It’s taken me about three years to reach 10,000 subscribers.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’ve had my expectations shattered, and I’ve wanted to throw in the towel many times.
So today I wanted to share some of the core lessons I’ve learned from getting to 10,000 blog subscribers.
There are many things not spoken about in the blogging world, and today I’m going to cover them.
I’m going to be completely honest, so proceed at your own risk.
And remember to grab some tea or coffee.
I’m going to start this article off with one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, which is to take advice with a grain of salt. Yes, even my advice.
In the end, what works for me may not work for you. You have to listen to your inner GPS and see what feels right for you, then do that.
When I was starting out, I followed courses and coaching advice to the letter, because I didn’t know much. And that was perfect, because when I didn’t know, I had to follow a proven path.
But as I gained experience, I started experimenting, and I discovered that how I wanted to do things wasn’t what most people were teaching.
I discovered that I was different, and that I wanted to build a different kind of business. So there came a point where I started trusting myself more than external sources.
This will not happen right away, but as you keep moving forward, you’ll start to trust yourself more and more.
So don’t try to fit yourself into a mold that you know you won’t fit into. Listen to people you trust. Learn from them, but forge your own path. Break rules and blog the way you want to blog.
If a piece of advice is holding you back, forget about it.
Building a popular blog takes time.
I love what I do. I’ve loved these years of blogging, even though they haven’t always been smooth sailing.
But the thing I’ve realized is that I don’t really want things to go smoothly. I don’t want life to be easy. I want challenges, because they make me grow.
Each time I “fail,” I learn something. That in turn means that I can pass it on to you.
So yes, this takes time. It often takes a lot longer than you think. If you want to build a blog just because you want the popularity, forget it.
I enjoy writing this article, and I’m happy right now. I still have an intention to grow my business, but I’m right here, right now, and I love it.
You have to discover what works for you, and what doesn’t.
I’ve used guest posting extensively to build my blog, but it doesn’t work in every niche.
What does work are the core principles. For example, guest posting is simply the act of getting in front of someones audience. It means getting in front of the people you’re here to serve.
You can do that in many different ways.
Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things. Most of them haven’t worked out, or I didn’t like them.
Remember, I spent 2-3 years failing before I built my first successful website. That was all experimentation. What I learned from that journey I still use today, so nothing I’ve done “wrong” has been a waste, and it never will be.
In a way, I consider myself lucky, because it only took me a few years to realize that I had to be willing to start before I was ready.
I almost never have perfect clarity on any new project I start. But it doesn’t have to make me confused, because like Eckhart Tolle says in his book, A New Earth, “Confusion is not ‘I don’t know.’ Confusion is ‘I don’t know, but I should know.’
I don’t have to know the future. I just have to take the first step.
So instead of waiting for perfection, start now. Take the first step and let the puzzle pieces fall into place by themselves.
My mindset is the foundation for my success.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have the determination to keep moving forward no matter what.
My mind frequently throws excuses, fears and worries at me, but I keep going, because that’s where my heart is taking me.
I know that if I stop and let my fears hold me back, I’ll end up regretting it for the rest of my life. And my heart will keep yearning, it will keep wanting to pull me forward, so I might as well go and see what happens.
There are a lot of fears you can give into, and there were many fears I faced in the beginning, such as:
- What if I put in all this work and I fail
- What will people think of me
- I’m not good enough
- Why would anyone want to listen to me
- I don’t know where to start
- Am I doing this right
And on and on it went.
Eventually I became so sick of listening to my fears that I just started. And I realized that the fears I thought were real, weren’t, because they only existed in my head.
Even now as I’m writing this post, I’m worried that this post will end up too long, but I’m going to keep writing, because I feel inspired to do so.
I’m not after the people who think this is too long. I’m after you, because you’re still reading. You care about the details, because you truly want to succeed.
You are ready to take the next step, so you want to know everything.
The bottom line is that you can wait for your fears to go away, but you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. Forget about 100% clarity and forget about getting things perfect, and just start.
5. False Expectations
When I started my online adventure, I thought I would be making six figures in six months.
Well that didn’t happen. Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that all of the things I think will happen almost never come to pass.
The reason is because my expectations are based on what I think I know, and I really know nothing. No one does.
The foundation I base my expectations on are thoughts in my head. They are made up. This was especially true when I was starting out. I had no idea of what would happen, I could only dream.
What I’ve come to discover is that I have no idea where life will go, so I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. I just do my best in this present moment, and I let life take care of the rest.
The more I trust and follow my heart, the better things seem to go. “Negative things” still happen, but they don’t have the same power over me, because I take things one moment at a time.
You never know where life will lead you, so be open, and above all, enjoy the ride. There’s nothing to figure out, and there’s nowhere you need to be, except right here, right now.
6. Quality Matters
Just getting thousands of random people on an email list is not enough. Those people have to be interested in what you have to say and offer. They have to take be willing to take action.
And again, this doesn’t happen overnight. I’m slowly attracting a core group of people that buy everything I put out.
It takes time to find and attract your right people.
So, how do you make sure you get high-quality people to join your list? You can’t really.
But you can increase your chances by offering a relevant sign-up bonus. That thing people get when they join your list.
In the beginning, my focus was on getting as many people to join my list as possible, which I now see was wrong, but at least I was moving forward.
Now my focus is on getting the right people to join my email list. I still can’t stop anyone from joining, so I do my best and let life take care of the rest.
7. Value Matters
In order to build a successful blog, you have to bring some kind of value into people’s lives.
It could be entertainment, inspiration, or just pure education.
You have to help in some way. You may not believe you know enough to help anyone, but if you can help someone with something, you know enough to start.
You will never know everything, so don’t even try.
This held me back for a long time. I thought I wasn’t as good as other entrepreneurs and bloggers, so I didn’t start.
But once I started, I discovered that some people wanted to hear my view on things. They wanted to listen to me. And the same is true for you. Just because you feel you don’t know enough does not mean it’s true. It’s just a thought in your head.
You have to start, and now is the best time. Start, do your best, and see what happens.
If you fail, you’ll learn from it.
When I started Wake Up Cloud, I had a very general focus.
This blog was all about personal development tips for conscious people. But as I kept writing and getting feedback, things started to change.
When I shared that I was making a living online, people wanted to know more, and I felt compelled to share, so I did.
As the years passed, this blog eventually evolved into what you see now. And it will keep evolving, because that’s what happens.
So don’t try to figure things out before you start, because you can’t. You will start with one idea, but you may end up somewhere completely different.
That’s why I keep stressing the importance of starting. Nothing happens until you start. If you try to analyze and plan everything to perfection, you’ll stay stuck.
You may have all sorts of reasons for not starting, but those are part of staying stuck. You can take action, and you can start.
That’s what I did, and here I am.
9. Small Things
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You may believe you need a fancy design, but you don’t.
You may think that you need to structure your blog posts in a certain way, but you don’t. It helps, but if it keeps you from taking action, then you can learn it later.
All of these things are less important when you’re starting. The important part is getting started. You can tweak everything later.
This is something I’ve realized as I’ve observed the gap in myself. You see, there’s a gap between being a producer and being a consumer.
When I consume something, when I’m reading a blog, I don’t really care if they have a fancy design. I just want to do whatever I’m doing.
But when I’m starting a blog, or creating something, I’m in perfectionist mode. I nit-pick everything and I want everything to be perfect.
And in the end, it doesn’t really matter.
There are blogs that look like crap that are popular.
There are blogs that look amazing that have 10 subscribers.
All of this thinking that you have to have a fantastic website is just a way to avoid doing work that matters.
If you want to build a popular blog, you need to get people to subscribe.
If you want to build a thriving lifestyle business, you need to make enough money to keep you afloat.
When I became serious about building a lifestyle business, I started focusing on key metrics. I didn’t really care about social media followers or comments.
I cared about if my blog was growing and if my income was where I wanted it to be.
I see so many people lacking focus. And it often comes from fear. If you spend your days on social media, you can always say you tried.
But you didn’t, not really.
If you’re just getting started. There are two metrics you need to pay attention to, and they are:
1. Your email list
2. Your income
You can forget everything else.
Yes, there are other important things, but they aren’t that important. Not right now.
The more you can eliminate things and focus, the better you’ll do.
Start with one thing, do it well, and then expand, if you feel like it.
11. Forget Home Runs
Forget about breakthroughs.
Forget about a guest post on a big blog solving everything. It won’t catapult you into stardom. It may give you an influx of subscribers, but after that, it’s back to working hard and focusing on what matters.
Forget about writing a post that goes viral.
Yes, do your best, but don’t be too hard on yourself if big things don’t happen right away.
For a few years, I compared myself to other more “successful” bloggers, and I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the same results.
The reason was because I wasn’t them. I had a different message, different subscribers, and a different way of doing things.
I’ve come to accept this and really enjoy it. Now I do what I feel compelled to do, and the rest will take care of itself.
Sometimes my posts go viral, but more often than not, they don’t.
This is a marathon, not a sprint, which is why it’s important that you follow your passion and do something that you enjoy.
Do your best, and be consistent, and great things will happen.
12. Make Friends
I’m an introvert, so I’ve never been big on networking.
For a long time, I even avoided trying to make connections at all, which was a mistake. But I eventually learned my lesson.
Today I approach networking differently. I simply connect with people that resonate with me.
I connect with people that I would want to be friends with in real life, because if I’m not having fun, then I’m not doing it.
I’m not going to connect with someone just to have access to their audience, because it’s not worth it. I want to enjoy myself right here, right now, and I want to follow my passion.
As long as I’m doing that, life will sort itself out.
I may not have access to someone’s audience, but if my work needs to reach more people, it will.
There’s no need to force progress, because it’ll only make you miserable, frustrated and exhausted.
Extra Lesson: Have Fun
And let’s do one more.
I’ve learned that what matters is enjoying what I do.
Don’t start a blog if it’s a means to an end. Now, obviously it will always be a means to an end, but what I mean is that if you don’t enjoy blogging, then don’t do it.
If you feel compelled to share what you have inside, and if you feel the urge to start a blog, then start a blog.
You alone know where you need to go next. We all have an internal GPS ready to help us. All we have to do is listen.
I started blogging because it seemed like fun. I had no real reasons for why I should blog. I just wanted to try it and share what I had to share.
You don’t need reasons to do anything. You just have to follow your heart, and that’s what I’ve been doing all these years.
Each year I follow my deep inner calling, my life gets better, but it’s funny, because I don’t really need my life to get better, because I already love what I’m doing.
I love writing these words. And I love helping you.
That’s the power of following your passion, and building a lifestyle business.
This turned out to be a lot longer than I thought, so I hope you enjoyed reading it.
The takeaway is that you have to be willing to start. You won’t know what will happen until you do.
Follow your excitement, be open to life, and prepare to have your expectations shattered.
Building a 10,000 subscriber blog has never been a primary goal of mine. I’ve just focused on putting out great content and helping people.
This is what I feel inspired to do, and it seems that when you follow your inspiration, the universe conspires to help you.
So start, because there’s no better time than now.