stop telling everyone they can make money with a blog

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

Type “how to make money blogging” into the Google search bar.

WINNER!

  • “How I Made 100K in My First 6 Months Blogging!”
  • “How to Make $200 a day with a Blog!”
  • “How to Make Thousands in Passive Income Every Month with Blogging!”

(click)

Here are my income reports. You can trust me. Here is how you can make as much money as me:

Find a niche. Purchase hosting (affiliate link). Install WordPress. Buy a theme (affiliate link). Install plugins (affiliate link). Write five blog posts. Place ads in the posts. Add affiliate links (affiliate link).

We are all saying the same thing; some of us are just holding out a bigger and prettier carrot.

How do I know? Because I’ve done it myself many times over the years. Because we have been hawking the same formula for blogging success since Google started allowing us to run ads, and someone added their first affiliate link to a post.

Look at the headlines of some the posts on my blog:

Why do I, and thousands of others like me, continue to write the same old advice over and over again?

To be honest, this formula we all use (niche/hosting/theme/plugins/5 blog posts/monetize/drive traffic) works!

Yes, it does!

So Why am I Complaining?

The problem is not giving away the formula for creating a successful blog. This process has been proven time and time again to work.

None of us are cheating anyone by sharing what works.

The problem is the carrot. The problem is what happens after our users finish our seven-day course, build their blog, add content, and wait.

And wait…

And wait.

The problem is we are getting them excited to make thousands the easy way, because how else are we going to get them to break out the credit card? Do you think people would be willing to buy a $999 course if we told them the truth from the beginning?

Well, some would, but not enough to support the thousands of bloggers offering courses to the same group of people.

This has gotten out of hand.

Let’s Step Back for a Moment on This Blogging Thing

Let look at the stats for a minute (from optinmonster):

  • The number of bloggers in the USA is expected to grow to 31.7 million in 2020.
  • There are more than 500 million blogs that exist in 2019.
  • As of 2019, there are roughly 1.9 billion web pages
  • Each month, approximately 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages.

Good news, right? Let look at a few more facts about blogging from LifeHacker:

survey of 1,000 bloggers by Blogging.com in 2012 found that 17% are able to sustain their lifestyle or support their family with their blogs, while 81% never make even $100 from blogging. The other 2% spend less than 2 hours a day blogging but make more than $150K.

Sure, that is only a sample of 1000 bloggers, but it gives you insight into what I am trying to tell you.

We Need to Be Honest About Blogging

Yes, I understand that there is only a small amount of pie for a big group of bloggers. I appreciate that Marketing 101 tells you that you have to make your offer attractive.

But do we have to lie by omission?

  • Most of us don’t tell these people that blogging is a competitive industry, and there is a lot of time and hard work involved to get to even making $100 a month.
  • Most of us try to act like anyone can be a blogger. Yes, anyone can write and publish, but only a few people are successful, internet famous, or outliers. Blogging, like vlogging, takes a special person with a unique look, writing voice, personality, life experience, motivation, drive, and talent. It’s not true that anyone can be a financially successful blogger just by force of will or want.
  • We don’t explain that nothing about blogging is passive. Sure, once you have everything set up, your workload decreases sometimes, but how many of the outliers would truthfully say that they are earning passive income?
  • We don’t prepare people for the investment of time and especially money they have to put into running a blog. Yes, there are some free things available, but I’ve been trying for 20 years to start and manage a blog that is totally free of investment, and it is not possible. People need to know that. Because some people go into this without being able to pay for their own internet, expecting to pull themselves out of poverty in a short time with blogging. I know I did.
  • We don’t tell everyone that 80% of people who get into blogging to make money will fail to make over $100.

In a rush to show off our income reports, and promising people that they will make $$$ by following our formula, we have millions of dead blogs lying fallow, millions of angry people with a bad taste in their mouth about blogging, and a reputation for being liars and cheats looking to separate people from their hard-earned money.

In a rush to sell courses and subscriptions, we inspired the real crooks and cheaters to use our formulas to dupe the innocent with big claims and pie-in-the-sky earnings.

We aren’t picky about who takes our courses as long as the credit card isn’t declined.

I Will Ease Up, I am Sorry

Why am I so passionate? Why would I feel so strongly about this that I would risk ridicule from my friends in the blogging industry to say my peace?

I am just like all of you. I have expertise in blogging and writing, and I want to share what I’ve learned and make money in the process. My formula for building a successful blog is the same as yours out there.

Why?

Because it works!

But I’ve grown dissatisfied and disillusioned with pushing the same game to a new generation of bloggers.

I thought maybe the life changes forced upon me by the pandemic were what changed my mind, but looking back on my writing over the past year showed me that this is a long time coming.

I don’t want to sell the same old snake oil. I want people to know what they are getting into so they can make rational and realistic decisions about whether they want to buy my courses or ebooks, or click my affiliate links.

I want to lay out all my cards from the beginning and stop using questionable marketing tactics to trick people into swiping their credit cards.

And I want you to join me.

Why?

Because if we are all on the same page, and we are honest from the start, the real crooks will flush out. Yes, our sales may decline for a while, but if we are above-board, the tricksters will fail.

Look at these new generations! Look at what is going on in politics. They tire of Trump and the republicans lying and cheating. They tire of being told to take what they are given. They tire of working their asses off and the Bezos’s of the world getting rich.

They no longer want smoke and mirrors. They don’t want the hard sell and the funnels. They don’t want ads flashing pizzazz in their faces promising them the world in exchange for their hard-earned money.

They want us to be honest.

After the blogger’s armageddon, when the criminals are flushed out and run out of town, the new generation of consumers will come to us because we were honest and straightforward with them from the beginning.

When the shock of Covid-19 has lessened, and people start spending again, they won’t be looking for the old-school capitalists and shady marketers to buy from—they will be looking for you and me.

Let’s be ready for them.

What We Have to Do Right Now

I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that things need to change

  • We can tell them that blogging is a great way to make money for some, but it’s not for everyone. Not everyone will be a success.
  • We can stop using questionable words to describe blogging like: passive, easy, guaranteed, and free.
  • We can stop wowing people with our income reports, because, while there is nothing wrong with giving people hope, we need to stop convincing people who will never put in the time, money, and work that they will be successful. We always come out looking worse than they do.
  • We need to realize that some of us have the benefit of things that others don’t–  like a good education, money, good health, and skin-color that no one finds objectionable. It’s harsh I know, but many are trying to act like they are self-made when their parents paid for college and the trip around the world that they write about on their blog, and they have never struggled to make ends meet or put food on the table.
  • We can stop making decisions based on the almighty dollar and start benefiting the people who are scraping by and the planet some of us are trying to save. Start giving more than we are receiving and see how it changes you as a person.

I don’t want to speak from a high horse like I am better than everyone else. I’ve been blogging for 20+ years, and I am one of the reasons that the blogging industry is what it is today. People like me are the reason blogging turned into such a big business, and our journey paved the way for the crooks and cheaters to come in and turn this into a shitshow.

So, blame me, but take my advice and change the way you make your money with blogging.

Stop telling everyone they can be a successful blogger– you know there is more to it than want, need, and passion. Stop telling people they don’t need money to get started because some investment is required.

And, stop telling people they can be just like you when only a tiny percentage will.

Change what needs to be changed, but don’t change who you are. I love the blogging community and look forward every day to be interacting with all of you.

You are good people, but it’s time to change business as usual.

resources i use to start and manage my blogs

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

After building hundreds of blogs over the years, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I’ve tried everything under the sun and dumped what just wasn’t working for me.

These products are what was left.

Hosting Your Blog

Of all the hosting companies I’ve used over the years, two have proven they are the best at what they do. Depending on if you want blazing speed, great support, or a low price, pick one of the following:

SiteGround

I have used SiteGround for years because of their superior support, focus on security, and blazing-fast servers, and have suggested to many of the businesses I have built blogs for that they sign up. WordPress.org loves them, and so do I. I even wrote “A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up A Blog with SiteGround Hosting.” You will never go wrong with Siteground.

NameCheap

I don’t usually suggest shared hosting, but I needed cheap hosting quickly for this blog, and NameCheap was there for me. I have been so impressed by them that I have continued to use them. Support is delightful, and for shared servers, they are speedy. I got a 99% on the speed test from Google with NameCheap, and if it’s good enough for them, I will continue to be a customer. If you want inexpensive hosting that checks off all the boxes, go with NameCheap.

NameCheap is also the best place to register your domain names.

The Best WordPress Themes

If you want a fast-loading blog that looks great, you need to buy a professional-class WordPress theme, and there are only two places I go to get one.

StudioPress

I’ve been using StudioPress themes for quite some time now, and whenever I want a professionally-coded and fast theme, I get one from StudioPress.

Envato

Many of the themes I buy some from Envato. They have so many professional themes; you are bound to find one that is exactly what you are looking for. I’ve always been happy with the WordPress themes I’ve bought from Envato, and I will keep going there in the future.

WordPress Plugins

First and foremost, I have to suggest a plugin that has changed the way I look at SEO and blogging. I am not an affiliate for them, but this plugin is just so fantastic that I can’t help but insist that you add it to your blog. Not only does Yoast Seo check to see if you are following SEO best practices and help you set your meta settings to get the best rankings you can get, but they help you set everything up with Search Console in the beginning. I can’t say enough about this plugin.

iThemes Security Pro

The need for extra security measures on your WordPress blog is proven, and I have tried many different plugins, but the one I always go back to is iThemes Security Pro. There are so many different variables you need to be aware of when it comes to security, and iThemes makes sure you know about them and configure them correctly. You can even set up Brute Force Protection in one step!

Monster Insights

Don’t wait until you miss out on traffic opportunities to set up Google Analytics. To get all your stats right in the WordPress admin, you have to use Monster Insights.

WP Forms

There is always a need for a form on your blog, and the easiest way I found was to use WP Forms. This plugin is especially great for beginners because they walk you through, step-by-step creating a form, and placing on a page. I use it because it’s just so darn easy, and it does what I want it to do.

Revive Social

The two plugins, Revive Old Post and Revive Network help you share old posts that don’t get much love anymore and help you build up your circle and network by sharing posts in your niche or area of interest. Revive Social is a must if you want to get more traffic from your older work.

Email Marketing

A mailing list is one of the most important things you can’t overlook when building a blog.

AWeber

When you think of email marketing, you always hear about that other guy, but you should take a look at the features of AWeber’s email marketing system. You will be surprised and delighted by what they have to offer.

Social Media

Social media will be an essential part of your marketing, and it helps to have a few tools to help you along.

TailWind

Pinterest may be the most crucial part of your social media arsenal. Using Tailwind to schedule your pins is so much easier and much more effective than manual pinning. Since I started using Tailwind on my blog, my traffic from Pinterest has tripled! Do yourself a favor and use it.

Revive Social

I’ll mention the two plugins, Revive Old Post and Revive Network again because they help you share old posts that don’t get much love anymore and help you build up your circle and network by sharing posts in your niche or area of interest. Revive Social is a must if you want to get more traffic from your older work.

Stock Photos

You need unique stock photos and illustrations for your blog, and sure, you could use a free service like Unsplash, or Pexels, but you have to know that everyone else will be using the same photos for their blog. You need to set yourself apart!

Deposit Photos

If you need royalty-free stock photos, vectors, or videos, there are 149 million files available on Deposit Photos. You are sure to find unique and compelling artwork and images to make your blog pop!

Scopio

Scopio is a stock photo service that bills itself as more diverse, affordable, and authentic than other sites, and by the look of their images, they are not wrong. You can get a lifetime of Scopio images for only $29.

Creating Blog Graphics and Pins

You will need to create graphics for social media and your blog, and if you don’t have Photoshop skills or Photoshop money, you need alternatives.

Canva Pro

Canva is an excellent tool for creating all kinds of graphics, from logos and blog banners to YouTube thumbnails and Pinterest pins. Canva will take care of it all.

Fiverr Pro

Maybe you don’t want to create your own graphics, or you have no idea what makes a great logo. Get one of the Fiverr Pro professional graphic designers to do it for you. All services start at just $5!

Other Needs

Here are a few things that help me build and manage blogs that I know will help you as well.

Microsoft Office 365

I’ve had an Office 365 yearly subscription for a few years now, and I couldn’t live without it. Word is like my right hand, and the 1TB OneDrive cloud storage is the best. I use it for everything, and it alone is worth the price.

Dropbox

I also have Dropbox because I like to have backups of my backups. Dropbox is great, and you can get up to 3TB of cloud storage.

Freshbooks

I just started using FreshBooks after using the other big-name accounting software for a long time. Freshbooks is so much easier to use, and it is super powerful!

What Else is There?

What would you add to this list?

3 secrets i use to write remarkable blog posts

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

The experts tell us we should write useful and engaging blog posts, but a lot of us don’t even know where to start. Maybe we are under the mistaken impression it’s because we are not a good enough writer, or perhaps, we just can’t come up with any decent ideas, to begin with.

I know the feeling all too well. I sit and stare at my computer screen and type a few hastily-written sentences, and then I blank out.

Nothing.

Crickets.

It’s a horrible feeling.

But, if we know what we are going to write about and how we are going to write it beforehand, this rarely ever happens.

At least, it doesn’t happen to me anymore.

Here are a few tips from my arsenal of secrets that help me write incredible blog posts every time.

Secret #1: Know the Topic and Plan a Strategy Before You Write a Blog Post

When I am not typing something, I am constantly thinking of new ideas and interesting topics to write about. In fact, I am always writing. Whether I am in the shower or driving to an appointment, I am taking mental notes about what is happening around me and generating ideas.

The first chance I get, I record them in the Evernote app to keep track of everything that runs through my brain.

I never know when inspiration may strike. I used to keep a little notebook with me, but Evernote makes it so much easier, and I can add detail, so I have more material to work with when I sit to write.

Most of the time, unless I am in the zone and the words are flowing freely, I like to write a short outline—how I want to present my information and specific points I want to make.

I write down sentences that serve as the main ideas for my post, which turn into headings and subheadings in the finished post.

Then, I jump on Google and look at what others have written to get material to fill in the spaces between my ideas.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not telling you to steal someone else’s work. Summarize what they have written and rewrite the facts in your own unique style, and more importantly, make it better.

After you have done this, you have the first draft, and it will be much, much easier to do the hard work of creating something inspired and great from that.

If you do this enough, you will get to a point where your experience and knowledge will start to fill in the gaps in your writing, and you won’t have to search for inspiration on Google. Sure, you will still need to research, but eventually, you will write in flow and forget about being blocked.

Secret #2: Show Empathy

One of the least known secrets to a good blog post is to show empathy when you write. 

I must admit: this is not my idea, but one learned from Jon Morrow at SmartBlogger.com. He is a master at writing with empathy and credits his success in blogging in part to learning how to empathize with his reader and show it in his writing.

Empathy Versus Sympathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is a much different thing than sympathy. To show the difference, watch this great video from Brené Brown:

Empathy is staying off a high horse and getting down to our reader’s level and showing you know how they feel because you’ve been there before.

Try to avoid sympathy because it makes what you write sound hollow and disingenuous.

After you have established a common ground, you can offer solutions to help them get through whatever situation they may be struggling with at the time.

This commonality between you and the reader will shine through in your writing and make it much easier for you to create a blog post on a topic which you are passionate about.

Secret #3: Tell a Story

Storytelling is a lost art but one that is very important to learn if you want to connect with the audience in your writing

When I first started blogging, many, many years ago, I had some success because I was always honest and I told stories about my life and the things I was dealing with at that moment. People connected with me because they felt many of the same things I did. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing two things right: showing empathy and telling stories.

The writing may not have been the best, but people related to my stories and always came back to read more.

You can spice up even the most boring subject by telling stories. Think of the authors who you would consider the best writers, and I bet they are great storytellers whether they write fiction or not.

When you are planning your posts, pepper them with stories, whether they are personal or the stories of others. They could be about something you heard or read or a scene from your favorite TV show that relates to what you are writing about in the blog post.

A few stories here and there will turn a good post into a great one.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Of course, there is a lot more to good writing than these three things. Other tricks you can easily find on the internet will help you get unstuck and able to inspire others.

If you start at the bottom (everyone does) and improve over time, you will eventually be able to write effectively and with ease. Don’t try to do or learn everything at once. Start out using one or two elements and get better at including them in everything you write.

No one is a great writer when they first start. It takes time and practice to get all the basics right and write something truly stirring.

I don’t see myself as a great writer, but with each story or article I post, I get better. If you seek to improve each time, you will get to a point where people will come back, again and again, to see what you have written.

Have a little patience. Be honest and genuine, and always aim to tell a good story.

What tips do you have that you use to write remarkable blog posts? Add them to the comments below!

How to Write a Blog Post Your Readers Won’t Be Afraid to Share With Their Friends

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

I built my first online journal in 1996 before they were called blogs or even weblogs. I have been coding websites before there was WordPress, and CSS was a new technology. Now I spend my time writing blog posts for my travel blog, The Frightened Traveler, and publishing stories on Medium.com, and I’ve learned a thing or two. There is a formula that works best for creating these pieces.

Good writing is good writing no matter where you post, but if you genuinely want to get ahead of the game, follow the tips below.

Steal All the Best Topics – But Research Them Yourself First

Don’t ever kid yourself that anything you can think of will be unique. Everything you envision is a product of what you have been exposed to in your life and the experiences you have had. Don’t try to reinvent the light bulb, copy the light bulb, and create your own spin on it.

For blogs, I like to do a search on Pinterest for a topic and scroll through the pins that come up. Look at the headlines, and if something jumps out at you, read it. Take notes and figure out how you can do something similar, but different. You want to put your own spin on it. Plagiarism isn’t cool, but trying a new turn on an idea is the highest form of flattery.

After you have a list of possible ideas for blog posts, open your Google keyword planner, and see if people want to read what you want to write. If enough people are searching for the topic, it’s a good bet that your post could generate some traffic.

Consider Your Audience, or Consider Them Gone

I can’t stress enough that if you find a topic you are interested in, you check to see if the blog post has a lot of likes and shares. Most blogs will have a bar that shows the number of shares to social media. If people are sharing, you know they care enough about the subject to read more.

Use Buzzsumo. If you can afford it, it is an indispensable tool that will tell you if your topic or idea has merit. It will tell you if others who wrote about this topic got any traction with it. If they did, it’s your job to do better and improve on what they have done.

Consider what your readers want. Do your homework. There is nothing worse than publishing and having no response.

Put a Personal Spin on the Story

Whatever subject you are writing about, make it a point to add something about your personal experience. I’ve found that adding a personal touch to a post gives it that something special that will make people read and share more readily.

There is a point where you can be too personal.

Sometimes, in particular niches, people only want information, and adding too much personal information will turn the reader off.

You’ll know when you’ve crossed a line. If you do, fix it the best you can and don’t make the same mistake again.

Put Some Serious Work into Your Headline

I wouldn’t be wrong if I said the most critical part of your post is the headline or title. If you don’t make an impact in the beginning, your post will never be read and acted on.

Write several headlines and see which ones work the best. On blogs, I’ve found longer, more descriptive headlines work best.

One of the best tools I’ve found when it comes to checking the effectiveness of headlines is the ShareThrough Headline Analyzer. You will get a headline quality score, among other things. I ran my headline through the analyzer, and it came out above average.

It was good, so I ran with it. Try it for yourself and see if it improves your headlines.

The Opening is an Opportunity
After your headline, your introduction is the most important

When you get a reader’s attention, you want to drag them into the story and give them no choice but to find out what happens next.

The first line is especially important. You want to grab the reader by the shorts and don’t let go until they read and share.

Quotes, facts, shocking details, and questions work very well in your introduction.

Headings Make the Heart Grow Fonder

The worst thing you can do is have one long page of text.

You want to break it up with headings that introduce what you will be talking about in the section. Don’t be boring, try to generate some interest and lead them down the page.

Don’t be afraid to use different levels of headings to break information down even further. Headings, when used with formatting techniques like lists and quotes, will add visual interest to an otherwise dry experience.

Using Bold and Italic

Don’t be afraid to use bold and italic sparingly in your posts.

Use bold to call out unfamiliar or essential words. You don’t want to use bold too much. Like anything, use it in moderation.

Bold can also be used to highlight the first sentence of a long paragraph. I always tend to use shorter ones, but sometimes a topic needs to be discussed at length. You may need to make the paragraph longer and more involved. The bolding helps to introduce what you will be discussing.

Google Considerations – SEO is Your Friend

Making content that Google loves will also create content that readers love. Both are looking for the most exciting and engaging information on a given topic. Design your content for both, and you will never go wrong.

Embed Links When You Can

Google likes links. They want outbound links that connect to sites of authority. You can find a lot of information on the web about the kind of websites Google likes you to link to in your posts.

Google also likes internal links to pages within your own domain. It helps them index your site and creates a better experience for the user.

Keywords are King

You should use keywords, especially in headings and the first paragraph of your post. Keywords and keyphrases help Google figure out how to best rank your pages in the search results.

Try to shoot for longer keyphrases (long-tail keywords) as it will be easier to rank higher for them. It would be tough to rank on the first page of Google for most single keywords.

As much as you want to sprinkle keywords throughout your post and headings, don’t overdo it. Google hates keyword stuffing, and so does your reader because it sounds forced and unnatural.

Closing Like a Champ

After you have created an excellent post, don’t leave the reader hanging. Summarize what you’ve talked about and make an impactful closing statement.

An engaging conclusion is as vital as an attention-grabbing introduction.

Editing and Proofreading – Always Do It

After you’ve finished your first draft and before you publish, go back and edit where necessary. If you have sections that need more explanation, add to it and make it more robust. In places where you are too wordy, remove the filler and make it easier to read.

Proofread your work checking for spelling and grammar errors. When done, check your work with Grammarly to ensure you’ve missed nothing obvious.

Read your work aloud and fix any areas that don’t flow properly. Spend as much time polishing your work as you did creating it.

Your reader will thank you.

Publish Your Masterpiece

When you are happy with the work you have done, it’s time to publish. Make sure you reread your published work to make sure that it is formatted correctly.

Many little things make a good post. But, if you pay attention to these big things that we talked about, you will come out with a finished product that your readers will rave about and share.

Don’t leave it up to chance. Do these things every time!

Your Business Blogging Strategy Should Be (Not) to Bore Your Customers

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

You may think if you write blog posts for businesses, you have to be boring, vanilla, and boilerplate. It’s just not true! We read advice from “experts” that are trying to teach us how to use blogging to market on the internet. After a few hours, you want to jam a sharpened №2 pencil in your brain! No wonder people are walking around in a stupor, staring at their phones in a watery-eyed gaze of death.

Maybe ten years ago, everyone was creating yawn-worthy business content, but not anymore! Have a look at LinkedIn and tell me what you see? Gary Vaynerchuk is dropping f-bombs! Business leaders are talking about mental illness in the workplace. Everywhere we look, we see fantastic content!

Slideshows, video, podcasts! Oh my!

Should we use some of this creative energy to create more entertaining blog posts for our businesses? Should we still care about blogging in 2020?

Why Every Business Should be Blogging

Content marketing is using excellent content to put people “in the mood” to buy without using a hard-sell. Not enough businesses are using content as an alternative to traditional ads and other marketing tactics.

One of the best ways to use content marketing is blogging.

Seriously. Writing stellar content to attract hungry buyers to your product or service is too great an opportunity to pass up. If you aren’t going all-in on business blogging, you are entirely missing the bus.

You have three choices:

  • Spend the time and effort in learning how to
    write great content yourself. Then you create stupendous articles and posts on your blog and build a massive base of fans.
  • Hire someone else who can learn about your business and create remarkable content (perhaps on Fiverr?).
  • Ignore business blogging and get the same lackluster sales you always get. You’ll have to close your business because you were too afraid to commit to the one thing that could have saved you!

Okay. I was a bit salty with that last one, but you get the message.

Writing Business Content Yourself

Do you love to write?

Notice I didn’t ask if you were a good writer. Being “good” is not necessary because most intelligent people can learn to be a fabulous writer. You just have to be willing to practice.

Do you know how great writers become great? They love to write and write something every day! When they started, they were probably terrible, but they kept writing.

Like anyone who is trying to be a professional, they study the best web writers out there daily. They consider people like Brian Clark of CopyBlogger or Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger.

If you write all the time, you will get better. And, don’t write and hide the file on your hard drive. Put it out there for people to see! Show the world you are serious. Have confidence in yourself! A writer with a lot of confidence is always better than one too timid and scared to own what they write.

Most people don’t expect you to be Stephen King right off the bat. Do your best and improve every day.

Get Someone Else to Write Your Content

There are a lot of great writers and content marketing professionals out there looking for work (have you thought of looking on Fiverr.com). You are bound to find one that fits your needs if you look hard enough. I know of at least a thousand on Medium and LinkedIn. If you need an introduction, ask!

Many of the hardest-working and brilliant writers are very busy. But if you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, most will be more than ready to help you.

Be careful of some of the sleazier internet content farms as the barrier to entry for writers is very low. You won’t be happy with the result. Remember, you are creating killer content. You aren’t writing the boring, plagiarized crap that filled the internet years ago. You may get 800 words for $20, but you’ll be better off letting a monkey hammer on your keyboard for an hour!

You have to pay for quality! Call it an investment, because it will earn far more than you spend in the long run.

Sorry, You Missed the Business Blogging Boat

Marketing with content is not a new thing I made up.

Blogging isn’t anything new. A lot of intelligent business people have made it the most significant part of their business. You have to expect the same old advertising strategies would get an upgrade, with all the new technology these days.

Many businesses try to make money the old-fashioned way. That is by filling their websites with Google ads and garish banners. Business people still cling to the notion that anyone cares enough to click their links, except by accident.

Internet users are savvy. They know if you don’t provide them with the answers they seek, your competitor will. Your customers will shift their allegiance without warning. Word will get out that you don’t have their interest in your mind. Soon all you will have for customers is crickets.

It’s brutal, but it’s the truth.

Whatever Path You Choose, Do Not Be Boring!

Either you or another writer has to write your content. It is entirely up to you. I am going to assume you didn’t pick the third choice of not doing anything if you’ve read this far.

Make sure that the content is well-crafted and holds attention. There are many ways you can ensure you don’t bore your readers to tears. Try one or all these strategies from Miranda Hill’s post, “8 Ways to Make Old and Boring Topics Feel New and Exciting Again” on SmartBlogger.com:

  • Turn concepts into characters
  • Make readers choose a side
  • Make them laugh
  • Use data
  • Show some attitude!
  • Use a mismatched tone
  • Predict the future
  • Use visuals

(NOTE: I expect you will need to read the article to understand some of these. I don’t make money referring you there; it’s a professional courtesy to Miranda that I direct you to her fantastic post.)

Using these writing tactics will ensure your content isn’t stuffy. You should be entertaining your readers while giving them the information they came for in the first place. If given a choice to go back and read an article on a website that entertained them, or one that made them want to take a nap with their head resting on a desk, which would they choose? 

I know the answer. Do you?

How to Build an Awesome Blog

How to Build an Awesome Blog

My blog contains links to products and services I promote, and if you buy, I receive a commission. It’s not enough for an iPad, but I can get a large Caffè Americano every day if I want. These links don’t cost you anything, but they mean the world to me because they allow me to continue running this blog and provide free content to my readers. See the Affiliate Disclosure.

I’ve built more websites and blogs than I can remember, and honestly, most of them were pure garbage. The remarkable ones were the product of the lessons I learned from all those failures over the years. Any designer or developer worth their salt will admit not every swing is a hit.

I am going to lay out the key things on which you must focus to have an outstanding finished blog. This list has changed over the years, but there are a few things that stay constant no matter what year it is.

But I have a gift! If you don’t want to sit and read another long article, I will boil down everything I’ve learned over the past 25 years into one word. If you want to create the perfect blog or any website for that matter, the one thing you must achieve is this:

Simplicity.

If you do anything, keep it simple. When I started building websites, everybody was putting loud tiled backgrounds and animated gophers all over their pages.Did I do it? Yes! But if I could go back and talk to myself before I put up a site with blazing yellow and green text, I would tell myself to keep it simple.

Stupid.

If you are still reading, let me drop some value on you. The first lesson I’m going to give you is essential.

What is the Purpose of Your Blog?

If you are going to spend the time and effort to build a blog, you better know the reasons you are putting this piece of art on the web in the first place. Someone telling you that you should is not enough.

  • Will this blog act as a portfolio for your creations to help you get work?
  • Is this blog for visual creation like graphic design, photography, or UI development, or are you showcasing your writing? The design of these blogs will be much different because you have different goals.
  • What do you need the blog to do? Do you want clients to book gigs (services) right from the website, or will you direct them somewhere else? Is this a home or a hub?
  • Will you be selling products from the blog?
  • Do you have a mailing list? Do you need one?

Get crystal clear on your reasons and what you need your blog to do. If you don’t know why you are doing it, it’s better to scrap the whole thing and save yourself the heartache.

Who is Your Audience?

Knowing your audience is especially important if you plan to market or sell from your website. You need to be laser-focused on who you are trying to reach before you decide what you want your site to say or how you want it to look.

Every part of the development and design process should be fixed on your audience.

WordPress or Not?

I love WordPress. But there are some instances where other web platforms perform better. If you want the ease of use and setup, Squarespace or Wix may work better for you. But if you want raw power and control over everything, WordPress is what you want.

Everything I do on the web nowadays is WordPress. Why? Because it’s so easy once you get past the curve. You can cut development time in half because everything you need, in the form of plugins, is already built. There are times when you will need something custom, but it’s better not to start at square one.

Rules that Make or Break a Blog

The design or theme should be simple. If you are a visual artist, your theme may be more graphics intensive. The design and functionality should be straightforward. Don’t surprise your audience, unless surprise is the aim of the blog.

I’m a writer. Look at how simple my blog appears. I intentionally kept the graphics to a minimum because I wanted my audience to focus on the words. Remember your reasons and design accordingly.

  • Less is more — Don’t give your audience too much to do or see when they arrive on your blog. They will decide in the first few seconds if they want to stay or go, so don’t make it easy for them to go. A captivating image or simple call to action is good. Walls of text and loading screens are not.
  • Design with accessibility in mind — Your blog should be accessible, which means that someone with a vision or hearing impairment should be able to interact with it easily. The disabled user should be able to navigate even if they are using a screen-reader or magnifier. If you follow some standard practices for accessibility, your website will be more usable for everyone that uses it, even if they don’t have a disability.
  • Start a list — I can’t begin to stress the importance of capturing email addresses from your audience and fans. Once a person comes to your blog and leaves, they will forget about you. But if you capture their email address and sign them up for your newsletter, you have access to their valuable attention. You can’t put a price on that kind of contact!
  • Check it daily — Your blog should be free of errors — bottom line. There shouldn’t be any grammatical issues, all graphics should display correctly, and your fans should not face any errors. This seems like common sense, but this blog is your brand and your image. It should be perfect, and nothing says amateur like a website full of errors.

This list is not complete, but it outlines a few of the main things you should focus on when you are building your blog.

Your blog will be a crucial asset for your brand. It is a place where people can come to get information about you, and a hub that you can link to when you are marketing on social media.

Your blog is an investment in time and money, treat it with respect and use it to the fullest extent.

You will thank me later.

pinterest graphic