We take an entrepreneurship perspective of blogging in Singapore
In our previous article within the entrepreneurship series, we critiqued the common Singaporean perspective taken toward entrepreneurship and starting out on your own. After the article we thought, why not deliver an “entrepreneurship” article that many Singaporeans would be able to relate to easily: Blogging.
Chances of you being a sideline blogger yourself, or know at least one friend who blogs regular are relatively high.
Taking the topic of blogging, and looking at it from an entrepreneurship viewpoint was actually a very useful exercise even for us. In a lot of ways, a blog can be seen as a startup. Easy to create, difficult to sustain, and even harder to monetise.
Because there is so much we learnt and like to share over the course of analysing a blog as a business (and we don’t want to bore readers with chunky articles), we will do a two-parter. There are a total of 5 points that we believe noteworthy when starting a business (or blog). If you are already a blogger, these points would be infinitely more relatable.
For the record, we know that many bloggers out there are simply blogging out of passion (or frustration) and not purely for monetary gains, or fame. If that’s the case, take our points with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless you may stumble across a point or two that may help you improve your blog, or help you see it as a business.
Let’s get down to the first 3 points today.
Number 1: Is operating your blog a part-time or full-time job?
This is the first thing to think about, and the answer to this simple question holds many ramifications. If blogging is only a part-time job or passion, that means you must have some other career plans in mind. Focus on these plans first. A full-time career deserves full-time attention and commitment.
Take for example the author part-time job as a math tutor during his university days. The tutoring was a way to generate some additional allowance, while his full-time job was always to study and make sure he passes his economics modules.
We are not saying you shouldn’t take your blogging (or tutoring) seriously when you are doing it, rather we are saying that it is important to recognise the long term plans and intentions that you have for your blog (or business). Do not fall into the trap of overcommitting too much effort into something which you only intend to do on a part-time basis.
If intend to do your blog (or business) on a part-time basis, the good thing is that you would not be alone in doing so. Most Singaporeans who have “an idea, but are too afraid to fail” do likewise. As written in our previous article on entrepreneurship, “You’ll get a job, but think about this desire/hobby/idea/business, and you will delve into in half-heartedly…eventually. You might see a little success or immediate failure, but going into it full-time will never be on the plate.”
The main point we are trying to drive at is that most startups in Singapore fail because the founders do not treat it like a real business to begin with. Real businesses require time, energy, passion, knowledge and commitment to grow. Not many Singaporeans, especially those of us who graduate from university at the age of 25, can afford all of the above.
Simply intending to make your blog (or business) a full time career is also no guarantee of success. Most startup businesses eventually die off despite the best intentions of its founders. The fact is: to create a business that can generate mediocre profits in the short term so that its founders do not starve on the streets is not easy to do. You must be prepared for the fact that your blog (or business) is likely to fail. And there is no shame in failure, despite what our schools sometimes teach.
Number 2: Observe the market, and your competitors
Singaporeans love to follow trends, and this applies to everything from the snaking queues for hello kitty, to the thousands of ‘homogenous’ bubble tea shops that set up as businesses during the bubble tea craze, to… blogging even.
A vast majority of the blogs out there revolve around a small set of topics – lifestyle, fashion, beauty, travel and food. It’s hard to stand out in such a saturated market, especially one that revolves only around a niche aspect of peoples’ lives. And no, your “unique writing style” or “superior grammar skills” does not count as a differentiating USP, as much as you think otherwise.
From a business perspective, imagine going into an area already littered with competitors all selling the same type of products, wouldn’t you try to create slightly different type of content to separate your blog in the blogosphere? Perhaps adding an element of your educational journey, your political views or dare we suggest your personal finance matters, may open up your blog to a whole new target audience.
The main point we are trying to highlight here is to be different. Be it a blog or a business, allow it to grow and evolve away from what others are doing. Playing it safe and trying to be copycats of other people businesses (or blogs) will not bring you far in the long run.
Number 3: Be unique, think of brand positioning
Being unique does not only mean having to cover topics that are not covered by others. It could also be about just being you, every person is unique and different. For example, a male blogger who is working a corporate job could blog about male fashion for formal wears. A blogger who is enlisted into national service could talk about his experience (do note to avoid getting yourself into trouble). An air stewardess can narrate about her travel experiences and the various cultures that she had close encounters with.
Think of your brand positioning and who your target audiences are. If you are a frequent traveller, like in the case of our air stewardess, a travel blog with well-taken pictures could be a search-engine hit.
You can catergorise your travel pictures and trip reviews based on different locations that you visit. In a few years, you may even realise that you have a nice blog boasting a loyal following of like-minded travellers. You may also start attracting travel agencies who may want to advertise on your blog.
The idea is to be distinct and focused. Yes, you might have to give up reviewing that beauty product in the short run, and lose some potential visitors and sponsors. In return, it will give you more time to cover your area of strength, which is travel. And since you are already blogging on a part-time basis, having more time to blog on what you are good at beats spreading yourself thin trying to cover a little of everything else.
Take a more business-like approach to your blog
This is how the top bloggers like Xiaxue and Dawn approach their blogs.
Whether you are blogging purely out of passion, hoping to make a few dollars on the side, or intending to make a career out of it, there is no reason why you cannot take a more business-like approach to increase your own readership, or revenue.
As bloggers, it is natural, easy and seductively simple to write whatever you feel like writing on impulse. Instead take if from the customers readers points of view, and ask yourself what it is that they would want to read. Try to relate to that, and then write it from your perspective. That is what good businesses do, and so should you.
Following a simple structure such as a minimum of 1 post a week (or every 2 weeks) ensure consistent updating of your blog. If you really insist on writing on different topics, have a simple tab to categorise the topics that you write about. Always remember to constantly improve your personal skill sets, be it writing, content conceptualising, photography or even photo editing.
In our next article, we will discuss the various methods you can utilise to monetise your blog (or business), and how you compete for advertising dollars outside of Singapore. Once again, stay in touch with us by following us on Facebook. If you like what you read, feel free to share the article or even on your blog! As always, comments are welcome.
Original photo by Benjamin Lim. Used with permission.
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