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?
Adarsh Thampy is a small business SEO consultant, entrepreneur and an inbound marketing consultant. You can follow him @conversionchamp.
Such a great post! I get emails from people weekly who want to make money blogging and don’t understand that it’s a little more than just writing every day. What are you going to offer?
It took a consultation with a marketing professional to help me get it; and creating my business plan was a huge eye opener.
Kimberly, thanks for stopping by to comment.
Creating a business plan is very important if you are serious with your business. Glad it worked out for you.
It’s not just about blogging, it’s Facebook as well. In my opinion it doesn’t really matter what features Facebook adds or how they drive adoption of additional products at this point. The timeline feature was their large push against the likes of Twitter, Tumblr, Path, and Google+. Many people aren’t happy, so we’ll see how long social media is viable as well…
It’s a little funny that you expose. For example, the founder of WordPress.com Matt Mullenweg is focus on Blogging, he had an entire organization dedicated to provide blogging plataform to more 70 millions blogs sites (powered by WordPress) http://en.wordpress.com/stats/ and for shure, he make money for Blogging Business. Another example is David Karp or Marco Arment (founders of Tumblr) with more 33 millions of blogs and tumblr site valuated for 800 millions US$. Asking to any of them is blogging are not a business, and them we can talk about it.
after reading this post title, I could not resist but leave a comment here. Here is to answer your question. Blogging is a viable business model as long as content is king and there are advertisers. While its not just advertising there are various forms where you can make money as a blogger. For example, I can write for websites and make money, which makes me a freelance writer/blogger. I can write on my own blog and make money from adverts like Google Adsense. Its called the information service model.
When you are a freelancer, your blog is not actually making any money. However it may help you land clients. Then it’s a business tool.
Advertising on blogs is not a very good business model to follow. You need to rely on page views to generate revenue. There is very little scalability as well.
The point your missing is that I am still a blogger just that a Freelance blogger, and let me tell you about advertisement for blogs, yes, you have to do your work to get pageviews and all, as no one gives away free money. I make a decent sum of money just from ads.
I am not saying that you cant make money from advertisements. The point is that it’s not a scalable business model. Many of the top bloggers are taking down or limiting advertisements and instead doing product launches (Because they are more profitable in the long run).
I’m so amaze with this post where it contains ideas that I’ve been looking for. With these great ideas, I can apply this thing to my project. Thanks a lot for posting this one.
I think this has probably covered most bases. #1 is the approach I take with my own blog, but I tend to regard it as a means of positioning me in the industry rather than as a means to make money in its own right.
Excellent choice. Most people follow this path (This is probably where most of the money is though, directly or indirectly). When you become a thought leader, you get invited to all sorts of seminars, speaking engagements, podcasts and what not.
thanks for this great blogpost. There are so many skyscraping stories out there about earning money with your blog. And let’s face it, it’s very appealing 🙂 But I think you’re right, blogging is a marketing tool to sell other products and services.
BTW, great theme you use for Conversion Champ, that’s the newest StudioPress right?
Thank you for leaving a comment.
You are right about the theme (Although I am planning to heavily customize it once I have enough content on my site)
It really does depend on how many visitors you get. I used to get a 1million hits a month on my soccer website. You can get a fair amount of many just writing on your hobby if you build up a following and advertisers will certainly want in on that.
I am not really sure about the visitor thing. Unless you make money from page views, I don’t really vouch for traffic quantity. It’s all about quality in my opinion.
Blogging itself is not a business model. It is a means to contact your target audience in order to provide products or services. In my opinion one needs a process to arrive a a good business model for your blog. If you do exactly the same as other bloggers you have so much more competition. Many aspirant bloggers seem to think they need to do nothing more that finding a “profitable” niche.
Nice blog and it contains really helpful information. Thanks for sharing.
This is a very interesting article, i have been searching the web for this topic for a while, i have bookmarked this & will send it to a few of my good friends
Eyeopener for those who want to make a living through Blogging.
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Excellent post, Marieke. Right now Affiliate marketing is the big thing in the internet world. For bloggers who want to generate revenue from their blog, this is a lucrative avenue. All they have to do is sign-up with an Affiliate like Amazon, choose a category and promote their products. Thanks for sharing these tips!
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The on-point explanation given which proves that blogging can be used to build an online business but not blogging can alone be a business. Thanks for writing and sharing this post.
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The one thing that blogs about blogs don’t like to talk about is the factor luck has to play. Simply being in the right place at the right time is sometimes all that is needed to be a “successful” blogger.
My first blog got 100k hits in the first month, is it because I did something awesome and clever? No way! I just happened to say the right thing at the right time.
Of course, there’s always the hard way too 😉
I came across this post from problogger I think and I have to agree I have often thought that blogging is a complete and total waste of time on numerous occasions. Mainly because on the internet there are just too many distractions. However, why do I continue blogging? Right now I think I have the best reason and that is I continue blogging I suppose is that 1. I love it and 2. I don’t have a steady job that I go to.
One reason why I haven’t made any significant money blogging is that up until this year I have been blogging as a hobby on far too many topics. So my motivation now – since I have no steady job, continue my passion and be more focused.
What does mean service? I think it means creating value that removes the problem of people facing. Bloggers try to provide answers which people search through the search engine. They address the problem with a proper solution. It creates value for them. So I think it is a kind of service. So it is a business.
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I was like .. what what did i just read.
Blogging is very much viable… we run Niche sites and make more than $ 150K.. so, how is it not viable?