Should you be blogging for money or for craft?
I stumbled across blogging and never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be doing what I do today.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about what has been my motivation on the journey.
The question of why people start a blog is an interesting one to consider.
When you look at the landscape of bloggers all over the place, there are considerable differences.
There are those who have made a lot of money from their blogs and therefore considered successful.
Then there are those who just write whatever they feel like writing and that’s it.
In between these two extremes is a large group of those who are mostly led by the wind and have no idea why they bother.
Whether you start blogging for money or not, one thing is guaranteed, you ultimately have some motivation or driving force.
You may well not be aware of the driving force, and in some cases, you might do but find yourself fighting it.
Lately, a number of big life events have forced me to really reassess what I spend my time on.
As such, time and effort spent on this blog have been in the spotlight as I think of my life holistically.
Parallel to all this, I have experienced some wins on the blogging front, and I’ve often reflected and asked myself why.
The answer didn’t come to me straight away but it has become very clear as I’ve examined my goals and motivations.
As ever, I like to share what I see working and not.
If you're a blogger or an aspiring one, I hope these thoughts offer you some perspective to help you move forward.
Before diving into this, I’d like to shed some light on my personal definition of a blog.
What’s a blog to you?
When I try to visualise what a blog represents, a varying number of things come to mind. A blog to me is any of:
- A place – to experiment and create, and/or
- A compounding asset – the front door of an ever-expanding house, and/or
- A platform – for self-discovery or self-reinvention, and/or
- The tip of an iceberg – The marketing department of a potential business, and/or
- A machine – to help become a catalyst for change globally (heck yeah!!), and/or
- The third place – A place to be and meet others, and/or
- A platform – for understanding human behaviour and psychology.
For you, a blog will probably represent something else and I hope it does because blogging offers something different to all of us.
The thing is, when I started the blog, I knew I wanted to do something I'd enjoy that had some potential to reach many people.
However, as anyone who blogs will know, blogging is a lot of work!
It's a lot of work just on its own and is even more so if your primary goal for doing it is for money.
This is because your expectations will be different with each piece of content.
You'd always be looking for ways to make money from it, and if things don't go your way, you get frustrated.
I know many bloggers in this exact position who set off to start a blog but then have too many initial expectations.
They even rely on the blog to pay their bills! This is totally the wrong approach in my opinion.
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with expecting to make money from something you put a lot of effort into.
However, with blogging, my experience is that the rules are very different.
Lately, I've begun to see my blogging primarily as a craft.
Previously, I saw it just as an experiment, which it still remains.
However, the more I see it as a craft, the more I better understand the need to create and experiment.
A craft by definition is “an activity involving skill in making things by hand”.
When I looked up synonyms for the word “craft”, I got words such as pursuit, skill, and calling.
I particularly like the word “calling”.
Could embracing your blogging as a craft or calling be what separates those who see huge success (monetary or not) and those who don't?
I would argue, yes! And the more I have prioritised experimentation and creativity, the more all the other dots have connected.
I'd like to share some of the changes I've noticed with you.
Embracing Blogging As A Craft
Below are some of the benefits I've observed from making a shift towards seeing my blogging as a craft:
Seeking inspiration from others
I'd like to introduce you to my brother, Kingsley.
“Kings” as I call him is a year older and sadly had polio at the age of 9 months.
Unfortunately, there was no cure back then, so he grew up disabled and faced many challenges.
He's spent all his life learning how to be the best at using his hands as he suffered paralysis as a result of polio.
He learned to code and became a software engineer, and through that, became an entrepreneur.
One day, whilst at the gym about 2 years ago, he was at the rowing machine working out.
Someone at the gym spotted the way he used the rowing machine and asked if he had ever rowed before.
Kings can't swim let alone try rowing at sea.
He got invited to try rowing at a local club in Marlow, and he went down and absolutely enjoyed it.
Fast forward 2 years on, much has happened to transform Kingsley’s life.
He is currently Africa's #1 rower and is on schedule to row for country and continent at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020!
What on earth happened there you're probably thinking?
My observation is that the rowing boat became a vehicle for change in his life.
It offered him the opportunity to move fast and he found great purpose in it. When he is in that boat, he feels alive.
Parallel to this, he embraced who he is, his disability and went on a quest to become the best he can be.
His perceived disadvantage had become his advantage.
He has trained relentlessly and every day, he worked towards improving what has ultimately become his craft and future legacy.
As I’ve seen him train and get better, it has given me great inspiration as I witnessed his transformation.
I too now ask myself, how can I get better and improve what I bring to blogging as a craft?
How can I remain more authentically me each day? Or How can I use this vehicle to pursue my dreams?
If he can go from nothing to the Olympics, then the sky really is the limit for me and this blogging thing.
The more you see blogging as a vehicle for change, the more you’ll see opportunities and have more impact.
I’d highly recommend seeking inspiration from things and people around you.
I deliberately look outside the personal finance community to keep things interesting.
For example, I seek inspiration in the works of David Attenborough and how it could improve my blogging.
I listen to Hans Zimmer’s music and attend his performances, and bring back inspiration to my blogging work.
These people are all different and each has their own stories and voices.
One thing unites them – The love of the craft.
Enjoy a video of Kingsley’s training and prep for Tokyo 2020:
There are many benefits to blogging as a craft. These are some that I’ve seen so far:
These vary and have no limits. They include the opportunity to:
- Collaborate with others
- Work with brands I like
- Coach and consult
- Explore reach through the media
- Support causes I’m passionate about
- Focus on financial education etc
I’ve been able to increase my network and build positive relationships with people from different countries.
This is partly because I’ve been open about who I am and what I believe in.
Doing this attracts people who have the same beliefs and mindset.
The more I see blogging as a craft, the more I work at building my creativity muscle.
I experiment and try things out just to see what might happen. It keeps things fresh and interesting.
I’ve also found that it in a weird way, it has improved my attitude to risk.
I took a call once, which made me understand how others might view what we do.
It was from a brand that wanted to work with The Humble Penny.
What was interesting was that they were particularly interested because in their words – “we see you as an influencer…”
Although it might be hard for me to believe, they’re absolutely right.
We are all influencers in different ways.
e.g. I’m ordinarily an influencer in my home and the local community.
However, blogging does take this up a notch as people rely on what you say or write about for various things.
Some are learning whilst others are seeking motivation and inspiration.
As such, it’s important to understand that power exists and to use it responsibly.
For me personally, it has helped me focus more on impact.
I’m always seeking ways of having not just online impact but a positive and practical offline impact.
This is usually what leads many people into blogging.
I’ve written many times that blogging is a good way to make extra money, and that remains.
In addition, I’ve also previously written that making money is a good thing. That too remains.
This site, for example, generates an income to keep it sustainable and ticking along.
That income also goes towards tech, current, and future projects.
The goal is not to get rich even though I’m aware this is entirely possible (although for a tiny minority).
If the focus was on the money primarily, the motivation to do this would be long gone.
Blogging is built on the business model of giving.
You give and if what you do delivers value, one day you might receive.
There are no promises. Important to note that what you might receive isn’t always monetary.
Sometimes it’s an opportunity and other times its stress! This is why your motivation for blogging matters a great deal.
A friend of mine who follows this idea of blogging as a craft recently told me that she for the first time made more money from her blog compared to her day job.
And she isn’t a low-income earner.
Compared to someone else who only does this for the money, she’ll most likely be around for long.
And she’ll have more fun doing it too!
When your blogging becomes a craft, you’re essentially creating what could become your life’s work.
You aren’t dragged down by the need to create quantity but instead, focus on the transformation that comes from your work.
I’ve also found that as much as I want each blog post to be a masterpiece, I’m not fanatical about being perfect.
Key thing is to be daring enough to create and fearless enough to hit publish.
Obviously, be mindful about what you put out there and take some time out to consider your thoughts…
However, in the end, own your work and show it to the world. Stand by it and be open to criticism.
This approach as I’m learning is most liberating and adds more fuel to the creative process over time.
Blogging for money is dead. If this is your sole aim, give up right now because you won't last long.
Instead, up your game and truly turn your blogging into something more – A craft.
It will ignite a burning fire in you to do more, be more, live more and create more.
Money and much more interesting things happen when you get that order right.
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What are your thoughts on blogging for money or for craft?
Do please share this article if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.