*NOTE: Over the course of my blogging journey, I started out with this blog, created five or six more and then circled back to just writing this one. It’s been by turns fun, a learning experience and a chance to do new things that I may not have had an opportunity to do if not for being in this space. Now that I’m in school, it’s a little challenging even keeping up with just this blog, but I do enjoy having a little online space to share resources, chat and advertise businesses or causes that interest me. In cleaning out my desktop folders, I came across many posts from my other blogs that I thought were actually quite good (some of them). I thought it a shame to let them linger in cyberspace in a defunct file manager, so I decided to bring them over to Biz Mommy in a new post each week. Some of the topics may not seem to fit in perfectly here, since those other blogs were in different niches, but in the end, it’s all me, so…I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Just typing the previous sentence causes me to pause for a moment and wonder…when did I change my mind? When did I decide that blogging was a “must-have” component of my small business marketing efforts?
Well, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment, and I’ve certainly been around the bend and back on my blogging journey over the past year and a half – hopefully picking up steam and a boat-load of wisdom with each step.
But what’s becoming increasingly clear to me as I prepare for a busy time ahead now that I’ve returned to school to complete my pre-med requirements, is that blogging became a creative outlet for me…and consequently, business, sad to say, took a backseat for a while.
Now, I’m not saying that creative outlets are not a good thing to have.
But when our lofty creative efforts get in the way of business being done, money being made and new clients coming in, then clearly that’s a big problem.
So, How Did I Get So Off Track?
Unfortunately, I think this is a common problem for new online business owners. They have a business idea, they take it online (because that’s what everyone said they should do), they hit publish (how exciting!), and then they wait for the throngs of new customers to discover their brilliant blog and come swamping them with new business, requests for ad space or offers to write for big blogs with big audiences.
Clearly, I’m exaggerating…but I’m pretty close, right?
So, the blogger realizes that there’s not going to be any immediate mad rush to his blogging masterpiece, and he begins to read everything he can get his hands on about blogging. And he reads a LOT, because, after all, there are a bajillion resources out there that are just dying to tell us how to do online business and blogging the “right” way.
I am absolutely including myself in this scenario, as I did read a ton of blogs, books and info. products about how to have a successful blog. And I learned a lot of useful stuff. However, I’ve come to realize that a key aspect of doing business – and blogging – the smart way is to take a little bit of common sense, mix it with a clear idea of what your revenue/business model is, and top it off with a healthy dose of moderation.
Why did I include moderation on the list of ways to do online business the smart way?
Because I fell in love. And like many lovesick puppies, I was driven to distraction.
I fell in love with blogging and allowed it to cloud my judgement on the role it played in the overall marketing strategy for my business.
I fell in love with the people I met and the vibrant ongoing conversations happening in almost real-time. I especially loved the access to cool free tools that made it super easy to broadcast my knowledge and ideas out to the world backed by a slick, highly professional design and functionality (that made me look (and feel) like I had amazing graphic design and/or technical skills – which I don’t).
Other marketing activities I put in their place – cold calls twice a week at a specific time and only for 1 hour at a time, etc. – but blogging? That was allowed to show up whenever it wanted to and wreak havoc on my weekly schedule if a post was just itching to get out of my head or comments just had to be made on my favorite bloggers’ latest articles.
But I’ve learned that blogging can wait. I believe it’s an extremely important and effective marketing tool for many (not all) types of businesses, but it must be tamed.
And business must be done.
Ask yourself what the revenue model is for your business. Is the goal to attract big advertisers that will pay you to host ads? Is it to promote your writing, design or technical services? Is it to sell a particular product or group of products? Perhaps a combination of all the above?
These are questions that should be answered up front so that there’s a specific purpose and flow to your content and minimal stressing about what topics you should cover.
It’s fine to enjoy interacting with your readers and making new friends, but it’s important to schedulize your blogging activities so that they don’t begin to overshadow actual money-making activities.
If you’re selling ad space, don’t just wait around for your traffic to increase so you can attract the big-buck advertisers – proactively reach out to smaller, independent businesses and let them know you’re offering advertising for a low price. Announce “limited-time offer” sales and contact local businesses who are looking for ways to make in-roads online. Join ad networks (there are tons of them) and see if any of them turn out to be a good fit for your blog.
If you’re trying your hand at affiliate marketing, don’t just slap up some AdSense and affiliate banners, then cross your fingers for a bite. Spend lots of time creating quality resources (videos, tutorials, reviews, etc.) that really help people understand how to most effectively use the products and services you’re selling. If you need help with figuring out how to do this, just take a look at how Pat Flynn or Brankica Underwood put together some amazing resources that not only promote products but serve as wonderfully informative how-to guides.
Are You Starting to Catch My Drift? (I know…I’m totally dating myself with that one!)
Blogging is a starting point, a home-base, if you will. It’s part of your virtual storefront and can add a rich dimension and important element to your business branding.
But, as many have said before me, it is NOT your business.
Identify the revenue-generating activities that you need to be doing on a daily basis in order to support your business or put it on the road to viability.
Then, and only then…go blog about it.
What about you?
I’m interested to hear how you manage your blogging and whether you view it as an essential marketing tool…or as a fun distraction. What bloggers do you follow who seem to be balancing business and blogging successfully?