Technology evangelist Ramon Ray is the editor of Smallbiztechnology.com, a media company dedicated to creating helpful content about technology for small businesses. What started as a humble website in April 1999 has grown into an influential resource that publishes books, hosts events, speaks at events, creates content for the websites. Although Ray would never call Smallbiztechnology.com a blog, we sat down with him to discuss how others can use content creation as a business model and to build a business. "It takes persistence. You go on," Ray said. "Focus on one thing and don't do anything else. I don't do home audio equipment. I don't do cabinets. I don't do event planning. I focus on technology for small businesses."
Ray started the site when he still had is own technology consulting firm, and simply wanted to write and to share his thoughts, which were an outgrowth of what he was already sharing with clients. He never intended to turn it into a business, but says it became a business when he started to get paid to write. One of the first gigs that came from the site, which happened about 10 years ago, was to write an article for Inc. Magazine.
How to Use a Blog to Build a Business
Even though Ray started Smallbiztechnology.com well before social media, and well before many others were doing what he is doing, he still says that it's easier now than ever to use a blog to build a business.
"Anybody can create a site and there's always room for someone to be in a niche," he said. "It comes down to producing a volume of good content, having great headlines, knowing your audience, and make sure your audience knows about you."
Ray emphasized knowing the audience for two reasons. First, by focusing on one thing, you provide security for your audience and make it easier to grow that audience and to keep that growth. Second, it makes it easier to get advertisers, who care about who's in the audience as much as its size.
Of course, an audience doesn't exist without content and a regular stream of it. When Ray started back in 1999, he published about one or two articles per day. Today, it's between three and five articles per day, although he now enlists a team of 10 writers to help him. However, getting to that point was a "hard work game" and included several milestones that showed that Smallbiztechnology.com "was more than just a guy typing."
The Technology Evangelist Mindset
"I never ever said I was a blogger. To me a blogger is someone who sits in their pajamas and writes about their cat," Ray said. "To do this, you need to understand and focus on what your goals are."
As offensive that may seem to those who proudly call themselves bloggers, Ray's point is that content creation isn't necessarily armchair journalism, that turning a website or a blog into a business doesn't strictly take place at home behind the computer. Blogging, in and of itself, is not a business. It's really about being an editor, producer, journalist, publisher, tech evangelist etc. and having that mindset.
"Are you serious and not doing this on the side? Are you willing to not have enough sleep? he said, "The more you write, the more it becomes an echo chamber. As you work harder and do more, it only goes up and up and up,"
What's Next for Smallbiztechnology.com?
As for what's in store for Smallbiztechnology.com in the coming months, Ray doesn't really know. He suggested the possibility of an online video show or publishing a book on personal brand marketing, but other that he doesn't have a clue.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I"m doing," he said. "I love writing and I think humans have a natural desire to share."