Did we mention before that getting a blog up and running is dangerously easy? And as technology improves, it will only get easier and easier. You need less than an hour and a decent guide (like this one!) and your blog will be ready for publishing. However, the simplicity of the matter doesn’t mean you should set up a blog.
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
– Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
Do you know why you want to start a blog? Here are a few sentences you can try to finish:
- I want to start a blog because…
- My blog will help (SOMEBODY) accomplish (SOMETHING) by providing content like…
- The central topic of my blog will be…
- The people I want to write for will love it because…
If you’re not able to answer those questions right away, that’s okay. But it’s important to consider why you’re starting a blog in the first place. While every experience in life is a learning one, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and start an excessive number of unfinished projects. We recommend taking this decision seriously, because even though a blog can become a huge influential factor in your personal life and business, it takes a metric ton of upfront effort and investment to build profit and influence.
Without the right expectations and preparation ahead of time, your blog is doomed to fizzle into a shriveled up project sooner than later. Here are four important things to consider before you start a blog, if your mission is to build a readership and maybe earn money with it one day. If you’re not ready to take each of these into account as you begin, blogging may not be right for you.
Blogs Operate at a Loss (At First)
Unless you literally want to start journaling for personal reasons, blogs are a business. It takes a little bit of capital to get started. What’s different about blogging is, unlike many traditional businesses, blogs aren’t overly expensive to start out with. Many people can afford the initial startup costs.
Blogs don’t have to be expensive to run from a technical perspective. Right now it costs about $12 annually for a domain, and anywhere between $5 to $20 for decent shared hosting. That’s about 1.5 hours of minimum wage work per month, or 1.3 grande frappuccinos, depending on how you like to look at things.
That being said, if you choose to run advertising, pay for additional services, or even hire a professional web designer, those fees start to add up quickly. Furthermore, it will take plenty of time to create quality, well-researched content. If you consider how much your hourly time is worth as a writer (we recommend calculating at $30/hour), that means you’re essentially working for free by spending unpaid time on your blog when you could be earning money instead.
Consider that Leaving Work Behind operated at a net loss for a whopping 15 months before it started to earn positive profit. Of course, then it grew to over $3,000 per month in take-home income. It was well worth it in the end, but you’ll need to be patient, put in the right effort, and have a plan. Blogging comes with no guarantees, so it’s good to go in with the right expectations.
If you’re not prepared to run a website at cost for at least 6-12 months, blogging as a business may not be right for you.
Blogging Takes Time to Master
Blogging can be easy to get started with, but is incredibly difficult to master. Unless you already have a lot of online writing experience under your belt, it can take years before you learn how to create a successful brand that appeals to online readers.
Most of the big, fast, successful blog launches you see out there are being masterminded by experienced pros. These bloggers already have a built-in audience following their every move, and they really understand what it is they’re doing with a new project. Before you call cheating, even if they had to do it anonymously without any strings connected to their previous audience, they know exactly what works to get people’s attention. We’re doing our best to give you a bit of a cheatsheet on what steps to take to get there in this guide, but learning how to connect with your unique audience is something only you can master.
For everyone not yet a master of their audience, the road is a lot longer and harder. You should expect it to take at least a year of consistent blogging before you really start to find your stride. Once you’ve found that, you can start figuring out how to make the most of your blog and start earning profit. There are ways you can earn cash early on, but we find the most successful blogs focus on serving their audience before monetizing.
If you’re not prepared to put in the time, effort, and research it takes to master the art of blogging… well, blogging may not be the right direction for you.
You Must Have a Business Model
If you’re blogging to earn money, you’re going to need a business model. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be! Blogging isn’t a magic bullet to money. It is a real business venture, just like any other. You’ll need a plan to generate income.
The fantastic news is – you’re far from the first person to try turning a blog into a business. There are many who have gone before you. Here are three popular business models (proven to work when implemented correctly!) you can follow:
- Services: Create a service related to your blog’s central theme and offer it on your blog.
- Products: Come up with a product that serves your target audience and sell it on your blog.
- Affiliates: Find related products that already exist and sell them to earn income from the affiliate fees.
It’s okay if you don’t have anything in mind right off the bat. Many of the most successful blogs online today didn’t start out making money or have a business blueprint ready to go at launch. However, if your goal is to build a blog that earns you a proper income, you’ll need a good idea of how you want to earn that money at some point.
Don’t go in expecting your blog to just work. You’ll have to treat it like a business before it will earn money like one!
Know the Extracurricular Benefits of Blogging
Blogging doesn’t have to be all about direct profitability! Why do you think we encourage people to start a blog even if it’s not strictly for business, or even if they don’t have a perfect business plan yet? Those are good things to know about, but they are not crucial to see other types of amazing side effects of a blog.
Whether you’re a hobbyist, freelancer, or entrepreneur, blogging comes packed with a ton of benefits. Earning money directly from your blog doesn’t need to be the end goal, even if that’s a reason many people are attracted to the idea of starting a blog.
Bloggers report a myriad of reasons blogging has enriched their lives outside of their hard-earned paychecks. A few examples of ways professionals can benefit from blogging are how:
- Blogs stretch your creativity. Writing is an intensive creative discipline.
- You can build an easily accessible portfolio of your writing. Having many examples of your written work proves you’re good at what you do.
- You’ll learn blogging platforms like WordPress well. This can make you more marketable.
- Unexpected business opportunities often pop up out of seemingly nowhere. We’ve found that blogging brings out some of the most unique ideas we’d never have thought of otherwise.
If you don’t care about building up your career or an income from a blog, that’s okay too. There are personal benefits that come along on the journey. Here are just a few examples of ways blogging may become your new favorite hobby:
- It’s a lot of fun! Being able to share your ideas with the world is an irreplaceable feeling.
- Blogging connects you with likeminded people. You’d be surprised at the solidarity you may find.
- The experience opens up opportunities for side gigs. There’s no reason to turn down money if the chance comes up to grab it!
As you can see, when approached with the right mindset, blogging is a powerful tool. You may find it benefits you in both your personal and professional life. Be prepared to wield it wisely!
If you still don’t see how a blog may benefit you by now, it may simply not be something you’ll ever appreciate. While blogging is rife with opportunity, if you aren’t excited to grab hold of them, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and walking away disappointed.
But, if you are ready to shoot for the stars and put in some effort along the way, it’s a great time to start that blog!