Day in and day out I see people complaining because they are spending money on their blog. To be honest, I get it. When I first started out on my journey, I was super cheap with everything I did and refused to spend money on different tools or labor.
The reason was pretty simple—I saw all of these as expenses for a business that took away from the monthly income of my full-time job. Knowing what I know now, I was dead wrong about my approach, and today I’m going to explain how you can avoid the mistake that I made when I started.
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Review My Income Reports
Going back a little bit in time here, I think the best thing I can do to help you understand my thought process and my mentality is to show you some of the things that I logged on this website in the past.
Also, if you're new to this whole blogging thing, you can click here to learn the truth about online business. It compiles a few different lessons I’ve learned over the years. You can also get a free mini-course by clicking here, which is really helpful.
Income report—How long it took to be successful
However, I want to focus on the income report section of this website. I've created these income reports pretty much since I started here. They start in September of 2014, so it's been a long time. Every single month since then, I’ve shared how much revenue I made, my expenses, etc.
In the beginning, I was at a loss. As you can see below, I had -$1500 for the first year. The idea behind sharing this was to fully document how difficult it was to create an online business and a blog from the start.
I've now been doing this for many years. Last year I made over $200,000, which is well beyond where I ever thought I'd be. So, that's why I shared these; it was just a way to keep myself accountable and keep logging things.
The real income from my blog started right here, as you can see below. Website 1, which was really just a blog, made $40 in August 2015. Then in September, I made $102, which is decent. It's not a ton of money, but it was some money at the time.
I was very cheap and wouldn’t invest anything
It was pretty exciting. But one of the biggest problems I had at this point was that I was really cheap and I wasn't willing to invest a lot of money into my business. I was always investing the wrong amount or investing in all the wrong things.
When I started my income reports is when I decided to really start logging everything in my expenses and actually investing in my business. I hadn't been doing that for a very long time prior to this, and I was just really cheap and wasn't looking at it as investing in the business. I was looking at it as, like I said, just an expense.
First few clicks on AdSense gave me hope
When I got my first few clicks on Google AdSense, that started to really give me hope because it helped me understand that this is legitimate. I know a lot of you out there are probably thinking, “Well, this isn't even real. This is a scam.” However, once you start to make a little bit of money, you realize, “Wow, this is a real thing.”
What Do Successful Startup Companies Have in Common?
Talented staff/hard workers
Usually, startups have talented staff members who really know their stuff, and they really work hard to achieve something. They have specific talents and specific characteristics that give them the wherewithal to grow a business.
Idea they want to execute
Startups also have an idea they want to execute. They have a dream, if you will, of something that they want to do. They have a goal. They are typically hard workers, as well. If they're not hard workers, they’re not going to go very well.
Lastly, startup businesses have funding. That's a really important thing to understand here. You don't hear about businesses that start without funding.
You hear about bootstrapped businesses, which means that they're funded by themselves, but you don't hear about businesses that start and never have any money, never invest any money, and succeed wildly. That just doesn't happen.
Your BLOG Is a Startup Company
When you're looking at your blog, you need to understand that it needs to be treated as a startup company. Startup companies usually have a staff and maybe some funding, but you're probably not in that situation. You're probably not there yet.
So, let's talk about you for a second. The key to reaching your goals is to think about your blog as a startup company.
Less staff (still talented)
Now, you will have a smaller staff in the beginning. It might be you and your wife/husband and a friend, it may be you and one other person, or it may just be you. It's usually pretty small when you’re first starting.
Idea they want to execute
Of course, you still have an idea that you want to execute. There's something that is pulling you in with this blog idea and this business and you've said, “You know what? I really want to do it.”
At this point, you’re really the same as a startup. You have talented staff (though it’s smaller) and you have ideas that you want to execute. Same thing.
One or two hard-working people
You are probably going to be a hard worker. I hope that you're a hard worker because if you’re not, you're going to have a really hard time succeeding here. I'm going to make the assumption that you're a hard worker and you may not have as many hard-working people as a startup, but you have at least one or two.
No funding—you need to bootstrap
However, you don't have funding. That is the thing that's missing when you start a blog, whether it be by yourself or with a loved one—you're missing funding.
You're not going to be able to go out to different investors and get funding. It just doesn't make sense, because it's this little, itty-bitty, dinky thing that you're doing almost of as a hobby in the beginning. So, if you don't have funding, then you have to be the individual that's funding your own business.
There are both good and bad things about that. The good thing is that you're going to retain 100% of the ownership, or you and your partner are going to retain 100% of the ownership. The bad thing is that it's going to take some of your money every month to succeed.
Don't look at the things that you do on your blog as expenses. The tools you buy, the content you have written (if you hire people to help you with content), the editors that look over your posts to make sure they're written correctly, the virtual assistants, the people who format your blog posts for you—don't look at them as expenses, because they're really investments in your business.
Your business is a startup company. In order for startup companies to succeed, they have to have investments. They have to have money to hire people to do certain tasks, which allows you to focus on the right things.
Because your blog is a startup company, you need to treat it as such. I've worked with a lot of people that have said, “Well, I don't want to spend more than $200 a month on my blog.” If that's what you can afford, that's okay.
Just understand that you're not spending money on your blog. You probably just don't want to invest any more than $200 a month. If you take this mentality, you won't blink when you buy a tool that will save you a ton of time and it costs $20 a month. You'll just think, “As an investment in my business, this could grow the bottom line.”
Things You Must Have to Begin
Let's take a second here to look at the things you must have when you begin. A lot of times, people are overwhelmed and they buy a lot of different tools thinking that they need them to succeed.
However, I'm going to tell you what you really need.
1. Hosting and a domain name
What you really need is hosting for your website and a domain name. You have to have that stuff, and that's pretty simple to get.
First, you can click here to learn more about starting a blog. If you go there, I'll walk you through the whole thing, step-by-step. If you don't even have a blog yet, you absolutely have to have hosting and a domain name. There's no doubt about it.
I don't know if this is necessarily an absolute requirement, but I think it's really helpful to have—that is, Thrive Themes. This is a suite of tools that will really help you grow your business when you're starting out. I'm going to explain some of these tools for you.
Thrive Theme Builder
First is the Thrive Theme Builder. You always need a theme for your website. I've used Thrive Theme Builder on this very website.
This is kind of a newer product, but I've been using it already and I absolutely love it. It's a really good theme that you can fully customize and use it to do some pretty amazing things.
They also have Thrive Architect which is nice because, usually, if you're trying to build a page on your website and you want it to look a specific way, you have to hire a developer. With this, it's just drag and drop.
You click some buttons, you bring things over, and you drag and drop to make it look exactly the way you want. You can do buttons, callouts, etc. You can make a page look amazing with Thrive Architect.
Next is Thrive Leads. Now, this is a little bit more advanced. You don't need this in the beginning, but this tool that allows you to collect leads from different forms. Forms pop up on the screen of the user and you collect their email addresses.
You may think, “Oh, I hate those popups,” but they work. You will use them, I promise. Thrive Leads gives you all of the different forms that look really pretty, and you can use them to drive those leads.
They also let you do AB testing, like “Does this form convert better than this form?” It gets a little bit more advanced, but I use that all the time. That's probably their most important tool.
Thrive Quiz Builder
This is a great way to put quizzes onto your website to get people to engage and also to collect email addresses.
They have Thrive Apprentice, which helps you build online courses if you're interested in doing that.
Thrive Comments helps you have comments that are more engaging. If you've ever been on one of those websites where they have up voting and down voting of comments and that sort of thing, Thrive Comments is what allows you to do that.
This is actually really powerful. Let's say that you have a page on your website where you are talking about a particular product that you're trying to get people to buy. And you're like, “I don't know if it's converting that well. I’m only getting 5%-10% conversion.”
You can run an AB test for those landing pages and say, “Okay, it's at 5% now. Let's run this other page that's the same page, but use a different version to see which one converts better.” You’re probably noticing a theme with me—I'm data-driven. Having this tool is really helpful because it allows you to do gather that data.
This is really cool because it lets you do evergreen countdown campaigns. Usually, this is for courses or for a download of some sort. You can say, “Okay, you have to get this within the next 24 hours or it's going to be gone forever.” It creates scarcity.
Thrive Ovation allows you to add testimonials to your website on autopilot. People put the testimonial in and then it will automatically display in areas where you need it to.
Cost of Thrive Themes
Overall, that is really what Thrive Themes is all about. However, there is a cost to it. It comes out to be about $20 a month, so you're looking at a cost of $240 for a whole year. I pay this every year. If you pay annually, you’ll save 24%. You can also say, “I'll just pay quarterly,” and pay $30 a month every three months.
To me, I don't know that it's a requirement, but if you want a lot of the advanced tools that the really good marketers like myself and other people use, it's a great platform. I use it myself, and I'm a big advocate of it because I love it. If you’re interested in getting these tools, you can use my affiliate link here.
3. Willingness to outsource content
The last thing that you must have to begin is a willingness to outsource content; or at least a willingness to outsource labor.
With a blog, you may think, “Well, I just want to write all the content myself.” That's fine, but maybe you need an editor to look at the content you're creating and give it that second eye. So, pay somebody to do it.
Or maybe you just say, “You know what? I want to write the content myself, but I also want someone else to help me because it's hard to write a blog post every day or every other day.”
Maybe you decide you're going to write some of the content and then you're going to create outlines and assign content to another individual that will help you with this. The willingness to outsource your content or other tasks is incredibly important
When you don't do that, all that you're doing is spending your time on things that don't matter. As the CEO of a startup (which is what you are), you need to work on the things that really move the needle for the business, and posting your content on WordPress isn't one of those things. You can get a virtual assistant from the Philippines to do that for $3-$4 an hour. It's not worth your time.
If you're wondering, “Where do I find the people to outsource this to?” You can just go to Upwork.com. That’s where you can go to find all these different people who will help you with your own blog and really be your first employees in your business.