Blogging Isn’t Free: 10 Forgotten Expenses You Bear For Blogging
Is blogging an expensive endeavor or is it something that absolutely anyone can start with? Is blogging really made out to be a “bread winner” or is it a frivolous activity, which can give you a voice but not help you laugh your way to the bank? The answers to these questions can vary widely depending on who you are, the purpose you blog for, and your expectations from blogging.
In any event, these questions have deep answers.
The truth, however, is that blogs fail. They sputter and eventually die. Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner points out a few reasons why blogs fail and what you can do about it.
Whether blogs fail or propel you towards dizzy success, there’s a lot more to blogging than meets the eye.
One trailing myth that I love to bust is that blogging is “free.” It actually isn’t.
Here are at least 10 forgotten or often overlooked expenses (not always in the exact sense) you’ll eventually bear when it comes to blogging.
1. Content Development Actuals
Whether you choose to blog yourself or have freelance bloggers help you publish blog posts, you’ll have “actuals” to deal with. Actuals are real dollar costs attributed to the task of starting, running, and maintaining a blog. Your dollar expenses will include, at the very least, the costs of a computer and internet connection, domain name registration and web hosting. Don’t fail to do your due diligence on hosting providers on places such as CNET, PCMag, Who Is Hosting This and 000 Web Host, or you’re setting yourself up for sleepless nights down the line.
Then comes the epicenter of your costs: the time spent on researching and writing posts if you do it yourself or the money spent on blog posts if freelance bloggers do it for you. Actuals can also include plenty of running expenses related to your blog.
Running free blogs is out of question for blogs with commercial intent. As such, there will be some tangible and real costs associated with blogging.
Whip that calculator out.
2. Dark Tunnel: No Light at the End?
Would you succeed if you did everything right? Just as in life, blog publishing leads into dark tunnels without a promise of light showing up anywhere towards the end. There’s no visible trophy; no apparent milestones; and absolutely no feel for success as you go along. The only way you’d know you succeed with blogging is when you actually meet success (as you define it) after a number of years of toil – and that too isn’t guaranteed.
You’d spend money, time, effort, sanity, and a cool portion of your life throwing yourself at the promise of blogging rewards. Let’s just hope you do bask in the light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Big Wide Security Loophole
Most people conveniently look past this little thing called security. For one, open source isn’t free; it’s just “open for all” with the source code available for anyone to improve on. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS (Content Management System) available but it isn’t secure. It has its flaws. It’s vulnerable for attack and it’s easy to hack into.
Bloggers deep dive into blogging but don’t anticipate hacks, attacks, fraudulent activity, malware, plugin crashes, and many more threats that can derail blogs in an instant.
All that effort and years of labor can get wiped out. Hiring WordPress experts midway into your blogging years can turn out to be expensive. It’s a running cost you didn’t anticipate and it’s a sum of money you can’t afford to part with.
4. The Opportunity Cost
If you weren’t blogging, could you be doing something else that means more to you? If you are a business owner, is working on your sales and getting more business a better option than expressing your endless train of thoughts with passion? Would you rather send emails to old clients than spend time responding to comments on your blog? How fruitful would it be if you could spend an hour looking for channel partners than spend time looking for host bloggers to guest post on?
For bloggers, it’s all about decisions related to opportunity cost. It’s always a choice you have to make. You might not think of it as an opportunity cost, but again, what in life isn’t?
5. Reinforcing the Structure
Is blogging just about writing? If it were, all writers would be great bloggers. Blogging is a mini-enterprise with its own set of operations and other departments – all rolled into one. It’s a cornucopia of arduous tasks that you have to accomplish. It’s a recurring “to-do list” that grows organically and almost seems like it’s a mind of its own.
Working with topics, creating content, uploading blog posts, hyperlinking each outbound link, uploading images, picking up categories, creating tags, setting up comments and trackbacks, writing meta descriptions, installing plug-ins, setting up thumbnails, writing excerpts, adding special elements, using short codes – the list barely ends.
That’s just the actual blogging part – think of it as core operations. The beginning, if you will.
6. Managing Operations
Blogging starts with the “blogging operations” and seems to extend into infinity as far as “tasks” are concerned. Blogging is an act of producing, but to produce is never the end. You’ll now have to promote each blog post, send out special emails to some influencers you took pains to mention within your blog post, handle trolls, manage comments, push posts on social media, tweak headers, work with the widgets, and customize your blog appearance.
Since you’d obviously seek to monetize your blog, you’ll have additional tasks or displaying advertising; working with your Google Ad Sense code; checking your reports and analytics dashboards; signup with affiliate networks, merchants, and reseller programs; and much more.
Let me know when this list ends.
7. The Task of Networking
What’s a blog worth without people you know?
As with most things in life, it’s the people you know that matter.
Riding on the success of another blog; going by a word mentioned by a powerful influencer; getting featured on New York Times, BusinessWeek, Mashable, TechCrunch, or Time; and making your blog post go viral – pick any or all of these milestones and you’d find that the strength of your network lies at the core of it all.
To know people, there’s effort that goes into it again. No matter how well you design your blog or how passionately you spew out thoughts in the form of writing, it’s the people you know who will push your blog out to its intended momentum. People tweet, share, like, and push it out of the orbit.
All of the effort that goes into successful networking, by the way, has nothing to do with the effort – or anything else – you expend for your blog itself.
8. The Burden of Marketing
Bloggers and mere sloggers: What’s the difference? It’s how you market your blog that differentiates the winning blogs from the decadent, old, and forgotten ones. Marketing helps in that differentiation. Just as marketing is for businesses, marketing is central to every blog’s success. Sometimes, blogs themselves can be the raison d’être for marketing.
Marketing is an umbrella term for a thousand other things (usually external) you’ll do to make sure your blog gets seen, read, and loved by your blog visitors. There are actual spends on marketing and unseen, hidden expenses too.
Think PPC, landing pages, ezine ads, and any other paid form of marketing. You then have countless hours spent on Q & A sites, forums, blogging communities, social media, blogger outreach efforts, link building, SEO, and other “sweat based advertising” that you’d do.
Relentless, expensive, demanding, and sometimes publishing – marketing is the testing ground that determines who goes where with blogging.
Marketing is where the grounds of war are at. It’s where you’ll pull the final strings for your blog’s success. How you market will determine what happens to your blog finally.
It’s a huge expense, no matter how you look at it.
9. Pivots. Purpose. Scope. Time.
Blogging is a human effort. As humans, we’ll change as we grow. We make decisions, change paths, grow up, and realign our thoughts. We start to offer something through our blogs and decide that you’d like to offer something else. Your voice changes, your perceptions go deep, and your knowledge improves.
You’ll learn, adapt, and grow. All of that reflects on your blog. You’d start with one topic and pivot to another one. You’d feel passionate about a cluster of niches and then expand your passion to many other niches. Blogs with a particular purpose often find that the real purpose fades to make way for monetizing in the form of sponsored posts or irrelevant blog posts.
The scope of your blog could shrink or expand.
Think about this: all those years of blogging spent writing on a particular niche could prove to be worth nothing. All that time you spent discussing a topic passionately could end up as a deleted database.
If time is all you have, what’s the real cost of spending your blood, soul, money, and time on a blog to burn it into a grave? What was the reason you started to blog in the first place? If there was no spark to the start, why waste precious time on a blog that has to die anyway?
10. The Stress
Blogging is fun when you begin with it and it slowly gets begrudgingly stressful to blog continuously – it’s a fact to be taken with a pinch of salt. It isn’t easy to multi-task while blogging. As if that wasn’t enough, blogging continuously for years without stopping or doing injustice to your publishing scheduling is a business by itself. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, Brian Clark of Copyblogger and countless others have surely confronted this situation. They deal with it. They live with it.
They’ve been blogging for years and it’s only recently that they let guest posts show up.
Thinking of unique angles for guest posts, pouring your passion into writing, managing multiple tasks related to blogging, responding to every comment, and hordes of other things you have to keep your blog alive can kill you. If it doesn’t, you’ve achieved the impossible.
There’s a reason why there are teams behind magazine publishing. How does this work feel like when handled by a single blogger? You can guess.
Now, none of this is to say that blogging isn’t worth pursuing. Just as life has its share of challenges, blogging does too. But just as entrepreneurship is challenging and satisfying (not to mention profitable), blogging, when done right, makes you a better marketer, a passionate human being, a prolific writer, and a completely transformed person.
Get blogging right and you’ll take your business to a new level, you’ll achieve feats of publishing floundering magazines wished they could achieve, and earn the kind of money that journalists on newspaper or magazine payrolls can only hope for.
What’s your calling? How are you going to address the given costs of blogging? How different is your approach going to be? What – if you can – are you going to change about your blogging strategy?
Please share your thoughts with me below.
This post is written by Rohan Ayyar, project manager at E2M Solutions.