If you are starting a blog in 2016, don’t.
Google the phrase “how to make money blogging” and you’ll get 12.5 million results detailing everything from how to churn out minimally viable content to multiple opinion pieces on the right income streams.
Thanks to the rise of sponsored content and blogger ad networks, blogging has shifted from a hobby to a legitimate side hustle or full-time gig for enterprising entrepreneurs.
If Silicon Valley is the promised land for hungry engineers who want to raise millions of dollars and code their way to success, blogging has been the virtual gold rush for the rest of us.
Starting a blog on the web in 2016 means missing out on the biggest opportunity this side of the Internet: network effects businesses on mobile. These are newer, better — and most importantly, easier — options for creating a thriving brand your audience will opt into faster and more successfully than anything you create on the web.
We’re not in 2006 anymore, Toto.
In 2006, your best option for starting a website around a unique idea, interest or take on the world was a blog. Quick, easy and cheap — anyone could create one in minutes and start attracting readers. Fast forward to 2016, and blogs are big business. There are 75M blogs on Wordpress alone, and the options for blog ad networks are endless.
Yet, 2016 is a very different world than 2006. Why? Smartphones. People are fleeing the web for native mobile apps. It’s incredibly crowded on the web. There are entire companies dedicated to ensuring your blog never sees the front page of a Google search. And while email newsletters may still work, they are far from an engaging experience on their own.
If you’re anything like the bloggers we meet every day, you love the hustle, but the hustle no longer loves you back.
Enter a new breed of mobile niche network apps
If you have an idea, unique take on the world or desire to start your own business, your 2016 blog is mobile, networked and valuable from day one. It’s not about talking at an audience, it’s about hosting a party where people want to meet each other, not just talk to you.
Welcome to new niche network apps on mobile.
Niche networks — unique, native mobile communities built around a single purpose or identity — are rapidly overtaking blogs as the most effective way to reach an audience, grow that audience and allow that audience to build relationships with each other around the things that are most important to them.
A niche network is:
- Organized around a single purpose or identity. Think craft hairdressers, small business owners, teachers, couples navigating infertility or DIY drone enthusiasts.
- More than an email newsletter. In a niche network, you and your members are contributing polls to spark conversations, answering questions and driving the kind of deeper discussions that can’t happen in your comments section.
- Immune to overload. In a world of data overload, personalizing the experience of every member to deliver the most valuable information is a service in itself. With an emerging crop of software built for the instant attention spans of mobile natives, modern niche networks have personalized feeds for every member — showing them only the most relevant members and conversations in the topics they care about.
- Mobile. Traffic on the web is dwindling as the number of people using native mobile apps (versus mobile browsers) climbs daily. Especially for messaging and meeting people, native mobile apps are the only real option if you want to bring people together to message. It’s trading in the barrage of email backlog for the power of push notifications.
A niche network takes advantage of network effects — or the simple interactions between people that organically grow a new, even bigger audience.
Network effects mean more bang for your hustle. Those long hours you’re investing now in commenting on other blogs or soliciting for readership are gone. With a niche network, you’re no longer a one-man band. Your members are your growth engine. No more begging for shares. They’re invested in their own perspective, which drives them to share more on their social channels. And with each new share by a member, you have an opportunity to reach a larger audience without churning out 500 words a day. Plus, who’s more qualified to find your next 1,000 members than your current 1,000?
But that’s not the only reason you should launch a niche network over a blog. The best part? A niche network can generate revenue starting day one.
Niche networks are a fast track to a healthy business
Today, it takes years to grow the kind of blog readership that big brands will pay good money to access. And the market is crowded.
Niche networks can deliver value instantly on your own terms.
Beyond all the good stuff that keeps your members coming back daily — network effects, multiple ways of building relationships with other members, mobile notifications — a niche network allows you to instantly start revenue experiments. This could mean funding your idea through member subscriptions or using rich (and real-time) analytics to attract a sponsor.
Let’s take a simple example. Say you have an email list of 2,500 people. With a niche network, your rich, real-time analytics help you attract a $5,000 per month sponsor who’s driving giveaways. Plus, you’ve added $30 per year from 500 members who want subscriptions to your premium content. And because your members want to meet each other, your first retreat in Mexico is oversubscribed. This is uniquely possible with a niche network. You’re engaging people in both one-to-many and many-to-many connections without having to hire a developer to build each revenue experiment into your blog.
Where blogging requires meticulous content posting schedules, niche networks naturally grow through interactions between members, not just with your content. These organic impressions are far more compelling (and actionable) than anonymous pageviews.
Think about it. As ad spending shifts to mobile, where and how do brands get involved? Outside of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, there’s not enough quality mobile advertising inventory to be compelling. By providing sponsored native posts and advertising in a mobile niche network where 65%-70% of members are active and contributing, brands can be a part of organic conversations they can’t be elsewhere.
All created by you.
The time is now
Mobile niche networks are young, powerful and rapidly growing. They thrive on a platform three billion people have in their pocket. Sure, you can still choose to start a blog and compete with almost two decades of entrenched top blogs and algorithmic SEO farms designed to stand between you and success. But there’s simply a better alternative. You can now invest that same time, energy and passion in a niche network on mobile to take advantage of valuable network effects and generate revenue as quickly as you can get it set up.
Only one question remains.