15 September 2008

Blogging for money: what is value?

So I've been thinking long and hard for quite some time about how to increase my income. My Landscape Architect Intern salary just isn't cutting it. And the salary of a licenced landscape architect will not cut it either, at least not without another 15 years of experience. And I dont' have 15 years to wait. I really want to kill my student loans long before then, which are currently clinging to me like a cluster of persistent tumors.

I watch my adsense account closely every day, like checking your mailbox in olden times to see if you got that love letter yet. My adsense account has brought in more than zero consistently for three weeks now. But not enough to live off of. Not even in Nairobi.

Clearly I've done something right in gaining enough blog traffic to convert some links into sweet google money. How to do more? Like $50000 a year more. That's $1000 a week, no small amount. At the current level of conversion (less than $1 per 100 pageviews) I'd need 14000 pageviews a day to replace my current salary. And my current salary is below my minimum acceptable ideal salary.

There just isn't enough interest online (or anywhere, really) in Landscape Architecture to generate that kind of traffic. Now if I could transition to gardens and residential garden design, I could get that kind of traffic. But that's a different audience from Landscape Architecture job seekers, interns, and students. Totally different. And a very saturated space. And honestly, I'm much more interested in about 40 decent subjects than in gardening right now: including wine-making, investing, founding businesses, real estate, beer, music, parties, parenting, saving money, paying off debt, clothing, computers, programming, website design, writing, chemisty, history, technology, travel, nutrition, to name a few.

I read a post from Steve Pavlina today, the web guru of self-help articles. He actually has a lot of great stuff, although much of it wreaks of new-age neo-hippy incense. Sorry, you'll have to wade through that.

I like the part near the end where he talks about wealth accumulation as the trade that the world gives you in return for value you've created. It's a very entrepreneurial viewpoint, and one that comes naturally to me. I haven't been capitalizing on it in the last many years because I've been chasing the dream of becoming a designer, but my entrepreneurial instincts are restless and desperately in need of excersice.

It's food for thought, and I am considering re-branding this blog (or basically scrapping it and starting another one in a new vein). It doesn't matter if I re-brand or start over since no one is reading this anyway, so I'll just save the time it takes to re-design it up front and let it evolve. I also need a new name, methinks. I am considering using this blog as a behind the scenes "how I built my other blog" blog. A kind of practical how- to for making a blog that actually gets traffic and creates value (and of course cashes that value out in the form of cold, hard currency). Is this space saturated? Of course. Do I have time for it? Not with my current schedule.

I'm also considering blogging about business ideas. I have shed loads of business ideas. Most people are really scared to talk too loudly at the pub about "their great idea", much less blog about them. But having the idea is the fun easy part that comprises about 0.1% of creating and operating a successful business. So I'm not worried about you steeling my business ideas. On the contrary, if you think any of them are good enough to discuss, let's talk! There's few things I like more than talking about business ideas, strategy, forming a team, and dreaming big.

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