Guest post by Paula Marvelly, Editor, The Culturium
It may be a cliché to quote Benjamin Franklin, especially in the run up to the U.S. Presidential Election, and yet clichés are just that for good reason—they contain profound words of truth, tried and tested over time.
It’s been a little over a year since I launched my blog, The Culturium, which examines the interface between spirituality and the cultural arts. I am pleased to say it has exceeded all my expectations in terms of the way I have been able to find a small niche audience suited to its bespoke material (which for some may be an acquired taste it has to be said!).
But there have been inordinate challenges along the way, ones which I could never have foreseen, as well as, dare I say it, moments when I felt for this one-woman show that it was all simply way too much.
So what have I learnt over the past 12 months to be the most important criterion for publishing a blog?
Preparation is everything.
Launching a website is akin to a horserace. Once the starting stalls are opened, the jockey is propelled forward at such velocity, it can take many months of training or even an entire career of experience to handle the acceleration from zero to maximum horsepower in a matter of seconds.
Indeed, once a brand new blog has been made live, it charges ahead, taking on a life of its own, making it imperative in the days and weeks and months following the release that everything be in order, otherwise any momentum garnered from its first (and sometimes final) impression on the world wide web will quickly fall at the first furlong and the proverbial race will be lost.
This is why it is vital that the site’s very core structure and functionality used to support and drive daily operations—web hosting platform, email newsletter provider, affiliate marketing programs—are rock solid, with design, menu layouts, categories and sign-up forms all fully finalized up front. It is also a very good idea to have a batch of draft content waiting in the offing ready to publish within its forthcoming editorial schedule.
Perhaps I am stating the obvious. But with 95 percent of blogs being abandoned within the first year or so, usually owing to technical difficulties, falling out of love with the design and, probably most commonly, lack of stamina to produce regular, meaningful content, bloggers and online editors need every single piece of help they can get to minimize stress and frustration and maximize profitability and success.
This is where Geniuslink has been such a godsend. As explained in previous articles on their blog, overcoming the “purchasing gap” with geo targeting—linking users to specific products, wherever they are located in the world and on whatever operating device they are using—would have been a complete headache had I not signed up for their service.
Moreover, by utilizing the various tools in the easy-to-use dashboard, I am able to see which particular product type—book, CD, DVD, etc.—is selling where and on what particular device, so there is no need to keep logging into iTunes as well as all my respective Amazon accounts (U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain). Pure genius!
In keeping with the political vein, Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” Without sounding smug, I spent 18 months preparing and planning for the launch of The Culturium. At the time, I was almost embarrassed to mention this to anyone—as we all know, it is possible to knock up a website on a free WordPress template on a rainy Sunday afternoon in a matter of hours.
Retrospectively, I am so glad I persevered and my chance did indeed come. Even so, I was still completely unprepared for the raft of correspondence I would receive from all around the world, expressing an interest in the site and sharing a mutual love of spirituality and the arts.
Naturally, this has yielded a rich source of guest posting and many new interesting friendships; however, the time taken to communicate with everyone in a timely and appropriate manner has meant I spend more hours dealing with emails than I do researching and writing the blog.
Given I only post an article once a week, this is not a problem; indeed, it has been a revelation and a wonder to connect with so many fascinating people with similar interests, who have not only helped me shape the content of the site but also given donations and bought books, films and music through The Culturium’s affiliate marketing programs powered by Geniuslink.
Suffice to say, had the site needed perpetual maintenance, hacks and tinkering, I would not be able to devote the time that I do enjoying and engaging in my epistolary relationships.
I anticipate it will take approximately five years for the site to make any significant income through affiliate marketing, when I extrapolate my current earnings from iTunes and Amazon. I am not concerned for I know this is a realistic projection. But when I do finally reap the financial rewards of my efforts, I know it won’t be based on luck or good fortune but by my not having failed to prepare.
Photo courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franklin-Benjamin-LOC.jpg