Blogging, in 2011, is incredibly easy to do if you are not using it as a mechanism solely for making money. Most blog platforms offer free versions; others, like WordPress, offer hosted solutions where you pay a small fee per month to your hosting company and then integrate with WordPress tools and the platform. Whichever way you do it – either the free version or via a hosted version – it is simple to set up and get started. So the barriers to entry in the world of blogging are basically zero. No cost, fast, and easy for anyone wanting to start a blog.
The difficulty, however, is in the competition across the world of blogging. A lot of very well-known sites are, or were, actually blogs. Did you hear about AOL buying Huffington Post a few months ago? Well, Huffington Post actually is a blog. What are some others? Internet marketing and technology folks are very familiar with Techcrunch. There are numerous other very well-known web destinations which are blogs and were started by one or a handful of individuals like you and me. Most of the big blogs started out creating fantastic, relevant content and their audience grew over time. In fact, their audiences grew so much, that they could solicit advertising, grow their newsletter lists and then sell those lists to advertisers, or even in some cases could charge a fee (subscription or one-time) to view certain content. All of these are ways, or tactics, that bloggers ultimately can make money and turn their hobby into a career. Easy, right? Not really. In fact, people making enough money from their blogs to make it a career are in the minority.
Instead, a well-written blog is a conduit to other businesses and is really all about building your audience.
The point is that for people who actively engage in blogging, the best mindset to have when you start is to make sure you enjoy it and create content that some segment of the population – whether it is friends, family, colleagues or strangers – enjoys too. That should be your number one goal at the outset, NOT money. If you create good content and are a reputable source about your subject matter, the money will come later on either via your blog or an offshoot business. Why? Because the audience will follow well-written and interesting posts, and eventually your blog will gain in exposure. You shouldn’t even think about making money or monetizing your blog if you don’t have an audience. Write about interesting things and topics, people will find you, and the more that happens the better in terms of what future money-making prospects look like.
There is another interesting question related to blogging as it stands in 2011 that I hear over and over again. The question is: Is blogging still relevant? The reason this question gets asked has to do with social media. So many people are using Facebook, Twitter and other social vehicles to communicate, the question begs of whether blogs are becoming irrelevant. In other words, why even create blogs or pay hosting fees for your blog if you can just go onto social media platforms and write about relevant topics to your audience?
My answer very definitively is that blogs are not becoming irrelevant, and in fact it is quite the contrary. Blogs are even more important in this highly-social era. While social media is great, and should be utilized to build your audience and build your blog’s audience, understand that there are limitations in respect to social media. The biggest is that the content is short-form. Twitter is only 140 characters. Facebook isn’t necessarily conducive to in-depth commentary. LinkedIn, same thing. If you have a topic and want to write about something with any kind of depth, blogging really is the perfect solution. Sure, blogging takes a lot more time than tweeting or posting Facebook status updates; but if you want to build an audience through anything beyond a pithy comment here or there, it really is important and necessary.
Again, this is not to say that social media is not important. It is. In fact, I believe your followers on social media should feed your blog. I always shudder when people say “find me on Facebook” versus “find me at my website”. If you are serious about blogging, and eventually making money through blogging, you should be doing everything you can to be directing eyeballs to your blog, from social media. Don’t abandon social media, but understand what it is and isn’t necessarily useful for when weighed against the virtues of blogging and building your audience that way.
In short, my main tip for blogging is to make sure you enjoy it and enjoy creating content in whatever your genre is. Do not start a blog with the prospects of making money or creating content that you think will make money. Start a blog about topics that you are passionate about, and for which you feel you are an authority about, and don’t think about money. Just think about building your audience. If you do that well enough over time, the money will follow.
Mike Sprouse is a Chief Marketer, Corporate Entrepreneur, Author and Philanthropist. He is a recognized public speaker and marketing expert, having run every facet of marketing and corporate strategy for public and private companies. Mike is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “The Greatness Gap”, and is a frequent blogger on his website athttp://www.mikesprouse.com. He is a former professional tennis player with an ATP world ranking in singles. Mike is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Accounting. If you would like to read more about Mike, you can visit his “About” page on his website at http://www.mikesprouse.com/about-mike-sprouse-marketing/.