Once upon a time, when I was in middle school, my mom would often yell, “The world doesn't revolve around you, Crosby,” and I would roll my eyes and retort something wise like, “I knowwwwwwwwww,” and then continue my rant about how the entire world was conspiring against me to make things well, hard, uncomfortable and full of ouch. But one of the single most profound markers of adulthood I have come to know is that often, it's not the world keeping us from the things we want most, its us. If reading about this fashion blogger's new book, and that fashion blogger's appearance fee, and that other one prancing through commercials on Hulu in between episodes of Revenge makes your stomach hurt, keep reading.
You Don't Have a BHABG
The beginning of Pretty Woman starts out,”Everybody comes to Hollywood with a dream, what's your dream?,” and the same is true with any endeavor worth attempting. There are many different reasons to start, nurture and evolve your blog and you likely already have decided on a few goals for your site. Perhaps you are a writer, and your blog is a platform to help you land paid writing gigs. Or, you are an aspiring stylist, and your blog is where you showcase your sixth sense for trends through daily outfit posts of you and your friends as a real-time portfolio of your talent. Your goal may be to make enough from your blog to cover your rent, or to help others discover the joy of a well-organized, well-fitting closet. Goals are paramount because without a clear understanding of why you are investing your time into your site, there is no roadmap to help you make the decisions that are going to help you reach your definition of success.
One thing to remember with goal-setting is that often, goals are a moving target. If you got into the blogging game because you wanted to showcase your personal style, but now realize you want to talk about travel or fitness, or thought you wanted to be a writer but are finding the idea of hosting your own video show more appealing, awesome. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure your goal is still your goal, and if it isn't – chuck it for whatever is currently driving you to sit down at your laptop and create.
That said, you may have a goal, but you're missing something else. Author Jim Collins introduced the world to the concept of a BHAG, or Big, Hairy Audacious Goal, which is acts as a bold, guiding light for entrepreneurs. Now, you might like reading the words big hairy goal even less than I do, but the concept is rock solid. What is your pie-in-the-sky, keys to the kingdom, goal with the blog you have created? Identifying your BHABG (big, hairy, audacious blogger goal) is important because it holds the vision for the big picture, even as you move through and meet the goals you set for yourself.
You're Playing it Safe
As a style or fashion blogger, you most likely feel you must assume the role of expert to dispense great, inspirational content to your readers. But, if you aren't actually feeling the expert status, it can be difficult to shout loud and proud about what you know. This can result in subpar content and a “follow the leader” mentality that will keep you playing small. As Jennine so eloquently expressed in her post, “How to Fake Your Way to Becoming an Expert,” most of us started out with nothing more than idea and a desire to connect with like-minded individuals. We were marked as experts by other bloggers and the media, and over time, relaxed into that role. If you're overly focused on where your qualifications are lacking and what you don't know, you will never create the kind of content that gets you noticed. Each time I have written an opinion-piece that took me out of my comfort-zone, I am rewarded with richer relationships with my readers, increased respect and I was proud of myself for pressing the publish button. As one of my favorite ladies says, “no one can do what you do, in precisely the way that you do it.” Take a risk, reap the reward.
You're Not Willing to Spend Money
You can get pretty far as a blogger reading the articles on IFB and typing solo from Free WordPress Theme Island. But at a certain point, you need to start putting the old adage, “you need to spend money to make money,” to use. Not because you need the slickest site, the most robust backend, or glossiest media kit, but because (if you'll let me get a bit woo woo), money is a form of energy. If you aren't willing to invest in your site so that it becomes an accurate portrayal of who you are and what you have to offer, why should anyone else invest in you?
So, whether it's an intern, virtual assistant, business coach, accountant, life coach, publicist, graphic designer, developer or videographer, start putting together a team of people to support you in reaching your BHABG. If you aren't learning new skills, you're not moving toward new opportunities. Sign up for a Skillshare class, commit to learning CSS, go for the MBA. When you start to make decisions to grow personally and professionally, the experiences, and brilliant ideas that come your way will shift as well. You never know who you might meet in your Tuesday night dance class, or how a course in podcasting might rock your world.
You're Obsessed with the Other
I have a lot of email accounts. One started out as primarily as a place to house shopping newsletters. I liked not being inundated (hello distraction!), by sales notices and coupon codes during the day, but able to check in throughout the week when struck by the mood the mood to browse. As I transitioned to working on PR Couture full-time, I also started to sign up for various other online entrepreneurs to check out their process, their ebooks, their email marketing strategy and in case I wanted to sign up for a course or consult. Now, checking that email account is like a Pandora's box of a different (non shopping) kind, an inbox filled with treasures that, like too much Skinny Cow, leaves me feeling less than my best. I can easily become obsessed with other people's brilliance and let that make me feel like I'm not doing enough stuff, well enough. It's demotivating and overwhelming. I rarely check that inbox anymore.
Instead of focusing your attention on what top bloggers are doing, focus on how you can better serve your existing community, grow your traffic (or just become even better friends with your regulars) and check off the to-dos that are right in front of you. Perfectionism is the enemy of done, and you aren't going to get to the next level by allowing yourself to fall into the quicksand of another blogger's shiny about me or press page.
You're Pushing Too Hard
Remember in the beginning when those first 10, 100, 500 readers came through? How amazing that was? Once we get into the grind, it's easy to forget to celebrate all of the different amazing milestones you have reached. I have started a list called “Stuff That Just Happened,” which is a running tally of all sorts of incredible things that happened to me, that I didn't apply for, ask for or expect. It includes small things like being offered free movie tickets, to bigger things like being referred a new client, or being asked to contribute an expert quote for a news article. For me, recognizing how much movement and progress I am making just by doing what I do, helps me to put things in perspective and reminds me that I don't always need to be going after the gold, sometimes the gold just finds me. Just because I'm me. Think about moving from a space of making to allowing, of action to receptivity, and see what happens!
Have you had a blogger break-through that led to something incredible? What's your BHABG?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]