How can I make my blog site rock? How can I make enough money with my web site so that I can start thinking about quitting my day-time job? What are the key things I can do to make my blog site as successful and popular as it can be?
Photo credit: Tom Perkins
These and more are the typical questions that I get asked anytime I exchange with talented individuals who have been seriously thinking at how to make of their web writing and reading passion a possible professional engagement and an additional new revenue stream.
Unfortunately most of the right answers lie mostly outside the realm of what is the right content management system, or what will be the color of your background but rather on a number of very personal factors that can deeply affect the style, quality, feel and success of your own online content.
In this short post I share what I believe are the key factors needed in making a web site or blog very successful independently of the technology and the business plan behind it.
For those of you who are not novice independent web publishers, these are tips that you have probably learned yourself a million times over by now... but for those many, that are just discovering now what are the opportunities that online publishing can offer to any individual with a "voice", here is what you really need to know.
Ten Tips To Successful Online Independent Publishing
Have A Great Passion
Unless you have a talent for words and a great passion for what you are going to be writing about, your chances of doing good are very slim. Those who set and define topics for their commercial blog or news site at a table, while looking at the cost per keyword on the Google AdWords are destined to fail.
Keep It Small
These new small independent publishing ventures, offer best quality and service when they are kept rather small. The more you start already with some sort of mid to large-sized team, the more difficult it is to train, coordinate and leverage high and consistent quality standards.
First master, then delegate
Make sure you are the first to master what it takes to write, format, optimize and publish your future online contents before delegating to a geek squad your key responsibility. Knowing and designing how things should be done is your top priority if you want to be able to scale, delegate and maintain good quality with a larger team. Developing internal and always updated policies and operational manuals is always useful, especially when you can make your virtual newsroom professionals update and maintain them.
Take down that façade
If you come from the traditional media world, or if you have exposed yourself yet too little to the world of new media, blogs, wikis and RSS feeds, start studying what conversational marketing is all about before you build another huge (and useless) façade for yourself and your company online. It doesn't work! In the new web universe, you need to communicate openly and in a very direct and straightforward way. Formalities and marketing hype are the mark of traditional communications and on the web they have come to be recognized as markers of low credibility sources.
Invest good time in learning what makes online media different than print - and rock those variables!
Writing and coordinating a professional blog or news site is very, very different from managing and printing your typical magazine or daily newspaper. Your editors are virtually connected, readers come in many more sizes and shapes, format and writing style is completely different as well the choice of titles, images and related information. Unless you invest good time with an open mind in really capturing the key differences between online media and print it is going to be very hard for you to provide a competitive source of information.
Focus, this is the essence. Online you need to target a specific topic / theme with great quality news and information. The more niche, the more specific, the better. Stop trying to think that Italian recipes or Web 2.0 are niche topics. They are not. You need to slant them more to a specific target audience, persona and possibly to even more specific applications.
Marry a good cause
Do not create an independent publishing outlet to make a business. It won't work. Or at least it won't work unless you have already experimented yourself what it takes to write quality content on a consistent basis. You should start any such publishing opportunity online by marrying a cause that you believe in and providing through your writing and news selection a great service to your future readers. By first establishing yourself as a credible authority in your area(s) of expertise, you can have a much easier path to successful commercial blogging than by shooting straight for a commercial content operation.
Have a strong voice
Online, you like me are looking for authoritative voices that can help you see beyond what mainstream media reports and which can allow you to learn and discover new useful tools and resources for your own interests. What I expect from these voices to hear their personal preferences, their critical opinions and their judgment as to allow me greater perspective and insight on the matters at stake. News relayers, aggregators and re-publishers, are all good and useful to network, but not nearly as much as those initiating new threads, comparing tools and viewpoints or painting alternative new approaches to unsolved issues.
Be your own boss - don't delegate to others what you can do yourself
It may work against your principles of how a successful business is run, but personal experience tells me that the more you learn yourself how all of the components of your online publishing business work, the easier it is for you to scale it while adding new human resources. Be your own boss means first of all to create an online publishing entity that needs to be as flexible and lean as you can make it, and also to build one business where your contribution, vision and personal touch do make a significant difference. The more you dilute this equation the more you expose yourself to being run over by business, technical and commercial factors for which you have no knowledge or understanding whatsoever. Great online independent publishers are a bit like sailors of past centuries. They need to know lots of different things and have great skills at managing their staff and their communications.
Play it safe. Be transparent. Provide outstanding reference material, credit and links to your sources and you will garnish yourself with the highest credibility credit in the shortest time possible. There are few who go the extra mile to provide such extra value, but those who do are undoubtedly well rewarded for their extra efforts. Credibility online, where nobody can see you or talk to you face to face, is absolutely strategic.
Originally written by Robin Good for Master New Media and titled: "Professional Blogging: Ten Tips To Become A Successful Online Independent Publisher"
Passion - Photo credit: Sergei Popov
Small - Photo credit: Stephen Coburn
Technical stuff - Photo credit: Nicolai Sorokin
Study - Photo credit: Ana Blazic
Focus - Photo credit: Stephen Aaron Rees
Good cause - Photo credit: Pawel Novik
Strong voice - Photo credit: Stephen Coburn
Credibility - Photo credit: Tomasz Trojanowski
Façade - Photo credit: VG Studio
Be your own boss - Photo credit: 7th floor magazine