So, you want to use an SEO pack of software and tools to write successfully about your chosen topic? Well, I’ll be the first to admit — it is extremely difficult to make money with a blog. Thousands, if not millions, of people think that they can create a blog on Blogger, WordPress, or any other platform, slap on some Google Ads, and watch the money roll in.
Well, that’s not how it works. And to paraphrase one of my favorite ’80s films, anyone who says differently is selling something (and it is usually a scam). I have been blogging on current events at my Considerations blog since 2006, back when I was a Boston journalist and newspaper-editor, and I make roughly $100 a month with Google Ads. My writings there are more of a hobby and a way to keep my passion for journalism alive after I moved into the online-marketing field. I’m not going to get rich. And that is the level of revenue after even after I had optimized the site — along with hundreds of individual posts — for search engines and receive approximately 500 hits per day from organic traffic (the best-converting kind of traffic) at the moment as a result.
Will an SEO Pack Work?
So, here are the reasons why your blog will not make you rich (don’t worry, I’ll be more positive in the next post in this series):
1. You cannot write well. I’m sorry, but it’s often true. Everyone has his particular talents. I’d like to believe that as a former newspaper journalist, I can write well — but I know little about, say, calculus, physics, or football. If you cannot form coherent thoughts on paper, outline an argument, provide examples, use logical methods of argumentation, spell properly, and write with proper grammar — few people will bother to read what you write. Just remember the level of writing you see in most online discussion-forums, and you’ll realize that most people, in fact, cannot write well. But if you want to become a serious blogger, then you are probably not one of them.
2. You are not original. There are 1,001 bloggers who pontificate each day and say things like, “Barack Obama/Sarah Palin is a moron! And here’s why.” Well, what differentiates you from the other thousand? Why should I take the valuable time to read you specifically and not the others? What can you cover that no one else does, and what can you cover better than anyone else? The near-infinite number of websites has shifted the focus in publications from general-interest to niche-interest. Say that your hobby is collecting Spanish wines, and you are an expert on the topic. There are thousands of political bloggers, but perhaps only a few who comment specifically and only on Spanish wines. You will have a better chance of becoming famous in that niche. On the Internet, it is better to be a large fish in a small digital-pond than the inverse.
Over at Considerations, there are three types of posts of mine that generate the greatest interest and traffic:
- My “Letters from Israel” series and my personal observations about life in the Middle East
- My articles on modern dating (“Critiques of Feminism: Arguments Against Feminism Essay“)
- My thoughts on how economic realities are affecting those people who are my age (30) and younger (“Active Baby Boomers: The Upcoming Generational War“)
Through the combination of my personal experiences, my journalism background, and my later business education, I write what I hope are posts on these topics that garner significant visitors, social-media sharing — and, of course, Google Ads clicks. I can only cite their traffic as evidence. Whether or not you agree my my thoughts is immaterial — the point is to write about what you know and preferably what no one else is covering as well.
3. Your design is unprofessional. I never want to “bite the hand that feeds” since I am grateful to the WordPress platform and the hundreds of developers who create free themes, templates, and plug-ins — but many of them leave much to be desired. While everyone knows that no one should judge a book by its digital cover, the fact remains that people do — especially in a world today of short attention-spans. To be taken seriously, your blog needs to have a professional design and layout. Any twelve-year-old kid can create a basic WordPress blog — yours needs to be a lot better.
4. You do not market yourself. Clicking the “Publish” button in your blogging platform is just the end of the beginning of the road to becoming a professional blogger. All of your writings are useless if people do not find them — and if people do not find them, then you will have little success — whether your goal is to gain advertising-clicks or just to get your name out there.
5. You have no patience and little follow-through. If you are the type of person who gets a great idea, starts it, and then forgets about it weeks later to move onto something else, do not try to become a serious blogger. As I stated above, it takes months — or years — to become even moderately successful.
Now, readers of mine are probably asking an obvious question: Why should we listen to you when you are making only $100 a month after blogging for five years? Well, my honest response: I did not know what I was doing for most of the time. I started the blog as a print journalist long before I knew anything about SEO and online marketing. Just one example: my blog was at samueljscott.wordpress.com for years before I moved it to the present domain just a year ago. This was a tremendous mistake (for reasons I will describe in the next post in this series), and the overall results should only be measured against the time since I founded the new domain.
So, my point is to help others to learn from my prior mistakes (which were numerous — and it has taken months to correct them) and avoid them at the outset. This two-part series will focus on how not to rely only on an SEO pack when blogging — and then how to become successful. I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.