- Set up blog
- Create posts and build a following
- Sit back and make money by some combination of advertising and/or affiliate sales
Why This Model Worked In 2005…
Back in 2005 blogs were new – and few people were actively blogging. And even fewer were actively blogging…and creating great content.
If you look at some of the ‘big names’ in the ‘blogging about blogging’ world, you’ll find that they set up back in the early days and were able to create a large following – and because they had that large following they were able to generate revenue from ads and affiliate sales.
We’re talking about people (and blogs) like Darren Rowse (Problogger), Brian Clark (Copyblogger), Yaro Starak (Entrepreneurs Journey), Chris Garret (ChrisG) and the like.
All of these guys write (and wrote) high quality content rich posts. And back when they got going that was enough to make them stand out. And earn them a large and loyal following.
And Why This Model Doesn’t Work In 2011
In 2011 this model is bust. Oh, it still works OK for the above mentioned people who’ve carried their following with them down the years – although please take careful note that every single one of those blogs generates their income via Courses, Software (WordPress themes and plug-ins), eBooks and more. Yep they all do affiliate stuff too – but they all have their own line of products.
But if you’re a newbie blogger and thinking of using this model as your route to fame and fortune….the chances are that you’re setting out on a long road to nowhere.
Here are three reasons why:
- in 2005 there were few people blogging. And few people blogging well. In 2011 high quality content is merely the price of entry. (That’s a phrase I wish I’d thought of – props to Corbett Barr of www.thinktraffic.net for that beauty!).
- in 2005 there was little competition. In 2011 the sheer number of blogs out there writing quality content has increased exponentially. Not only does this make it harder to get your voice heard – it also means that the readers are much savvier than they were in 2005 when blogging was the new kid on the block.
- In 2005 you could create a blog as a business. In 2011 a blog is a business tool, not a business. This is the biggest change since 2005 – and one that is rarely reflected in articles, posts and discussions about ‘making money online’ via blogging.
A Blog Is A Business Tool
The blog examples I’ve given you so far (Copyblogger, Problogger, etc) are the easy ones to come up with.
But you can find different examples of people using their blogs as a business tool.
Marcus Sheridan at www.thesaleslion.com uses his blog to line up speaking engagements and consultancy sessions on the topic of inbound marketing.
Jim Connolly uses www.jimsmarketingblog.com to get clients for his consulting business.
Michael Martine at www.remarkablogger.com to sell digital products AND get clients for his consulting services.
If you look carefully at what these guys do, and what they blog about, you’ll find that they don’t blog about making money online with blogging. They’re all focused on using their blog for a specific business purpose – and as such, their blog is just one of the tools they use for that business purpose. (It might be the main tool – but it’s still only a tool).
There’s another thing that connects these guys too – and it’s that they are ‘authentic.’ When they blog about something, that post is imbued with the kind of experience that you only get from hard hours at the coalface.
So How Can YOU Turn Your Blog Into A Business Tool? (OR How Can You Make Money ‘Blogging?)
If you want your blog to generate revenue you need to answer the following two questions:
- How much revenue do you want to make from your blog? (And be specific – is it $10K, $20K, $50K, More – what is it?)
- How are you going to generate revenue? List the possible sources of this revenue (e.g. advertising, affiliate sales, own products and services, etc).
Once you’ve answered these questions then you need to create a plan that implements the revenue generating sources that you’ve outlined.
That ‘business’ plan should now have a clear and definable revenue goal and a clear and definable method of how you are going to get there. What it lacks is specificity as to when to start implementing your revenue generating activities.
Here’s my advice on this – don’t wait for a vague goal like ‘building a community’ before you start implementing the revenue generating part of building your business. Set a specific date – and treat that date as an unbreakable deadline.
My First eBook
When I created my first eBook for my bass guitar site, the trigger that I set for creating and writing it was 100 subscribers to my mailing list. And the day I got that 100th subscriber I sent an email to my tiny list saying that exactly 30 days later I was going to be releasing my first book.
Did I make huge sums of money when that eBook came out on the specified release date? Nope – far from it. If memory serves correctly I sold three copies the first day (at $33). And three or four the next day. And then none for a couple of weeks.
But I’ve often read that making your first $100 is the hardest….and I believe it. The validation you get even from a relative handful of sales is worth it. And then you’ve created an asset that you can continue selling – and that you can get other people to sell for you.
That first eBook of mine went on sale on Feb 5th, 2009 and has since sold just shy of 300 copies. Now that’s not earth shattering – that’s around $10K in two and a half years. But the process of creating that eBook and selling it was invaluable. It was the first concrete step on the path that led me to creating a viable and successful business.
In 2005 you could create a blog with high quality content and turn that blog into a revenue generating business relatively easy.
In 2011 that model doesn’t work. The competition is too high, and the audience too savvy.
A blog isn’t a business – it’s a business tool.
The two questions you need to ask are:
- (1) How much do I want my business to earn?
- (2) What are the methods that I will use to earn that specific amount with my business?
And then create a plan that implements your goals.
If you are just blogging and kind of hoping to generate significant revenue at some future date (i.e. when you have built an audience, or when you have built a following, or when the ‘big bloggers’ link to you) then you’re just spinning your wheels on a road to nowhere.
The Seed For Today’s Post – Required Reading And Listening
The seed idea for this post came from reading this article over at The Sales Lion on Monday:
That post will lead you to a podcast on Steve Roy’s Ending The Grind blog– and I highly recommend you make the diversion:
You might find this call a little uncomfortable to listen too – that degree of discomfort will probably be proportional to how much you resemble the stereotype of someone blogging to build a community and then have that community somehow generate income. If you feel uncomfortable listening to this – then take that as a sign that you need to do some thinking about your blog and turn it into a business tool.
Remember: your blog is a business tool, not a business.
Ok. It’s your turn. What are YOUR thoughts on the ‘blog is a business’ model is idea? Is it still viable in 2011 – or is it broken? Fire away in the comments below!