Dani Fairhurst from Flourishing Freelancer takes her place ‘In the Blog Seat’ to share her blogging journey, inspirations and learning lessons…
Dani lives with her fiance and puppy (Sherlock) in Staffordshire and has been blogging at Flourishing Freelancer for just over five years. The blog focuses on blogging, freelancing and online business tips and in essence, helps people find their space online.
When she's not busy blogging, Dani enjoys exploring new places, drinking good coffee and spending time with her family…
What three things can’t you live without to help manage your blog – and why?
SmarterQueue – a social media scheduling tool that allows you to have evergreen content which is recycled. So when I publish a new post, I add my promotional tweets and Facebook posts to the evergreen section and they are recycled for me until the end of time!
Convertkit – this is what I use to manage my email list. It’s both super easy to use and very complex at the same time!! The level of control you have over your list is amazing and their rules, tags, segments and automations mean that there’s pretty much nothing that you can’t do. The form and landing page builder is also really easy to use and completely customisable with a tiny bit of CSS.
Google Drive – I save everything on Google Drive from draft posts to images. I also organise my blogging “stuff” on Google Drive too. My editorial calendar, finance tracker, calendar…pretty much everything, lives in my Google Drive so that I can access it no matter where I am.
Who is your ideal reader?
Anyone who want to start making money online really! My main focus is on bloggers and freelance writers but a lot of my tips apply to anyone with a website.
How did you first get into blogging?
I started a personal blog about 5 years ago to document a series of fundraising events that I was doing. I loved writing online so developed that blog into a lifestyle type of blog.
How did you choose the niche(s) that you have chosen to blog in?
When I started my personal blog, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I just kept reading more and more how-to posts and taking online courses. i started getting good traffic and engagement and eventually started making money from it too. One day decided that I wanted to share everything I had learned with others out there.
How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
I plan absolutely everything out. Every single element of blog is planned out and every minute of my day is scheduled to make sure I stay on track!
I use a combination of tools to help me. I have an editorial calendar in Google Sheets, checklists in Asana and my time planned out in my Google Calendar.
What strategies have worked well for you in getting more traffic to your blog?
Pinterest. Definitely Pinterest – it’s my number one source of traffic. After that is Facebook Groups. Networking in Facebook Groups has also lead to a lot of great connections with other bloggers too which have been beneficial to my blog growth more generally.
What blog achievement are you most proud of?
Being able to quit my full-time job. Last November I dropped down to part-time hours at my job and then by the end of December I went full-time with the blogs.
What are your blogging goals for the next 12 months?
To scale my income methods and make more money! At the moment I’m not quite making the same as my old job was paying (but I expected that and had some money saved). So to be able to get to a position where I’m earning the same or more would be amazing!
I’m also working on a new blog which I keep pushing to one side at the moment but I’d like to have that launched by the middle of this year.
What's the most challenging issue for you in your blogging journey so far?
I have shiny object syndrome! I keep thinking of new and amazing ideas that I want to try out and implement immediately. I get distracted so easily so things take me much, much longer to get done.
I also struggle with comparing myself to other bloggers a lot and feel like a failure when I read other people’s income reports and achievements. It’s a really tough one to overcome because I know I shouldn’t do it but sometimes it just happens, you know?
Do you have any favourite bloggers (and why)?
Oh gosh! I have lots! I love Zoe (of Zoe Linda), Krista (from Blog Beautifully) and Holly (from A Branch of Holly) for blogging and business tips.
When it comes to personal/lifestyle blogs I love Jemma (from Dorkface) and Vix (from Vix Meldrew) – these girls are hilarious and refreshingly honest.
What motivates you to keep your blog up and running?
Money! I have bills to pay! I think when your blog is your source of income, money is an obvious motivator. But besides that, my main motivation is that I really enjoy doing it. I don’t have that Sunday night dread or that feeling when you don’t want to go to work in the morning.
That and the fact that I know how it feels when you’re just starting out on your online journey so I like to think that I’m helping people who are in the position that I was 5 years ago.
Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
Profession. I actually have a couple of blogs/businesses. Flourishing Freelancer is my second biggest source of income. I also offer VA, Social Media Management and content creation services from my site called Dani Fairhurst (original, right?) which is my biggest source of income.
I make a tiny bit of money from my personal blog through ads and affiliate links but not huge amounts.
I’m also working on a fourth blog at the moment which I’m hoping to monetise. This one will be in the wedding niche because it’s such a big interest of mine!
Where do you hope your blog will take you?
That’s a tough question and one that I’ve actually been thinking about a lot over recent weeks.
Originally, I had wanted the digital nomad lifestyle and wanted my blog to give me the freedom to travel. But more recently I’ve been thinking about buying a home and starting a family. So I guess I’d have to say I hope for a stable income that will allow me to spend time with, and support my family.
Do you monetise your blog – and if so, if what ways?
Yes, I do. I have multiple income streams from Flourishing Freelancer including ads, affiliate links and courses/info products.
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?
A lot of my posts are based on questions I get asked from other bloggers. If I know that my audience are struggling with a particular topic that I’ve got experience in, I write a post about it.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to their readers?
What they want. Listen to your readers and what they are asking for and then deliver on that.
What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made in blogging so far?
Not prioritising. I’ve spent (wasted) a lot of time focusing on the wrong things.
In the early days I spent huge amounts of time and money on courses but didn’t dedicate enough time to fully implementing the strategies I learned. I also spent lots of time on small things like changing my theme and website layout (which was fine) rather than spending time on creating high-quality content for my readers.
What do you love most about blogging and how long do you spend blogging in a typical week?
My favourite thing about blogging has to be the people. I’ve met some really great people through blogging.
I spend pretty much all of my time on blogging in one way or another. My day typically starts between 4.30 and 5.00 am (we have a puppy who is up at that time otherwise it would be much later) and I work right through until about 10.30 pm.
I don’t work solidly for all of that time, I take breaks to walk the dog, have meals with my family, go to the gym etc. but one of the benefits of being self-employed is that I can just make time for these things whenever I want to.
If someone was interested in starting a blog, what one piece of advice would you offer him or her?
Just do it! Don’t overthink things.
Whilst it’s great to spend a bit of time deciding on a platform and a host and choosing the right name and branding, don’t stress about getting every little detail “perfect” – trust me, there’s no such thing! No matter how long you spend on it, you’ll always find things that you want to change!
The nitty gritty…
What is your favourite blog post you’ve written and why?
I think my favourite post is “How to Make Money Using Affiliate Links on Pinterest”.
I really liked writing this one and was super proud of it when it was done (it’s over 3,000 words long!) But figuring out how to make money easily on Pinterest was a big “ah-ha” moment for me in my blogging journey so being able to share this with other people felt like a really valuable thing to do.
What type of blog post do you most enjoy writing?
Almost all of my posts on Flourishing Freelancer are tutorials but I do really love writing personal posts on my other site.
Do you vlog?
I don’t but I’ve actually just invested in a webcam and mic with the intention of starting a YouTube Channel for my personal blog.
Do you regularly collaborate with brands?
I don’t actually. I generally use affiliate programmes for products and services that I use and love.
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