Many bloggers dream of creating media empires. Few of us come even close.
Having a popular blog is just one minor step in the process. It’s what you do next that’s critical. Many people start selling advertising or try and build revenues through affiliates. Some create e-books, offer white papers, or branch off into consulting services based on their expertise. All good things, but all relatively small steps.
Of course, it’s understandable. Few of us blog full-time. It’s not easy to blog full-time and be able to pay the bills. The amount of time, dedication and expertise required is immense.
But when we see examples of people building out mini-media empires like TechCrunch, GigaOm, ProBlogger, Know More Media, Positive Media Blog Network, and others, we feel like it’s possible for us as well. And it is.
She recently announced that she’s converted her extremely popular blog eMoms at Home into a small media empire. She’s launched 6 additional blogs/channels all related to stay-at-home, working parents. Wendy now has her own blog network, although she’s re-defined it as a “magazine.”
This is a great move for Wendy. It helps her extend her brand but remain focused on her specialty and niche. In a couple years when people think about “working at home parents” they’re going to think “Wendy Piersall” or “eMoms at Home”. And you can’t understate the value of that.
So how did she pull it off?
Really, you should ask her yourself, but from where I’m sitting (and having thought about building mini-media empires myself) here’s my take:
- Build up a popular blog on a specific niche. You need to have a strong voice in your niche. You need to do all the things required to build up a popular blog: write well, focus on content, use headlines effectively, have a great blog design, market heavily, leverage social media, build relationships. There’s more to developing a popular blog than that, but you get the point.
- Develop a strong brand. Without a strong brand it’s harder (although not impossible) to build a popular blog. More importantly, without an effective brand, it becomes difficult to translate blog success into other endeavors. So it’s critical to have a great brand (which should be considered personal brand) and make sure it permeates everything you do.
- Make lots of friends. The blogosphere is built on the concept of connections and friends. It succeeds because it encourages and rewards those who have conversations with others. You need to become part of the blog community. Check that: You need to be at the center of your blog community.
- Master monetization. Your media empire will die on the table if you can’t monetize it. And using Google AdSense isn’t enough. You need to learn about affiliates, sponsorships, text link ads, sponsored reviews, and much, much more.
- Learn more about marketing. There are certain techniques you can use to market your blog. But the world of marketing is oh-so-much bigger, and once you get into media empire territory you’ll need to understand a lot more about marketing, both online and offline. Learn about email marketing and autoresponders.
- Find opportunities offline. As you’re mastering the online world, look to offline opportunities as the next step. Speaking engagements, coaching and consulting gigs are a great way to branch out, learn about business from a different angle, and develop your reputation beyond a “blogger.” You can build a successful, money-making blog as a blogger, but you can’t build a media empire that way. You have to be known as an entrepreneur, media strategist, business person. And there are plenty of examples of people who bridge both the online and offline so well: Penelope Trunk, Gina Trapani and Jeremiah Oywang.
- Get help. You can’t build a media empire alone. You need great people around you. Over time your role will be less about writing and day-to-day minutiae, and more about overseeing the entire operation. You’ll need people to help you in those areas where you’re lacking expertise, and also people to take on tasks that you can’t devote your energy to. People like Dawud Miracle, Derek Semmler, Lorna Doone Brewer and others. As you hand over the reigns of day-to-day affairs to others, make sure you incentivize and motivate those people daily. You’re a boss now, not a single person working alone.
- Be a teacher. You’ve accumulated a certain amount of knowledge to this point, but unless you share it your media empire will suffer. You need to share that knowledge with the outside world (to attract visitors, build reputation, grow karma) but more importantly you need to share that knowledge with your team. Don’t expect each person you bring on board to be as good, experienced and motivated as you. You’re now their boss, but you’re also their teacher; and the more they know, the more they excel, and the more you benefit. Get teaching.
- Realize it’s a business. You’re past being a blogger now, you’re running a business. That means more learning in the areas of operations (accounting, finance, etc.), marketing, startups and more. You won’t be an expert overnight, and there’s a good chance if you come from the blogging world that your business experience is limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.
- Expand slowly but promote like crazy. You can’t build a blog network like b5media in a day. Grow slowly, experiment, test your assumptions, tinker and keep growing. You most likely won’t have a lot of money to support your efforts, so don’t expand like a fiend. But promote the hell out of what you’re doing. Don’t hold back when it comes to tooting your own horn, beating the drum and making noise. It’s not about being an egomaniac, it’s about maximizing everything you’ve learned towards generating tons and tons and tons of buzz.
I’m a huge fan of the mini-media empire. And we’ve started to see real value come out of ultra-successful blogs. Just look at the purchase of TreeHugger for $10 million dollars.
So if you’re ready to invest a crazy amount of time, get into startup mode, take a risk and leverage your knowledge, go for it and build your media empire. And follow Wendy Piersall’s example.
photo by willyf.