Ask Casey No. 4
I get lots of design questions from you guys, but it’s kinda funny because I actually get questions about a lot of other things happening in my life, like marriage, blogging, fitness, fashion…really every single category! So, I want to tackle some of your inquiries in my “Ask Casey” blog post series. I answer your questions every month or so, here on the blog.
Ask Casey No. 4
Here are a few past posts if you want to catch up…
The google form (at the bottom of the post) has helped me keep everything organized so I can slowly make my way through your inquiries. So, if you have another question today, be sure to submit it down below.
Life as a Full-Time Blogger
Today, I thought it would be fun to gather all of the questions about the business side of blogging. A lot of people don’t really understand what I do for a living. Even I often don’t know what to write down on the “occupation” line when I am filling out a form. Blogger? Small Business Owner? Digital Content Creator? It’s tough to really give one title for my job. I asked you guys to submit your questions on Instagram stories all about blogging and life as an entrepreneur and here are a few that were submitted…
How did you get traffic for your blog when you were just starting out? I’m a newish blogger and have found it so challenging to reach a significant amount of readers!
The advice I give over and over again is to create consistent quality content. You need to show up multiple times a week with content that educates, inspires, or entertains. If you’re not doing that, then it may be hard to grow. I would say in the beginning, keep your head down and focus on what you’re creating. You should be doing it for you, not for the people coming to read. If you enjoy what you’re doing, that will show in your work and eventually, growth will happen! So spend less time focusing on numbers and analytics and more time on the content. There is no magic way to grow an audience!
How do you overcome self-doubt?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing and I definitely have it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve considered myself to be a bit of a perfectionist and I set high expectations for myself. Even if I meet 99% of my goals, I still feel like a failure and question my competence if I miss the mark on one tiny thing. And in a job where I’m literally sharing my entire life with the internet, it’s difficult to feel confident in my work and myself all the time.
We live in this world filled with Instagram highlight reels, where people are prettier, smarter, and more talented than us with every swipe. And that does get to me. It’s hard not to compare myself to other people in the blogging community. But, at the end of the day, I’m much happier when I choose to focus on myself and my work, because that’s the only thing that I can control. If I’m showing up every day and giving my all, then that’s what matters. There is always doubt that I’m not good enough or I don’t deserve this or that. However, I have to constantly remind myself how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and of the continuous effort I put in here every day.
How has being more visible on Instagram (love it!) changed things for you?
Instagram stories is now a huge way to connect with my audience, so I try to show up there every single day. And oftentimes that means you get the raw real me (no makeup, in pajamas, rambling about this or that). It has been absolutely amazing and terrifying all at the same time.
It’s amazing because I feel like my followers have gotten to know “the real Casey” a bit better. Writing and sharing here on the blog is a great way to connect, but hearing my voice and the unedited day-to-day happenings in our house takes that connection to the next level. I’ve gotten to know you guys better, I can chat with you in real-time on messages, and it just feels informal and relaxed. That has been a wonderful thing for me, personally, and for my business.
The terrifying part is that I’m constantly opening myself up to criticism. Here on the blog, I mostly have readers who really know me and have been reading for years. It’s rare that I get a negative or rude comment here. On Instagram, I have people who don’t read the blog or have just started following along. They don’t know my style, my sense of humor, or much about my home/marriage/past, etc. These people can sometimes be quick to judge and make a snide comment or remark, which is really disheartening.
Because I’m sharing my face so much on Instagram stories, I’m always getting comments about my appearance and every now and again it’s negative. It just boggles my mind that I’m sharing something about DIY or home, yet these women (yes, they’re always women) have to nitpick how much makeup I’m wearing, question why I’m wearing my hair a certain way, etc. It makes me sad that as women, appearance is the first thing we attack on another woman. Why is that? I’m open to constructive criticism about my work or a project, but a comment about the way I look (that has nothing to do with anything!) is just not welcome. So if you are a regular on Instagram and interact with the people you follow, that is something to keep in mind. Let’s all be a little more considerate and less superficial.
Accountability as a Business Owner
How do you hold yourself accountable when it’s just you?
I think this job wouldn’t work for every personality type. Being at home by yourself with no “boss” or manager to tell you what to do and when to get it done may not be the best fit for everyone. I’m a very self-motivated person, so it’s actually a great fit for me. As I mentioned earlier, I set high expectations for myself so I’m a pretty mean boss, actually. Planning out my weeks on Friday afternoons (more on that here) has been the best thing to keep me on task and hold myself accountable for my work. I have my set to-do list and I work off that every single day.
Making Money Blogging
What makes up the biggest percentage of your income (ads, partnerships, swipe ups, etc.)? Do you make as much/less/more than your previous full-time job? Is it the same every year?
Money is the question I get most often. I think the world of blogging is really mysterious to people and they don’t understand how the financial side works. I broke it down in this post, but some of that information has probably changed a bit in the last few years as the business has grown.
Yes, I make more money as a blogger than I ever did working in TV production. A lot more. I wouldn’t have left my career if that wasn’t the case. I almost feel like a salesperson and my salary is based on how well I perform. The more business I bring in, the more money I make. Finn and I have set it up so I am on the payroll through The DIY Playbook. This makes things a lot easier come tax time. So I have a set salary for the year that the Playbook pays me. We determine this based on our family needs and budget. All the money I make through blogging goes into a specific business account for the blog. This is used for projects, expenses, and I’m paid through that.
In terms of percentages on where the money comes from, this has changed over the years (as evidenced by the percentages in this old post). Right now, I’d say about 48% of my income comes from sponsorships with brands, 25% from ads on the blog, 25% from affiliate links, and 2% miscellaneous (speaking engagements, conferences, etc.) As a small business owner, it’s important for me to diversify my income so I’m not relying on one stream too much.
Dealing with Negativity
How do you deal with negativity?
When you share your entire life with the world, you’re bound to get some feedback. I’m so grateful that 99% of the comments I receive are positive, uplifting, and encouraging. You are my people. But I do get negative comments and even though I don’t want them to, these stick with me.
I’m a big fan of Brene Brown and I found her Ted Talk (you can view a portion of it here) to be a great resource for this subject. She says that this Theodore Roosevelt quote really changed her life…
“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …” – Theodore Roosevelt.
She remarks that this quote instantly altered her feelings on negative comments. And she goes on to say, “If you’re not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
Ummm, can I get an amen?! It’s always the people in the cheap seats who are never risking anything that criticize the people out there being brave and putting themselves out there. But their opinions really don’t matter. I don’t want your feedback about my work and how you would do things a different/better way if you’re not in the arena with me.
I love constructive criticism and it makes me, my blog, and my brand better. But negativity, just for the sake of being negative, is often a reflection of the commenter. I try to remind myself of that, constantly.
Submit Your Questions
Have a question you want answered? Use the google form below and I’ll answer it in the next Ask Casey post.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.