Over a year ago, I wrote a guest article about Beginners Guide Before Starting a Blog. In that article, I presented three elements for any blog to get any traction. These three elements were (1) Blog to add value for your readers; (2) Shared Learning is a two way street; and (3) Don’t fool yourself. One of TIPBlog readers, Raja, left a very inquisitive comment. This comment consists of his observations, his dilemma, and few related questions. The size of the comment is long enough to be considered a post in itself. I respect the thought process and effort that went behind writing that comment. So let me jump in.
I will present my discussion in two parts, viz. (1) respond to Raja’s questions in this post, and (2) As a beginner how would I set out in trying to monetize my gardening blog. This will be in next post.
Are there only certain type of blogging topics which are ultimately able to generate some revenue ? For example finance(TIP), technology(labnol), travel etc ? Is there a scope for meaningfully monetizing blog based on other topics like say gardening or other hobbies ?
First, it is my belief that one can blog on any type of hobby or topic. It does not matter whether it is economy, finance, technology, gardening, dog walking, cooking, book reading, wine tasting, comics, photography, etc. The limitation is not based on topic. The true limitation is driven by an individual. We are used to reading finance and technology blogs only. It is like a herd mentality. Everybody is doing it, so I should also do it! Now, if everybody is writing technology or finance blog, then it is natural for it to become a space with cut throat competition. What happens with cut throat competition? What happens to your moat? What happens to your competitiveness? What happens to sustainability?
Second, is about method of execution. In general, a new blogger reads about SEO techniques, search keywords, etc that his/her thought process gets influenced by this crap. I had mentioned this earlier about crap being dished out in Google search. Implicitly, Raja also points to this in his comment about smart bloggers. Method of monetizing a blog does not have to be based on Adsense or any other advertising model alone. If a blogger believes that monetization means blog advertising, then it’s a wrong start. Advertising can be one stop where you collect one paycheck. Don’t expect that paycheck to be annual paycheck.
Third, it is important to understand what blog means. Blog is just one tool in social networking ecosphere. Blog is a medium to express your thoughts on a wider community platform, blog is a medium for you to brand yourself, your capability, and your skill set. The ROI from a quality blog is much more than Advertising money. As an example, I have discussed earlier about TIPBlog ROI.
“Blog to Add Value for your Readers” – Are there some exceptions to this ?? The question comes from my perspective of maintaining a gardening blog since a year(it’s not monetized). I would like to believe am not really adding any value. May be few people once in blue moon might be getting inspired from my blog and starting to do gardening, but apart from that mine is surely not educational. In fact am a newbie and gardening only since a year. It’s more recreational. On a different note i feel gardening enthusiasts and bloggers are different lot. They would just enjoy seeing another’s harvest pics on the blog and feel very satisfied and encouraged. So, i see a decent amount of traffic and interaction even on the gardening blog.
So, the question really is can blogs based on topics like gardening which not necessarily add much value be monetized ??
The perception of adding value is very subjective. I would tend to agree with Raja’s own analysis that, in its present form, his gardening blog does not add value to its readers. Certainly, it has recreational value and readers do come and visit his blog quite often. In its present form, it is indeed “musings” as suggested in the title. To add value the changes that need to happen includes format of article presentations, style of discussions, type of information, organization, interaction with audience, positioning, etc. I am very positive and confident that a gardening blog can be monetized over a period of time. It can certainly be monetized in a long term sustainable basis. Having said that, I am also certain that monetizing model based on advertising (search, display, etc) alone will be a failure. Monetizing model needs to be based on competitiveness, or moat, or subject expertise. The sooner one realizes that, the faster will be ROI.
“Shared Learning is Two Way Street” – While i surely agree on this one and i have personally had good amount of learning from TIP Guy and infact spent quite a few days reading most of his archive posts. Again, is there a scope for newbies (in any field) to start expecting monetization to work for their blog ?
May be if i were to ask this question directly to TIP Guy, i would be asking – Can you imagine yourself starting to invest just recently and still maintaining the blog about your learnings on investing and hoping for monetization. Do you think it would have still worked ? Of course the amount of earning and the kind of readship would have definitely been different (that’s acceptable).
If the answer to this is no. That would mean one should start blogging and hope for monetization only when one is a expert on a topic?? That’s probably a huge entry barrier not very common in any other industry 😉
It is a folly to expect monetization from day one. Just because it is easy to start a blog, does not mean, revenue stream will start flowing. Writing one’s musing does not add value to readers (unless you are senior journalist of community standing – which again is built over a long time). As a beginner, it is likely to get overwhelmed. It is normal, nothing new about it. You have to demonstrate one step at a time that you know something that readers can learn by returning to your blog. You have to build your blog one article at a time. Nobody becomes expert in day one. Expertise is a matter of perception and it happens over a time. Building a blog and getting a sustained ROI (or revenue) is a marathon, and not a 100 meter sprint dash. As a beginner, you cannot run a marathon on day one, but certainly after few months. For example, when I wrote my few initial posts about dividend investing, I received comments such as “why do I chase 2% yield, when I can get 8% in FDs!”. But I know that many have embraced the idea after reading a series of articles, after a sustained message, and focus that continued over a period of time. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me, but improvement in blog analytics and ROI demonstrates it is adding value to somebody.
Summary is, there is always a beginning. But if you build your blog with focus, quality, integrity, and sustain it over a time period, your blog will add value to your readers. Gardening is your hobby. Blogging is not. Focus on building that audience for your hobby, build your personal brand, demonstrate your gardening expertise. Blogging for you is merely a tool, a medium to get greater audience to get your ideas across, medium to interact with people beyond your society or building. Depending upon your effort you will get ROI. Your blog will generate ROI in multiple ways and one of them will include advertising revenue. It takes a bit of time, but this way your ROI will be sustainable. More on this in my next post.
I hope I answered most of the questions. In next post, I will attempt to present a framework for “as a beginner how I would approach to build a gardening blog that has potential to have monetary ROI”.