10 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging…

So, you’re either thinking about starting a blog or maybe you’ve been at it for a while.  The first salient question that you should ask yourself is simply, “why?”  A large percentage of bloggers start out with lofty dreams of sitting at home drinking coffee in their bathrobe and making a good income while they’re at it.  Others might start off with more altruistic reasons, but then decide to monetize their blog.  A very small subset of the bloggers continue to write and maintain excellent blogs simply because of their passion for writing about a certain topic.

Regardless of the reasons, the one common denominator is that the vast majority of blogs that have longevity do so because they do actually generate income.

When I first started blogging back in August of 2007, prominent bloggers who were well-known and recognized included Darren Rowse (Problogger), Seth Godin, and Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) being the most memorable among others.  All three of these blogs have survived numerous changes in SEO, social media, and the advent of user-generated content from Web 2.0 sites. What these blogs also share in common is that they have managed to build an established brand in part by writing large amounts of quality content.

Back on topic…  Without further ado…

Here’s 10 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging:

10.  Regardless of your blog’s objective to either one of  the disparate goals of making income or simply promoting some type of altruistic cause, you’ll soon find out that creating a successful blog, however you define it, is a very challenging task.  There’s certainly a huge gap between creating a free-hosted blog at WordPress.com or a similar provider and actually creating a blog that attracts readers and grows a regular readership.

9.  People don’t actually read blogs…  This a two-part insight.  First, though your blog may generate, hmm, let’s say 200 page views in a given day, the percentage of those page views comprised of people who actually even attempted to read your article is a significantly smaller fraction.  Secondly, when I said that people don’t actually read blogs what I meant is that people don’t read blogs in the same manner that they read a book or newspaper article.

Research shows that people typically scan through websites in an F shape pattern.  It might be hard to swallow your pride and concede that at best most of your page views are comprised of a few people who bothered to even scan your precious article.

8.  It takes about 2 months before a blog on a new domain will actually start to pull some search engine traffic. When you first start a blog, other than people like your mother or maybe your girlfriend, no one’s reading the site.  Why?  Well, unless you manage to promote your blog through conversation/word-of-mouth, or perhaps leverage some brilliant social media promotion, no one will read your article post for the first two months.

Google’s sandbox may prevent or hinder new websites from ranking well in searches and that’s if you’ve managed to get anyone of significance to link to your articles.  It can take far longer to actually have your articles rank well for competitive search terms.

7.  Blog’s are a unique way to meet and interact with people who have similar interests on very specific topics from around the world. Okay, this sounds patently obvious when I re-read it, but experiencing this type of human interaction reflects a change in how our society operates.

6.  SEO is a three-letter word.  What message am I trying to communicate by saying this?  I don’t have clue, but SEO is a nebulous concept to most bloggers.  Some including myself tend to get over preoccupied with various aspects of SEO at the time cost of maintaining frequent content updates.  Others neglect it completely and find it frustrating that no one is still reading their blog yet…

5.  PageRank is not a grade. When I first was apprised of the concept of Google’s PageRank, it seemed to resonate with my feelings of getting graded on a term paper.  I can’t remember what the PageRank of the blog that I had at the time actually was, but I felt like Google had given me a C- grade on the blog itself. It was a truly horrible feeling…

4.  PageRank is a commodity. If you start blogging and manage to naturally generate some quality backlinks to the degree that your site gets a Pagerank of 4 or higher, you’ll soon find people offering to “advertise” on your site in the form of a text link in your blog’s sidebar.  Unless you’re an ingenue, you may realize that the polite person offering to advertise on your site could care less about promoting their website to your blog readers.  No, they’re actually trying to buy PageRank which is a violation of Google’s terms of service.

4.  Quality content + frequent posting is key to generating traffic. Well, throw in either one of a great deal of patience and persistence or some brilliant SEO/Social media and you will eventually have a high traffic blog if you provide quality content that you post frequently.  Given that I do realize this, it’s some advice that I should adhere to one of these days…

  • What Is Quality Content? (Google)

3.  I make a lot of typos… that I often completely miss. I hate to promulgate this truth, but I’ve created some lasting bad habits when it comes to writing blog entries.  I now blog primarily because I do enjoy writing, but my early days of blogging on free hosted sites were primarily efforts to generate relevant backlinks to my company’s product websites.  As such, this enduring habit involves writing one draft in WordPress with the small screen editor and clicking ‘post’ immediately thereafter.

Getting feedback from other bloggers in your niche regarding ideas to improve the quality of your blog is a great idea. When I solicited the advice and opinion of one of my friends, his first suggestion was that I try using a spell check. I sometimes cringe when I read previously published posts at a later date and continually vow to get around to making use of the spell check feature on my blog or finding a different editor to write posts with.

2.  Things change… There’s always new changes and paradigm shifts in the blogging environment.  You really have to attempt, at least, to stay on top of trends.  One change that I’ve often neglected is the importance of social media.  Part of me feels reluctant to spam links and articles on other people while the other part of me is too lazy to invest the time in promoting content with social media networks.

Social media has in some respects surpassed traditional SEO methods for increasing blog traffic.  My buddy, Doug aka Health Habits, who’s worked with me on starting the Hive Health Media network is far better than I am in terms of understanding the nuances of social media.  Last weekend, he unleashed some retweets of my blog posts with his 50k+ 300k Twitter followers and my blog traffic probably tripled for about three days.

  • Social Media is the New SEO (AXZM)

1.  A little help from my friends… Like anything else, blogging involves networking.  Networking can be done by various means ranging from writing thoughtful comments on other blogs to just finding ways to connect to other bloggers.  In the end this can make blogging both a far more enjoyable and productive endeavor.

With this in mind along with the reality that the bigger footprint you can stamp on the internet, I chose to create this blog network along with Doug Robb.   If you’re interested in joining our growing network, we’d be happy to hear from you.  Even if you’re not I’m always happy to connect with other health and fitness blog writers.  If I like your site or content, in the interest of freemium, I’ll be happy to use this and other websites of mine to promote your content.

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