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Kickstart Your Blogging Business and Make Big Money: 7 Reality Checks

[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 is Evil

  • 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.
Making Millions

  • 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?

Free tools

  • 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.”

I’d add to the list of useful tools such as GIMP, PingOat, Squidoo.

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:

Once you have these fundamentals in place, you’d find that building your business is much easier.

WhoIsAndrewWee

  • 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?

Focus

  • 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.

Build A Community
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.

Change the World
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.

72 comments on Kickstart Your Blogging Business and Make Big Money: 7 Reality Checks

  1. Grigor
    December 21, 2006 at 8:47 pm (7 years ago)

    Andrew, it’s nice to read an article about starting a blog which is not simply a list of tools and WordPress plugins which “successful” blogger must use to get reach. Thanks.

  2. Ashok
    December 21, 2006 at 9:28 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautiful article on blogging and internet marketing. found your blog through problogger nice tips.

  3. Andrew Wee
    December 21, 2006 at 9:50 pm (7 years ago)

    Grigor: tks, though the list of tools and wordpress plugins has been done already…

    at it’s heart, blogging is about what you say and how you say it, rather than all the techno-steroid stuff anyone might use.


    Ashok: tks for visiting and glad you enjoyed it. it was a pleasure to put this out.

  4. Brad Shorr
    December 21, 2006 at 11:12 pm (7 years ago)

    Thanks for this massive amount of useful information! You’ve given me several ideas.

    My ProBlogger Group story–

    http://tinyurl.com/yby5ms

  5. Char
    December 21, 2006 at 11:16 pm (7 years ago)

    Very nice work! We must have started this blogging trek about the same time and I have had many of the same revelations and reality checks as you have. Now I need to get working on my post for ProBloggers project.

  6. Madhur Kapoor
    December 21, 2006 at 11:21 pm (7 years ago)

    Great Article ….thanks for such wonderful tips … You got a great blog …m subscribing to it …

  7. George
    December 21, 2006 at 11:45 pm (7 years ago)

    Awesome post. I am going to add your blog to my bloglines reader. I wrote about the power of social networking in my entry to Darren’s project. I think that is SO important for getting traffic.

    All the best in 2007,
    George

  8. Grigor
    December 22, 2006 at 12:42 am (7 years ago)

    Sorry, Andrew, I didn’t had your blog on my mind. I deeply apologize if I sounded like that. I know that you already covered those topics as well, and that they are important, but there are many blogs writing about blogging which put an emphasize on technical stuff only. Therefore it was a pleasure to read your post.

  9. Tony
    December 22, 2006 at 12:57 am (7 years ago)

    Very well done Andrew =)

  10. monchster
    December 22, 2006 at 1:02 am (7 years ago)

    Andrew,

    Awesome post… You really hit the nail there when you ask, “Are you an ‘everything under the sun’ blogger?”.

    Many believe that blogging is about posting your opinion on any subject and that immediately an influx of readers will come. Not true…. and I am sure you can attest to that. It’s not easy to generate traffic to a blog, and on top of that keep fresh content coming.

    Nice Post!

  11. Rashenbo
    December 22, 2006 at 1:17 am (7 years ago)

    Fantastic list! Not only do I love your graphics that accent your point… but your content here is right on the dot. I’ve also used some tools for free and some for pay… you really have to test the waters to find out how things work, how link love happens and what will work for YOU… what works for blogger A doesn’t necessarily work for blogger B… but the concepts behind the action are the same and they are important.

    This definitely goes on my favorites of the problogger list… :) thank you for sharing.

    I found you on the Problogger Predictions and Reviews Participant List and thought I’d stop over and say hello.

    Cheers!

    Writing Aspirations

  12. Andrew Wee
    December 22, 2006 at 1:19 am (7 years ago)

    brad: tks for coming by. i’ll pop by and check your post soon.

    char: great minds think alike! I look forward to checking out your post.

    madhu: tks for dropping by. i get as much a kick out of creating the content as you might from reading it

    george: i like the crazy traffic that social media generates too.

    grigor: i was just joking…….. oops!

    tony: tks! it’s not often these competitions come along, and i pull out all the stops for it (even to the extent of writing 1500+ word posts!)

    monchster: we all start out trying all sorts of things. most of them won’t work however. i learn more from making mistakes than merely getting it right every time.

  13. Yoav
    December 22, 2006 at 1:22 am (7 years ago)

    Very articulate and engaging. I was a bit taken back by Grigor’s comment (taking into account my last post). But hey what can you do When he is right he is right!

  14. Andrew Wee
    December 22, 2006 at 1:42 am (7 years ago)

    Rashenbo: the unpredictability of what you do in blogging or on the internet is what keeps things exciting (almost like love and romance…)

    Yoav: ha ha.

  15. Ashish Mohta
    December 22, 2006 at 8:41 am (7 years ago)

    Nice tips there.But believe me i will change the blogging world sooner or later.Its not just about blogging.The way u said why magazines dont cost u 1000$ why doest get reader a choice to ask hey can u blog this.we blog and expect readers to put a comment but why most of them dont know about :”what is a comment”

  16. Andrew Wee
    December 23, 2006 at 1:29 am (7 years ago)

    MnM: glad to know you enjoyed the post

    ashish: i believe the internet gives instant info. and for basic information, readers can easily google for it. where a blog provides extra value is if you get specific questions related to your area of expertise. or if you go into an opinion/editorial-based post.

  17. Bruno C
    December 24, 2006 at 3:22 am (7 years ago)

    Thumbs up to a very fine article. I just stumbled accross your blog while researching the wordpress adsense system on behalf of our audience at oppsreview.com. I’m sure our subscribers will be interested in it as well. I will certainly send them over here.
    All the best in 2007.

    Bruno C
    Editor – http://www.OppsReview.com

  18. TOFUmonkey
    December 25, 2006 at 12:32 pm (7 years ago)

    hen andrew,

    you always deliver great content.
    it’s a good reflection of what i’ve been doing for the past 4 months also. :)

    Keep up the good work!
    You rock dude! :)

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24 Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Kickstart Your Blogging Business and Make Big Money: 7 Reality Checks

  1. Customerservant.com » Blog Archive » Reviews And Previews Round-up
    December 22, 2006 at 11:56 pm (7 years ago)

    [...] Problogger has posted the entire list of submissions for the Reviews and Previews group writing project, and I figured I’d go through all two hundred and ninety-three of them and pick my favorite ones. I hope it provides some interesting reading. These are in no particular order, and I’m going to list all of my favorite ones, instead of narrowing it down to ten or whatever number. Andrew tells us that lawyer blogs contribute to the list of reasons people have to hate lawyers. Sarakastic has an interesting take on Time’s person of the year for this year. Domtan has some very practical New Year’s resolutions for bloggers. Ken sees more monetization in store for blogs and other user-generated content, and expresses some misgivings. Definitely something to ponder. TJP goes through several stupid ways to lose money, and provides accompanying advice. Engtech has a very good post on how to be a not-so-successful blogger. Daniel lists a ton of blogging tips. Another Andrew has a really good post on some internet marketing reality checks. Yoav gives us a list of blogging tools he says we’ll find useful in 2007. And that ends the list. I’ve enjoyed participating in this particular group writing project, and plan to participate in others in future. Everybody enjoy reading. Filed in Technology [...]

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