If possible, it's always nice to have additional, related income streams coming in from your arts and crafts business. I've already discussed bringing in some extra cash by e-reader self-publishing and teaching arts and crafts classes. This article starts my series of articles about starting a monetized blog, which is a blog that has paid advertising.
A blog is a web-based journal consisting of regular entries seeking to inform your readers about a specific topic. I've managed many blogs in the past on my business related websites and have one here at About.com on my Arts and Crafts Business home page.
Advantages to Keeping a Blog
Blogs are easy to start, are search engine friendly and many times get indexed more quickly than articles you post on a website. Plus while articles may not be dated stamped, blog usually are, which proves date of original posting. Every time I write an article, I immediately blog about it too so that I jump start search engine indexing and establish a firm date for my copyright.
The ching-ching advantage to having a blog, however, is the fact that you can monetize it. That is, you can add advertising that is based on click-through or flat-out renting of space on your blog.
Disadvantages of Blogging
To build and keep a readership, you have to regularly post to your blog - which involves a time commitment of blogging on a regular, consistent basis. The best blogs allow reader feedback to keep your customers engaged. However, this requires monitoring on your part to weed out spam and objectionable or nonsensical comments.
Picking a Blogging Topic
There are two biggie issues to tie down when you decide it's time to start a blog. The first is your blogging topic. It's a waste of your time to start blogging about something which has limited appeal to you or a finite number of discussion items. In order to build up a readership, you have to be passionate about your topic and have enough potential informational material to work with.
Sick of hearing the term 'passionate'? As an author, I know I am. It seems like every time I'm talking to a publisher this term gets bandied about more than how much I'm getting paid to write the darn thing!
It's hard to maintain a constant level of excitement about any job you take on. At the end of the day, you have to be interested enough (not passionate) in the topic to be willing to do continuing relevant research and post regularly about the topic.
I wouldn't worry about it being a hot blogging topic. For one, you'll be competing with established blogs that already have honed their postings practices. And, in my experience, regardless of the topic you decide upon, there will be an audience out there.
Should you stick with posting about arts or crafts? I don't see why you should limit yourself if you have a level of interest and experience in another topic. Actually starting a blog about another topic will give you a much needed break from your day-to-day arts and crafts business concerns.
Technorati has a list of the 100 most popular blogs should you want to get some inspiration. If you look on the right-hand side of the list, you'll see the blogs ranking by category too. For example, entertainment, sports, etc.
Picking a Blog Platform
There are a bunch out there. First, you have to decide if you want to host the blog yourself or use a blog service for hosting. When you host it yourself, you'll have your own domain name (xyz.com rather than xwz.bloghoster.com) and if you decide you want to change blogging platforms you can take existing blog content with you as is rather than having to reenter it post by post.
If you are more interested in creating a scrapbook than a blog, a tumblelog will be more your cup of tea. A tumblelog service such as Tumblr allows you to post images, videos, quotes and links you come across online.
Hosting a blog yourself will cost money. GoDaddy has a blog hosting plan that costs about $5/month and gives you $100 in ad credits. The GoDaddy link also gives a comparison to their service with Bluehost, Hatchling and 1&1.
Maybe you don't want to pay even $5 per month. The next in this series of articles about blogging explains the difference between wordpress.com (free - but you can't monetize your blog) and wordpress.org which involves paying for a host - but can be monetized.