When asked as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I usually answered that I wanted to be a writer. This response was usually met with some surprise, because answers like ‘teacher’ or ‘police officer’ obviously were far more common. Nowadays, lots of young people want to be a writer – or to be more precise: a blogger. Arguably, this sudden interest in the written word has almost nothing to do with an increased interest in the writing profession; It’s more about being a famous influencer, getting free products and – above all – the mistaken belief that blogging is easy – a maximum of profit with a minimum of input.
This is the image of blogging that Natasha Courtenay-Smith tries to simultaneously dismantle and exploit in her book The Million Dollar Blog. Obviously, the title itself tries to entice people with the dream of becoming a millionaire by starting a blog. And yes, in the first couple of pages the author visualizes the tantalizing opportunity of living in an exotic country as a successful expat, drinking lots of cocktails and writing the occasional blog, sitting under a palm tree with your laptop while money comes floating in. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for most bloggers around the world – which she does admit to.
In fact, the “million dollar blog” she is talking about is more of a catch-all phrase for whatever kind of success is worth as much as a million dollar worth for the reader. Of course, money can be a primary goal, but with owning a blog, you could also be striving to help people by informing them about a certain disease, or you could use a blog for your business. For all of these cases, Courtenay-Smith offers lots of tips and guidelines to get blogging, keep blogging and be confident about your content and strategies to take your blog to the next level.
As I am a starting blogger myself, I found this book to be very useful. Courtenay-Smith introduces the principles of finding your niche, creating content, understanding what kind of blog you have, SEO tactics, and how to best work together with brands. This goes alongside other tips as well as interesting interviews with people who are indeed earning a six-figure income through their blog. At first I thought that these extreme success stories would leave me paralyzed as a newbie, but in fact I found them inspiring and encouraging to get going straightaway. Her ability not to scare people off with such a task ahead of them is quite an achievement, and really makes for one of the strong points of the book.
In the beginning, The Million Dollar Blog might focus a bit too much on the getting-free-stuff-and-being-famous side of blogging. As the book progresses, a more serious and realistic tone on blogging as a way to earn a living gradually emerges. There was only one thing in the entire book that I felt was missing; arguably stemming from my own conviction that to make a blog successful, you must actually be passionate about writing. But maybe that’s my own romantic side that prompts me to feel that the creative process is more important than any goal you have set yourself on being successful.
All in all, I feel that this book is very useful for beginning bloggers and people who already are somewhere further down the road. Also, I’m sure I will be picking up this book in a few months time to check what there is that I can improve on, because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that there are always ways to make your blog better.