As this is central to BloggingGenealogy.com and covers many of the topics that we have covered and will cover, I will be participating every day this week with my thoughts on the daily topic.
Thomas kicked off today's topic, Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? So here's what I think. [Here goes nothing and everything.]
In a nutshell? Yes. <grin> You should do it for fun, or you should do it for fun and profit. But no matter what, blog with passion. I've talked about passion here on BloggingGenealogy.com, and I firmly believe that our writing - no matter the platform - is so much better when it's passionate. When we are passionate about something, it most definitely comes out in our writing, and that's imperative in order to make a connection with our readers.
And that's fun for most of us. For others? Not so much. I agree with Michael Hait in his blog post on this very same topic, Genealogy Blogging for Fun and Profit, you should be passionate about blogging. My goal with BloggingGenealogy.com is to not encourage every single genealogist, family historian, genealogical society, or genealogy-related business to start blogging. I encourage those who want to do it, but need some help. But, you see, a person, society, or business must first want to blog.
Because I've done extensive research on the subject, I would call a commercial blog any type of blog that is trying to generate any level of income through contests, reviews, affiliate advertising, and regular advertising of other people's products and services as well as their own types of products and services.
The reason I would call them all commercial blogs is because legally they are, and I'm not talking tax-wise, but I am talking other legalities. For example, at one time, I tried monetizing my personal family history blog, Family Stories, with affiliate ads. However, I also dabble in digital scrapbooking, and some scrapbooking companies' terms of service would classify my blog as a commercial blog even if all I do are reviews or if I have one affiliate ad on my blog. And they don't care if I never make any money off of either one. To them, they still classify that as a commercial blog. Therefore, if I do any digital scrapping over there, I have to purchase their commercial licensed products which are 3 times the price of a non-commercial product. They classify it as commercial, and thus I classify it as commercial. [Although, I've stopped doing anymore monetization over there, but I have past posts that have a few reviews so my disclosure statement is still posted over there for the FTC, which is another legality.]
Despite what I wrote about not everyone should write a blog if they don't feel passionate about doing so, I think those who do, should be able to have whatever kind of blog they want to - commercial or otherwise. I certainly have different opinions about what has and hasn't worked for me in terms of types of blogs and types of advertising. I think the genealogy community has a pretty firm hold over the online genealogy blog community in that it is extremely hard for an individual or company to come in and try to make genealogy their niche in the professional blogging world if they aren't already a genealogist or family historian of some sort.
In most other online industries, it's willy-nilly. People will decide to make money on the internet, find a niche, and setup shop, so to speak, with the hopes of making a lot of money. And with Google's recent algorithm changes [such as the Panda and Penguin updates], this is getting harder and harder to do because it's changing the game for those types of bloggers and forcing them down in search results if they had poor content with the goal to increase traffic so that people will click on their well-placed ads. Honestly? I don't think we have to worry about these types of blogs because they seem to weed themselves out because they have so much competition from the rest of us.
I think that genealogy bloggers are unique like writers or authors in that [with a few exceptions] they naturally write good content because they are writing with purpose. Content is really a non-issue with us. The delivery may need fine-tuning or optimizing, but the content is not a problem. [And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that fine-tuning or optimizing genealogy blogs is a part of what we're doing here on BloggingGenealogy.com. The other part is how to use all the other types of social media that can help our blogs and online platforms.]
Yes, I advertise my services on my blogs. Yes, I'm blogging in order to attract business, but even if a reader never buys my services or products, they still leave my blog with something because I'm all about content marketing [which is not a new marketing concept].
I'm trying to develop communities that are open and beneficial for all. I want to help people, and I do so with no hidden agenda, because I firmly believe if in the future, you have a need for my paid services and it fits within your budget, that you'll remember me. It's about transparency.
I write and share my knowledge with the community. Readers comment and share their knowledge with the community. Everyone walks away with something. That's one transaction. And if in the future, you need social media services for your genealogy-related business, I hope you remember me. The second transaction may or may not happen, but the first one always will.
It's how my Big Paw Paw conducted his brick and mortar business.
It's how my Dad conducted his brick and mortar business.
It's how my Mom conducted her brick and mortar business.
It's how my husband conducts his brick and mortar business.
And it's how I conduct my business. It's just not brick and mortar.
So, what do you think? Genealogy Blogging - For fun or profit? Let everyone know in the comments below, or on your own blog. =)