Some people think it’s strange whenever I refer to the “business of blogging.” That’s because for people who don’t blog, they still think most of it is personal diaries and not something that can be used for business.
Truth be told, even blogs that are more personal than business related have a business aspect to it. There are a few relatively well known people who can put together a blog and know people will come without doing much for it; some of them don’t even write anything, just add pictures like they do on Instagram. Unfortunately, for the rest of us we can’t just write a blog, add pictures, video or podcasts and think we’re going to be successful or famous without any effort. Most people don’t think bloggers are going to be famous, but many who initially get into it think if you write it people will come; this isn’t Field of Dreams. Continue reading The Business Of Blogging→
As y’all know, I’ve been talking a lot about marketing lately. I’ve also been talking about the myth, of sorts, of making money by blogging. Well, I’m here to add some things to previous conversations.
via PATV Channel via Flickr
First, I’ve always believed that if one has a highly ranked blog that they should be making pretty good money, enough so that they won’t have to work for anyone else ever again. That doesn’t turn out to be true at all, but not for the reasons you might believe.
There are two reasons a person won’t make a lot of money if their blog is highly ranked.
One is because their audience isn’t quite niched properly. By that I mean like my blog. I talk a lot about social media and technology stuff but at a moment’s notice I’ll change up and talk about marketing, diabetes, whatever. I have a nice group of people that subscribe to this blog and some other folks that stop by on a regular basis, but overall I’ve never niched this blog so that it continually attracts a specific group of people that might be interested in buying any of the stuff I have on the left or right sidebars of this blog.
Two, the other is that some of those people aren’t trying to make money blogging, even if the rest of us think they are. One of my friends who stops by here often pretty much told me that’s not her focus right now; it’s on content, plain and simple, and one day she might give it a real try. I’m not going to mention her name, but I am going to mention someone else’s name, and by extension mention a host of other folks.
I once talked about Steve Pavlina, who has stopped taking comments on his blog, and how much he writes. Truth be told, I have way more posts than he has, but he writes these really long posts, sometimes as much as 7,500 words. He puts a lot of time into researching his posts, sometimes experimenting before writing the posts, and I have to say that until he went on one 30 day challenge for himself that frankly freaked me out a bit, I used to stop in and read his blog a lot.
Now, here’s two things. One, he’s not making any money blogging. He’s got a highly ranked website, and he talks about writing lots of content that’s timeless and valuable to everyone that stops by. Two, he doesn’t have to try to make money from blogging because he’s already got money. The guy makes money in a totally different way that has nothing to do with blogging or writing. In other words, he’s got the money to do whatever he wants, including writing long blog posts, going on vacations whenever he likes, etc. How do I know? Because a few nights ago I read one of his books titled How to Build a High-Traffic Web Site (or Blog) where he talked about it.
It reminded me that there are many other bloggers with high volume websites that either do or don’t make a lot of money actually blogging because they already make money in other ways. Some that do were making money or already had money when they started, and thus really can’t relate to the rest of us.
The only one I can think of that’s somewhat like us is Darren Rowse, and you know how he did it? By having a niche blog as well as his regular blog, and the niche blog generated the big bucks. He also started off writing 9 or 10 posts a day, which fits the criteria about content. A lot of content will drive visitors and traffic, even if it’s not one long article. As a matter of fact, the highest ranked sites have multiple bloggers or use a lot of guest posts to help populate things. Copyblogger is an example, along with Huffington Post, of blog sites with lots of posts per day.
So, we come back to the two ways; niche blog and lots of content. For the record, a 7,500 word post works out to 10 – 15 posts for most people, and Pavlina does that 2 or 3 times a week. How many of you think you could do that? If I didn’t have 5 blogs I think I could do it, if I knew that’s what was going to make me money. But that’s still the issue isn’t it? You drive traffic but who’s to say that you’d have the right niche topic that brought buyers as well as readers?
I don’t really believe that any of the blogs I have right now would bring buyers, even if I was writing that much content daily. That means I’d have to figure out a way to modify things somewhere so that one blog could be within a broad niche so I could have enough to write about, but also make it a niche where there are buyers. It’s certainly not going to be leadership, it’s not going to be a local blog, and it’s not going to be a blog on SEO. I’m not sure a blog on social media would get it done.
But a blog on technology; yeah, that might get it done. A blog on working out might get it done. A cooking blog, absolutely. Man, too bad that’s stuff I can’t write enough on. If I were in my 20’s I could probably tackle technology but that’s it. I actually do have a friend that was making pretty good money writing on horses and horse equipment, but she found it hard to sustain at a certain level after awhile and turned it into a magazine, where she has a main sponsor that helps her out some. That proves that with the right niche you can do it, but also proves that it takes content, continuous and lots of it, to get it done.
Do you have what it takes inside of you to get it done? Are you at least thinking about things in a different way? Let me know.
Why poker? Many of you know that I love playing poker. I fancy myself a pretty good player but not a great player. However, I’ve studied great players and I can see what I lack that they have. I don’t see me getting a lot of it at this juncture of my life, but one never knows, right?
Like almost anything else, one can learn some interesting ideas on how to do something from another place, or from something that has nothing to do with what you’re doing. In reality, most things are interconnected in some fashion, and if you have the time to consider it, you’ll see the connections, or the potential connections, and hopefully learn something from it.
In this case, I figure the lessons bloggers can learn from poker are something that leads us well into the next year, which begins tomorrow, and thus the timing of this article is pretty good. Of course, you could read this and think I’m just nuts; let’s find out.
1. Poker is about analyzing what’s going on at that moment. If I have an ace and a jack in my hand and the flop comes up king, jack and seven, and the other player bets ahead of me, I have to analyze a lot of things at once. Does he have an ace in his hand? How has he played previous hands? How have I played other hands in this situation? Is the amount he’s betting trying to scare me away, or is he trying to trap me? Can I get a tell from the expression on his face? Has he read my face and figured something out?
In blogging, we often start writing for ourselves, but once people start coming we need to be ready to analyze ourselves from time to time. What types of posts do people seem to like? Is my post too short or too long? Is my language easy to understand or am I talking above people’s heads? Are my visuals okay or am I off-putting some people? Just who is your blog for? The decisions can be just as immediate, and in some cases more valuable than a poker bet.
2. Poker is about paying attention to what’s going on around you in some fashion. Even those people who play wearing headphones and listening to music are paying attention to what’s going on around them. They know if one guy always raises when he’s in the big blind. They know if someone is actually thinking about whether their hand is good or whether they’re trying to trick you into doing something stupid. They watch your hands to see if you change up when you have good hands or bad. They look at your eyes, even if you’re wearing sunglasses, to see what they do. When I’m truly in the zone, I know how every player I can see plays the game, and thus I play really well when I’m paying attention.
With blogging, it’s almost the same type of thing. I notice that when I write a post that’s actually a training tip of some sort it gets a lot of attention from people who don’t normally come to this blog. I know who’s going to visit and comment when I write personal posts. I know that if I’m writing a post about a potential money making venture, whether I made money off it or not, that post is going to do well. And I know which posts probably aren’t going to do all that well either. I have to weigh all that, though, for my own personal balance. All of it helps me grow, and there ends up being something for everyone.
3. If you stay at a table long enough, suddenly there’s a great sense of camaraderie and sharing. It’s funny; you sit down at a table with 8 strangers almost every time you go. There’s a feeling out process and you get to feeling like you know people. They get to thinking they know you. Your guard gets let down, to a degree, and suddenly you find yourself sharing stories and telling jokes and finding out what other people do. You learn that some people have come a long way to play while others are there every day. And, if you’re lucky, every once in awhile you’ll go back to play and actually run into someone you played with before, and it’s kind of a welcoming feeling, which is always nice.
I often say on this blog that if you’re lucky you’ll end up being a part of a blogging community, where there are a group of people you’ll be able to count on for a comment or for support or to write something on their blog that you can participate on. The strange thing about a blogging community is that you have to also realize that very few people who are commenting on your blog now will be there 4 to 6 months later. And it may not have anything to do with you; it just is what it is. But for that moment, those people give you love, you give some back, and it all feels good.
4. Real poker players don’t view chips as money, which is a scary proposition because, unless it’s a tournament, it really is money. It’s that feeling, though, that lets them do things you and I would never consider. For instance, there’s the story of a poker pro named Daniel Negreanu, who won a poker tournament and $1.5 million one day, only to lose all the money the next day playing a cash game. Most of us would have lost our minds but he just saw it as a bad day, and went back the day after and won some of it back.
Many of us view our blogs as an opportunity to make money, which isn’t a bad thing, but blogs aren’t really money. We read this advice saying we must do this or that in order to make money blogging. It’s possible you can make money in those ways, but you might not. Niche blogging might or might not make more money than just writing in general, but if you’re writing for the money instead of for the love it’s not going to come across right to potential readers, and you’ll be wasting your time. Having mailing lists and setting up newsletters you don’t really want to write doesn’t benefit anyone and can be more work than it should be. If you view your blog as only a potential money maker, you’re going to fail; that’s just how it goes.
5. Poker playing, no matter what level you play at, means you have to be willing to risk something. When I play poker I head into it knowing that there’s a possibility I’m going to come home out between $200 and $300. Sometimes I come home way ahead, slightly ahead, or break even. What’s rare is sitting down at a table and winning the first hand, or first few hands. Most of the time you’re going to be down, even if it’s only 2 or 3 dollars, based on ante’s whether you play a hand or not. Like all games, there’s always the risk of losing.
With blogging, losing is kind of a strange way of looking at things. Instead, let’s say things might not go as planned all the time. If you write it people won’t necessarily come unless you work in getting them to come. If you don’t answer comments or make commenting hard people will be reluctant to come, and thus reluctant to read. If you’re writing a niche blog that you define too finitely you might run out of things to say. If you don’t write enough posts people might lose interest.
You have to be willing to take risks every once in awhile. You might have to court controversy to get an opinion out every once in awhile. You might have to rely on spell-check more often to help correct spelling. You might have to re-read your posts on occasion if you realize you make a lot of mistakes. You might have to deal with trolls or spam here and there or loss of a portion of your privacy. And you might have to actually attempt to show people you have some knowledge about something, or are funny, or are entertaining, and that scares a lot of people. You might even have to risk being wrong; gasp!
There was a story on a blog post I was reading a few days ago on Problogger where a guy had started blogging and, though becoming somewhat popular, figured out that he was doing things the wrong way. I’ll never say there’s a wrong way in blogging, but it always depends on what it is you really hope to do later on. What he was doing went against what he later determined was his ultimate goal, so he had to stop, then wait awhile and start over so he could hit his goals. My point is that he took a risk, got part of what he wanted and part of what he didn’t want, and he knew he could always start anew.
There you are; 5 things you can learn from poker as you continue blogging into the next year. All I’m going to ask you to do is be safe tonight as you celebrate heading into the new year, and then head into the new years with guts and glory and success on your mind. Happy New Year y’all!
Last week I was listening to an online review of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. There were 4 people talking about the movie. Three of the people absolutely loved it; one guy hated it. The guy who hated it owned up to the fact that he’d never read any of the books, nor had he seen the other movies. So, he was lost, looking for action, and hoping the movie would entertain him even if he didn’t know anything about the series.
I remember when the first X-Files movie came out there were a lot of people who were saying the same exact thing. No matter that the movie did have excitement (heck, it had explosions within the first 5 minutes) and even aliens (man, a movie with aliens that also makes sense is my kind of movie), but people were upset because they didn’t know the history behind the show or the characters, felt left out, and thus rated the movie lower than it deserved.
Sometimes I think people just don’t get it. Everything in the world isn’t for everyone; that’s just life. I remember a review of a John Denver concert years ago where the woman who did the review stated up front that she hated John Denver and left the concert feeling the same way. In my opinion, how could she even think of writing a fair review if she went in already knowing she didn’t like it? Was she expecting him to do something special so she’d say “wow, I was wrong all these years” if she hated it?
I’m bringing this up because of the subject of influence and being “liked”. In yesterday’s post on Twitter Chats, I talked about how some people didn’t like others using Twitter in that fashion and the resulting dustups that end up with some people losing followers and others gaining some. Just as the concept of Twitter chats isn’t for everyone, neither is every blog for every person.
Well, maybe that’s a bit much. I like to think this blog is for everyone, but I know that every post isn’t for everyone. If I write about sports and you don’t like sports, I don’t expect you to stick around long. I know I can write about cleavage (especially if I add an image) and Sire‘s going to be there, but if I write about string theory, chaos theory and the calculations of quantum physics that says they’re possible (ugly stuff to be sure, but kind of fun in a way) it might not grab his attention as much, but there might be someone out there intrigued enough to read it all.
I know there are times when I talk tech and some folks stay away in droves because they don’t get it. i also know I go to blogs that talk about cars or other things that my mind can’t always figure out either. I certainly don’t always understand “mom” blogs, being neither a mom or a parent.
When there are things that don’t appeal to my sensibilities, I don’t sit down and gripe about them at that moment; I leave. Whether or not I come back is irrelevant. It’s obvious at that moment that a particular thing wasn’t written for me or to me, and thus I don’t have to try to force it into what I want it to be. There are plenty of other outlets, plenty of other people who’d appreciate my time, and those people who are doing something I’m not interested in are going to appreciate that I didn’t stop by and rake them through the coals because they weren’t my cup of tea at that moment either.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re in a niche that not everyone can get behind. Those that do get behind it will be loyal to a fault, especially if you return that loyalty. And don’t beat yourself up if someone comes to your blog and leaves comments, yet you visit their blog and find yourself kind of lost. I think anyone who’s expecting me to stop by a punk rock blog just because they stopped by here and posted a comment is kidding themselves, just as I know I’d be kidding myself if I thought everyone should be watching and listening to every opera video I posted.
If you’re creating something, whether it’s a blog or website or book or music, create what you want, then find your particular audience, or they’ll find you. Don’t cater to someone who hasn’t invested time to learn what it is you have to offer. Sure, there are times when you might have to take a step back and give some background before moving forward. But like Harry Potter, X-Files and John Denver, if your stuff has been out there for awhile and a newcomer stops by and slams you for their ignorance, don’t bite; just go on with your bad selves. And if you’re wondering where that comes from, check out a clip from one of my favorites, the Muppets:
You know, I’ve written often about my travails in trying to make money online. Do you know what the number one niche for blogging is in the world? Making money online! Do you know how many people are actually making money online, and by that I mean money enough to live off? Less than .3%.
Finally last week a big time blogger, John Chow, wrote a post telling people to stop stop blogging about making money online if you’ve never made any money online. I thought it was about time one of them wrote it, and I liked it so much that I actually commented on the post, which I rarely do with the big names, as I’ve talked about in the past.
Whenever I’ve talked about it on this blog, I’ve either given a monthly report or talked about something I’ve tried and how it performed. I certainly have made little money off this blog, and I get all sorts of things from people such as “if you talked about only one thing”, if you “niched”, if you collected email addresses, on and on and on. Please folks; it works for some and doesn’t work for others.
Why is that? I think it really comes down to a few things. You need a true support system. You need some loyal visitors and you need a lot of them. You need a few folks who have high ranking blogs that get a lot of visitors to help give you a push. And you need to write that one post that really gets you a lot of attention in your niche, or for a product. In other words, you need a break, and a major one.
How many of us really get that? I actually can’t totally gripe about mine all that much except it’s not really on a topic that’s helped me any. When I wrote that one post on cleavage it was kind of a lark. Yet it overwhelms every other post I’ve ever written by an almost 10 – 1 margin. It averages 1 minute and 26 seconds as far as how long people stay on the post. and it has a bounce rate of 70%. That means a couple of things. One, it probably takes folks that long to look at the pictures, since it doesn’t get a lot of real comments. And two, people were looking for specifically that topic, came to the blog, noticed nothing else was like it and left. It’s helped some with traffic but none with sales or money making. Instead, it got this blog banned from Adsense; of all things!
The overall thing is that people should write about a few types of things. One, what you know. Two, what you like. Three, what you maybe don’t like (or what makes you mad; politics, religion, racism, ice cream, etc) that you can write a lot about. That’s about it; everything else doesn’t really matter. With these three things, you can show passion in your writing, communicate with people well, and possibly have the opportunity to make money. At the very least, you’ll sound original; everyone likes that.
Just be yourself and write that way; who doesn’t love that?