Next week I am heading to BlogHer Conference in Chicago, and will attend the largest women’s blogging conference in the world. I wanted to dedicate a post to say hello to all of the others going (and to those who wish they were going but are not) and also perhaps give you a new way of seeing what lifestyle blogging can be, and why and why not blogging conferences are important in our business. If you would like me to say hello to you about every other Friday, please subscribe to my newsletter, it’s completely different thing from the Skimbaco Lifestyle feed subscription. I have been blogging for 6 years, and during that time I have attended over 30 conferences and spoken in close to 20 conferences and events about social media. Most recently I spoke at the TBEX Conference in Toronto in June. This all may seem a lot of conferences, but it might surprise you when I tell you that I had a two-year-conference-break and the TBEX was the first conference I attended and spoke in TWO years. Partial reason for my conference breaks has been that I moved to Sweden last year, and now I just sit in my “corner office” in the Swedish countryside and write, instead of traveling to blogging conferences all the time, like I used to. My new “corner office” pictured above. The other home office I had this winter in our other Swedish home. I actually haven’t been just sitting home even though you haven’t seen me in the conferences and blogging events. The past two years I have actually had a chance to travel even more to many amazing locations, including Singapore, Bali, Mexico, Canada (twice!), France (three times!), Iceland (twice!) and Italy (twice!) and many more, including some of the world’s smallest countries like Vatican and Monaco – hey, they still count as countries! In fact I have been to 17 countries in the past two years (Ok, fine, I do count Thailand too, although I just had a layover there). I even wrote an ebook earlier this year (get it here: Instagram as your Guide to the World – How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World) inspired by my travels. Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this that blogging allowed me create a career with social media although my addresses and locations change all the time. More importantly, it supports the lifestyle I want to live (like being able to take my kids to school everyday, and to this day, my oldest being 13, we still haven’t had a babysitter). I did not start traveling because I started getting press trips from blogging conference connections, but I started traveling 16 years ago when I moved out of Finland and since meeting my husband in Germany we have traveled together and lived in several countries and states, even our 3 children were born in different countries. I dedicated four years to building my blog, and learning about blogging, social media marketing, both from a blogger’s perspective and from the brands’ perspectives (my background is in PR, marketing and sales, although I studied engineering). I did social media marketing for living (from home) for almost two years and created some very big budget campaigns for some of the largest brands and retailers of the US (and the world) while also writing for two TV network’s websites and growing Skimbaco. I worked 60-70 hours a week during that time, and also traveled a lot during that time. It is actually relatively easy to make a good living by blogging in the USA, if you are willing to work hard and travel a lot, and especially if you focus in making money and not building a brand. In my best year I made more money than my husband ever has in a year. I did travel a lot. To conferences, to meetings, to press events, even did a media tour in Finland. I think a lot of the opportunities I was able to get were thanks to conferences and networking with the right people. I know a lot of great people, and I was always willing to help everyone, without always/often thinking what was the best for me. I am thankful for so many memories and so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities blogging has given me and my family, and I will continue giving my support to many of the people I have gotten to know well during my blogging years. However, the fact that my kids have swum in hot springs in Iceland, skied in the mountains of Norway, seen the art in Louvre, eaten street food in NYC and artichokes in Rome in the past six months has nothing to do with my blogging and social media career (or connections), and all of those trips would not have been possible if I hadn’t QUIT going to every single conference and hadn’t fully focused in what I wanted to do in life and with my business. I really want to emphasis to many of those bloggers who are just starting and who see the allure of the free trips, experiences, consulting hours and swag (I’m so old school that I don’t even know if it’s called swag anymore), that please keep in mind the BIG picture of what YOU really want to accomplish. Is the blogging and “getting stuff and experiences” just a fling for you, or are you building something that will last for longer? Nothing wrong with having as much fun as it lasts, but flings rarely turn into marriages and you might get your heart broken. This video kind of shows what my brand is about. I’m in this for long run. This is not a fling for me. Simply said: my mission is to inspire people live life to the fullest, and I am selling an IDEA, a FEELING and a sense of BELONGING to the global community. The product I am “selling” is so important, and I know so many people have “bought it” but there is no money in selling ideas. In fact, my blogging income is ridiculously low, blogs that have 1/4 of my readership make double the money I do. Or probably 10 times. Not going to blogging conferences and not networking does come without a price tag – and not just meaning you don’t have to invest money into going, but also meaning that not as many people want to know your price tag anymore. The good thing is that when you stop worrying about your price tag, your community and readers also see that and they kind of like the fact. The best though is that I have full freedom to do whatever I want to with my site, and to build a lifestyle brand that yes, hopefully sells products one day, but more importantly inspires people, and on a personal level lets me live my life the way I want to. There is no price tag in loving what you do everyday. Luckily many of our business partners and sponsors have seen that there is actually much more value in what we do at Skimbaco for the very fact that we are not constantly selling what we do. There are many ways to make money in social media and blogging, but only a few are able to make a living with passive income of affiliate sales and just by sitting on a beach somewhere while people click on their links and buy stuff. Most bloggers I know make the best money from consulting, from social media work outside their blogs (tweeting, pinning, instagramming) or from creating content for other sites. Most bloggers are not enjoying a significant amount of passive income (the top 5% perhaps) but the blogging income is bigger the more hours you put in it, like in most line of work you do on hourly basis. If you are looking for certain income level with blogging, realize that it can come with certain lifestyle, like being on 24/7. Summa summarum, when you are planning your blogging business, make sure you know what success looks like. If you are looking for six figure income, understand that it doesn’t come with having a certain amount of Twitter followers, but it comes from doing the work, and a lot of it. I have no trouble doing the work, but today I only do the work I can do on my terms and fits in the message I am “selling” to my audience. It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to follow the same recipe for success than others do. Build your own path. I wrote a post two years ago blogging as a lifestyle choice, where I recommended people thinking if they are looking into building a business of blogging or building a lifestyle they want, or perhaps a little bit of both (like me). Maybe this will give you a permit to have a girls’ weekend in Chicago – because blogging can be just that, connecting with other women who are passionate about the same things as you are. Or maybe this will give you a push to truly focus in blogging as a business – because it is a fantastic platform to have your voice heard and to help you reach your career goals. Perhaps you will sigh in relief that you are not trying to think what to pack for the parties, and that you are spending the weekend home with your loved ones instead, with no pressure whatsoever to try to fit in, and make the right connections. Skimbaco is my business and my brand, but I have built it in a way that it allows me to live the lifestyle what I want. In fact, when people like Leigh (on the right), pictured above with me (on the left), work with me, we create together something that helps them in either their lifestyle or business goals. Even within my own team, our goals are very different. And it’s OK. Make blogging work for you, not just you working for the blog. I hope to connect with you while in BlogHer. And seriously, if you are one of those rare people who read all the way here, you should get my newsletter, because obviously we were meant chat more. My mission is to inspire you to live life to the fullest and find your own “skimbaco,” how you enjoy life where ever you are in the moment. For ideas for travel, home, food and fashion, subscribe to weekly Skimbaco Lifestyle feed on Mondays and I hope you get my newsletter as well that I sent out sometimes on Fridays.