What it Takes to Be a Successful Internet Publisher

Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell

This is a guest post from Anita Campbell, well known to bloggers as the CEO behind the recent Small Business Trends BizBookAwards, the small business advice community BizSugar and the blogging community BloggerTone.

Back in the day, I used to be a corporate executive. People often ask, “Why did you leave that world to become an online publisher?” My answer is usually something like “I wanted to be my own boss and run my own business.”

That’s perfectly true, and like many online entrepreneurs, I love what I do and wouldn’t change it.

But I saw something this week that made me realize that my daily activities are not nearly as glamorous or relaxed or stress free as some might assume. Certainly, I don’t have to deal with office politics. I don’t have nearly as many time wasters (er, lengthy reports and standing meetings).

But what I thought I would be doing as an Internet publisher, and what I actually do – are two different things. And what people think Internet publishers do, and what we actually do, are REALLY different. I created this image with the inspiration of the “What I really do” meme to describe it:

GrowMap Meme

You see, my neighbors think I sit around, drink coffee and surf the Web all day. And in a way, I do. Although… it’s not nearly as random as they might think. I have to stop myself from just aimlessly reading anything interesting that I stumble upon – because there’s always something interesting. I’d never get the important things done. Instead I have had to discipline myself to bookmark articles and sites to read later, so I can stay focused on my business goals.

The world seems to think that publishing Internet blogs is done by people who wear fuzzy bunny slippers and take a lax approach. That is not me. I dress everyday, because I feel more businesslike that way. And this is a business, not a hobby. I treat it as a business. Now I don’t dress up in a suit or skirt – I can dress in a more relaxed manner if I will be in the office all day and not going out. But I definitely get dressed.

Newbies who have just recently started an online publishing business may think it’s about passive income and spending all afternoon at the beach. While I have been known to sneak away to the beach now and then, it’s much rarer than you may think. Why? Because publishing content-focused Internet sites is not passive income. There are some websites that can lead to passive income, but it’s not blogs and magazine sites. It takes active involvement to keep content fresh. And if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that the more fresh original content you publish, the more your site will grow over time. Why? It means more pages that people will share on social networks, and your brand has more chances to spread. More content means more pageviews to monetize in the near term. It also leads to more long-tail search traffic as those additional pages get indexed in the search engines. Running blogs and content sites is not about sticking up an RSS autofeed. Creating original content and even dealing with guest bloggers takes time and effort. But content accumulates over time and it will pay off.

PR firms and marketing representatives sometimes think we are an extension of them and will work for free. Now, don’t get me wrong — I actually welcome getting press releases and news tips from PR reps. After all, writing about real news is part of our job. But that’s different from people wanting to get your site involved in holding product giveaways or conducting surveys, without compensation. In the beginning you may need to blog for swag just to grow your audience. But after a certain point, when your site starts to grow, be conscious of the value of the audience you’ve built. Make sure that you are TRULY getting valuable marketing exposure for participating, and not just being taken advantage of. We still do a lot of co-marketing arrangements and giveaways, but we evaluate them more carefully now. And we are much more likely to say yes to helping out other entrepreneurs, than to huge brands that can afford to pay for advertising.

Then there’s what I like to think I do on my best days. I like to think it’s about having fun and networking with others, and providing a great resource. And I suppose that’s true much of the time.

But more often than not, what I REALLY do is … a lot of in-depth work (sometimes boring) to meet business goals. I set goals for the business and my team. I work with the team to implement the steps to meet those goals. Then I closely evaluate the metrics to see how we are doing and whether we need to adjust our efforts. For instance, I can tell you exactly how much it costs us to create an article (including our overhead, salaries, etc.). And I can tell you how many pageviews we need to get from an article in the first 30 days to break even, before we make a profit.

Do you set goals? And do you measure them? If you don’t I strongly advise you to start. It’s how most of us will grow our businesses, and get them to the next level and the next after that. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?

Please share what YOU have learned about Internet publishing in the comments. And good luck!

About the Author: Anita Campbell is the CEO of Small Business Trends LLC, a Web publishing business. Along with the Small Business Trends website, she is also CEO of BizSugar.com and Bloggertone.com.


The following two tabs change content below.

Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. Ryan Hanley says:

    First… I’m a big Anita Campbell fan… Love SmallBizTrends.com

    Second… The deeper I dig into the blogging rabbit hole the more I realize there is nothing passive about it. Sure their may be passive elements to the income you create but Passive is not how I would describe.

    That is a huge misconception that I’m glad was brought up.


    Ryan H.
    Ryan Hanley would love you to read ..The Secret to a Successful Business Blog (And it’s not great content)My Profile

  2. Talha thanks for sharing.. I will give HARO a try.
    Great post. I liked this phrase: “I dress everyday, because I feel more businesslike that way. And this is a business, not a hobby.” However, I can not help wondering, given this approach, where’s the passion?
    Deimar would love you to read ..Imitation – The cornerstone of CreativityMy Profile

    • Hi Deimar,

      Thanks for commenting! I have great passion for this business – no one could put in the hours that I have, and live through the lean early years the way I have, without passion.

      I would just say this: passion doesn’t excuse being a careless businessperson. If anything, having passion should make you MORE determined to be successful, because you love what you so much that no one is forcing you. You do it because something inside you tells you it’s the right thing to do.

      But I feel that sometimes entrepreneurs just want to be undisciplined, all in the name of “passionately loving what you do.” But passion and commitment to your business are not 2 different things. In my mind they are related.

      – Anita
      Anita Campbell would love you to read ..Everything You Need To Know About The Facebook Timeline For Business Pages – Better at MarketingMy Profile

  3. I think this can benefit each of us. Thanks for sharing it with all.. Stay blessed!!

  4. Some people think that people who works online do an easier job than them. But they don’t know the intricacies involved in this kind of work.

    • Very true. Every business looks easier or simpler from the other side. It’s the “grass is always greener” syndrome.

      I think that Internet publishers also have an image issue to contend with. Much of the populace thinks we’re all hobbyists who just play around. I had a networking contact suggest that if I just worked at it a bit I could get referrals to my consulting business from Small Business Trends. But the thing is, I don’t have a consulting business! We make money from advertising and sponsorships, just like other publications. When I briefly mentioned that, I could feel the skepticism as if he were thinking “but you can’t possibly make any money that way.” Well you sure can’t make money if you dabble around, but you can if you treat a website like a serious business.
      Anita Campbell would love you to read ..15 Creative Tips to Rock Your Timeline Cover Photo for Facebook PagesMy Profile

  5. Great post. I completely agree with you setting goals and tracking your progress and I think it is the most important thing not just in online publishing but with any business venture. I’m not an online publisher but I have considered doing it for quite some time and reading your post gave me an idea of what to expect.

  6. Hi.. I am an online marketer and I like this publishing thing very much. Actually I am in this business for a long time and often do publish blogs and forums and also articles for my website. Publishing is really a good way to share our thoughts with others and also helps to know their views on our topic.

  7. Good post, I would also like to add that there are specific tools that can be used to become a successful internet publisher.

    (Help a Reporter Out) HARO is excellent for finding information sources as well as helping others with their articles.

    Using other online services like MyBlogGuest is also a great way of interacting with bloggers and expanding your reach.

  8. Hi Anita! This post is packed with awesome advice. In terms of having fresh content I really know how true that is and in my case I can also relate to what you said about guest bloggers. I like to keep the content coming but at the same time I don’t think people realize how much work goes into managing guest bloggers and producing quality content. But like you said, in the end it pays off because you’re helping others and at the same time attracting new readers through search because of the long tail keywords. Thanks for the encouragement and the advice!
    Ileane would love you to read ..Top 5 WordPress Plugins for Fashion BlogsMy Profile

    • Ileane, yes, it’s a complete misconception that getting guest bloggers means you don’t have to work. One or two or three guest bloggers is easy to manage. But if you try to scale it up, to dozens or hundreds, the little stuff you do (to communicate with your guest authors, reviewing their posts for typos and copyright issues, finding a royalty-free image, scheduling their posts, communicating with them on little things and to tell them when the post is scheduled or published, etc.) becomes a mountain of little stuff. If you have 50 guest authors, and you spend just 20 minutes a week dealing with each one, that’s 1,000 minutes (or almost 17 hours). It’s work to manage a thriving guest author program — just a different type of work than writing yourself. Just ask my team — they will tell you. :))
      Anita Campbell would love you to read ..Small Business Credit Remains Tough to GetMy Profile

  9. Great post. When I first started I wasn’t watching the blog stats but now that we’re building traffic I find it sorta fun to watch the numbers. It’s funny that this is probably only one of a few posts/articles I’ve ever read that emphasized watching the stats. Thanks for this!

  10. Knowledge and Wisdom is what all takes to be a successful internet publisher. Few quality blog posts can bring hell loads of traffic and fame. Plus if you are a socially active, nothing can stop you from being a successful internet publisher. :)
    Amit Sharma would love you to read ..Samsung Galaxy Fit S5670 – Review, Specification and PriceMy Profile

  11. What you have shown in that image is that what each really blogger do, drive audience to their blog. Post every day or not it depends on the niche of a blog, if the niche is not possible then it is better posting regularly for a week once or twice a week. it is better than sacrificing the quality of post.
    John Cooper would love you to read ..Crohn’s BlogMy Profile

  12. Toni Atkinson says:

    I DO know what it takes but your post gave me some ideas on how to make my work in online publishing more effective!! Thanks

  13. Great post, Anita.

    I KNOW what you do all day–usually 7 days a week.

    I love this, “PR firms and marketing representatives sometimes think we are an extension of them and will work for free.”

    True. I hope PR firms read this.

    Thanks for all you do. And for teaching me how to publish correctly.

    The Franchise King®
    Joel Libava would love you to read ..Build-A-Bear Workshop Commemorating 100 Million Stuffed Animals MadeMy Profile

  14. ReviewGates says:

    Most of the newbies think generation of income from online content is a passive income. They think it is the easiest method of making income to make their life good. But it is not true. We have to be active to make money from online content. Sustained motivation and the dedication play a vital role in internet marketing.

    Thanks for the nice post.
    ReviewGates would love you to read ..How Microworkers works and Pay (Full Review)My Profile

  15. Very informative and useful post. This will help a lot to me as a new one in internet marketing. This idea enhances my capability. Thanks for sharing this and its a very big help for me..

  16. “Newbies who have just recently started an online publishing business may think it’s about passive income and spending all afternoon at the beach.” – Hrhr, this one made me laugh :))
    Schmuck would love you to read ..Esprit Schmuck: Neuheiten Frühjahr / Sommer 2012My Profile

  17. Hi Anita, nice post, best part of this post I felt was the area where you showed the importance of writing fresh content. When I was a beginner, I did not focus on it much, but when I started producing more and more fresh content, I could see the rise in the no. of readers of my posts.
    Stigmatter would love you to read ..3 Ways an SEO Article Writing Service Can Boost Your Google RankingMy Profile

    • Definitely important to have fresh quality content … without it a blog or news-type of site will stagnate. And the problem is, you don’t see an immediate negative impact if your content production slows down. Why? Because you are still getting traffic. The decline is so gradual that you are lulled into a false sense that everything is still OK — even though it’s not. By the time you wake up, and start generating fresh content again, it takes a while to get the engine warmed up and “turn the Titanic around.” Best advice: don’t slow down on the content.
      Anita Campbell would love you to read ..Your Small Business Needs a TabletMy Profile

  18. I’m just starting out and developing a backlog of content. Your statement that it will pay off is very encouraging. Thanks.
    ferdos2437 would love you to read ..My Site – Your Source for Social News and NetworkingMy Profile

  19. nice sharing…….Everyone can start a website and everyone can make money with a blog so everyone at least gives it a try. Thanks
    ksoftware would love you to read ..Software Akuntansi Laporan Keuangan Terbaik No.1My Profile

  20. Geoff Vincent says:

    I’ve been at it for over 2 years and haven’t taken a dime yet. Lesson (among many) is that there’s no quick win with web publishing and perseverance is most definitely required.

    Enjoyed the article, BTW.
    Geoff Vincent would love you to read ..Survey: Who uses online business directories and why?My Profile

  21. Paul johnson says:

    It is true that people seem to have the misconception that internet publishers have a stress free life but personally I believe that this type of business carries a heavier workload than say provding a technical service like we do, the amount of time you must spend reading and rearching current topics and background information must be astronomical but I guess if you enjoy this and are earning money from it, Fair play to you

  22. private server says:

    It can be hard to be a successful at publishing on the net. I haven’t really tried myself because it seems so daunting. So I stick to blogging.
    private server would love you to read ..Microsoft Virtual Server SpecificsMy Profile

  23. In my opinion, some advice regarding how you structure your Internet marketing business is very helpful to become a more successful Internet marketer.

  24. These are good points to share. I think that as long as you enjoy “being your own boss” and there is a sense of fulfillment, then you are doing well. And I the fact that you are able to explain to us what your work life really is, that’s good enough proof that you are successful.

  25. Enjoyed the picture and insight into your job. A lot of jobs can seem relaxed standing on the outside, but the reality is most successful online roles include a healthy dose of systems, mundane tasks, measurement and reporting.
    Phil would love you to read ..Article Round Up. Our Best Small Business Articles.My Profile

  26. Andrea Hypno

    Ha, wonderful post and great image, so right. I guess we all thought that blogging or having a website would have been around the beaches thing. Also because it seems that every successful blogger states that he writes from the beach and you can learn too how if you buy his internet marketing course or something similar. It’s part of the legend of the net which instead requires hard work, learning a lot and dedication. Plus never give up at least for a couple of years. I think this has a lot to do with the common misunderstanding about online businesses. Everyone can start a website and everyone can make money with a blog so everyone at least gives it a try. Much like ebooks, everyone can write one so there is plenty of them of every quality level but the good one always succeed, with time, hard work and so on.

    Again very good post, tweeted. :)
    Andrea Hypno would love you to read ..Placebo and the Power of your Subconscious MindMy Profile

  27. A 10 for the image,,,funny but relevant. Of course, an online publisher’s main purpose is the traffic, audience, interaction, credibility,,,that brings cash,,,otherwise it would be just waste of time.
    Foxcrawl would love you to read ..Photo: Elvis Presley dead in open casket revealed by National EnquirerMy Profile

  28. You have used some really amazing meme to explain everyone’s thinking about online work, I know generally people think you just sit before the system and spend time in viewing many attractive sites and earn for it. Sometime you find it very funny and sometimes annoying as well.
    Ravi would love you to read ..Hand-holding for Dissertation, Thesis and AssignmentsMy Profile

  29. I have to give you writers big kudos on doing this full time. I am trying to enter blogging to help my business grow online but even that is a tough situation for me. I can’t even compete with all of you out there that are able to come up with fresh, interesting content on a daily and hourly basis. Thanks, great post

  30. Charles Miske says:

    I’m just starting out and developing a backlog of content. Your statement that it will pay off is very encouraging. Thanks.

  31. Anita,
    you are certainly right, there are a ton of misconceptions about what it really is to work online. It is important that people starting out do not ALSO believe these things, or they will be sorely mistaken.
    Steve would love you to read ..How to Make Money with Amazon Kindle BooksMy Profile

  32. Staying consistent, especially in providing valuable content is really hard. However, i think that it’s absolutely worth it. I really enjoyed the image, thanks.

    M Mark

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge