Let’s be realistic: Blogging can seem like a ton of work for very little return. The vast majority of bloggers make less than $500/month for many hours of work. Why, then, should you put in the effort to build a successful blog?
Here are four reasons why you should consider starting a blog:
1. Building relationships with a community of supportive readers.
One of my favorite examples of a blogger building a devoted following is Jim Klinge. Jim is a real estate agent with a specific focus — North County San Diego, CA. His office is based in Oceanside, a small city about 60 miles north of San Diego. He’s managed to build a following of several thousand subscribers, which has translated into countless commissions for his real estate agency.
What makes Jim different from all of the other real estate agents? First of all, most real estate agents don’t blog, so they miss out on the opportunity to attract people who don’t live nearby. Since I live in San Jose (about 8 hours north of San Diego by car), it’s unlikely I would ever meet a San Diego real estate agent. But through Jim’s blog, I can get to know him.
Jim has a unique personality that, in my opinion, is the epitome of a successful businessperson. He’s blunt and straight-shooting, yet obviously cares about his business and his clients. When potential clients come to him and want to sell a house, he gives them a range of prices to list in. If the client thinks their house is worth more, and refuses to compromise, Jim declines the sale offer. How many agents do you know who value honesty that much?
Jim’s blog is entertaining. He does funny video tours of houses, waxes philosophical about how he’d change the real estate business, and posts listings. He’s upfront about how much he thinks properties will sell for. The camaraderie on his blog shows — he has regular commenters, holds contests, and is patient with those who say they won’t buy yet.
Many business owners are aware of how important it is to develop a personal connection, but the key that many are missing is that it’s critical to be transparent. That means admitting that you, your company, and your industry aren’t perfect. Being a cheerleader won’t get you as much business as simply being honest and truthful will. Jim gets this, with the result being that if I ever want to buy a house in or near San Diego, he will be the first one I call.
One of the biggest successes I’ve had from my blog is the ability to more easily land public speaking gigs. When I request a speaking gig, I simply point the people who run the conference to this blog, showing them posts like How I Turned My Mediocre Website Into a Million-Dollar Business. (I typically speak about building a successful business.) More often than not, I get the gig.
It’s also huge to build connections with other bloggers by guest-posting on their blogs. I save some of my best posts for guest posts on other blogs so I can gain exposure to a new audience. Building a relationship by writing great guest posts means that when it comes time to promote a new product I’m creating, I email these bloggers and they recognize me as someone who has helped them by guest posting on their site — not just another PR flack or face in the crowd.
These relationships will make me a lot more money in the future, and I also get an “in” to talk to others who wouldn’t otherwise be that interested in me!
Having a blog is like owning your own small media outlet. Post your opinions on just about anything and you have a ready audience who will listen. Whether they agree or disagree, if your post provokes a reaction in them, you will get feedback.
You can easily build this influence into something bigger. Besides parlaying it into guest posts, you can write articles for magazines, get quoted in press releases, and — what may be the biggest benefit of being a successful blogger — use it to motivate others to change their lives in some useful way.
For instance, I know that many of you currently reading found my blog through patrick.net. I posted several articles about real estate (and will continue to post them!) that made it onto that website. From the visibility that I received from those articles, I estimate I’ve helped to convince over 1,000 people to save money by not buying a house. I have received many thank-you letters from those who saved thousands of dollars by waiting to buy a house. My website helped convince them — or, in some cases, their significant others! — to wait.
It should be obvious that having a blog will help you make more money — but the methods of making money with a blog may not be so obvious. You can use Google Adsense (the tiny text ads you see on many blogs) to make pennies a day, promote affiliate products that have a per-sale commission and make a few dollars a day, or create your own products and make tens or hundreds of dollars a day.
In all cases, having a blog with great free content — and being honest and picky about the products you choose to promote — will help convince others that you are trustworthy and that your recommendations can be taken seriously.
Two of the products that have been successful on my blog are ZipRealty and the Entertainment book. ZipRealty enables you to receive email updates on specific houses. Their search is also great; you can save a search like “foreclosures in these three cities with at least 3 bedrooms and 1500 square feet for less than $300,000” and get email updates. It’s all point and click, and quite easy to use. I use it as a research tool and log in to their website at least once a week to view my saved searches.
For every person that signs up through ZipRealty on my website, I get $5. Since I use it, and know how useful it is, I have no problem recommending it.
I have a similar experience with the Entertainment book. My mom bought them when I was a kid; now I buy them for the American Airlines discount (5% off any fare, even the cheapest ones!) and the $5 of $50 coupons at Safeway. These two discounts alone pay for the purchase price of the book every year. Since I use it, I enthusiastically recommend it. Every time you buy an Entertainment book from this site, I get $4.
These small commissions add up. In my case, I don’t mention them much, but I still earn about $70-80/month from them. No small feat!
In my next post in this series, I’ll address how to become a successful blogger. Not setting up WordPress and a hosting account — that’s been covered ad infinitum on other blogs — but how to engage your audience and write more interesting posts, so you, too, can grow your blog readership and influence.
Feel free to leave your comments on why you do or don’t blog!
- How I Turned My Mediocre Website Into a Million-Dollar Business. Website design isn’t as important as how you treat your customers.
- How Much Money Do Bloggers Make? on Problogger. Informal survey: Most make less than $500/month.
- ZipRealty. Sign up for an account and start tracking real estate prices in your area!
- The Entertainment book. Huge discounts at local restaurants and stores. Even if you only umse the grocery store coupons, it still pays for itself and saves you money. I buy one every year!