I’ve been blogging for the last two years and I have learned a lot of hard lessons about business the hard way. I feel the first two years of blogging was part initiation, part baptism, and part hazing.
In hindsight, the lessons about leadership, leadership styles, and business systems have been invaluable.
If you want to sidestep a lot of the foolishness that I encountered and contributed to, here are four things that you can’t be when running your business.
Saying yes too quickly (in many cases) is not a good thing especially when it comes to hiring, negotiation, and entering into partnerships. As a beginning blogger, it can be exciting to feel like you have a lot on your plate. This “a lot” can make you feel important and successful. But take your time when outsourcing and hiring support. Consider assigning small tasks at first and establishing probation periods. When it comes to negotiations, don’t be afraid to ask about budgets. One of my favorite responses to companies asking me to freelance is, “What’s your budget?”
If they don’t have one, I either thank them for their inquiry and move on or I send them my rates. With partnerships with other bloggers or industries, it’s important that you have synergy, meaning can you work well with them. If your gut tells you to pass, you probably should despite the promises of milk and honey because more than likely, your projects will never get off the ground.
This nugget of advice may seem like the exact opposite of “too quick to say yes” but it isn’t. The indecision that I’m referring to has a lot to do with hiring and productivity. If someone is working below your expectations, consider having one warning/difficult conversation and then letting them go if you don’t see a turnaround soon thereafter. Keeping employees that are not a good fit for your company not only slow down productivity and costs you money, it simultaneously undermines your leadership creditability with other employees or even outside people that have to work with a lackluster employee.
Not everyone is going to like you in the blogosphere— that includes readers, fellow bloggers, and anyone else in between. Your goal as a blogger is to be professional, respectful, informative, and run your own race. Not everyone is going to be down for you (despite what they say), so don’t take things personally when calls don’t get returned and emails go unanswered. The blogosphere, like any industry, is full of all types of people looking to pursue their interests, some at the expense of others, some with integrity. The bottomline is that you always keep it professional and try not to take letdowns personally.
There may be no glamour in systems, but they are the backbone of any business—especially blogging since you will have to work with vendors, virtual assistants, other bloggers, and contractors. As you grow your blog, it is very important to create guidelines and terms of agreements for your services. For example, if you provide coaching services through your blog, be sure you specify the following in writing with your clientele:
The same goes for freelance writing, graphic design, ghostwriting, or any other service that will require revision and a lot of opportunity (read: risk) of encountering a very hard-to-please, indecisive client. Your contracts should explicate, among other things,
In addition to keeping these systems tight, as a blogger, you have to maintain strong invoicing and tax systems. Seriously, don’t play with your money systems.
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