By Claudio Gandelman, Founder and CEO of Teckler
If I got a nickel every time someone said they wanted to be a food, gadget or arts blogger, I would be richer than almost all bloggers.
The internet has reached a stage where the barriers to entry are high and lucrative opportunities for independent content creators are few and far between. In the early stages of the internet, compelling content creators could capture a share of internet traffic. Today, the internet is an extremely crowded party, the music is blasting, and everyone is screaming loudly.
The supply of content has exceeded demand, and even established blogs struggle to monetize their content — some use their blogs strictly to drive purchases of related products and services.
In such an atmosphere, writers, photographers, musicians and others are not well positioned to monetize blog content. However, content creators still have the potential to teach, inspire, inform and influence the world. Here’s how:
1. Develop a Niche
Excessive generality is the death of a blog.
Would-be creators must write about their passions and create posts that will entertain, educate and inform readers conditioned to approach blogs with a critical eye. Only bloggers who really know their space can earn their trust.
You do not have to reinvent the wheel, but you do need to add a new spoke or two.
Publish on a set schedule and cover a topic you know better than anyone else. This will establish your credibility and niche.
2. Do Not Write for Money
In kyudo (Japanese archery), the archer does not focus on hitting the target — he or she focuses on the ‘true shooting.’
If your first question is, ‘how will this blog profit?’ … your blog will not make money. You need to focus on true writing first.
Money is a consequence of outstanding content creation, not its objective. Marketing departments produce content that is designed to drive revenue. Bloggers create content that is designed to help readers.
Put money first and you will end up spending more time on SEO, ad networks and website development than content creation.
3. Share Your Content
If you blog but don’t share, you may as well write in a physical diary.
Blogs — and indeed all public internet content — are connective and social in nature. You may write for yourself but ultimately you publish for other people.
Share with friends and family, but perhaps more importantly, share with your community. Whether that be foodies, tech enthusiasts or theatre aficionados, get your posts to the people who will care about the content rather than the fact that you wrote it.
Also, share content that is not yours. Enlightened bloggers do not snub each other and they do not write in a silo. Instead, they seek to generate traffic both for themselves and other members of their segment because that is how they can be most helpful to readers.
Do not blog from a deserted island. Blog in a community.
4. Credit others
Do not pretend to be the fountainhead of all your content.
Even if you write a poetry blog, you know very well that others have groomed the path for you and have given you ideas. Honor them.
If you’re writing about a new gadget that another blog covered first, credit that blog for the discovery. Link to them, acknowledge their good research. They in turn will (hopefully) honor you when you break news or put out superb, original content.
Scholars in their ivory towers all meticulously credit each other, referencing both their source and the fellow academician who created it. That is one reason we trust their research and entrust them with teaching at our best universities.
Link unto others as you would have them link unto you.
5. Choose Your Platform Wisely
‘Blogging’ is now a bastardized word. Companies have blogs, universities have blogs, newspapers have blogs, and blogs have blogs.
The word blog comes from ‘web log.’ It is nothing more than a website or web page than functions like a journal. It contains content, most often reflections, comments and opinions.
The global internet community has become trapped within the schema of the blog, forgetting that an extraordinary diversity of mediums can serve the same purpose.
Twitter, arguably a ‘micro-blogging’ site, is an impactful platform for reflections, comments and opinions. Tweets, however, speed downstream in the waters of time. The thoughts posted on Twitter are designed to be ephemeral. Facebook posts are attached deeply to a specific time and place, and they eventually burrow in the timeline. Ultimately, the content and the right to monetize it belong exclusively to Twitter and Facebook.
Where you choose to ‘blog’ is perhaps the most important decision you will make as a blogger. So find a platform where you can develop your niche, focus on creating exceptional content, share, build community and preserve your hard work. A traditional blog may not fulfill those requirements for you.
I wish I received a nickel every time someone said they wanted to blog about X, Y or Z. However, the content creator who passionately ‘blogs’ about X, Y or Z has the potential to make many more nickels I can make as a skeptic. The content creator accomplishes this by prioritizing the principles and value of his (or her) writing over the fruits of his labor.
The kyudo sensei may say ‘true shooting, certain hitting.’
I say ‘true creation, certain monetization.’
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.