Much of Philip’s talk centered around the fundraising he did using venture capital and angel investors – they raised 3 million in 4 months during their first go around (success) and then didn’t raise enough funds their second go around (failure). And while I’ll probably never be in a position to need venture capital, many of the lessons he shared are applicable to any business, and that includes blogging.
Philip started his talk by making this point: Just because you failed, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you don’t fail, it just means you aren’t trying to build something big enough.
(Wow. Gut-check time for all bloggers out there. Is fear holding you back because you are afraid of failing? What is truly holding you back from following your dreams?)
Now to the lessons he shared:
1. This is about you, not your brand.
We’ve all heard “you are a brand” and then we heard the responding argument of “I’m not a brand” but in actuality, neither of these matters for the majority of bloggers. If nobody has really ever heard of your blog before, then a reader is coming to read about you – your likes, dislikes, passions, rants, experiences, etc. Even brands want to know you far more than they want to know your blog. Yes, they are interested with what you do with your blog, but it is still YOU that counts most.
Your brand/blog is an expression of your core beliefs – everything you write is reinforcing this, so be sure you know what you believe in and stand for.
What can you as a brand/blogger bring to the world that is different? Do you know how many food blogs are out there? How will you be different?
4. Go big – dare to be great!
I don’t really need to explain this one. Every one of you bloggers has this potential, so go after your dreams.
This is one thing small business/bloggers really have going for them over big businesses. We have the luxury of truly focusing on what we know and do best. Write about what you truly know and love. Own your corner of the world!
6. Launch fast.
If you wait until you have every little thing perfect or for just the right timing to occur, then chances are you may never launch at all. What are you waiting for? Get something out there and start building your blog.
7. Get paid.
And isn’t this the golden advice! Get paid! And this is exactly what every blogger wants to figure out. And while I can’t promise you a humongous paycheck, I’m in the Starter Studio working to create a supportive, valuable, online community to help all of us figure out the steps to doing this.
8. Get honest feedback.
This is a tricky one for anybody, but especially bloggers. Oftentimes we’ll ask for feedback on our blog and it may get torn apart by vultures in a blogging Facebook group. This sometimes leads to us not wanting to ask for any feedback at all… but truly it can be valuable. Your mother and best friend probably won’t be that honest with where you can improve, but work to find a trusted acquaintance, another blogger you admire perhaps, to give an honest critique from time to time. It might be the best thing you do for your blog.
9. Yes, it’s an unfair fight.
I love how Philip talked about this for small business with limited funds versus big businesses. I know many small bloggers feel inadequate when going up against some of the big-time blogs out there, who have a huge national if not global readership. You are small. You’re probably only doing this part time. No, it’s not fair, but remember that even the big bloggers started out small just like you.
10. Find a good team.
Unlike business start ups, blogging is often the personal journey of just one person. However, one of the most important things I’m taking away from the Starter Studio is that I will probably never blog from my couch again. I have seen the value in getting out here and building relationships with people who can help me technically, marketing-wise, and inspirationally, too. Build your support group, even if it is online. Build your team who will help you continue to grow your blog. Find a support group; take a blogger to lunch; pick their brain. Begin to build your team.
11. Skip the rock stars.
Philip was talking about hiring with this particular point. He said the rock stars of any industry might not always be worth their money. But, I can see this applying to blogging, especially with interviews or connections. I would much rather build relationships with lots of friendly smaller bloggers and PR people than some bigger ones who may only be out for themselves and their page views and what you can do for them. It’s all about reciprocal giving and getting, right?
12. Don’t waste time on hanging values on the wall – LIVE THEM!
Remember all those inspirational and motivational quotes you pinned? Don’t just read them; live them. When I was still teaching, we had a corporate trainer come in and make us each write our personal mission statement. Mine is: “To live with a kind heart and a determined purpose.” It is something I strive to do each day through my actions and behaviors.
13. Not every company is investment-worthy, and not every company needs investment money.
Say wha-? Well, let’s think about this. If we’re being truthful, not every blog is worthy of gaining sponsors just yet. Maybe nobody reads the blog. Maybe the design is so poor that it’s a turn off. Maybe the writing is so scattered that it doesn’t make sense. Sponsors and brands should be partnering with blogs that have worked hard to create something of value. On the flipside, though, not every blogger needs or even wants a sponsor. Maybe you are blogging because it is a passion or an outlet for your creativity. If so, don’t worry about the brands and what they are looking for – just keep on keeping on!
14. Find some non-business outlets – take time for yourself.
In other words, unplug from time to time!
15. Never give in – never!
This speaks to every passionate blogger out there – if you have a dream, don’t let anything stand in your way! I believe in you, so you should do the same!
Note: FLBlogCon has been selected to participate in the second round of the Starter Studio, an accelerator for tech start ups. For the next three months, I will be sharing the things I learn with you. Here are my previous posts:
Let’s Get It Started!
25 Things I’ve Learned in Business
Boomerang Your Blog
Finding a Blog Mentor