Blogging a living

5

How two sisters from Canberra are doing it, and perhaps so can you…

There is a way of life that does not involve working nine-to-five. Nine-to-five consists of waking up and working a job you do not like, with people you have bonded with through circumstance rather than shared passions, doing things that you don’t enjoy, going back home to a temporary escape so you can recuperate the energy to do it all again tomorrow. This sounds soul draining to me, and yet it is the reality that people somehow seem to find acceptable. Whether they find it acceptable because it is the only possibility they have been taught to believe or it is the only possibility they find realistic for themselves is dependent on the person.

But here’s the good news, there are other ways to make money; doing something that you are passionate about, doing something that challenges you in the way that makes one feel alive. Let me clarify this, it is not easy, it is not ‘easier’ than nine-to-five, in fact it is probably harder, a lot harder. But in a good way, the way in which meaningful things achieved were in hindsight rarely easy. Let me clarify another point, when I say nine-to-five I am not referring to people who work nine-to-five and are legitimately passionate about what they do. I am not talking for example of my favorite high school English teacher, who day-in and day-out exuded a degree of passion and dedication which moved me in ways I was only able to realize with the passing of years. For these people, and if you are one of these people, then I congratulate you for finding a career you are passionate about. But I assure you that you are in the minority.

Before any of you tell me something about the latest job satisfaction surveys suggesting that Australian’s are happier with their jobs but worried about the economy, save it, I’ve read it already and it’s not what I’m talking about. My criterion is simple, ask yourself this one question in the quiet of your own mind – are you passionate about what you’re doing? If you can honestly say yes, then you are in the minority. Congratulations, people like Steve Jobs would probably say that you’re doing fine. And I’d tend to agree with him.

Now, let’s get back to my earlier point about the different ways of making a living. There are a variety of ways you can label the different avenues of entrepreneurship and I intend to cover more of them in the future. But today I will be introducing to you the concept of the ‘pro-blogger’. The professional blogger – you guessed it – makes a living blogging. I suppose it is not so surprising that there are professional bloggers. What is rather surprising is that there are so many of them, and so many manage to make a career out of it, while others have used it to propel themselves to celebrity status.

When many of you think entrepreneur, bloggers might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. Though if you think about it, pro-blogging is as entrepreneurial as you can get. You are the brand, the blog is the vehicle, you create content as the product, which is targeted at your audience that is your market. The blog is a business for pro-bloggers, so the application of business concepts, whether consciously or intuitively, is crucial for sustainable success.

So let me introduce you to two sisters who have been experiencing some impressive blogging success. They are real-life sisters from Canberra and in their own words, ‘we love it here!’ How can they not? Their blog receives 250,000 hits a month, they have almost 10,000 fans on Facebook, they’ve released their first e-book and are soon to be releasing a new series of e-books. In fact, they’ve reached the point where it has become feasible for them to quit their day jobs (in government) to pursue their blog full-time. Their blog even crashed two weeks ago because they had TOO MANY HITS. Even their ‘problems’ point to continued success. And they’ve only been doing it for about 16 months. That’s impressive.

The sisters I am talking about are the Merrymaker Sisters – Aka Em & Carla. Their health and cooking blog (I hope they don’t mind me labeling it as that) provides an extensive choice of ‘paleo-eating’ recipes and is regularly updated, something their multitude of followers will be keenly aware of. But when one visits the site, you start to feel that there is something different about their site from a regular cooking site. You get a sense of authenticity. If you visit their site you really get to know the sisters themselves. I should know since I’ve had the honor of interviewing them and comparing their image with whom I see in front of me.

There are different ways to start an entrepreneurial venture, after interviewing a number of different entrepreneurs it becomes increasingly evident that different people start whatever it is they start for reasons that are both different and similar. So I was interested to find out, what motivated them to do what they do and how it all began? 

‘It was a real organic process. We started because I had a gluten intolerance.’ Recalls Em. ‘We started on Instagram, just sharing photos of the dishes we were eating.’ She describes to me how after posting on Instagram they kept being asked for their recipes. It was so surprising to them that they felt that there was ‘something’ there. But what motivated them to take the next step? From posting on Instagram – something that is quite common – to building the blog. What motivates them? What aspect of their individual experience started it all? What was that spark that so many people search for but seem to be missing?

The sisters confided that they both had bad self-image growing up, they were always so self-conscious of their bodies and they had ‘tried every diet under the sun.’ They were both in negative relationships and overall I got the impression that it was simply a dark era in their lives. But what is impressive is that they learned from these experiences and channeled it into something productive and authentic. It makes sense that the fact their perspective is shaped by the authenticity of their experience that it then becomes easier to connect with their audience, because what they are doing is sharing a perspective they already have. Blogging like conversation is more impactful when what is communicated is both relevant and real.

The Merrymaker Sisters take their name seriously, because that is how they see what they do, they have experienced a transformation, from being unhappy and self-conscious, trying quick fix after quick fix only to discover that the solution starts with the perspective one takes. ‘It’s not a journey to health’, says Em. ‘It’s a journey of health.’ It might seem like irrelevant semantics to some. But that is not the case. Everything starts with the perspective one chooses to take. The starting point of the thought defines the thought. ‘We lost weight without even trying. We learned to listen to our bodies.’ In other words, their journey of health started from the inside out not the outside-in.

They are more than simply sharing healthy recipes, they have a mission, and one part of that mission is to reach teenage girls about the issues of negative self-talk leading to negative self-image. It is an issue that is close to their hearts, and one that gives their endeavors another layer of meaning.  Perhaps, it is a layer that differentiates them from the crowd.  This is something that is often cited by successful entrepreneurs as crucial, there needs to be something that drives you, that is solid in its foundation and meaningful in the energy it provides. You might call it purpose. So what’s yours?

But these Merrymakers admit they didn’t have the experience in business to really consider this as a profession at first. To them it was an interesting thing to do in their spare time. That is until they went to the ‘pro-blogger conference’. At this conference they were able to meet and connect with bloggers who have hundreds of thousands of followers with millions of hits. These were bloggers with years of experience and most importantly bloggers who had experience in monetizing their ventures. For the sisters, this was a defining moment. ‘It was eye opening for us.’

The irony for many, particularly those who went to business school, is that these Sisters found their passion then learned the concepts involved with successful business. For many, they are taught about how to create successful business but have no idea where their passion lies, where their keener interests are. But I suppose there are many roads to the same destination and if one can learn something from this, it is that when one combines business acumen with a knowledgeability based on genuine interest you get a recipe for healthy success.

 

Emma and Carla are the Merrymaker Sisters, two real-life sisters on a mission to make the world a healthier place. For more information on the Merrymaker Sisters visit their website

http://themerrymakersisters.com.au/

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5 Comments

  1. Inspiring article. I’ve always found the job satisfaction surveys to be interesting. I wonder how their relative happiness could be compared to people who are pursuing their passions. (including people especially who have not experienced the same level of success as these two sisters!)

  2. Mark Francis Leyba on

    I think that it is difficult to measure satisfaction, satisfaction is difficult to define and thus measure. On top of this changes in satisfaction levels do not necessarily correlate with what the job entails, rather perceptions of the job and the experience of working in the job relative to other factors which might define the jobs value. For example the unemployment rate and knowledge of the unemployment rate. If the people know that jobs are hard to find they will value the job more, I would infer if they value their job more then the satisfaction from working the job would increase. Or perhaps take the idea of unemployment in its effect of having made finding the job harder, in which case the same aforementioned effect would occur. So it hard to define the metrics of satisfaction and it is hard to isolate the effects of the jobs ‘innate’ qualities on satisfaction even if you argue that satisfaction can be measured. I’ll skip the analysis of metrics.

    In terms of relative happiness of people pursuing their passions and people who are simply working to make a living, I think that it is a hopeful less to accurately measure. But we can muse on it, so let’s do that for a second. I have many friends who are taking the usual nine-to-five path, some love it, some hate it, it depends on them. For some they like it because they get to earn money, feel that stability and perhaps spend their income to enjoy their free time, living the lifestyle they like. For some – a rare few – the work invest and are comfortable envisioning a future free of worries, debts and obligations. But following your passion, or at least living a life where you place the motivator of passion highly, is a different kind of happiness altogether. It is does not involve having to consume or necessarily spend or buy things for meaning, i refer to both meaning in terms or experience and ownership. For me following passion means that being able to do the things are enough, those acts, both in processes and completion provide the joy. And it is a different type of joy. It can even be painful, but it is a different type of pain. Kind of like the pain one gets from gym, from working out. It feels good as it hurts but afterwards you feel fantastic. To me following passion is like that at a ‘career’ level. So how can you compare to things when they are so innately different. I assume from those certain individuals I have met that I am not alone on this matter. Nor can I generalize this experience of passion to everyone who follows their passion. But I would not surprised if I was right.

    In terms your point about ‘before success’, I think the above point answers that too. It might be a cliche’ but the destination while important, is secondary to the journey.

    • On the whole I agree, but when starting a business many people are not just chasing their dream, they’re also doing a lot of administrative work, which can be quite tedious and complex, especially since they typically do not possess the relevant background knowledge.
      I know people who have started to pursue their dreams, and while they do feel satisfaction in doing this on a number of fronts, there are many days when they do feel exhausted and worn out.

  3. I think it’s fantastic that people are able to do this full time. But i think that people should keep things in perspective. There’s nothing wrong with working part-time and doing projects part-time. Timing is an art. .

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