Can blogging pay the bills reliably? Is it more like acting as a career, years of work, honing our craft, hoping for that lucky break? Here’s the book that got me started in “blogging as business.”
Getting Into Blogging as a Career Decision
This Blogging Life will be a regular feature of this blog. It will have recommendations, news, and fun stuff about writing. This week I present the book that got me from “blogging as hobby” to “blogging as business.”
My plan is to write a book review, once a week, to recommend books I think my blogging audience will find valuable, helpful, and most of all sane. You’ll find books that are old, books that are new, some cheap, some more normal, nothing super-expensive. That’s not how I roll. This is an experiment in Affiliate Marketing. I’ll get a tiny bit of the cost of the book if you buy through my links. You won’t pay anything extra. Thanks in advance for your support.
Getting Into Blogging as a Career Decision
Bloggers are writers. On the Internet, “content is King” — and writers then, can be seen either as royalty (heh) or as, perhaps, slaves. 🙂 . Blogging as a career? There are people who seem to be doing it–creating the new magazines, the new websites and platforms that underpin this whole new industry. Most blogs are hobbies. Some develop into something more.
Can blogging pay the bills reliably? Or is it more like acting as a career, years of hard work, honing our craft and hoping for that lucky break? Will thousands, even hundreds of thousands of us, never get our lucky break? If there’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway, are broken hearts for every tick of Google Analytics, cold, cold server’s overtimed clock? (For every broken link on WordPress? Searching for the right analogy, hmm.)
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen this huge influx of blogs designed to “herd eyeballs.” It all came on slowly, with the creation and slow buildup of trashy click-bait tricks. Hey, this isn’t all that new, people. 🙂 . I remember the days of the irritating “flashing banner” and the pop-ups–those horrible pop-ups. They had the same goals–distract people, influence them, create a moment of weakness so that they’ll buy this junk. As P.T. Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. But that doesn’t mean that we need to sink to that level.
I am the kind of person who is concerned about the naive, the inexperienced, the “newbie.” Social trust is the glue that holds Western civilization together. If we build a strong network of people who care about one another, everyone wins.
Small business (and large) even today is built on establishing a solid reputation, maintaining one’s integrity, and honor. I am fully aware of the long tradition of the sly Yankee trader and the snake oil salesman. Today, those folks are still among us, telling us that herding the gullible in front of their mesmerizing click-bait is the path to riches. No, it’s not. You all are pretty smart like that. But what to believe?
Quality products endure: Building a Great Brand
I want you to notice that the horrible flashing banners and pop-ups are a thing of the past. Most of you were not even born when those were the primary “click-bait” features of the Internet. Yes, I am a grandma. Then in the early 00s, we had all those sick little ads that began “You’ll never believe this funny old trick…” probably the beginnings of the use of psychological trickery on the Internet to wear away out our very brains. Oh, I remember my sister’s terrible Farmville addiction–Xynga proudly said it was using psychological techniques designed to play on the same addictive behaviors as gambling addictions to promote those games. Gah. Note, too, that we don’t hear so much about Farmville now. . These horrors get recognized and we as a society, wipe the slime off and go on to the next thing. So it will be with these trash blogs.
Time for Some Sensible Advice–and A Cool Book about Blogging!
I learned HTML in the early 1990s and got into blogging, gads, around 2004 or so. I thought of it as a place for writing, for engaging the world of information seekers. As I began to think about the third career, I knew I wanted something involving writing and teaching. So I read books (oh, so many books). The one that made me seriously consider blogging as part of my future career was Joanna Penn’s How to Make a Living With Your Writing: Books, Blogging and More.
Joanna Penn writes both fiction and non-fiction, selling e-books, providing training courses–that woman has alot going on in marketing herself as a brand. She discusses how blogging fits into a larger picture of marketing one’s own skills and interests as a brand. As someone who maintains an active, commercial blog and a podcast, Penn is someone who is certainly knowledgable. Her blogsite is well designed, using all the little tricks of the blogging trade without being pushy and painful. She has tons of books and resources, including some that are free — and her books are low in cost because she self-publishes.
Penn points out that blogging by itself does not pay the bills much, but it is a launchpad to establishing a brand. Her book goes into great detail about how to establish products that we CAN sell honorably and profitably. A blog is a means to establishing a reputation in a field, engaging an audience, building a community–and nurturing customers and clients. She is in the business of selling that brand–and e-book, and training courses, and speaking gigs and other opportunities form the basis of a multi-tiered strategy.
Reading this book was pretty inspiring. She goes into great detail into how to create an e-book, get on all the e-book selling platforms, how to keep hold of our creative rights, tips of finding a professional editor–she makes it all seem do-able, even for those of us working on a shoe-string. For only 5 bucks–hey, even the audio book is 5 bucks, Penn provides twenty dollars worth of sound advice and real help.
The advice Penn provides is echoed by another pretty good, but less practical book by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. Hoffman and Reid spend the first few chapters of their book, discussing the need to think of ourselves as a brand. Their advice, directed mostly toward Silicon Valley types, is to invest in our own skills and develop our networks–is pretty spot-on, even if you live in rural Virginia. The first few chapters of this book are worthwhile, the rest? Well, your mileage will vary. Libraries are your friend, here. 🙂
Bottom Line: Invest in Yourself, Get Skills, Build a Strong Network Built on Social Trust & Good Values
If you’ve been wondering if this blogging thing is ever gonna pay off, I recommend you take a good look at Penn’s book. She shows that amazingly, it can! What we all need is a good business model, skills, and a strong community of folks with good values. And like all businesses, we need good ideas, research and hard work. And don’t forget, we all need a good network! 🙂 Glad to have you all drop by. Thanks for the LIKES!