeling rushed in tours when I travel (I am very lazy and everyday touristing will overwhelm me). I could just pick 3 different places to eat at and include visiting one temple and I would feel like I had a very, very good day (more because of the food, to be honest). Therefore, what type of lifestyle do your readers have? Are they into nightlife? Are they into adventures? Do they just like to laze around in a lush resort pool by the ocean. This is the part when you have to go to a quiet place and really reflect on yourself and what you want to focus on. I did it and wrote some key things that I want to share on my blog that appeals to me and, hopefully, my prospective readers. Here are examples of my reflections:
- Documenting my travels around the world with a focus on food discoveries, culture and natural, historical and cultural places. Giving readers ideas on what to do and where to eat. Also have a fun and unique facts post on every country I visit.
- The difference in my travel is that I do not try to fit everything is the minimum time I have. My goal is to create a healthy work/travel balance for people who have more than 2 weeks to spare in a country. Maybe they need a long break. Maybe they are semi-retired. Maybe they can work online. Maybe they are on a long business trip. Maybe they are taking a course abroad. Either ways, this blog is to show you what to do when you have a lot of time to spend somewhere. Also what are you supposed to do during your layovers and whether it is worth getting out of the airport or not. (Ps: write about my layover in Tokyo!)
- For these type of travelers, they often find themselves leaving their loved ones for long periods of times. I have gone studying abroad twice and am now on a 3 months SEA trip so I had to leave family and friends multiple times. How do you learn to balance that kind of life and still stay in touch with these people. How do you find your identity as a (solo) traveler in this case? How do you approach new people and make friends? Or do you prefer not to make friends anymore? Moving around a lot can affect your sense of purpose and identity. In my blog, I want to explore that.
- How to find a job/ earn money to allow this blog to happen. And also how to turn this lifestyle into a blog with a goal to eventually make money. I want to jump in early on this even though I am not making money on my blog now, I still think that it will be an interesting journey for both myself and my readers and can help others know what works and what mistakes not to make. So the questions I would like to answer here are : how to change careers ( I have switched from banker to higher education to online teacher and now transitioning in digital marketing and writer. Let’s see how it goes! ), how to work during blogging and slowly transition into part-time or remote work before leaving the workplace entirely, how to cultivate a lifestyle that will allow you to focus on your start-up/ blog/ small business (eg. minimalism!).
Do NOT get distracted. Distractions WILL occur. Ignore them!
I hope that this post has inspired you to start blogging. The right time is NOW and there is always opportunities to tweak your writing goals. However, think about what it is that really drives or entertains you, decide whether it is something that other people might like (chances are, it is), and stay focused. Blogging is not dead yet: it is very alive and will be for a very long time still!