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The Blogging Trap

Blogging can be an incredible platform to build a business around. Blogging is a perfect way to become recognized as an expert in your field.

But blogging can also become a trap that keeps you from your real goals.

Let me explain.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you start blogging with hopes of building a business around your blog. You decide to blog for a while and “see where it takes you.” The months go by and you become more and more occupied by climbing in the Alexa ranks, gaining subscribers and getting your posts tweeted and commented on.

After some months (maybe years), you start to lose sight of your original intent. Did you start blogging for it’s own sake, or did you start blogging to accomplish another goal?

What was that goal again anyway?

Maybe you still have sight of a goal, but it seems harder and harder to accomplish as your blogging responsibilities and workload pile on.

You really want to release that first e-book or course or service offering, but you never seem to find the time. You have blog posts to write, emails to respond to and social networks to keep up with.

Or, maybe you’re just never quite ready. Your audience isn’t big enough. The perfect product idea never presents itself. You just can’t decide what kind of offering to work on first. You’ve dabbled in affiliate marketing or advertising but haven’t sold much.

If you did create a product, you’re not sure you could sell many copies (if any at all).

The Blogging Trap

You know deep down that blogging is a powerful platform and marketing tool. You’ve heard the success stories. You’ve listened to the experts.

But for some reason the pieces aren’t coming together.

You can’t seem to get enough traction to turn your blog into a business.

Blogging starts as a way to achieve your goal. It’s supposed to be a stepping stone. But blogging itself proves to be much more difficult than you thought.

Instead of earning revenue you’re stuck chasing that elusive “viral” blog post that will open doors and create a breakthrough.

But that magic post never comes.

And you’re left frustrated, wondering if this whole blogging thing is worth it.

On top of that, it’s also incredibly easy to talk yourself out of ever creating your first product because the time isn’t right, the opportunity isn’t perfect and your idea just doesn’t seem like a home run.

The difficulty of blogging and the uncertainty of creating your first product are a powerful one-two punch. A potentially deadly combination.

This is the blogging trap.

I’ve seen countless bloggers fall into it.

What’s the Solution?

Well, instead of blogging first, you could have created a product and then started blogging. And if you have a blog now, you could scrap the blog to focus on your first product.

But if you’ve read the Lean Startup, you know that the biggest risk an entrepreneur faces is the risk of creating something nobody will want.

As an entrepreneur you have to minimize this risk. You want to be as certain as possible that your product will have buyers before you create it.

Having a blog doesn’t guarantee people will be interested in your product or service, but it definitely brings you closer to potential customers. Knowing your customers well is a critical element of success. Being able to communicate with them on a regular basis is a head start. It’s vital insider information.

A blog also gives you the platform from which to tell the world about your product when it’s ready. Having an audience before you launch a product can be a magical thing. Most entrepreneurs have a hard time finding that elusive initial audience.

Bloggers start with the audience. It’s a clever strategy. An unfair advantage.

Brian Clark of CopyBlogger calls this the Minimum Viable Audience:

We started first by building an audience, and that’s how we found our scalable business model and became a “real” company.

Serving that audience with valuable free content revealed loads of useful insight into the problems and desires not currently met in the broader market.

Enough, in fact, for us to make our MVPs [minimum viable products] more “viable” from the start than we would have been able to otherwise. This led to better initial sales momentum, higher customer satisfaction, and ultimately more profit.

Using this process, we’ve developed six distinct lines of business (so far), and have never created a product that’s failed. This is why I advocate you start first with a minimum viable audience.

That’s the model we’ve used at Think Traffic, with similar results. We’ve never created a product that wasn’t worth the effort for us financially.

But you already know about the benefits of building an audience.

That’s why you started blogging. The trouble is, how do you get over the hump? How do you create your first product and know that your audience will embrace it?

How do you know when the time and opportunity is right?

Here’s the Pep Talk You Knew Was Coming…

I’m not going to sugar coat this.

You are going to have to make some tough decisions and take some serious action to get out of the blogging trap.

If you don’t make the right decisions and take strong action, the blogging trap could take you down for good.

Start by asking yourself the following question:

Is your blog big enough right now to launch a successful product or service?

How do you know if your blog is big enough?

Listen again to what Brian Clark has to say about it:

You have a MVA [minimum viable audience] when:

  1. You’re receiving enough feedback from comments, emails, social networks, and social media news sites in order to adapt and evolve your content to better serve the audience.
  2. You’re growing your audience organically thanks to social media sharing by existing audience members and earned media; and
  3. You’re gaining enough insight into what the audience needs to solve their problems or satisfy their desires beyond the free education you’re providing.

If you get enough feedback to adapt your content to better serve your audience, if you’re growing your audience organically and if you’re gaining insight into what your audience needs beyond the free education you’re providing, you have a minimum viable audience.

If you have a minimum viable audience, you have no excuse. By not creating a product or service now, you’re simply playing head games or avoiding the work in front of you.

Let me say that again.

If your audience is growing, giving you feedback and you have an idea of what you could provide to solve their problems beyond your free blog posts, there is no excuse for not creating your first product right now.

Stop giving in to the distractions. Get back to the original goal that prompted you to create a blog in the first place.

Take the next step.

If Your Audience Doesn’t Meet the Criteria Above

Now, if your audience doesn’t meet the 3-part minimum viable audience criteria above, you’re going to have to do some soul-searching.

Ask yourself the following question if you don’t have an MVA just yet:

Will your current blog ever attract a minimum viable audience, or are you wasting time on something that just doesn’t have the right formula?

If your blog is growing, your content is being shared, you’re attracting subscribers and commenters and getting links from other blogs, it might just be a matter of giving it time to develop.

If you’re at a stand-still and have been working for months to find your breakthrough, it’s time to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.

You might want to check out our How to Start a Blog that Matters course if you’d like a step-by-step action plan to follow.

Now Over to You

Tell us your blogging trap story.

How long have you been blogging? Have you been caught in the blogging trap? Why? Have you tried to get out of it? What is keeping you from launching your first product?

Please share in the comments below.

If you have a success story about getting out of the blogging trap, please share below. We’d love to hear your story.

The Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business

Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.

One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.

These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil' guide.

Download the guide

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