Before you get into the technical issues of setting up your blog, though, you need to have some sort of a plan. Because, if you’re doing it right, a blog is a business and every business requires planning.
Sure, it’s wonderful to think about knocking off a few articles from your hammock while sipping margaritas on the beach, but if you want to generate an income you’ll need to do more than that.
Today we’ll take a look at planning for a successful blogging business from a bird’s eye view. Over the coming weeks, we’ll drill down and get more detailed.
Four Things to Think About Before You Start
Before you ever touch your keyboard or register your domain name, here are four basic items you need to spend some time on.
- What to write about
- Identify your audience
- Have something to sell
- Have a way to sell it
Once you’ve determined what you’ll write about, you can choose your domain name. Your subject will suggest some obvious possibilities.
If you’re living overseas and planning to write about your adventures in your new country, something like NewLifeinPanama.com might work.
If your passion is cooking and you’ll be sharing recipes and techniques, SusannasPanamaKitchen.com says it all.
If you’re a CPA and plan to blog about an accounting or tax-related topic, choose a businesslike domain name that your audience will relate to.
It’s important to have an idea, before you start, of who your audience will be. Two bloggers writing about Panama will have very different content if one audience is 20-somethings who love the night life and the other is mid-level executives tired of the rat race.
Once you’ve settled on a topic and have a sense of your audience, you’ll need a way to make money from, or monetize, your blog. There are lots of ways to create an income from a blog, and you can use one or all of them in combination. They include:
- Selling advertising space on your blog
- Finding companies that sell products or services your audience would pay for, and joining them as an affiliate
- Creating your own product to sell
- Selling a service
Most people look at selling advertising space first, but it’s not very profitable unless your traffic (the number of people viewing your site per day) is very high.
As an affiliate, you can offer almost anything to your readers. Your commissions will vary widely, from a small percentage if you sell a book from Amazon.com to a 50% commission for selling an electronic information product. Many major retailers have affiliate programs, and you can affiliate yourself to companies in the travel industry, retail, entertainment, and more.
While it’s tough to make a good living from affiliate sales unless you have thousands of visitors each day, affiliate selling can be a nice supplement to other blogging income streams.
Creating your own product is more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding than selling someone else’s. You can make a better income with a smaller audience when you sell your own stuff.
I’m mainly talking about electronic products here — if you’re living the untethered expat life with a portable career, you probably don’t want to get involved with packing and shipping a physical inventory of items, although it’s possible to do so.
One blogger I know started with a study guide for a professional exam he was studying for anyway.
I recommend building your blog on a WordPress framework, and teach how to use WordPress in our ongoing tutorial series here. Down the road, I plan to incorporate the tutorials into an e-book about building a WordPress blog.
If your topic is fitness, you could create videos demonstrating the exercise techniques you write about.
When creating a product, keep in mind that today’s buyers are not willing to pay for information, but they are willing to pay to learn how to do something.
Many bloggers use their blogs to generate interest in the service they provide. Writers, life coaches, accountants, lawyers, computer programmers, almost any service provider can create a healthier business by adding regular blogging to their marketing mix.
Do you already have a blog? Share a link in the comments below!