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Business Blog Advice: Your Blog Is Not Your Business

A number of the clients I work with blog. Either they want to get started and need to learn how or they’re already blogging and want to make a greater impact with their blog.

But one thing is similar between almost every client…they somehow see their blog as their business. I’m not sure where this developed exactly, but I see this all over the web as well. Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding between those who have made money blogging and those who want too.

But a blog is not a business. Blogging, in it’s own right, is no more a business than your gasoline is a car. Sure, the car and gasoline are forever linked, even dependent on each other, but you’re not going to step inside a can of gas and make it to the grocery store.

You can think of your blog in similar terms. Your blog is like gasoline in that it can make your business go. And done well, blogging can make your business grow. But you first need a clearly defined business model before you can attach a successful blog to it.

Even for the problogger, your blog is the method that allows you to make an income – in other words, it’s marketing. But your business is about publishing, sell advertising or affiliate programs or being paid for reviews. The blog is simply the way you accomplish your business model.

I bring this up because I see so many people getting it backward. They think the blog is their business. They see the blog as their car. They expect to just get in and have the blog deliver them to their destination. But it doesn’t work that way. You can blog successfully for years and never make any money. You can have tens of thousands of commenters and no clients.

The answer to making money with your blog isn’t about text-link ads, having more ad space or finding the right affiliate programs. It’s not even about converting clients or selling products. All this can certainly make you money, but your chance of success decreases greatly if you don’t have a plan – a business model to follow.

Here’s some simple points to set you in the right direction toward finding your business model:

  • Know thy self – What is it you have to offer. With a service or product this is obvious. For the problogger, it’s still necessary as content will drive your success.
  • Know thy market – What is it the people who make up your market need? Solve a problem for them and they’ll become a customer. One help…think of your market as a person.
  • Know thy vision – Think about where you want your business to go and what you’d like to accomplish with it. Write down your ideas. And be sure to set goals.
  • Know thy plan – Your business is like building construction – you have to have a plan. Your plan is the path� you’ll follow toward accomplishing your goals.
  • Track thy success – Tracking is way underutilized by small business owners today. As a blogger, tracking traffic is great. But consider tracking conversions and revenue and tweak things to gain more success.

The bullet points above ideally answer four questions – who are you, what do you do, who do you do it for, and how do you do it? When the answers to these questions are clear, you have the foundation for your business. Now, go get your blog to do the marketing for your business.

And that’s what a blog is – a marketing tool; a method for drawing attention to your business. But first you have to know what your business is about. You have to know who you serve and with what. And to be successful, you need to know how to meet the goals you set for business. Blogging can help with all this. But without a clear vision and solid plan, you’ll likely end up like the tens of thousands of bloggers who are writing their fingers off and making pennies.

So if you’re problogging, what’s your business model? And if you’re blogging to convert clients or customers, how are you using your blog to gain revenue?

More importantly, how well is it working? I’d love to chat about it…

(note: image from B Tal on Flickr)

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Comments

  1. Hi Dawud,

    Doesn’t this carry on from the restaurant example you were giving a couple of days ago?

    Isn’t blogging a way for people to get to know you, and decide whether there is an emphathy between you?

    After all, you’d really prefer not to do business with someone you don’t really like, would you?

    Over a period of time, this type of interchange allows us to feel comfortable with each other, so that on that day when you say to yourself..

    Hey I need a Widget!!

    You know that it’s Dawud you’re going to go to to get that widget… full stop :-)

  2. Good advice. It’s easy to get it backwards, but you’re absolutely right.

  3. I use my blog as a tool to promote my Real Estate business. Not only does it help my business but also helps my clients as well via seach engine exposure.

  4. This needed to be said and said loud and clear.The only guys I know making money through their blogs are fellows who are teaching others how to make money blogging. One can claim as, WMARE above says, that a blog can help your business make money. That is all that it can do.

  5. I would be happy to visit with you about how I used a blog to market and grow a law practice. Drop me an email and we can set up a time to chat.

  6. Dawud, I think you’ve managed to clarify it quite well – that a blog or blogging is a business or marketing tool, not the business itself. I like that analogy of the gas tank and the car, the gas tank being your blog, and the car being your business. I see, however, that the analogy can be stretched further because the car itself is a tool for you to get somewhere. Applying it to blogging, I think it would serve the blogger well to define his/her own personal purpose and define what role his business (as a tool) plays in achieving that purpose. Thanks for this thought-provoking article, as always.

  7. Good post there, Dawud. The thing with blogging is, it is easy to get addicted and lose sight of the fact that the blog may not be your principle source of income. It is important to prioritize and eliminate non-productive habits.

  8. Marina Del Rey Real Estate says:

    I think there are a lot of people out there who want to ‘get rich quick’ and they think that blogging is the way to do it. It can be a great way to make some ‘extra’ money, but I think you really have to lay down your foundation… set your goals, etc. as you mentioned in your article.
    Do you use analogies all the time? Just curious… because I do and it really helps me to get the point of so many things… from the other comments listed, it appears that it’s helping a lot of people… that’s pretty cool.
    Christine

  9. rob,
    That’s certainly the idea. You’re blogging, haven’t seen all sort of examples of people thinking their blog is their business?

    Lisa,
    How do you keep it straight?

    Westboro,
    Yet, your business is real estate, right? That would mean your blog is serving your business. And how’s it working?

    Home Recording,
    I think it needs to be said again and again until people get it. Even a problog needs a business model to go with it. I think it’s tragic that people try so hard to make the blog their business. Can’t people see that it’s just a way to communicate with your audience?

    Grant,
    We’re talking later this week. Looking forward to it.

    Mike,
    You’re absolutely right, the analogy can be stretched. Just as we can talk about your business as providing you with the means to feed your family and live the lifestyle you want and need.

    Thoughts?

    Nicole,
    It’s true. Traffic and comments don’t equal invoices and payments.

  10. Great point, Dawud. I tell folks that my business exists because of my blog, but my blog is not my business.

    Keeping that priority in mind allows me to back off from posting to my blog when I should be working on direct income producing activities.

  11. It’s easy to get drawn into blogging as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. People love the interaction, the content writing, competing over metrics, socializing but calling it networking, geeking out on all the technical bits, without realizing they are getting further and further from productivity. I make my living because I blog, but my business came first. This is an important message well delivered Dawud :)

  12. Excellent insight. As a newbie blogger with just under 5-6 months of blogging experience I have often wondered how the blog made money or how a business used the blog to generate revenue.

    To your point I was focused on the blog as the car – driving the business. It is important to see the blog as a tool in the bigger plan.

    Your five blog “commandments” serve well.

    But back to your question, “How does the blog generate revenue?”- this is the big question for me. Money is money and we all like and need it, but looking at the rules of social media are their appropriate ways of using a blog for generating revenue. That is probably a discussion in itself.

  13. Tucson SEO says:

    It is very hard to separate our blog from our business. Since we use WordPress to build websites, Our blog really is our business.

  14. Very good article. However, does this still apply to people who use their blog as their primary website?

    People who have the impression that you can’t make any real money from the blog itself might be focusing on cheesy adwords or campaigns similar to that, instead of selling their product and minimizing external links, as you would on a regular website.

    Just the same, I did enjoy your article.. good job.

    Kate

  15. Chris,
    And herein lies the needs for balance. It’s great to build a highly popular blog. But if it’s not serving your business – read: producing leads and revenue – then it might be time to re-evaluate one’s efforts.

    What are you doing differently to generate revenue?

    Chris
    Thanks Chris. How has your business changed since you began blogging?

    David,
    What are some of those rules? Especially the ones you use regularly…

    Christine,
    I do use analogies and allegorical stories all the time. I think it helps make things digestible. How has your blog changed your business?

    And, btw, nice to see you back

    Kate,
    Absolutely because it applies to businesses period. Doesn’t matter how you market yourself, the key is to know your business.

    Where I think the gray area comes in is with how accessible blogging is. Combine that with the opportunity to add affiliates, ads and the like and you have a great potential. But potential without a grounded plan is simply a recipe for not succeeding.

    Tucson,
    I don’t think it is, though. You make money selling website designs, SEO and online marketing strategies (looked at your site) – that’s what your clients pay you for. That’s your business.

    Now your blog may drive traffic to your business. It may deliver prospects and convert them to leads – even clients. But none of this IS your business. It’s marketing.

    Thoughts?

  16. An interesting perspective which makes perfect sense. Another analogy could be a shop. The blog is the shop, your ads/products are the your stock to sell but your business purpose is to make money selling this stock from your shop.

  17. I like the know quotes!
    Especially “know thyself” – Socrates, et al

  18. Zip Submits says:

    i agree with that!
    a blog is not a business
    i wonder why all blogger use it to earn money
    well
    i use blog to share my life but not purpose to make money

  19. I think a lot of people look to blogging as a business because most of the so called gurus on the net our promoting blogs as the best way to help you search engine ranking and also a great way to plug your blog.

  20. It is very important to work on the blog and make sure it is updated in order to drive more traffic to your business, but the blog should definitely be an appendage to the business site.

  21. Good point!

    My blogger idol is John Chow and I always follow him.

  22. Interesting thoughts Dawud! Thanks for your very insightful post. Nick :-)

  23. Dear Friend,

    You are right. The blog is nothing but the replication of ones identity and I think every blogger should keep this identity as a part of their life. In fact, the buddies who seems to think that “blogging is business” are totally wrong.

    I agree with the essence of your article. Thanks for the informative article.

    Regards,

    debudeodhar

  24. Sueblimely,
    Sure, that one works as well.

    How are you using your blog to market your business?

    Zip,
    Do you find it wrong that people are using their blogs for business?

    Insomnia,
    Do you think that some of this has to do with people just not understanding business?

    Shaggy Bag,
    Don’t know about that. I have one site for my business – this one. It’s a blog and it promotes what I do for people. I have no need, at this point, for a separate website.

    If you’d like to talk about integration, let me know.

    News-N-Views,
    And is your blog promoting your business? How?

  25. Roll top desk says:

    Yes, but at least they start. I have clients that I try to teach and motivate to have a blog. While some managed to understand, some didn’t. It is not good to consider the blog as the business, but part of it. It helps growing your business.

  26. Susan Payton, The Marketing Eggspert says:

    Great article Dawud! And excellent points. I consider my blog the icing on the cake, the selling point for my marketing firm. It shows people that I know what I’m talking about and gives them confidence to hire me.

  27. A blog is really just a type of website, and a tool of the business. I like to think of the blog as my store, the actual building. If the building burns down tomorrow, no big deal. I just move into the place across the street, and keep on going.

  28. calabria real estate says:

    Blog is really nothing!. Using blog as business is definitely wrong.

  29. I tend to use blogging as a means of generating unique content (unrelated to my business as it may be), by simply writing about topics I find interesting. I link the blog to my other sites that are more integral to the business.

    Readers rarely convert into customers, but the additional links never hurt anyone.

  30. haha…sorry about my grammar. What I meant was that although a blog can grow your business, you need to of course focus on the business aspect..or at least the revenue aspect of your business. It really depends on what your planning on doing, but you need to keep your plans focused. If you are going to blog for fun, then go for it, but keep in mind the revenue model you have set up.

  31. roll top,
    It certainly can, I agree. But what do you do when you’re blog isn’t helping with growing your business?

    Susan,
    So what would you say is the biggest advantage your blog has over a static website for your business?

    Top Rated,
    So should we all get insurance?

    Peter,
    Interesting. Have you considered creating a strategy around you blog that could convert clients?

    calabria,
    It is about a revenue model. And while your blog can be the method for creating traffic, for instance, it’s not, in and of itself a revenue model.

  32. Okay, so I read all the comments. and let me play Devil’s Advocate here a moment … although only slightly devilish since blog writing for businesses is something I hope to develop as a business.

    If you are a writer, or even more specifically, a professional blog writer, then isn’t your blog your business?

    Can you differentiate the frame from the product if the product is dependent upon the frame for completion? Can a professional blog writer *be* a blog writer w/o a blog frame to flow into?

    As always, a well done and thought provoking article. Thanks for letting me participate.

    Char

  33. @Char – The business is not the product or the marketing, the business initiates them. Your blog sells your writing on behalf of your business, it is a showcase, not the business itself. Should your blog be offline people could still engage you through job boards, forum, word of mouth and other referrals so the business exists independent of blog?

  34. Char,
    Exactly what Chis said above.

    So could you continue your business if your blog was offline? Have you had clients that have not come through your blog?

    Chris,
    Lovely answer, thanks.

    Do you think that the idea of blog as a business stems from all the talk of monetization or is it something else?

  35. @Chris,
    “the business is not the product . . . the business initiates them.” A photographer’s business *is* photography and the product *is* photography. Without the photography what business does the photographer have? In the case of blogging, or rather writing which underlies the blogging, I think your point is perhaps valid but not as a global statement.

    @Chris & Dawud—
    I think you both are missing the fine point here: the business isn’t merely “writing” but rather is specifically, blogging. As a “writer” yes, I can sell my wares via any number of vehicles but as a blogger only the vehicle must be a blog.

    It is highly unlikely that I would hire someone to blog if they don’t have a blog to exhibit their blogging skills, just as it is highly unlikely that I could get a technical writing job w/o showing I know how to write in that genre.

    As I said, I’m really just challenging the tide here because it’s just too tempting to sit back and say “yeah! right on!”

    *grin*

    And yes, Dawud, I do think that monetization is part of the blogging business concept, usually. Sometimes, however, maybe it’s something else. For me it’s about doing a type of writing that I just love to do, and recognizing that there are businesses out there that need a way to connect with their customers that isn’t hyped up copywriting, but they just don’t have the time or gift for writing to get things going/done.

    And on that note … have a good day!

  36. Char,
    Seems like we’re missing each other here. And it is easy to just float in the stream – so thanks for not doing that (plus, I like good, healthy, focused debate).

    When Chris and I talk about business, we’re talking about the model, the structures and the strategies surrounding how you make your money. If you’re a blogger who posts ads and affiliates, you’re then, in the business of selling ad space. The blog is just the billboard the ads go on.

    If you’re a service provider – say a designer – your design work is your business. It’s the service you provide for your clients. Your blog or website, then, becomes a means for promotion and marketing – even if your site is monetized.

    So it’s not about the copy writing nor the photography but about your overall business model. That’s where business is built – in the modeling and structures. The rest is how you do your business, not what the business is.

    Thoughts?

  37. I think a lot of businesses seem to get a blog because they heard that blogs are a good way to connect with their potential audience, but for some reason they don’t allow anyone who posts on them to have anything more interesting to say than your average dry press release. So the blog becomes less of a give and take and just ends up as a dumping ground for company news.

  38. i agreed with you absolutely! Your blog is not your business

  39. Mack,
    I’ve seen that too. Yet, how does ‘the dumping ground’ blog help increase business?

    derek,
    Yeah, but it is a marketing tool you can use for your business.

  40. Blogging as a business…well I don´t agree. I blog everyday hoping to generate relevant traffic to my website or as I prefer to call it, my marketplace. Selling SEO, SEM, tracking etc. is my core business.

    Blogging are, as I see it, a way to boost my sale and are thereby seen as marketing.

    Just my five cents…

  41. The most common problems with blogs is that they are poorly written. People think that the website is their business and forget that the blog is only a marketing tool in selling something more important. You are really selling your writing and the blog is secondary.

  42. I read this and, as someone who makes a living ‘blogging’ (though I don’t really like the term thanks to articles like this) it smacked of ‘I don’t make money blogging’ … just my two cents

  43. “This needed to be said and said loud and clear.The only guys I know making money through their blogs are fellows who are teaching others how to make money blogging.” In my opinion you think that because you spend too much time reading bloggers who blog about blogging (ewww, meta-blogging) rather than trying to find your own niche and make your own way. Notice any web trends recently? Chow, Dosh and even the Great Problogger are all losing traction – they aren’t the wave anymore and their business model was never sustainable. Ask yourself this: if these people knew how to blog in a sustainable way without self-reference why do they spend all their time telling you how to blog? Find your own way.

  44. good post, but a lot more people make money blogging and make a business out of it than you wrote about

  45. Great post. So often we get consumed with our blog as opposed to creating income through our blog.

  46. Very good advice. It is good to keep things in perspective and know where you are focusing efforts. Blogging is a good tool for getting fresh content out there consistently.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Let’s Set The Record Straight-Your Blog Is Not Your Business by Dawud Miracle… Dawud shatters one of the biggest myths about using a Blog in a business. It is Not THEÂ Business, only a means to an end. [...]

  2. Coffee Break says:

    [...] Miracle is setting the record straight about businesses and blogging. A well-thought out discussion of where blogs should (and should not) fit into the business model. [...]

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