How I used a blog to attract thousands of subscribers my first week.
Why I make six figures and you don’t.
How I quit my day job and now I work all day in my robe and slippers while my wife brings me lattes.
Ever seen headlines like these before? Find them at least a little compelling?
Like every good headline, they exist to attract attention and convince you to keep reading. They’re trying to get you thinking about how to use a tool like blogging to make lots of cash.
But there’s something in those big promises that misses the mark.
Now that I have some experience under my belt as a blogger making an online income, I’d like to talk about the missing ingredient of those pitches.
It’s not about your blog
Lance Armstrong has a great book out called It’s Not about the Bike.
In his case it’s about one of his testicles. To be more specific, the one he no longer has.
The book is about how his bike became a vehicle in a bigger race than the Tour de France or his Nike deal, how his bike is a metaphor for life.
Lance and his tragic disease wouldn’t be famous without his bike. And as an online entrepreneur, you won’t be famous, either, without your blog.
That said, it’s still not about the blog. Not at all. The day you realize that fact is the day you’ll turn an essential corner toward reaching your goal of making a living online.
So what is it about, if not the blog?
It’s about your business.
Your blog and your business are different, yet related, things. The former is a sub-set of the latter. The difference is sometimes subtle, but it’s a critical one.
Your blog is a strategy, a branding and marketing vehicle, a means toward an end.
Your business is the money-making model. A product or service for sale.
Your blog isn’t for sale. It may be of service, but it’s a service you’re giving away for free.
Which means, if giving out free content is all you’re doing, or if your blogging has become the core deliverable of what you believe to be a business, your strategy is upside-down.
There’s nothing magic about a blog
When I started out, blogging not only seemed like a good idea — especially with all the voices that suggested you could get rich doing it — it was also incredibly rewarding right out of the gate.
Not monetarily. It was rewarding because of how it felt.
Connecting with people. Helping them. Sucking up all that nice feedback. Participating in a community, being part of a meaningful dialogue.
Those are, and should remain, part of the reasons you blog.
But if they aren’t your real objective, your end game — if making a living is an element you want to add to that mix — it’s time to take stock. Because it’s so easy to get lost in all that community stuff, the warm and fuzzy elbow rubbing, the sense of doing something helpful and worthwhile.
Which doesn’t pay you a dime until you actually sell something.
There will come a day when it hits you
You’ve been getting up in the middle of the night to perfect a post that will go out via Feedburner at dawn. You’ve sweated the syntax of your opening line and polished those nouns and verbs until you found yourself dreaming of your old high school English teacher.
You really care. You’ve become your blog. Just possibly, at the expense of your business plan.
It hit me recently in a post from David Risley, who is one of those “pro bloggers” who, if you don’t read him closely enough, or if you only hear what you want to hear, could lead you to believe that blogging will be the source of your new income, and sometime soon.
But on this day I did read closely, and what I saw there rocked my blogging world.
David, in essence, said this: blogs don’t make money. Businesses make money.
(You’ve seen that message here on Copyblogger as well.)
Your blog is the face of your business, the voice of your brand, the bait that attracts a following.
And yes, you give away as much as you can with it, selflessly and abundantly.
But until you have a product or service to sell, and until the blog connects to that enterprise in a way that actually begins to generate actual revenue in addition to pumping up your online reputation and ego, your blog is nothing other than you expelling positive energy into the universe.
Or, to put it another way, just so much hot air.
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About the Author: Larry Brooks is the creator of Storyfix.com, an instructional resource for novelists and screenwriters. His book, The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling, will be published by Writers Digest Books in early 2011.