If you write it…will they come? Monetize this thought?

Blogging is just a place to really express thoughts, ideas, passions…it is editorial and can be a place of free flowing ideas and thought streams. But monetizing a blog is very entrepreneurial. During a Sunday night #BlogChat on Twitter, Mack Collier’s (@MackCollier) weekly discussion group around blogging on Twitter, Daren Rowse (@problogger) moderated the topic focused on monetizing your blog. As I was sitting back and watching the discussion, I posed the question to Daren…”At what point did you begin monetizing your blog, what was your tipping point?” Daren posed this response:

At first I took as a simple smart ass response to avoid a longer discussion amidst this fast past, Sunday night chat. Pfft. But, I sat back and thought for a few minutes. I realized his quick response had merit…spoken from a true entrepreneur.  Now, he knew there was a big need out there for great content, but he knew that he needed to pay for his passion instead of letting the expense of the blog not provide a return.

Monetizing a blog is VERY entrepreneurial and *can* have a very small return on investment, maybe??? But let’s think about that for a second, how do you measure return? What is the basic business question…what need is out there that we/you can provide a solution and bring it to market and bear a “profit”? What do you deem as a profit? Monetary profit, web traffic, PR, exposure to services, expressions of thought/ideas???

Think about this for a second: Did You Know…
According to WordPress, “There are over 27 million WordPress publishers as of September 2010: 13.9 million blogs hosted on WordPress.com plus 13.8 million active installations of the WordPress.org software.”

According to The Future Buzz in January 2009, ” The number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002 are 133,000,000 and the number of people who globally read blogs are 346,000,000.”

According to Technorati on November 3, 2010, “After Hobbyists, Self-Employeds make up the largest cohort, representing 21% of bloggers. Such bloggers say they ‘blog full time or occasionally for their own company or organization.’ 57% say they own a company and have a blog related to their business, while 19% report that their blog is their company. 65% say they manage their blog by themselves. Reflecting their professional nature, Self-Employeds are the most likely to blog about business, with 62% saying they have much greater visibility in their industry because of their blog.”

Point being…there are a lot of people blogging and a lot of people reading. Lots of competition, you better have a tremendous business plan behind your blog if you intend to “monetize” those very words you so carefully craft.  Yep…monetize your thoughts, your passion, your eloquence. You think you can just sit down and write and expect they will come…sounds like the pipe-dream of a business that cannot make it past year two with an SBA loan. The ole “Field of Dreams,” if you build it…they will come!

In the movie…it nearly bankrupt the family. They were not waiting for the players to come out of the corn fields, they were waiting for those people with $20.00 bills to see those ghostly players take the diamond, to enjoy America’s past time. Risk…lots of risk.

But what do we really risk by putting a blog out there. I mean, you probably are only spending a monthly hosting fee, design time, maybe paying someone to build it for you? Maybe the most hard costs incurred is at most $600 in a year. Then you are talking about that creative time, that creative tension…that passion that you so eloquently craft with each word in the hopes you will connect with your audience. But at some point, after the confidence has been built and your realize your investment…it is time to make some cash! Yes, you are an entrepreneur…take that little bit of hard costs and lots of that sweat equity and turn into a monthly little bonus. And, if you can work hard…you begin focusing your writing (according to audiences), take part in some adwords and other paid ad campaigns, and you really generate traffic, clicks, and cash. But did you set out to make cash or did you set out to be heard? Or did you set-out to generate interest for your business as a small business owner?

In 2006, my wife set-out to write a journal. Overtime it turned into a full scale blog that tackled topics like breast cancer and infertility. Slowly over time, she gained an audience and built some online relationships. It became her support group…her place to release her thoughts and connect with like minded individuals. She shared her joys, pains, laughs, and cries as she wrote openly and honestly about loosing her best friend, her mother to breast cancer. She revealed to all her struggles with infertility. She had not built a community…she found her voice. But wait…she was not looking to generate any money. She did not set-up those pay for click campaigns…but how is she monetizing her blog? Her value came from the community…her place to share open discourse. Is she any less of an entrepreneur? No…she is more of a social entrepreneur.

I think it is up to us to find what we want to monetize in a blog. With so many audiences and so many spaces to fill with the free flowing words that come from our hearts…we must have a focus in our writing. We put ourselves out there, and for the first time in this world of publishing, we have a platform to feel somewhat equal to those journalists and accomplish authors who make money from their published/broadcasted voices. It is still about community and we as entrepreneurs still have to find a need, a reason to write…because ultimately we want someone to read. Thanks Daren for making me think a bit! Monetize this!