The barman at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas asked “What’s a blog?” after I explained that I’d just come from BlogWorld 2010.
Having been immersed in the world of blogging and surrounded by 4,000 attendees for the last two days, I was dumbfounded by the question.
Of course, I could have just given him a straightforward guide on how to literally set up a blog. For instance, get a domain name and hosting. Then you have to hire a designer and programmer, unless of course, you can do it yourself. From there, content is king. Try to write a new post everyday. However, you can find a straightforward blogging guide anywhere on the net these days. How could I present it differently?
How could one not know what a blog is? Then I found out he doesn’t even own a computer.
I couldn’t comprehend not having a laptop, or for that matter a camera, smartphone, video camera and tripod that I lugged across the miles of Vegas hotel floors.
Since I thought he was missing out on a whole new world of opportunities I attempted to give him my best all encompassing definition:
“A blog is a way for you to share your thoughts, ideas and knowledge with the world. It started out as an online journal and has grown to be a platform from which, if you choose, you can build your own personal brand, a successful online business and even change the world.”
(I later read the description in the Problogger book which was similar…` A Blog is a particular type of website‘).
“Oh, right. Really? I had no idea. I don’t even know how to do anything on a computer, my girlfriend does it all for me. I just make drinks”.
I briefly thought about telling him how he could become a niche blogger who shares his tips on making great cocktails and influencing drunk people to do more than just gamble in Vegas, but then I decided I wouldn’t waste my time.
He didn’t strike me as a `would be’ blogger because deep down he wasn’t a geek.
Yes it’s the truth, what I saw at BlogWorld is that `most’ of us bloggers are geeky.
You have to be if you want to tweak your theme, manage your email list, play with your widgets, fiddle with your plugins, set up your affiliates and more.
I learned so much more than that though. I came away with a master plan, a book full of ideas and more importantly a plethora of new connections and friendships with fellow bloggers who were nothing less than remarkable.
The Top 5 Lessons Learned at BlogWorld
Keep in mind this is my summary to ensure you become the best blogger you can be (caveat this applies to those of you wanting to earn a living from blogging not necessarily hobbyists):
1. From day 1 take yourself seriously and treat your blog like a business
2. It takes a lot longer than 3 days to become a Problogger like Darren Rowse – try 2.5 years
3. Have your vision in place before you start out – it drives every action you take
4. Create a roadmap and set goals, so that you know where you’re taking your blog, why and how
5. Know that sitting at your laptop for hours on end will increase your chances of heart disease!
(The last one is actually true and it’s really important to acknowledge that you will spend far too many hours at your laptop – so make sure you break for exercise!).
Now I’ll let the probloggers enlighten you even further.
The 7 harsh realities of blogging to make bucks
In the blogging world they’re legends. So listen up:
#1 Free is not a business model
Blogging is the attraction strategy. The money comes from selling something valuable related to your content.
#2 The Make Money-on-the-web machine is on the fritz
Darren explained how he put up his first product for sale on the web and made $150,000 in a matter of hours (see the video). But he also clearly pointed out that it took 2.5 years of building that trust through his blog, an audience and a network.
#3 You are not scaleable
Take your queues from the big giants like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan and Problogger and work your ass off for ages. Note that initially with a baby blog it’s fun trying to get to the next level.
You will end up missing when your blog was in its infancy and the enjoyment you had before the work increased exponentially and you realize all the emails, the writing, the tweaking, the maintenance is never going to stop it’s only going to grow.
So you need to set boundaries. Keep on connecting and creating valuable relationships but don’t sacrifice yourself to social media.
#4 No one actually wants that much authenticity
Naomi Dunford and Johnny B Truant are the best examples of maintaining their authority, and being bloggers who give a damn, all while revealing they’re fun, cool, silly, stupid. This shows that you can do it too.
Don’t lie on your blog ever. But then don’t tell real personal stuff that’s not interesting.
Be the best possible you that you can be for your people, your audience.
It’s not about you, it’s about your customers. What do they want, what do they care about, what do they give a damn about?
#5 Social Media Hates Selling
The problem is you need to sell if you have a business.
Your content is the marketing, you’re giving valuable content away. It should just sell itself, eventually it will.
Your audience will sell it for you. But before that happens you have to hustle and promote and reach out to your networks – and it has to fit with your community.
- Use social media to get people exposed to what you’re doing over time.
- Then produce a free report as an offer that people are interested in, so they ask tell me about this thing.
- From there you can build on that trust and making a saleable offering.
- People will tell you exactly what they want you to produce that they can buy.
- Finally observe religiously – comments, links from other posts, the social media and deliver it. Make relations from that.
‘Social Media is the greatest free market development tool ever’ – Brian Clark.
#6 A blog is not a business
Darren talked about how his blog started as a hobby and how he initially didn’t intend to make money out of it. He played around with a donate button and made $2.
Then played around with AdSense and made just over $1 a day and it then started growing 10% per week. He finally decided (his wife did) that he had 6 months to go full time as a blogger.
He was petrified but incredibly motivated. He rang a potential advertiser. Started thinking about who was reading his blog and what they wanted to get out of it.
Then he started looking at the stats and what pages they landed on to get there and content his audience were looking at.
That was the day he started thinking about it as a business. You need to as well – from day one.
#7 No one is reading your blog
This is either because the niche you’re writing about is something that nobody cares about OR you’re writing in a niche that thousands are writing about – weight loss, dating or making money (according to Sonia these are the top 3 areas).
What you need to do is be fresh and write about it in a different way. You don’t need a huge audience, it can be very focused, it has to be something people care about, and your people give a damn and find compelling.
Two routes people go – the first is to be entertaining. The second is to be useful. If you have to choose – take the latter. If you can be both then do.
Look for people with complimentary skill sets and/ or are in the same niche with similar goals.
If you’re a visual person check out this fantastic graphic summary from Toonblog. If you’re into short videos with poor sound quality but a great message checkout my short compilation from the keynote.
Treat your blog like a business
Invest in your email management platform – spend $10-20 on your business a month– it’s nothing in the scheme of things. Your list is the most important thing.
Bootstrap – start with the bare minimum and upgrade as you go.
Sell your free thing – not for money but psychologically. Show them what they’ll get.
Outsource everything you do as a blogger minus your vision and your voice (big takeaway for me – to let go and focus on the most important things).
Keeping it real
By far and away the best part of BlogWorld 2010 was meeting fellow bloggers – both bright shining stars and upcoming meteorites – it was a universe of cool.
New connections, new friends and a warm fuzzy feeling you just don’t get from a WordPress Blog.
For this reason I’d like to say a big warm thank you to Naomi Dunford, Dave Navarro (for the advice and dinner!),Traci Love, Tachelle Daniels, Mike Stelzner, Mari Smith, Lori Richardson, Podcasting Rob, Catherine Caine, Nathalie Lussier, Pace Smith, Daniel Scocco, Lewis Howes, Chris Garrett, Barbara Rozgoyni, Jonathan Mead, Matt Gartland,Maren Kate, Brett Allen, Darren Rowse, Sonia Simone, Jonathan Fields, Liz Strauss, Carol Roth, Terry Starbucker,Mike Stenger, Jordan Kretchmer Jenna Langer, Ryon Harms, Jonathan Levitt, David Spinks, Alicia Navarro, Hannah Keys and Jaime Tardy – and to those of you who I haven’t mentioned (you’re in my thoughts and I will be in touch).
Next year you need to get yourself to BlogWorld.
Finally – help me to make my blog more remarkable.
Help me to help you. Become a `Truth Agent’ -answer 5 questions in 5 minutes – and you’ll have my never-ending appreciation for your feedback.