Learning Your Craft: The Business of Blogging
I”m a firm believer in expanding your skill set during your 20s, especially you young, single people. A craft that I have worked on over the past few years is blogging, namely the business of blogging. Most people assume blogging means writing some nonsense and publishing it to the world. On the contrary, the business of blogging requires organization, understanding your market, developing revenue, capital allocation and yes, writing as well.
If you decide to undertake developing a blog into a legitimate income stream (a decision you shouldn’t make lightly), you should be willing to fully commit to learning the craft of blogging. The rest of this article will discuss this process further.
Your Market & Your Environment
You wouldn’t go into business without learning your market and your business environment would you? For blogging, the world wide web is your environment and web surfers are your market. You need to operate efficiently within the web, understand how the rules of the web can help or hurt your success and maximize the traffic and customers that the web can throw your way.
For now, and for the coming years, Google basically runs the web. This could easily at some point, but for now, if you can make Google work for you, you can have success. Focus on Google.
There are two things you want from Google and they both work together. First, you want high rankings in their search results – when people search for relate keywords, you want your site to be near the top so that they click through to your blog. Second, you want google to slap a high Page Rank value on your site. While the Page Rank (PR) is factored into your search results rankings, it is also an outward sign to the web on your standing with Google.
Turning to the revenue side of the business for a second, people will pay you more to advertise on your site if you have a higher PR. The reason for this is that you can increase your PR and standing with Google by having other sites with high PR link to you. Thus, sites will pay a high PR site to link to their site. To sum up, a high PR means better search traffic through higher rankings in search results and more advertising dollars because people want high PR sites to link to them.
In order to flourish in your market, you need referrals. These referrals will often come in the form of links to your blog. These links not only provide pathways for surfers to travel over to your site but also help boost your PR as discussed above. In business, people will regularly stop into their clients or their referrers in order to maintain a relationship in an effort to keep the referrals coming. This is no different in blogging. You should build relationships with other bloggers, stay on their radar, in an attempt to generate continuous links to your site. You can consider exchanging referrals or exchanging links.
The most obvious and widely used revenue opportunity in blogging is advertising. There are two main forms of advertising.
- Advertising that pays based on performance (pay per click)
- Advertising that pays based on exposure (pay for impressions)
Google Adsense, the most widely used platform, falls into category number 1. You make money when someone clicks on the ad. The clicks typically generate somewhere from a few cents to a few bucks per click. Because it is performance based, the revenue generated is a function of both traffic and design. By design I mean the effectiveness in luring a visitor to click the ad. Design can be a function of ad placement, look & feel, etc.
Advertising that pays based on exposure typically refers to private ads, where someone contacts you directly and wants an ad on your site and pays you a fixed fee per month or year or whatever regardless of the actual traffic that it generates for them. As mentioned above, sometimes they will pay simply for the PR and not even considering how many visitors will actually click the link and go to their page. This type of advertising is a function of traffic and PR (and maybe a few other metrics like Alexa). Basically, people will want to pay you if they know a lot of people go to your site and if the PR will help them out.
Another advertising opportunity that I want to briefly mention is Kontera which allows you to insert in-text ad links. This can be a simple way without messing with your layout of generating some extra money each month. It may or may not be worth it depending on your blog.
Reinvesting For Growth
This is a topic that I like to discuss a lot because it seems hard to find quality information on reinvesting actual money into a blog for the sake of growth. How can you spend money on your blog? Let’s look at some ways.
The first and most logical option is buying advertisements on other sites in an effort to drive traffic to you. I really don’t go this route because I want my backlinks to be the more natural kind because I’m terrified of being penalized by Google. Google is smart and they don’t like paid links because it disrupts the natural linking process based on quality vs. money. I think dollars can be spent more wisely.
Another option is to pay writers to help you generate quality content. This is a very valid option and one that I’m exploring. Continuously generating quality content is a large endeavor that can get tough at times depending on your schedule. Content is the core of your business. Without it, you’re not going anywhere. The quality part can be difficult when paying someone else because they are doing it for a one time fee versus having an actual stake in the success of the business. Expect to pay freelance writers anywhere from $10-$20 per article.
An interesting area to invest, in my opinion, is blog directories or web directories. The consensus opinion in the blogosphere is that these directories are a waste of money. It is for that very reason that they intrigue me. Because so few people are willing to spend the money on these, especially the big, expensive ones, I think that they can hold more weight and merit in the eyes of almighty Google. Yahoo’s directory (dir.yahoo.com) is $300 for entry. Best of the Web (botw.org) is $60 I believe. And there are a bunch others. I’ve currently added 20smoney.com to BOTW but not yet Yahoo! Directory. I may add to Yahoo! in the future depending on revenues.
I like to say, I’m not blogging to earn a few hundred extra bucks a month. I’m doing it to build an asset that can generate a few thousand bucks a month. In order to get there, I have to continuously work at it but also continuously invest in it.
If you are in the business of blogging, it’s important to learn your craft and the surrounding areas that touch your business, namely the market and the environment. By mastering this world in which your business operates, you set yourself up for greater success.
For another article in the Learning your craft series, check out Learning Your Craft: Investing & Trading.