The first article in this series on professional blogging as a business model, I introduced you to the core formula behind how most bloggers attempt to make money – content = traffic = money. In the second part I concluded that professional blogging is NOT a sustainable business model after taking a close look behind the success of the professional blogger Darren Rowse.
Be sure to read the first two parts in this series before continuing to read this article.
Darren Rowse is the best example of a blogger who can make blogging work as a business, afterall he is one of the highest earning bloggers and makes most of his money from blogs he built himself.
Darren, despite his super-human blogging powers, cannot sustain his output forever and more importantly, I don’t think many other bloggers want to replicate Darren’s work ethic. We may want to replicate his results but most of us don’t have the motivation to do so – nor would I recommend you attempt to be as prolific as Darren because the odds are that you will end up disappointed and bitter, or just plain tired.
Another problem is the blogging marketplace isn’t as small as it used to be and like any industry that is maturing, there is increased competition, which demands a higher quality of output from bloggers if they want to compete. Niches that already have key bloggers dominating or many bloggers vying for traffic, are very difficult to enter with any success – it’s hard to beat the incumbents.
The “luck” Darren enjoyed when he first started out is hard to replicate because of the amount of bloggers in the blogosphere, and of course we can’t replicate Darren’s good timing, although it is possible to find “new” good timing if you start doing something early before everyone else catches on – as long as it does catch on.
The traditional sequence of content = traffic = money may hold true as a formula for a monetization model using blogs, but the main problem is bloggers treat blogging like a job, and not a business. The result of this is self-employment, which as glorious as it may sound for people who currently work for others, as entrepreneurs know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
The stresses of operating in a situation where your direct output is the key ingredient for success, makes for a harrowing work environment. This is exactly what a professional blogger does. They create a situation where their business lives and dies by their output.
The key to breaking out of self employment and into business ownership as a professional blogger, is to realize that you can’t do what you do by yourself forever – you must learn how to come to rely on the input of others.
If you stop and analyze the success of most solo bloggers, particular those bloggers who have copious amounts of traffic (whether they monetize that traffic or not doesn’t matter), you will notice a trend. Many have a successful business currently or have had one or several in their past.
The businesses these bloggers run do not rely entirely on their sole input. They are in partnerships or have built systems that allow their businesses to run without them or at least without requiring constant input from them.
As a result of not focusing on professional blogging (blogging for money) many of the most successful bloggers enjoy ample time and lack of financial pressures, which gives them freedom to blog as regularly as they want to.
Top bloggers, like Seth Godin, blog purely because they want to. No doubt they enjoy the feeling of importance and helping others, but some don’t even try to make money from blogging despite the fact they have the most well trafficked blogs in the blogosphere.
The life experience and education process that led to building a successful business also gives entrepreneurs who blog ample material from which to draw upon to produce content that people love on their blog. However if they one day grow tired of blogging they can stop at any time without threat to their livelihood. They can blog twice this week, once next week and then ten times the week after. They can reduce or increase their output without the stress of needing to main a certain level of content in order to meet monetary goals.
This is an ideal situation but really doesn’t represent a true professional blogger. Entrepreneurs who blog earn income from other stable sources and they blog as a means to vent creatively or help others. Yet it’s often these bloggers that earn the most from blogging since they offer the best advice from their experience, talents and previous life successes and failures, drawing the most traffic and potentially earning significant income, if they so chose to monetize their blog. The rich get richer.
Another group of bloggers use blogs as a lead generation tool – a marketing channel – to produce sales for their business. They don’t need to blog for income, but blogging certainly can indirectly provide money. As many small business owners who blog are discovering, a blog is often the best online marketing tool available to spread awareness of their expertise and their services or products at little to no cost but time.
Again these bloggers are not pressured to produce content and do not depend on their blog for income, they are merely testing what is available from their marketing arsenal. If blogging has a good conversion rate for turning prospects into customers – or whatever action the blog is built to generate – then blogging remains part of their marketing strategy. If blogging becomes less effective they may move on to other marketing methods, or as the smart entrepreneurs do – outsource the task of managing their blog to others, removing the task from their personal to-do list.
The two groups of bloggers I just discussed have one distinct difference from most professional bloggers – they have a stable source of income not dependent on them for existence.
I’m not advocating that you go and start a small business if you don’t have one so you can then blog for pleasure, or use blogs as a marketing tool for something else. What I do suggest is you think about where your professional blogging is going to lead to AND whether you actually have a strategy in place to remove yourself from the content production part of the equation and bring on help from other people.
Many bloggers work full time at a normal job or study, and blog at night and on weekends. If this is your situation I doubt whether your current volume of blogging output will remain constant given we all go through lifestyle transitions like graduating from school or university or increasing pressures at work or in your home life, all of which can reek havoc on a blogging schedule.
If I just described you then I suspect you don’t make much money from blogging right now because your content output fluctuates all over the place. You are probably feeling the pressures of trying to find time to blog in order to keep your dream of one day quitting your job and calling yourself a true professional blogger, which impacts the quality of your output and creates additional stress.
Even worse – you may spend more time reading the blogs of other people who some how manage to blog every day and make good money doing so, which should inspire you, but after a while can depress you because of your own lack of success.
To add icing to the cake of reality, as I have explained in this article series, your dream of professional blogging if realized may one day become near or as stressful as your current working situation because for most it becomes a job – self employment – eventually. I certainly never want you to feel about blogging the way you might currently feel about your day job.
Enough of this doom and gloom about professional blogging. What we need now are answers and smart ways to use blogging to make money. Let’s begin with the main cause for your problems – your attitude towards how to make money in the world.
Most people have worked all their lives for income. The equation in this situation is time = money. You receive income directly in proportion to how many hours in the day you put in. That equation has a cap on both sides – you only have a certain amount of time each day to work and you only make a certain amount of money as a result. Unless you are in a senior position in your company, which is the minority of people and I doubt anyone reading this blog, you feel very restricted in your income potential.
However since everyone around you does the same thing, probably your family – in particular your parents who are usually the biggest role models in a person’s life – all work normal jobs and “get by” with a standard salary, you just figure that is the way life works.
This is an attitude that needs to be changed and your current concepts about how to make money must be shattered.
Thankfully you have already made a smart decision. You read my blog and blogs like mine, and likely books by authors who teach techniques to make money that are used by entrepreneurs and the rich, the role models you should follow, at least when it comes to making money in the world. Your mind has already turned towards changing your current situation.
In my life I’ve never thought that a normal job would suite me – I just hate working when I don’t want to on things that don’t directly benefit me in significant ways. Unfortunately growing up everyone around me was not like me. The idea of being in charge of your own destiny when it comes to making money is not the norm I encountered. Even today with greater exposure to more entrepreneurs the majority of the people I meet have strong fears around ever starting something that could lead to their own financial independence.
I hope as you read this if you have similar fears or feel trapped in a lifestyle you no longer want to lead, that you realize the possibilities if you just learn to think differently and take actions congruent with that new way of thinking.
Coming up in the next article in this series on professional blogging we look at some blogging business models that are sustainable, which any blogger, no matter your current situation, can apply. With this knowledge you can start a business that leverages blogs knowing you won’t face limitations on how much you can earn or be restricted by you own abilities to produce content on a consistent basis now or in the future.
Blogging For Business