Whenever I need blog advice, I know I can turn to Annabel Candy’s blog, Successful Blogging.  It’s just instinct now!  Her writing is so succinct and yet so informative!  She always seems to be on top of every new development in the blogosphere.  I’m so happy that she agreed to share her story (and lots of wisdom) here today with you!

In case people don’t know about you and your amazing business, would you mind sharing what you do?

I’m a web designer and freelance writer. My husband and I have owned our own web design business for 14 years now with both of us working from home. In 2007 we sold out home in New Zealand and moved to Costa Rica with our three kids. We spent 18 months there and had a brilliant time but couldn’t get an Internet connection so in the end we moved to Australia and set up a new business.

I started blogging to improve my writing skills and set up the travel blog Get In the Hot Spot. It was an experiment that went a bit nuts. Then so many people started asking me for blogging tips that I wrote Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps and set up Successful Blogging with blogging tips for writers and small business owners.

Web design and copywriting are still the core of our business but blogging has made it easier for us to grow that business because even though we live in a small community we now have clients all over the world now. It still surprises me how my travel stories resonated with people and made them want to work with me more than my experience and qualifications ever did. We have also diversified our income and I’m starting to explore blog sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

You’ve turned your passion for travel and blogging into your business and lifestyle.  Did you ever think that possible?  And do you believe any creative entrepreneur can turn their dreams into a successful business?

I never realized all the opportunities that would come to me from blogging when I started. Through blogging I’ve found new clients, interviewed and met inspiring writers and entrepreneurs and been invited on all expenses paid trips to China and now Japan. I really had no idea what blogging would lead to but I’m a dreamer so after thinking hard about that last question I have to say yes. I do believe that if you have a dream and work hard because you love what you do then you can earn a living from that.

Our business is a small business and that’s how we like it. We don’t want to grow a huge empire – for us it’s about being able to work from home and live anywhere we want to. Our business allows us to have the lifestyle we want living in a stunning place by a tropical beach and we appreciate that.

What’s your #1 advice to someone wanting to start up their business blog? 

I’d set very clear goals about why you’re blogging, who will read your blog, and who your prospective clients are. It’s so important to have a good clean blog design which immediately establishes trust and shows people you’re a professional. You have about five seconds to convince a new blog visitor that you’re trustworthy and your blog has the information they need so the small investment in blog design is well worth it.

I’ve just updated and improved my book Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps to include a workbook with exercises people can work through to help them with every aspect of blogging from planning and writing (my favorite part!) right through to blog promotion. I know that creatives and small business owners will really benefit from reading the book because it will make their blogging experience faster and more effective. I made a lot of mistakes when I started blogging and it’s great to think the book offers a solution so no one else needs to go in blind like I did.

We’ve been told countless times that we need to blog about our work but why do you feel having a blog is so important for a creative entrepreneur?

There aren’t enough creative types on the Internet and the world is crying out for more creative people and unique products. The booming interest in art and craft is a sign of that.

As a writer I’ve found that blogging has been a brilliant way to motivate me to keep writing. Of course my writing has naturally improved because of that and the feedback has brought me new confidence to keep trying new things. It’s also allowed me to earn more money from my writing including getting dream jobs like being hired by my local tourism board to write about things like getting a massage or going stand up paddle-boarding.

There are so many people who want to write, paint or create things, from clothes to interiors, and blogging is a fabulous way to showcase what you’re doing and turn that passion into a business.

You and your business have evolved so much over the past few years.  Was there ever a time where you worried about failing or met a hard obstacle?  How did you overcome it and push forward?

I am very stubborn:) I wrote a great blog post about how to get the life you want (http://www.getinthehotspot.com/10-ways-to-get-the-life-you-want/) after I discovered that tenacity and perseverance are more important than intelligence or innate skills for success. So many people fall at the first hurdle and never get up again. I’m the kind of person that will get up and find another way round if I can’t get over something.

You do have to take a leap of faith if you want to work for yourself and get used to the lack of stable income. There are months of plenty and leaner months like over Christmas and New Year when many businesses stop working. But when you’ve been self-employed long enough you know that’s normal and the benefits far out weigh that.