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13 Tips to Recession Proof Your Blog

How can I prepare my blog for a recession or economic downturn?

Recession-Proof-BlogImage by Rednuht

Yesterday I asked my Twitter followers what they wanted me to write a post about on ProBlogger and this question (and variations of it) was asked repeatedly.

So today I want to suggest a number of ways that bloggers, particularly bloggers making a living from their blogs, can prepare themselves to ride out the economic downturn that we are having.

I’ve also asked my Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends for their tips on the topic and have included some of their responses (there were too many to use in the end so I’ve used about a third of them).

How to Recession Proof Your Blog

1. Focus Upon Content

Don’t become distracted from building quality content. While it is shaky times in some of the Web 2.0 industries and technologies people continue to go online more and more to find information that will enhance their lives. Your primary activity as a blogger needs to be on creating useful content that will solve problems, enhance lives and fulfil needs. This needs to be your core activity – recession or no recession – don’t become distracted from it.

The last thing I’ll say about content is that I suspect ‘how to’ or ‘advice’ content is particularly important in times like these. There is a general sense of uncertainty in the air at the moment and while people are always searching for ‘tips’ and ‘how to’ type content I suspect in economic downturn that searching for this type of content will only increase.

  • @nathanrice suggests – ‘keep writing. great content doesn’t take a lot of money to produce. It just takes time and patience.’
  • @dcrblogs suggested – ‘Make sure the blog adds value to people’s lives in some way.’
  • @HollyJahangiri suggests ‘offer timeless content for free’ – I think this is a wise move. Don’t just write for the hear and now but write the type of content that people will still be searching for in years to come. This type of content can drive traffic (and build income) for years to come.

2. Build Networks

‘It isn’t what you know but who you know’ – I have a feeling that this mantra will only become more important in times of economic downturn. I think a wise use of time in coming months would be to invest into your existing networks and to work on expanding them. Both online social networking and real life networks can open up great opportunities and provide you with support in tough times.

Perhaps working with another blogger (or a group of bloggers) to support each other and to promote one another’s work could be one way forward through this tough time. Together we know and can achieve so much more than we can individually.

  • @lucio_ribeiro suggests – ‘Cooperation works on recession. Team up with another blogs for promotion of mutual content ‘

3. Don’t Panic

I met a few bloggers at Blog World Expo who within 30 seconds of meeting them had almost worked themselves into a lather of worry, stress and panic as they talked about their blogging future.

I’m not saying the times we live in are not reason to be concerned – but panicking is not going to do you (or those around you) any favours. Do what you can to have a level head and to look logically at the situation – if you can’t, find others who can and give them permission to slap you in the face next time you go into panic mode.

Related to this – don’t panic publicly on your blog. There are plenty of bloggers around whipping their readers into a frenzy about the economic downturn – why not do something different and provide a positive place?

  • @JonSymons suggests – ‘Write posts that focus on feeling good, and are proactive, not negative.’
  • @jonathanmead suggested – ‘Market to people re-gaining power of their lives. Make them feel in control when they powerless.’

On a related note – blog with a little sensitivity and knowing that your readers might be doing it tough.

  • @CraneFactory suggested – ‘humility and sensitivity. in a recession when ppl are doing it tough reading about John Chows $500 dinners might put ppl off.’
  • @juliemarg suggests – ‘Don’t Be Snarky (my tip) remember that sarcastic/cynical personal commentary could alienate potential collaborators’
  • Nicole Ouellette wrote – ‘Be positive in your blogging. People are tired of reading the negative in this economy. Bonus if you can teach them something with your post. Empowerment is an empowering thing!’

4. Build Your Own Products/Services

Finding it harder to find advertisers for your blog? Why not advertise yourself? Bloggers that use their blogs to sell themselves, or a product or service that they sell add another monetization stream to their blog.

5. Build Authority

One of the most powerful things that you can do at any time as a blogger is to work hard on building up your profile and perceived expertise and authority in an industry. This is especially powerful in times of uncertainty where people are looking for leadership, advice and stability. Build relationships and be the most useful person that you can in these times and you’ll position yourself as a leader in your field.

6. Backup

It strikes me that over the coming months we might start seeing companies that we rely upon for services as bloggers go out of business. For example what if your hosting company was to go under – or the company you use to store your video or podcasts online? Might be time to backup – just in case.

  • @adamtaylor suggested – ‘be even more rigorous with backups incase someone goes bust!’

7. Diversify Your Income

If your family’s income and livelihood relies upon your blogging it might be a wise move to think about how you can build multiple income streams rather than just relying upon one. This could happen in a number of ways ranging from not just relying upon Advertising income but using affiliate marketing, having multiple blogs, doing some freelance writing and even getting a 2nd part time job (offline).

  • @EcoAussie suggested – ‘maybe u need another blog or niche to diversify.’
  • @lizzy7577 suggests – ‘Make sure you have a variety of blog income sources to depend on.’
  • @WayneHurlbert suggests – ‘Make sure you have a variety of blog income sources to depend on.’
  • @jonathanfields suggests – ‘Assess whether your readers’ information/entertainment needs have shifted. If so, adapt your content to stay insanely relevant’
  • @deniseoberry suggested – ‘Diversify around your core topic. Watch the 80/20 ratio of interest. As the 20% evolves, your writing should focus on that area.’

8. Look for Opportunities in the Negative

I was given this advice by an older family friend recently. He said – ‘In Recessions some industries boom – position yourself in them’. While many industries shrink in times of economic downturn others grow. I was at a search engine conference recently and one of the presenters said that there had been a sharp increase in search traffic around topics related to financial advice, budgeting, employment advice etc. Starting blogs in these types of topics could be a wise move at this time.

  • @ncheapskate suggested – ‘Write about fugal living. That’s working for me.’
  • @cyberpunkdreams suggests – ‘aiming the blog at freelancers perhaps? Freelancer numbers are expected to go way up.’

9. Find ways to Expand and Improve your Blog

I’m no economist, but from my limited study of economics and entrepreneurship it seems to me that while most companies take defensive positions in times of recession – certain companies and individuals see these sorts of times as opportunities to expand and position themselves for the future so that when the economy expands that they are ahead of their competitors.

I think expansion in times like these needs to be done smartly and responsibly (don’t spend your life savings if your family depends upon them) but I personally am planning on expanding my blogs in the coming months by adding new features, improving design etc.

  • @collegegourmet suggests – ‘Spend some money on ads and PR. Most people blow budget during good econ. but when times are bad is when u need it most.’

10. Track Track Track

I’ve been on a bit of a ‘metrics’ binge lately – examining the statistics that Google Reader (and other stats programs) are giving me on how my blogs are performing. While there is a danger in becoming obsessed by stats (at the expense of other important elements of writing a blog) it is amazing what you can learn about improving your blog by analysing how people are already using it.

Look at what people are searching for to find your blog, what they are searching for while on your blog (a tool like Lijit can give this information), what posts are most popular, what pages are leaking most readers, where people are clicking on your page (a tool like CrazyEgg helps with this) etc – all of this tells you how your blog is being used but can reveal ways that it can be improved.

11. Work Hard and Work Smart

There is no escaping it – building successful blogs takes a lot of work. I’m yet to meet a successful blogger who doesn’t put significant hours into their blogs development. Having said that – many bloggers also waste a lot of time. Identify core activities that you need to do to keep your blog on track and stick to them ruthlessly. Learn how to manage your time, eliminate distractions, identify goals and objectives (both short term and long term) and keep focused.

While doing all of this – take a long term view of your blogging. Blog rarely hit it big overnight – you’ll need to still be building your blog up in 2-3 years if you want it to reach its potential – so have a long term view and settle yourself in for the journey!

  • @GrantGriffiths suggested – ‘recession proof by focusing, focusing, and focusing. Dont try to be everything to everybody. Concentrate on your niche.’

12. Cut Costs

When times get tough another way to get through them is to cut down on unnecessary spending. Go through your expenses (credit card statements and paypal history) and look at what you’re paying for. Often as bloggers we sign up for small recurring services that don’t cost much but which we hardly use – perhaps it is time to eliminate some of these costs that are not important and/or to find ways to cut back.

  • @jonathanfields suggests – ‘analyze recent server loads and see if you might be able to scale down to a more modest hosting plan.’
  • Frerickus Willliford suggests – ‘Use wp-cache to save on bandwidth by reducing server load every bit counts.’

13. Experiment with Income Streams

One of the things I’ve noticed recently is that different income streams are really behaving quite differently on different blogs.

For example I was chatting with a group of bloggers recently who told me that their AdSense earnings had drastically dropped. As we were chatting another blogger came into the conversation and told us that his AdSense eCPM had almost doubled in the last 2 months.

In some industries CPC advertising is on the decline, in others it is on the rise. For some affiliate marketing is just not converting any more (as people have less disposable income) yet on some topics it is doing better than ever.

The key is to experiment and test different income streams, even old ones that you’ve previously written off might now be performing.

  • @degeeked suggests – ‘Up usage of click-based revenue streams (i.e. not affiliate programs) like AdSense. People still click during a recession.’
  • @ncheapskate suggests – ‘Use affiliates that offer freebies. Logical Media is one that does it all the time. It’s win-win for you and your reader.’
  • Dave Konig responded – ‘Don’t rely on one type of affiliate program, diversify not only your programs but your link types.’

What Would You Add?

You’ve heard a lot of opinions in this post about how to recession proof your blog – but what would you add to the opinions and ideas expressed above?

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. Tinu says:

    I’d say that instead of just cutting back on spending, you look at ways to get more out of what you’re spending. Get more for the same amount of money – I don’t fully know the logic for it, just that

    1- That’s what my wealthy friends do.
    2- When I started imitating them, I got wealthier.

    So if you used to pay for certain things with credit, shift to cash if you can. You’re saving all that interest. If you used to promote your business with just paid advertising, use the special offers out there or shift resources into marketing and publicity.

    Also, if your business is even partially online, learn how to market globally.

  2. Sarah H. says:

    Fantastic set of tips and very timely indeed! Thanks, Darren.

  3. CoolProducts says:

    Does anyone know if internet usage actually declines during times of recession? It seems like this is the first time since the dot-com boom that we are experiencing true economic hard times, I’m anxious to see how this will affect the blogging community.

  4. Roy Scribner says:

    That’s a pretty comprehensive list – I agree with collegegourmet that you can get the best bang-for-your-buck, during an economic downturn, by investing to gain market share. That’s the time when your competitors are pulling back and spending less, but the big winners will be the ones to invest during troubled times.

  5. Saurabh says:

    My opinion – Be persistent in your blogging. You can’t get success in just a week (even if you’re a celebrity). Perservance in your blogging will pay in your future.

    And thanks for the great tips. I should Digg this!

  6. Curt says:

    I would add to consider quitting if you have been drinking the same Kool-Aid as most of the financial media and the personal financial bloggers, blogging about how the market rally is just around the corner.

    Those who have been cheerleading the stock market have lost their credibility. The financial crisis has destroyed a lot of credibility of the most prominent financial ‘experts’ and the market is now looking for new experts to lead us with practical information about how to deal with a recession.

  7. Wayne Liew says:

    I am a mad guy about search engine traffic previously and the recession definitely taught me a lot and hopefully, will continue to teach me more.

    I relied on search engine traffic from Google before this until some of my sites got deindexed due to the use of the BANS script. Now, I am starting to learn how to leverage social media to gain traffic and fan base for my affiliate sites. The process is slow but I know it is working.

    Wayne Liew
    http://www.AffBoom.com

  8. Nathan Rice says:

    There is some really great advice here, and I’m glad to see my suggestion included in the article.

    Some other things I’d suggest:

    Get cheap traffic – services like StumbleUpon, and Delicious are great traffic generators.
    Get free traffic – don’t underestimate the value of good Search Engine Optimization. I’ve done a series of posts on SEO for WordPress recently, and I believe it could help you get some free SE traffic
    Network! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be responding to every comment on your blog, leaving comments on other people’s blogs, and making connections via email and twitter.
    Help People – find a forum in your niche and start lending a helping hand. not only will it increase your authority, but it’s good karma too

    I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what was on the tip of my tongue.

  9. Excellent article.By having a lot of income streams (small ones) will diversify your risk too.

  10. ITrush says:

    Very timely. Experimenting with different income streams would really help everyone to combat economic downtime. Thanks for sharing these tips with us Problogger!

  11. Kate says:

    I like everyone’s thoughts. For the personal finance bloggers, you would think that a jump in traffic would be obvious. I don’t know if others are seeing it, but I haven’t yet.

  12. axel g says:

    Great List Darren!

    I find “Look for Opportunities in the Negative” especially inspiring.

  13. Rahul says:

    Great tips Darren , outstanding article !

  14. dcr says:

    That’s a great list of tips. I’m humbled that my little bit of advice made the cut with all the great tips you included.

  15. Darren, great tips. My wife and I are doing quite a few of them already and we see the difference. We look forward to your posts and we’re glad to follow you on twitter. BTW, I used the same picture last week in one of my posts.

  16. This is very helpful. As an artist, I’d add continue creating, whether it be painting or designing jewelry and posting photos of the pieces on the blog. This lets your enthusiasts know that you’re still alive and inspired -emphasizing on zen & respite- in spite of this economic fire pit.

  17. Wow, a timely post indeed. So many solid points here to discuss. Like “Diversify Your Income,” how necessary this is- I’m trying to discover ways to do exactly that. I mean, let’s be real here, working harder, smarter, cutting cost and looking for opportunities. These are a must! If you’re not doing that, you’re likely in the minority because these days it seems like companies, university and just people in general are trying everything possible to adjust accordingly. Neat input from your followers. :)

  18. Thomas says:

    What terrifies me the most is the possibility of a closing of the company that hosts my blog. I don’t have a full backup, and I probably should, but my site is just so massive and complex, it’s difficult.

  19. Tressa says:

    Hi,
    I think these are fantastic tips. I’m amazed by all the people panicking out there. If the market went down, it can also go back up. I think if we hang in there, things will only get better.

    Thanks for reminding us to keep a calm head.

    Tressa
    http://traffic-101.blogspot.com

  20. Joseph says:

    Great post Darren. Some real terrific reminders and eye opening writing. I believe it to be extremely important to have a built in daily routine which focuses primarily on “what needs to be progressive” for your blog to grow.

    Thank you for another wonderful post!

  21. Great list! I definitely agree with the “how to” content tip. My how to articles are consistently my highest traffic generators — even how to articles that are over a year old.

    ~Angela :-)

  22. Make sure your book or product has a buy link.

    Also, if you have a book, put an excerpt of link to an excerpt on your blog.

    Keep your blogs short or else divide them in a window, so people can see the ones below and read them also.

  23. In the end, the economy matters very little. The rules are still the same. Diversify, create good content, build links. Its all the same.

  24. Marysia says:

    Your blog is a great example of how to do it Darren. So much useful and positive advice – must have taken you ages to put together. Much appreciated.

  25. I couldn’t but agree more with most of the bloggers. On top of that I always believe in TEAM work. Thanks for sharing the views of blogger from all over the globe.

  26. CoolProducts says:

    Great Tips Darren and I’m glad you’re addressing them. I Definitely feel that having control of yourself and not panicking should be the first step, because one needs a clear mind to address the issues to follow.

  27. Andrea says:

    Maybe I’m naive but it wouldn’t even occur to me to worry about my blog surviving a recession. It’s my blog, it’s what want to write about, and I’d want to write about it regardless of the economy. Granted, it is a personal finance blog (and seriously, I’m so over the bailout – lawsie, let’s move along, folks), so I suppose my own personal interest is tied to economic movements, but the theme wouldn’t really change.

    I dunno. Am I being short sighted?

  28. As you said my stock market blog is receiving good traffic. This is a very good article published at right time. Keep it up.

  29. J.D. says:

    Excellent article Darren.

    Recessions and depressions can be marketed. Tell your readers how to blog in these recessionary times. It’s a whole new angle.

    Never forget to hedge your bets by diversifying your income streams.

  30. Ellen Weber says:

    Thanks Darren, and I am not sure anything else can be added to improve this keeper! Because of your own interest in reader’s two-bits though, I’ll add a thought that came to me, and prospers my own work time and again.

    SUPPORT OTHERS along the way!

    A few weeks ago, I had to start a new blog since my old network folded without much notice. Yikes after building a strong following, I felt like I was shuttled back to pre-school.

    Yet, I can honestly say that my own love to support others is building my own work back — and giving me an amazing sense of community along the way. Nuff said though — you and commenters here — already support folks far more than most. Stay blessed:-)

  31. B. Durant says:

    I think one key to any job at any time, but especially when the going gets tough is simply to enjoy what you do and have fun.

    Even when it’s not your dream job if you maintain a positive attitude about what you are doing and why you will find it much easier to ride out the current economic woes.

  32. Neeshes says:

    Find solutions for you readers. People are going to be looking for posts just like this one, about how to deal with a recession. If you can do the legwork on these solutions, people will be most appreciative.

  33. MLRebecca says:

    Once again, terrific advice, Darren. Many bloggers are experiencing fear during this time, and as you mentioned, it’s important to stay positive, and to stick together. Tip #9 is one that I hadn’t thought about. It makes perfect sense. Stay ahead of the game with your blog, so that when everything picks up, you’re beyond where you were previously. Even if this takes a minimum investment, it’ll be worth it eventually. Thanks so much for posting this!

  34. Debo Hobo says:

    I am helping my blogger readers out by offering one month of free advertising simply for writing a guest post on my blog. This helps them cut cost and I get post in a new perspective other than my own.

  35. I really y appreciate the great advice. I am a new subscriber to your blog posts. I only wish I would have subscribed sooner.

    I’m writing from the Country of Mexico. The economy here has also been effected by the things that are happening in the USA.
    Your advice is good, even for this foreign country.

    Thanks

  36. bonoriau says:

    I’m interested with point no 8. I always belief in what ever situation some industries will boom so we really have to figure out which one. The best work in group.

  37. This is the best post I have read in a while and all fantastic tips for staying stable in rough times. Thanks Darren and thanks everyone for the great tips!

  38. Tinu says:

    @ Debo Hobo – That’s a great idea. I’m definitely doing that.

  39. I would add the roles of volunteering and speaking engagements in order to continually build one’s network and be of value to others.

  40. Shawn says:

    Darren,

    they talking dirty about you, how you only pay your writers $200 a month. Some dude commented by blog taking real slick!

  41. I believe those that are learning how to increase their income with the internet are already in the right place. There is so much out there that you can learn and benfit from. The money crunch doesn’t have to effect everyone.

    The recession has caused aggressive growth in my business.

  42. Alex Wilson says:

    Great article mate, in Australia I don’t believe a hosting company is legally obliged to back your content up should it go into bankruptcy.

    I found a hosting company (I am not affiliated with them) and they provide great service, constant back ups and have servers in Australia and the US depending on what you need and will supply copies of the content for you should anything ever go wrong, but by the looks of them and there clientèle that will not be any time in the next 50years!

    Check them out at;

    http://www.crucial.com.au – For Australians.
    http://www.crucialp.com – For US residents.

  43. Darren,

    Thanks for bringing the positive perspective to light and adding real meat to the recommendations. I agree with your assertion that some industries will do well in hard times while others suffer.

    We have noticed a convergence of market forces indicating that bloggers will have some powerful opportunities in the immediate months ahead that have been more elusive in times past. So we wrote an ecourse on it entitled, “The Coming Economic Boom For Bloggers” and we put it on our membership site at http://www.yourproductmade.com/ecourse-bloggerip.html

    To make it easier for bloggers without IPR experience, we added a complimentary course on IP and IPR.

    Times ahead will be tough and bloggers can be a voice of hope and a source of real solutions. This a great time to be a blogger and I really appreciate the points you made to keep that solution-oriented perspective on the front page.

    Thanks,

    Shane
    http://www.innovativeeconomy.com

  44. Carla says:

    I need to find a network (or person) to work closely with in terms of blogging and marketing. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  45. Alex Wilson says:

    @Carla

    Drop me a line, I run multiple blogs and networks of sites in Australia and the US.

    Email: savingsguide[at]gmail.com

  46. Devin Mills says:

    Great post. You always gotta be diversifying, adding content, retaining readers. This is good advice for a blog, website, or any business.

  47. These are fantastic tips. You’re also very brave in listing an “unlucky 13″ tips.

  48. lazydrunk says:

    Get a regular job, don’t quit your dayjob ;) And then blog at work.

  49. Abby Bob says:

    Place a nice image for each blog post, as you did for this post.

  50. With the meltdown in the economic sector it will be interesting to see how the online world reacts. I predict a lot of moving and shaking in the real world, closures etc. but how will that impact the value of advertising online?