This article will try to explain why people blog. If you are just looking for a quick, easy and cheap way to get started blogging, please scroll down to the end where we will give you just that.
What we internet types of people often forget is that we are not the only ones in the world. Many people still don’t get what is happening in the world of bits, bytes, social media and cloud data storage. When I’m on a party and get asked what I do, the answer “I’m a Blogger”, or even “I’m an online marketer” get’s me raised eyebrows and sometimes a knowing smile and the line “Ah, so you’re unemployed!”
I usually go with “I’m an entrepreneur.” Works well better with the girls… In my circle of friends most of the people are scientists, doctors, consultants, traditional business people, and sometimes even traditional marketing personas. Somehow everyone seems to know what an entrepreneur does – which is strange considering an entrepreneur really isn’t that defined: I could be developing machinery for farmers and I would still be an entrepreneur.
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On the other hand, nobody seems to know what a blogger does, though I would consider it a really well defined activity: I am writing, or publishing, on a website (that website is a blog, and therefore I’m a blogger).
This confusion goes deep – and we bloggers sometimes forget that we are the ones who need to clear that up. Last week we got a comment on one of our posts about how to become a better blogger, which simply said: “Just out of curiosity – what do people get from blogging?”
So even my own readers don’t know what I’m doing – well maybe they do know what I’m doing, they simply don’t understand why I’m doing it. So, this post is here to explain. For those of you, who are experienced in this – yes, I know it’s 2015, but we still need to explain this, over and over again.
The first thing to understand is what blogging means. Blogging primarily is an activity – not a job. It means you have a website (or you have access to a website) and you regularly publish content on that website which is free for others to consume. To make this easier, you can use pre-built software packages on your webserver (like WordPress) or other webplatforms (like Tumblr) to run your blog. Most of the time when we say content we think written article, but that isn’t a requirement: You can really publish any form of content on your blog – and you can mix forms of content. There are video blogs, photo blogs, corporate video blogs, interview blogs, …
That’s it. Ok, maybe not. But that is all that is needed for a general definition of blogging. And it allows us to examine the really interesting question on why people blog at all.
So, Why Do People Blog?
So a blogger publishes content for free. But why would anyone do that? After all, creating content is hard work. So, why are bloggers giving valuable content away for free? The answer is, that there are three main reasons for blogging, which I will first list now, and then explain in detail below.
1. People Like Creating (and Sharing) Content
Truth is – every blogger should blog because he likes creating. It doesn’t need to be the primary reason for blogging, but a blogger should love what he/she is doing – otherwise it will show in his content.
2. Bloggers (Try to) Make Money with Their Blogs
Yes, that is the second reason for blogging from a very top level point of view. Blogging can actually make money, and a lot of people either try to bring their blog to profitability or even try to blog their ways from rags to riches.
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3. Bloggers Publish for Marketing Reasons
In today’s world everyone is marketing something, or at least he should be. It could be just yourself – but a good blog could really help your career for instance. That specialized job you always dreamt about could really just be a few years of blogging away.
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“Why Blog?” – Reason #1: We Like What We Are Doing!
Creating content (whether it is writing, painting, creating how to videos or something else) can be a very fulfilling activity. And when you run a blog, it should be for you. In my opinion, no blogger should be blogging just for business reasons – because if you are not enjoying what you do it will show through on your blog. And if that is the case, then your blog is going to stay behind whatever expectations you have for it.
Many bloggers simply run their own blog for personal reasons. They want to share their experiences with the world. This is how blogging came into existence in the first place and this still is a valid reason for blogging today. Some bloggers simply write about their daily experiences – and maybe some of them don’t even care about whether anybody reads what they write. They just do what they do because they enjoy doing it.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Not every post a blogger publishes needs to be fun to create. Blogging, on the whole, should be a fulfilling activity – but that doesn’t mean that you need to have tremendous amounts of fun every day. Do you think an unsuccessful artist always has fun? Many famous artists only got discovered years (sometimes centuries) after they died – but they created art anyway. Art is content as well – and while content creators might not (necessarily) be artists, artists are definitely content creators. This means that many of the problems that artists have hold true for content creators as well.
For many, this may answer the question “Why do people blog?”: As long as you are enjoying yourself and what you are doing, who cares.
“Why Blog?” – Reason #2: We Want to Make Money!
Yes, even full time bloggers need to eat – so it is only natural that they need to make money from their full time daily activity. And even if the content on their blog is (mostly) free, they can. Successful bloggers have two things that allow them to make money: Web Traffic (i.e. clicks on their web page/blog) and an audience (i.e. returning readers of their blog, subscribers to their newsletters, followers and fans on social media sites, …).
This can be monetized. There are many ways to monetize blogs, some are very direct (like selling consulting services through your blog), while others are indirect (like publishing product reviews with affiliate links). I will list some ways to make money of blogging below this section to give you an example of what bloggers can do to make money.
But first let’s counter one of worst misunderstandings that people have about blogging and that is: Blogging should not be a commercial activity.
That is wrong! It originates in the early start of blogging as a popular activity – when blogging was simply a personal activity. But it was only a personal activity because people had not yet figured out how to monetize what they were doing. Saying that blogs shouldn’t make money is like saying painters should not sell their paintings. There is no written law that says that painters need to starve, and their is also no written law that says that bloggers need to do everything for free. It is completely legitimate to make money from what you are doing! Always. Like in any sort of business there are legitimate ways of making money (not ripping people off) and not so legitimate ways (ripping people off). But that is true for any type of business.
Now, here are a few examples of how blogs can make money:
Selling advertising space:
You can sell advertising space directly to clients or automatically through a tool like Google Adsense. Advertising is one of the easiest ways to make money with a blog.
Selling other peoples’/companies’ products through affiliate marketing
The way this usually works is you place a trackable link somewhere on your blog and then get a commission every time this product gets sold through your web page. You can place this link anywhere: You can write a product review and place that link in there, or you can send out product recommendations to your newsletter list. You can get creative with placing these links. (Don’t rip people off by placing links in fake reviews though.)
Selling your own products
Yes, you can also sell your own products – these can be ebooks, online courses, paintings, photo prints, … basically whatever you can create that your audience is willing to pay for.
Offering consulting services to your readers
Many bloggers offer consulting to their readers – the trick is to have an audience that needs your expertise. Just like with selling your products.
Ok, there are many more ways of monetizing a blog – but the above list should give you an idea of what people do to monetize their blogs.
“Why Blog?” – Reason #3: We Are Marketing!
Why is that seperate from monetizing? Because when you are monetizing your blog, you are trying to make money from what you are doing, when you are marketing from your blog you want to make money from what you are doing otherwise… Or you just may want to make something else more popular through your blog and not necessarily want to make money from it at all.
Blogs can be tremendous marketing tools – ever heard of content marketing? A good content marketing strategy for your company can almost never exist without a blog. A blog gives you a content hub for the content in your content marketing strategy. It allows you to build an audience of interested and likeminded people.
Your blog allows you (or your company) to become famous for your expertise. It allows you to be the person your target audience wants to consume content by – instead of the person that needs to pay a television company to show their ads to their viewers (and really pissing off the viewers with that).
Many companies run blogs for exactly that reason. But even if you are not a company, even if you are not interested in running a business, you are always a marketer in today’s world: Maybe you just want to get a better job, one that you enjoy doing? Then you should advertise yourself! And a blog can be a great tool to do that! There are many people who got great jobs simply because they became known for their expertise through their blogs!
Or maybe you are running a non-profit in your free time and want to help homeless kids. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell the world about the great work you are doing without having to shell out an advertising budget? A blog can help you do that!
Blogging Success Doesn’t Come Fast – It’s Hard Work
Now that I have given you the main reasons why bloggers blog, I want to shed light on something else.
In the introduction, I wrote, that when I go to a party, people react somewhat fuzzy when I say “I’m a blogger.” Part of the reason is that blogging is still regarded as “no real work”. It took me a while to understand why: You didn’t need to go to college to become a blogger, you didn’t need to be taught anything. Many believe, that even if you are successful at what you do, that this success will probably be short-lived because it’s probably based on some short-lived trend.
It’s true – my time at college doesn’t contribute much to what I do. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t need to learn – it took me 5 years to get where I am, and I’m not rich.
It’s true, blogging is still a very young form of doing business (like any web business) – but that doesn’t mean it will be a short-lived trend. As long as I still need to explain what I’m doing when I’m at parties, bloggers still have a lot of audience to grow in.
It’s true, growing a successful business from your blog takes time. Growing a persistent audience with your blog takes time. Making enough money from your blog takes time. But that puts blogging very much in good company with the traditional ways of founding and growing a business.
Full time blogging (and the activities of monetizing your blog) take a lot of time and hard work. And no successful blogger always had an easy time doing what he does.
If that doesn’t scare you away from blogging – the easiest way to get in… is to simply start.