Thank you for checking out The Digital Product Blog. Today we are going to talk about blogging. We've been talking about different ways you can write content and create digital products online. In this installment, we're going to look at blogging. We've talked about ebooks, and writing for others, and today, I want to focus on the age-old platform of blogging.
A History of Blogging
Blogging has been around for a while now, it started more than two decades ago. I remember working at an internet company maybe 20 years ago, and a guy I worked with told me he had a blog about World of Warcraft or something of that nature. I had no idea what the guy was talking about.
When I asked, he explained, "Yeah, I just go on and write every day." He was using Blogspot or one of the other early blogging platforms. Around that time, blogs became really popular. A lot of people hopped on the bandwagon and have created blogs in the past 5 or 10 years.
Lately, however, I see a lot online that people think blogs have died. But I don't think that's the case at all. I want to talk today about setting up a blog and how you can make money by blogging. I think people get the feeling that blogs are outdated, and they're not useful anymore. So I want to let you know some reasons I think you should still blog, especially if you love writing.
I see a lot online that people think blogs have died. But I don't think that's the case at all.
I'm not a writer by trade, nor do I love writing. But I do repurpose content from other places (like my Digital Product Show podcast) into blog articles like this one. And as I mentioned in the previous blog, I have someone helping me write that information.
I do best by talking. When I’m developing a piece, I have a couple of bullet points written down. From there, I freeform ideas off the top of my head; I talk through the bullet points. It's just easy and natural for me to think through things as I talk about them to prepare for my podcast. Later on, as I listen back, I might refine some of the ideas. Then I hire a writer to put this information into a written format for me. Then I will post it on my blog.
In other words, I believe in blogging for my own business, and I think you should, too. So let's start with why I think blogs are important first, and then I'll talk about how you can set up your own blog, and how you can make money off of it.
There are a lot of different mediums available for reaching an audience. You can be a writer and create a blog. If you love audio, you might choose to do a podcast, which is what I do. You can do video, on YouTube or Facebook Live. There’s social media: Instagram stories, Facebook stories, and more. Typically, I think of these media in three categories: writing, audio, and video. What audiences can read, hear, and watch.
In the writing category, blogging is one of the few platforms that can still be searched easily by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. There are some options for audio forms like podcasts and videos on platforms like YouTube. The technology is getting smarter, and audio can be transcribed. With video, you can create closed captions and have the written form within the video.
The technology for search engines like Google is pretty smart, and they can search on these types of text pretty well. That said, it's still harder to search audio and video than it is traditional text like blogs. When you type a phrase into Google, for example, it's not as likely to find that information in video or audio form. If audio and video creators are experienced at search engine optimization (SEO), they'll create a transcription or closed captioning. They'll put in meta tags, SEO titles and things like that; but it takes a little knowledge and experience to get video and audio to rank for search engines.
A blog, however, is already written content that can be indexed and searched. Google and other search engines were created to search written content (also called crawling). So when you begin writing a blog, you're inherently creating information that allows Google to find your website or blog. In that respect, blogs are still very powerful, especially in terms of getting traffic through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
In addition to search engine traffic, blogs are popular among people who love to read. Some people like to listen to podcasts, some people like to watch videos, and others like to read. Even for people who aren’t big readers, blogs can be great for times when audio and video aren’t convenient. I see blogs every now and then as I’m searching for something, maybe having my morning cup of coffee, and I'll sit there and read it.
Creating a Blog
How do you set up a blog? There are a couple of different ways. First, you can set up a blog on a blogging platform (like Blogspot mentioned above). If you search for blog platforms on Google, you'll find an array of blogging platforms on which you can create an account. Some of the most popular choices are WordPress.com, Blogger and Tumblr. With each of these, you can create a blog and customize it, without worrying about creating a separate website. It's easy to just get on and start blogging.
One issue with these blogging platforms, is they're kind of like marketplaces that I've talked about before (like Amazon), where you don't always have 100% control over everything, like design and functionality. You'll have to do a little research to find out what blogging platform is best for you. But these websites are a simple way to create an account and start blogging immediately.
Other ways to start blogging immediately for free include websites like Medium. Medium is a writing marketplace, where you can create an account and begin posting articles. There is a built-in audience of people who are already visiting that site that can find your articles. The better and more popular your articles are, the easier it will be for people to find you. Even Quora--a question and answer website--is a place you could go to start writing information in your area of expertise and start getting people to your website or products.
Another option, which gives you more control over functionality, is to use a website builder such as Squarespace. You can use Squarespace to easily create a blog or website and start publishing there. However, Squarespace won't have a marketplace-type atmosphere of people searching for content; you'll have to drive the traffic yourself.
You could also use something like the self-hosted version of WordPress, WordPress.org. If you get basic hosting through a third party, you can sign up for a WordPress account, and it installs and it makes it easy for you to start writing articles on your own site. With this version, you have to do a little more backend work to set up the website a little bit more. It's actually not that hard--you don't have to be a coder or anything--but it takes a little more work than to just hop on a blog platform and start writing. It does give you a little more control over the design elements and some functionality. Whether you set up your own website or use one of these blogging platforms, you can start writing immediately.
Making Money Blogging
One way to make money online is through advertising. So let's imagine for a minute that you set up a WordPress.org or similar site. And because you have a little more control over these sites, you are able to put advertisements into your blog. You can run Google ads, or find other advertisers and post those ads on your site. Anytime someone clicks on an advertisement, you get paid for that.
So if you're writing blog articles on your favorite topic, you can include an ad that is in line with the topic that you're talking about. When anyone sees that ad or clicks on it, you get a percentage or a small commission. And that actually becomes very powerful once you get a lot of traffic. In the beginning, you probably won't see a lot of money or growth. But if you can grow your audience to thousands or hundreds of thousands of people coming to your website on a monthly basis, some of those people are going to click on ads, and you can make money that way.
Another way to make money blogging is by having a blog and selling other products. The blog becomes a way to get people into your universe; you build an audience and get people onto your website. Once they are there, consuming and enjoying your content, you sell them on your other products. That might be an ebook or educational material, or any kind of product or service.
So you might have a website, for example, talking about your favorite hobby. And once people visit and they're reading your articles, at the end you can say, "By the way, I have this ebook on how to do this hobby...If you want to buy it, click on this link." And so the blog becomes a traffic generator for your digital products.
And so, blogs are still a powerful medium. In my mind, I think they still have a lot of growth potential, even though things like video and podcasting are in the limelight right now. I would not discount blogging as a source of making money, and especially a way to generate traffic. Having a blog gives actual written content that Google can find, and gives readers search results on your topic.
Get Started Now
So get out there, start writing today. If you're a writer, and you've read the past couple installments and you haven't started, then I don't know what you're doing. Get off your butt and start writing. Even if you don’t know how to set up your own website, or don’t feel ready, try finding one of these platforms, like Medium, Squarespace, or WordPress. Just create something and start writing.
You can also come along with me on this journey. The reason why I started this blog and the accompanying podcast is that I wanted to start putting out content on a consistent basis. I've known that I've needed to put content out for a couple years now. But I've been so wrapped up in creating online courses that I haven't built an audience, because I haven't put any content out there.
With my podcast, I did the same thing with the Anchor app. I said to myself, "I just want to start podcasting." But I don't want to worry about the hosting, or uploading it to all these platforms like Apple, Google, and Stitcher. So I found Anchor, the app where I can just hit the record button, type in information about the podcast, start talking and record it. I upload it, and Anchor distributes it for me.
You can do the same thing with writing. Create an account and start writing today. Over time, you'll become a better writer, you'll start getting feedback from people and know more about what to write about.
If you can, don't worry about the money at the beginning, just start writing content, getting into the swing of things, and learn how to do this. The money will come. You will learn how to put ads on your blog, or how to make money writing other ways. But you have to get started, you have to take action.
I can't wait to see what you come up with. Hopefully, this gets you motivated to start today. Thanks for reading and I will see you next time.
- Anchor app
- Digital Product Show Podcast