September 13, 2013.
That’s a little over 11 months ago, and it was also the last time I personally “published” an article written by me for this blog.
Around then, I was on a quest to write a guest post a day for other blogs, and I did for quite a while, but that also stopped around November, 2013. My emails to my newsletter stopped around then as well, except for one final email I sent on the 22nd of December, 2013 – it was my birthday then – to gift an ebook to my subscribers.
That’s it. I recently went through my period of longest silence since I’ve been blogging. I was slowly becoming a non-writing writer, and for good reasons too.
No, the Rumors Are Not True
A lot has happened within this period; there have been speculations that I’m dead, a particular reader emailed a friend blogger that I respected and told her that I stopped blogging because I launched my ebook last year and it failed, so I’m broke and can no longer pay the bills.
I’m here to tell you, boldly, that the rumors aren’t true.
1. I’m not dead: Well, I’m typing this now so that’s proof of this.
2. I’m not broke: I just checked now and I’ve been on WP Engine’s monthly $99 hosting plan since November last year. Before then, I was on Hostgator’s $174 monthly dedicated hosting plan for around a year. I’ve also been paying AWeber $69 monthly for around a year now.
That’s at least $1,500 in expenses for this blog in the past year alone, for just hosting and email service provider. I also launched a new design that cost around $2,000 around this period, etc.
While I believe there’s no real benefit to readers of this blog to disclose my expenses, it is clear that I have spent AT LEAST $3,000 in the past year on a blog I barely touched within this period; there was also almost nothing for sale within this period. So if I’m broke, then by doing this I’m not just broke, I’m also foolish.
As you can see, that rumor is a lie. I am NOT broke, and I won’t be anytime soon by God’s grace.
In fact, this year is my biggest financial year ever; not only was I able to invest in real estate and start a farm (more on that), but I’ve had months where I had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on my offline business, so I’m definitely not broke.
3. My ebook launch didn’t fail: No, it didn’t. As those who followed the launch then knew, it was only a test launch, which was why I only made it available for 7 days and didn’t announce it on the blog; in fact, if you weren’t subscribed to my newsletter then, you most likely won’t know I launched anything.
The earnings from this 7-day launch could help me pay for my premium blog hosting with WP Engine and AWeber for a year.
In fact, subscribers kept asking me how to get the ebook, even after it was closed. I’m a man of principle, and since it was closed, I stood my ground.
By my standards, for a 7-day test launch, this is definitely not a failure. So if you think that launch failed, well, I’ll tell you, it didn’t. In fact, the ebook will be back soon; this time, permanently.
4. I make money freelancing: Well, believe what you would. Even in 2011 when I was publishing income reports, there were people who said I was lying, and who felt they had to constantly email me and make personal attacks on me about this.
In 2011, I had nothing to sell and absolutely no intention to sell anything. I only reported my income to motivate others, and grow my traffic in the process; however, with increasing local media publicity here centered around my income (=not safe) and some people complaining whenever I post my reports, I decided to stop. It’s definitely not worth the risk, and it’s not like my income or life depended on it.
I have since launched a coaching program and an e-book; both were overwhelmingly received. I also plan to relaunch my ebook soon and launch more products as time goes by, but you are in no way forced to buy.
Content on this blog will remain free; in fact, part of my delay in getting back to blogging was because I want to take content on this blog to the next level, as you will see in coming weeks. I don’t want it to be an ordinary blog anymore; instead, I want it to be packed with high value!
So, old articles will still be available and new and significantly better ones will be published, but that’s it. If you want more, and you want quality support to help you take your freelancing career to the next level, my premium offers will be available.
PS. With the increasing media publicity Nigeria has been getting lately for being the largest economy in Africa, Coca Cola even contacted me to be the blogger for their Coke Studio Africa blog here in Nigeria. Coke Studio Africa is Coca Cola’s brand that showcases music talent in Nigeria. I have zero passion for music, especially “that” type of music, and I’m not hoping to develop a passion for it anytime soon. So I turned the offer down.
What I’m subtly trying to tell you here is that unless you’re already comfortable as a freelance writer, you won’t turn down an offer from a big brand because you are not “passionate” about it. That’s what I aim to teach you to be; a really comfortable freelance writer.
5. I don’t care about my readers: I do. Very few people could run a blog for the number of years I did, offering free content and paying a team to maintain it without actively making a profit from it. I did.
I invested tens of thousands of dollars from my freelance income into my blog annually, mostly towards development of content and resources for readers. Friends have told me that I’m foolish to do this. Maybe I am, but I honestly don’t care.
One thing is certain, though. I really DO care for my readers.
If I didn’t reply to your email(s) during the time of my silence, it’s because I just couldn’t possibly humanly reply; we all have the same 24 hours, and there hasn’t been more demand for my time than in the past year as you will eventually see if you continue reading this article. That’s why I haven’t replied.
So, to those emails that haven’t gotten my reply yet and I feel still need a reply. I will reply, but it will take a while. If you feel I might miss your email, or you need an urgent reply, please feel free to email me again.
So What Have I Been Doing?
This past year has been very interesting and challenging for me! Here are some of the things that I have been doing that kept me REALLY busy:
1. I spent some time on school: Yes, I’m still in school. Schooling, freelancing to pay for it and blogging at the same time can be tasking.
2. I started learning to drive and cook: I can drive and cook now. And these only took me about a few really serious weeks, or a month combined so it is no real excuse. But yes, it adds up.
3. I started a REAL offline business: Notice the emphasis on “real”; I have managed at least 30 different people working for me within this period, including 3 people currently on my payroll on a monthly basis.
More About My Offline Business
- I started a commercial fish farm on 1 acre of land, stocking around 11,900 catfishes in my ponds.
- I also invested in a few pieces of land as a form of real estate investment (one 5-acre, two 2-plots; I eventually sold one of the two plots to support my farm when things became a little challenging).
- Building/supervising the building of a small 2-bedroom house/office adjacent my farm that allows me to comfortably supervise my farm as well my focus on blogging and my studies, since the distance from my house to my farm is almost another state apart.
As you can see, doing all these within the span of a year, financially, physically, and mentally, is no easy feat.
I wasn’t just “having fun” or whiling away my time.
Here are some videos of my fish farm below:
A Preview of My 1-Acre Fish Farm
A Quick Video of Me Feeding My First Pond
A Quick Video of Me Feeding My Last Pond
PS. I took the videos with my tablet, and the environment didn’t make for quality audio output so you probably won’t hear what I’m saying. The videos might be a bit shaky, too 😉 What I was basically saying in the first video was that there were 7 ponds, and only 4 are currently in use.
My aim through this is to first establish my offline business till it reaches a stage where intervention from me is minimal, before finally focusing again on blogging.
It’s not fully there yet, but I’m nearing that stage.
The day before writing this post, I spent 8 hours at my farm working and supervising others; that day isn’t as busy as other days.
Can’t I Just Put People There and Let My Money Work for Me?
It’s not that simple.
Yes, I could easily just put people there, but I will probably be flushing money down the drain since I have no real understanding of what is happening.
My fish farm is the main thing that has been taking my time, and I can see it become significantly bigger than anything I’ve ever started; for me, especially in its early establishment stages, it is not something I can do effectively without being actively involved.
So, essentially, my decision to put blogging on hold for a whole year was to allow me time to FOCUS on ESTABLISHING my offline business until it reaches a stage where it requires little intervention from me.
Of course, I’ll be foolish to stop blogging because of my offline business, since blogging is what made me and I wouldn’t even be able to think about building an offline business if not for the income that comes directly or indirectly from my blogging efforts. However, I felt that my blogs were established enough for me to take this risk.
How Did this Affect Me?
Here’s how this affected both of my blogs:
WritersinCharge.com: The number of articles went down from around 3 articles a week, to around 1 article a month.
So, as expected, this affected traffic to the blog significantly; traffic went down to around a quarter of what it used to be, especially traffic from Google. However, I believe the quality of traffic increased.
Still, for me, this is over 10,000 visitors to the blog every month, even after close to a year of publishing literally no article on the blog, so I believe the impact isn’t too devastating.
Also, I have a really strong email list of thousands of subscribers that I can bounce back on, so I’m not starting back from scratch; in fact, traffic will be back to where it was in no time, and it will only increase from there.
In regards to income from this blog; well, taking a break meant I have absolutely zero time for customer support of any nature, so I didn’t offer any products or coaching within this period. I also didn’t take any sponsorship offer (even though I got a lot of requests), so income is essentially zero.
GuestBloggingTactics.com: Traffic basically stayed the same (around 4,000 – 6,000 visitors every month, thanks to the massive resource post I published over a year ago). However, this blog wasn’t totally stagnant since I had WIC team member, Karol Krol, contribute around 4 – 5 articles to this blog every month.
I could have taken the same approach with Writers in Charge and let the team keep it running, but I believe I’m a huge part of why people read this blog (as evidenced by the numerous emails I get from readers), and leaving it to guest authors and team members for a whole year will be damaging my brand, since it will be missing a key ingredient: ME.
There were lots of guest posts submitted within this period as well posts from team members, but I didn’t publish them.
My Freelancing Income
The good thing about freelancing is that, if done right, you can keep earning income from the same clients for years.
This means that even if your blog happens to be your sole source of clients, it doesn’t mean that your source of income will dry up completely if you eventually close down your blog. Your blog only attracts those clients; it is your duty to keep them.
I kept working with some of the clients I had before taking my break. I also got my biggest client till date a few months before taking that decision, thanks to a referral from the always awesome Zac Johnson, and I kept getting a few new client requests from my other blog.
As a result, my income this year is on track to beat that of every other year. So, while I rely on blogging to get my clients, my income didn’t necessarily suffer even when I stopped blogging.
4 Key Lessons I Learned During this Period
1. If you stop blogging for a significant period, it is hard to get back: I tried getting back into blogging several months before now (around the 5th and 8th month mark of my break) but it was more difficult than I had thought.
After writing for a while, I just can’t feel the motivation anymore, and with my offline business taking my time, I have an “excuse” that can help put my mind at rest and justify my reason for not blogging.
But no matter what, you have to get started.
2. If you blog, your email list is your most important asset: The number of visitors to this blog at the moment is a fraction of what it used to be. It is still significant, and I believe I still have loyal readers of this blog waiting for my return – I’ve gotten countless emails from people asking me what’s happening. I even got the following email a day before finalizing this post, which happens to be almost a year since I personally blogged last – but nothing matches the thousands of people on my newsletter that I can email anytime.
I’ll be sending a link to this article to them once it goes live, as well as occasional articles published in the future that I think they would love. This makes it extremely easy to grow back my readership.
3. Effective blogging is about strategy, not frequency: This break reaffirmed something I have realized a long time ago; effective blogging isn’t about frequency, but about strategy. Most of the traffic to my blogs came from key posts I published months, or even years, before the break. And on my blog where I still accept clients, these key posts were also the main source of clients.
I’ll be clearer; about 40 – 50% of traffic to Writers in Charge comes from two articles published over a year ago, while around 80% of traffic to Guest Blogging Tactics comes from a “post” published over a year ago.
At the end of the day, it is your most valuable resources on your blog – often written strategically – that will send you the most traffic, not articles you wrote hastily for the sake of keeping a schedule.
4. Make a Profit at All Costs: I’ll be honest. With this blog, I have never aggressively pursued earning direct income from the blog.
I believe this is also a key reason why it was easy for me to put the blog on hold. If the blog was bringing in say $5k – $10k every month from various products/offers, I’m sure I’d think it over and over again before putting it on hold. However, since it was making no profit – except for the rare occasion where I made a quick offer to my list. And I didn’t have the time to do that during my break – the decision to put it on hold was much easier.
This is something I’d definitely change in coming months; this way, no matter what projects I work on, the blog will still be able to take care of itself.
My Sincerest Apology to YOU
This break showed me how much my readers cared about me.
I got several emails, tweets, Facebook updates, peoplereaching out to my friends here locally, and notices in various places asking me if all is well, and hoping I’d be back blogging soon.
I’m apologizing to you for taking such a long break abruptly (I originally didn’t intend for it to be this long), and especially for not posting an update on the blog or via email about what is happening.
I’m back now, for good, and you should look out for some of the great stuff I have planned for YOU. Stay tuned!
Image Credit: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo