Blogging has an awesome upside. There are many advantages, and not all of them revolve around making money.
If you’ve ever dabbled with the idea of launching your own blog, here are 7 unexpected benefits that might tip you towards your first post.
1. A Good Blog Makes Money
Okay, that’s get it out of the way, shall we? There’s no denying that one of the greatest benefits of running a successful blog is the money that it brings.
There are many ways to generate money. You can sell banner space, sling affiliate products, or use them as battlegrounds to take over the blogosphere with your own shady product creations. Many writers use their online reputations to pick up consulting gigs.
The money should never be your number one reason for starting a blog. But I also don’t buy the overused line that “I write to help others“. That’s bullshit. Every blogger has his own agenda, and it is usually either commercial or ego related. In my case, it’s a bit of both.
2. Free Shit is Nice
My girlfriend and I are both writers. She is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. I’m an affiliate marketing blogger. Guess who gets the better free shit? I’ll give you a clue. If you think it’s me, you need your head examined.
Over the last 18 months, my girlfriend has blagged an absolutely huge raid of freebies. She gets sent products every week. We’ve also enjoyed free holidays, free hotels, free Michelin starred dinners and a whole lot more.
My favourite freebie was an expenses-paid trip to an absolutely luscious hotel called The Library in Koh Samui. Imagine waking up to this in the morning…
…and knowing that you got it because you splurged some opinions on a WordPress once upon a time.
So what freebies do I receive as a blogger in the Internet Marketing space? Well, other than the occasional trip to visit a network, and the ‘thank you’ Christmas presents, the biggest perks are the free access to paid services and products.
It’s not five star hotel material, but I’ve saved thousands of pounds with free copies of products that have come in very useful for my business. Popular forums like Stack That Money and Aff Playbook have unleashed a wealth of information that has been both profitable and practical to my business. And of course, it tastes even sweeter when it’s free.
I regularly get blitzed with software and tools before they go public. Not that I end up reviewing many products, but I simply wouldn’t receive them if I hadn’t established a blog.
I’ve learnt that free shit is good, which is why my next blog will probably be called FinchTravels.
3. Preferential Treatment
In affiliate marketing, having a blog isn’t just the trademark of a huge ego. It’s a valuable device for getting preferential treatment, and for deterring shady companies from screwing you over.
Many affiliate networks will have no problem in stiffing a loud-mouthed publisher who doesn’t follow their guidelines to a tee. But if you have an influential blog, those same networks will always think twice before messing with you.
I’ve heard many horror stories of new affiliates getting rough treatment that simply wouldn’t happen if they had a platform to voice their grievances. It’s deterrence, and no more. I’ve never directed a complaint at a company over my blog, and that’s probably because they bend over backwards to make sure I don’t have a reason to.
The downside to having an influential blog is the enormous amount of sucking up that comes your way. Internet Marketing harbours a lot of fake individuals, and if you have a platform where they can promote their message, you’ll find the urchins congregating around your inbox like flies to a turd.
4. Stay Social in an Unsocial World
My industry is not the sort where your day ends at 5pm, and you can hit the town to wash away your weekly sins with seven pints and a Jägerbomb.
The opportunity to wade through London’s bars and clubs doesn’t present itself very often now that I work at home in the suburbs. Since I quit the day job, my social life has become something that requires effort. It demands jumping on a train and heading in the opposite direction to the hoards commuting home wearing disconsolate frowns.
So how does blogging come in to this? Well, firstly, I wouldn’t call blogging a form of socialising. As I look around me, I’m accompanied by a Maltipom and a bunch of sausage roll wrappers.
Social, my arse…
But what blogging does offer is an opportunity to express yourself explicitly.
When I blog, it’s like a tsunami outpouring of whatever is frustrating me on a given day. Occasionally, people will leave comments telling me I’m a closet genius, although more often they’ll compare me to a complete dumbarse. Hey, whatever, that’s okay.
Simply expressing myself and reading the comments has a therapeutic appeal. It opens the walls of my home office and assures me that there are other people out there facing the same challenges.
If you’re working a lonely job – like Internet Marketing, or coding, or anything that happens to be remote – running a blog can help you connect to your peers. It takes away the illusion of isolation.
If Jack Nicholson had a blog in The Shining, maybe he’d have kept his shit together.
5. Lend Authority to Other Projects
Assuming you’re building a blog that is just as focused on you as the brand, as it is on the subject matter, there’s enormous potential to use it to lend authority to other projects you may be working on.
Launching a new website from scratch is a tiresome struggle on many fronts. There’s the SEO, the initial word of mouth, the seeding of fan pages. Christ, the process can suck the giblets out of even the most patient of souls.
Having a blog to lend authority to your new projects is an excellent headstart. It’s like a piggyback over the first few weeks of trauma, tantrums and ball-ache.
I actively cross-promote my projects, and if I ever want to give a new site a boost, I can generally drop a link to lend some authority. This works both in the eyes of interested readers, and the Google juggernaut.
Blogging gets a bad name for relying too heavily on mindless self-promotion, which is probably justified. But mindless self-promotion rocks when you can get away with it. Why the hell not? Nobody has to read your drivel. Most just choose to anyway.
6. Getting a Job is Much Easier
How many people spend 20 years traipsing through education only to find ‘the dream job’ is still out of reach once they’ve graduated?
I posted several months ago that the blog is becoming the new degree.
Anybody can write a résumé, but the résumé shines only a tiny spotlight on an individual’s talent. It doesn’t reveal much, and it will always be weighted relatively against the next submission in the pile, which is often as thick as a J.K Rowling brainfart.
I advocate blogs as a great starting point for expanding your career opportunities. They reveal far more about your understanding of a subject than an introspective résumé ever could.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t list your qualifications and achievements somewhere on the site. If you have them, anyway. I’m a high school dropout, and school is something I try not to talk about.
The beauty of a blog is that you will be judged by the thoughts, arguments and knowledge you put forward. Every comment, every subscriber and every reader is a testament of your influence – even if they don’t agree with you.
Blogging is a way of proving your worth that doesn’t cost a penny.
Unfortunately, if your dream job involves rising through the football ranks or becoming a world renowned brain surgeon, you should probably look elsewhere. If somebody is operating on my skull, I want to know that they’ve been to university and paid their dues, not that they’ve dabbled with some WordPress widgets in their basement.
7. I Would Explode if I Didn’t Have One
Writing is a creative outlet. It’s a scientifically accepted mood improver.
Ever since I was 16, I’ve kept some form of journal or blog to document my various moments of insanity over the last eight years.
The vast majority of those outpourings I cannot look back on with anything other than disgust and a beetroot face. I find it impossible to read my own writing, even on subjects as notoriously heartless and cold as affiliate marketing.
Regardless, writing has a therapeutic quality to me. Just by putting in to words whatever I’m feeling; professional, personally, even politically; I can isolate the mood swings and stay focused on my actual goals.
It’s a tough process to explain to anybody who doesn’t share the feeling. I’m sure many readers will treat the idea of therapeutic writing with looks of disdain. Writing is certainly not a universal passion.
Nonetheless, I would explode if I didn’t blog. It’s probably the biggest benefit of them all. Making money, expressing myself, and not exploding. The only incentives I need.
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