Blog as a Business: When To Go All In, and When to Call It Quits
Hi friends, I’m experimenting with a new post series: Blog as a Business.
As many of you may know, I’ve been blogging for 9.5 years now, writing content for other blogs, consulting on blogging, SEO, and marketing, and designing and setting up other people’s websites and blogs. I’ve learned a ton in this space simply by doing it (which was enough for me to first get a job as a Social Media Manager and Content Marketing Manager, then as a Marketing Director, and now as a Marketing Manager, which is what I now do full-time). I figured that all this could help out other people if I start sharing about what I’ve learned over the years, especially when it comes to the unique niche of DIY/Craft, Fashion, and Lifestyle Blogging. So here goes….
After 9 years of running Chic Steals, I felt at an impasse. I felt exhausted, burned out, and uninterested. Not only did my blog not look like how I wanted it to anymore, but I was just not truly passionate about the content I shared. Times had changed, and I felt a growing disconnect with my blog. The fun hobby had now become a burden.
I’m sure there are other people out there like this, who are reaching a stage of burnout in their endeavors. As life and circumstances change, it becomes more and more difficult to keep your original interests up with the same fervor. Everyone likely reaches a point where they say:
Is it Time to Quit?
Here’s how to figure it when it’s time to call it quits, or keep going with your passion project:
Figure Out Where the Disconnect Is
- Make a list of why you began this endeavor in the first place. Hint: You MUST be brutally honest. List all the reasons why you started, however big or small. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you will never be able to move forward, and will constantly remain in a state of limbo.
- Add to your list any reasons that you have, over time, discovered to be good reasons to keep going with it. Again, brutal honesty is key.
For me, my reasons for starting my blog back in January 2008 were:
- sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things
- connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother
- share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things
- stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in
- be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe>
And further reasons I discovered over time:
- becoming a somewhat known blog in the DIY/craft niche
- becoming an authority on DIY, specifically DIY fashion, sewing, construction, and craft
- honing my skills in writing, photography, SEO, HTML, CSS, marketing etc.
- steadily making money from my blog after monetizing it in 2013
- challenging my DIY and branching out in my crafting skills
- the connections and collaborations I created with other bloggers, magazines, websites, and brands
- free stuff!
- and my really, really awesome readers!
- Okay, now you have your list of reasons, Original Reasons and Additional Reasons. Here is where the truth lies. Go through each one and rank it in how important it is to you at this point in time, with 0-5, 0 being not important at all…5 being super-duper important now.
- Once you’ve added a ranking next to a reason on your list…write a reason why you gave it the rank you did.
My example continued….
ORIGINAL REASONS I STARTED A FASHION & DIY BLOG, RANKED
- sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things (2 – I still like sharing, but I now have so little time to create lots of DIYs to share. I don’t DIY or craft much anymore in my day-to-day life.)
- connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother (2 – I’m no longer a stay-at-home mother, and crafts and fashion are not my most passionate interests right now)
- share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things (2 – I have a day job now and discuss things with other people on a regular basis)
- stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in (1 – I barely pay attention to fashion trends anymore, I’ve developed my own sense of style and am uninterested in the consumer forces shaping fast fashion)
- be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe> (0 – this stemmed from a feeling of inadequacy I had. I don’t care about being a fashion icon, I am uninterested in other fashion bloggers’ style. I’ve finally accepted myself, and I no longer have anything to prove.)
Those numbers^^ are where the disconnect is. Anything below a 3 is going to show you that you no longer consider the endeavor worthwhile in your current state. That’s why it’s essential you are completely honest with yourself and take a long, hard look at your past motivations for your endeavor. Anything at 3 or above is going to tell you that these reasons are still important to you now, and those are the reasons you should pay attention to.
So, let’s set about fixing it…
Photo from DIY Glittery Gold Geometric Pushpins tutorial
What to Do About Your Passion Project Now That You’ve Found Out Why It Isn’t Making You Happy Anymore
Now that you’ve identified any disconnect between reasons you began or kept going with your project, now it’s time to figure out if you want to forge on…or give it up. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are faced with the choice of barreling forward…or laying something finally to rest. Here’s how to figure out which path you want to take:
- Make a list of all that your project is right now. Just list them, big or small. It’s important here to be very honest and self-critical. Invite others you trust to share their opinions so you can get some perspective.
- Take everything that was 3 or above from the first Disconnect list, and imagine your life without them. What would your day-to-day look like? What would your weekends look like? I really enjoy lists (obvs), so I made a list of Pros/Cons for each 3 and above -ranked reasons.
- When you went through the above imagining exercise, for every 3 and above-ranked reason that you feel a significant emotional attachment to (like “oh no! I wouldn’t want to lose that!” put a star next to)
- Question to ask yourself: ARE THOSE STARRED REASONS THAT YOU HAVE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO…ENOUGH TO KEEP GOING? Only you can answer this question. Think of future you and what s/he will say looking back on this moment and this endeavor. Will throwing in the towel bring relief, or regret that you didn’t have the drive to keep going at the time? What could lie in store for you if you pushed through this impasse?
- Finally, write a list of what you want your passion project to do. If you see enough discrepancy between what you want it to do for you, what it is now, and the emotional attachment you have to it, if the gap is big enough…it’s time to let it go. Let it go, say you had a wonderful time with it, but you have changed and it is now time to move on. Move on to the next – it is not a failure! – and find another passion project that does what you really want it to do.
BUT if there isn’t a huge gap…if with a little re-dedication and work your passion project could once again align with what you want, if you’re significantly emotionally invested in it…explore your options for keeping going with it. Can you redesign it? Realign it? Rebrand it? Rethink it? Here it is wise to have a brainstorming session with friends and people who have faced similar obstacles.
In my case, I talked a great deal with my friends who’d known me throughout my years of blogging, as well as consulting with my fellow bloggers and members of Portland Bloggers. I found that I was still emotionally attached to my blog, I didn’t want to abandon my readers, I enjoyed making money and getting free things (which really helps with my tight monthly budget), I enjoyed being an authority in this niche, and giving all that up would have felt like too much of a loss. So I decided to rebrand, redesign, and realign my blog more with my goals (which I defined more clearly in a separate exercise).
I found that separating out the process of asking whether it was time to quit or go all-in to my blog, from the larger question of what are my ultimate goals for it, helped clarify things better than just going around and around in my head on the larger issues. Working things out step-by-step in this way allowed me to finally break through more than 6 months of indecision and move forward in a positive, fulfilling way.
It is, after all, what we actually do – and not what we try to do or think about doing – that defines who we are and our contributions in life.
Have any of you ever dealt with a passion project stalling or losing momentum? How did you break through?
I’d love to hear about your questions or ideas for future topics! Leave a comment below and I’ll help you out 🙂