Most people who find this site know what a blog is, but I have learned that several people aren’t quite sure. Technological advances in computers and electronics seems to come at a blinding pace. The way people use technology advances even faster. The World Wide Web was once a tool of scientists. It was a curiosity, and now it has permeated our daily lives. Isolated pockets of information have now evolved into an interconnected entity. This is Web 2.0.
A blog is an abbreviation of “web log.” It is simply a journal published online. Blogs have been around since the 90′s (it seems like yesterday and ancient history all at the same time). They were simply static web pages that were updated manually. Today, you have web-based systems that makes blogging accessible to those without advanced technical knowledge.
Blogs are usually written by one person on a specific topic. It can be any topic of interest to the author and/or personal experiences of the author. The articles, entries, or posts are presented in reverse chronological order. Archives of older articles organized by date and topic. A key feature of blogs is the ability granted to the reader. Readers can leave comments on each post, creating a dialogue between bloggers and their readers.
Blogs can be published through different methods. Google’s Blogger service allows you to have a blog up and running as fast as you can type your first entry. There are other blog hosts like LiveJournal, and TypePad. Social networking sites like MySpace also have a blogging component to them. Renee and Elliott endorse self-hosted blogs using WordPress as the blogging platform. WordPress is a highly-customizable open-source (a techie way to say “free”) platform and gives ultimate control over the appearance and functionality of the blog. It’s a trade-off. Blogger makes it easy, but is very limited in its capabilities. WordPress can be tweaked to meet your specific needs, but requires some technical knowledge or outside assistance.
Blogging may seem like an innocuous online diary, but it can be so much more. It is the ultimate manifestation of the First Amendment. You’re speaking your mind, and the entire world has access to it. You can get up on your cyber-soapbox and champion the causes you believe in, talk about your favorite hobbies, or promote your business. When a blog is focused on a niche topic, it can be monetized. With enough traffic, a blog can provide a sustainable income.
How do you monetize your blog? You can think of it like broadcast media, like television or radio. The content is provided for free, but supported by advertisers. Our monetization strategy includes:
- Google AdSense – These are the pay-per-click and pay-per-impression ads that you see throughout the site.
- Amazon Associates – This is an affiliate program. We get a small commission on products you buy when you click through to Amazon from our site.
- Donations – This is like a tip jar. Sometimes I think of it as PBS or NPR plus commercials. We use PayPal to process these payments.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are myriad advertising and affiliate programs available. Many bloggers have had great success selling ad space privately.
If the content you write is worthwhile and you have a monetization strategy in place, it becomes a numbers game. Earning money through blogging becomes a function of traffic. The more traffic you get, the more money you earn. That’s the basic idea.