Whether new or old to blogging, whether 3 days in or 3 years in, sooner or later you’ll be thinking about money. It is inevitable…. …but there lies the initial question:
Should I be thinking about money when blogging?
Blogging as an activity is gaining more ground by larger numbers of the general population on a daily basis. Many people blog for the fun of it and for the enjoyment of sharing writing, sound, images and video on a frequent basis. It can be a very personal and very community based activity.
Businesses are increasingly adding blogs to their websites in order to interact with community. This is mostly because protest groups form on the Internet and businesses can stem some of the anger by spearing off the trouble before it gets out of hand. “Community managers” are appointed to conduct transparency and deflection on the corporate blogs and social media linked with them. This change has also come about because of the fact that each article has the potential (with SEO/SERPS) to return a potential customer towards their website and with suitable optimisation, lead them to products and services.
There has also been an influx in “have a go heros”; Ordinary people who, with a great idea, have been able to carve out extraordinary profits. I could list hundreds but breaking from my tradition of listing you some names I’m sure you have your favourite bloggers who’ve turned a tidy profit. You know who those people are and you wish to emulate them.
As to the question in hand…
Should I be thinking about money when blogging?
This really depends on why you are blogging.
If you started out blogging for fun and have done so on a free platform like Blogger, Blogspot or Tumblr, you may not be thinking about money as much as somebody with a hosted CMS on their own domain such as WordPress or Drupal. People who have shelled out for something more committed have a much higher taste for monetization. They have paid for a domain with the intent of returning on their investment because hosting, domains and other ancillary services cost yearly or monthly fees.
If you started out with the idea of making a business, becoming an entrepreneur, you are in it for money. Whilst it may be based on a subject you have a passion for, or you enjoy the way you produce it, it is still with an eye on the money prize.
So should I be thinking about it?
It’s not a crime to think about making money through blogging. Many people do make modest incomes from their blogging activity. The important part is that they have to work at it. There aren’t so many passive streams (unless you put in some heavy groundwork).
There are some problems with money ruling your destination!
Money itself is not the problem so much as how it motivates you. So I will talk about 5 issues that I think rest at the top. I’d be grateful if you can highlight more in the comments below or tweet them to me at @blogprefect
Issue 1: Over production
You may start working a schedule that is way beyond the frequency that you might have worked to if you were not motivated by money. This will put pressure on you to perform to the same quality.
There is something to be said about natural versus artificial. Natural takes longer but produces a more genuine picture to your audience. Artificial methods draw question from your audience, being dishonest can be detrimental to your status, and to your audience’s ability to trust you in future.
Stupid mistakes make you look stupid, simple.
I often get invited to events on Google+, many of these events I avoid because of their forced, artificial nature. Nobody wants to waste time being sold something. You don’t naturally go in search of advertisements. You naturally go in search of answers.
Issue 2: Making it work “The square peg in a round hole”
Sometimes whilst you put in a sterling effort to push the sale home, you are going to be doing a lot outside of your comfort zone. Some solutions will not be of good quality and they may come across in an abrasive fashion, ill-fitting and inconsistent with your blog’s ethos.
You can often set out to make something work. The saying “Heath Robinson” relates to a man named W. Heath Robinson, an English gentleman born in 1872, who was renowned for drawing crazy rickety machines that required constant maintenance. An American by the name of “Rube Goldberg” also had similar styled madcap drawings. These machines could stand a chance of working but the rather unusual method of their construction made the illustrators names synonymous with half-arsed solutions.
Being professional you never want to stand by substandard work but often if you are forced to find a solution to support you in the meantime it will be a less than perfect fit. The fact is that you can put a square peg in a round hole and you can put a round peg through a square hole but you shouldn’t really. It gets the job done but there is a difference between doing a job and doing a job well. The truth is that you don’t want to get known for half hearted solutions.
You don’t gain a lot of trust from the audience if they doubt your solution’s end results and 90% of the time a person comes in search of an answer on a search engine.
Issue 3: The “smell of sell”
Leading on from making it work, the “smell of sell” is the point you encounter when what you are reading is an advert with no neutrality, you are either bashing another product to sell another or singing the praises of what you have to offer with no flaws at all. As there are many varied ways of selling on the Internet there are many ways that you can come across in a negative light to a passing reader. The smell of sell becomes stronger as you succeed more, along with it, comes an ego, a position and an establishment.
The smell of sell is okay if people come to you because you are an honest seller who does expose weaknesses, provides hints and tips and does their best to match the product or service to the right target.
The smell of sell is not okay if it has no place in what you are trying to do.
- Pushing your luck will lose you custom.
- Hard sells are unattractive and scream of desperation.
- Cold sales don’t inspire repeat custom.
Issue 4: Damaging your relationship with what you love
Through performing an activity in a more focused way and more aggressively than you were used to, there is a risk that all passion can flow out of what you love doing. This is especially common with hobbies turned into jobs. Whilst many successful people regale about the success of turning a hobby into a job, very few admit when the opposite outcome was the case. There are not so many people who indicate that they lost all passion for that once loved hobby, but don’t be under any illusion that they don’t exist.
Actions performed over-frequently without the reward become stale, unsatisfying and tiresome.
As your relationship with what you love is tarnished by unhappy circumstances, the malaise (unease) of the day-to-day grind and an over familiarity, you’ll begin to lose the original cheer from your rare treat. Some things should just remain a hobby, a happy pastime for you to cherish in your down time. Such things should be preserved to remind you that living is fun.
Issue 5: Working to burn out
Making money can be an addictive process and often to make satisfying amounts means many hours with the nose on the grindstone. Often that time spent can never be returned and you can endanger relationships with your family, friends and loved ones (including pets).
As you bond yourself more to the process you may begin to lose grip on the healthy elements needed to conduct your life in a balanced fulfilling way. You might be working 18 hour days or worse.
Working to established 8 hours days (or if working shift, 12 hour days) has been proven to be more efficient over the long run. You lose efficiency in what you are doing by the phenomenon of attention drift or target fixation if you work outside the norm.
Such a scenario might be a logger (lumberjack). Such a man (or very burly woman) would never choose to work a 15 day stretch with a physically gruelling work schedule ahead of them with no down time. Why would you do the same on a mentally gruelling schedule?
To add to this burn out dilemma, those who stack the dice and place their whole faith on blogging turning a profit (because they are out of traditional work or because they are living on the limit of their finances) will be more critical of their offerings placing more pressure on themselves to be perfectionists. This magnifies the effects of failure if they do everything right but don’t hit the right spot. The Internet is not always fair, the Internet is often just the Internet, electronic soup to the masses.
Writing in general can provide a great area for burn out. Stringing together successful topics over long durations and at oppressive frequencies can eventually empty the tank of creative juices. Sooner or later you will hit a dry spell but with working harder you’ll reach the dry spot sooner and through being worn out this arid time is likely to last longer. Writing and researching can be mentally draining; this can be heightened when working long hours and to tight deadlines. Pressure from clients and the audience can also stack further mental pressure on the process.
Remember: A shroud has no pockets. What I mean by that is, if you die, you can’t take your valuables with you so you should enjoy life while you can.
It is no crime to earn money while blogging but it shouldn’t be the only reason. That is to say that you shouldn’t start a venture as a fraud. You should have some interest or passion in what you are doing.
You are here often to help people. When people go searching on Google or a whole selection of search engines, they may be looking with some form of urgency. By being dishonest you aren’t doing these searchers any favours. If you believe in karma then you’ll treat others as you want to be treated and to spell that out, fairly and with good information. A shop that you will return to is one that gives good information and helps you solve your problem in the most efficient way, not the one that sells you things you don’t need at exorbitant prices.