The struggle of two sisters fighting against the mainstream of minds that don’t believe blogging can reward you with a lavish life.
How do you stay motivated when blogging doesn’t pay the bills?
Sincere, direct, and slightly aggravating, this was a question my friend asked that completely shook me awake and made me realize the harsh reality of not being able to financially support myself by doing what I love most —blogging.
I don’t blame her for having these unconventional thoughts. Most people think blogging is purely a hobby and can’t visualize the potential profits it could generate. Even when I try explaining how high page views and having a big following boosts my authority and gives me more power to offer great stuff (like a book, online courses, coaching programs), she still clung to her original mentality.
This just goes to say that you can’t change people’s rock-hard mindset, unless you start making money. MORE money than what the average 9–5 employee makes.
The only problem is, blogging takes the average writer YEARS before they get recognized by the community and fan notes from admirers. And in-between that time, it’s a constant grind to become an influential blogger.
I might not be happy now, being financially dependent on my parents to provide a roof over my head. But following someone’s opinion instead of my own will probably make me feel miserable for the rest of my life.
So when all odds are against me and I’m still fighting for my passion and dreams, I fall back to these words of support.
Work towards the dream, not the next paycheck
Most people I know get excited when weekend hits the corner. They start rubbing their hands in glee, thinking about what nice gifts their paycheck can bring them — a nice cup of coffee, a weekend getaway with friends, a memorable dinner date. But the moment Monday wakes you up, you’re back at work, slaving away for the next short-term gratifications. Again.
I can’t work like that. To me, life feels meaningless if every ounce of my effort doesn’t tip the direction of my startup. What drives me most is enriching other’s lives and pushing people to be the best versions of themselves. It’s more gratifying knowing that I’m changing people’s lives, every minute of the day, while building a business I started from scratch.
We’ve grown accustomed to the 9–5 schedule, starting from our strict school schedule to the grueling full-time work shift. Anyone who hustles outside of these standard hours would be labeled as weird or unusual. I mean, what do you think about people sleeping at 4am and waking up at 12pm? Unproductive? Lazy?
Mimicking the same work schedule as everyone else does not mean you’ll secure success. And I hate it when people tell me I won’t get far if I go against the stable 9–5 office job. Right now, I’m building a career where the world is my office and my work continues to impact people’s lives. The feeling of falling in love with your career is an inexplainable joy that is worth the chase — and I won’t stop running until I get there.
Let your mind wander towards big ideas
Anytime I’m out bulking up at the gym, enjoying my food at a restaurant, or chilling with friends, I’d get a new blog idea that’d fire up my determination. In seconds, it would be in my phone notes, fresh and ready to be shared with everyone. That’s what I’ve done for my posts:
- How Dating Has Always Felt Like Work
- 5 Empowering Quotes I Fall Back on to Keep My Hustle On
- Little Habits That Make You More Attractive
When you’re truly passionate about the work you do, great ideas naturally come to you. And these ideas are often your best thoughts.
Even when I’m hanging out with friends or taking a small break from work, the gears in my brain constantly rotate in an attempt to create new ideas on future blog posts. Which city should I visit to capture the coolest landscape vacation photo? Where’s the best brunch spot to hit up right after I land at the airport? It’s obvious that you love what you do when you find yourself thinking about new content you can share with your readers.
Set a realistic goal, nail down the baby steps
It’s impossible (and mentally-straining) to reach your goals if it’s not well-grounded. What I’m aiming for is to be a writer for the top media sites: Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Business Inside, Life Hacker. So far I’ve gotten to HuffingtonPost thanks to this personal piece. I know if I keep pushing myself to write every day, with more emotional, inspiring, courageous, and jaw-dropping topics, I’d eventually get invited to write for those big sites. All it takes is 100% dedication, 100% hustle, and a crafty way to pitch your work.
Michelle, where do you want to be in 3 months? In 1 year? To be honest, you don’t need steps A-Z to achieve your main goal, but it’s good to have a general mindset of what goals you’d like to accomplish for both short-term and long-term. For me, I’d love to speak on a panel with other influential bloggers and share with my followers about how we’ve gotten to where we are today. But to get there, I am building my network — by meeting nearby bloggers, attending local social media events, and working with various businesses.
Track your progress, evaluate if you made a difference
How would you know if you’re inching closer to your goal if you don’t track your results? You can’t. That’s why I’m always checking the stats behind every one of my stories (views, reads, recommends, responses), Monday to Sunday. Because at the end of the day, I know which topics are the big hits and which aren’t, giving me a better idea of the next step I should take.
Now it doesn’t matter what job you do. Whatever it is, track your progress and determine where you should put your focus on. It’ll minimize the number of steps you need to reach your goal.
Before, my sole focus was numerical values when it came to my follower and likes count. That’s how I initially measured success and it stressed me out to see these numbers fluctuate so often that it blinded me from my most important goal — the positive impact I make on people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong. Numbers are important to a certain extent, but it can never compare to the feedback, requested tutorials, or questions I get from my followers. Now that I’ve been blogging for one year, I measure my success through the active engagement my followers have with my content.
Remind yourself, “What am I working for?”
Even the biggest dreams can fall into pieces if you keep hearing people tell you you’re heading towards the wrong direction. It’s not before long until you start doubting your abilities and drop everything. To keep your mind focused on your dream, ask yourself, what am I working for? What have I achieved so far?
For me, I’m working to live a financial-free life where I can finally enjoy my days fulfilling my other passions and be able to work in any place of the world. I think about how far I’ve gotten and the perks of being a blogger — working from home 24/7, hearing encouraging words from people I know and don’t know, interacting with like-minded bloggers, most importantly, sharing my experience to help those who’ve started blogging. It’s small things like these that keep me on my feet and encourage me to make a difference in other’s lives while building my own.
If you really want something, you won’t let petty excuses discourage you from pursuing what you love. And working extra hours won’t feel like sacrifice, but more like a reward. I always remind myself of the lifestyle I’ve already dreamed about — never missing out on a family gathering, traveling to new places, and interacting with new people every day. Knowing exactly what I’m working for drives me to become a more influential blogger and help me turn this lifestyle into a reality.
In case you’re curious, Tiffany is a high-profile blogger on Medium who always aims to inspire others through her writing. If you enjoyed reading our collaboration, please click the "heart" button at the bottom of this post!