What I’ve learned from 6 months of blogging at Far Beyond The Stars.
At some point at the end of last month we silently passed the 6-month mark since I began writing this blog. It’s time to celebrate!
Thank you so much for being a part of this minimalist movement.
I wouldn’t be anywhere without you, the amazing people who read this blog and support my work.
I’ve been fully supporting myself via income from this blog for two months now. This is the first month that my income surpassed my monthly income at my day job.
I can feel the momentum building behind my writing, my words. Change is happening. People are finding a way to bring simplicity into their lives in order to get their finances under control, stop buying junk, and start living free. It’s blowing my mind the kind of stories I hear from people on Twitter and over email.
Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I can’t wait for what comes next, I hope you’ll stick around for the future of this movement.
I don’t pay attention to stats that much, but here’s a few:
As of today (April 5th 2010) this blog has 2500+ subscribers. I have 1200+ followers on Twitter.
Far Beyond The Stars receives more than 35,000 unique views a month.
Many of the new readers find me via the wonders of Twitter. Thank you for every retweet — this makes huge difference in who finds this blog.
Thank you so much for everyone who’s linked into the blog from their own blogs. This is probably one of the most important ways to make this blog succeed. There are 710+ active inbound links to Far Beyond the Stars — thank you so much for your mentions.
I know a lot of you are also trying to become full-time bloggers, so I thought I’d put together a list of things that I’ve learned. I hope this writing helps you find success as well.
If you aren’t a blogger, these tips can probably apply to your field of work with a little translation.
Here are 15 bits of wisdom from my 6 months of blogging success.
1. Assemble a group of remarkable allies. I have the pleasure of being friends with some of the brightest minds in blogging today. In order to succeed you need a team of all-star people to share the stage with. This is why I spend so much time writing about and helping other bloggers succeed. Rockstar up and coming bloggers like Colin Wright, Jeffrey Tang, Tammy Strobel, Ashley Ambirge, Joshua Becker, Adam Baker, and Karol Gajda are making a huge difference in their own work, and their support of my work has been amazing. Thank you for being my allies guys!
2. Study the best and the brilliant. It’s so incredibly important to study the work of people who have been successful in any field that you enter. I owe a huge debt to the successful bloggers who’ve done this before I did. Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Fields, Glenn Allsopp, Hugh MacLeod, and Seth Godin have all contributed more than they know to my success. Thank you all for your brilliant work.
3. The more you give the more you get. Chris Guillebeau mentioned this last week over at The Art of Non-conformity, and it’s so true. If your blog is struggling, it’s probably because you’re not giving enough. The people who succeed are the ones who give as much as possible, that’s why I’m constantly pointing you in the direction of people who I respect and admire. I’ve had the fortune of some amazing support from remarkable people who’ve noticed and helped me out — I try to give twice as much in return.
4. Help your readers as much as possible. This is the #1 reason that I’ve been able to get to the professional level so quickly. If your blog is struggling, take a look at your posts. Are you honestly teaching anything important? Are you making a difference in people’s lives? One struggling blogger who I had a lot of hopes for is now simply selling bad products and writing boring information that doesn’t help people. Don’t be that guy.
5. Fortune favors the bold. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, even if it goes against the status-quo. Some of my most successful work has focused on ideas that honestly scare people — these ideas are hard to hear. Sometimes I’ll write things that make people feel bad about their lives and consumption choices. Sometimes people send me emails telling me to stop saying what I’m saying because it challenges their perception of reality. This is good, we need to challenge people in order to make change happen. You can’t succeed if you aren’t willing to challenge belief systems.
6. If you aren’t passionate, don’t publish. If you’re not 100% certain that your writing is going to change the way that people think about the world, don’t publish it! I only hit the publish button if I’m absolutely certain that I’m going to help people. Sometimes that means scrapping multiple stories before I hit on one that’s contributing enough value to make the cut.
7. The moment you go pro, everything changes. When I told the world that I intended to make a living from this blog, everything started happening. I began getting offers from people who wanted to help me make it. I also started writing some of the best work that I’ve ever created. Going pro forces you to rise to the occasion in order to make everything come together.
8. Perfect is the enemy of done. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I focus on the ideas. Sometimes I don’t have perfect grammar and I’ll spell things wrong. I do my best to have perfect prose, but ultimately it’s the good ideas that matter. Don’t get caught up trying to be perfect, if it keeps you from making work. Generate ideas that will spur remarkable change — I don’t care of there is a comma missing, or a word isn’t spelled properly.
9. Give your best work away for free. You can’t succeed in the digital age if you withhold your best work for paying customers only. Prove that you have the ability to help people by giving them everything for free, and your audience will support you by buying your premium product. People will support the value that they receive. Give your best work away for free and you’ll reach so many more people who can help you make the change that’s necessary.
10. Don’t be afraid to change direction. Sometimes you have to kill your babies. At various points during the last six months I’ve had to make some hard choices in order to succeed in other areas. I shut down a business blog that wasn’t taking off. I stopped photographing professionally. Sometimes you have to make hard choices in order to succeed. Be flexible enough to follow your interests until you find what you’re really passionate about. Also, trying to run two blogs at once is like trying to date two women at once — neither of them end up very happy with you.
11. Social proof matters. Take a look at the front page of your blog. Can new readers tell you have a community? Can they see your best work right away? These factors matter. This is why my retweet button is the first thing you see (192 retweets? I better read this!) and my biggest accomplishments are easy to see (Interviews with Chris Guillebeau and Leo Babauta? This blogger must be with the in crowd!) Don’t bury your best work, and make it clear that other people are actually reading your blog.
12. Good headlines matter. I use professional copywriting techniques to craft every one of my headlines. Sometimes this means they’re a little over the top, and I’m okay with that. Think about it: most people decide what they’re going to read based on the headline as they’re reading other blogs, flipping around on their phone or in their RSS reader. Would you rather read a post titled “it’s my blog’s birthday” or “15 Bits of Wisdom from 6 Months of Blogging Success?” Don’t short your ability to grab someone’s attention by using boring headlines. A great resource for learning to write remarkable attention grabbing headlines is Copyblogger.
13. Don’t undervalue yourself. Yes, I give away my best work free, but I also am not afraid to ask for people to pay me. My readers understand that if my work helps them, they should also help me out in return. It’s not easy being a full-time writer, you can’t work for free — at some point you have to ask people to support you. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help people who contribute value to their lives. Thank you for everyone who’d purchased The Art of Being Minimalist or generously donated to support my writing. Your support has made a huge difference in my life, it makes the work I do possible.
14. Live what you preach. I write about being minimalist in order to live and work anywhere. I actually am a minimalist and I actually live and work from anywhere. Take a look at the message you’re sending, does to match the way you live? Some bloggers just talk about ideas they think might be cool if they were to try them. The successful bloggers and writers (maybe even successful people in general) actually live and breathe a reality that they believe in. If you’re trying to make change, you have to live the change you’re making.
15. Support the work of amazing people. When I see a good blog, or a good story, I do everything I can to help that person out. I want you to succeed, because this isn’t a zero-sum game. If you can surround yourself with a community who you enthusiastically support, they will support you.
Here are a few links you should check out from writers who I enthusiastically endorse:
An Interview with Ashley Ambirge by Tammy Strobel.
The Lost Art of Solitude by Leo Babauta.
Man Vs Debt Turns 1 Year Old by Adam Baker.
I also wrote a short guest post for Gaping Void on how to focus on the important.
Thank you for reading this!
Stay tuned for the part 4 in my series on using minimalism to leave the 9-5 on Wednesday.
If these words helped you, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to share this with someone who it can help. Thank you so much for your help.