[This post is my entry for Darren Rowse's ProBlogger Group Writing Project - Reviews and Predictions]
2006 was an interesting time for me as I plunged into Internet Marketing.
Although I didn’t have a clear idea in the beginning, it was very clear that the path of least resistance would be to go with blogging.
In the course of the last 5 months, I’ve had a series of interesting experiences and the questions I’ve dealt with appear to be common with all new bloggers, whether the questions originate from a blog, a forum, a blog network or a social networking site.
Here’s 2006 in retrospective in a FAQ format with money making tips and 7 Reality Checks for bloggers and internet marketers.
- Blogging Reality Check 1: Making Money from Blogging is Evil
I’m not sure of the intent of this often heard objection.
I guess some might have ‘pure/purist intentions’ and expect that blogging is some form of ‘cathartic release’ for heavy/philosophical/ponderous thinking.
I see blogging as a form of personal journalism. And journalists have to eat.
Like it or not, the reason why your newspaper or magazine doesn’t cost $100 a copy is because it’s sponsored by advertisements and the classifieds. Likewise, blogs can be financially self-sustaining through adsense, affiliate marketing and other monetization strategies.
Expecting bloggers to provide free content is akin to expecting musicians to provide music free of charge.
It takes time and resources to produce blog content and there is a measurable value to it.
In a utopian society, writers, artists, musicians would be able to freely practise their craft without fear of finding their next meal. We don’t live in that world yet.
- Blogging Reality Check 2: I Will Make Millions Overnight
On the other extreme, I have spoken to bloggers who expect to make huge sums of money overnight.
It’s unlikely to happen unless you are some sort of celebrity, likely a mega celebrity if you’re planning to bring in the megabucks.
If you are not however, it’s time to face a reality check.
We’ve also heard about products or software that can automatically build blogs by the hundreds every hour, and we’ve also heard about how if each blog earns a dollar each day, you’d be earning thousands of dollars in your sleep.
While you might have some degree of success using these blogging-related “quick buck” schemes, it might not necessarily be sustainable (ie you are ‘de-indexed’ and disappear from the search engine results, or your ‘innovative’ monetization exploit is soon negated.) It then becomes a mad rush for the next “black hat template” or the next automated, broadband-enabled, stealth, power-enhanced, web2.0-enabled, ajax-enhanced, php-powered widget.
Rinse and repeat until it gets disabled by one of the higher power. (see above paragraph)
If you are a serious blogger for which blogging is a long term strategy to help you achieve your goals, here’s what I would advise you to do.
Think of your blog as a business tool. Consider:
- How does it fit in with your adsense or affiliate marketing plan?
- How would you go about establish trust and credibility for your business.
- Who would your strategic partners be.
- How are you building your “me” brand?
- Blogging Reality Check 3: Free Tools and Services
New Internet Marketers ask me this all the time: “What are the free tools we can use besides blogger/blogspot to growing our blogging efforts.”
What troubles me however, is that some who aspire to earn online income aim to do it only using free tools.
I think you could probably earn $50-$100 per month using free tools, and if you’re good earn maybe $500.
Beyond that could be highly challenging. I guess if you put your mind to it, you could come up with very interesting business models.
For the vast majority of us however, I’d advise counting the value of your time.
Sure you could surf 1,000 websites and gather the same information, or as one participant at the World Internet Summit said to me, I can just google for everything, I don’t need to buy anything (which was weird because he invested in a World Internet Summit ticket…)
To build a sustainable business, you need to value your time.
Is your time worth $5 an hour? $10? $50? $500? $5,000?
If your time is worth more than the cost of the product or service, you’d be foolish not to subscribe or invest in the product.
Even if your time was worth $1 per hour, I couldn’t see how it’d make sense to manually maintain a mailing list of 1,000 and send them emails on a bi-weekly basis.
I use a combination of free and paid tools and you’d generally be able to tell the difference between the two.
If you have the mindset of starting and operating a business, your tools will generate many times their investment for you.
Some of the useful tools which outweigh their investment include:
- Secret Blog Weapon (Blog Optimization)
- Ultimate Affiliate Weapon (Affiliate Marketing)
- Bluehost web hosting
- Autoresponder: Aweber / GetResponse
Once you have these fundamentals in place, you’d find that building your business is much easier.
- Blogging Reality Check 4: It Takes Tough Times
It’s taken 4 months to get to the stage I’m currently at.
Although I’d have preferred to get here within a week of starting up, building a business, blogging-based or otherwise is as much about the process of getting to your goal, as much as merely achieving it.
As you’re building your blogging business you will encounter setbacks, perhaps days in which your visitor numbers or income drop drastically.
Here’s something that people don’t often talk about.
The measure of a mature blogger is not what happens when good times are rolling, but what you do when things go south.
Do you merely throw in the towel? Do you kick your efforts up a notch?
Often the most spectacular successes are built on the backs of the most dismal circumstances.
Look at the rise of Japan after the Second World War, or Apple after an ousted Steve Jobs rejoined and the company’s fortunes turned not once, but numerous times with the launch of the MacIntosh, the iMac and the iPod.
If you’ve watched real life events unfold during 9-11, you’d know that true heroes are forged in the moments of greatest adversity.
A couple of months ago, I blogged about: Are you ready to give up on Internet Marketing?
It’s still relevant now. Perhaps more so.
Some people seek to avoid difficulty and challenges, others actively seek it.
Which are you?
- Blogging Reality Check 5: I Will Make Millions Overnight
Are you an ‘everything under the sun’ blogger?
If you are one of the myriad of blogger who blogs about “internet marketing”, “health and fitness” or “women’s issues”, you could be biting off more than you can chew.
Catchall blogs work best if they’re run by a panel of bloggers (sometimes as many as 10), or by especially prolific bloggers.
If you’re specializing in everything, you’re specializing in nothing.
Finding your niche and entrenching yourself deeply in it means that your position is virtually unassailable.
If you do choose to tackle “internet marketing”, maybe you want to niche it by focusing on “internet marketing for high school students”, “internet marketing for midcareer professionals” or “internet marketing for single mothers”.
The brick and mortar businesses have moved towards speciality stores, rather than general concept stores (with Wal Mart being one of the few exceptions). Likewise, becoming a niche specialist helps you expand from a position of power.
Blogging Reality Check 6: Build A Community
When you’re starting out, you might be working in isolation.
If you’re fortunate, you might be able to tap into a community. By tapping into these resources, you gain significant leverage as you’re expanding your efforts.
“Leverage”, comes in a few flavors. There’s technological leverage that a software or tool can help by automating your efforts. But far more powerful is social leverage or people-oriented leverage.
And social leverage can easily move mountains.
During the launch of Russell Brunson’s Conquer Your Niche Internet Marketing forum, the site’s traffic went off the charts.
Other sites I frequently visit include:
Forums such as:
Blogs such as:
At it’s simplest, I believe build a community is nothing more than making friends, and I appreciate the opportunities to interact with the likes of Ewen Chia, Jo Han Mok, Social Media specialist Michelle MacPhearson, and my buddies Ryan Chua and Rachit Dayal.
Blogging Reality Check 7: Change the World
This is probably the most important step.
Have a focus bigger than yourself.
You don’t necessarily need to choose ‘world peace’, but you want your blogging efforts to mean more than pounding out 300-700 words every 24 hours, inserting a few photos and hitting the publish button.
We need meaning to keep going.
Meaning is the glue that creates our motivation.
We all have 24 hours a day, and we can choose to spend that time focusing on big project, or on small projects.
When you embrace something huge, something weird happens to your thinking too, it expands.
Your world view blows up and suddenly your universe is not just your neighbourhood, or the people in your village, city, state or country.
If you’re seeing and blogging through the eyes of a world citizen, life (business or personal) can only continue to be a rich canvas to blog about.