You might think that me telling everyone they need to start blogging differently is insane, especially for those who are making thousands from their blogs every month.
But with a new post-pandemic age, there comes a new way of blogging. And it’s in our best interests to fix the problems of the past before we try to set blogging rules for the future.
Has blogging as usual ever worked, except for selling courses on how to make money blogging? It’s time we thought about the things we are teaching others about the world of blogging before we doom another generation to failure and destitution.
Blogging and Life As We Know It, Has Changed
The pandemic has transformed the world, and from now on, everything will be different.
Do you think concerts and sporting events will be as popular now that we know we can get a virus from being too close to other people? Streamed shows and holograms will replace live concerts, and physical sports will change to something one can do from a safe distance.
Soon, we won’t be waiting in line for driver licenses and business permits – everything will move online, and we will digitally sign our contracts with a secure ID that we can swipe through a device at our computer.
Estonia is already doing it, why not the rest of the world?
And why take the chance of infection by going to Wal-mart or the mall when we can read reviews on our favorite blog and order products with the click of a button? Many of us are already doing it, so why not the rest of the world?
Movies? Think Netflix and YouTube.
Commute to work and sit in an office? Try Zoom and any of the thousands of other business apps instead.
School? College? It’s already online.
Medicine? How about skipping the waiting rooms with online consultations and only going to the hospital for emergencies and procedures?
Restaurants? Why take the chance? Order online and have it delivered to your home hot and fresh.
Travel? Virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Have you seen the movie based on the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? Computer simulations will replace any destination you could go to or dream of visiting while you sit in a chair in the safety of your home.
Dating? VR and holograms work, don’t they?
Sex? Um…okay, skip that.
Up until now, our lives were influenced by the internet, in that we used it as a resource. Now, our entire lives will be there, online.
Blogging will fit in with the whole puzzle. As much as we need the developers and programmers, we will also need the content creators and purveyors of information.
In 2020, we rated blogs as the 5th most trustworthy source for gathering online information. Can you imagine what it will be like post-pandemic?
We will combine blogs with e-commerce, and we will ship a customer a product after they have read a review on our blog. Blogs will give movie reviews and host watch parties. Blogs will solve the problems created by changing our lives over to a tech-driven society and be THE source of information for a world turned upside down by a pandemic and the resulting recession.
More than ever, everyone’s lives will focus on the internet: working, shopping, learning, researching – entertainment, sports, music, and information. Experiences will be in the realm of the internet now, and we, as bloggers, better rush to meet the need.
Blogging will be a massive part of our new digital life, and it needs to change, or else.
How to Blog the Wrong Way (How We Do it Now)
Since everything will change, we have to go back and see what it was that we were doing wrong in the first place, so we don’t keep making the same mistakes blogging.
Don’t Find a Niche
Before, everyone focused on finding a niche that fits with their passions. We need to change that. Just because we are passionate about something doesn’t mean anyone else will be, so instead, we need to be active about finding solutions to problems.
No longer can we pick a generic niche we find exciting and hope an audience will come when we build a blog around it. It won’t happen. We need to look at trends and data and find out where people are having issues.
Once we have identified a problem, we need to find a way to solve it that doesn’t involve committing a crime. Then we need to create content.
So you say you aren’t passionate about problems? Write about solutions long enough, and you will find passion, especially if you start making money. Your solution, earning you a few thousand dollars, is enough to fill you will passion.
And if money won’t do it, think of the people you will be helping. Unabashed altruism is a thing of beauty, and if you have it, people will flock to you to find answers.
Where is the Content?
How many blog posts and articles should we have before we launch our blog? Who knows, but 1 or 2 is definitely not it! We need to make sure we have plenty of evergreen content published on our blog before we even think about making it live.
Bloggers rush to write a few 300-word posts so they can embed ads. They haven’t even answered any questions, and already they are asking for something.
This brings me to the next problem.
What About Making Money with Our Blogs?
That is another problem with blogging as we do it now. We are jumping in too soon and monetizing the hell out of our blogs before our audience has told us what they want to buy from us. We are asking them to do something for us when we haven’t added value to their lives yet.
We are throwing up ugly ads, blocking all our content from view, and creating usability problems, hoping some of our traffic accidentally clicks on an ad. No one is clicking intentionally, and that is why we have to have 100K pageviews a month before we make a few bucks in commissions.
We are asking them to click on our affiliate links and buy products they don’t want. They came to solve a problem with information, not get a subscription to Tailwind.
We are offering low-value courses that are almost the same thing that every other blogger is pushing. I mean, how many classes do you need to kill it on Pinterest?
The audience didn’t come to your blog to get the hard-sell – they don’t trust you enough yet to buy from you. They haven’t even decided if they like you.
And no, 30 seconds after they arrive on your blog is not a good time to trigger a popup asking them to join your mailing list. If you want someone to leave, block the content with a popup. It will happen.
Don’t Be Inconsistent
Once we have some content published, we need to keep distributing more fantastic content. How often? Well, that is totally up to us. The thing we need to do is make sure we develop a pattern.
Don’t post five times one week then go silent for a month. If we publish once a week, pick a day. If three times a week, pick three days when we know most people will be reading. Post on the same day and the same time on that day.
People don’t want to have to guess when we are going to publish, so stop making them think.
Don’t Focus on Quantity
I’ve learned the hard way that while publishing every day seems like the thing to do – if you are not committing many hours to the process every day, the quality of your work will suffer.
I would rather publish one epic post a week than three weak ones.
People hate weak, and Google doesn’t like it much either.
I had a few months straight, where I published on Medium every single day, sometimes up to three times per day. And even though I was writing for 12-hour stretches, the quality of my work was terrible. People noticed and stopped reading. My earnings plummeted.
Now I post two times a week and make sure that every piece I write is a winner before I hit that publish button.
Now I am earning more than ever.
Don’t Make it About Yourself
My main problem before was that I was writing too much about myself. I loved the personal essay. I wrote about mental health and my life of trouble, but I never really added value to other’s lives.
I’ve spent 80% of the last 20+ years writing about myself, and you can probably guess I’m not rolling in money right now.
I don’t have a book deal. I don’t sell pieces to magazines. I’m not a travel writer.
I may never be a brilliant essayist.
I decided to stop writing about myself so much, and only adding personal anecdotes when they could help my reader understand something, or I was writing from direct experiences, like now.
When you write, your reader should know immediately what is in it for them. They didn’t come to your blog to hear about your life like you are famous, rich, or a celebrity.
People want value, and you must give it to them.
Blogging is not something you can do for a few weeks and then sit back and watch the money roll into your bank. You have to be doing the work, creating content, promoting, refining – day in and day out.
If you are not committed to the process from day one, it will show in your work. If you are just going through the motions, people will see. If you are not serious about what you are doing, you might as well never start blogging.
I see so many start and never finish. Even I have a past track record of starting blogs and forgetting about them. The web sags under the weight of the burning husks of my previous blogging endeavors, and that is why I am telling you that it doesn’t work.
If you want to be a successful blogger – no matter your definition of success – you have to show up and do the work.
It’s the Little Things Really
If someone says they have all the answers when it comes to blogging, you have to question their motives.
I know I don’t have all the bases covered, but after 20 years, I’ve taken the blindfold off and started taking a look at the way we “do” blogging with new eyes. I admit that I was still giving out questionable information to make money until very recently.
I have no motive now except for making a little spare change when I publish on Medium. I’m not monetizing posts on my personal blog any longer, at least the ones where I talk about blogging. I’m only trying to figure out where it is we went wrong with blogging and how we can fix it.
I am digging deep to find the answers and solutions to the question: How can I make money with a blog?
And I will find those answers.
How to Do Blogging Right
First, let’s go back to what we have been doing wrong and make sure we address those points:
- Don’t find a niche, look for a problem, and find the solution. Do some research. Brainstorm a list of issues in your life that you may have an answer to. Go to Google Trends and find out if people are searching for the problem you had. If they are, use Ubersuggest (it’s free) to see how much competition you will have solving this problem and if there is an audience ready to read your content. You will be in a much better place than if you picked some generic niche.
- Before you launch or monetize your blog, create content for a while. Get your audience to trust what you say before you try to get them to buy anything. Stop throwing up tons of annoying ads and popups. All they want is their problem solved. Solve the problem – gain trust. Gain trust, and you can sell them anything.
- Be consistent. I realize this may be hard on platforms like Medium, where you may be waiting for publications to publish for you, but at least do your best to have an approximation of a schedule. If you always post twice a week, keep doing it.
- Don’t make everything about yourself. Write to add value to the lives of your audience. If you aren’t adding value, you are writing for your mother, because she is the only one that will read. Get out of your own head and find out what the audience wants.
- Be committed to doing whatever it takes to be a successful blogger.
A new way of blogging requires us to have a new set of priciples for soing things the way we do. Here are a few I’ve been working on:
- 90% of content success is the headline. I try to create five different headlines before I write the article, just so I am primed to write about the subject, and I write 5 more after I finish to make sure I am writing the best headline possible. I tried writing clever plays on words, but nothing is better than just spelling out the value you intend to give. Keep it simple.
- Ignore all the “writing” advice. I’m guessing you are regularly reading articles and essays about how to be a better writer. Stop it! Chances are you already know everything you need to know. Stop looking for fancy formatting tips and hacks to make you appear larger than life. Find your voice and use it. Be different. Don’t copy anyone else. All the secrets and hacks will get you nowhere. Just write. And publish. And then move on to the next fucking thing. You are already a good writer unless you are not, and you will never find out the truth if you don’t write.
- Don’t overuse images. While a great image can evoke emotion and interest in the mind of your reader, overdoing it only irritates and breaks up an otherwise lovely flow of words. Don’t sprinkle images that mean nothing because you can. The only people telling you to use a lot of pictures are trying to sell you an Adobe Stock subscription.
- Be yourself. Being a successful blogger is not just about how well you write. It’s about your look, your voice, your uniqueness. Look at the spectrum of bloggers who are making money. There is no one way to position yourself to the audience. Be yourself and cut to the chase. If they don’t like you, at least you won’t have wasted any time pleasing them. Show your true colors! Be a character. Be different.
Is That It?
Quite frankly, there is so much to blogging that I may research and test to find the answers for the rest of my life and still not have made a scratch in the understanding of what it takes to be a successful blogger.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, but our quest for knowledge will continue with other articles. As we usher in a new age, the idea of blogging is changing, and we need to be changing right along with it.
Never give up trying to find the answers and looking for the truth. When the day comes that I have found the formula for successful blogging, I will be sure to share it will you first.
Be different. Use your voice. Be committed. These are variables you have control over. Stop concerning yourself with what you can’t change.
Move forward in your blogging journey and start doing blogging the right way.