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29 Blogging Business Survival Tips

What does it take to be successful in blogging as or for a business?

blogging for moneyMy friend Al from Coolest Gadgets contacted me for some quotes to use in a presentation he has coming up, and as usual, I gave him way more material than he could use. Rather than let it go to waste, I have written it up here as an article.

These aren’t the only lessons, but they are a start. If you like them, check out my article from 2008 that has 41 tips about the blogging side of things.

Revenue generation

  1. Don’t put off the revenue side of your business. I was known as the “free guy” for too long, and that meant when my articles contained $ signs people started getting angry.
  2. Let people know you are in business, and don’t apologise for that!
  3. Once you have started making revenue, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify revenue streams.
  4. And I don’t mean having two different advertising networks.

Networking

  1. I have come to the conclusion the biggest factor that has contributed most to my career and business has been my network. A network can be your most powerful asset, but even more importantly, will play a greater role in coming years as the world economy changes.
  2. One of the worst mistakes I have made (a few times) is thinking I can do everything solo. We are not superheros.
  3. Who you know is increasingly more significant than what you know, but more important still is who knows and trusts you.
  4. I didn’t set out to “build a network”, but my network grew anyway by being friendly. Through my network I have learned about breaking news and industry changes, discovered new tools, tactics and techniques, gained opportunities, job offers, partnerships, and experiences, attracted introductions, referrals, traffic and links, and have received valuable advice and coaching. And, of course, made great friends.
  5. Make nurturing and attracting network relationships a priority, it’s one of the best investments you can make.

Social Media

  1. Social Media is not new, so don’t treat it as something special and different. It’s just accelerated human interaction. Yes, the tools have changed since the days of modem BBS, IRC and Usenet, but the same mistakes and same challenges are there.
  2. Remember that there are human beings on the other end of your updates. Don’t treat people like numbers in a spreadsheet.
  3. Nobody owes you anything. Being approachable, generous, useful and fun will go a long way.
  4. Don’t worry about the people who don’t get you, focus on those you do connect with.

Managing time, money and resources

  1. I tried all of the productivity systems and they didn’t work for me until I realised that managing my energy levels was more important than managing my time. If I get a good sleep, feel good, and am motivated, I can get more done in the same time. In fact, when our energy levels are low, it can take everything just to get started.
  2. Aim for progress, not perfection.
  3. If you are procrastinating, try to understand why. What is it about the task or project that you are resisting. A lot of the time it comes down to fear. Fear of failure, for sure, but also sometimes fear of success.
  4. We have to push the boundaries of our comfort zones to achieve anything substantial.
  5. Managing money has been a thorn in my side because I grew up with some pretty bad money mindset issues. Remember that money is not good or evil, it just is what it is.
  6. Debt is not inherently bad, but spending loaned money on liabilities is not especially smart.
  7. Just like on the airlines, put your own oxygen mask on before trying to assist others.
  8. If you give to charities and causes that you really believe in then you are more motivated to really help rather than handing over cash out of guilt or a sense of obligation.
  9. Remember it’s ok to get a second opinion on anything financial or legal!

Building the business

  1. Sales and customer service are as important as having a cool product. Yes, a great product can seem to practically sell itself, but I have seen many cool products go unsold because of lame attempts at marketing.
  2. How you treat people will go a long way to determining if you ever get referrals, reviews, testimonials and repeat business.
  3. Remember that everyone in your business is in sales, everyone in your business is in marketing. We judge your whole business on every interaction, large or small.
  4. Run your business like you would want to be treated.
  5. Having worked on both bootstrapped and funded businesses, I would rather bootstrap. Grow revenue creating assets, and have the business fund expenditures (and fund itself) rather than take outside money.
  6. Sometimes it does make sense to take outside money, just remember that gaining investment usually means giving up control.
  7. Know the numbers and challenges that drive your business and build systems around those metrics and constraints.

Bottom line

You will notice I don’t talk about tools or technologies in the lessons above. There is a good reason for that. The tools change but in general, people don’t. Back when I started writing online articles in return for hosting space, I used HTML, FTP, and GIF images … but it was the content and relationships that made them succeed or fail. When I got advertising revenue from my programming articles, and later consulting and freelance leads, it wasn’t because of the word processor I used or my photoshop skills. When I run an online course, nobody asks if I am using Premise versus Amember before purchasing :)

Which all makes me realise, these lessons could easily apply to a brick and mortar business, or an ecommerce business, just as easily as one based around blogging.

Got any lessons to share, or anything you disagree with? Please share in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Great tips Chris. I’m glad you didn’t let me go to waste. :-)

    I particularly like your ideas about revenue generation. It’s taken me over a year of working on my site and getting email s from people practically begging to give me money form me to finally start getting some products off the ground. I’m on the way now, but probably should have started sooner.

    I’m also with you on bootstrapping where possible (and it usually is) rather than chasing funding

  2. Nice piece, Chris. Straightforward, clear, wise, helpful. A small thing that I particularly like is putting the 29 points under 5 separate subheadings. That’s a gesture that shows consideration toward your readers, letting them more readily grasp your points by giving them a hint ahead of time what the topic of each point addresses.

    I just started following your blog and I’m glad to have found it.

  3. I really enjoyed this article Chris, a lot of practical and realistic ideas for success.

    It was nice to see you touch on so many different sides to being successful, both from a business and personal standpoint.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Hey Chris,
    I run a “bricks & mortar” photography studio… but everything you posted above is just as applicable to my business now, as well as my (up and coming) online businesses.
    Great business is great business, period.
    Thanks for the great read :)
    Israel.

  5. Hi Chris, love the list. Great points. One that I would add (which is one of the valuable lesson I have learnt since I started blogging) is…. be careful who you listen too. “Expert” advice can vary hugely in quality and appropriateness.
    Being very selective on who we listen too can make a huge difference to the learning process and results.

    • Great point! Back when I thought there were secrets and trick short cuts I joined a popular forum and was sent way off track by some “experts” who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I am glad to say I worked out I was just going to lose money and found my way back to the tried and trusted hard work approach that I had started out with :)

  6. Hi Chris
    Treat your blog as part of your business and not something separate from it. As I work with small business owners they always talk as if blogging is extra ‘work’ rather than an essential tool to help them generate leads.
    Also, similar and a little related to that, build a funnel with your blog. Once you can see how your blog contributes to the rest of your business it is easier to see it as an essential tool.

  7. great post, Chris!
    the best part of the post is that you’ve focused on people… I’ve read many posts mostly focusing on techniques…. I’m really glad that you’ve concentrated on the human aspect of things… things that are more timeless in nature…
    please keep up the good work!

  8. What does everybody think about companies that buy cheap blog posts from content mills as a way of farming out the job of content creation? Besides the fact that the writers earn squat, don’t you think the companies are kidding themselves if they think they’ll actually generate enough revenue to even recover their expenses? There’s been a fairly heated debate between writers and the owner of such a content mill in a LinkedIn group lately. I just can’t imagine that a hardware store, a hairdresser, a hotel or restaurant gets any real value from posting a generic blog entry once a week.

    • I think people who buy recycled or low quality content forget the whole idea is content is for PEOPLE … Good quality content is worth paying a fair price for

  9. Hi Chris

    Thanks for this interesting post. I actually have a lot of questions since I’m new to blogging. But I’ll try to prioritize them to make this short. I agree with you on the 3rd tip and I notice you diversify your revenue stream into 5 or more books, 4 courses, and minimal affiliate links/commissions. That’s a lot of sources and very impressive. I’m trying to set some short term goals here and was wondering if you could share some of your first year’s revenue streams – in other words, what and how many income streams do you recommend for beginners? PS: I’m not sure if this question is appropriate

    Secondly, can you please clarify tip 13? Did you mean, not to focus too much on people who are less likely to be ‘readers of your blog’ etc, but put more effort to the loyal and prospective readers? I’m sure you’re well intentioned, so I thought if I understood you better, I’ll get your drift.

    I’m trying to do Tip 17: writing comments is definitely out of my comfort zone.

    Again, Thanks for this post and sorry if this comment is too long.

  10. Loving the “list” format, certainly makes the entire article more organized and easier to digest!

  11. Nice post and some interesting thoughts there! I particularly liked your bottom line as to why you did not use tools and technologies in your articles because they change but people don’t. Hah Good one! I would especially like to mention the category of managing time, money and resources. Lots of people do the same mistakes again and again and still don’t realize where they are going wrong.

  12. Chris, excellent quotes. A lot of them, but definitely all with value. I especially like the part about making interactions on social media organic, not just a numbers game. So many forget how much we ALL need genuine human contact when just focusing on how many “Likes” you have.

  13. A great article, Chris, it’s made me more determined to be more businesslike in my approach, and stop doing those ‘little extras’ for free. Your revenue generation tips have been extra helpful.

  14. “Got any lessons to share.” Yep, I had two blogs, both of which were bringing in some good traffic and a bit of $$$. But, one must also LOVE what they are doing! To me, blogging became to much of a time consuming process. It took a lot of time away from my other interests. So, one must truly enjoy blogging, because if not – then these other items listed won’t make a difference! Kudos to those who are successful and persistent with their online ventures.

  15. Hi Chris
    Excellent article , I will never learn enough in this business to ever say I know it all. I like the networking part and must remember what you say. Also I read your comment policy, that in it’s self was a great article, nothing there that you would misunderstand. Thanks for sharing
    Mike Smith

  16. Great points on the social media part. I see a lot of bloggers that simply leave updates on their social media pages without interacting with their fans. Hope such people run into this page and learn a lot just like I did. Thanks for the tips!

    Rick

  17. Good information Chris, thank you. Ive owned my own brick and mortar business for over twenty years, but the economy took its toll. So now I am looking at recreating these principals online.

  18. Just new here, but also from UK. In blogging, I think you need to be prepared to give more than you get. One of my favourite bloggers at the moment is Pat Flynn who gives about 90% to get 10%. It just so happens his 10% is £30000.