Do Not Launch Without a Plan
Did some of today's most successful bloggers launch without a target audience, business model, and monetization plan in mind? Absolutely! That doesn't mean you should, too.
Should you start without a solid plan, it may be years before you figure out how to turn a profit. Worse still, you may discover that your blog, video series, or podcast is oriented in such a way that effectively prevents it from being profitable.
Should you fail to thoroughly research the competitive landscape of a niche you hope to enter, you may end up covering a subject that is already thoroughly addressed by several other well-established personalities. Should you fail to evaluate the needs of your target audience, you may end up choosing a format that does not jive well with your audience's information consumption style. Without fully thinking through the subject you want to cover, you might ultimately choose a topic that is too narrow or restricted to warrant long-term coverage. You might also discover that, while popular, your subject does nothing to inspire sales.
Do not run these risks. Before buying a domain and designing your blog and brand:
- Have a business model
- Know how you will eventually earn an income from your work
- Understand your audience
- Understand the competitive landscape
- Make sure you won't run out of things to cover
- Understand how your chosen subject will inspire sales or sponsorships
Do Not Blog for the Wrong Reasons
If your primary motivation for creating a blog is to:
- Promote a product or business
- Promote yourself
- Earn money
Creating a blog for the above reasons will actually hurt your cause. Blogs that revolve around shameless promotion of a product or business run the risk of framing it as annoying, questionable, shoddy, and undesirable. Online publications built around a cult of personality, while sometimes successful, are neither scalable nor sustainable. Blogs created just to make money (that lack true passion on the part of the creator for the subject at hand) almost always fail- and often ruin their creators' online reputations along the way.
Should your blog be created instead to:
- Provide something of inherent value to others while for asking nothing in return
- Cover a subject about which you are truly passionate
- Help others
Interest in products and businesses, personal fame, and income may naturally follow.
Avoid Sharing Information Irresponsibly
The online world has gained a reputation for being rife with shoddy content, misinformation, outright lies, and poorly-researched assertions. Today's online citizens have a responsibility to turn that reputation around.
Do not provide:
- Claims that are not backed up by concrete references
- Un-original, rehashed, or copied content
- Information that reinforces myths and un-truths
For more information on providing information that is trustworthy and well-sourced, review our site-wide standards:
- Copyright standards
- Source and citation standards
- Source verification standards
- Standards for ethical conduct
In general, behave honorably, back up your information with trustworthy, sound sources, and make it clear when you are expressing opinion rather than objective facts. Should you fail to do these things, you will limit your audience to those with very low standards and have a difficult time gaining respect from serious players in your field.
Do Not Put Yourself in Danger
On Publishing Anonymously
By presenting a physical-world identity online, you will have an easier time building a reputation as a trustworthy individual, audiences may be quicker to establish personal connections with you, and customers and clients will feel more comfortable buying your products and services.
That said, it is not always smart to connect your physical-world identity with your online content. If, for example, you publish gossip that is likely to generate enemies, share an aspect of your personal life that could get you fired, or blog about a subject that may ruin your professional or personal reputation, you would benefit from publishing under a pseudonym.
Should it be important that your online activity not reveal your physical-world identity, review our full guide to publishing anonymously. Keep in mind that the guidelines provided through that guide will only go so far. Should you engage in illegal activity online or raise the ire of very determined, wealthy, or powerful individuals, you will need to take additional precautions (and had better yet not use the internet or phone lines at all).
On Publishing Safely
Some online publishing risks are worth taking. Should you be in a position to expose corruption or various atrocities committed by an employer or government, you may decide that you are willing to put yourself in danger to make the world a better place. In these instances, we recommend proceeding with extreme caution and getting help from trusted foundations well-suited to help those in your position.
Alas, for every blogger that takes a legitimate risk, there are hundreds of bloggers who put themselves in danger for very stupid reasons. Do not put your reputation, livelihood, or personal safety in danger by:
- Blogging while on the clock for an employer (unless that employer is paying you to blog, of course)
- Openly antagonizing others using your physical-world identity
- Flagrantly breaking the law or talking about having done so (whether under your own name or not)
- Sharing links to sensitive or illegal information online (even if you were not involved in obtaining that information)
- Revealing your home address or phone number
- Exposing yourself to identity theft
- Bullying others
- Exposing yourself to lability (more on that in the following lesson)
Do Not Skimp on Content
- Hate creating content
- Are not good at sticking to projects over prolonged periods of time
- Have trouble sticking to the same theme, subject, or concept for prolonged periods of time
- Do not have enough free time to produce content on a regular basis
- Are not good at meeting deadlines
- Have trouble finishing posts, videos, or podcasts
- Are so much of a perfectionist that you never feel comfortable publishing work
Either give up blogging or get over your issues. Should you not be able to consistently turn out high quality, inherently-valuable content, you are not likely to build a sizable audience.
While there are many skills bloggers can skimp on, consistent content creation is not one of them. Though due diligence is crucial before you begin publishing, do not become so caught up in your research that you suffer from analysis paralysis. In addition to stepping up to the plate and actually creating content, you must be prepared to build up a sizable collection of emergency backup posts, podcasts, or videos to ensure that you never, ever, miss a publication date.
Though you must be prolific to build a following, you need not publish at a breakneck pace. If your publication schedule in any way compromises the quality of your work, scale it down. An incredibly good weekly podcast is ten times more compelling than any shoddy daily counterpart.
Do Not Give Up
An online content creator's road to fame and fortune is very, very, very long. To make it through weeks, months, and years that yield little recognition and income, you will need:
- Reasonable expectations: The quickest to give up typically have unreasonable expectations regarding the time and effort required to achieve success (or the ultimate level of success one might expect)
- Talent: To create a good blog you will need need adequate writing skills; to create a successful podcast, you should be able to speak somewhat clearly
- Passion: You must be inherently motivated to create content (as other forms of motivation simply won't be there to spur you on!)
- Persistence: A willingness to keep trying at something, despite repeated failures, is crucial
- Determination: Without determination, giving up is easy; you must have a strong vision that will carry you through hard times
- Discipline: If you lack the discipline to forego easy, fun activities in favor of work on your blog, vlog, or podcast, your venture is not likely to get the attention it needs
Should you not have these attributes, do not quit your day job or expect serious rewards as a blogger. Contemplate alternate approaches to blogging (or different pursuits entirely) for which you do have the talent, passion, determination, discipline, etc. to make it through the initial uphill battle.
Do Not Rest On Your Laurels
Even famous bloggers can make mistakes- especially if they become complacent. No matter how large your audience and income becomes, you must always be willing to learn, adapt, and evolve. Audiences and customers are far less loyal than you might like to believe.
Those who do not reinvest in their businesses will fail to meet customers' ever-increasing demands. Those who fail to pay close attention to their audiences' evolving needs will lose followers. Those who stick to the same formats and approaches will eventually come across as stale and uninspired.
Do not let your successful business fail out of sheer laziness. By maintaining constant vigilance, paying close attention to your audience, constantly learning news skills, and endlessly tweaking your content and business, you will be far more likely to build a long-running, sustainable business.
Our goal is to never charge for the educational materials we provide. If you’d like to give back, please share our lessons (and Gigaverse in general) with your friends. Who knows- you might introduce someone to an entirely new career path and change their life!
Only take this lesson’s quiz if you are enrolled in the course and want to prove your skills and earn official credentials. Credentials related to a course are useful if you would like to find work related to this course’s career, as we direct businesses and entrepreneurs to our membership page when they approach us looking for specialists.
Finally, make sure you have reviewed this lesson’s required reading (displayed at the top right of the page) before taking the quiz- you will be tested on information covered in those guides!