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 properly format a blog post. I didn’t know who my ideal reader was, I wasn’t sure of my niche or main topic, I didn’t have any social media accounts, and I didn’t have any money.
It took me a month to purchase my first domain name, 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.
Punch the damn keys, as I often say.
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.
But that was nine years ago. Blogging was popular, and you could make a pretty penny, but the landscape wasn’t as saturated or competitive as it is nowadays.
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, just do a bit more. 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.
Can You Still Make It as a Blogger in 2021?
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.
According to a survey conducted by OrbitMedia, people are spending more time writing longer articles, refining their headlines, and working with multiple editors.
When I first started blogging, there were so many unexplored topics, so many ways to stand out from the crowd. 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.
When I launched my first blog in 2012, most articles were around 500 words long. It would take you a couple of hours to write, edit, format, add some graphics, and publish.
500 words just aren’t enough.
Of course, it’s not enough to just write two thousand word essays. There’s got to be visual elements (charts, graphs, images), there’s got to be research-based quotes, and you might even add a podcast episode or a video to your article for good measure.
But here’s the plot twist: even though more words and more effort are required to create an article that stands out from the crowd, it’s still the bloggers who publish on a daily basis who become authorities within their niche.
In other words, even the novice is expected to do more for the same results as 5 years ago.
This, of course, means 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.
In other words, nowadays is no longer enough to write better than the worst 1%, but you have to write a bit worse than the top 1%, otherwise no one will subscribe to your blog.
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 2021, 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 and consistency 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.
Blogging Will Live As Long as People Read
Every year, someone out there says blogging is dead. And yet, folks are still publishing content and audiences are still reading them.
So, why does blogging still work when we’ve theoretically reached a point of content overload?
The short answer is, blogging will continue to live so long as people want to read. Yes, nowadays lots of folks go on YouTube in search of answers to their questions, and yes, there are audiobooks and podcasts and whatnot, but a lot of folks enjoy the experience of reading..
So, yes, blogging still works — if you’re willing to write about topics your audience cares about, invest the time and energy to produce high-quality content, and spend a lot of time networking.
Otherwise, if you play it safe, if you do just enough, if you are not serious, you’re just wasting your time.
Blogging Has Become a Sport
Most people have a soft-spot for a sport. Maybe even more.
They enjoy the game, the adrenaline, the competition.
Maybe it’s golf. Maybe it’s soccer. Maybe it’s baseball.
But the truth is that very few people genuinely think they can compete at a professional level.
Well, blogging has become a sport.
To start a blog can be as cheap as free. Anyone can do it.
But the landscape has become so competitive that we don’t even dare dream that we can do it at a professional level anymore.
And it’s a pity, honestly.
Because blogging takes a new meaning once you get your first thousand true fans, when people send you emails to ask you when you’ll be publishing your next post…
The Hunger Games of Blogging
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 person 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 2021, 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 top bloggers in your niche can produce.
It’s that simple, that difficult, and that complicated.
And the truth is that you will often feel like the game is rigged against you. The same way Monopoly is actually a game that’s meant to teach us how frustrating capitalism can be if a few hold the monopoly on certain industries, we often feel that there’s no way we’ll ever be able to produce content of similar quality to the top bloggers.
So, what is there to be done?
Do all that you can do.
Do your research.
Study the competition.
Enroll in courses.
Get someone to mentor you.
Invest in all the tools that you need to be able to consistently produce quality content.
That’s the only way you’ll ever going to make it as a blogger in 2021 and beyond.
The professional blogger is serious about improvement, is self-aware enough to know that there’s always more to learn, and is capable of letting go of the ego long enough to realize that excuses are a poor replacement for results.
If you want to make it as a blogger in 2021, you’ve got to do everything you can (and a bit more) to be able to create content that’s a bit worse than what the top bloggers within your niche are already sharing, while being able to work harder than the average blogger out there.