How to Build a Successful Blog Business: Rockable Book Review
Blogging has been around for a few years now and probably even your Grandma has heard about it or perhaps even tried her hand at it. But while blogging has become a rather simple pastime, running a successful and profitable blog has become increasingly difficult.
Back before the dotcom bust, advertisers would almost throw money at any blog that had decent traffic. With those days behind us, it seems blogs that are calling it quits are becoming much more common than ones that are actually making a go of it.
So with the surmounting difficulties of making a blog successful, is it really worth all the effort to start one up? Well, thanks to Rockable Press’s recent book, How to Build a Successful Blog Business, it may just be.
Stop. Disclaimer time!
Although it probably goes without saying to most of you, I work for Envato, and Envato is the publisher of this book. So you wouldn’t be amiss in asking if you’re going to get a fair and impartial review of this book. The truth is, I know Collis fairly well, and if this book stunk, I would be one of the first people emailing him to tell him so. In fact, he would probably welcome the criticism.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into it.
What’s in the Book?
For anyone who has started a blog, you know it’s hard work. A lot of us have gone into blogging only to discover how much effort it really does require. I think that’s why you see a lot of blogs start out really strong and then peter out as they lose energy. This book makes no bones about the hard work that’s going to be required to make a success of your blog.
In many ways, blogging is an endurance race, requiring a lot of momentum to build up to become a true success story.
While there may be a lot of stuff in this book that is of value to the hobby blogger, the $39 Price tag may be a little steep for you. This book is really written for people who want to make money from their blog. Throughout it you’ll be looking at ways to track, refine, market and ultimately make a profit from blogging.
Risk versus Reward
Collis has quite a few successful blogs under his belt now. But it wasn’t always that way. His very first blog wasn’t as huge a success as he had hoped for and he later sold it off for about $10,000. Not a bad chunk of change you say, but certainly nothing you can quit your day job for.
Where Collis eventually did strike gold was when he discovered the interest around an article he had written about freelancing. Quite quickly he realized that there was money to be made in starting up a blog all around freelancing. And thus FreelanceSwitch was born.
While we can’t all stumble across underserviced markets like Collis did, we can research and choose a niche that looks like it has the highest reward versus risk. This book will tell you how to write up your business plan and how to research the market conditions before you sink a bunch of money into your blog.
An Army of One
A lot of blog businesses start off very small, typically with just an owner and a dream. That means you have to wear a lot of hats to begin with. More than likely you’ll be designing, setting up and writing all the articles yourself. In cases where you have a bit of reserve cash you may even start with a small group of authors. But more often than not it’s just you by your lonesome.
So how can you be successful if you have the carry the weight of the entire enterprise on your shoulders? Collis recommends starting with something you’re passionate about. Since you will be responsible for all the initial content, you’ll want to find something you enjoy writing about. There’s no point trying to build a blog around something that bores you to tears or worse yet, you know nothing about. Collis can almost guarantee you’ll be throwing in the towel before a few months go by.
If you do something you are passionate about it, will generally show through. While money is something everyone is passionate about on some level, it will usually only get you so far. Make sure you build a business that you love working in for more than just the paycheck it brings.
Finding the Right People
Once your blog is humming along and the traffic has picked up (and maybe the cash is starting to trickle in), it’s time to start thinking about staff. The book will take you through what people you will need and what to look for in writers, editors, and general freelance staff.
Collis has plenty of experience when it comes to finding great staff. He teaches you what he looks for, what he pays, and how he manages such a large group of people from all over the world.
Working with staff who aren’t necessarily even in the same country let alone the same office is one of the most interesting parts of running a blog. It’s a method of work that is unique to this generation of business and there is little written on the subject.
Writing for the Web
While one may think that writing for print and for the web are one and the same, the reality is web writing has its own particular style and flow. The book devotes an entire chapter into how to write with web audiences in mind and how to write content that people want to share.
Along with that, Collis goes over how to write and edit with your particular audience in mind. Every blog eventually develops a voice, and you will want to be able to deliver valuable content in a style that readers have come to expect. For example, while list articles have a higher chance of appearing on sites such as Digg, you’ll alienate your audience if all you churn out is Diggbait.
The truth is that many list articles on the Internet don’t succeed very well. That’s not because the list post isn’t effective – it truly is – but because it’s approached as the “easy way” to get traffic and executed without much effort or consideration.
With the book coming in at just over 325 pages, there’s much more to it than what we’ve been able to briefly review here. The three case studies at the conclusion of the book are particularly interesting. You’ll even discover the shocking truth of the mysterious FreelanceSwitch writer Jack Knight. And no it’s not David Hasslehoff.
As mentioned, this book is written with the professional blogger in mind. While the one-man shop may be interested in how to sell advertising, you probably won’t need to know how to hire staff and run your accounts. That being said, I run a two person travel blog and I was able to take a lot of value away from some of Collis’ suggestions.
How to Build a Successful Blog Business is available from Rockable Press for $39 for the eBook or $47 for the paperback.