If there’s one thing I’m quite the expert on, that’s alienating a large, engaged audience.
I started my first blog back in April 2012. By November the same year, I had over twenty thousand readers. I was earning about $100 every single day, and my articles were read by close to a thousand people within the first 3–4 hours of an article being published.
Somehow, in my quest to increase my numbers, both in terms of readers and income, I lost friends and alienated a lot of people.
Just take a look at this statistic:
Here’s how you can do it as well in a couple easy to follow steps.
1. Believe You’re Entitled to Be Wildly Successful Just Because You Have a Blog
It was arrogant on my part to believe that I deserved a certain amount of money just because I was offering people content.
Truth be told, as the blogging world becomes more saturated, most times content is worth less than nothing.
Just because you post consistently, just because your articles are high-quality, this does not mean that you are entitled to earn X amount of money.
It’s a bitter truth, but there are countless other factors that determine whether or not you become a successful blogger, and some of them having nothing to do with the quality of the content you share.
2. Save Your Best Ideas for Later
It doesn’t make much sense to wait until you’re older to have sex, but that’s what I was doing.
I was saving my best ideas for a hypothetical future when it would make sense to release them. Or waiting to turn them into digital products that I could sell.
There was always a catch with my content. It was a short part of a larger tutorial that you had to purchase, or it was just a nicely presented call to action.
Because of me being so entitled and arrogant, I thought it to be unfair to share my best ideas for free with readers whom I didn’t respect enough. In other words, I didn’t think my readers were worthy of reading my best content for free.
3. Be Obsessed With Money
I can say that I took most of the actions that alienated my readers for this reason alone.
I wanted more, but I wasn’t willing to work more, so I resorted to all sorts of tricks in order to earn as much money as possible from my content.
This included selling a disproportionate number of advertising spots every month, placing a lot of ads, being willing to review or “edit” articles, interview others, and so on. It became kind of messy, and it might have occurred to me at one point to sell my soul or some organ or something.
The thing is, if you’re obsessed with earning as much as you can through your blog, the quality of your content becomes secondary. Its purpose is no longer to serve the reader, but to earn you as much money as possible.
This desire corrupts your content and your strategy is subtle ways. Maybe you throw in a couple click-bait headlines, maybe you stop trying to deliver upon the promises you make in your headlines, maybe you place your best content behind a paywall.
The best way to make money blogging is to focus on engagement. Not how many people read your content, not on how much money you earn, but how they engage with your content.
Always aim to provide your readers with the type of content they love to share and comment on. That’s your best content, that’s the content you’ve tailored to fulfill your readers’ needs.
4. Never Reply to Comments or E-Mails
I was quite proud of this. I never replied to any comments, never replied to e-mails, never accepted requests for interviews or guest posts.
If someone wasn’t giving me money, I wasn’t going to reply to their e-mails.
Of course, this is one of the dumbest things I ever did, because you never know who might be interested in purchasing your products or services, but also because an engaged audience is by far the best asset that you can have.
Not numbers, not income, but real social influence among a group of people who can’t wait to devour every single piece of content you release.
They are the ones who share your content with others, they are the ones who purchase your products, they are the ones who make you want to keep going when you don’t feel inspired or motivated.
I used to take such pride in the e-mails I’d receive from my readers. Somehow, as time went on, I began to consider replying to those e-mails more as a chore, than a privilege.
Blogging, defined as the act of sharing your words with other human beings, is a privilege. No one has to read any of your stuff. You are asking them for their time, and they don’t have to give it to you. And replying to comments or at least acknowledging their comments with a like it’s the least that you can do to thank them for taking the time to read and engage with your content.
5. Think the Game of Blogging Is Unfair
Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
Blogging is hard work. A lot of it. And 90% of that work will go unnoticed. There’s no one cheering you, no one holding your hand, and no one writing you checks for your effort.
It is what it is.
Out of all the people who read your content, maybe 5% will engage with it, will share it or comment on it or engage with it in other ways, and less than 1% will purchase your content.
Blogging also requires that you pay your dues upfront.
I thought this to be unfair. I tried to fix this. I only managed to alienate readers. I was quite immature, if I think about it.
The injustice I perceived was just how the world worked.
If you’re not willing to give the best of you without even received a thanks for it, then maybe blogging, or content creation in general, is not your kind of thing.
By doing all these things, persistently, over a couple of years, I managed to turn what was once the most popular blog on WordPress.com into a place filled with ads, requests for donations, and 200 word essays that brought no one any sort of joy.
By the end of 2016, I was barely receiving 100 likes and 10 comments on my posts, even though I had more than 100,000 followers.
The truth is that it’s all about attitude. My attitude towards blogging was that of a spoiled brat. Overnight success had spoiled me. The fact that I wasn’t willing to work hard to offer real value to my readers made me arrogant.
The hustle keeps us humble. The desire to add massive value to our readers keeps in check our priorities, principles, and intentions.
As I am so fond of saying, all we have is what we give. All we are is how we treat our readers.
I realized my mistakes and managed to turn things around:
If you want to become a successful blogger, you’ve just got to make sure you win friends and influence people. That’s it.