As a curious writer, I always have my eyes peeled and my ears perked for becoming a better blogger, since blogging is no longer merely a hobby for me but an essential part my brand — in fact it’s the public voice of my culinary business.
It’s also been a way for me to share my unique view of food, teach people how to cook, and reach people I might never meet in person.
I found BlogBoldly.com and Darlene during a twitter season, where she taught people how to blog for profit. I admit, I liked her fun yet practical take on the process. She created a wonderful site that helps new bloggers to start out on the right foot and shares ideas to either turn it into a business or help build an existing online business.
I think one of the scary things about running a small business and following your dreams is the question we all ask ourselves: Where is the income coming from? So in this blog entry, I thought we’d take a “behind the scenes look” at what it takes to launch a successful blog — it’s my Q&A with Darlene for all those food bloggers out there who dream of quitting their full-time jobs and making their blog earn its keep.
Skinny Chef: I love seeing your updates on twitter, and it’s exciting to see women entrepreneurs living their dreams. How did you get started?
Darlene: I used to build spec houses for a living, but eventually my husband took over the business. This left me with lots of free time. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I started thinking about what I could do next. My son was into Internet marketing and I was intrigued. I love anything real estate so my first website was about my favorite land development communities. The idea was to send the referrals I got from my site to the sales people at the developments and I would get a commission.
I was brandnew to blogging and the online world, and I was not successful. Why? I’d say because I was all over the place. I had no idea what I was doing. Everything was new and I couldn’t find anyone to learn from. In spite of my flop (and about $10k spent) I fell in love with the online business model.
So I kept on creating websites until I found a niche that hit. After about three years, I had my first successful niche website which was a ticket site where I sold tickets (via affiliates) for events.
Skinny Chef: I mainly blog about health and cooking, but I think the secret to being healthy is finding balance when you’re living the intense life of a small business owner and entrepreneur… and I suspect that you have your own tips for living a healthy, balanced life.
Darlene: I’m probably not a good example on balance because I’ve been known to work practically around the clock. But I will say this: I can get all my work done in 12-20 hours per week… and sometimes do. It’s just that I love researching new and improved ideas on marketing and blogging. My idea of fun is studying online biz.
I encourage newbies to allocate however many hours you can set aside per week.. even if it’s only 3-4. Schedule in that time as YOUR time. Work on your business only, as in no bunny trails. If you’ll do this consistently, you will have a business.
As far as being healthy.. that, I love! I work out on my handy elliptical, four days a week. I also eat tons of fruits and veggies.. often raw, and only a teeny, tiny amount of meat on occasion.
And I enjoy networking with positive, upbeat people who are making a difference in the world, in their own way. This helps me stay motivated, and just happier and healthier in general.
Skinny Chef: What advice do you have for people who want to generate income through blogging?
Darlene: There are multiple ways to make money online. My first tip is to pick a topic/niche you are excited about.
Then my favorite way to make money is through affiliate sales because you don’t have to create a product or handle customer service or fulfillment.
Right now, I’m also working on a book series (in my niche) to publish on Kindle. I hope this will expand my reach and generate more traffic and sales. There are quite a few bloggers finding success with this business model, and if I’m successful it’ll be another avenue I can share with my peeps.
Skinny Chef: I feel like there are million blogs out there, what tips can you share for helping business owners find a unique voice that will stand out?
Darlene: This is an excellent question! When I started BlogBoldly.com, I could not have chosen a more saturated market. I mean, really!
To be totally honest with you, it never bothered me that there are millions of blogs out there on how to build an online business. Why? There is only one “me” (and you) so we have a unique perspective and voice for our chosen niche.
I know how to build a successful online business so I can offer real live experience. When you pick your niche that is based on your hobby, passion, skills or knowledge, you’ll have the same advantage.
Do not be afraid to be YOU! I do not sugar-coat. I say what I think. That’s me. So on my blog, I come across as your mom, or your tough but loving best friend. If you will be true to yourself, you’ll have people leave your blog. But the ones that stay will absolutely love you, trust you, connect… and ultimately buy from you.
Add a twist. Say you’re pretty funny and you want to do a blog on divorce. Make your divorce blog humorous. Yes, you’ll say what needs to be said, and offer killer content.. but be funny and give a little light to a painful situation. People will remember your blog.
More about the “twist”: Explore blogs out of your niche for ideas. If you’re a coach, get off the coaching blogs and check out traveling, finance, whatever. As you’re looking at these blogs, see if they’re doing something fun and different that you can pull back over to your (different) niche. Like I once saw a real estate agent create his brand around his dog. It’s too cute and people relate to him.
Skinny Chef: When you’re not inspiring and helping people to blog for profit, are you cooking? Working out? What’s your favorite health centric pastime (because you look so young and fit!!!)
Darlene: Hmmm.. favorite health pastime? Well, I’m diligent about working out four times a week. I open up my Kindle and queue in for a 45-minute rerun of a fave show, and I’m good to go. My little treat.
I’d say my other main healthy “activity” is purposely being grateful and striving to live in the present. I wasted too much of my life wishing for tomorrow. Now I pay attention to my thoughts. And if I find myself thinking something unproductive or unhealthy, I’ll literally throw my hands up and say “Stop!” out loud, then sometimes I do a little dance. It works!