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Blogging as a Business: Is Your Site Story-Driven or Business-Driven?

When I first “launched” this site a couple years back (and by “launched” I mean anyone could actually see it online), I took what I now call the “story-driven” approach.  Blogging on its own is not a business, only means to an end.  To approach blogging as a business, treat your blog as the tool that promotes your business.


The best bloggers use stories to promote their business.

Do your stories serve a purpose to your audience? Click to Tweet


If you’ve taken a “story-driven” approach to building your blog, it’s ok!  I’ll show you what you need to do to turn your site into a “business-driven” website.


How “Story-Driven” Sites Are Different From “Business-Driven” Sites


If by blogging your goal is to share stories for purely personal reasons, that’s fine.  Having an audience you can connect with and inspire to action can be fulfilling on its own.


The truth is, blogging can be hard work.  Well, it is if you’re committed to doing it in a consistent basis.


If you’re secretly hoping that your hard work turns into a source of income for you, it may be time to come clean with yourself and put it out in the open.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your desire to want to be rewarded for your efforts.


“Story-driven”sites encourage the audience to consume stories and jump from page to page.  The most business-like thing a “story-driven” site will do is ask for an e-mail address.  Often, there is no primary purpose for collecting contact information other than to keep the audience in the loop when new stories come out.


Why “Story-Driven” Sites Make Lousy Business Sites


Designing your site for maximum content consumption is a worthwhile strategy if your goal is to maximize your audience’s “average time on site”.


The shortcomings of this approach surface when a blogger’s initial goals change.  After plugging away for a while, the blogger decides they now want to do more than share their journey.


They now want to profit from the site they’ve created and the audience they’ve built.  They know they want to do it, but just don’t know how to “monetize” (make money from their site).


An example would be the blogger who starts experimenting, begrudgingly, by putting ads on their website.  I say begrudgingly because ads do have a negative connotation, which bloggers rightly feel will alienate their audience and turn them off the site.


Trying to build a blog around ad-income is the laziest income strategy possible, and quite possibly the least effective one.  For one, a site needs lots of traffic (visitors), to make ad-income work.


A better strategy is to incorporate affiliate marketing into your plans.  This one is trickier to execute because you have to find a way to organically weave the product you’re promoting into your story.  The advantage is that it’s more effective than ads.


It’s a good strategy as long as you’re honest about the product you’re offering to your audience.


Is there a better way to make money from your site?  Absolutely!


In fact, you don’t have to change your writing style at all, or compromise how you interact with your audience.  All you need to do is turn around your blog from “story-driven” to “business-driven.”


How do you make the switch from a “story-driven” site to a “business-driven” site?


blogging as a business

By John-Morgan @ Flickr


Not hard at all it turns out.  All it takes is a small change.  Engaging that mental gear will make all the difference.



Tune in Wednesday to find out how.  Read Part 2 here and learn how a successful “story-driven” site accomplished the switched to “business-driven.”




Does a “story-driven” model work for you?

Agree or disagree?  Share your opinion in the comments below!

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.


  1. Some sites are clear about their intentions to sell something, but I think telling a good story can help you monetize too. Look at Zen Habits, or Simple Dollar, the guys are just writing good content and are very successful. They may not want much out of their website, like five digits affiliate sales, but they have succeeded way more than the average affiliate-selling blogger.

  2. Hi Pauline!

    Can a good story sell? Absolutely! That’s exactly what my next post was about (

    Both Zen Habits and Simple Dollar are hugely successful, but while both have been “story-driven”, both have also early on implemented “business-driven” monetizing strategies that have changed as they went along.

    For example, Zen Habits relied on ad income at first, which Leo, for strategic reasons, ditched. He now sells books and a popular “Habit Course” for $297. He also has recently opened a membership program that retails for $26.99/month. His second site, WriteToDone.com, does employ affiliate marketing directly.

    It depends on your business strategy and what your audience likes. Zen Habits is in part about minimalism, which suits the clean, ad-free look.

    I don’t like ads interfering with this site, so I only have one (added recently). My other niche sites? Yup, they have way more ads because I have different goals for each.

    I checked out Simple Dollar this morning (thanks for the tip!) Trent has ads on his site and insurance and mortgage affiliate pages (very profitable). He also sells two books. According to his story, he was making enough money from his site in 2008 to quit his job. This was before he published his first book.

    The point is, “story-driven” sites go nowhere monetarily unless one implements a business strategy to go with it (ads, affiliate marketing, products, services, memberships, etc). Each strategy has its drawbacks (read about it here).

    It’s better to have a vision about where you want to take your site and how to monetize it early on, instead of developing lots of free content and hoping something materializes later down the road.

    One of my favorite quotes ever? “Hope is not a strategy.”

    We plan to succeed, not hope to succeed :)


  3. You are right, everyone needs a plan. What I mean is that those guys have enough readership through great stories to be able to paste a link here and there to monetize their sites. And Trent sold for a good $$ too.
    Comparing to Pat Flynn who is all about selling products and affiliate income, which he does brilliantly, and you can see the work that he puts into vlogs and tutorials, the other two are quietly writing at home about their daily lives and making money with their stories. I prefer the later but it is a question of taste, and personality.

  4. I’m not familiar with Trent, but Leo has said many times that he worked like crazy to build his blog up to the point where it is now. Read this interview he did, where he mentioned he was writing pretty much non-stop in order to provide blog content and submit guest posts: (http://foundertips.com/blogging/how-leo-babauta-built-one-of-the-most-popular-blogs-on-the-internet/).

    I’m familiar with the work they do behind the scenes. It definitely takes a lot more than most people realize.

    Writing a blog post and calling it a day severely underestimates the amount of work one has to put in (marketing, social networking, blogger networking, interviews, podcasts, vlogs, tutorials, book writing, e-mail correspondence, joint ventures, membership forum upkeep, etc…). All that takes a great deal of time.

    Despite his success, Pat acknowledges it takes a lot of hard work to keep the blog going (http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/dark-side-successful-blogging/).

    I guess it depends on how much work one wants to put in it. A half-hearted effort rarely yields results.


  5. I am still trying to figure it all out, but am finding all I get is a dozen offers a week to provide free content with a link back! Time to work with affiliates as the advertising currently doesn’t cover the cost of the work. Too bad the online world is so full of junk sites and the work involved isn’t recognized. Like I said, still figuring it out, but getting there!

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Hi Anita!

      Yup… All they’re doing is trying to feed the content monster. Often requiring you to submit your best work in order to be considered for publication.

      The easiest way to deal with junk sites is to avoid copying their business model. I’d recommend you look into product creation. Advertising needs a lot of traffic to be effective. With affiliate marketing, you’re working hard to… promote someone else’s stuff.

      What if… all your efforts went to promoting your OWN product? What if you become the affiliate provider, instead of affiliate subscriber? It can be done, if you put your mind to it ;)

      Hit me up via e-mail if you have any questions :)



      • Oops…maybe I didn’t explain that well! They are all trying to force their content on me! I have no problem supplying enough content! I get a dozen crazy emails from people, some of which are evident that they don’t write in english as their primary language, telling me that I have to publish their “free” content with the link backs to whomever! I was quite surprised how abusive some of them became when I thanked them for their interest, but declined their content. Most of the time now, I just delete, but it drives me crazy! I feel, if they want link backs and it is suitable to my site – they can pay for the service! I have to eat as well!
        It is time to become the affiliate provider, like you said! With a growing following and engaged audience, now is the time!

        • Rich Polanco says:

          I got you now :) Yup, get those all the time too. It’s your blog, so you own publishing rights. Delete is what I do as well.



  1. […] Monday, I made reference to the power of stories to convey your message.  This implies that you actually have a message to […]

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