While I might have missed out on ample time and opportunity to grow my blog, I have also learned a ton from just reading other blogs over the past two years.
Before you decide to launch a blog, there are three main ways to brace yourself:
1) Do the research yourself
Equivalent: Doing market research before you launch a product.
— When you start a blog, you can research what others have written to see what you like or don’t like, what you’re passionate about, what writing style fits you the best, and most importantly what niche you can fill. You can also research by talking directly with other bloggers about their experience.
— The information you take in is likely to stick with you longer. After all, who can remember what you experience better than yourself?
— This is the most time-consuming method since you need to start from square one and build up your knowledge gradually.
— What you think is the right product or strategy might end up backfiring since you have never tested it before.
— I am a prime example of this approach. I read personal finance blogs for more than 2 years until I started my own.
I then found my niche (female Asian personal finance blogger), and selected a page layout that’s modern and easy to navigate.
Right now my blog is not monetized (for many reasons). But once I do and have some income coming in, I’ll invest more in the logo and design of the blog.
2) Hire others to teach you
Equivalent: Hiring a consulting firm to advise you
— This approach is tempting and can save you a lot of time and effort. Basically, it can mean buying a course from professional bloggers or have consulting sessions with them so that they can impart the knowledge that has made them successful to you in a short period of time.
— What you learn from them might be applicable mostly to their case.
— You have to pay out of pocket for the knowledge. A lot of bloggers sprinkle their advice throughout their blogs, so you can save some money by reading that online for free instead.
— Have you ever tuned out in class listening to your professor talking even though you’re paying for the tuition, have to do homework, and know there’s an important test at the end of the semester? The outcome is that you don’t digest as much information as you have hoped. It’s more of a passive learning process where others have to take the initiative in imparting knowledge to you.
I’m sure there’s a lot of value to these packages. But since I don’t want to pay at this early stage, I’ll take advantage of the free resources online. And you can do it too.
3) Jump right in
Equivalent: Introducing a product that you’re good at making without much prior knowledge of the market demand.
— If your product is what the market didn’t know it needed, it could be a big hit.
— Your product could be a big flop because there’s little or no demand for it. And since you just jump into the market without much prior research or experience, chances are your marketing strategy is not so strong.
— You can continue to build your product to create a demand for it over time and up your marketing game. But you run the risk of not getting any return to your investment.
— J.D. Roth was among the first generation of personal finance bloggers. He started Get Rich Slowly in 2006 and made a name for himself with an undisclosed seven-figure sum with QuinStreet Inc in early 2009.
— Mr. Money Mustache is one of the first early retirement blogs that has inspired hundreds of others to follow suit.
— Michelle at Making Sense of Cents started blogging about personal finance as a hobby and didn’t think she was able to make money from it. Now she makes a six-figure-dollar income from blogging every month.
What started out as a hobby – reading personal finance blogs — turned out to be great market research for my Frugal Asian Finance blog.
With a small budget to launch my blog (~$100), doing the research on my own was also out of necessity. I couldn’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on something I wasn’t sure would be successful.
After all, I spent less than $70 on my food for March. It’d pain me to spend $200 on learning something I can get for free just with a bit of patience and self-motivation.
And amazingly, all the little details and big concepts that I noticed about other blogs are coming in handy when I’m writing mine. I know what has been discussed, what I like about other blogs, and what can set me apart in this increasingly crowded blogging world.