What Is Your Blog’s Trajectory?

Space Spiral:  Where Is Your Blog Going?Your Blog’s Trajectory

Writing a blog is a set of choices.  Where is your blog headed?  Do you have a plan?

“Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”  –  Mark Twain

Do you want to monetize your blog?

Ultimately, if you plan to make money on your blog, you have to sell something.

Advertising Space

If you want to sell ad space, you will need a lot of traffic.  Ads come in a couple of flavors. Some ads require clicks, which don’t happen without a lot of visitors.  Some ads rely on thousands of views, which also takes a lot of visitors. AdSense ads are a hybrid.  You also sell ad space on a per month basis or run a job board.

Want to see the complete list of ad possibilities organized into a cool chart at Problogger?  

Affiliate Marketing

If your blog is an affiliate for products, you earn a commission when someone clicks on the product and buys it.

Writing and Selling a Book

People will buy books that are good.  Are you a writer?  A blog is a way to market books, whether they are paper books or e-books.

Direct Marketing

Do you have a product you can sell to people?  Do you make stuff?  Do you have access to a wholesale source?  Are you interested in packing and shipping?  Do you love foam peanuts?

Marketing Yourself or Your Business

You can advertise your services as a writer or designer (or squirrel farmer if that is your dream profession, but there aren’t that many openings).  You can attract customers to your brick and mortar business.

Or ???

There are other methods to make money using your blog. You could create a social network where people could leave messages for their friends . . . Oh, it’s been done.

If you want to make money blogging you have to have a plan

If you don’t believe me, listen to the inspiration for this post.

I follow the work of Steve who runs a blog called EndingTheGrind.  Steve recently posted this interview with Penelope Trunk.  It isn’t the usual sunshine and flowers encouragement so prevalent on blogs. 

Do you think Penelope was too hard on Steve?  Or was she offering some “tough love” every blogger should hear?

Oh, there’s one more reason to blog:  Because you love it.  

This happens to people.  If you’re one of them, you have my condolences and I hope you leave a comment.  P.S. I love you.

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching.” – Mark Twain

Why Winning Product Blogs Do Only Three Things: the Secret of the Blog Triad

 Your product blog has only three tasks.

I recently was given an opportunity to listen in on a discussion with three successful blogging veterans.  These were folks who have really made blogging work and generate real income.

The group was unanimous in being focused on only three tasks. 

Why you need to remember only the Three C’s of the Blog Triad 

Content

Simple idea.  Generate content of value to readers.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content is king.”  

Original, interesting content is to readers what nectar is to hummingbirds.  A hummingbird may check out a bright shirt, but it won’t stay long.  Epic content, like nectar, will bring readers back.  

The idea of great content is simple; the execution more challenging.  Litmus test:  Would you read your content?  Is it informative?  Funny? Moving?  

Would you recommend that a friend read your blog?

Has your content been optimized so that search engines can direct readers to your site?  

Community

No blog is an island.  Your blog, if it is to be more than a silent repository, must engage with readers.  

Your blog is a bustling newsstand, a bookstore, a library; a place people are willing to visit to find content.  A successful blog is a busy, noisy place.

If you fancy yourself the lone writer, creating brilliant works that someone else markets, you will need a book contract and a photograph of yourself with a pipe (or if you’re a lady, a cigar).

When you are a blogger, you must be gregarious, sociable, and outgoing. You have to get out there and rub shoulders with your community of potential readers.  

Search engines will send you some traffic, just as a phone directory might send potential customers to a bookstore in the middle of nowhere.  

The real traffic comes from networking.  Why?  Because unlike wolves, who run in packs, people tend to organize in networks.

One way to network is to visit other blogs and leave comments.  Visit blogs similar to yours and say something meaningful about other articles.  Read the articles on which you comment. You may actually learn something in the process.  This really works.

Some blogs openly encourage comments with a plugin discussed in this article on CommentLuv.  The article has a link to a terrific list of CommentLuv enabled blogs just waiting for you to participate. 

Another method of engaging with your reader community are the social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  

Do your best to follow or friend people with interests congruent with your blog content.  On Twitter, which tolerates a cacophony of short messages, you can search for topics and Follow people interested in that topic.  Facebook takes more engagement and frankly I’ve been distracted by meeting people I genuinely like

What is the right mix of community engagement versus content creation?  

One blogging expert offered an approximate formula:  80% networking, 20% content

That’s in the beginning.  As your blog attracts more traffic the formula should gradually shift to 20% networking, 80% content writing.  But you never stop networking.

Conversion

Every blog has a product.  You may be selling an idea, or Three Wolf Moon T-shirts, or a book.  Reversing the equation slightly, you may be selling reader attention to advertisers.  

But a successful blog convert your browsers into customers of your product. 

You may want to become an affiliate for a product.  As an affiliate, when a customer buys the product, your site gets a piece of the action.  No conversion, no cash.

You may want to sell an item directly, such as an e-book or an educational course that you develop, or just about anything.  Whatever your plan for conversion, your blog should be structured to funnel potential customers toward the conversion area, sometimes called the Landing Page.  This blog currently is a terrible example for conversion – don’t use it as a model.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Most successful bloggers advise setting up an e-mail list so you can stay in touch with readers and periodically send offers.  When the offer is congruent with your readers interests, they will actually appreciate the right kinds of notices, discounts, and the like.  

If you would like to join my e-mail list, it’s very easy and you can unsubscribe any time.  

In fact, if you act quickly, you can be among the very first charter subscribers.  Do it now so you don’t forget!

That last line was a “call to action.”  Successful product blogs always give readers a call to action.  It’s like pirates always say, “Avast matey!”  It’s a clear direction to their product.

So that’s the product Blog Triad: Content, Community,Conversion. 

The experts were unanimous on another point: successfully creating content, community, and conversion takes hard, persistent work.  But the message was clear: Success is possible if you skillfully juggle the three tasks of the Blog Triad.

What do you find is the optimal mix among the three tasks?  Are you doing all three?  Hey, leave a comment and get started on one task — community — right away!

Failure

Photo of lemonsThe Incredible Value of Failure

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” the saying goes.  When life gives you lemons, pay attention.

Have you failed recently? Congratulations!  Let me explain.

When I was a kid, I hurt myself and said to my mother, “I wish I couldn’t feel pain.”  

My mother then told me a story of a person who couldn’t feel pain.  This person bled to death at the beach.  He hadn’t felt a cut in his foot and bled to death without noticing.  Without pain, she told me, we wouldn’t know when we were hurt.  I disagreed at the time.  She was telling me something important. 

Failure, like pain, sends us precious signals of problems that need to be corrected.  Without failure nothing of true difficulty and importance is ever achieved.

If you are hitting all bulls-eyes, you are too close to the target.

I hate to fail.  You do, too.

Failure is pain.  But when you fail, you learn.  When you learn, you get better.  When you get better, you succeed.

If you are not failing, you are staying within your comfort zone. You are not getting better.

Failure, of course, should not be pursued intentionally.  Similarly, one should not stab an ice pick into one’s thigh.  That would be dumb.  

But when failure occurs, we are being sent valuable intelligence and guidance.  

Failure is painful, sometimes very painful.

Example:  The Apollo 1 spacecraft, which never flew, used pure oxygen inside the crew cabin.  While being tested by a crew of three astronauts, an electrical short started a fire that burned abnormally rapidly in the pure oxygen atmosphere.  Astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee were killed.

Value:  Had the Apollo program proceeded with the 100% oxygen cabin atmosphere, almost certainly the same accident would have occurred in space.  There were 11 successful Apollo missions — Apollo 7 through Apollo 17 — success being defined as returning the crew safely to Earth.  Six of those flights landed men on the Moon.  Those 33 astronauts, and the Apollo program, owed a great debt to Grissom, White, and Chaffee.  

This intense example of failure was integral to one of mankind’s greatest successes of the 20th century: sending humans to another world.  The accomplishment has not been repeated.

Smaller failures and successes are still available to otherwise ordinary people.  You, too, can fail.

If you want to succeed, double your failure rate” has been attributed to the co-discoverer of DNA, Thomas J. Watson.  “But don’t overdo it,” is a corollary attributed to AstroGremlin.  Really.  Don’t overdo it.

If you fail repeatedly, in close succession, you are being sent a series of valuable messages you are likely ignoring.  If this occurs in traffic, if other drivers are honking at you or you are experiencing “near misses,” you are cruising for a bruising.  Or worse.

Failure, like pain, must be accompanied by appropriate correction.

Personal Example:  I had a professor who corrected every mistake in every essay I turned in.  Terse comments in the margins questioned the logic of my arguments and marked-up text pointed out mistakes in the sentences I had struggled so hard to write. My face would burn with embarrassment as I read the all-too-justified corrections.

Value:  That tough professor set me on a path to thinking and writing more carefully.  I remembered every edit.  Having my writing edited stung.  But the alternative was worse: living in a self-congratulatory slumber in Plato’s cave of ignorance.  I would later encounter even tougher editors.  Every time, I didn’t like it.  But I learned.  

Now I edit other people’s writing.  Before I get to the actual editing, I always write something nice like, “You have some good ideas in here.”  And then I bring down the corrections like flaming chunks of doo doo.  This is how editors show their love to writers and their love for good writing.  If you find a tough editor, treasure that person. 

What feels like failure, is not.  The real failure is to ignore the message.

Can you recall a recent failure?  

Was it just a tough break (there is a difference)?  Has it resulted in correction, or did you ignore it?  Can you cite an example of a remarkable personal success that grew out of a catastrophic failure?

Let me know you are alive and kicking.  Leave a comment!