Blogging is all the rave these days. There isn’t a day that goes by without the words blog, blogger or blogosphere appearing on the front-page of a widely-circulated newspaper, or in a mainstream article on your favourite media site.
But there’s a reason why this has happened.
Blogging has enabled ordinary Joe to write about his life, his passions and his business and makes his thoughts accessible to anyone surfing the web – which could potentially be millions of visitors. Such a marketing tool along with the rise of social media has not gone unnoticed and has resulted in a huge wave of new blogs being created daily, and with that has come a new generation of blogging superstars, experts and professional “bloggers”. You only need to read Darren Rowse’s brilliant Problogger to see what I mean.
Whilst creating a blog has become a lot easier over the past few years thanks to the rise of open-source content management systems such as WordPress (and their famous 1-click-installs for those of us technically challenged), there are still many assumptions that the general public hold against the blogosphere. I wanted to go through a few of these and comment on them based on my own experience in the world of blogs, in part to warn new writers entering the ‘sphere but also to serve as lessons which can hopefully help you get a leg-up on your competitors.
1. Blogging is not a make money overnight solution. I am yet to find an example of a blogger “making it big” overnight without having put in hours of work beforehand for little or no compensation. The truth is, bloggers can and must spend a lot of time tweaking their designs, writing pages of content, contacting other sites hoping for a link-out or marketing their site in order to try and create a revenue stream, especially if they are a newbie starting from scratch. Perseverance is vital, and the efforts you put in today will hopefully pay off tomorrow.
2. It’s lonely at the bottom. Whilst the famous saying quotes the opposite, it can be very lonely trying to raise the profile of your site whilst starting out as the billionth blog in the blogosphere. When I started Blogtrepreneur I rarely got comments, traffic was in the 10’s not the 1000’s and others around me felt that I was wasting time building something which had no present value. Believe in yourself and what you are doing and you will have something to show for it in the near future.
3. At the beginning, having good content is not the only thing you should be worrying about. I once heard a very good analogy about sites; a new website is like owning a shop in the middle of the desert. The internet is a vast place but unless you tell people about your creation, you can’t expect to have any customers. Sure we’ve all heard the mantra “Content is King” but without a decent marketing plan, you have failed to prepare and thus are preparing yourself to fail.
4. Blogging can have significant start-up costs attached. Everyone knows that a blog can be built for free on platforms such as Blogger, or close to free with a cheap domain and hosting, but many fail to factor in our most valuable resource; time. Every hour that you spend working on your new blog could be spent on an income stream or working in a coffee shop, all of which could be putting more money in your pocket. Calculating your opportunity cost of starting a blog is important and could save you from running into a financial hazard early on in your blogging career.
5. Blogging is difficult. That is a bit of a downer of a statement but nevertheless a true one. By owning a blog you must stay on top of the latest news in your niche, you must brush up on your HTML and Photoshop skills in order to hack away at your theme, you must manage authors and pay-outs and above all, you will be responsible for your blog and everything that comes with it. A lot of people out there don’t mind this responsibility but in the 2 years I have been blogging, I’ve seen writers come and go as they find the blogosphere a hard place to keep up with – make sure you can stick it out and success will seek you out.
All in all, you may think that this has been a pretty pessimistic outlook on the ‘sphere and the financial, emotional, psychological and physical strain that comes with owning and starting a blog. However my goal is not to discourage you from starting your website, as I believe owning one is vital if you want to keep up with the technological progress that is being made every day.
When you do decide to open the doors to your weblog though, remember what I have written above as it will surely make you a better blogger and hopefully, one of the bigger winners.