Why Blogging is Not a Viable Business Model
“What is your business model?” Try asking this to a blogger. 90% of the time you should get an answer around the idea that their blog is their business. There is nothing wrong in considering what you do as a business. But, let me ask you a simple question. What exactly do you mean by a business?
Here is Wikipedia on the topic of business:
A business is an organization designed to provide goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, in which most of them are privately owned and formed to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners.
So, does your blog satisfy the above definition of a business?
Say you are planning to buy a house. You find a good realtor and he shows you around. Finally, you decide to buy a house. You are really happy since you got a great bargain. You pay the money and the house is transferred to you.
Now, my question is, did you buy the house from your realtor or from the house owner? Of course, you bought your house from the previous owner. The realtor was just a means to reach the owner.
Now, I’d like to consider our blog as a realtor. In my experience, a solid online business is not focused around a blog. It is focused around a product or solution. A blog should only be a means to promote your main business.
There are people who can call a blog as their business. In this case, their revenue is mainly from ad sales on their blog. But, that is not a very sustainable or long term business approach you should have. Your online business must solve a person’s problem.
I’d like to reinforce a simple fact. Solutions sell. Not fancy products or gimmicks.
How to Use a Blog to Build a Business?
Blogs can be used to build a number of businesses. Here I will list out a few ideas to get .
1. Thought Leadership
Write about a topic you are an expert in. Once you establish credibility, you can sell your expertise. If you are good at Search Engine Optimization, try blogging on the topic of SEO. Then sell that service through your blog. That is the business model I follow with ConversionChamp.com.
2. Generate Email Newsletter Subscribers
You can use a blog to collect email addresses by giving away something for free. Later, you can sell products to the people on your email list. This is what I have implemented on my blog as well. See the home page for a big opt-in box and also the opt-in boxes on individual posts.
3. Sell your content as an ebook
Use a blog to launch ebooks related to your niche. Many successful bloggers are doing that. Once you establish credibility, it’s easy to sell stuff you write. People know that they are going to get quality material which they have grown used to. One example of this is Darren Rowse from problogger.net.
4. Package your services as products
If you own a web design type blog for example, you can sell services as well as sell premium themes. Premium themes are a very lucrative market. There is a lot of money to be made online if you know how to design and code. One example of this business model is problogdesign.com.
5. Offer a Subscription Service for Advice
How about a subscription website? You could send weekly tips, strategies and other advice not available for free. Use your blog credibility to sell your subscriptions. If you like to see how this business model works, head over to davidrisley.com.
6. Recommend other products and get paid for it
Use your blog to sell other peoples products, this is called affiliate marketing. You can write a review post or a resource post and embed affiliate links on the page. You provide value for your readers and at the same time, they get to say thank you for your effort. A lot of bloggers employ this model. If you take a look at my keyword research guide, you’ll see how I have incorporated affiliate links to make it a win-win situation.
7. Develop Tools that Help your Audience
Develop software or checklists that will make life easier for people. I use OptimizePress for my product launches. It is a very easy-to-use WordPress theme with all features built in. I might have saved thousands of dollars as well as several days by using this one theme. Well, I did not consider this as a premium theme because this is much more than a theme. It is almost like a product launch system. If you want to see how people use real software, then check out articlemarketingrobot.com or senuke.com (I don’t recommend buying the software though.)
8. Build a Following, then Publish a Book
Use your blog to gain a cult following and then write a book. It will sell like hot cakes. I am a huge follower of Leo from Zenhabits.net. He follows this model on ZenHabits (Although he has other business models.) Another popular person who uses this model is Seth Godin.
9. Ask for donations
A not so popular business model is asking for donations. You provide great content and you ask your readers to donate money if they find it useful. Wikipedia does this and so does Dave Taylor on his blog askdavetaylor.com with his “buy me a beer” model.
There is no single best business model. The best business model is the ones that your customers like. To get an idea of what works best, do some research and see what your fellow bloggers on the same niche is doing.
Unless you go ahead and try, you are not going to be successful. So go ahead and implement one or more of these business models.
What is your business model for your blog?