Muschamp Rd

For Love or Money

April 14th, 2011
#winning

Love and money is why bloggers blog, or at least to get free stuff.  That seems to be one of the key takeaways from my first ever visit to the Vancouver Blogger Meetup.  Our official host was Raul AKA Hummingbird604, but the person who was presenting or leading the session was Jonathan Narvey.

I don’t think the session or the club was aimed at someone with my experience or technical skills.  Apparently the goal of blogging is to attract at least a 1000 readers a day, then parlay that Klout into money or at least free stuff.  I’ve been self-publishing stuff online for over 15 years now and it has never resulted in love or money or even free stuff.  Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade but if you think in six months or fifty posts or you’re going to be Digeratibetter prepare for disappointment.

Of course I’m just some bitter malcontent and you’re incredibly charming, witty, and beautiful so the blogosphere will love you.  If you think that keep drinking the Kool Aid, it’s obviously the good stuff.

So besides the ten step process to blogger stardom, what else was discussed?  Well that dirty word SEO came up more than once, and true believers were urged to attend Northern Voice at UBC next month.  I’m still on the fence about attending, I know some people presenting, but I have my own personal financial crisis, further proof I don’t get love or money for typing this crap.

One thing attendees were asked to do is identify their audience, come up with some new compelling content you’ve never written about, and finally techniques to recruit people to write for you.  First my audience is mostly friends and family, people who share the same hobbies, and of course online perverts.  I’m big with perverts. I tend to give away some of my best content and if WordPress.com or the powers that be or whatever can get their act together, I’m writing a new series of guest posts on yet another blog, when I should be consulting or otherwise earning a living.  Trouble is even when I consult or tutor I tend to do it for free.  Lastly I flat out don’t see why I’d want anyone to write for Muskblog, rather I’m usually the one who gets suckered in or volunteers to write for other blogs.

I’m more of a giver than a taker, and alas I can’t say this is profitable or even lovable.

What if you do want to get rich and famous by blogging?

Don’t be like me obviously. I’ve written a lot, some of it is even useful, so you can learn from my mistakes for starters.  First, I guess I have my own ten point SEO-friendly blog writing checklist.  Of course I didn’t call it that, but now that you have read Jonathan’s list you can read something I wrote late one night, or early one morning.  It apparently doesn’t suck but it won’t make you number one for any valuable keyword or get you a book deal in six months.  It will however help you write better, which should really be one of the goals of any blogger.

So the number one step to blogging success is learning to write better, what it is step 2?

Focus.

Jonathan has at least three domains and has probably contributed to a number of other blogs.  I know I’ve contributed to several on WordPress.com alone and that doesn’t count all the content I’ve given away in comments or on online forums.  All of that could be earning me Google AdWords revenue.  Monetizing your blog wasn’t talked about much, but if you’re not selling your services, perhaps you should sell ads, at least if you’re not hosted by Blogger or WordPress.com in which case the big boys keep all the money.  WriteImage.ca has plenty of ads on it, so obviously that money goes to Jonathan.  Some people make $1000s of dollars per month from AdWords or other forms of advertising or referral schemes.  Most blogs just aren’t that successful.

If you want your blog to be successful learn to write better or convince someone else to write brilliant content for you for free Ariana Huffington style.  Be sure to try and stay on topic.  Having 50 categories and rambling on and on about whatever bullshit enters your mind is not the path to blogging superstardom.  Remember, don’t be like me.

So after learning to write better, and taking a vow to focus and not ramble, make sure you pick your blog topic carefully.  If you want to get rich blogging, you’re too late.  All the really successful and profitable topics in English are heavily fought over and have entrenched competitors that often have affiliations with larger media empires.  If you want fame and fortune from blogging you’ve probably missed that boat and no matter how good a blog you write on taxidermy, it is unlikely to generate the ad revenue or the hits to command a six figure book deal.  If you still have delusions of grandeur you’re going to have to write about something with mass appeal, celebrities and what passes for pop culture or gadgets are two areas to focus on.  Most any other topic, the best you can hope for is to be considered somewhat authoritative, fame and money are probably beyond your reach.

I recommend you write about your passions.  Unless you are Meg Ryan, you can’t fake passion, or at least not for longer than a few minutes.  Passion will sustain you through the years and hundreds of blog postings it may take to become authoritative.

What does it mean to be authoritative? Well ask Google, Google is the number one determiner of authority online.  Number two is the faceless hordes who forward or click on links and the services that attempt to measure or quantify these clicks such as the latest Web 2.0 darling, Klout.  Authority is the third most important quality to strive for in your writing after timeliness and timelessness.

This is where SEO or search engine optimization often comes in.  The good people use it to make relevant content more easily findable to those who are seeking it.  The not so good people, use SEO to try to convince Google and thus the mindlessly clicking hordes that their website is an authority on your topic of interest.  Then they sell ads or referrals and probably search engine optimization services.

I used to think and write more about SEO but now it has a pretty bad reputation and most people who claim to be experts either don’t know anything especially illuminating or what they do know they’ll only share after you part with a tidy sum.  Both types can actually hurt your long term search engine performance, as some people’s search engine optimization is Google’s spam.  There are a lot of Johnny come lately SEO experts and social media gurus.  Before you hire anyone make sure they can show you measurable results and have really rock solid customer recommendations and referrals.

This post has gotten too long, but I’m not writing for fame and fortune and I’m not interested in converting the nonbelievers.  I only want to help a few people avoid some of the mistakes I and others have made. Another key point to remember, especially if you dream of the book deal or public speaking gigs, is don’t give away all your best stuff for free.

Related to passion and becoming an authority is not being fake.  People may not be able to tell right away, but eventually you’ll slip up, or someone with really good search engine skills will dig up something and bring your would be blogging empire crashing down.  Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t type something you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, and don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother or a future employer to read.  You’ll regret it and it may cost you more than you’ll ever know.

Online anonymity is largely a fallacy.

In 2011 you can’t neglect social networking websites.  Relying on Googlebot to index your stuff and then send the hordes your way used to work and it still can, but Googlebot can be a fickle mistress and over reliance on any one source of readers (or revenue) is unwise.  Even before Twitter or Facebook existed, shameless self promotion worked.  It may annoy or piss off a few people, but most media whores are more successful than their critics who call them names like “media whores”.

It can be a fine line to walk but you need to leverage your existing social network and grow your network.  In simple terms this means you have to Tweet and cross-post to Facebook at least once and a while as those two websites have Klout and many, many, loyal users.  These loyal users are potential fans and even possibly a revenue source.  You need to court them and remind them occasionally that you blog and that you are an authoritative expert on the topic your blog focuses on.

My final piece of advice before I hit publish, besides proofread your damn posts, is to participate in the blogosphere, leave comments, link to other blogs you admire, even ones you don’t, even dare to link to the dreaded competition for top spot in Google for your pet favourite keyword.

No blog is an island.

Update

It must be 10 tips for bloggers week, or is that every week online since about mid to late 2006?  Regardless you can’t make it through a day on Twitter without another post being tweeted to help people become more successful at social media, this one comes from Cybele Negris who I’ve never met, but I’ve met some of her colleagues at industry events in Vancouver.  She wrote a post entitled 10 Simple Tips for Optimizing your Blog on Search Engines over at the Small Business BC blog.  So if you want more tips or you just like Top 10 lists you should also read the companion piece I wrote to this post, because it’ll eventually influence someone, and you can say “Oh that, I read that idiot’s demented ramblings months ago, he’s full of shit” or something equally witty.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Says

You’ve got to sell your heart. That was the advice he gave to an aspiring young writer and family friend. That’s a well put way of saying to write about what you’re passionate about and have first hand experience. Douglas Coupland doesn’t even think writers should attempt a novel until they’ve live at least 30 years on the planet.


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