Write about what you’re passionate about because you’re passionate about it.
My friends and I have gone through dozens of get-rich-quick schemes over the years, and we’ve given up on all of them… not because we lacked conviction but because we were just going through the motions for money. We wanted to escape the grind of working at jobs we weren’t passionate about by devoting ourselves to jobs we weren’t passionate about. In retrospect, burning out was inevitable.
I’ve been writing The Wise Sloth for about 10 years now, and I’ve made maybe $500 in donations from all my work. If I could go back in time, I would have spent less time chasing money and more time writing unprofitable posts on this site because this blog has given my life more meaning than all of my shallow money-grabs put together.
My next point will explain why this site has been so unprofitable, but before we get to that, you need to understand that motivation without passion is just bullshitting yourself. In order to make money blogging, you need to stay the course, and you won’t do that unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
If you want to earn money from advertisements, then only write “family friendly” content.
The easiest way to make money blogging is to put ads on your site, but every ad agency has a clause in their contract that says they’ll only put ads on “family friendly” content. This is a purposefully vague statement that is open to broad and unapologetic interpretation.
If you want ads, your content needs to be “family friendly.” So avoid talking about sex or any controversial topics. Of course, you don’t have to censor yourself. You can talk about whatever you want. Just don’t expect car insurance companies to put ads on your blogs about “How to go down on a girl” or “15 clues Christianity is Roman mythology.”
Don’t worry about being perfect, and don’t worry about failing.
The first 100 posts I wrote were terrible. I thought they were genius at the time, but a few years later I realized they were awful. They were so bad, I ended up deleting 90% of them and completely rewriting the best ones. Even though I wrote crap, I don’t regret it, because if I never sucked, I never would have gotten better.
Write the way people talk.
I started blogging straight out of college where I was required to write academically. Since that’s the style I was used to, I used very formal language and as many big words as I could find on thesaurus.com. Plus, in my mind, I thought if I sounded like Bertrand Russell, then society would assume I was equally smart.
In reality, my actual audience was normal people who don’t communicate using over-worded academic language. Nobody is impressed with your vocabulary. They just want to digest ideas in a way they can understand.
After I stopped talking like I was trying to impress philosophy professors and just spoke the way I talk to people in normal life, more people started listening.
Don’t expect to make quick, easy money.
Whether you’re farming ad clicks or selling a product on your blog, you have to be popular to make money. It takes a lot of time, effort, and intelligence to make thousands of people like you. It would be quicker and easier to make money by day trading cryptocurrency than blogging. I don’t even know how to elaborate on this point. It’s just insane to assume you can become popular overnight. Realistically, it’s going to take at least two years to create enough content and build a large enough following to profit from. If you don’t make a full time job out of blogging, it will probably take longer.
It hardly matters what blog platform you start with.
I host my blog on wordpress.com for three reasons. It’s what I started with. It never goes down, and search engines respect it. You can start a blog there for free, but your site name will have the phrase “wordpress.com” at the end of it. For about $100 per year, you can customize your address into thewisesloth.com instead of thewisesloth.wordpress.com, and every other free blog host works this way.
My biggest complaint about wordpress.com is that it doesn’t have many good free themes, and I don’t personally like any of their paid themes either. Wix and Weebly have better themes and are easier to customize, and they both offer the ability to pay to customize your domain name. Once you buy a domain name, it really doesn’t matter who is hosting your site because your viewers will never know the difference.
If you start with one site and don’t like it, you can just export your content from one site and import it to another pretty easily. You can even transfer your domain name, and your viewers won’t notice the entire back end of your site changed. So don’t stress about what host to start with. Just pick whatever feels easiest, establish your content, and worry about the technical stuff after you have something worth worrying about.
Research SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but don’t stress about it too much.
Search engines send viewers to your site for free. They’re like free publicists. They work by analyzing your content and ranking your site based on what their algorithms find, and they’re not trying to be sneaky about how they ranks sites. All of their criteria is published on the internet. They want you to design your site based on how their algorithms work so you can help them help you.
Soooo many people have already written about SEO that it would be pointless for me to explain it again. Do a Goggle search, read a few blogs, and watch a few Youtube videos. You can master it in less than a week, and if you’re serious about driving traffic to your site, you should do that.
Driving traffic to your site is more important than SEO.
This post could break all the rules of SEO, but if a million people per day were Googling “the wise sloth blogging advice,” or if The New York Times wrote an article about how great this post is and linked to it, sending millions of viewers here, then Google would bump this post to the top of its search results because it obviously has more value than the algorithms predicted.
You could spend 100 hours optimizing your SEO or you could spend that time telling people about your site. When they visit your site, you’ll be getting the viewers you want and simultaneously increasing your SEO value. Don’t ignore SEO, but if you’re going to stress over getting more viewers, your time would be better spent stressing about how to market yourself to real people and not algorithms.
Create as many paths to your site as possible but prioritize “celebrity paths.”
About half of my traffic comes from Google searches, and most of the other half comes from links I posted on Reddit years ago. The more bread crumb trails you leave around the internet pointing to your house, the more likely people are to find them. That’s just common sense.
Having said that, my old Reddit account was shadow banned for spamming links to my site. So there are risks to spamming your content yourself, but the easy loophole around this is to get other people to post links to your site.
10 years ago you could trick Google into thinking you were popular by posting a million links to your site anywhere you could copy/paste, but Google doesn’t fall for that trick anymore. Now, search engines are only impressed if a popular site, like The New York Times or Wikipedia, links to you. So your time would be better spent asking the people who run popular sites to link to yours than by spamming links randomly in places that are easy to access.
Don’t let haters discourage you.
I’ve gotten more hateful comments and E-mails than I can count. There’s always an idiot on the internet looking for someone to shit on. That’s just one of the occupational hazards of blogging. If you can’t take getting kicked in the nuts, then keep your mouth shut.
How do I put up with it? Not by being strong. I just don’t give a shit.
The only way to lose is to quit.
If you do anything long enough, eventually you’re going to get bored and discouraged, especially if you’re not seeing the return on investment you’re looking for. As long as you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you’re still moving forward. The journey only ends when you stop.
You never know what tomorrow will bring. When I first started blogging, I couldn’t have imagined I’d write all the posts that I did. When I wrote my first “This Was Your Life” comic, it was just a one-off silly way to describe one thing I was thinking about. I had no idea it would become a series with over 30 episodes. Now I’m thinking about turning it into a screenplay.
I haven’t made any money off of my comics, but I don’t see that as proof of failure. I love what I do, and I’m creating a legacy that will live on after I die. Regardless of what your motivation for blogging is, the only way you will ever truly know it didn’t work is when you stop writing.
If you liked this post, you may also like these:
- 9 reasons why writers should blog
- 11 things I learned about blogging from blogging on Myspace
- Why do I write The Wise Sloth blog?
- 16 tips to overcoming writer’s block
- Why you shouldn’t mock aspiring writers
- How do you eat an elephant? (An inspirational short story)
- Does substance abuse make you a better writer?
- Why using proper grammar is important in life
- Cost/benefit analysis of internet trolling
- My opinion on online sharing