I grew up in an extremely rural community. We’re talking more cows than people, 45 minutes to the nearest mall, and no access to cable (my parents actually had dial-up Internet until about six months ago). It was a farming community, with corn being the major crop of choice for most. Although I hated some aspects of growing up in this area as a teen, I look back and really respect the lessons I learned there now, especially from the hard-working farmers. These lessons have absolutely made me a better blogger.
Here’s what they taught me:
Work Hard for Every Dollar
Blogging as a career is tough. Physically, it’s a cake walk, but you have to have a really strong work ethic to make money this way. Part of the reason I think I’m successful today is that I learned from an early age not to be a slacker or procrastinate.
If you don’t do your work on a farm, you don’t make money. In fact, if you slack for more than a day, you put your plants and animals in jeopardy of dying. Things might not be so dire with your blog, but the same principle applies: if you don’t do your work every day, you stop making money and your traffic will eventually die. Blogging isn’t a “write it and forget it” job, despite what some people say about making money in your sleep. This is the exception, not the rule. You have to have a crazy work ethic as a blogger in order to make it a successful career.
Don’t be Something You’re Not
While you won’t find any Applebees or even Dominos in the community where I grew up, there are some mom-and-pop diners where you can grab a meal. Farmers will stop in for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, often after they’ve already put in a few hours of work in the fields or barn.
Shoes and shirts are required, but that’s about as far as the dress code stretches. It’s nothing to walk in and see farmers unashamedly covered in dirt from their morning tasks. They aren’t trying to be something they’re not.
It’s an important lesson for bloggers. Every day, I see people trying to “fake it ‘till they make it” or represent themselves in a certain light, but at the end of the day, your readers will respect you more if you just show up in your work boots. Plus, it’s a lot easier and less time-consuming to be authentic instead of trying to portray yourself a certain way.
Save Your Pennies
Farming is hard work for little money, and a lot is up to chance every year. If you don’t get enough rain, your crops could die and you won’t make much money that season. A single bout of illness can kill off your livestock, and again, your bottom line will suffer. Every farm family I know has gotten extremely good at saving money.
As a blogger, this is also a good move, since your paycheck is uncertain and somewhat out of your control. With every Google update, for example, there are people who panic because they lose all of their traffic and their earnings plummet. Or if your site goes down for some reason, you might not make as much money this month as you usually do.
Pad your bank account to prepare for the dry spells. Even if you make a seven-figure income this year, next year you might make a fraction of that amount. You don’t get a regular paycheck as a blogger, so prepare for the dry spells.
Where We Grow Up Shapes Us
I think whether you grow up in the city or the country (or somewhere in between), you learn certain lessons that stick with you for the rest of your life. I feel very fortunate to have an upbringing that taught me the above lessons (and others of course). What lessons did you learn growing up that have stuck with you and have helped you in your blogging career today?