Fake Steve Jobs is Wrong About Blogging

Business schoolWhy is it that every article that proclaims “you can’t make money at blogging,” is written by someone who is NOT an entrepreneur?

Coincidence?  Or cause and effect?

The latest such article is by the journalist formerly known as Fake Steve Jobs.  For almost two years he wrote a blog of the same name.  He writes in his column at Newsweek:

I posted 10 or 20 items a day to my site, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, rarely taking a break. I blogged from cabs, using my BlackBerry. I blogged in the middle of the night, having awakened with an idea. I rationalized this insane behavior by telling myself that at the end of this rainbow I would find a huge pot of gold. But reality kept interfering with this fantasy….I walked away feeling burned out and weighing 20 pounds more than when I started. I also came away with a sneaking suspicion that while blogs can do many wonderful things, generating huge amounts of money isn’t one of them.

When you read his article, it is immediately apparent that he focused his energies almost exclusively on the writing.  He was obviously good at the style of writing he did.  However, writing by itself — no matter how good — won’t cut it.  Writing is just one of many activities that you have to pay equal attention to if you plan to start and grow a successful publishing business.

People often ask me how to grow a blog into a business.  My response?  Treat it as a business.

By treating it as a business, you have to address the many elements necessary to run a successful business.  Just like growing any other business, in a blog-based business you have to have all these things covered: marketing, sales, technology, operations, staffing, customer service, finance, legal, accounting — and a lot more.

Matt DiPietro of Federated Media speaks as eloquently as anyone I’ve ever heard about the complexity of creating a business based on blogging:

With blogs, like with any media product, there are at least two sides to the equation. There is the creative/editorial side, which is concerned with creating content, and there is the business/publishing side, which is concerned with leveraging that content to produce profits. I think the vast majority of observers fail to recognize just how complicated both sides of this equation are. Creating great content that attracts a loyal community is hard work that depends on a special kind of creative person. Trust me, successful bloggers are invariably professionals that take their jobs very seriously and work as hard as anyone. In this sense, the vision of the guy in his pajamas was never reality.

But maybe even less understood is the business side. Turning social media into a profit-making business depends not only on great content and engaged communities (which are absolutely necessary) but also on deep knowledge and relationships across the advertising industry, the technical expertise to make integrated advertising campaigns happen, the business acumen to know which tech solutions to partner with and how, reciprocal and productive relationships with brands and ad agencies, not to mention all of the other activities and departments that make businesses happen – finance, HR, marketing, etc.

Successful blogs are in reality niche publishing businesses that are every bit as sophisticated as any digital publishing company.

As regular readers know, Small Business Trends is a blog that forms the foundation of my business. It supports a staff and quite a few service providers — all of them small businesses.

I seldom write about what goes on behind the scenes, because that’s not what this site is about. But I can attest that what Matt DiPietro says about complexity is true — and then some.

A digital publishing business — a blog as a business — requires a variety of skills.  It’s not just about writing.  That’s a fraction of what goes on in a blog business.  It’s about how you pull it all together and the sum of the parts.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.