Conventional blogging wisdom provides all kinds of ways we can make our blogs better. Content is king! Write epic shit! Engage your audience! It seems many of us are just waiting for the right moment to quit our jobs and make money online, and we all love reading articles that might help us reach those goals sooner.
One tip I’ve always found interesting is the adage, “Treat your blog like a business.” On one hand, I can see why it makes sense to take a professional approach to blogging. After all, it’s serious bloggers who use my services and provide me with the income I need to pay my bills. At the same time, though, I can’t help thinking maybe that kind of advice should be qualified a little better to prevent confusion.
Blogging as a Business
Treating your blog like a business can mean a lot of different things. Maybe you decide to invest in a professional design so your readers are greeted with a site that looks awesome and functions well. Perhaps you look for ways to monetize your blog’s content without alienating visitors. Maybe you even create an LLC or other type of legitimate business entity to protect your online income.
It’s smart to keep good records related to your blog, especially if you decide to accept any form of advertising. It’s also a good idea to respond to comments and emails professionally, not to mention spending time writing great posts – you never know who’s reading! All of those actions demonstrate a business-oriented mindset and make perfect sense.
Many bloggers eventually expand their horizons, either by writing for other blogs as a staff writer or offering related services such as commenting, blog migrations, SEO help, etc. In those situations, it’s obvious that your blog has become a business – it’s the platform you use to provide information and spread the word about your skills. Your blog can even serve as a sort of resume for potential employers. (Make no mistake – this is the 21st century and people do search for you online!)
How Do You Know if Your Blog is a Business?
If I heard someone say they owned a blogging-related business, several things might come to mind:
- This person is a freelance writer
- This person is an internet marketer
- This person gets paid to write blog posts
- This person offers some kind of service relevant to bloggers
Out of the millions of active blogs online, how many would you say belong to people who are doing any of those things? Maybe 5 percent? Less? Yeah, I’d say there aren’t too many people who fit one of those descriptions. Yet you’d never know that to see the number of people insisting their blog is a business despite all evidence to the contrary.
Businesses earn money. If you blog for fun and earn zero dollars doing it, your blog isn’t a business. That’s not to say it may not become one at some point, but you can’t call something a business without income. That would be like me saying that I own a music business just because I sing in the shower where no one can hear me.
Businesses are time-consuming. Obviously we’re all familiar with the concept of passive income. But even passive income has to be managed! If you only log into your blog once every few months to write a post about how busy you’ve been, odds are good that your blog isn’t a business.
Businesses provide something of value. While we all want to think we provide great information to our loyal readers, sometimes that’s just not the case. Let’s not kid ourselves – there are a lot of bloggers out there who are terrible writers. Also, unless your content is incredibly original and/or ground-breaking, someone has probably said the same thing before. So if that’s the case and you aren’t selling a product or providing some kind of service on top of writing content, your blog is probably not a business.
Businesses can be sold. Could your blog continue to function without you? In other words, if I purchased your blog tomorrow, would it continue earning money and providing whatever value it provides right now? Would you be able to explain your blog’s purpose and why it’s worth a large sum of money to a potential buyer? If not, you guessed it – your blog is not a business.
Why Does This Matter?
It’s essential to know the difference between treating your blog like a business and running an actual business. I’ve seen supposedly experienced bloggers give false hope to newer bloggers by talking about how they can earn money online. I’ve also watched friends list their blogs on sites like Flippa for thousands of dollars, only to be embarrassed when no one saw the value in what they were selling. These are just two situations where you will benefit from knowing if you have a blog, a business, or a combination of both.
Being able to carve out your own little chunk of the internet and earn a living from it is an amazing thing (I speak from experience). But it’s unrealistic to think that every blogger can make it big. In fact, even though my personal blog earns a bit of money each month, there’s no way I could consider that my full-time job. Online income is real and there are tons of ways to get it, but not without the same hard work and dedication you’d put into building a brick and mortar company.
Do you consider your blog a business? Why or why not?