This is a newsletter article from the October 2010 edition my monthly email newsletter. If you like it and aren’t signed up, simply fill in the form to the right or at the bottom of this post to join.
When you think about the word ‘success’, what springs to mind? The latest Porsche? Being hounded by the paparazzi? A huge house in the country with an Olympic-style pool? The Nobel Peace Prize?
However you define the word, the idea of success if usually loaded with different meanings for different people.
When you first set up your blogging business, the chances are you had a very defined idea of what success would look like to you. I’m not talking about a luxury yacht, eight long-haul holidays a year of first-class flights to drop in on your relatives in the next State, although these may have been in your mind when you first developed your business idea.
Usually, when we approach the idea of success when planning our online business, our goals are a little smaller than that.
What was your yardstick for success? The chances are, you were looking for a way to leave the nine to five rat race and be your own boss. In all honesty, you’ve probably figured by now that working for yourself isn’t just as you pictured it.
Yes, we get to stay at home while our significant other goes out to work, and we have a home office which enables us to sit with the dog or cat when we write.
However, making a small online business work takes hours of solid graft, and the chances are that you are sitting with your laptop or PC in the early light of morning when you could have been tucked up in bed.
So, now that we understand a little more of the pitfalls and challenges of running our business, is it time to reevaluate our measure of success? I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I think success can be measured in a number of different ways…
The categories of success which define our blogging business
When we consider our business, it’s likely that emotional wellbeing comes a long way down the list when we evaluate how we are getting on. The truth is, however, emotional success is a critical part of evaluating how well we are doing.
People who jump out of bed eagerly each morning, itching to pick up their computer and create more products, market their blog and write some killer articles can often be viewed as highly successful. This is because they have found their niche in the market, feel confident and self-assured, and get a real buzz out of what they are doing.
You could argue that this feeling is worth more than money itself, as satisfaction emotionally is something you can’t put a price on. If you’re not feeling a warm glow of appreciation when you settle down at the beginning of a long day, it may be worth the reassess what you are working on, and bring in new ways of providing an income which makes you champ at the proverbial bit to get on with it.
This is a fluffy subject area when it comes to evaluating your business. What does personal success look like to you? Most people would weigh up personal success in the following ways:
- Feeling proud of your achievements
- Generating a wide readership and loyal customer base
- Counting the number of times your site and business are mentioned online
- The amount of feedback which you get on your blog from satisfied customers
- Being safe in the knowledge that you are being the best you can be, in your industry field
- Gaining industry recognition for your achievements
- Being acknowledged for your work, in a way that validates your career choice.
Personal success does not just relate to great business practices, however. It can also include more intangible measures, including how your family and friends respond to your career choice, whether you feel fulfilled, and whether you feel confident and happy in what you are doing.
If you are not ticking all the boxes when you evaluate your own personal success, sit down for a moment and consider what you could be doing differently. Are you stressed out all the time?
Think about ways to reduce your workload without compromising on quality. Are your competitors streaming ahead of you in terms of sales, recognition or achievements?
Talk to a business coach about how you could change strategy to achieve what you need. Personal success involves generating job and emotional satisfaction on all levels, not just financial return.
Can you remember when you were at school, and you were waiting to get a grade for a piece of work you had done? Or the glowing feeling of satisfaction you got when you passed an exam or got a great piece of feedback on a paper?
When I talk about academic success, I’m referring more to that feeling of fulfillment than I am about racking up a string of qualifications. Keeping ahead of your industry through regular training, learning new skills and keeping your industry knowledge topped up is a critical part of measuring your success, as these activities bring fulfillment in ways that accruing revenue can’t touch.
Now we come to the unpleasant crunch when it comes to evaluating your success as a blogger. It’s an unfortunate fact of small business ownership that we need to make enough money to survive. Without having a decent income, we can’t undertake training, reevaluate our work/life balance or gain confidence that we have made the right career choice.
Having said all that, we can consider our financial success in a different way, to make us feel more fulfilled. If you wake up every morning and compare yourself to Bill Gates, you won’t ever reach happiness.
Instead, perhaps we should be viewing financial success in a new light. If we have enough money to obtain emotional freedom, personal happiness and buy us some time with those we care about, have we ‘made’ it as bloggers?
In essence, financial success doesn’t come down to having enough money to buy a private jet, or sufficient capital to drive six sports cars. Instead, our financial success could simply be measured by having the space and time to pursue other forms of emotional success – familial security, career satisfaction, and the personal freedom to live as we wish, without feeling constrained or cornered by the job which we do.