On the 22th of April, 2012, I signed up for a WordPress.com account. The same day I wrote and published my first blog post.
I didn’t know how to write an article, what a headline was, or how to format a blog post. I didn’t know who my target audience was, I didn’t have any social media accounts, and I didn’t have any money.
It took me a month to purchase my domain, and for a long time that was the only money I invested in my blog.
I didn’t know how to write an introduction, how to make my content engaging, or how to add value to my readers. In fact, I didn’t even know about many of the principles of blogging I learned along the way.
All I knew was that I needed an audience. And I just wanted to blog. And I knew that I would give up, no matter what.
And so I wrote. I published every single day, not because that was my strategy, but because I didn’t know what else to do.
It made sense. Just write whatever, as often as possible.
And that’s what I did.
My blog got 500 views during its first month, and then that number slowly jumped to 1,000 views, and then it all kind of went crazy, and six months later I had over 20,000 followers, earning $100-$150 per day.
That was a great time to be a blogger. It was.
All you had to do was be a bit better than the average blogger. That was it. We were having fun because there were no gatekeepers. We could write whatever, whenever, and publish it in any way we saw fit.
People often forget that the truly exceptional thing about blogging is that people read your stuff and they go, “Wow. That’s smart. I never thought of that.” And after a few seconds they go, “I bet I could do that…. Maybe I should.”
This was what made blogging so appealing. A lot of people read blogs armed with the vague hope of someday summoning up the courage to start their own little online space.
It looked easy, and maybe it was easy, because all you had to do was be 1% better than the worst bloggers. Just want it a bit more than the vast majority of bloggers. Write a bit better, spend a bit more time editing your articles, search for a nice picture. That was it.
I wrote about art, about the creative process. Then I wrote about life, love, motivation. I wrote about my depression, my anxiety attacks, and my heartbreaks. It didn’t seem to matter.
All I had to do was be a bit better than the average blogger… until I wasn’t.
Something happened during the last couple of years. We went from investing $25 in a blog to investing a hundred times that. We went from this one guy blogging from his living room or some coffee shop to teams of people. Teams. As in, multiple people acting as a sort of content-creation machine.
When I first started blogging, there were so many unexplored topics, so many ways to stand out. You could grow a blog to over 100K readers just by being one of the first to write about a certain topic or take advantage of a certain platform.
Not anymore though.
In my eight years as a blogger I’ve noticed that:
- It’s become a lot more difficult to get your first 1,000 readers. Social proof works against you, the fact that there’s some famous blogger writing about your niche works against you.
- You have to invest a lot of money, time, and energy to learn what makes a blog post appealing, how to best market your blog, and how to come up with ideas.
- Working as a full-time blogger is not as lucrative as most people like to believe. You have to consistently share remarkable content over a long period of time to stand out from the crowd in order to make life-changing money out of it.
- We have to navigate through a lot of information, our readers have shorter attention spans, and, as bloggers, there’s a plethora of different platforms, monetization options, and plugins to choose from.
Because of all this, it’s often that the beginner blogger no longer tries to be a bit better than the average blogger, but tries to write content that’s a bit worse than what the top bloggers are publishing.
That is a treacherous path to go down on. The same way as buying an expensive camera won’t get you your first thousand subscribers on YouTube, thinking of blogging as something you need to invest real money into because of millions of other bloggers is going to prove counter-productive in the long-run.
The truth is, even in 2020, even when there are half a billion bloggers out there, you can still stand out if you try to be better than the average blogger.
Remember, it’s always the bottom that’s overcrowded.
- Think about your audience. What are you offering them? Why would they choose to spend time reading your content? Can they expect quality, consistency, and excellent customer support from you?
- Find something you’re terribly passionate about. It’s going to require tremendous amounts of effort to make it as a blogger, so you might as well write about the stuff that sets your soul on fire.
- Figure out a way to write content that’s that’s better than what the average blogger publishes.
People are a bit like sharks. They can taste money five platforms away. It’s not that money is bad, it’s that it turns any platform in an ultra-competitive arena… a hunger games so to speak.
It’s do or die, it’s you or the other guy.
It’s an arms race, everyone trying to offer a better free course, a better newsletter, and create the type of content that no one else has ever seen, edited by three different people.
I know I write about this a lot, but we don’t only read blogs for the quality of the information, we read them for the chance to engage with the guy who shares that information. This is something to consider as more and more people become enamored with the idea of passive income through blogging.
Lastly, there’s nothing passive about blogging anymore. It doesn’t take four hours a week to earn $10,000 a month. Not anymore.
If you want to make it as a blogger in 2020, you’ve got to want it more than the average blogger, and you’ve got to do what it takes to write content that’s slightly better than what the average blogger can produce.
The trouble is that the average blogger is better nowadays. He wants it more. He’s got all the gurus telling him of the potential of blogging as they try to sell him products and courses he does not need.
The same principle holds true, however. You have to write content that’s 1% better than what the average blogger is capable of producing. That’s it.
It’s that simple, that difficult, and that complicated.