Blogging Almost Killed My Business

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Photo: Ed Yourdon via Flickr

According to BlogPulse, there were 64,747 blogs started in the last 24 hours. By the time you finish this article, hundreds of more will have been created.While the majority of those blogs are started by hobbyists, approximately one-third of those blogs are started with the intention of turning them into a business or to extend an already existing business.

The Hobby Blog

My first blog, Nomad Couch was one of those hobby blogs. However, that wasn’t my initial plan. I had this dream that I’d become the next Darren Rowse and rule the blogging world. My goal was to build a thriving business around that blog. To that end, I failed and to this day, Nomad Couch is still just a hobby blog and will stay that way forever.

The problem was that there was a major flaw in my plan. Although I wanted to build a business around the blog, I didn’t see it as a business — it was a hobby. I had fun writing and interviewing people, and even more fun customising the blog and adding plugin.

Chasing down the shiny new objects

My mind was bursting of questions and I wanted to find answers:

  • How many times per week should I post?
  • Should I include tweet and Facebook share buttons in my posts?
  • How often do I need to comment in other blog’s in order to bring a decent amount of traffic to mine?
  • Should I build a free eBook like everyone else and offer it as an incentive for joining my email list?

And the most foolish thought of them all: “Once I hit that 1,000 blog subscriber limit, I’ll be on my way to the next big blogging success and my business will be thriving!”

Wrong. I hit that count and still didn’t have a business in my hands. I learned the hard way that blogging success does not equal business success.

How on earth did I even think that doing all those things would suddenly turn into a business?

I was so consumed in building & interacting (i.e.: procrastinating) that I forgot the most important part: I wasn’t selling anything. And if you don’t have anything to sell, you don’t have a business. Period. I was trying to build the business in a wrong order.

The start of a “real” business

As it is clear today, that blog never turned into a business for me. A web development company that I co-founded last year did. The business I’m now involved with started from a completely different idea and it had virtually nothing to do with the things I had learned before through my first blog.

If fact, I realised later that the blogging experiment was a roadblock that almost killed that business before it even got started. Instead of tweaking those darn retweet-buttons, writing the email subscriber freebie pdf’s and commenting all over the blogosphere, I should have been making client calls, starting projects and bringing in cash-flow for the company.

So, I’m done with blogging now, right?

Actually, quite the contrary. While the first blog didn’t turn into a business it was good for at least teaching me an important lesson: Before you start a blog that you want to turn into a business, make sure you have a business first. 

Nomad Couch will keep on living as a hobby blog that I write when I have time to do so, but I’m not going to stress about posting schedules or any other stuff regarding that. It’s a hobby and that’s that.

From the business blogging view, now I’m building a new site that will act as an extension to my current business. And because there is a solid understanding of what the core business is, it is much easier to make use of the new site in a way that diversify and extend our present revenue models. No need to reinvent the wheel this time.

Don’t Fall Into the Hobby Blogging Trap

I am not suggesting that blogging isn’t worth your time and effort, or that you should kill your blog and solely focus your attention on product or service creation. These have been my experiences so far and yours might be different. Blogging has it’s place and when done right, it can become a huge asset for business growth.

Here are some things to consider so you don’t fall into the hobby blogging trap:

  1. Build a solid foundation first, then start blogging. If you plan to build a blog that you want to treat as a business, make sure you have a business before you start.Treat your blog as a channel to drive in more business, not as a business itself.
  2. Have something to offer: Thinking you’ll start blogging and figure out how to monetise later is a sure way to fall into the hobby blogging trap and a recipe for failure. Instead, make Make it clear that you’re not a hobbyist blogger. If you don’t have a product yet, at least have a service to offer – from the day one. And then immediately, start building that first product that you’ll be later selling through your blog.
  3. Don’t get blinded by your subscriber and follower counts. It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 subscribers to your blog if you don’t have anything to sell. The fact is, if you’re not selling anything, you still don’t have a business.

So the next time you’re about to push the publish button and share your awesome new post with the rest of the world, ask yourself this question:

Is this post going to drive my business forward?

This post originally appeared at Young Entrepreneur Council.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organisation promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.

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