Most blogs are just…sitting there.
How do I know? Because I’ve been reviewing bunches of them as part of the coaching service I’m launching along with my upcoming e-book, Small Blog, Big Income.
At this point in the life of the blogosphere, I have to say I’m surprised. There’s no shortage of advice out there from mega-successful bloggers on how to build a blog-based business.
So what’s up?
I started asking these bloggers questions…and discovered a problem.
House built on a weak foundation
There are some very basic building blocks that should be in place when you launch a blog — and often, they’re missing.
We press ‘publish’ because we can, without thinking through where we’re headed. The result is incoherent, rambling blogs with no apparent focus…and vague dreams of quitting freelancing and earning from our blogs that don’t come true.
The good news is, it’s never too late to lay a foundation for a blog that earns. Existing blogs can always be rethought and–with the answers to three basic questions–developed into blogs that earn.
Here are the questions you need to answer to make sure your blog has earning potential:
What the why
The first question I ask bloggers is about why they started their blog.
“What is your goal for this blog?”
It’s been amazing to see how many bloggers laugh nervously at this question, and then say:
“I’m not sure,” or
“I haven’t decided yet.”
When you launch a blog that has no goal, it will achieve nothing.
If you don’t have a focus, how will readers ever pick up on the drift of what you want to say? Why would they stick around?
Quick: Name a successful blog you read that has no goal to it. (Post in the comments if you’ve got one!)
Writers start blogs for many reasons — simply to have a creative outlet, as an online journal, for writing practice, to drive traffic to our writer website, or out of a passion for a particular topic.
And that’s all great.
But…if you entertain fantasies that your blog will become a platform for earning money, it needs a focused goal. You need to know why you’re writing this blog, to keep your posts on track.
For instance, when I started this blog, my goal was to share tips with freelance writers on how to earn more. Simple enough.
If you had a goal but now you see things have changed, it may be time to set a new goal. I recommend writing it down.
Imagine all the people…
Once you have a goal for your blog, the next question is:
“Who is the audience for your blog?”
You’d think if you have a blog topic, you know who the intended audience is for that topic. But again, I’ve been surprised by many bloggers’ answers, which typically run to:
“I don’t know.” Or:
“I’m hoping it’s everybody.”
Even the biggest blogs don’t have an audience of ‘everybody.’ They have an audience of everybody who is interested in a particular topic.
Once you know who you want to read your blog, you can save oodles of time and do many things right. You can:
- Write in the style and at the grade level of these readers
- Use slang or acronyms this audience will understand
- Create a ‘typical reader’ profile
- Talk to people in your target audience and learn their needs
- Figure out if these people have disposable income
- Ask these people what they might buy from you
If you haven’t thought lately about who your reader is, see if you can create a profile– it’ll help you with the next step.
The myth of the magical cash machine
My third and final question for creating a blog that earns is the one that gets the most baffled looks.
“How will your blog earn money?”
Common answers I’ve heard recently have included:
“I hadn’t thought about that yet.”
“I have no idea!”
“I hope to write a book.”
“I tried Google AdSense ads, and only earned $1.”
Apparently, many bloggers think if they start blogging, an earning method will appear out of the mist. Money will simply appear when the time is right, like the Isle of Avalon emerging from the mists of the lake.
Or new bloggers think that earning methods like AdSense (or making a single e-book into a big seller), that work for bloggers with huge traffic, will work for their tiny blog.
Researching my e-book, I read quite a few of the popular ‘make money blogging’ e-books out there, and that’s what they all seem to say: “Master Google AdSense.”
What? This is a complete fantasy.
To give a spoiler heads-up on the basic gist of my e-book: What earns well for big bloggers with oodles of traffic is unlikely to earn much on a small blog.
Plan now, earn sooner
What does bring in money, particularly for smaller blogs? Products or services your readers ask you for, that you involve them in creating. Not automated ad widgets, or affiliate selling a bunch of unrelated offers of dubious quality.
That’s why you need a goal. And a target reader in mind. Ideally, before you launch.
Then you can ask those readers what they need, build that offer, and successfully sell it — because it’s exactly what your readers wanted.
What’s your blog’s goal, audience, and earning plan? Share it into the comments!