Ever since I made the choice to create a blog, I have been learning more and more about the opportunities created by blogging. I’ve come to believe that almost any person, business, or organization can use a blog as a tool to reach their goal whether it is more knowledge, more money, or more influence. It’s interesting to note that all of these goals are often interrelated.
The value model of a blog promotes openness, curiosity, progress, collaboration, and most of the time, ethical practice. Because blogs are often monetized through means other than direct sales, the content of the blog has less reason to stray from its stated purpose. The global reach of the internet makes generating worthwhile revenue from ads feasible (I don’t think any other medium can reach as many viewers for less cash). A blog about computers can consistently deliver unbiased computer news and tips and not worry about having to sell a reader on buying their own product or a product of an affiliate. While this incentive will always exist, it will be their unbiased information that drives readers to their site, and targeted Google ads (Google will do the targeting work for the blogger) and sponsorship that create revenue BUSINESS.
But is ad revenue all that a blog will provide to its creator? What exactly is the value model? What does a blogger give and what does a blogger get? What does the blog provide to its readers and what do the readers provide for the blog? It’s here that I believe the most flexibility exists and the biggest change from classic models comes in. Let’s start from the beginning:
A blog must provide value that doesn’t have to be worth a person’s money. A blog must provide value that is worth a person’s time. You can call it an information product, but I like to look at it simply as “something that is worth someone spending five minutes looking at per day.” Even if you can provide something that will merit two minutes of a reader’s time (and none of their money) daily, you will receive a boatload in return.
What exactly is this “boatload” in return? Why should you blog? The benefits extend beyond money. Yes, I read somewhere that a blog with 100,000 views per month generate on average USD$75,000 per year. But I believe this should be seen as a way to make a greater objective sustainable.
Aside from advertising revenue, a blog will connect the blogger with a community and allow all benefits associated with it. An aspiring musician who works as an accountant to pay the bills can be the working example.
Stevie McBibbersford is a violinist who works at an accounting firm during the day and buries his head in his violin all night. He spends his weekends and free time practicing, working with other violinists, and staying up to date with the latest techniques and violin related products. Already, McBibbersford is part of a community: his peers, other members of the orchestra he plays in, music store owners, and a few of his other string instrument buddies are all a group of people he talks to normally about what’s going on in his music life/the music world.
Ole Bibs’ decides to start blogging. $25 and a McBibbersford.com later, he begins to simply post string-instrument related news he comes across, pictures/sound clips of techniques he’s working on, tips on improving, reviews of new strings, etc.In other words, he’s taking the time to chronicle the things he already does/learns-to organize and present them in such a way that the people in his small already-established community would pass by McBibbersford.com for two minutes just to see. He trusts that things that he has found helpful or interesting will be helpful or interesting to other people, as well.
Up to this point, I might say that McBibbersford has been writing and sharing. But now is where the magic of blogs begin to take place-to actually begin blogging and expanding/finding a community.
McBibbersford adds “blogging” to the things he does in his free time-this won’t be a waste of that precious time. In addition to writing/chronicling his progress on his own music career, Bibs’ finds and reads other blogs on the same topic. These blogs/bloggers become things he can reference in his own posts to share with his small community. Bibs’ also finds different means of reaching more readers with the purpose of being able to share his findings with them (means such as Twitter and Facebook). Before long, Bibs’ small community of music people in his home town are not the only ones checking out the posts of his news, tips, tricks, and general updates on McBibbersford.com. Keep in mind that at this point, all that is happening is that Bibs’ is continuing to learn about and research his passion of music, and is chronicling and sharing his findings with people who find it worth two minutes to stop by his blog (usually because they, too, are passionate about similar things).
From this point, a snowballing effect has started. The more people who read McBibbersford.com, the more people will share his posts with other people in the same industry/with the same passion. Eventually, Bibs’ will have the decision to sell ad space on his blog, but that is not it.
Bibs’ original small community of fellow orchestra members, string instrument-playing friends, suppliers, etc. has now been greatly expanded. Blog readers post comments on Bibs’ blog that teach him things he didn’t know, or suggest better places to shop for later products. When Bibs’ has a question, a reader often has an answer. Because readers can see that Bibs’ is passionate about music and can see how much he has been learning, Bibs’ might get offers to speak or contribute to music magazines, or if he uploads his work, even offers to play for money. The benefits of having an extended community are limited only by your imagination. Tim Ferriss, of The 4 Hour Work Week was even able to get a reader to meet him at the airport and sell him their laptop charger because he forgot his.
Note that McBibbersford started out only chronicling what he was already doing; sharing his own progress in such a way that would merit someone else spending a few minutes reading it-that’s all. This is the sharing and openness. The blog could eventually generate revenue through various means-sponsorship, requests for consultation, new gigs…some blogs even receive donations! This would take pressure off Bibs’ to work and would enable him to focus on what he really loves-this is how a blog can promote curiosity, following your passion, as well as financial independence. The best part of all is that money and time aside, McBibbersford is now a member of a global music community, and this will advance his knowledge and influence beyond what he may have dreamed while working during the day at an accounting firm and spending his nights and weekends with music friends.