Blogging for Fun and Profit

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead & rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

I used to think that blogs were a big waste. A waste of time to write and a waste of time to read. I thought they were like personal diaries that are open to the public… passive little websites sitting out in cyber-space that people occasionally stumbled upon. That did not appeal to my direct-marketing-oriented business sensibilities.

Boy, was I wrong! A blog is like a book, a newsletter, an e-letter, or a website – just another medium for publishing your ideas, except that it’s easier to do it.

Until recently, blogs haven’t been embraced by businesses, but that’s going to change in a big way. Because blogs are effective relationship builders and they embrace a number of broadcast methods, ways for people to read what you have to say.

My experience in blogging comes from writing, almost every day, about living in South America in my “Discovering Buenos Aires” blog. It’s a little project I do in my spare time. And, as it turns out, what started as a mere exercise to keep me writing daily has become a fun and potentially valuable side business.

My total investment so far has been $19. $9 for the purchase of the domain name… and $10 for a year of hosting with Word Press. I found Word Press easy to use, and I have been pleased with the results. But there are many blogging platforms that work just fine. (Note: Word Press does not allow Google AdSense, whereas other platforms do.)

Because of my long history with Agora Publishing, I bet you think most of my readers are Agora subscribers. That is not the case. Most of my readers have been referred by expat blog directories and other expat blogs. These people are much more interested in what I’m writing about (being an expatriate in Buenos Aires) than your average Agora financial newsletter subscriber.

There’s an interesting interconnected web within the blogging world that links you to readers of other blogs fairly quickly.

When I started writing the blog, I registered it on some expat blog directories that I found by doing simple Google searches. I also mentioned some established Buenos Aires blogger websites on my homepage, which alerted those blog writers that I was linking to them. So they’d come by and look at my blog. If they liked it, they would mention me… and I would get new readers from them too.

Another thing you can do to get more readers is submit individual posts to user-generated content websites like Digg.com and Reddit.com. I get dozens of visits from readers of those websites every time I post one of my articles (especially when I have a good headline). I also put a link to my blog on CraigsList.org for Buenos Aires in the real estate section (because I write about real estate). I get around 100 visitors a day from CraigsList alone.

It turns out that blogging is not at all as passive as I thought it would be. There are tons of ways to actively market your blog at no cost. And as you establish a readership, you are building a valuable list of potential clients or customers. (You can easily capture e-mail addresses with Feed Burner or similar services, also for free.)

Blogging Is Copywriting

Blogging is a wonderful way to develop your copywriting skills. In fact, it’s exactly like copywriting in many ways. You’ve got a headline and a lead. Within the statistics of the blog’s control panel, you can see exactly how many people are reading which articles, how many are reading the blog overall, etc. This is useful data for understanding which ideas interest your readers and deciding what to write about.

I’d urge every ETR reader to start a blog and write in it daily. If you write good articles and do some simple marketing of your blog, you will be rewarded with an established daily readership that you can sell any number of things to: products, ad space, affiliate deals, consulting services… you name it.

Selling on a Blog

The biggest question businesspeople (direct marketers, in particular) have about blogging is “How do I make money with this?” Good question. – and the simple answer is that you do it the way you would with an e-letter: Use dedicated posts to promote products and services. And of course, you use the homepage of your blog for display ads.

A blog is great way to generate buzz for an upcoming product launch. Rich Schefren (strategicprofits.com) is a master at this. You’ll notice that his website is a blog. And you’ll also notice by the number of comments his posts get that he gets a ton of traffic to this website… including customers interested in his services.

It will take time, but there’s no reason you can’t do something similar.

You Don’t Have Time? That’s BS!

I don’t care what your schedule is like. You have the time to blog. Your posts should be quick and easy to read, anyway. There’s no need for long, drawn-out posts. (They won’t get read unless they’re exceptionally good.) If you have 10 minutes a day, you can have your own income-generating blog.

You Can Write About Anything

A final benefit of blogging is that it can push you to do things you wouldn’t normally do… just so you’ll have something to write about. Even if the end result of an experience is negative, it can be fodder for your blog.

For instance, after a grueling flight from Buenos Aires to Germany, German immigration apparently thought I was a drug dealer. I was pulled aside, interrogated, tested for drugs, and delayed for a half-hour. Then my bags were lost. Not the best time… but it all made for a really good blog post!

After just a couple of months, my blog is already making me some nice pocket money. And you can do the same thing I’m doing: Develop your business ideas and copywriting skills… and make a nice side-income too. What could be better?

[Ed. Note: Will Bonner is the executive publisher of Agora Publishing’s new Latin American office based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has over 10 years of experience in direct marketing, having worked as a graphic designer, a mailing planner, an Internet marketer, an editorial writer, a copywriter, and a publisher.]
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