From Blog to Small Business

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/10/from-blog-to-small-business/

Deb’s note: I started writing this post on the plane to Las Vegas (and BlogWorld) last week. Since then I’ve seen Darren Rowse’s post at ProBlogger called, “The #1 One Reason My Blogging Grew into a Business.” Check it out if you can, it’s a must -read for anyone who wants to blog for a living.

FWJ began four years ago as a blog filled with leads for work at home moms like me. As you know, it’s evolved quite a bit over the past few years. Something happened this past spring that caused me to change my outlook about FWJ. Instead of a simple blog or network of blogs, I treated it like a business. Don’t get me wrong, I was always business-like in my dealings and accounting, but in June, I took it to a whole new level.

When I lost my full time job, I decided I wasn’t going to look for another. Instead, I wanted to work harder on making this network more profitable, and more beneficial to those reading it. Instead of looking for a job, I was going to make FWJ my full time job. It made a difference.  Instead of simply posting and building traffic, I’ve also been:

  • Meeting with accountants to find out my next course of action as a small business owner.
  • Negotiating with advertisers
  • Researching advertising, traffic, SEO and other blog building techniques
  • Working hard on branding
  • Working hard on FWJ’s (and Deb Ng’s) social media presence
  • Forming lucrative partnerships which will enable this network to keep going
  • Doing some heavy analysis into the demographics of this community and other freelance writing communities
  • Networking, not only with other freelancers, but with other people and businesses to form mutually beneficial relationships

Some of the things I learned at this time:

  • You can’t please everyone
  • You have to spend money to make money
  • Networking totally rocks
  • If you focus on one thing, instead of multitasking, you’ll have better results
  • Sometimes you just have to go for it

Some of the changes I noticed since devoting my full time attention to FWJ:

  • Traffic has seen a significant increase
  • Advertisers have been coming to FWJ, instead of the other way around
  • Ad revenue beyond private sales (Adsense, etc.) has increased to the point where it’s a full time income
  • A major online brand inquired about purchasing FWJ
  • Lots of Tweets and ReTweets featuring FWJ links
  • Community growth
  • A whooooole lot of email
  • More links to blog posts at FWJ
  • Major brands have taken notice

This is only a few months worth of work and effort. Can you imagine if I had put this much time and energy into FWJ since day one? Of course, that wasn’t possible because I needed to help provide for my family. However, being patient and persistant and not giving up over 4 1/2 years enabled met build FWJ and see it to its potential.

Luck vs Hard Work

Someone once told me I was lucky. This has nothing to do with luck. I worked hard to build this network. It became a huge part of my life. I focus attention to it every day. It’s kept me up late, and caused me to rise very early. It’s been the subject of blog wars and forum spats. It’s my life, not luck. I have to tell you, it’s not easy to come up with content every single day for 4 1/2 years.

Is it Worth it?

You bet it’s worth it. I’m not going to claim to be some expert, guru, A-list problogger, but I managed to find something that I love – something that works. It’s been worth all the time and effort I put into it. As Darren Rowse begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting said in his post about blogging as a business, when I stopped treated my blog as a hobby and more as a business, it began to work for me.

If you want to make your blog work for you, know that it’s not easy. It’s not as simple as opening up a blog, stocking it with keywords and slapping on some ads. There’s a lot of research, promoting and networking involved.

Tell us the story of your blog. Is it a business? Can it become a business? What are you doing to ensure its success, and what are some of the results you’ve seen since beginning?

Comments

  1. Since I became a professional writer, I have approached each blog like its own business in addition to being part of my overall business: my writing business as the parent company. I believe that simply thinking of a blog as a business (and thusly to make money) without the passion would be a recipe for failure but fortunately I have both.

    I think you deserve to earn for this blog. If one average writer such as myself were to give you a dollar each time you helped us, you’d be a millionaire from each writer.

    Of course, then each writer would be broke. And then they might be a little frustrated.

    The point is we love you! Thank you for finding a way to help out your fellow writer.

  2. You’ve motivated me once again, Deb. Every time I catch myself thinking I ought to look into a “real” job, I read something you’ve written that tells me to reconsider. I love what I’m doing, and I see where blogging/freelance writing can lead. I know I’ll keep at it, but I appreciate your support every time I think I won’t!

  3. i do want to convert my blog into a business blog.
    i would like to go freelance writing.

    My blog is fairly new.
    Hopefully it will happen to me too.
    My problem is i can not pump in too much money into it.SO lets see.

  4. I’m in the beginning stages of setting up my own blog/writing business too and it’s difficult! But it’s wonderful to have great resources like what you have built, that not only provide great tips and help along the way but also prove as inspiration that with hard work you can make a living doing what you love.

  5. Shradda- It’s true that you have to spend (some) money to make money, but that old phrase time is money is true. I find that you can substitute putting in additional time rather than spending more money in many cases… Doing yourself what you may subcontract out, spending time to learn and study various marketing techniques, etc. Yes, at some point you have to invest capital to grow your business, but don’t let not having money to spend stop you.

    Deb, as always you are inspirational and informative. But you’ve hit one of my pet peeves — individuals who believe success equates to luck! It’s just NOT TRUE. And it’s insulting when people say it is.

    Even someone who wins the lottery… chances are (not always, but chances are) they play every day, and devote time and money to it. The people who play once a year, or just when the winnings reach obscene amounts, usually don’t win big!

    If someone is successful, wealthy, happy, prosperous… whatever it is that they are… I guarantee you they worked to be there. There’s no such thing as luck. //rant. ;)

  6. It is my understanding that each blog is like a web zine or independent press. Correct? So, it’s necessary to find a niche topic that’s still broad enough, not only to capture the attention of a broader audience, but also retain your own attention. After all, you have to publish frequently. However, it’s unclear to me how one goes about capturing the attention of advertisers. What does one need to demonstrate in order to convince them that your site/blog will be lucrative enough for them. Most of all, what’s the best way of finding that target group of advertisers? They need to coincide with your target audience of readers, yes? As an artist, muddling my way into entrepreneurship, I’m still fuzzy on how all of this works.

  7. Tania Mara says:

    My blog itself isn’t a business. It’s part of my business, as I use it to explain to prospects what I can do for them. I don’t know whether I’ll change its direction in the future. I’m happy with what I have. Right now, I prefer being a blogger for hire and help my clients build their businesses via blogging.

  8. You seem to be fairly well suited as a blogger actually. Reading your posts is usually entertaining and informative.

    You could also outsource your services and freelance alongside the blogging business.

  9. Just discovered this blog. Very inspirational. I’m a laid off editor and staff writer, trying to get my own blog up and running, plus looking into going the small business route, and this gives me hope. One thing I’m wondering about and am a little hazy on is the whole self publishing thing. I have some pieces that would work well as blog posts to get me going (hate to put them out there for free, but at least it would get the “branding” process started, and the market is so tight that maybe it’s the way to go, for now at least) or should I try shopping them around first? Feeling pretty old school these days and trying to wrap my mind around digital venues. Thanks so much for your work and any advice.
    Becky

  10. Hey Becky,

    Don’t be too overwhelmed at diving into the wide world of blogging! :) It’s a great way to not only create your image, so to speak, but to be able to voice whatever you have on your mind. The difference with blogging versus article writing, is it is more personal and you can put any old spin on it that you want. When I blog it’s more in the moment and while I do try to provide facts or advice, it’s more personal. Setting up a blog is also a good way to show prospective clients your previous works and writing samples, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re wasting words or articles without getting any return. Yes, it does take a lot of time to build up your blog and get traffic, but that can be a good experience too. And this is a great place to find lots of answers and helpful insight! Best of luck, and I’m more than happy to ever offer any advice I may have, although I still feel much like a newbie myself…just don’t give up. :)

  11. Your writing inspired us and convince us that blogging and writing can be a good and solid combination to focus and share your thoughts and ideas through your blogs with others and hopefully it could generate income to us for our living.Cheers

  12. I came across your outstanding blog at just the right time. I have only been blogging for a few weeks and have had a very encouraging response. You are teaching me how to harness that early success and drive it towards an income stream. Thank you from France!

  13. My blog was created after I was inspired to write restaurant reviews since they combine my passion for writing and for food. I love being able to share my experiences. With my husband’s blessing I am now a “full time blogger” however it’s been hard to find paying gigs. Any tips would be great.

    Thanks
    Bianca

    • Bianca,

      Keep checking up on the daily job leads here, and there are usually a few that are aimed to restaurant reviewers or other culinary works. Submit queries to them, include your blog, and then any writing jobs that you get you can then incorporate links to on your blog. With blogging it’s a lot about getting traffic and building a following by getting people to visit it before you can make money there. With my blogging, I do it in addition to freelance writing so I can make money while trying to build up my blogs so hopefully one day I can just do that. Hope those ideas help a bit!

  14. Good article on what makes a blog successful

    I set up a blog about small laptops about 6 months back.

    Its hard to make money on a blog, but you have to stay focused and work on all aspects. My traffic increases when i work at the blog. If you take a few weeks off and do nothing, the traffic WILL decrease.

    Perseverance and dedication are two vital factors in monetizing your blog.

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