Close your eyes and picture this - you on the beautiful island and you are living out your dream life. You live in a house by the beach and your daily routine involves getting massages, getting a nice tan, alcohol at lunch, afternoon siesta's, expensive dinners and partying with friends. And all this is possible because you have an endless source of income that comes from having a fantastic blog with many readers and a couple of popular twitter & facebook fan page accounts. You content is hot with readers and gets distributed in all big forums. Your followers wait with bated breath for your every update, so that they can hit the tweet and re-tweet button on your posted links. Companies are chasing you to write reviews for their products and tweet their new viral campaigns for a fee. Advertisers on your blog are hitting their payout cap everyday with all the high CTR's you are generating. The cash is reigning into your bank and you are a social media 'Rock Star'. Ok now slap yourself a couple of times till you come back to reality.
I know that there are lots of social media and affiliate experts telling people that they have this magic formula to success via social media but most of them are missing a big chunk of the truth. There are no free lunches in life and there are no shortcuts to amassing fortune and fame. First of all any revenue making engine requires a robust business model and then loads of hard work, and achieving this with a personal blog is really tough if not impossible. Pretty pictures and juicy content will only propel you along for awhile but it can't sustain you for a lifetime. So what's realistic and what's not and how much of a career you can make out of blogging and social media.
Let's start by asking ourselves some basic fundamental questions.
What's the objective of your blog and social media updates?
- Expression: It's a creative outlet for you to express yourself to the world.
- Displaying your talent: You are an artist, musician, actor, fashion model etc and you would like to show case your talent to the world.
- Sharing: You like to share your life and experience with your friends and family especially those who are long distance?
- Networking & Self Branding: You like to connect with other like minded professionals, entrepreneurs and biz people to share your views and knowledge. You also view it as self-branding opportunities where you get to show-case your experience and knowledge.
- Domain Expert: You consider yourself as a domain expert on a particular industry, a job function, or a particular subject. Examples could be domain expert in parenting, life coach, marketing, law, finance etc.
- E-commerce: You want to sell your products and services online from your blog.
Your answer to this question and how you establish yourself in the objective category you fit in, will determine how and to what extent you should monetize your blog. Many people start blogging and engage in social media with the objective to make money; it's like putting the carriage before the horse. You decide on a content objective, establish yourself there and then work on monetization. Also unless you are solely pursuing an e-commerce activity, relying on blogging as your primary source of income is foolish. It has to be a supplementary or secondary income to whatever profession you're into. There are some star bloggers but they are more of the exceptions than the rule and how long can they sustain their popularity and income from the blog is questionable.
Why would people read my content and updates?
Obliviously you can only make income when you have people visiting your blog, to achieve that your content needs to be compelling and sticky enough to the reader.
- Your content needs to be unique and specific, something they don't get anywhere else.
- It has to be more than reporting news and events; it has to give the reader more insights and different angels to the story, just like good journalism.
- You need to have offline credentials to back up your insights and knowledge. It could be the number of years of experience, projects handled etc.
- You need to be considered by others as a content expert or thought leader in the area that you write about.
- Your posts and articles should be referred widely on other blogs and forums as a reference for discussion on those topics.
- People need to trust you and your recommendations. You cannot be viewed as too commercial or a total sell out. You can't sustain a blog solely running on sponsored content.
Your ability to make frequent and consistent quality updates.
Your blog can be a one post wonder or it can be a blog that people consistently keep coming back to. Not only is frequency of content refresh important but also the quality of it as well. Your ability to churn out consistently good content will determine your chances of attracting organizations, advertisers and affiliates to invest in your blog. Good content is a factor of many things such as below.
- You use your ongoing professional learning's and experiences as a source of good and frequent content.
- You follow and read other bloggers who write on similar topics and content. You participate and interact with them on their blogs and forums to stimulate discussions and new ideas.
- You follow industry/ topic trends online and offline and never shy to share your views and insights on them.
- You even co-author your blog with other guest bloggers to bring fresh insight and keep the excitement going.
Its simple as that, 'content is king'.
Other aesthetic and miscellaneous considerations
- Your blog needs to look professional and should be easily readable. Templates should suit the theme of your blog.
- Try and link it to your own private domain even if you're on a free blogging platform like blogger, wordpress, typepad etc.
- You should auto feed your blog to portals that carry content about your industry or topics that you blog about.
- Index your blog on all major search engines and use your social media profiles to proliferate your new content. You can also create separate social media profiles just to promote your blog. Facebook fan page is an example of one good way of doing this.
In summary don't get carried away but the million dollar claims of Blogs and Tweets. Be grounded and stick to the basics of quality, consistent and compelling content and connect it with a sound biz model and you will do well.
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