Two decades ago blogs (or “weblog”) didn’t even exist.
Nowadays there are hundreds of millions of them, on many different platforms, with their numbers growing rapidly by the day.
People take up blogging for many different reasons, whether it’s simply to document a part of their life for family and friends, to share their expertise on a subject with the world, or, increasingly, to try and copy the success of others who have achieved the blogging dream of fame and fortune.
So with blogs riding high on a huge and growing surge of popularity, what are generally recognized as the main benefits of blogging? Here are my top nine:
1. Learn New Skills and Knowledge
It’s often said that the best way to learn is by teaching.
This is very true in the case of blogging, as the need to continually come up with new ideas for posts, which then need to be researched, written and proof-read, forces you to become an expert in virtually every aspect of your niche.
Unless you hire outside help such as a Virtual Assistant (V.A.) you will also gradually learn more technical skills such as which plugins are best to install, some basic coding skills in CSS and HTML, how to optimize SEO on your site and posts, how to capture leads, how to insert ads, what are the best routes to monetization etc.
2. Make Money
There are many ways to make money blogging, though only a relatively tiny fraction of bloggers ever make a sufficient amount to make a full-time career out of it.
Affiliate marketing and money from ads are two of the most popular income streams, along with ebooks, courses, coaching services and sponsored posts.
Some bloggers get offered speaking engagements or well-paid jobs in the ‘real world’, with the most successful becoming known as ‘influencers’ with the power to shape the thinking and spending habits of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.
One of my favorite examples of making money through blogging is that of Pat Flynn, who started a blog to help keep and update his architectural exam notes in a convenient place (he travelled a lot at the time.)
After completing the exam he didn’t pay any attention to the blog for some time, and was astonished when he eventually came back to it to find that he was receiving thousands of visitors per day.
Other bloggers advised him that he should monetize all that traffic by writing an ebook, which advice Pat decided to follow, having been advised at work that he would soon be laid off due to the poor demand for architects (this was late 2008.)
His ebook was simply a collection of advice from his blog which was already available for free, but as other experienced bloggers have pointed out this doesn’t really matter – people are willing to pay for the convenience of having all the information neatly laid out in book form.
After following some more advice and setting up an automatic payment service, in his first month Pat made about $8000 from his ebook and ad revenue, and has never looked back.
You can’t get much more niche than that – his whole blog was based entirely on study notes for a single exam! His book (new updated version) about how he achieved it is a great (and very educational) read – I thoroughly recommend it.
3. Improve your writing skills
“Don’t get it right, just get it written”
– James Thurber
As with many skills, the more you write the better you get! One top blogger, Ryan Biddulph, says he used to practice his writing skills by scribbling out about a thousand words a day and then scrapping it.
That might be a little extreme for many but as they say, “Practice makes perfect.”
4. Being Asked To Write For Businesses
Many bloggers are asked to write articles or columns for large publications after their writing ability becomes known to them, either through a third party or due to direct contact from the blogger.
This can become an extra income stream for the blogger or even their primary income, as such contracts can be quite lucrative. Writing contracts for large multi-national firms can be even more lucrative still.
5. Fast Feedback On Your Content
Another blogging benefit is speedy feedback on your writing in the form of comments.
Unlike authors who may have to wait many months for book reviews, bloggers can sometimes get feedback as soon as the same day they’ve hit the ‘Publish’ button.
One trend in the last few years though has been for some of the larger sites to disable comments, citing the fact that they get much more feedback in social media, e.g. Facebook, and thus it’s not worth dealing with spam and moderating the comments.
Experts still believe they’re a positive addition to smaller sites though.
6. Gain A Reputation As An Expert
Over time, as your knowledge and reputation increases along with your blog posts and traffic, as long as you continually produce above-average content you are likely to gain a reputation as an expert in your chosen niche.
This will open up many potential avenues of monetization for you, as described above.
Once you achieve this status of course, the sky’s the limit to your potential income, as you can copy bloggers such as Darren Rowse who advocates a strategy of many different sources of income.
You will also have built up a loyal army of fans who will recommend your blog to their own friends and social network, thus resulting in the often cited ‘snowball‘ effect on your website traffic.
7. Improve Your Technical Knowledge
Whether or not you’re a ‘techie’, running a blog certainly gives you powerful motivation to ‘get under the hood’ of your site’s code.
Thanks to the ease of use of WordPress there’s no longer a need to be a programmer to blog these days.
However it’s helpful to have some knowledge of HTML and CSS so as to quickly make simple changes and tweaks to your site, such as font style and size, header, footer and border adjustments etc.
If you’re determined to avoid learning basic coding it’s not strictly a requirement as your website’s creator (StudioPress Genesis in my case) will usually answer such questions for you, but it’s definitely a time saver and can be fun to play around with.
Certainly gaining a good understanding of them will add some in-demand skills to your resume. Or you could just outsource the job to someone more technical-minded than yourself. More on customizing your blog with CSS here.
If you’ve ever had to make a long commute to work (as I have in the past) you’ll certainly appreciate the benefits of only having to commute from your bedroom to your lounge room (or even stay in bed if you’re using a laptop computer.)
Some bloggers blog while travelling around in mobile homes (Michelle Schroeder-Gardner springs to mind) while others such as Ryan Biddulph of ‘Blogging From Paradise’ blog while travelling around the world – something to dwell on next time you’re in a traffic jam while travelling to work!
9. Become A Published Author
With many more millions of people calling themselves ‘writers’ these days writing ebooks and trying to break into the publishing industry, it’s harder than ever for a writer to get published and make a name for themselves as an author.
So proving yourself by putting your work out there in the blogosphere and building up a loyal following of readers is an excellent way of standing out from the crowd and bringing your work to the attention of influencers and publishers.
What other benefits of blogging have I left out? Let me know in the comments.
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