Blogging Business – The Management Model
Blogging as an idea has surpassed the very idea why it got started at the first place. It was a place to shift our offline daily diary to online weblog. With the advent of online writing, keeping daily diary in a physical book was not catching up with the rising aspirations and the expanding community. There was limitation. It was evident. Something needed to be done to change the fate of the traditional practice, and then came this tool to make offline diary turn into online diary. It was more of a hobby and a creative extension of our passion.
“It was new.”
“It was exciting.”
“It was the technology.”
“It had so many more options to explore and expand.”
There were no mandatory rules to follow. There was not much expectation from this engagement. It was new tool and it was fascinating to play with it. Everybody loved playing the game they wanted to and it was fun. It created the space to experiment and innovate. It was like first romance of our life where everybody who came there enjoyed and engaged without putting any pressure or setting target.
It was not office. It was not work. It was hobby. It was passion. It was relaxation. It was freedom.
It was then that suddenly everything changed just like the eruption of a dormant volcano. It became a market place. And comes with every market place are the usual words of competition, product, strategy, targets, goals and creating an organization setup to manage everything and meet the demand of market and the expectations of the consumer. The consumer of our content, the content is what we keep building and publishing through our blog posts.
“These are free content.”
But in business there is nothing called as free content.
We provide content to get more readers. There is no meaning in producing content and having no consumer. Beyond a point it is a self-defeating venture and when there are no buyers for our product and services and we still keep adventuring.
“It is a futile endeavor.”
We are all wedged between being a passionate blogger and aspiring to be a professional blogger. This is exactly the hinge where most of us are tantalizing stuck. The questions are many and there is no dearth of answers but the challenge is matching the question to the right answer. Unlike the mathematics or science, there is no such thing as perfect answers to these questions.
“These are contextual and content varies with context.”
Professional blogger keep churning our theories after theories and they market it as their hypothesis and they claim it their own and rightly so that theirs is the best hypothesis to give you the best result. As passionate bloggers we are squeezed between so many hypotheses of successful professional blogger and whom to follow and which is the best one for us to follow.
“These are not easy questions.”
“These are hard questions to think of easy answers.”
The professional blogger masters have mastered the art of marketing and the potential consumers get caught in this market blitzkrieg.
Yes, if we want to build blogging business here is what we need to check, test, evaluate, analyze and ascertain what is best suited for us without being biased, ignorant, ill-informed in taking the decision. The decision of making money through blogging business is not blasphemy, it is mere act of converting our passion into profession but there is a caveat.
The catch is in the prospect of your passion as business venture, all passion may not have the potential to catch the fancy of consumer and make its mark in the market for building a business.
The fundamental business rules apply whether it is offline or online, we can be innovative and we adopt new strategy but we have little space to maneuver on the basics. The basics of running an organization and building a successful business, the fundamental management principles and management practice cannot be recklessly ignored or blindly over ruled.
“By doing so we are only writing our epitaph even before we take a virtual birth.”
The basics of management for building bogging as a BUSINESS MODEL are as follows;
- The Topic, the Niche
One is clear, if we want to create a business model through our blogging we have to first become dispassionate about our passion. We have to check whether our passion has any market or are there any possibilities of potential demand in future, even if we can predict then we can take the risk of venturing into those realms. But if there is no such indication and there is no such evidence it is wise to separate the passion and decide on the profession of blogging in some other areas of our interest.
This is a tough decision and in business to be successful we need to take hard decisions, and this becomes the signal for success.
- The Product, the Services
Like any business it has to have some product and services to be sold. Many times we may not have any product and services and then what do we do, not to worry about the ways to come out. Just like in real world where many business persons don’t have any manufacturing base or any products of their own but still they are in business and the business of trading, they sale other’s product and get commissions.
It is exactly the same in the online blogging business.
We can trade other’s product in our virtual shop and get commission and in the online parlance we called it affiliate marketing. The other question is should we start with product or service, there are so many recommendations. What my observation and analysis states that it just doesn’t matter whether you start with a product or a services, start with one which we are good at and I agree it depends on what we are good at.
- Reach & Outreach
Initially no customers comes to us, we have to reach out and we do so by using our word of mouth marketing, making the potential customers try to test our product or service and if they like they will speak to others and they will come back for repeat purchase. This exercise is not free, it has a cost. The more we spent on promotion, the more likely that more customers we reach out.
The reach is not enough to build a solid business, it need the outreach.
The outreach is going beyond the reach and getting the influencers in the market talk about us. This cannot come with money, it comes with credibility and it comes with consistency. Both we need to build with our own efforts and constant engagement.
- Core & None Core Activities
In any business operation there are two set of activities that needs to be managed and managed tactically and strategically. The activities that are directly affecting the foundation and values of the business are strategic in nature and those activities that captures the day to today routine operations are tactical in nature. As the business grows, the organization has to align with both set of activities to ensure that business is well-balanced and is properly managed for steady growth.
As a blogger we have some core strength and as the blogging business grows we have to focus on our core strength and keep growing on it.
- Delegation & Outsourcing
Every organization starts with few people and with growth of business and activities, it is important to keep changing the structure and align it with the increased and new business requirements. In the beginning we engage with every tasks we do as we start the business but with the growth the tasks have to be delegated. Also, with further growth it may not be possible to do all tasks in-house and it is essential that some of the non-essential tasks gets outsourced.
Outsourcing of activities is not an easy decision and it needs a lot of preparation and planning, we should not do it randomly and not knowing what we expect from the outsourced decision.
These two acts, one internal and the other external are strong levers for sustaining rapid growth in business of blogging.
- Influence & Leverage
There is competition and the market is competitive.
We need to differentiate and we need to accelerate when we get an opportunity. We cannot walk and win the running race, we may start slow but we have to change gear and keep fighting to be a winner. Every successful business has gone through the same cycle. Today’s influencers are yesteryear novice and they have started without any contact and connection. They have tried different ways and legitimate means to make a mark for them. It was those pivotal points where they could get the leverage and it was neither defined nor was it available as a formula that they can just apply.
They tried. They risked. They kept trying. They kept venturing.
They touched the right influencers and that acted as the leverage for a perfect lift in their business venture.
- Eliminate Bottlenecks
Every business operation has bottleneck and blogging business is no expectation. Having bottleneck is no issue but not knowing and not identifying is an issue. The bottleneck could be in form of getting no traffic, not able to produce quality content, not able to address the technical issues, not able to graduate to the next level of business growth.
It is quite common in blogging business.
But there is nothing to panic and nothing to get demotivated. It just needs critical analysis and it needs proactive action.
In Theory of Constraints (TOC), it is well documented that to grow an organization we need to identify the constraints and here the constraints is a major bottleneck. By applying the theory of Goldratt the founder of TOC we can eliminate the bottleneck in our growth and elevate the business of blogging.
- Social Media Management
Social Media market helps but I must say there is hype attached to the outcomes associated with social media sharing. It definitely adds to the traffic flow but it is not always to be relied as an engine to multiply or exponentially grow our connection and provide a quantum jump to building our community. In some deep research by blog scientists and data analyst in the field have with empirical data have stated that it is perhaps the least effective way to grow our business.
There are exceptions and we should not get wrangled in the expectation from the exceptions.
The norm is that it may add normal flow and do with passage of time and it is indeed a time-consuming phenomena.
Though we keep hearing here and there that “5000 followers in Instagram in 10 days”, “10,000 followers on Facebook in less than 50 days”, 1,000 followers in Google plus in 2 days”, the list goes on and the hype is surrounded by few exception having exceptional success and that cannot be used as a barometer for measurement of media success.
- Search Engine Optimization
This is another mystery hidden in the history of blogging business.
The moment we think of starting a blogging business we get flooded with the technicalities in designing the blog theme and the choice of words to placement of links to blog directories to type of post to length of article to title to Meta data. The list goes on and these are rules and conditions that one needs to apply to get the post fly in the blogosphere. The search engines from Google to Bing have their algorithms written as secret code that keep crawling the web and indexing the pages and make the written text available when netizens searching with relevant keywords.
There is this Google Keyword Planner and there are so many others tool optimize our SERP.
This search is a research in itself.
10. Metric to Measure
In management it is a gospel truth that something that cannot be measured cannot be monitored and if it cannot be monitored it cannot be managed. This truth is universal whether offline business management or online blogging business management.
In the measurement framework, the key resides in the metrics that guides and rides the path to success.
Without any argument everybody agrees that traffic flow is one of the key metric but it may not reveal everything unless we apply multiple metrics obtain data points to analyze just not the acquisition but the quality of engagement. The time spent on our blog is equally important; bounce rate is an indicator showing how the visitors is staying pattern on our blog. Lower the bounce rate, the better is the engagement.
Predominantly, the other important measure for metric is the subscriber to blog.
11. Content Creation
It is like setting up a factory and after the pilot run we don’t have enough raw materials to run the production line. Not knowing what to do, trying somehow for managing to arrange some materials and give some relieve to production line to produce intermittently. These are not good sign for a starting a business. We should know what is the working capital needed and what is the raw material needed to produce the finished goods as the market requirement or as per the internal target set by the sale team. We need have a production schedule to meet the sales target.
Similarly, we need to have content creation schedule and keep producing and keep supplying the content to the virtual retail space for sale.
Content is the currency and content is indeed the king.
The bedrock of blogging business revolves around content, specific content, quality content and consistency in content production and supply.
12. Demand Management
Just like our conventional business marketing where we need to forecast our sale, produce the product and sale our product much the same way we have to make the sale happen in the blogging business. But there is an art in the demand management, art lies in creating a demand for the demand.
It is called an artificial demand.
For instance if we have 10,000 users and we restrict the number of products to be given and increase the price, and just give away product to only 100 first come first serve users, we create that artificial demand in the market.
In terms of number it is mere 1% and 99% of our existing users who didn’t get a chance will always look forward to the next product launch.
13. Sales Funnel Management
In sales the pipeline matters and the way we manage our leads makes all the difference. We just cannot sit and expect the business to come to us, we have to walk, we have to work and we have to plan and we have to move to get the business.
We have to keep knocking the doors.
We have to keep searching the market.
We have to keep attracting the customers.
We have to make the potential customer know about us and know more about product and services we offer. We need the customers to go down the funnel and reach the stage where they are in a position to meaningfully and productively engage with us. Building awareness, generating leads and managing leads to convert them to buy our product and services is a very important process in building successful bogging business.
14. Branding & Positioning
The brand can make or break the business.
Building a brand takes years and once a brand is established the business reaches the escape velocity and it enters the orbit where brand brings business. It is the individual behind any good product builds his reputation in the market and the products then rides the wave of individual reputation and grows in the market. The individual who is an expert in his own field and has proven his dexterity and has created his personal brand through his value delivery, people will belief him and follow his advice and actions.
In branding the key thing lies is in the positioning statement.
How we would like the market to perceive us and how we would like the customer to consider us?
The core value that we need to define and discharge through our offering is vital to branding.
The universal aspects of quality, value, consistency, reliability to commitment has to deeply entrench into our branding and statement of positioning.
15. The Advertising, the Promotion
How do we promote ourselves and what is best way to do so. Resources are limited and means are always constraints to put our options an anchor.
There are earned media, there are owned media and there are paid media.
The blogging business platform we run is the owned media. We can use our media space to get revenue by selling advertisements or we can promote products either of ours or others to maximize our utilization of limited web space. The revenue per utilization of space is criteria we need to evaluate before we take a decision what to do and to what extent we should be doing it.
It is well-known that selling our own product fetches us the maximum revenue and selling adv space is the least, knowing the spectrum it is for us to take a call depending on what stage of business cycle we are in and where we want to ultimately go.
16. Design Presentation
In life design is the show stopper.
Whatever may be the product what we look at initially is the appeal of design, then we dive deep into the functionalities and the features being offered by any product. There are these basic functions and there are these aspiring features in a product. The product will fall flat if it loaded with aspiring features and giving the basic function a secondary treatment. The product will not take off with basic functionalities unless it is equipped with aspiring features.
The design is vital to any product.
The blog theme, the blog navigation, the blog layout, the blog color combination are all subtle but certainly the hidden factor that governs our engagement with blogging platform. We may have quality stuff but we may distract visitors due to lack of design and the right combination of design and stuff is a deadly combination that brings blog alive.
17. Quality Assurance
The quality of our product depends on how serious we are in our production process and how meticulously we check the product before getting the product packed and delivered into the market.
The consistent quality qualifies our brand value.
The quality of content comes through proper proof reading of the copy to checking the copyright infringement to simple usage of language to verification of data included in the copy to usage of references in content. This could be for a post to a page to a book to a program to a full course. The errors are signals of our lack of seriousness and our commitment to provide quality stuff which is taken very seriously by our readers and buyers. It may appear as a silly mistake to us but these small things add up to give the big impression, the impression that the provider is taking things for granted and beyond a point they don’t forgive us.
Stating the quality policy and making it a gateway for any work to pass through before it sees the publication deck.
18. Market Intelligence
We don’t operate in a closed market, it is open market place. There are many other players like us. They are equally thinking and acting to grab the market share. They are constantly working on their strategy to counter the competition. Each player keeps coming with new strategies to maintain their competitive edge and advantage.
This needs innovation.
This needs market intelligence.
We need to keep peeping through the windows of competitors and keep looking at new players who are nimble and agile without the fat and the flab to speed through the market. We need to keep an eye on what is working for others and what is not working, which is the space which needs our attention and where is the gap which we can fill.
This is a constant exploration and examination of the environment where we are in operation.
19. Customer Feedback
There is one of the most important loop in cycle of business.
It is the feedback loop where we need to connect with the customers and keep hearing their voice. In the ultimate analysis it is the customer voice that matters and makes all the difference. The question is how do we capture the voice and how do we engage with our customers in a more meaningful manner and make their voice our voice.
It is the crunch of building and sustaining a successful blogging business.
It does make or break the business.
So, how do we create the space and place for customers to share their experience and provide their insights which can improve and improvise the utility and value of the product? There are multiple ways to keep ourselves engaged with customers, just not online but face to face in offline from one to one to one to many.
The inputs are indeed the nuggets of gold and if we know how to work like a goldsmith we can craft beautiful ornaments from the feedback from customers.
20. Course Correction
Everybody of us when we venture into business we make mistake and it is absolutely fine to make mistake.
In fact making mistakes are signs of success.
The only catch is we should quickly learn from the mistakes and not repeat it. The learning curve is a competitive advantage, the more we try to experiment, the quicker we learn and the better we become in minimizing and eliminating mistakes, the more consistent and efficient we become in our delivery mechanism.
The venture of blogging business needs predictability and reliability.
Learning from mistakes and correcting our course and creating new ways and designing new means to achieving our “Blogging Business” goals.