Blog as a Business: When To Go All In, and When to Call It Quits

When to Go All In and When To Call it Quits Blogging as a Business laptop image

This is a series of posts about blogging as a business (with a focus on the craft/DIY/lifestyle/fashion blogging niches). Designed to help other bloggers and creatives, from setting up one’s own blog to growing it, monetizing it, scaling it, and optimizing it, and all the business details you want to know. Leave any ideas you have for future topics in the comments, and you may see your topic discussed in a future post!

Hi friends, I’m experimenting with a new post series: Blog as a Business.

As many of you may know, I’ve been blogging for 9.5 years now, writing content for other blogs, consulting on blogging, SEO, and marketing, and designing and setting up other people’s websites and blogs. I’ve learned a ton in this space simply by doing it (which was enough for me to first get a job as a Social Media Manager and Content Marketing Manager, then as a Marketing Director, and now as a Marketing Manager, which is what I now do full-time). I figured that all this could help out other people if I start sharing about what I’ve learned over the years, especially when it comes to the unique niche of DIY/Craft, Fashion, and Lifestyle Blogging. So here goes….


After 9 years of running Chic Steals, I felt at an impasse. I felt exhausted, burned out, and uninterested. Not only did my blog not look like how I wanted it to anymore, but I was just not truly passionate about the content I shared. Times had changed, and I felt a growing disconnect with my blog. The fun hobby had now become a burden.

I’m sure there are other people out there like this, who are reaching a stage of burnout in their endeavors. As life and circumstances change, it becomes more and more difficult to keep your original interests up with the same fervor. Everyone likely reaches a point where they say:

Is it Time to Quit?

Here’s how to figure it when it’s time to call it quits, or keep going with your passion project:

Figure Out Where the Disconnect Is

  1. Make a list of why you began this endeavor in the first place. Hint: You MUST be brutally honest. List all the reasons why you started, however big or small. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you will never be able to move forward, and will constantly remain in a state of limbo.
  2. Add to your list any reasons that you have, over time, discovered to be good reasons to keep going with it. Again, brutal honesty is key.

For me, my reasons for starting my blog back in January 2008 were:

  • sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things
  • connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother
  • share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things
  • stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in
  • be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe>

And further reasons I discovered over time:

  • becoming a somewhat known blog in the DIY/craft niche
  • becoming an authority on DIY, specifically DIY fashion, sewing, construction, and craft
  • honing my skills in writing, photography, SEO, HTML, CSS, marketing etc.
  • steadily making money from my blog after monetizing it in 2013
  • challenging my DIY and branching out in my crafting skills
  • the connections and collaborations I created with other bloggers, magazines, websites, and brands
  • free stuff!
  • and my really, really awesome readers!
  1. Okay, now you have your list of reasons, Original Reasons and Additional Reasons. Here is where the truth lies. Go through each one and rank it in how important it is to you at this point in time, with 0-5, 0 being not important at all…5 being super-duper important now.
  2. Once you’ve added a ranking next to a reason on your list…write a reason why you gave it the rank you did.

My example continued….

ORIGINAL REASONS I STARTED A FASHION & DIY BLOG, RANKED

  • sharing the crafts and things I made with other people to help/inspire/teach them to make similar things (2 – I still like sharing, but I now have so little time to create lots of DIYs to share. I don’t DIY or craft much anymore in my day-to-day life.)
  • connecting with other people about our similar interests (crafts and fashion) even while being a stay-at-home mother (2 – I’m no longer a stay-at-home mother, and crafts and fashion are not my most passionate interests right now)
  • share my thoughts and ideas with other people and discuss things (2 – I have a day job now and discuss things with other people on a regular basis)
  • stay on top of fashion trends I am interested in (1 – I barely pay attention to fashion trends anymore, I’ve developed my own sense of style and am uninterested in the consumer forces shaping fast fashion)
  • be a fashion icon like other fashion bloggers <*cringe> (0 – this stemmed from a feeling of inadequacy I had. I don’t care about being a fashion icon, I am uninterested in other fashion bloggers’ style. I’ve finally accepted myself, and I no longer have anything to prove.)

Those numbers^^ are where the disconnect is. Anything below a 3 is going to show you that you no longer consider the endeavor worthwhile in your current state. That’s why it’s essential you are completely honest with yourself and take a long, hard look at your past motivations for your endeavor. Anything at 3 or above is going to tell you that these reasons are still important to you now, and those are the reasons you should pay attention to.

So, let’s set about fixing it…

DIY Gold Glitter Nugget Pushpins by Chic Steals

Photo from DIY Glittery Gold Geometric Pushpins tutorial

What to Do About Your Passion Project Now That You’ve Found Out Why It Isn’t Making You Happy Anymore

Now that you’ve identified any disconnect between reasons you began or kept going with your project, now it’s time to figure out if you want to forge on…or give it up. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are faced with the choice of barreling forward…or laying something finally to rest. Here’s how to figure out which path you want to take:

  1. Make a list of all that your project is right now. Just list them, big or small. It’s important here to be very honest and self-critical. Invite others you trust to share their opinions so you can get some perspective.
  2. Take everything that was 3 or above from the first Disconnect list, and imagine your life without them. What would your day-to-day look like? What would your weekends look like? I really enjoy lists (obvs), so I made a list of Pros/Cons for each 3 and above -ranked reasons.
  3. When you went through the above imagining exercise, for every 3 and above-ranked reason that you feel a significant emotional attachment to (like “oh no! I wouldn’t want to lose that!” put a star next to)
  4. Question to ask yourself: ARE THOSE STARRED REASONS THAT YOU HAVE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO…ENOUGH TO KEEP GOING? Only you can answer this question. Think of future you and what s/he will say looking back on this moment and this endeavor. Will throwing in the towel bring relief, or regret that you didn’t have the drive to keep going at the time? What could lie in store for you if you pushed through this impasse?
  5. Finally, write a list of what you want your passion project to do. If you see enough discrepancy between what you want it to do for you, what it is now, and the emotional attachment you have to it, if the gap is big enough…it’s time to let it go. Let it go, say you had a wonderful time with it, but you have changed and it is now time to move on. Move on to the next – it is not a failure! – and find another passion project that does what you really want it to do.

BUT if there isn’t a huge gap…if with a little re-dedication and work your passion project could once again align with what you want, if you’re significantly emotionally invested in it…explore your options for keeping going with it. Can you redesign it? Realign it? Rebrand it? Rethink it? Here it is wise to have a brainstorming session with friends and people who have faced similar obstacles.

In my case, I talked a great deal with my friends who’d known me throughout my years of blogging, as well as consulting with my fellow bloggers and members of Portland Bloggers. I found that I was still emotionally attached to my blog, I didn’t want to abandon my readers, I enjoyed making money and getting free things (which really helps with my tight monthly budget), I enjoyed being an authority in this niche, and giving all that up would have felt like too much of a loss. So I decided to rebrand, redesign, and realign my blog more with my goals (which I defined more clearly in a separate exercise).

I found that separating out the process of asking whether it was time to quit or go all-in to my blog, from the larger question of what are my ultimate goals for it, helped clarify things better than just going around and around in my head on the larger issues. Working things out step-by-step in this way allowed me to finally break through more than 6 months of indecision and move forward in a positive, fulfilling way.

It is, after all, what we actually do – and not what we try to do or think about doing – that defines who we are and our contributions in life.


Have any of you ever dealt with a passion project stalling or losing momentum? How did you break through?

I’d love to hear about your questions or ideas for future topics! Leave a comment below and I’ll help you out 🙂

xo

Carly

Save

Save

Save

Save

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity Launching Tomorrow!

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity emails

Hi friends!

We’re almost 2 weeks into 2017 – and already I can tell this year is going to be waaaay better than 2016. I’m so excited to make it the Best. Year. Ever! How about you?

Tomorrow I can’t wait to launch something I’ve been working on for quite awhile:

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity

Ever wanted a creative boost to start off the month with a bang? Sign up for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity – a free daily email jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks to get your brain revved and ready for new ideas.

Even if you think “I’m not creative at all!” – or if you feel you’ve hit a roadblock and need a mental refresh – 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity will start your month off right and reset past burnout to get those neurons firing again.

This is a 10-day series of emails expressly designed to fire up those creative neurons, reframe your thinking, and supercharge your creative skills.

I hope you’ll sign up so I can share these fun tips, tricks, and activities with you. Let’s explode our creativity together!

It’s totally free; no obligation. Emails begin January 15, for the next 10 days. If you’re a regular subscriber to the RSS feed – you won’t be getting this exclusive series, unless you sign up below:

Edit 1/15: Registration for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity is now closed. I’ll be opening it up again in the future, so please check back!

Hope to see you there!

xo
Carly

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Chic Closet Organization Tips on KATU Afternoon Live this Thursday!

KATU Afternoon Live banner

Hi friends, I couldn’t resist a bit of shameless self-promotion and let you know that I’m going to be a guest on KATU’s Afternoon Live show with Tra-Renee, this Thursday.

Apparently the show is live (*gulp*) where I’ll be sharing closet organization tips for the New Year – plus 2 fun DIY’s (if there’s time) to give your closet storage and display areas a makeover.

As far as I know the show only airs in Oregon and isn’t syndicated nationally, but if you’re in Oregon you can watch it on channel 2 (or 16, depending on your cable provider). If you aren’t in Oregon or don’t have cable it seems you can catch it live here:

WATCH KATU AFTERNOON LIVE – THURSDAY AT 3PM PST

Watch on Thursday, January 5 from 3PM-4PM PST for my 6-minute segment with Tra-Renee and get tips for a chic closet for 2017!

xo

Carly

Save

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity emails

Hello friends…and hellloooo 2017! I’m excited for this New Year and what it brings. How about you?

As I announced on New Year’s Eve…this year will bring a lot of changes to Chic Steals. One new thing I’m trying is to share content in different ways: like email, direct to my subscribers. This allows for a much more personalized approach, which I’m excited about. (You may have noticed a new popup on this website prompting you to signup!)

The first email:

10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity Email Newsletter

Ever wanted a creative boost to start off the month with a bang? Sign up for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity – a free daily email jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks to get your brain revved and ready for new ideas.

Part science, part pop culture, part inspiration – with daily to-dos and prompts that will get you excited about tapping into your more creative self.

Even if you think “I’m not creative at all!” – or if you feel you’ve hit a roadblock and need a mental refresh – 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity will start your month off right and reset past burnout to get those neurons firing again.

I’ve been blogging at Chic Steals for 9 years now, sharing creative DIY tutorials for accessories, jewelry, apparel, and home. I’ve always felt I was a creative person, and the blog became an outlet to share that with the world, in the form of advice, how-to’s, and ideas. I’ve spoken at events and conferences about creativity, guest-lectured, and coached clients to train themselves to become more creative. And now I’m sharing that expertise with you.

What many people may not know is that creativity is something that can be trained. Though people may think that certain people are just born creative, in fact, the ability to find connections between seemingly unrelated things, make mental leaps, and create things which did not exist before can be cultivated, honed, and exploded. I won’t lie, it does take work and effort, but results can be astounding. Just by attempting to make new habits, pattern disrupt, and opening your mind to possibilities you begin to reset ingrained ways of thinking and expand your capabilities.

This is a 10-day series of emails expressly designed to fire up those creative neurons, reframe your thinking, and supercharge your creative skills. I hope you will join me so I can share many of the tips and tricks I’ve learned with you!

It’s totally free; no obligation. Emails begin January 15, for the next 10 days. If you’re a regular subscriber to the RSS feed – you won’t be getting this exclusive series, unless you sign up below:

Edit 1/15: Registration for 10 Days to Kickstart Your Creativity is now closed. I’ll be opening it up again in the future, so please check back!

Hope to see you there!

xo
Carly

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Goodbye 2016…Hello 2017!

Happy 2017 from Chic Steals glitter announcement

Hello, dear readers!

It has been awhile since I posted, and I wanted to say hi and bring all of you an update.

As many of you know, I’d taken some time off blogging since July of this year…and going from 5-6 posts a week to 0, taking a huge step back from the blog, and reassessing turned into a 5-month silence here. (Except for a few posts I was required to make as part of partnership agreements 😉

Ive never taken so long to contemplate a new move. Perhaps with all the massive changes that have happened in my life since 2013, I was reluctant to change the last thing that remained from my past.

I’ve been blogging at Chic Steals for almost 9 years – it’ll be a full 9 next month.

9 years is a long time.

During that time I’ve changed immensely. Almost everything from my old life has been stripped away and rebuilt from the ground up. The past 3 years have brought into focus what my values are, and how I want to live them.

By the middle of this past Summer, I’d come to the realization that everything about my blog, from the content I shared to the look and feel to its mission, even to the name of it – didn’t align with the person I was anymore.

And so for 5 months I’ve struggled with what to do. I realized I had to make a decision: remake my blog into something that I aligned with who I am and how I want to connect with people – or STOP it and shut it down entirely. So for months I’ve gone back and forth, trying to decide.

I decided that blogging was still a part of my identity, and that I couldn’t give it up. I decided that I valued my readers and audience too much to just shut everything down and say goodbye. I decided that it was time to grow or get out.

So I am.

I’m going through a full overhaul of this blog, and a full rebrand. And a new name. And a new website. New content, slightly shifted focus.

I can no longer compete with blogs that are churning out 6 posts a week, DIY after beautifully-photographed DIY. There is so much amazing content out there, I can’t compete by being a content machine.

I’d rather compete on quality, on uniqueness – not hopping blindly on every fashion trend, not churning out tutorial after tutorial, not advocating unending consumption, but staying true to oneself and focusing on the less is more approach. Putting one’s personal stamp on one’s entire life, and molding what is around us to our own tastes. Living frugally but fully; celebrating design, ideas, and creativity. And sharing this with all of you.

You’ll see changes happening here over the next couple months.

So goodbye 2016 – a year of debilitating lows for me…and slowly gathering highs. Not quite there yet – but I also hope that 2017 will surpass this year in every way!

I hope you’ll stick around for the ride 🙂

xo

Carly

Shopbop Event of the Season Sale – NOW Until Friday!

Shopbop Event of the Season Sale banner

Hello friends,

I’m sticking my head up out of my self-imposed vacay from blogging to let you know about the Shopbop Event of the Season sale – live NOW until Friday, October 7 at midnight PST.

Use code MAINEVENT16 to receive 25% off any order under $500…and 30% off any order over $500!

Now’d the time to stock up on warm sweaters, cute booties, lovely carry-alls, sturdy jeans, and everything you need to carry you through the season ’til 2017.

Save 25% on At Shopbop Now!

xo

Carly

Pssst: All sale details can be found here.

Taking a Break…

Road heading to the horizon at Steens Mountain, OregonHi friends,

If you guys hadn’t noticed already…I’ve stopped posting temporarily. Things got very busy with my day job, and I’ve entered a period of re-evaluating what value this blog can provide to everyone.

A great number of my original reasons for beginning this blog 8.5 years ago have now changed, and I’ve begun a transition to a new phase of my life. What this means is I am still trying to determine the best content that I can provide, and what would be the best format. How to best serve all of you.

I just needed a bit of a break to figure out what’s on the road ahead for all of us.

Thanks for your understanding as we enter into the next phase. 🙂

xo

Carly

Photo taken of the open road in the Frenchglen/Steens Mountain area, Oregon.