Even though blogs are not new (they’ve been around since the late ’90s), a lot of people still don’t completely understand them. Sure, they probably read one or more blogs each day, but when I mention that I have a blog and that Ariana and I were going to start this blog, we were sometimes met with a look of confusion. Some of the common questions that come up are:
- “So do you get paid to blog?” – My mom referring to me discussing being a weekly contributor to the BiggerPockets.com blog
- “What’s the point?”
- “No one would be interested in what I have to say.” – Ariana when we first started talking starting a joint blog
- “Should my business have a blog?”
These questions break down into 2 main categories:
- Why spend time creating a blog? (as they don’t understand the benefit)
- Does a blog make sense to be part of my personal/business strategy?
Below, we will dive deeper into each of these.
My Start & Experience With Blogging
I knew for a long time that I should have a blog. Various people who did told me that I had good ideas and should share them, but for years it kept getting pushed to the back burner. It was something that I would eventually get around to, when I had “more time.” I didn’t really have a drive or reason for needing a blog (or so I thought), but I just knew for some reason that I needed one.
Then at the end of 2013 I found out I would be presenting at an upcoming IBM conference called Innovate. The conference draws thousands of people and I would be speaking in the topic of transitioning companies from a more traditional software development process to a more lean and agile process and using IBM’s tools to help. I realized that this provided me an opportunity to network with like-minded people and to build not only my network, but also position myself as an expert.
So several months before the conference I started up a blog. I had already had several business websites on HostMonster, so I went searching for a new domain to add. Unfortunately I was late to the game and TomSylvester.com was taken. After a little bit of searching, I found Tom-Sylvester.com to be available. I registered the domain, installed WordPress and installed a free WordPress theme. If you want to learn the step by steps to doing this, download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Website/Blog. In the book, we walk step by step through the proces, from coming up with your name through installing your first few plugins to customize your website.
Then I sat there. What the heck was I going to write about? I thought about it for a day, and couldn’t come up with an idea, so I took a break to work out in my home gym. When I got done, I realized that many people want to build a home gym but do not know how, so that became my first post – Building a Home Gym Version 1.0. My home gym had evolved over the years, so I decided I could turn 1 blog into 3 by showing the different phases.
After I wrote the first few blogs, ideas started pouring out. I started to shape my blog and figured that my blog would be about a lot of different topics, all topics that I had interest or experience in. As time went on, I finalized on the following categories:
- Real Estate
- Time Management
- Book Reviews
These were all topics that I cared about and was interested in. I continued writing blogs periodically and making enhancements to my site.
Flash forward a few months. I had quite a few posts on my blog and realized that more and more visitors were coming to my blog. I had started it with the intention of networking and being seen an as expert, but because my topics were all over the board, I had no idea if people would even care. But I started getting questions and emails. People did seem interested. I then found myself sharing links with friends and co-workers. People were interested in what I was doing. In some cases, people that I worked with wanted to learn more about how to create better software using agile and how more information about it. So rather than trying to explain or email a response, I would send them a relevant blog that I had written. Real estate investors would ask me questions, and I would send them some useful blogs links. Friends and family would ask how I could get so much done, and I would send them blog links.
As my blog started becoming more popular, I began doing more research to see how I could continue to grow. I had been a member of BiggerPockets, an online real estate investor community, for several years. Each member had a personal blog, so I posted several of my real estate blogs there. The site owner liked what he saw and invited me to contribute to their main website blog, which contained a lot of very experienced real estate investors with different backgrounds. The website also received tens if not hundreds of thousands of visits a month.
Benefits That I Have Received From Blogging
I personally believe that everyone should have a blog. There are so many benefits that I have received from starting a small personal blog. The biggest ones are below.
- Be Seen as an Expert: Any time you share knowledge, you up your credibility. There are so many smart people out there, but the ones who are successful and create opportunities for themselves are the ones that put themselves out there. If you are very knowledgeable but no one knows, you are not taking full advantage of your knowledge.
- Learn More: When I write a blog, I want to make sure the information is accurate and I know what I am talking about. It is one thing to understand things in my own head, but when I write a blog it forces me to collect my thoughts and put them together to allow someone else to understand as well. I’ve learned a lot by writing a blog and doing research as part of the writing process.
- Enhance Credibility: I’m a big believer in transparency. If you search for “Tom Sylvester” in Google, my website shows up second. People can easily find me, learn more about me and understand what I know and stand for.
- Share Experiences: Blogs are the modern day version of a diary. When I have an experience, learn something knew or have a new thought/idea, sitting down to write a blog is sometimes therapy. It helps me understand my thoughts, share them with the world and engaged in great dialogue about the topics.
- Help Others: Some of my most popular posts over the last year and a half have been about failures that I have had and lessons that I have learned, such as spending $15,000 on real estate training or getting started with real estate investing. I’ve received emails and phone calls from people thanking me for saving them tens of thousands of dollars from reading my blog posts. I’ve also been able to coach and mentor numerous people that wanted to invest in real estate or start a business. Without the blog, we might not have ever connected. In fact, I’m meeting a new real estate investor for coffee on Sunday to see if I can help him get started.
- Create Opportunities: I’ve have definitely seen the benefits of putting myself out there. Since starting my personal blog, it seems like whenever I shared information and either wrote a blog or helped someone out, good things happened. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to several blogs, including a major investing website like the Motley Fool. Additionally, Ariana and I started this website as we were starting to get contacted daily to help others who wanted to follow in our footsteps.
- Make Money: Yes, blogs can make money. Some blogs make money directly, some are part of a business’s overall marketing plan. When you create valuable content and share it with others, you start to generate interest. As you develop a following, you can make money from selling products that you create or becoming an affiliate and getting a commission when people purchase items through your affiliate link. It is not the easiest way to make money, and many blogs do not make money, but there are some quite a few people that make 5, 6 and 7 figure incomes from blogging or related activities. This blog, for example, provides a small amount of income to us each month. We have hopes to continue to grow that income by providing amazing and useful content that will help other entreprenewlyweds like us grow their business, get their freedom back and maintain great relationships with their spouse and family.
Why Spend Time Creating a Blog?
Going back to the two main categories of questions, the first was why even spend the time to create a blog. In the previous section, I walked through how I got started and the numerous benefits that I have received thus far. Creating a blog does take a little bit of time, but it is very easy and low cost to get started. As previously mentioned, I believe everyone should have a blog. If you are an individual, it will allow you to share your ideas and engage with like minded people. It will help you become an expert in your field and give you something to be proud of. And you will be amazed at how creating your blog will open doors to many other opportunities in your life.
The best part is… it is low cost to start a blog. So if things don’t work out or you don’t see the benefit, you did not spend a lot of money to try it out.
Does a Blog Strategy Make Sense?
The second category above was does a blog make sense for your business. Again, I would almost always say yes! Your business, even if it is not an online business, should have a website. Because you can get a blog created for low cost and without much effort, it does not require a huge investment. It will allow you to connect more with the audience of your business and share useful information. This could be information that helps your customers or explains how use your products or services.
Have I convinced you that you need a blog? I hope so. For a step by step guide to get started, make sure to download our free eBook The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Website/Blog. And if you have any specific questions about blogging, please leave a comment below.