Monday, 17 February 2014

Is running a blog like running a shop?

I see a running a blog as like running a shop. There are those featured items on display and some in the window. These are what everyone sees and draws them in. The big ticket items and big sellers. Then there are the other items that get far less readers individually but as a whole make up a large part of sales. Making the shop more of a whole.

So the principle of running a shop matches that of running a blog. You can have a great shop but if people don't know you exist then you will fail.

This point of view then brings all aspects of business into play which can seem daunting at first but since there is so much help out there for running a business I like to think that makes it easier. It's also why I chose to simply get experience in work first before doing anything like my own business.

Working for others teaches you about success and failure while learning at your own pace and minimising the risks. That's the point of employment as I see it. You don't take all the risk so obviously you don't get all the reward but this means that you can either win or learn and be diligent until you find the idea that fits you.

I've been looking around for the business model behind blogging and found a few. Despite what many claim I don't see any as new, just adaptations for our age. Good writers sell copy through articles or books, graphics people sell images sometimes as books, people with either video or presentation skills sell videos. It's no different to the old world of hardback, comics and video except you get everything sooner.

I've been following conversations like Penelope’s Guide to Blogging which resonates because it's practical. Just blog, get out there and the business model will figure itself out. Deep down that's how I see it. I look back at what I've written in the past and I am proud of much of it. It's the kind of stuff I like reading. It's helped me connect with people I want to connect with. That's the start of a business.

So if my blog is like a shop, I need to understand my market then the right location etc, etc. First I need to understand how I'm helping people. That's what I've been exploring for years. Like everyone else I can see so many things I can do and ways I can help but what am I passionate about that others want and I do well?
I only buy products that fill my own need. That's the point. So it helps to understand my own humanity to see what to do with my blog.

I asked Ian Westermann of Essential tennis about success online. Ian is a successful blogger I have been following for years and I find particularly approachable. His advice was similar to Penelopes. Video has worked well for him. This seems to resonate with his market and skillset. He's a tennis coach. Most tennis instruction is visual because people respond best to it. Though he has tried all sorts of approaches over the years and basically worked very hard.

The point here then is that I prefer to see blogging as like any other business. You need to understand how you help people, who you help, how you help them best. Questions around how you help people with a specific aspect of your life underpin your blog just like how you attract people to your shop and get them to buy.

I also wonder if the better analogy is that a blog is like a shop window. It feels like promotion and marketing to me. I do it to connect and learn. I'm a software developer by trade. I can see all sorts of opportunities to produce products but I buy most things after reading around. So I visit lots of places to find out what I should buy. Often blogs are core to my research. Occasionally I will buy from a blog, sometimes I click an ad but I keep returning to blogs that I found useful.

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