As you know, part of what I write about here is blogging, since I’m a professional blogger.
Michelle Shaeffer is an accomplished blogger who helps others in their blogging and business ventures.
I interviewed Michelle recently to introduce her to my readers. If you’re someone considering starting a blog, I outline how to start one in 10 minutes.
Once you do that, Michelle can take you further.
Tell us a bit about yourself, including how and why you started blogging?
Michelle Shaeffer. Hey, I’m Michelle Shaeffer, and I appreciate the opportunity to “meet” your readers, Frank.
I live in beautiful, snowy Alaska with my family and our two cats. On a typical day my time is divided between homeschooling, other wife/mom duties, and running my business (including my blog). I’ve been working from home since 2000 in various ventures.
My blog launched in March of 2008 to have a place to put answers to the questions I constantly got from clients and friends about doing business online (from websites to social media to marketing). I figured if more than a few of my clients were asking, I could save time by putting my answers in one place, and others were bound to have the same question, so I could help them, too.
Looking back on 5 years of blogging, I love what my blog has evolved into as I’ve continued with it. It’s definitely gone a different direction than I expected and taken on a life of it’s own.
What is your blog about mainly? (If you have more than one, share them all with us.)
Michelle Shaeffer: I blog at www.michelleshaeffer.com, and it’s been fascinating to me over the years to see who it is that’s really reading my blog because it’s such an interesting mix of entrepreneurs, small business owners, authors, speakers and messengers in religion and spirituality. Just within the last year, I finally realized the one thing we all have in common is that we feel called to serve people (through a successful business or through speaking/writing/teaching) and we see the potential of the internet and blogging to build the platform that enables us to reach so many more people.
But identifying that potential of “I can reach thousands … millions …!” is the easy part. It’s actually leveraging that for ourselves and making it happen that’s the challenge. There can be so many little pieces of technology to get in place and working together, and so many different strategies and tactics to consider. That’s where I come in.
The goal of my blog is to provide support, resources, and information that helps people get their message out without going insane trying to figure out all the technology and tactics of blogging and internet marketing. I’m the “behind the scenes” piece of how to do what you’ve got to do so you can reach more people with what you’re here to share.
List two or three of the greatest rewards you’ve experienced in blogging. If one of them is financial, share that also.
Michelle Shaeffer: My blog does help to build my business and the financial part of that is definitely one of the rewards for me.
Bigger than that, what makes it worth all the time and energy is being able to share my story, the challenges and successes, and connect with readers who I can help inspire to just keep going and not give up on their dreams to build businesses or platforms, to get out there and change lives in small ways every single day.
Knowing I’m a small part of an entrepreneur being able to get her business in front of more customers, that allows her to put food on the table… an author who has a life changing message, reaching just a few more readers who need to hear it … a life coach connecting with the right client who desperately needed her support … or the reader who lands on my blog at 3am so frustrated with their business and on the verge of giving up, who can read that she’s not alone and the world needs us both to keep the faith and keep doing what we’re here to do.
A while back I shared some of the bigger struggles I’d had recently in my business as well as on a personal level. And I really hesitated to put it out there so honestly, but felt like I needed to. Minutes after I published the post, I was in tears reading the emails that came to my inbox of people who had been encouraged by it. That’s the real reward.
List two or three of the greatest struggles or challenges you’ve experienced in blogging.
Michelle Shaeffer: My biggest struggles revolve around creating the time to post consistently, staying vulnerable and transparent with my readers, and promoting my work.
I think time management is probably a challenge for most any blogger — especially when you combine it with caring for children, homeschooling, and managing a business. It’s just a matter of making it a priority, like anything else that’s important in life.
As a very private person it’s a constant challenge for me to hit that “publish” button the days where I share what’s happening in my soul and the ups and downs that come with business. The technical how to type posts are a lot easier but I know that’s only part of what I’m meant to share.
And I am still uncomfortable promoting myself (does that ever change?). You know how long it took me to get this interview back to you, Frank. I resist putting myself into the spotlight for the same reasons that many of your readers may … and that means promoting my blog is a constant challenge. I have to continually bring my mind back to your last question about the rewards and remind myself why I’m doing this. It’s not about ME, and focusing on myself and my fears is selfish when my focus has to be on who I can serve — and I can only be of service to them if they hear about me and find me. And it’s MY responsibility to get myself out there in front of them and get noticed if I’m going to help them.
Was there a “tipping point” where your blog took off? If so, what happened to help it take off?
Michelle Shaeffer: It was more like a snowball rolling down a hill. At first, it’s just an itty-bitty handful of snow but as I kept at it, more and more readers found me and then it started to really grow.
One of the biggest things I did right to build community around my blog was co-hosting the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which gave me a bigger way to reach out to thousands of bloggers and support them in a leveraged way. Because the more I’m able to be of support to others, the more others will share and support me. It’s really about creating value and helping people achieve their own goals and dreams.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that everyone should begin a blog, no more than I do to the idea that every person should write a book, become an engineer, a teacher, a plumber, go into business, play golf, etc. We all have different talents and callings. I know a few people who wanted to blog because they thought they could make money doing it. And I’ve met others who just wanted to blog because others were doing it. In both cases, these people stopped blogging because of discouragement. It just wasn’t a good fit for them. How does a person know if blogging is right for them and if they should put their hand to that plow?
Michelle Shaeffer: Money is never the right motivation. There’s got to be passion and purpose involved for a blog to succeed. That passion is what keeps you excited about your blog. And the purpose is what will pull you through the times when you don’t feel like writing a post or promoting it.
One of the things I love talking with readers about is how they can use blogging as a tool to move towards their life purpose. If you’ve got a message you feel led to share (whether that’s personal or business related) and need a platform to share it through, that’s where I see blogging as valuable. If you don’t love what you’re sharing and the community you’re building, then you need to rethink it.
Thanks so much for allowing me to share with your readers and for your blog, Frank, which has been an encouragement to me.