Naturally, there are going to be exceptions to the rules, but there seem to be some very big mistruths floating around about blogging. It boggles the mind to see all the “overnight successful bloggers” out there that are assuring you that if you just follow their plan, you will have overnight success, too. You may be left feeling like you must not have what it takes to make it as a blogger. Well, obviously if everyone else is seeing such overnight success, then you must be doing something wrong….right? No! You have just fallen into the trap of blogging truths and downright lies!
When I decided to write out this post, I was concerned that I may be stepping on the toes of some of my fellow bloggers. Maybe they will find what I am saying offensive. Maybe they will see it as a personal attack. That is certainly not the intent in which this is written. I know and admire many great bloggers out there. Most, of which, do offer great advice and are very trustworthy. So, I worried they might take this the wrong way. Then, I realized that they must have come across these same things as well, back when they were struggling to make a go of it.
I also know that there are many new and/or struggling bloggers out there who are seeing all the hype coming at them from all corners. If you are here, you are likely one of them. Perhaps you are struggling to find your place in the blogging world. Maybe you find yourself feeling deflated by what you perceive to be your lack of success. But what you haven’t been told, and probably should, is that most of what you have heard is simply not true. So, let me break down these barriers in your mind by exposing these myths.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies!
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #1…
Content is King:
What does that even mean??? And, who determines good versus bad content. Well, “the viewers” you might say. So, if you have low viewership, does that mean your content is bad? Not necessarily. It takes time to build a good viewership, and great content is a very subjective term. After all, some people thought Jerry Springer had great content, while others… not so much.
So, how do you know if you have great content. Well, that comes with finding your voice. Eventually, you will reach a point where you find your groove. That groove will be the comfortable place that you find yourself easily slipping into. The topics that you get excited about, the ones that are not filler content, the ones that seem to flow easily – that is your great content. The only truth is that there is no set rules for what is and what isn’t great. Love him or hate him, Jerry Springer was so successful because he found his groove, turned it into a rut, and rode it all the way to the bank.
However, a blog can not live on content alone. It takes a well designed blog to make things run smoothly. Great content can get lost inside a jumbled up and busy page. I have seen plenty of blogs that have some good material, but turn people off by looking too spammy, being too slow to load, or being too hard to maneuver. So, before you start picking apart your writing content, ask yourself if that is really a problem.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #2…
“How I went from zero to hero!”
You’ve seen articles like this. You know exactly what I mean. Everywhere you look, bloggers are adamantly stating how they achieved 100k viewers overnight, and how they can teach you to do the same.
First of all, I know there are some very legitimate bloggers out there that seem to have shot up out of nowhere. After less than a year, their viewer count is soaring into the stratosphere. We all want to be one of those bloggers, but sadly those are not the norm. More often than not, there is A LOT of exaggeration behind these claims, or at the very least, there is some missing information that you would probably have liked for them to have disclosed.
For instance, is their blog coming off of another blog. It is a whole lot easier to drive traffic up on a new blog if you already have a large following elsewhere. The experience that one gets from having already gone down the blogging road is a big factor in having a fast turn around on a second or third blog. Being able to dodge mistakes and see fast progress is definitely a plus in these situations. Now, I am not saying that these particular bloggers do not have a lot of great advice to offer. After all, they certainly have the experience, but I always feel a little put off by the lack of disclosure of said experience.
Another telltale sign that something is off is the analytics they use to support their claims. While you can’t always know if the analytics that are being touted have been influenced by previous successes, you can try to vet what you are seeing. For example, (and this is one of my biggest pet peeves), are they showing you a wide range of their analytics, or does it appear to be a narrow, hand-picked and glossed over section.
Of course, we all want to display ourselves in the best light, and rightly so, but I really dislike it when the spike that I am being shown is for one blip in time. Or even worse, spread out over the holidays. You’ll know what I mean when they show you 12 months of slow progress, and the bam! They have a major jump for the next 2 months. Seriously?!?! Show me that you maintained those amazing numbers for a while, before I am willing to buy what you are selling.
Anyone can have a viral post. I have found that some bloggers take advantage of these viral numbers to demonstrate “proof” to support their claims. What you want to see is long-term evidence, like Abby over at Just a Girl and Her Blog shows her viewers. (You can actually follow her progress for about a 4 year period, through her income statements). If they don’t have this kind of extensive proof, they should at least show the analytics for the next 6 months to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. That way you can know for sure that they may actually be onto something, and not just pulling your leg.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #3…
It doesn’t cost anything to have a blog business:
Bologna! If you are planning a serious business blog, you should expect to dish out some dough up front. (And, when I say up front, I mean during your first tax year.) Now, that is not to say that it will be expensive. I mean, it’s not like you are going to have to offer up your first born to get things off the ground. But, anything other than a hobby blog will require some funds. That may be just something like a few dollars for a basic hosting service, or it could be hundreds of dollars to invest in something like photography equipment. Regardless, if you are planning to make money, you should expect to spend some. How much you are willing to set aside for investment is purely up to you.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #4…
Start Blogging in 20 Minutes or Less (or something similar):
Well, maybe that is how long it takes for you to read the article with that headline. The truth of the matter is that getting a blog up and off the ground will take you much longer than that. I spent a full month on customizing and planning my layout and writing up my first posts. (You really need to have several for each category before you go live). If you just slap something together with little to no thought, you are just going to be creating issues for yourself in the long run. Sure, the initial steps of starting a blog can be done in about 20 minutes. But, many of these posts imply (intentionally or otherwise) that you will be off and running before sundown.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #5…
Social Media is everything:
Here’s the thing about social media, the rules change all the time. Just when you think that you have gotten down one outlet, they will go and change things. Most of the time, bloggers really get the short end of the stick in these situations. Now, I’m not going to tell you that social media doesn’t matter, because that would just be another lie. However, I will tell you that it probably doesn’t matter as much as you have been led to believe.
Yes, you should still spend a bit of effort working your accounts. But, you shouldn’t spend all of your time chasing some elusive number of followers. Instead, try to focus on what can make or break you in the long-term – email subscribers. This is the only type of followers that you have any real control over.
Think about what happens if Facebook stops forwarding all your posts to your hard-earned followers. (They are actually in the process of doing this, now). How are you going to reach people when you want to? If you have a massive email following, then you don’t have to worry so much about what the other outlets are doing. At anytime, anyone of your biggest traffic referrers can change the game. The only truth about social media is that control is an illusion.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #6…
Get Rich Quick:
Of all the lies available about blogging, this one is probably the biggest. Blogging most certainly is not a get rich quick method that works. While there are certainly a lot of bloggers out there making substantial incomes, they very rarely reach their status quickly. It takes a lot of dedication and work to build a blog to an income level that would be considered an acceptable income.
That’s not to say that blogging can’t provide a comfortable living. However, I wouldn’t recommend starting one because you believe that it will be quick and easy money. You need to love what you are doing and care about the quality of your blog. Otherwise, you will eventually flounder, and everything will have been for nothing.
Blogging Truths and Downright Lies #7…
Blogging is Easy:
I am on the fence a bit with this topic. I certainly wouldn’t say that blogging is hard, at least not in the sense of something being difficult to accomplish. However, I find this statement to be misleading. If you talk to any professional blogger, they will tell you that they work just as many hours on their blog as they would at any 9-5 job. In fact, I actually work more than 40 hrs a week on this blog, often typing and editing after everyone else has gone to bed.
I will say though, that a large factor on a blogger’s level of ease has a lot to do with the type of blog that they are running, and how profitable they want it to be. For example, I have a home improvement blog. That means that before I can write-up a post, I often have to build or fix something to write about. Then, there is photography, videography, writing and editing to be done. In addition to those things there is social media, newsletters, and normal site maintenance that needs to be performed regularly. All these things can eat up your time.
Now, if you are planning to run a blog that doesn’t require the extra steps of building or creating, then you may have it a little easier than some. Although, you should keep in mind that as a blog grows and becomes more profitable, the demand for time will also expand.
I guess the point that I am trying to make in this post is that you shouldn’t measure your success based on another blogger’s standards. You should set goals and projections based on your own previous history. If you have been growing at a 10% monthly rate for the past year, then it is reasonable to expect that you will continue to see a 10% growth rate.If you can’t accept those results, then determine where you can make improvements, and set goals based on those improvements.
There are a lot of great bloggers that offer good advice for reaching your own goals. Yes, you can learn from their experiences, buy their books, and read their posts. Just make sure that you are getting quality information, and know how to weed out the good from the bad.
But most of all, build trust with your viewers and develop relationships with them and other people in your niche. Blogging can be a rewarding career as long as you don’t get too caught up in all the hype out there. Otherwise, you may set yourself up for disappointment and failure. You’ ll get there eventually, but not on anyone else’s time frame.
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