The Business of Blogging
June 10, 2009 by Stephanie O'Dea
I actually wanted to title this post series “The Bidness of Blogging” because I find the word “bidness” absolutely hysterical, but that wouldn’t be a good title.
I hope this series of posts (I’m not sure yet how many there will be. I’ve got a lot of stuff floating around my head!) will explain why.
(I have given my 5-year blogging update, here.)
Part 1: My Story
I started the slow cooking blog last year as a 2 part challenge. I wanted to see if I could:
1. make money off a free blog
2. use my slow cooker every day for a year
The second part: using a slow cooker every day for a year was a gimick. A schtick. I needed to have something to write about on the free blog I was interested in starting. The free blog I was interested in turning profitable. It certainly helped that I have a deep and abiding love for the slow cooker, and that I am not a good cook without it.
Ever since I thought about having children of my own, I wanted to stay home with them. I wasn’t opposed to working, though, which meant that I turned a bit obsessive about work-from-home ads and websites and resources. I wanted a quick and easy and painless way to work from home in my pajamas, with my kids.
I had begun working for BlogHerads at home on a contract basis in the fall of 2007. I read blogs for them, make sure the ads are in compliance, and pick post headlines from blogs to feature under the graphic ads. The only problem? I wasn’t a blogger. [updated: I no longer work for BlogHerads. I quit to write the first cookbook].
In order to understand my job properly, I needed to start a blog.
I understood a bit about how google worked, and learned through research that the more focused the writing, the quicker google searches would find me. Although I greatly enjoy reading personal and parenting-focused blogs, I was (and continue to be) wary about sharing too much personal information with the internet. I liked food blogs—I liked the tight focus and the limited personal sharing. Once I figured out that there wasn’t a blog (that I knew of) about slow cooking, the light bulb went off.
Oprah would call it an “a-ha” moment.
And so I wrote out a business plan. Yes. A business plan. Because I’m a complete dork.
I can see how a business plan wouldn’t make sense to a lot of bloggers, but it made perfect sense for me. I had goals I wanted to achieve, a time-line for doing so, and an exit strategy.
The one year exit was very important to me, and to my family. It would not be a sane thing to do (for me) without an exit strategy.
I wrote that I would stick to the following:
–I wouldn’t buy a domain name. I wanted to prove that a free blogspot blog (something looked down upon by many seasoned bloggers–in fact at last year’s BlogHer conference I had a few marketing people tell me that I would never be considered credible with a blogspot blog) could turn a profit
–I wouldn’t spend money on the blog, other than groceries. I would use the free site counter, etc. This changed (adapted!) after the 2008 BlogHer conference, when I learned that I really needed a new camera lens and a light source in order to take pictures of food properly. I’ll write more on that later.
–I would post every single day, no matter what
–I would be honest about my failures/flops
–I would misspell the word “Crock-Pot” to snag google searches
–I would use the word “recipe” and “crockpot” in every single post title
–I would step away from the computer after a year, and not try to promote the site, but let it stay up for google searches (this is a bit of a problem, because in order to keep the ads on the site, I need to post once a week—I’m still trying to figure this part out)
I also jotted down some goals about daily web traffic, income, and a book deal. The Secret in action!
Some people jump feet first into blogging with the idea of making a ton of money.
While there are definitely people who are making a ton, most (MOST!) see a very modest and not regular income. The internet ebs and flows–my daily traffic is about 10 thousand people a day in the “off” season, and triples during the fall/winter months. While I do have quite a few RSS subscribers (65k) people mostly come through google searches, facebook shares, and now through Pinterest.
I make a full-time living blogging.
I feel like I’m living a dream life, and just couldn’t possibly be any happier. I make my own schedule, am the full-time care giver to my children (I’ve got three), and I work when I want to work, and from the kitchen table. I’m not anybody special.
If I can do it, so can you.
Honest. Hopefully these posts will be of service:
coming up next: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice
This is part of the Business of Blogging series.
and other stuff: