Via ProBlogger I ran across an article at CorporateBlogging: Blogs are Business Support Tools, Not Direct Money Makers. This echoes what Doc Searls said not too long ago, and I’ve heard the same tune from many different places. It’s completely correct, and it’s also completely wrong. Let me explain.
Many people have said the same thing about writing computer books: you can’t make money directly with books, but they’re good for your resumé. People who treat this as an absolute are missing the point: there’s more than one approach. There are writers who write for their resumé or reputation, and there are writers who write to make money.
The writers who write to make money have to do things a certain way:
- Choose topics that are marketable rather than writing about whatever they please.
- Perform on a publisher’s schedule rather than on their own.
- Treat writing like a job, work on it full time, and be a team player.
- Be willing to abandon a book or an entire subject and start over with something else if it isn’t working out.
The same applies to writing a weblog. If you want to make money, you have to treat it like a real business:
- Focus on a topic that sponsors are interested in.
- Write regularly whether you want to or not, or recruit additional writers.
- Write and edit professionally to create quality content.
- Consider your audience’s needs at least as important as your own ideas for the site.
- Spend time doing unappealing things like marketing the site or contacting sponsors.
- Be willing to change focus, style, or approach if the status quo isn’t working.
A personal weblog (like this one) isn’t likely to make money, and it isn’t intended to. It’s a resumé builder and a personal outlet. A company weblog like Google Blog or a corporate-sponsored weblog like Scoble’s isn’t going to make money directly—they’re business support tools. But a site that follows all of these rules—like PVRBlog or the Weblogs Inc. Network—can certainly make good money.
If you’re really interested in making money with a weblog, don’t listen to those who say it’s impossible. I’ve heard the same thing about writing books and running content-oriented websites for years, and I’ve made money doing both. I fully expect to make money with weblogs—in fact I’m already making some through WIN—and many others will too. Just keep in mind that it will take a different focus and different kinds of work than running a personal site or a business support tool, and it certainly won’t be a free lunch.