I am regularly asked how I started blogging and whether I’ve always been into making money from them.
My first entry into blogging around four years ago was on a free blogspot blog which was largely a personal blog in which I reflected upon many aspects of life including spirituality, movies, politics, my church, work and miscellaneous ramblings from the various hobbies that I have.
While some entrepreneurial bloggers seem to look down a little on ‘personal blogs’ as being second rate – I think that it was my years of using blogs in this personal way that actually made me a better blogger.
If you like – my personal blogging was a great training ground for my current blogging on an entrepreneurial level.
Here are a few ways that come to mind that personal blogging can actually improve your entrepreneurial blogging efforts. Personal Blogs:
1. teach you the skills of blogging
When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. In fact I often tell new bloggers that when I started out I didn’t even know how to make text bold. This slowly changed over time – not from reading any books or online resources – but simply by blogging.
2. familiarize you with the tools of blogging
Within a month or two of blogging I not only learned a lot of skills but I also had a pretty good idea about what blog tools and platforms that suited my needs. As a result I moved on from my Blogger.com blog for MovableType where I continued to blog on a personal level. I also experimented with plenty of other services and widgets that continue to serve me well to this day.
3. help you work out how much time you have
Many new entrepreneurial bloggers under estimate the amount of time and energy that building a successful blog can take. Starting out with a personal blog gives new bloggers a taste of what is involved.
4. help you work out if you can sustain blogging for the long term
Personal blogs are a good way to get a feel for whether blogging is actually for you. The fact is that while some talk blogging up as being the be-all-and-end-all – blogs are not for everyone. Starting a personal blog and just writing about the things that you love gives you a realistic feel for whether you actually enjoy the medium. You also begin to develop a ‘rhythm’ of blogging that will help you down the track as you blog commercially.
5. give you a taste of blogging ‘culture’
Bloggers are a strange bunch and have developed their a whole way of relating with each other which at times can be a little foreign to ‘non-bloggers’. We’ve developed an unspoken etiquette, rules and customs that can take a little while to get your head around. Starting a personal blog can help you understand this before you launch into it as a commercial enterprise.
6. help you define a niche
One of the biggest benefits from my own personal blogging was that over a year or so I gradually began to discover the niches that I then wanted to blog about entrepreneurial. Over time I began writing more and more about gadgets (and a series of blogs was spawned off) and then I started writing about blogging (and this blog was born). I wrote about other topics and didn’t go on with them – but it was only through having a personal blog where I could write about anything at all that I began to see what clicked for me in terms of topic.
7. help you find a readership
Another benefit of blogging on a more personal level is that over time you begin to connect with more and more people. As you blog on topics that appeal to others you’ll find some will keep coming back for more. This means that when you’re ready to launch your commercial blog you are able to leverage some of your personal blog’s traffic and will start with a more established readership.
So – these days when I’m talking to someone and they tell me that they want to start a money making blog and ask for advice on how to start – I generally tell them to ‘just start one’ – and to at least start out with something basic, free and of a more personal nature. Get a feel for the medium, work out if it’s for you, test some topics, make some friends, build some skills and as a result when the time comes to launch into commercial blogging you’ll do so from a much better position.