Yesterday, a good friend told me that she loves my blog and she hopes it makes me a lot of money. When I finally finished laughing, I decided that maybe some explanation was in order. Because on the face of it, doing all this work for free doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I set up my blog site because I needed a simple website. A blog site is easier and cheaper to set up and maintain than a custom website, and it works just as well for me. Also, I was intensely curious about social media and driven by the fear of becoming obsolete as more communication moves to the web. In early 2010, blogging was considered the cornerstone of a social media presence, so I decided to learn by doing.
I get all of my business from personal networking and referrals, so this blog is a way to learn more about me once we’ve met or someone has given you my name as a writer-for-hire. I need you to understand my areas of expertise, so in addition to occasional entries about the types of projects I write, I have an About page and a Portfolio page. I also want you to get the impression that I’m a good writer, that I understand marketing and social media concepts, that I’m thoughtful and creative, and that I would probably be good to work with. The Testimonials page really helps with this, too.
And that’s it–for now, at least.
There are thousands of articles about the benefits of blogging, but ask.com’s “Why Should You Start a Blog for Your Business?” is a decent overview. Basically, it comes down to marketing: “Blogs give businesses the opportunity to discuss products, share upcoming product or company news and hype just about anything the business wants.” However, although this article makes a number of good points, it leaves out the fact that blogs improve a website’s search engine results through fresh content, and that blogging is a good way to become known as an expert or “thought leaders” in your industry.
The primary way of making money is “affiliate marketing.” A blog owner agrees to display an ad for another website on her blog, thus becoming an affiliate of the advertised blog. She gets compensated based on the traffic her blog generates for the advertised website (the number of people who click on her ad and/or buy from the advertised website). As I understand it, compensation formulas can be tricky. Bloggers can also be compensated for promoting products in their actual blog entries. I wrote a bit about that in a previous post, [truth in blogging].
However, unless you have a huge audience, it’s hard to make a good living from just a blog. Most bloggers are also consultants like me. And an increasing number of them are publishing and selling books, which are largely targeted to other bloggers and marketers, of course!