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Blogging as Farming – How to Grow a Bumper Blogging Crop

Famer-D

On the weekend I was speaking with a friend, Alex, who is a Farmer about blogging and the more we talked the more we realized that there is a lot of similarities between what we do. I thought I’d rehash some of the main points from our conversation here:

Taking Time – One of the most frustrating parts of farming for Alex is the length of time it takes from the time of sowing to that of harvest. From the day he plants a crop to the day its safely on the way to be sold can be a nerve wracking period of months. There is a lot of hard work and money that goes into the initial time of planting and no income until quite a long period later (and sometimes not even then).

Blogging takes time also. Building up a blog to the point where it earns a good income can take months, if not years. No one starts a profitable blog and makes a fortune straight away – you have to build up archives, build up a reputation in your niche, build up your ranking in Search Engines, build up relationships with other bloggers – these things take time. I worked for 18 months on my blogs outside of my normal jobs before I was able to pull enough income from them to justify going full time.

Risky Business – Alex never knows whether the crop he’s planting will be a bumper one or a complete failure. Farming is hit and miss. External factors like weather, plague and market prices can make you or break you.

Blogging is similar – there are a lot of things you can do to prepare for a good harvest – but sometimes its the external factors that can be the difference between success and failure. The way other bloggers link to you or how Google decides to treat your site can play a massive part in traffic levels and earning capacity. Of course you can better your chances with some good strategy but ultimately its out of your control.

Creating an environments – Farmers don’t make crops grow. Ultimately there are forces ‘out there’ that bring about the growth. Its got to do with a magic mix of sun, rain, soil etc – coming together to do their biological thing. Alex told me that one of the biggest paradigm shifts in his farming that he’s gone through was about understanding this process and realizing that he couldn’t make his crops grow. Instead of making his crops grow – his job was to understand the process of growth and what sort of environment it takes for good growth. He now sees his business not as growing crops – but as creating furtile environments. It might seem like a bit of a pedantic distinction but I think its helpful.

As bloggers we can’t make blogs earn us a living. But we can understand the process and be in the business of creating an environment where our blogs have every chance of flourishing. This means educating ourselves on things like SEO, income streams, writing well etc, doing our best to act on what we learn, working hard at the different elements that stimulate growth and then stepping back to watch what happens. In the process we should be learning more about what to do next season. That is the approach I’ve been taking for a couple of years now with blogging and I hope that ProBlogger is becoming a useful part of that process for more than just me.

Seasons – Farming is obviously a game of playing the seasons – timing is everything and learning to read the environment is a skill that a farmer relies heavily upon. Alex makes calls all through the year about which crops to plant in which fields at which times, about when to harvest, when to irrigate, when to fertilize etc.

Blogging can be similar. I look at my earnings graph for the past 12 months and I notice some definitely swings up and down. If I break down my performance on a blob by blog basis the swings differ vastly between blogs also as different events. A skill I’d recommend you develop as a blogger is being a good observer of what is happening around you. If you can anticipate environmental changes and trends you can position yourself nicely for harvest time. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to entrepreneurial blogging – each blogger and topic takes a different blend of skills, income sources, design etc to make it fruitful.

Patience – Alex is one of the most patient people I know. He has persisted in his work for many years – sometimes through very lean periods in the belief that if he continues to employ the knowledge that he has that his work will be beneficial to him and his family. He works at producing quality crops rather than taking short cuts, he puts in many hours of work and the result is that he’s built himself a farm that is not only sustaining him but that is a thriving business in a time where many farmers are struggling. Alex is smart – he plans and he persists. These are all strengths that we as bloggers would do well to learn from as we seek to grow our own blogging crops.

PS: yes the picture is of me – its a from about 8 years ago when i did a trip around Australia. I used to do a little bit of farming myself!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Great parallels between farming and blogging! It is amazing the lessons we can learn by opening our eyes and looking around.

  2. Ken says:

    Darren, is your other full time job a mind reader?

    haha, I was just thinking man, I am feeling so run down, no inspiration and then I come to your blog, and *BAM!*, I get a good dose of reality.

    Thanks for the wake up call. It’s always to hear others experiences, that’s what really makes blogs enjoyable, sharing in the good and bad.

  3. I have long believed that agriculture and farming were ideal industries to add a blog component to their operations as well. A blog would be particularly powerful for market gardeners, organic farmers, purebred livestock breeders, pedigreed seed growers, and any producer who markets a product directly to other farmers or consumers.

    The farming and blogging analogy is the type of leap that aids in creative thinking. Finding two seemingly unrelated items or industries and discovering the parallels leads to many new insights and ideas, that benefit those who take the time to consider them.

  4. Darren, you’re an inspiration. I hope you know that, as I mean it sincerely. If you take no pleasure from anything else in your work (which I sincerely hope you do), take pleasure from knowing that you are making a positive impact in a number of our lives.

    Thanks

  5. Darren says:

    Thanks people – appreciate your kind words.

  6. Duncan Riley says:

    We have record rains here in WA over the last few days that the farmers are saying are the best start to the seeding season in a decade, is this a good omen for blogging activities :-)

  7. Shai Coggins says:

    You are a genius, Darren! This post is fantastic. Quite timely for me too because I just decided to go in to “farm-blogging” in a more serious, entrepreneural way. And your analogies are spot on. Great work! (and nice farmer photo :-))…

  8. I hope you mean “fertile environments”, not “futile environments”! :)

  9. Darren says:

    thanks Jennifer – changed

  10. Vix says:

    Excellent article. As with an entreprenurial ‘adventure’, perseverance and dedication are definately key traits.

  11. Holland says:
  12. Jenfier says:

    Oh come on! you must be kidding. Apparently I don’t see any similarities between a blogger and a farmer. ha-ha!

  13. Castor Oil says:

    Nice comparison…but I think there are many, many things that we do that can be compared to farming…which was one of the reasons that we have a term “hunting and farming”…that is, hunting is more of a sprint, while farming is more like a marathon…hunting is quick, and success to a significant extent depends on one’s skills alone, while farming requires patience and a good dose of luck from external factors…

    But I do agree, within web activities, blogging appears to have more in common with farming than many other activities

    PO, Plant Oils A-Z

  14. Thank you. You always manage to explain this blogging world in a way that we’ll walk away with something positive. As a newbie, I always felt like stumbling into OZ without the wicked witch.

    Cheers!

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