One year ago, when I first arrived in Silicon Valley from the Land Down Under, one of the most significant differences I noticed, when it comes to technology, is the size of the blogosphere.
Utilized by businesses and individuals in the States, blogging is still in its infancy in Australia.
Ironic really, given one of the pioneers of the phenomenon is fellow Australian Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger, one of the best reference sites on the Web for bloggers, and a blogger himself since 2002.
Six lessons learned from six months of play:
1. Find a blogging tool that you like, that gives you most of what you need. They all have their quirks, you just need to decide which you can live with, and those you can’t. Don’t listen to anyone else, you are unique; work it out yourself. This acquainting process took me six months, you may be quicker. Don’t be scared of starting five blogs while you learn, you can always delete them later on
2. While you are playing with the various blogging tools, read. Read voraciously. Find blogs you like and check them daily. See what inspires you, what annoys you, and what is out there. It helps you find your niche; what you will ultimately be writing about. Me, I love information, writing, and the Internet, and this leads us to:
3. Write about something you are passionate about. You absolutely have to love the subject and want to suck up as much information about it as you can. You have to know the subject inside out; if you don’t, your blog will bomb. In which case, what was the point of it in the first place?
4. Make the time. To understand the blogosphere, to outline the plan, to reacquaint yourself with basic grammar, and to write; then work out how many hours you can, or want, to dedicate to it daily. Then think Nike: Just do it.
5. Learn the terminology. The blogosphere is full of portmanteau words and you’ll do your head in if you can’t work them out. If you plan to make money blogging, you really need to know what options are available to you. Speaking of money:
6. Don’t think: “Cool, I’ll start a blog, and the cash will flow in.” Doesn’t work. Sure, there are ways you can make money blogging; join link exchange sites, plaster your blog with ads, or join groups/sites that offer a couple of bucks a post. You’ll fail; here’s why:
Search engines don’t like link farms. If search engines don’t like you they ban you. If they ban you, you won’t be found. If you can’t be found, what exactly is the point of blogging? I’m sure you are not the only form of entertainment for Aunt Gertrude.
Readers don’t trust sites full of ads, especially the in-your-face, flashing, noisy, epileptic fit inducing advertisements. They drive your readers away and get them thinking about malware, “Hmm – is this one of those drive-by sites that puts something awful on my computer?” If they are thinking that, they don’t come back, and they warn others to stay away. So, if you’ve lost your readers, who will click on those revenue building advertisements?
A buck or two a story – cool. How many stories do you think you can knock out an hour? Let’s call it miwacrapping; the collision of minimum wage and crappy writing. Even at five bucks an hour, with my time constraints, I could—at best—be miwacrapping to the tune of $75 a week. In this instance, the readers don’t get the chance to go away; you go away.
So how exactly do you make money online?
- Write about something you love; it will help you remain committed.
- Find your niche; narrow your subject matter down and write to a specific audience.
- Do your research; readers want information – supply it!
- Write compelling content; readers (and search engines) will love you and keep checking back.
- Write well; bad grammar is often associated with bad information. Don’t do it.
- Update frequently; give people a reason to keep coming back (and search engines).
- Don’t whine and opine: until you are seen as a leader in your field, keep it to a minimum.
- Build a community; respond to comments and comment on like minded blogs. Ignore idiots
- Link well; Link only to relevant blogs and dare I say it…advertisements.
- Market thyself; once you have the basics down, promote, promote, promote.
If you are intersted:
18 Lessons I’ve leant about Blogging:
Darren Rowse, ProBloger
The First 100 Days: Observations of a Nouveau Blogger
Guy Kawasaki, Marketing Evangelist