After ten years of writing two (and sometimes, three) blogs, it’s been a long-time goal of mine to learn more about the technical side of blogging and how to earn some money from my blogging passions. As a freelance writer with limited time and energy, it’s tough to justify the hours I spend writing posts for my blogs…for free! I recently finished reading Blog, Inc: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, and while I already knew the basics, this comprehensive guide to blogging gave me some new ideas on how to improve my blogs and perhaps earn a little money from them to help support their continued existence.
Blog, Inc. covers just about everything you need to know to write a blog. The first chapters cover start-up, with topics including types of blogs, domain names, hosting, and much more. Cho also covers some less obvious topics, like blogging etiquette, writing a bio, and setting up a workspace. Once she’s described the basics and how to get started, she goes on to discuss the business aspects of blogging, like protecting your work, keeping track of financial records and taxes, and all of the ins and outs of placing ads on your blog. She even explains how to take things one step further, with advice on blogging full-time, working with a partner, getting published, and more.
The layout and design of Cho’s book makes it very easy to read, browse through, and digest. She is, after all, a graphic designer herself, and it is clear she has applied some of her own lessons on writing a blog to her book, with short, digestible sections and eye-catching fonts and graphics. The information in her book is interspersed with examples of successful bloggers. Each blogger profile includes an overview and a Q&A about how the blogger got started, where they get their ideas, and other aspects of their blogging success.
The first third of the book was mostly stuff I already knew or had figured out, since I have been blogging for ten years, but I think these sections on the basics would be very helpful to beginners. I tabbed plenty of pages in the rest of the book, on social networking, financial stuff, copyright protection, and analytics. The part I was most interested in – monetizing a blog – was informative for me, though I had hoped to find some blogging professional secrets and was a bit disappointed to learn that the main way to earn money from your blog is simply ads. I have avoided these so far, not wanting to “bother” my readers or overload my blog. Also, one of my blogs is for people with serious chronic illness (many of whom are financially destitute), and I don’t want any advertisers preying on them or selling them things they don’t need.
The anti-ad attitude is my own problem, and I am considering ways to work around my misgivings (please let me know in the Comments how you manage this!), but Cho’s book at least gave me more information on the how-to and the possibilities. Overall, although I got a lot of information from her book that I hope to refer to again, I did feel that I wasn’t really her target audience. I write a book blog and a chronic illness blog, and her example bloggers were all in more visually prominent fields: design, fashion, “lifestyle” blogs, and food writing. Since Cho is a graphic designer herself and her own blog has that focus on the visual, some of her advice seemed irrelevant for someone writing about books and illness. Though she did mention something called Multiple Blogging Disorder, which I just might have!
If you are considering starting up a new blog or are new to blogging and plan to focus on a very visual topic, then Cho’s book is a perfect, indispensible guide. If, like me, your blog is less visual and/or you are an old hat at blogging, then this book is less focused exactly on your needs…but there is still a lot to be learned from certain sections. Cho is a very successful blogger herself, who has turned blogging into a full-time job, picked up clients because of her blog, launched her own product lines related to her blog, and (obviously) published books (there are more) from her blog content and blogging experience. She is definitely a blogging expert, and you can learn a lot from this easy-to-read, pleasingly designed book.
179 pages, Chronicle Books