In all the years that I have been reading and reviewing computer/tech books, I've never read the books in Wylie's For Dummies series. I had the idea that they would be watered down and superficial treatments of the topics. Boy, was I wrong -- at least if Professional Blogging for Dummies by Susan Getgood is representative of the whole series. This book is a complete guide to becoming a professional, money-making blogger who treats a blog as a business. It's from Wiley Publishing (2010).
The discussion starts with the attitude you need if you are serious about being a professional blogger. It tells you how to search out and identify a niche that will fit you. You learn how to do the preliminary planning such as identifying your audience, studying your competitors' strengths and weaknesses before selecting your niche, and getting involved in your niche before you even begin to blog. If you follow the steps in this section of the book about looking for your niche and planning your blog before you even get it set up, you will be in a really strong position to achieve success. It helps you take a hard-headed look at what you have to offer, what others already offer like it, what you can expect to get out of it, and what you'll need to put into it.
The necessary steps for setting up a business legally and with the proper legal protections and policies are explained in Chapter 3. This includes help with setting up a policy for endorsements, reviews, and testimonials, and for complying with the FTC disclosure requirement. Chapter 4 takes a look at making money with the blog. Early planning decisions are discussed as well as details about selling ads, finding sponsors, and other money-making options. You also learn how to track the money effectively as a business. Chapter 5 goes into depth about selling products or services on a blog. Chapter 6 really digs into making money from advertising. Chapter 7 looks at making money writing for blogs.
There's a section of the book devoted to building the blog. This includes Chapter 8 about naming the blog, finding a platform and hosting, and registering the domain name. Chapter 9 talks about blog design. Chapter 10 gives you tips on creating the blog's content. Everything from finding your voice to writing good headlines and using video and images is explained.
Maximizing Your Blog's Success includes a chapter on getting the word out through email, traditional media, blogrolls, comments, contests, social networks, and search engines. There's a whole chapter helping with what to do when companies come calling with pitches that may or may not work for your blog. The section on how to work with marketers is very helpful, because bloggers are barraged with marketing PR constantly. Tracking the blog's success with various measurements and analytics is explained carefully. There's a chapter with help about keeping the blog fresh and engaged and growing in this section.
The last part of the book is called The Part of Tens. It contains chapters on 10 mistakes to avoid, 10 blogs to learn from, and 10 tips for jump-starting creativity.
Overall, the book is clearly written with excellent examples and advice. It works through the process step-by-step from planning to posting. I think you could follow the guidance in this book to a successful, money-making blog.
The day I finished Professional Blogging for Dummies, I followed a link in a tweet by @SueBob to a post at Wheels on the Bus about the BlogHer10 conference session on small blogs. The post was From Over Here in the Cheap Seats. There were literally dozens of comments about the value of small blogs. I even left a comment in praise of small blogs.
If you have a small blog and you're happy with it being small, you probably don't need to read this book. I'm not saying you won't learn something useful from it -- I've been blogging (and reading about how to blog) for 10 years, and I learned some new things from the book. However, if you are thinking about starting a blog as a growing business, Professional Blogging for Dummies can be a big help to you.
The disclaimers: I was asked to review this book by BlogHer, who provided me with a copy of the book. I met Susan Getgood briefly at a BlogHer Conference once and exchanged a few words with her. I even snapped her picture. Many (but not all) of the successful blogs mentioned as examples in the book are members of the BlogHer network. This is not because the book is slanted toward BlogHer or women, but because so many successful bloggers are women who are members of the BlogHer network.
Summary: An excellent resource for starting a profitable blog-based business.
A review by Virginia DeBolt of Professional Blogging For Dummies (rating: 5 stars)
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