If a Blog Isn’t a Blog, Then What Is It?

Yesterday, I ended with a question: so what do we call someone who runs a profitable blog?

Well, I have to fess up. It was a trick question.

I don’t think we need to coin a new buzzword to describe successful bloggers. You could argue that Darren Rowse did that years ago by coining “problogger.”

What we need is a different way of looking at blogs.

We need a distinction that allows us to better understand what it takes to be successful. We need to realize that, while blogs are certainly new, they operate by the same old rules. We need to take blogging out from under the “Web” category and shift it into another, more useful one.

Because, for some of us, a blog isn’t a blog at all. It’s just business.

Why Do You Blog?

Some people would argue that blogs are just a means of self-expression. And that’s fine. If you find happiness from writing down your thoughts and posting them to the Internet, regardless of whether anyone reads them, then stop reading this post. You don’t need it.

On the other hand, the moment you direct your posts toward an audience, try to build traffic, or brainstorm ways to monetize your blog, then you’ve become a different type of blogger entirely. You’re setting objectives that involve personal gain, and that makes you much more like something else:

A business.

The Business of Blogging

The defining characteristic of a business is that it has an objective. Usually, that objective involves trying to make a profit, although that’s not necessarily the primary aim.

Bloggers do the same thing. Do any of these objectives ring a bell?

  • Recurring advertising revenue through adsense, text links, sponsorships, and/or affiliate programs
  • Spreading your ideas, so you become a “thought leader” and get lots of paid speaking and consulting gigs
  • Building your subscriber base so you can sell a book or other product

Those are all business models, and if you’re following a business model, then you’re running a business, at least at some level.

Am I saying bloggers are businesspeople? Many of them, yes. And if you are a businessperson, you’re only going to become successful by acting like one.

Blogging Principles Vs. Business Principles

Lots of bloggers get caught up in things like getting traffic from social media, search engine optimization, and developing their flagship content. All of those things are important, but it’s impossible to do them effectively without first understanding the underlying business principles.

For instance:

  • Social Media = Marketing
  • Popular Blog Topic = Customer Targeting
  • Flagship Content = Valuable Product

Each are core parts of doing business, regardless of whether you’re blogging or running your own McDonald’s franchise. The bloggers that build a huge subscriber base or make thousands of dollars a month are the ones that have the best understanding of those principles and apply them the most effectively.