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Blogging/Life Update: What I’ve Changed In My Blogging Business In 2019


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It’s been 12 months since my last blogging business update. In that time, my blogging business has changed as I continue to align my business goals to my life goals and I better understand what that means for me.

I’m always trying to learn from my mistakes as I build my perfect business for me and my family. One of the many benefits of having your own business is that you control the direction.

And if that direction isn’t making your life better, what is the point of any of it?

 

In this update, I’m going to discuss how thinking about this has impacted my business, what has changed since my last update and what I plan to do going forward.

I’m never sure how interesting these updates are to other people. I try to make my blogs about my audience and what they need and not about myself. So posts like this tend to get a low priority… That is until I write them and realise that I would love to read these posts from others.

I think it can be extremely helpful to see how other people make their business decisions – and what affect those decisions have.

I also know many of you have followed me from the beginning. When I had no idea how to make money online but knew I had to change my life somehow to building the successful business I have today which has truly changed my life.

These updates are dedicated to you.

I hope you learn from this behind-the-scenes look at how I set goals, prioritise my workload and balance blogging with everything else.  As always, I am brutally honest.

being a digital nomad at Ollantaytambo ruins in peru

I couldn’t help myself – I had to take one of those impractical tacky digital nomad photos when I was in Peru last month!

And even if you haven’t followed me for long and you are new to Digital Nomad Wannabe, I think it’s good to know and understand something about the background of the person whose advice you are following.

You can read my last update here – from August 2018.

There are a few areas I will update you on:

  1. The biggest thing I have realised over the last year which has changed my direction. Hopefully, it will stop you from making the same mistakes!
  2. Other big changes in my business
  3. What I’m working on
  4. Our travel/life. Are we still travelling? What’s been happening!
  5. My business plans going forward

My biggest realisation over the last year

My biggest realisation is that my business goals have stopped being in alignment with my life goals.

 

This led to stress, getting close to being completely burnt out and unhappiness.

I realised I was working towards goals that came from the wrong place. This was because…

  1. I still have issues with being ruled by fear – that it will all disappear and go away if I don’t work super hard along with a scarcity mindset I’m constantly working at shaking.
  2. The feeling that if my business isn’t growing that it’s going backwards. That I can’t just stand still, ever.

I was aware of all of that but I let them rule me instead of listening to the advice I often give others…

If you are struggling with a business decision or something doesn’t feel right with how you are running your blogging business, go back to your why.

 

I think if you go back to your why, you can’t go wrong with your choices.

My why is all about having a better quality of life.

Nowhere in my definition of having a better life does working a lot and feeling stressed come up.

The changes I have been making this year relate to me realising it was all out of alignment and then changing my direction and mindset.

This doesn’t mean it’s always easy – and it’s hard when a big decision feels hard to relate to my why, like deciding whether it was time to step back from selling my courses when I absolutely love teaching and the transformations I have been able to help others have but the selling part has been sucking my energy dry and does not align to my why.

Over the last couple of years, I have worked hard at really transforming this blog from something not marketed at all and didn’t make much income to my main project and income earner.

When I realised all the above, I had to really look at this though as it’s not passive like my other projects.

how do bloggers make money from blogging

Another silly photo from the Maldives in April – I was so scared my laptop would fall in!

I have always concentrated on affiliate income because it is largely passive ongoing and that directly aligns with my life goals. However, selling and supporting courses is not.

I kept hoping it would become more passive over time, but it has continued to be a full-time job in order to earn enough money that I can justify continuing to work on it. I’ve also needed a team of people to help me with this and many paid tools.

This leads to a lot of extra work (i.e. managing people and everything that comes with it) that makes it hard for me to ever take a break and is not work I enjoy.

On the outside, it can look like I’m growing, and I felt like I was stepping forward. However, in reality, I wasn’t any better off financially and I certainly haven’t been better off stress and work hour wise.

The reality is that I make more money if I build sites and sell them than if I teach others how to do this.

But I really love teaching and it’s something I feel passionate about.

There is nothing I have done more satisfying in blogging than helping other people have the same transformation I have had thanks to my success in blogging.

 

Around and around in my head that went until I nearly went crazy. Especially as I wondered if I just gave it another six months, maybe there would be some type of breakthrough on the selling part and I could stop working so hard at it.

But then I related it back to my why and I had my answer. 

While working on something I love does give me a better quality of life, it doesn’t help my family at all and working less is definitely part of my definition too. 

And I have given it two and a half years of being my primary focus at this point which is a fair amount of time.

So I have had to make some changes to how I work on this site and associated channels.

I am definitely still selling my blogging courses (like Build Blog Freedom Fast Track here) and I will always support my students as best I can in the course Facebook groups. But I changed my membership site to the Fast Track 10-week course to not only give my students a more streamlined experience but to cut back the admin and the team I had involved – people who blog about membership sites being passive income drastically understate the amount of admin involved.

I’m also no longer actively working on launches and actively selling the course. I do have automated processes in place which do this in the background so I’m not doing nothing about this, but it’s nothing like the time suck it was.

It’s a huge relief to be honest. I hate the selling part.

The bad part of this, though, is that sales are much lower and I have had to set parameters of how many courses I need to sell a month for all the time I still spend to be worth it – this is the time across supporting my students, keeping my course updated, writing content for this blog and running the DNW free Facebook group. As well as to cover all my costs as well as the people I still have working on my programs.

If it goes under this amount then I will need to make some really hard decisions around everything I do for free for DNW.

Before moving on from this topic, I do want to emphasise that if sales did stop and I stopped selling my courses, I 100% would always continue to support my students. You never need to worry about that. It’s the part I love and I never walk away from a commitment.

Other big changes in my business

 

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It’s not just the Digital Nomad Wannabe part of my business where I have changed my strategy.

Selling sites

I also realised that my goal to sell a site a tax year, while getting us to the point of nearly owning our home 100% (and one we could never have afforded before blogging), causes me far too much stress and really affects our quality of life.

Each time I sell a site, I’m selling off our biggest passive income earner. This then leads to stress as I try to increase earnings on other sites to cover our living costs (which are admittedly crazy high).

We sold another big one well into the 6-figures not long after my update last year and while I always put some of the proceeds to the side to help cover living costs for the next 8 months while I build up other avenues, I never want to use this money and stress myself out instead.

It’s like I’m always in start-up mode.

Again, I don’t have “Always be building new businesses” in my why.

Around the time I realised this strategy wasn’t working for me, I went to Tbex North America and had a great discussion with Dave from The Planet D about exit strategies from your business and I realised how much I didn’t have one.

An exit strategy is getting your business to the point where you can exit your business and have plenty of revenue to live your life however you want.

With the strategy of selling all my sites + courses, this was never going to happen.

This is when I started my newest site, Dive Into Malaysia. I have many plans for this site and I’m building it from the beginning as a site I plan to keep and can exit from.

You can listen to more about why I decided to start exactly this site in my latest case study here.

My other sites

I currently have four additional sites other than the ones mentioned above which are earning me money and that I have been building to sell. I still plan to sell them when they hit the three year mark (an optimal time selling price wise).

For two of them, that will be next year (in two different tax years, thus hitting my goal 😀 ).

At that point, we will have fully paid off our house in inner city Melbourne two years after buying it thanks primarily to blogging proceeds.

They are all in good positions where I don’t have to work much on them.

I have dropped back to part time hours

We have been planning for over a year that my husband would go back to full time work and his career as a programmer at this time and he started back two weeks ago. It’s an adjustment after just over three years of him at home (he stopped full time work when our last child was born).

He loves programming and we were worried if he waited any longer, it would start being too tough to go back.

In reality, it’s really been since the end of 2014 that he has been putting my career and business first. This is when he quit his job so we could go and live in Malaysia despite the fact that I wasn’t earning much money at the time (my income report for the month when he agreed to do this is here).

The support he always gives me and the faith he has always shown has been fundamental to my success, and I am more than happy to show him the same support and give him his turn while I become the primary caregiver to our children again.

It’s only been two weeks so I can’t really talk about an impact. I’m already frustrated how easily my three days a week turns into less, but I knew that would happen.

What I am happy about is that all the preparation I did in the lead up to this has paid off.  The majority of my sites are at a great point to just sit there and earn without needing my interference and I still have time to work on growing my Malaysia site and keeping up with DNW. It is definitely a juggling act though.

While it may seem anti-intuitive, cutting back my staff and contractors I use has also helped. That gets rid of a lot of my admin time and I have less pressure on revenue.

I also think that the less time I have, the better I use it so I am hopeful there won’t be too much impact to what I am able to earn except there is definitely no more sites that I am creating for the foreseeable future. This means that there will be an income impact – just not for a couple of years.

Ease

 

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My word for 2019- for my life and my business – is Ease.

I want it to be the one word that defines my focus for my thinking this year and unifies all my goals. I really (as always!) want my life easier. I’m hoping with everything I am changing that this will help. I certainly feel like it is!

But I also suspect it may end up being my word for 2020 as well.

Our travel/life update

We are still living happily in Melbourne, Australia. We love our new house, the kids are happy at school and in their activities and Melbourne is a great place to be.

We have been planning for years to move to Europe next year for a year (trying to fit it in before our oldest starts high school and our youngest starts school). However, we are currently having second thoughts.

We really want the experience of living abroad for the kids and there would be many benefits to living in Europe for awhile – I’m excited by all the conferences and networking events I could go to just for a start!

But, honestly, life is tiring. Both of us working, the kids and everything else wears us out and the huge amount of time involved in working it all out and getting complicated visas, working out exactly where to go, where the kids will go to school, what to do with our house, etc etc, feels me with absolute dread.

I don’t think I have it in me to take on anything else. Especially as we are perfectly happy here and the kids really do not want to do it.

I am not someone who lets myself use hard work and tiredness as an excuse not to do something (or I would never have become a professional blogger!), so I am struggling with making a decision. Feel free to tell us what to do below 😀

The last year has definitely had some hard times – mainly that I broke a bone in my knee on holiday in Thailand at the start of October. It was lots of fun getting home and then I spent six weeks stuck in my bedroom with my leg immobilised.

 

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I am now definitely able to add another benefit of having an online business to my list though…

Another huge plus of an online business is that you can work even when you are stuck in bed!

 

It was great to not just not worry about income (I dread to think what a financial hole this would have put us in before I had my own business as I couldn’t look after our kids or go to a regular job) but also to have the work outlet to stop me going completely crazy when I was stuck.

Unfortunately, I still can’t use it the same and am still having physio so I can hopefully return to jogging again one day. I really really miss the outlet jogging gave me.

We have travelled a ton this year – I have spent about three months away all up (no wonder I’m tired!) with Pacific island hopping, a trip with a friend to NYC for my 40th, visiting many places in Asia and an absolutely awesome month in Peru.

In some ways, it was great, but mostly it was very hard.

We realised after the first month of travel in January that I’m ready to finally admit that I don’t enjoy travelling with three kids that much.

It’s hard. Really hard.

I’ve kept making excuses for why it was hard and how it would get easier to myself – like blaming my travel blog or having a baby, that we were unlucky (my knee), etc. But it’s always something and I’m a bit over it.

We already had two more family trips booked so we did them (and they weren’t as hard thankfully), but I’m still a bit over it. We will be taking it much easier for the next year.

The other big change, as mentioned above, is that I’ve switched back to being the primary caregiver of our kids.

In some ways it’s a big change, in other ways, it’s not. I’ve always tried to pick up the older kids at school and to be finished by that time. With them, it feels the same except now I have to cook dinner too (I’m so thankful for takeaway and my husband who plans the meals for me).

Two days a week I get to hang out with my three-year old which I’m very much enjoying so far. He is definitely very demanding, but I love getting this time with him again.

I thought for about two seconds when we were working out what to do with hubby going back to work about putting him in full-time care, but I dismissed it very quickly. I think some care is great for all of us, but I’ll never get this time back with him, and I’m not giving it up completely. Just 2.5 years until he starts school 😀

Plans going forward

My plan is to keep doing what I’m doing:

  • Building up my Malaysia site to be the #1 site on the topic and allow me to retire whenever I want 😀
  • Keep working on helping other bloggers through my courses primarily and my free channels secondly.
  • Keep my other four sites ticking away and hopefully sell two of them next year.
  • Keep aligning my work goals to my why.

I hope this update has helped you in some way 🙂 If you are trying to grow your blog traffic, I highly recommend you sign up to my free 7-Day SEO Boost Challenge. Click here for more details!

Feel free to ask any questions or share your thoughts below or in the DNW Facebook group!

You can find more posts on blogging and income reports here.

About the Author

Sharon Gourlay is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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