You have this urge. This unholy hunger, this need to tell the world your opinion. To put your point across, to share your passion. To be heard and understood.
Basically you want to have a voice, where others have none. Twitter does not really cut it for you, not everyone is Trump. And Facebook is downright creepy, if you start thinking about it. So, you need your own structure, and not have everybody and sundry tell you what to do all day long.
You always heard about these bloggers that work three hours every day and make millions of dollars off their minions. And THAT sounds alluring right off the bat, now, doesn’t it?
A blog will be your passion. But wait, what?
You might want to think about that for a moment. First, how strong is your craving for whatever the subject it is you want to cover? Because here is one of the first facts of your new life: You will spend endless hours hacking away at your keyboard. And you will do that sequestered in solitary confinement worse than during any virus pandemic. Countless posts of unpaid labor will leave your creative loins. Yet not much will happen with your blog until you have built a certain reputation. Only then will you see some reward. Sometime in the future.
We get it. All beginnings are tough. Only this one is tougher and – for sure – lengthier than most. AND the stuff you strut must somehow please the cruel crowds of the cold internet. So, if you blog for a niche, then you may severely limit the potential to hit the great masses with your material. Instead, you will compete in a tight environment that is possibly already saturated.
Your choice and the way you structure your blog will also directly influence your ability to make money. You can blog on top of your business and basically use it as an advertising platform. Or you review stuff, like RockmusicRaider. Which is less lucrative, because you comment on things others did. Yet, your fancy will guide you no matter what, and that is perfectly okay.
But that’s not all.
As a blogger, you need to be savvy in a few additional areas. Know how to write something in a more or less coherent fashion. Master a language or three. Have at least an idea about SEO, coding, CSS, server farms and the darkest secrets of the hacker world. In short, be a jack of all trades, but – more often than not – master of none.
Now that sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Which bears the question:
Should you thus give up blogging? The thing you want most?
No, absolutely not. But a careful selection of – for instance – a sub-niche or a larger selection of similar topics might be in order. Also, blogging does not just happen. A successful blog is an amalgam of carefully chosen materials, smartly written of course. And a site structure that holds its water not only with your audience but also with the search engines. Especially the search engines.
But what do you – the blogger – need to build one of them blogs that will get your audience’s juices flowing? Your material must be entertaining, yet straight to the point. Something your fans will want to read. Then, you need to get savvy on stuff surrounding blogs, building websites and – most importantly – protect your material from the pointed claws of the hacker community.
All of this you can learn. It is sometimes a bit scientific, but – in the end – not rocket science either.
And now, this!
For some members of the blogosphere, writing is akin to obtaining social proof. Something of a divine right, granted to bloggers through – I don’t know – ethereal osmosis or something.
They thrive in the glittering light of followers, likes, comments, and shares. Driven by the often misguided belief that your success must be measured in the numbers of interactions you get. But is this really so?
And the answer is: It depends!
True, social media interactions can drive traffic and are thus important for SEO. But it’s a matter of debate as to how far this usefulness will go. It can also very well turn really sour for you. And never forget the annoying fact that many networks got rid of likes and curtailed the ability to measure interactions. Unless you shell out
some a lot of dough.
So, in this light pretty harsh spotlight…
If you run a technical or scientific webzine for instance, then likes, shares and – specifically – comments will be important. Even vital. Because discussion and exchange with your brethren are the bread and butter of your trade.
For news blogs or opinion columns, the benefits are less tangible. You’ll surely get some windfall from likes and shares. But quite often you find those bottom-of-the-barrel comments that really make you wonder where all that folk crawled out from. Will this really drive value for you? Probably not.
And have a care with those expectations!
You’ll often find this misguided belief that a reader – any reader – owes you something, just because you happened to throw a few words onto an opinion piece. Gratification through social networking, a donation, or – dare we dream that far – a paid subscription.
To this, let me tell you that your readers owe you nothing. Zilch, nada. On top of that, your choice of a blog theme will pretty much determine your outlooks for such interactive recognition.
If you sell something, then great. Your promotional activities will – by and large – be paid for by sales. We hope. And you might even get some decent discussion with your customers.
If, however, you run a review blog like RockmusicRaider, then you pretty much provide analyses and opinions. And for music blogs, it is mostly opinions, and often subjective ones at that.
And those opinions may not necessarily be to the liking of your targets. So, it’s probably an illusion to expect a shower of likes and adoring comments from someone you just heavily criticized. And you won’t get a lot of love from their fans neither. Much to the contrary, methinks.
So, should your blog posts or reviews all be positive?
No, absolutely not. You are running a blog. So, if you have a point of view, state it. Be brave. And if it’s negative, then great. We sometimes need a bit of musky spice in this world of sad yaysayers and sycophants. Just do it with integrity. And don’t fall prey to this internet phenomenon of gross abuse and aggression, just because you can in the imaginary anonymity of the net.
Setting up and running a blog is no picnic. Of course, a simple page does not require a lot of skills. But the more you progress, the more you will want extended functionalities. And it is then that a steep learning curve will install itself.
In the end, however, building and writing your own blog is as gratifying as anything else out there. But never forget: If you ain’t got the stamina and – for sure – the passion to get something decent going out there, you will not succeed. But then, this is like with every other job that you have. Right?
Have I disgusted you yet? No? Great. The next installment of the blog making series is available. Just hit the link.
Ed’s note: This is an updated version of the old article from October 2018.