A recent post by Dave Winer over on Scripting News about how he made $2 Million Dollars with his blog has really gotten me thinking. Dave has always stood his ground that he does not put advertising on his blog, so how could he possibly make that sort of money?
Dave?s post was really a response to what Dan Lyons of Newsweek reported as saying:
I learned the hard way: while blogs can do many wonderful things, making huge amounts of money isn’t one of them.
Dan reveals he tried to get rich with his blog, often post 10-20 items a day but barely made anything from his use of the Google Adsense program:
My first epiphany occurred in August 2007, when The New York Times ran a story revealing my identity, which until then I’d kept secret. On that day more than 500,000 people hit my site?by far the biggest day I’d ever had?and through Google’s AdSense program I earned about a hundred bucks. Over the course of that entire month, in which my site was visited by 1.5 million people, I earned a whopping total of $1,039.81. Soon after this I struck an advertising deal that paid better wages. But I never made enough to quit my day job. Eventually I shut down?not for financial reasons, but because Steve Jobs appeared to be in poor health.
Dave tells the tale of how he made $2 million dollars with his blog, not by advertising, but by using the brand that he has and to speak about what interests him. He audience is THE people he is trying to influence and he is not writing about what he THINKS people want to read about, but what is important to him. This post by Dave has probably got me thinking more about my blogging, which has been sporadic at best, and how I can best effect and enlighten my audience:
If I had any advice to offer it’s this — get in the habit of communicating directly with the people you want to influence. Don’t charge them to read it and don’t let others interfere with your communication.
I have been posting here for the past 3 years with things I think my readers (thank you by the way) want to hear and not necessarily what I want to write about. This hasn?t always been the case but more times than not, it HAS been the case. I should have been more aware of this before now, when I look at my server logs and realize what people are reading they are reading what was important to me at the moment. Maybe my writing reflects the passion I have at that moment, about that topic? I don?t know, maybe my writing and communication skills are better when I am passionate about the topic.
I commented to Dave?s post on his blog to thank him for the thoughtful post and to ask about my concern for losing readers if I didn?t necessarily talk about what I perceive my audience wanting to read about and Dave replied:
I think you should talk about whatever you want to talk about. Why be scared of "losing" subscribers — it’s not like you owned them. Everyone is free to choose, if someone doesn’t want to listen to you, would you change what you say to make them want to listen to you? Would you teach your kids to do that? Please, I hope not, not if you want them to be healthy and happy and to like themselves.
I try to respect the differences between people, I might read a blog written by a Yankees fan even though I despise the Yankees. I know that there are Yankees fans. If I ran the world I would probably try to encourage them not to root for the Yankees, but even so I know that as long as there was free choice there probably would be some misguided souls who don’t see the light. 🙂
It’s very easy for people to tune out. They’re mostly tuned out most of the time anyway. I wouldn’t worry about it. Be yourself man!
It is really just commonsense and great advice but it rings true and many of us may not understand the importance of doing your own thing and publishing what is important to you. Be sure to read the comments on Dave?s post, a lot of good content in there as well. I think the overall moral here is that Dave did what came natural and through good writing and good communication he established relationships with readers and because well-known. This exposure lead to some success that he may not have had otherwise, he company may not have been bought otherwise. Blogging for Dave has been part of the overall marketing of oneself and has worked quite well. It?s obvious that advertising did not work in Dan?s case as this method is much more like buying a lottery ticket, some win and most don?t.
So, dear reader, I thank you for reading my blog all this time, it is truly appreciated. I promise to write about things that of of interest to me from now on and I hope you will become engaged and interact here. All the talk about blogs going away is bogus, how could I write all of this in 140 characters on Twitter? This blog and Twitter go hand-in-hand as a way to develop my identity.