The Power Of Blogging For Business Without A Business

August 30, 2008

There’s no doubt that a blog is a great way to promote your business online. In fact, I could almost go so far as to say that blogging is essential for both large and small businesses. But many people start blogging, before they have a business, with plans to make money from their blog further down the line.

Several members of this community are doing just that. It’s a smart idea and here’s a few reasons why:

1) It keeps you focused on your topic, rather than your business. Too many businesses start blogging and focus solely on their own business and what they’re selling. If you’ve come across blogs like this, you’ll know that reading them is about as exciting as doing the laundry. If you don’t have a business to begin with, you’re less likely to fall into this trap.

2) If you choose a topic you’re passionate about, you’re less likely to give up, or run out of something to say. Some people even begin with 2 or 3 blogs, to help them discover which topic is going to sustain their interest long enough to keep writing about it.

Alborz Fallah did just that. He started 3 different blogs and kept writing them whilst he still held down a full-time job. But his passion for cars won and he ditched the other two and kept Car Advice. This paid off, as he now employs several people, gets to test drive some really cool cars and his blog was valued this year, by auditors at $5 million. You can hear an interview with Alborz at Entrepreneurs Journey.

3. A blog is a fantastic communications tool, as you’re able to have conversations with potential and existing customers in the comments section. Beginning a blog without a business will enable you to discover what your readers want and need. And you’ll be able to come up with a business idea by finding a solution to their problems.

4. It generally takes a long time to build up a decent amount of traffic to any website. You can start a blog while you’re still working and use the additional time to save start up capital for your business.

5. You’re less likely to build a meatball business. As Seth Godin explains in Meatball Sundae, many businesses try to make new ways of marketing, such as blogging and social media, work for their business. But this doesn’t always work - it’s like trying to build a sundae with a meatball base. Often, they need to make massive changes to their business first, or start a new business altogether.

This article is part of a series. If you’re interested in starting a blog before you have a business, or you have a business already and you want to start a blog, click here to sign up in a reader so you don’t miss the rest.

What’s your opinion on starting a blog without owning a business first? Are you doing this yourself? Have you seen cases where it paid off or flopped completely? Please share your opinions and ideas in the comments section.

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26 Responses to “The Power Of Blogging For Business Without A Business”

  1. chris on August 31st, 2008 12:41 am

    I started blogging because I was curious about blogging. Then I decided to make some money but I really didn’t have the drive to market. Now my blog acts as my release. Maybe someday it will make me some money too.

    chris’s last blog post..The Perfect Storm, Part 4

  2. Vered on August 31st, 2008 2:59 am

    “Too many businesses start blogging and focus solely on their own business and what they’re selling. If you’ve come across blogs like this, you’ll know that reading them is about as exciting as doing the laundry.”


    I need to show this to my boss.

    He insists that I only write about the business. But that’s BORING. I want to have a mix of topics - INCLUDING posts about the business, but not just about the business. I am so going to show this to him.

    Vered’s last blog post..Will You Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself?

  3. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 3:48 am

    Hi Chris - it’s fun starting out just to see where it will take you isn’t it? There’s so many fringe benefits to blogging, aside from it just leading you to start a business.

    Hi Vered - I didn’t read your work blog yet. But from what I understand - the business you work for is really targeted at parents - mothers in particular.

    There’s so many things you could include in the blog that interest them - look how many folk are visiting your own blog in a short space of time. I hope you manage to convince him.

  4. Ricardo Bueno on August 31st, 2008 5:23 am

    If you have a bad business, a blog isn’t going to help :-/

    @Vered: You brought up a GREAT point in a recent article of yours on writing for SEO v. writing for community. Granted some good SEO is great but if that’s all you’re doing and you’re not listening to your readers….or engaging your audience, you’re probably going to fail in converting them into clients.

    It’s ok for a blog to get conversational…you know, personal. When it’s all business, that can be dry. Readers don’t relate to that. Readers don’t relate to the “hard sell” approach; at least I don’t. So a good mix between business and personal is good ya know?


    @Cath: I think it’s great when a new blogger jumps right into talking about a topic he’s passionate about! I’m referring of course to the point you referenced in writing for your passion and letting the business follow…

    Ricardo Bueno’s last blog post..Social Media Best Practices: Listen & Respond!

  5. Sara at On Simplicity on August 31st, 2008 5:30 am

    Myopic business blogs are the worst! It’s almost a step backward, since it shows the company to be out of touch with what blogging is really about: community. It also becomes patently obvious that the company is more interested in its own interests than those of the clients or patrons.

    I think a pre-business business blog would almost always work better. Plus, the built-in community would be a bonus.

    Sara at On Simplicity’s last blog post..Three Things You’d Save in an Emergency

  6. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 6:00 am

    @ Ricardo - It’s definitely better to do it that way isn’t it? I’m passionate about business, which is why I started this blog around 16 months ago, plus the time I spent on blogger. But I still haven’t started a business off the back of it.

    I totally agree on your point about having a bad business though - having a blog in that case would be totally disasterous.

    Hi Sara - some of them are awful aren’t they - they just don’t get it at all. And the ones who don’t do that try to bribe bloggers to review their stuff - which also sucks.

  7. Alex Fayle on August 31st, 2008 7:14 am

    I started blogging two years ago with the intention of using the blog material as the research for a book. I then decided to turn it instead into a business. The book will likely still come, but in the future, after I’ve established the business.

    The business idea developed out of the blog and the comments from readers. It’s not something that I set out to do. I think that if you are not blogging for a company, blogging first then introducing your business is great way to build trust and ensure that you are blogging about what interests people.

    Great question, as always Cath!

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Insecure People are Self-Absorbed and Egotistical

  8. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 7:59 am

    Hi Alex - It’s great that you came up with the idea for Someday Syndrome using feedback from your readers. I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea. And now - you’ll have a business, as well as a book or many books, which is great.

    Building trust is really important. And you’ve done a great job of that, or you wouldn’t have managed to persuade folk to be your lab rats.

  9. Scott McIntyre on August 31st, 2008 10:10 am

    This is a very interesting article for me, Cath.

    From the research I’ve done, I’d definitely agree with you that a business having a blog nowadays is a vital ingredient for success.

    Actually, I would go as far as to say it is likely going to be the key factor for future competitive advantage for any business.

    Any internet-savvy new business entering the marketplace with a blog already in place have a huge head start over their competitors.

    In my opinion, if they are not yet the No 1 element to competitive advantage, communicating to customers via a blog soon will be.

    I look forward to reading what your other commenters say.

  10. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 10:34 am

    Hi Scott - If blogs become as essential as you believe they will, that’s great news for new businesses isn’t it? After all, blogs aren’t expensive to set up.

    So, as you say, it’s quite possible that a new Internet savvy business could actually overtake their larger, old media competitors. That would be exciting and interesting to see wouldn’t it?

  11. Scott McIntyre on August 31st, 2008 10:48 am

    It will certainly be very interesting to watch how older businesses- and traditional media companies- adapt to survive, Cath.

    Being new media aware gives new entrants to the market the real chance to take the competitive edge away from their more established rivals.

    Directly communicating with customers and engaging in 2 way conversation is the key to future success, I think.

    The blogosphere is a phenomenal place to be- both now and in the future.

  12. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 11:38 am

    Hi Scott - it’s so exciting isn’t it? To think that ordinary people can beat folk with huge marketing budgets makes it really interesting.

  13. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on August 31st, 2008 2:42 pm

    I started my blog about 2 months before we actually opened shop. It’s a great way to get that traffic boost early, isn’t it?

    Just the other day I was telling a friend whose working toward opening his own real estate brokerage that he needs to start a blog today. He said he has to be a normal Realtor for at least 2 years before he can get his license: my response - Start a blog today.

    Imagine 2 years of focusing your blog, pushing your knowledge in order to create posts, and the network he will have created.

    @ Ricardo - good SEO doesn’t look like SEO at all and I think most newbies to the concept of SEO are confused by this.

    Writing to the SEO extreme is bad, but simply changing a phrase from normal text to a link and thinking about a targeted post title with focused meaning for your article will provide excellent SEO. And the nice thing is, none of this changes your writing style and in fact, can add value to your readers by providing them more areas to learn and explore.

    John Hoff - eVentureBiz’s last blog post..Securing Your WordPress Blog: Post 4 - Setting Up .htaccess

  14. Shilpan | on August 31st, 2008 4:01 pm

    Cath - This is interesting. I’m in business but I’m not blogging for my business. In fact, I’ve had thoughts about starting a blog dedicated to the issues and trends related to the hotel business but instead I have focused for now on the successsoul. I simply love what I do — to share my life and experience so far with everyone honestly and utmost integrity. I will launch a blog related to hotel business in the future though. I’m not sure when but it will happen.

    Shilpan |’s last blog post..10 Simple Habits to Help You Look Younger and Live Longer

  15. cathlawson on August 31st, 2008 6:41 pm

    Hi John - that’s smart advice to give your friend. I hope he listens. As you say - two years will give him a huge head start. He could have a whole heap of potential customers by then.

    Hi Shilpan - I never thought about that. I hope you keep the blog you have now too, as I love reading it. Maybe you could start an additional blog for your hotel business, or you could even start an additional business from the blog you already have. There’s a huge number of possibilities I guess.

  16. Davina on September 1st, 2008 4:11 am

    Hi Cath. Sorry I’m late :-( I’ve been preoccupied with holiday plans and have fallen behind on my feeds.

    I’m doing this but I hadn’t planned it that way! I started to blog because one business was failing and I turned to writing to keep my sanity. My business is transforming into something else that I haven’t officially launched yet… but soon.

    I am a Life Coach and through my training I have learned how important it is to have a good rapport with the people you are coaching. Coaches can’t coach everybody and they have to know themselves really well too so they can self-manage in order to be a better coach.

    For me writing is about creativity and self-reflection AND finding my voice. Writing helps me find my voice and it opens doors to other pieces of me that I didn’t know existed. It seems that I am “tuning” my voice through the practice of writing.

    Davina’s last blog post..Swinging Full Circle?That’s Life

  17. Barbara Swafford on September 1st, 2008 6:41 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Ironically, we have a business, but don’t have a website (hence, not a blog either). This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, but haven’t figured out how to incorporate that into my already busy work/life/blogging schedule.

    On the flip side, I definitely see how having a blog would benefit someone starting a business, as their blog becomes their online resume for prospective clients.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Plugins, Questions and Open Mic

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