Blogging is like jumping of a plane without a parachute. You then have to build your parachute on your way down. It’s a dicey situation but if you concentrate on building your parachute and not on how close you are to a horrible collusion, you’ll land in one piece.
I remember a story of MGM.
MGM produced a film called “Rasputin and the Empress”. They sought to avoid legal action by Prince Yusupov, so they changed his name in the film to Prince Chegodieff. Surprisingly, Prince Yusupov sued the film company for neglecting to give him credit for his role in Rasputin’s murder. He won the case and MGM was forced to pay a substantial sum in damages to the prince. Ironically, a real Prince Chegodieff also sued the studio for libelous use of his name and MGM was forced to pay him additional damages.
If MGM were to write a blog post titled, “7 things we wish we did before producing, ‘Rasputin and the Empress’”, what do you think they'll wish for?
All I can say is that trying to get it right on your own from the beginning may cause you more harm than good.
When I started blog publishing, I was a complete novice. I knew I was an amateur but felt like I knew a lot. Just like most new bloggers who think they know exactly what they are doing.
It’s interesting to dive right into something and learn on the job, and thank goodness, my case wasn’t as bad as MGM’s. But like a Chinese saying, “If you want to know what lies ahead, ask those who are coming back”. By sharing what I have learned about blogging to make money over the years, I believe it will help you avoid making mistakes that would cost you in the long run.
Choosing the wrong niche is a dead trap
The most important decision you’ll ever make as a blog content publisher is choosing the right niche. Everything else along your content marketing venture is a function of how right you are with your choice of topic. I chose my initial blog topic out of scarcity of blogs in that niche. Although I was making money from the blog, a time came when I out grew it and needed to move on. When choosing a blog topic, chose a niche you can live with for a long time. In other words, choose a niche you have long term interest in.
Building a blog for everyone will hinder your creativity
This is the easiest way to build frustration as a blog content publisher. Attracting the wrong audience will limit you from connecting to the right people for whose reason you are blogging in the first place. I was lucky to focus on building a niche blog from start. But after these years, I have learned that even in your chosen niche, you still have to define the personality of your potential readers.
For instance, if you are blogging about personal finance, rather than just write about personal finance for anyone that cares to read, focus on say personal finance for aspiring entrepreneurs. That way you attract a defined group of people you can connect with.
Not defining your target audience is like shooting without aiming
This is similar to the previous point but let me elaborate here. Can you describe who you are writing for? One of the core lessons I learned from an online marketing course by Copyblogger is to create your ideal audience. Give him or her a name if you have to. Then each time you are writing a blog article, imagine that you are writing directly to that one person. This technique is powerful and can drastically change your career as an online educator.
Not making income goals obvious can hurt your business
During an interactive session I attended at Google Nigeria office one of the questions I was asked by a Google staff was, “How do you make money from your website?” In fact they categorized my site as a non-profit. I’ve been asked this question countless times by my blog readers. This is not a very good perception for a business. It can be disastrous if people settle with the thought that your blog is just a charity work, and then one day you decide to sell them something.
Not focusing on networking hampers your speed
Although I did reach out to network with a some content publishers back then, I later lost momentum and focused on doing it all alone. The truth is that you can achieve more, faster when you build relationship with others in your field.
Thinking 'Selling is bad' is a negative mindset
I've often had a problem with selling in my early days of building my online business. By the time I was earning reasonably well from advertising; Google Adsense, I could hardly get myself to sell something. I want to help people and I want to be comfortable financially doing it. But I always let the thought of not annoying my readers get the better side of me.
I got to learn that the whole world revolve around selling. Getting you to read to this point involves selling with every sentence I write. The only difference is that in this case, you are paying with your time. It takes selling to win a lady; selling to convince your parents that music is your true passion; selling to win a job interview; selling to win a business partnership. I’ve learned to be comfortable with selling, as long as what I am selling is of real value to the buyer.
Worrying about numbers rather than relationship is hypocritical
A lot of blog publishers and media entrepreneurs fall into this trap. They are busy working to increase their Facebook likes, twitter followers, email subscribers, and end up failing to connect with the existing people at their disposal. I made this mistake earlier on. Now I focus on quality and not quantity of my audience. In fact, I recently encouraged subscribers to my newsletter to unsubscribe from the list if they no longer want to receive my newsletters. Almost a hundred people unsubscribed. It’s better to have 100 readers who truly care about what you have to say, than to have 10,000 who don’t appreciate your work.
Not having an intentional business strategy can be dicey
It is ok to dive in and figure everything out on the job. It’s also better to learn from those who have gone before you and carefully plan out your business strategy. It’s a though arena out there. To succeed, you need to have at least a starter plan; a strategy. You can adapt and adjust as you go forward.
Note: I don't believe you have to wait until you have the right plan or strategy; in fact I discourage perfection. It's better to get started and learn along the way than wait for a perfect time that may never come.
There you have my 7 +1 lessons I wish I knew about blogging to make money four years ago. The repercussion of my ignorance wasn’t as bad as MGM paying double fines in damages for not doing their home work.
Hopefully this will help you stay out of trouble.