Blogging to Riches?

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More and more, when I listen to people talking about saving or making money, their conversation turns to the internet. Quite frequently, somebody raises the wonderful carrot of Blogging to Riches. So, is this a Cash Clever plan for immediate retirement?

The Premise

The basic premise – perhaps it is a general misconception – many people have is that it is possible, or even likely, to make huge amounts of money writing in an online blog.

The Reality

Yes, it is possible to make a lot of money writing an online blog. It is also possible to spend a lot of time for very little reward, blogging online.

General Rules

As someone who has developed a business out of blog based websites almost entirely, I can provide perhaps more insight into this than your average commentator. Here are some rules that I would lay down when considering whether or not to embark on a career as a blogger:

  • Can You Write? This is something you need to be honest about. How good a writer are you. How easy will you find it to produce one, or more, truly engaging articles or blog posts every single day of your life. That's what you'll need to do. An alternative is a video blog, or a daily podcast, but these involve startup costs and would require different skills. Be sure to start a blog that draws upon your best assets.
  • Do you have an interest? Blogging about a subject you are not interested in, or know little about, is possible, but not to be advised: you'll get bored, and so will your readers.
  • Can you go “Full time”? Okay, your blog might be a hobby for you, but there are professional media organisations out there doing your subject, and doing it better. Can you really compete in between your day job and your private life? If not, then perhaps consider scaling back the commercial side of things altogether and making your blog totally ad free – at least until you have a few thousand avid readers.
  • Be realistic! Don't expect to make thousands or even hundreds a month from one or two well written daily articles, no matter how many blocks of Adsense and Amazon content units you surround them with. The fact of the matter is, people are online readily consuming free information all the time – in certain niches, you can expect to earn pennies for tens of thousands of visitors. Yes, unfortunately, that means your X Factor blog won't earn you much lucre.
  • Monetise Sensibly – the word “monetize” (or monetise for Brits) essentially means turn your site traffic into money. This is easier said than done, but you should consider who your target user is, and what makes them dip into their wallet. With a fairly personal project, such as a blog, the target user is someone like you. What would you spend money on? Those are the ads you should be running.
  • Don't rely on affiliate marketing – if possible, once you have a good body of readers, you should look to diversify the range of income streams flowing into your blog or website. This means selling an actual ad or sponsorship to someone upfront. Affiliate advertising is fraught with late payments, and wearisome affiliate managers who will email you all day long and generally push you to promote them for free. Get yourself an upfront payer you can rely on.
  • Be honest – don't lie to promote a product. If something is a lemon, call it a lemon. People can see right through your sales pitches. A blog is not the place for them – think soft sell.
  • Treat your readers with respect – don't overstuff your site with ads – we all want to make money, but, come on, it isn't for nothing, you've got to entertain, inform and even delight in order to do so: you cannot do this if I can't find your article for text link ads.

Number One Rule

Be honest with yourself – accept your limitations. If you know you won't keep it up, don't start. If you know you have a potential to be rude to people in comments and emails, make a pact with yourself never to respond to them. If you know that you aren't a great writer, consider getting someone who is to proof read or edit your posts.

At the end of the day, what you know is interesting, and can be presented in an interesting format; the question you need to ask yourself is simple: is it worth anything?

Only you, and the market, knows the answer to that.

The Conclusion – Is it Possible to “Blog to Riches?”

Blogging to Riches is about as likely as becoming a professional footballer or a pop star: only the few very talented and dedicated will achieve it. That is including a number of right-place-right-time lucky breaks; and the willingness to learn from every bitter experience.

Consider this before you start, not after 6 months, and you could save yourself a lot of effort – there are a million and one well-intentioned “blogging to riches” efforts floating around in cyberspace with 2-6 months of effort on them, which should now serve only as a warning to those with a laptop and dollar signs in their eyes.

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