Successful Blogging is Not About Becoming a Superstar
Last week one of the most successful bloggers in the marketing industry, Neil Patel has published a post called "How to Become a Blogging Superstar". At first I felt like it was 2007 again, or even 2002. Why? I first started reading blogs around 2001 I think. I started my first blog in 2003.
It was a blog a about radical art mostly. For the small niche it covered and the language it was written in it was hugely successful. That's one of the reasons I moved on to professional blogging at first and then writing in English later for an international audience in 2007.
I still earn at least half of my money by blogging, the other half by SEO.
I never was a blogging superstar though. I was successful, even popular but I wasn't huge like many others before and after me. I think the main reason why I wasn't is time and money. I had to do client work that paid immediately instead of blogging for revenue that would follow one day or was unstable depending on how many ads I sold etc.
So my blogging brought me more SEO clients and even blogging clients.
I started working for them and neglected my own blogs. Long story short, the last really successful blog I have worked for has gotten the UK Search Awards for the best SEO blog in 2011 due to my success but I wasn't even invited to the ceremony. The company I worked for has sacked me instead shortly after.
I could start afresh and make my own blog as or even more successful as it was but it doesn't feel the same as 5 years ago. It's not just that I'm older or something and maybe a bit frustrated with building up someone else's brand and getting kicked out.
It's just that the days of superstar bloggers are over.
I have explained why in my stone age of blogging post and also my comment below the post by Neil Patel. That's not the point of my post here. Whining around is not my style. I prefer to learn from mistakes and failures. I want to write about the most viable alternative for successful bloggers. Instead of becoming a blogging superstar there is at least one more preferable way to go.
It's about being profitable on a small scale.
Neil Patel is not only a blogger, he is mainly an entrepreneur having a whole team of people working for him and earning money for him so that he has the time left to write. Becoming a superstar blogger takes a lot of time and perseverance. It takes not only effort, it also requires luck. Plus nowadays the competition is overwhelming as I suggested in my comment already:
Most established blogs have been acquired by large corporations like AOL or publishing houses who pay many writers to blog for them.
You don't want to compete against the big guys, it's not 2007 or 2002 anymore where blogging was new. As a standalone blogger you can't match the manpower.
What you can do though is to become an authority in your niche or industry.
Ideally you have a business model for your blog from day one so that after a few months of hard work and steady gaining popularity you earn money with the blog directly.
You know blogging by itself doesn't make you money.
You usually need a product or service you sell by becoming well known and respected through your blog. There are still amazing success stories like the one of Jon Cooper from Point Blank SEO, the 18 year old guy who made himself popular in the SEO industry like no other in just a few months. Still that popularity doesn't secure you an income. As suggested above you need to earn money by something else than just the blogging.
There are several possibilities for those who don't have a product or service to sell yet to make money with your own blog:
- affiliate marketing
- advertising (Google Adsense e.g.)
Personally I don't like the affiliate marketing path because it compromises the integrity of the blogger too much. You have to praise affiliate products all the time and make sure people click and buy the products of your partners.
Other types of sites work better for affiliate marketing.
Comparison sites for example where you have several products compared and all of them are linked with an affiliate code. This way you don't have to stretch the truth.
I have tried the other two models successfully though. I even combined them. I have created blogs with clients or for them in that they were sponsored. The blog has been paid by the client so that it spreads the word about the brand. The content was not necessarily about the client. It just covered the niche or industry the client wanted to get known in. The blogging worked great for SEO as well.
One of the blogs earned its money for both me and my client by Yahoo ads similar to Google Adsense but better. The blog was profitable for years until Google Panda has come. The blog was on a subdomain and as the main domain was hit the blog lost as well. The other blog has been sponsored for two years by a client who got both rankings of the main site through it and became popular as a brand.
Right now I work for clients who want to succeed the same way with their own blogs so I make it happen.
As long as you have a dedicated team who writes for the blog it still can work. One man show blogs are more difficult though. Still even today you can pick a niche too small for the huge competition and become profitable in it. Then it will still be your full time job to make it work. You can follow the advice of Neil Patel but don't expect the superstar blogger status. You will be probably disappointed. Not everybody has to be like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. Lots and lots of bloggers can earn a living by excelling in their niche, industry or country.
I may tell you more if you want on how exactly I made my niche blogs profitable. Tell me in the comments in case you are interested.
* Lady Gaga: Creative Commons image by Graham Blackall.