3 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Starting a Blog-Based Business

Image by [F]oxymoron, available under CC BY 2.0.

3 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Starting a Blog-Based Business

Written by Emilie

Topics: Podcast, Renaissance Business

Last week I asked you guys to share your biggest challenge about being a multipotentialite. I received an incredible response, and your feedback was really helpful! Thanks so much to everyone who participated.

I noticed some interesting patterns in a lot of your comments. Yes, most scanners struggle with prioritizing projects, balancing long term goals with new interests and overcoming fear and societal pressure to specialize.

The biggest concern, however, seemed to be less internal and more logistical: how does one combine many interests in a way that makes sense thematically and turn that into a sustainable business model?

Launching Your Business

Enough talk about ideal lifestyles and dream-pursuit for now. It’s time to get into the nitty gritty. Here are 3 questions that will help you focus in on what your business will actually look like:

1. What do You Stand For?

What is your mission statement, theme, or overarching philosophy? Your business needs to resonate with and inspire people.

This is the most vital step for any business. Know what you stand for and the rest is easy, but launch a product or service without a clear mission statement and you’re just another widget in the marketplace.

The brilliant author and marketing consultant Simon Sinek developed a model to explain what makes most inspiring people and organizations successful and influential, and what makes other companies flop (or simply appeal to us less; take Apple v. PC, for example)…

Sinek’s model is called The Golden Circle, and here it is:

Your “Why” is what’s most important. Once you determine it, all of the products and services you create will flow out of that mission statement. The lame companies do the opposite. They start with a product (the What), and then try to make it look appealing. (Lame.)

An Added Challenge for Multipotentialites?

As scanners, the idea of settling on one mission statement might sound impossible. After all, we don’t stand for one thing, do we? We hate the singular!

But in truth, this is actually good news for us. Hear me out.

The golden circle means that all of our disparate interests can co-exist in one business as long as we have an inspiring mission statement.

Your mission statement doesn’t have to be specific either. It can be incredibly general such as:

  • Challenge the status quo
  • Live life on your own terms
  • Create better relationships with the people you love

Or even:

  • Embrace your multipotentiality and pursue your dreams!

You could fit a ton of interests under any one of those themes.

Do Find a Mission Statement, but Don’t Get Hung Up on It

Alright yes, brainstorm a bit and come up with a broad unifying theme for your blog-based business. But do not stress yourself by trying to get this perfect right out of the gate.

You have plenty of time to refine your message. It took me about 3 months of blogging before I knew exactly what Puttylike was all about. I would never have figured that out had I not just started. I needed the experience of actually blogging and getting feedback before I could arrive at my exact mission statement.

Do not use your inability to find the perfect mission statement as an excuse not to launch. That’s just fear talking. Craft a philosophy that is good enough, and then get started. Refine as you go.

Your Turn

What’s your blog-based business all about? Share your URL and your blog’s mission statement in the comments!


Wait a second, where are the other 2 questions you promised?

Glad you asked! For the remaining 2 questions, you’ll have to listen to episode 6 of Undeclared for Life!

(Ohh I’m a tease… Except not really. Trust me, this one’s worth the listen. ;)

In Today’s Episode of Undeclared for Life…

Today’s podcast episode is jam packed full of practical advice for starting up your very own blog-based business. As always, our advice is specifically targeted toward multipotentialites.

If you want to create an umbrella blog that incorporates many of your interests under an overarching philosophy (or if you already have one), you will love this episode!

Listen to the Episode


Stuff Mentioned in the Episode


If you’d like to learn more about turning all of your interests into one business, check out Renaissance Business.


  1. Gian Sorreta says:

    Very valuable information that most don’t do in practice.

    If I could add one comment of constructive criticism, the intro to your podcast is a little long for me… For me anything longer than a 20 second intro gets a little long.

    Other than that, great job!

    • Emilie says:

      Constructive criticism well received, thank you Gian! :)

    • Abe says:

      Thanks for the comment Gian. Em and I had the same conversation before Episode 1, but decided to leave it in for now because our Fiverr friend did us a solid on it. Any musicians in the house want to take a stab at the UFL intro? That might be fun in the future, huh Emilie? (kind of like the theme song variations on Weeds)

  2. I love how you didn’t cut out the end. :)

    Good schtuff!

  3. Baker Lawley says:

    Hi Emilie,

    I love this idea of the umbrella blog–that’s exactly what I’m doing on mine, but I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. So far (4 posts–such a baby), I’m working with this mission statement for Catfish Parade: A Crusade for Creativity to Save the World | Independent Thinking about Work and Life.
    And I do appreciate your advice that this doesn’t have to be perfect from the beginning. I launched my site precisely because I wanted to show the messy middle part of creative acts, and I’m right there in that space now.
    Thanks for the encouragement with this post!

  4. Emilie says:

    Nice, Baker!

    You’re right, you can totally refine your mission and tag line as you go. Right now you sort of have two tag lines, and that’s ok. I’m guessing they’ll merge into one as you figure things out.

    I’m not sure if you’re looking for constructive feedback, but I do have some ideas that might make your tag line punchier. “A Crusade for Creativity to Save the World” is super inspiring. What I think is lacking (and maybe the reason you added on that second part) are the benefits that your tribe can expect. How are you going to help them with regard to work and life? In what specific ways will your take on creativity impact their lives?

    Thanks for the comment Baker! You’re off to a great start!

  5. Ruby says:

    The “Three Questions” are so important to ask. For those of us just starting though- don’t be intimidated by the making money/target audience part. If you want to monetize your passions, don’t think that there’s some “formula for success.” Writing about making money online isn’t always going to make money for the writer…and writing about being a broke college student could yield a decent return!

    I agree- “JUST START.” I know one of my problems was that I wanted to have it keyed in before I started. Ask the questions, get an idea of what you want to do, and then just go for it. Get an idea of a purpose and starting point- but don’t psych yourself out that you have to know everything. When I started FrugalBeautiful I stressed so much about the name, I couldn’t come up with anything else! I gave myself writer’s block- I didn’t know “exactly” what I wanted to do, but I did the best I could in picking a name, and just started writing. You can always (just like you did Emilie) tweak the tagline, purpose or content as you start to develop and get comfortable and confident with yourself.

    I wish I would have known about the “pre-launch,” I think that’s a great approach to have connections on Twitter, but I hadn’t even used it before!

    This is one of my favorite podcasts from you two yet- it makes blogging approachable and takes some of the fear out of it. By having a simple plan when you start, even if you change your mind as your blog progresses, it makes blogging a wee-bit less intimidating.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Ruby,

      I completely agree, there’s no one formula. For instance, Ramit Sethi writes about personal finance and making/saving money. You’d think his audience would be totally frugal, but he totally crushes it with regular 6-figure launches. He does it by really understanding his audience and addressing their exact pains.

      However, it also makes sense to take things like income/attitude into account because that might be a hurdle. It’s a hurdle that can be overcome, but only if you acknowledge and address it.

      I messed up on the pre-launch Twitter stuff too. Hadn’t ever used it before launching, though I did milk Facebook for all it was worth! (I wrote a guest post about it on SocialMouths a while back: http://socialmouths.com/blog/2011/02/15/leverage-your-real-world-contacts-to-explode-your-blogs-traffic/)

      Thanks for the feedback Ruby! I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast. We love making it. :)

    • Abe says:

      Aw, thanks for the nice words Ruby. I think FrugalBeautiful is a great name, especially since it mashes up frugal right next to beautiful. Frugal is a word with a historically bad rap so I like that you’re addressing that!

  6. So glad to have discovered your blog, Emilie! Multi-passionates/Renaissance souls/multipotentialites unite!

    As a multi-passionate creative, my big goal for myself is to live a fully creative life, and to help others do the same.

    I’m passionate about helping people connect to their own creative passions and live the lives they really want. AND helping creatives bust the starving artist mindset and learn to thrive.

    As I like to say, bliss evolves… keep following it! :)

    (Oh, yeah, my blog is Living A Creative Life, which you can find at http://melissadinwiddie.com.)

    Looking forward to digging deeper into your blog, and to meeting you at #WDS! :)

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Melissa,

      So nice to meet you! Great mission statement too. Helping artists break free of that starving artist mentality is a hugely important and much needed service in this day and age. Good for you!

      And I’m loving your stuff as well. :)

  7. Seth says:

    My site started out with way more ‘what’ than ‘why.’ I just started posting articles on topics vaguely related to creative work. As time went on, I started to figure out what my site was about.

    Still refining my message and tagline (‘make your own luck’). I’ve had people tell me this is either a) excellent because it’s all big tent and lets me cover many many topics b) atrocious since they have no idea what the site is about.

    Frankly, I’m ambivalent about it and have been tempted to do a ‘keep or toss’ coin flip.


    • Emilie says:

      Hey Seth,

      “Make your own luck” is concise and catchy. But I think there’s something to be said about the fact that you’re ambivalent about it…

      I agree, it’s a little general. You want your people to know instantly when they visit your site that they’re home– that Happenchance is for them. Check out this Copyblogger article:


      You don’t need to use their formula of mission + benefit + pizazz (I don’t, for example), It’s just one approach. But it’s worth thinking about. I think you’re lacking a bit of “pizazz”. Your tag line is strong, but not… unforgettable.. yet!

      Keep blogging. You’ll get there. :)

      • Emilie says:

        Dude! The line on your sidebar is great!

        “Happenchance is about creativity, luck-making, and mental karate.”

        USE THAT!!

        Make it something like:

        “Tips for creativity, luck-making, and mental karate.”

        (or find a better word for “tips”. But yeah… I love it.)

  8. Holli says:

    This post is really fun because I get to see what other people are doing: how they are going through this process too!

    I started my blog thinking it would be about photography, but quickly found myself talking about food + health + family – things that require creativity in daily living.


    My current tag-line is currently vague, but here’s what I’ve got scribbled down:
    A family learning to live the healthy life.
    Experiments in healthy family living.

    I look forward to any feedback:)

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Holli,

      I’m going to save my thoughts for our Skype brainstorm session (I also want to take more time to mull over it), but I like what you’ve come up with so far! I told you this the other day, but there’s definitely a theme running through your interests. We’ve just gotta whittle it down to something sharp and concise. We’ll get there. :)

  9. Abe says:

    Corbett Barr at ThinkTraffic.net (who is just as generous and awesome IRL, we met at a SF meetup recently) published an incredibly thorough post on his blog-based business after one year, with lots of data to back it up: http://thinktraffic.net/think-you-cant-make-money-blogging

    Inspiring read for anyone interested.

  10. Mel says:

    My blog-based business is Epehemeraology, which is based on the love of all things ephemeral (mainly paper). I have followers who are collectors, those who are collagists and those who are interested in the history behind the paper. I am all of these things myself, so it’s easy to write every day. My blog is tied to my Etsy shop and my local art scene as well. I follow it up with FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and W5RAn updates.

  11. Ellen Berg says:

    Thank you for the permission to be messy and imperfect and process-oriented. IRL I am comfortable with that space, but I put off launching and am semi-driving myself crazy now that I have launched out of some weirdo attachment to perfection.

    My tagline is, “Your kick you in the ass cheerleader,” and my mission is to get people moving in the direction of their own dreams. Figuring out the tagline was crazy-making but in the end rse organically from a conversation I was having with someone.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Leslie says:

    Thanks for this post! Very timely as I am in the beginning stages of trying to start a business. I have an idea that is going to be a jump off from my blog which I started first to get the following down. It’s a niche blog in that it’s about the area that I live in-things to do in the area. My idea is to start advertising for businesses on my site using exclusive coupons from them. My tag line is “Playing and saving in the Greater Danbury Area”. It never occurred to me that I needed a mission statement and that my tagline is or could be that mission statement! Interesting.

    • Emilie says:

      Sounds good Leslie. I definitely think that having a mission statement in mind and adding some personality goes a long way for the kind of site you’re describing. Good luck with it!

  13. Morgan says:

    You are a wise one, dear Emilie! :)

    It took me a long time to realize what my goal and mission was with my blog and website(s), and like you said, it’s a continual learning process. You’re not going to be perfect straight out the door, it takes time to mold it and change it depending on need and desire.

    Keep rockin’!

  14. Byronious Chingchonious says:

    Dear Emilie and Abe,

    well that pretty much kicked some major azz. Thank you for taking the time to produce and distribute this awesome podcast. To give thanks I left u feedback on iTunes.

    Luv your work and appreciate you two SOOO much,


  15. Tim Brownson says:

    I kinda agree with all that. My only beef with mission statements is when people have them on their website. To me that is announcing to the world where you’d like to be rather than where you are.

    They can also look fake if not done really well. After all, Enron had its company values of Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence on its website and they didn’t work out too well ;-)

    • Emilie says:

      Heh. You make a really good point, Tim. I think there’s a big difference between having a mission statement and communicating that mission statement to your audience.

      The latter requires more tact and style. It’s more about branding. The problem I see is when companies go straight for the branding and skip the “knowing what you stand for” part. Which sadly, I think many do.

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