Astoundingly, it seems like the number one goal of blogging is to make money. This seems fundamentally correct – after all, we all need money to feed ourselves and keep a ceiling over our heads. However, there’s something blogging can do that we often overlook, and in reality, is bounds more important than ever making a dollar – building wealth.
I first truly understood this concept from reading an essay by Paul Graham, “How to Make Wealth.” Graham is the popular founder of Y Combinator, a seed-stage startup funding firm – but more than that, he’s known for his informative, game-changing essays such as the one mentioned here.
Since Graham does a better job than I can of truly encapsulating what wealth is, let’s refer to his definition within the essay:
Wealth is the fundamental thing. Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic machine that could on command make you a car or cook you dinner or do your laundry, or do anything else you wanted, you wouldn’t need money. Whereas if you were in the middle of Antarctica, where there is nothing to buy, it wouldn’t matter how much money you had.
Who would you rather be – one of the richest people in the world in 1800 or a lower-class citizen today? If you’re like most, you answered the latter. The reason is that although the people in 1800 might have had more money, they are far, far less wealthy than a lower-class citizen today.
A lower class citizen has things people in 1800 never did, like air conditioning, easy transportation, television, and more. Although you might have had power (the non-electrical kind) in 1800, that’s about it. Every other part of your life, if compared to a lower-class citizen today, was pretty terrible.
What Does This Have to Do With Blogging?
When creating a blog, one often establishes some metric of success. Generally, it’s money. What’s my market size? Can I sell things? Is there a niche I can target and monetize? Rarely, though, do we effectively look at different metrics that really matter – in this case, the defining metric – the wealth we create.
Besides wealth for ourselves, what blogging really does is create wealth for others. Some of us want to be healthier or better looking or more fashionable, and in many ways, several blogs help provide us that assistance without ever denting our pocketbooks. Why is this, though? Every blog has the potential to monetize, right? Not necessarily – or, at least, not in the way that can efficiently fund your life.
Imagine an internet where everyone only wrote on topics that could be efficiently monetized. No offense to Alex and Blogussion, but we’d end up with an internet we’re already quickly approaching – one “>saturated with blogs about blogging.
Many of these are great blogs, yes, and they can all help us improve our lives in some way. But what this does is leave us all with an incredible expertise in blogging, and an incredible lack of expertise in everything else.
Wealth Outside Monetization
Every niche has monetization capabilities, but many have limitations in terms of market size and the potential spending abilities of its audience. What these niches offer, though, is no different from what a blogging blog or business blog does – create wealth – but the area in which they’re created is different.
Take, for example, a recent blog I’ve become a huge fan of – Zen to Fitness. I love this blog – as it offers good, well written tips on how to improve one’s health.
However, I can’t imagine how it’s monetizing very efficiently. There’s an e-book, but do I really need an e-book on these kinds of tips? Not really, because rarely do I find myself thinking that I need a complete, absolute guide to fitness. I think of fitness as an abstraction, one that can be intermittently filled with the holes in my strategy.
Unfortunately, I will likely never give Zen to Fitness blog a penny of my money – but I will be indebted to it for the tips it has offered to make my life, better. I will be indebted to it for the tips it has offered to make my life, wealthier.
How Are You Creating Wealth?
At the beginning of your blogging career path, you’ll almost certainly see money as the driving force behind your efforts. It works the same way as you start any career.
But the fact of the matter is, money isn’t the thing that makes up happy – and it’s also not the thing that motivates us. Dan Pink recently discussed just this in his talk on the surprising science of motivation.
It turns out that financial incentives actually dropped productivity in the workplace. The things that actually drive motivation, Pink says, are autonomy – working without micro-management, mastery – becoming the best, and purpose – doing something that matters.
We spend so much time behind our chairs and churning away, and so little time actually spending money or swimming in pools. It makes sense, then, that we should do something that we care about – and blogging is no different.
My argument, here, is that you shouldn’t worry about how your blog will monetize – it CAN monetize, no matter the area, in some fashion – you should worry about how that blog will make you happy, make the others around you happy, and overall, create wealth for yourself and those around you.
If you’re just plugging out another blog about blogging, you’re doing the world a disservice – there’s enough people in the world doing that well already. Find your obsession – and then multiply it by your voice. Merlin Mann, productivity guru, said it best:
Topic times voice. Or, if you’re a little bit more of a maverick, obsession times voice. So what does that mean? I think all the best nonfiction that has ever been made comes from the result of someone who can’t stop thinking about a certain topic — a very specific aspect of a certain topic in some cases. And second, they got really good at figuring out what they had to say about it.
If you want to write, write. But don’t do this because you found that it can make you lots of money after you read the Four Hour Workweek. Do it because you love doing it. Then find something else you love doing, and write about it. Anything else isn’t enough.
If one of those two parts doesn’t mix, do something else. Seriously. Find that mix, find the batter, spin it up, and create a blog – or a thing - that you’ll love – we’ll love – and the world will be better off for.
We could use the extra wealth.
Photo by Jeff Belmonte