There’s that old adage about the other man’s grass always being greener! So it is with blogging. It looks easy! Anyone could do it! It is a very attractive proposition on the surface and a whole sub-industry has blossomed on the Internet to help anyone who wishes to make a fortune with a blog. After all, it costs nothing to get started. You can get a free sophisticated blog website from the likes of Google (Blogger) or WordPress, you can put advertising on it through Google Adsense and many others and away you go!
Well, yes maybe anyone can start up a blog, but then anyone could sit at the controls of a jumbo jet. That does not mean that they can fly it. In fact, we could safely say that 99% of people who tried it without the necessary background training and information would crash. Although the fallout would not be so disastrous, we would estimate that the percentage of unsuccessful bloggers would be about the same. Let’s take a look at why this might be:
- A website and the knowledge to operate it – All you will get, when you open an account with Blogger, Blogspot or WordPress is the ability to set up an account. Before you even write your first word, you will have to make a myriad of decisions about the look, feel and operation of your blog, much of which, will require at least a modicum of knowledge about Internet technology such as programming languages, file types and protocols and much more. You will need to be a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades to produce an eye-grabbing, attention-holding site.
- Interesting Subject matter – Once you are over the initial hurdle of getting your site set up, you now have to find subject matter that will keep both you and your readership engaged. If you think that ‘build it and they will come’ applies here, you are in for a nasty shock. The Internet is littered with millions of sites that get few or no hits on a regular basis. Just throwing up random stuff will not guarantee success.
- Continually updated, RELEVANT content – Even though you may occasionally knock one out of the park with an inspired post that garners attention, your blog will only become popular if you are able to post something of interest to your readers at least a couple of times per month. Even if you do well in the search engines, you need a loyal, committed readership to really be successful. A user who visits your page a single time to read a particular post is not likely to return a third time if their initial impression is not reinforced on a subsequent visit. Similarly, you will lose their interest if the gap between relevant posts is too long.
- Relevant advertising and merchandise – Even if we don’t admit it to ourselves, very few of us are blogging just for the good of our souls. You need an end goal. For the majority, I suspect, that goal is to make some money. Once again, many will try to convince you that if you throw some advertising up on your site, you will start to rake in the money. Nothing could be further from the truth. First and foremost, any advertising or merchandise that you offer MUST fit in with the theme and content of your site. If your site is about cats and you advertise golf shoes, you are not likely to make any money. Furthermore, except from a few random chance clicks or purchases, it is not usually the first time visitor who will click or buy. Your blog must become familiar and trusted before your readers will start to click or buy.
- Traffic – Everything begins and ends here. No matter what purpose you have for your blog whether monetary or altruistic, it will all be for naught if you don’t succeed in getting traffic to your pages. And this is the hardest thing to do. There are entire industries whose whole purpose is to drive traffic. The kicker though, is that it must be the right kind of traffic. Imagine my surprise when I looked deep into my web’s log pages to find that the most common visitors to my pages were spiders and crawlers, those mindless bots that just roam the Internet sucking up all in their path. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing for me in the long run. You just need to be aware that thousands of hits from disinterested non-human artifacts will not help you to produce results until the real visitors start showing up.
- Desire, drive and persistence – This is really the key to anything that you undertake. First and foremost be assured that nothing worthwhile ever happens overnight. It will take time to hone your craft and build a base. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will not mind putting in the time to build a solid foundation. Also, be prepared to make changes if what you are doing is not working as well as you would like. It’s not likely that your first ever swing at a baseball would be a home run, so why should you expect it with your blogging?
In summary, Blogging is like most other things in life: It can be easy or hard, wildly successful or an abject failure all depending on the talent you start with, the effort you expend and a little bit of good old-fashioned luck! In short, we don’t recommend that you quit your day job to start up a blog unless you have most if not all of the bases above covered.