Tag Archives: writing

Advice For Bloggers

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.

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Why Do I Write The Wise Sloth Blog?

Note: This explanation goes into the major life events that led to the creation of The Wise Sloth. If you want the short answer, scroll down and read the last four paragraphs.

The motivation for me to write The Wise Sloth probably started in the first year of my life. I was born prematurely because I have an identical twin brother. He was healthy, but my heart wasn’t done developing. So I had to spend the first few months of my life in an incubator until I was strong enough to survive heart surgery. Over the course of the ordeal, I flat-lined seven times. After the surgery, I was still in and out of the hospital for the next year with pneumonia.

San Marcos, Texas 1984

By the age of six, I had been told a million times how lucky I was to be alive, and since I was raised in the deeply religious state of Texas, I was also told God must have a very special plan for me. Being 6 years old, I believed what I adults told me and often wondered what important mission God must have gone through so much trouble to keep me alive to accomplish. Eventually, I stopped believing God had a plan for me, but I still always carried a sense of responsibility to do something valuable with my life.

My parents divorced when I was six-years-old, and my two brothers and I spent the rest of our childhoods bouncing back and forth between houses, which were on opposite sides of Texas. Our parents were always working and always stressed. So I had very little supervision, and what discipline I got consisted mostly of screaming and spankings. By the age of eight, I started becoming aware nobody was going to teach me how to become a mature, responsible, self-actualized adult. The only way it was ever going to happen was if I taught myself.

I did well in school, but I wasn’t top of my class. I made my first “C” on my report card in middle school when I stopped hanging out with nerds and started hanging out with the bad kids who smoked cigarettes and shoplifted. I made my first “F” my freshman year in high school when I started hanging out with kids who smoked marijuana and stole whatever wasn’t bolted down. I took a lot of drugs in those days and lost my mind a little bit. I couldn’t remember what normal was supposed to feel like, and I would constantly ask myself what reality is.

I started carrying a notebook with me to draw and collect quotes in. Pretty quickly, I started writing my own quips and then essays. The more notebooks I filled up, the less they included pictures and quotes, and the more they included questions and essays. I still carry a notebook with me everywhere I go and write down ideas and sketch out blogs in them. I call them my “ideation notebooks.”

Trippy drawing of myself that I did on the margin of my class notes in high school.

Paris, Texas 2015

At the age of seventeen, I took a larger dose of hallucinogens than I was used to and spent the night talking to God. The next day I threw away my cigarettes and started reading the Bible. Later that year I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church, and my notebooks began to fill up with religious questions and observations. I was particularly obsessed with the question of the meaning of life. I felt paranoid that I would die without being able to say for sure that I made the most out of life, and I wanted to know for sure that I gave my future children the best life advice possible.

So I made a conscious decision to actively and systematically try to figure out life, meaning, maturity, responsibility, and self-actualization to the best of my ability. To streamline the process I created a systematic method of problem-solving based on basic math principles and the scientific method.

After graduating high school I attended a Baptist university where I studied the Bible and social sciences. I hoped to apply my systematic method of problem-solving to the Bible and create the perfect argument for Christianity. However, I barely had to scratch the surface of Genesis before it became undeniably obvious that the Bible is a simple and blatant work of primitive mythology.

By the end of my first year in university, I lost my faith, left school and started drinking and using drugs again. After taking a year out of life to do backbreaking manual labor with felons and immigrants, I joined the Air Force as a computer technician. Working with computers helped me hone my problem-solving skills, and being in the military allowed me to see the world and find new questions and answers that I would never have been exposed to living in small-town Texas. It also gave me time to consolidate my philosophies into a treatise on the meaning of life.

I had only been at my first duty station for a few months before September 11th happened. I watched the planes hit the Twin Towers on the television in my First Sergeant’s office while he handed me disciplinary paperwork for failing my room inspection. I wrote a rebuttal, but it fell on deaf ears. Over the next six years, I watched the American military tear the Middle East apart. I asked everyone in any position of authority I could why we invaded Iraq, and I never got a straight answer. So I started looking for one on my own. The more I analyzed the situation the more I lost faith in our mission. The only explanation that made any sense was that destabilizing the Middle East wasn’t an accident. It was the point.

Photo of me in my Air Force uniform taken at Ali Al Salem Air Base in 2004. I'm pale as a ghost.

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait 2004

The last few years I was in the military I took night classes studying psychology, which led me to the conclusion that the military is a cult. I left the military full of guilt and shame at a time when it was viciously taboo in American culture to criticize the military or the preeminence of America.

Around the time I left the military one of my brothers was building a huge following blogging on MySpace under the screen name, “The Mad Goat.” He looked like he was having fun, and people were listening to the things he had to say, even it was just belligerent, drunken stories with dubious moral lessons at the end. So I started vomiting my drunken, belligerent viewpoints on MySpace as well. I copied the formula for my brother’s screen name, “The” + “adjective” + “animal”  and chose “The Wise Sloth” because I aspire to be wise, and I make an art form out of laziness.

The quality of my writing was awful. I had no business writing or expecting anyone to pay attention to my drivel, but a few people did, and that fueled my desire to keep going. Around 2008, MySpace basically died as everyone migrated to Facebook. At that point, my brother stopped blogging and got on with his real life. I started a WordPress blog and copied over the few decent posts I’d written. Unfortunately, I lost 99% of my readership and had to build a new audience without the advantage of having a social networking platform built right into my blogging platform.

I decided to keep blogging for several reasons. First, my blog is an extension of my journals, where I catalog my own observations about life as I struggle to get it all figured out for myself. The fact that The Wise Sloth is public is an added bonus. I know there are a lot of people asking the same questions as me. If I can help them find answers quicker, I may be able to help make the world a better place for both of us.

Sometimes I choose my blog topics based on what I think my readers would benefit from or what would increase traffic to my site. My essays on sexual positions and techniques accomplish both of those goals.  Blogging also gives me a pulpit to speak about subjects that don’t get enough attention, like the fact that the U.S. Military is a cult, Christianity is mythology, capitalism is the root of most of the world’s problems, and locally sustainable communities are the solution to most of those problems.

As I write enough posts on a subject, I’m compiling them into books. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off The Wise Sloth from book sales and donations, which is a horrible return on investment considering that I’ve put thousands of hours of work into it, but that doesn’t bother me. I would still do it if I won the lottery and never had to worry about money again, and I’d still be writing if I knew for a fact that I’d never make any money off of it.

Having said that, I do want to make money from blogging, but I’m consciously playing the long game here. As long as I never stop blogging, it’s only a matter of time before I write enough books or create enough viral content to raise serious money. When that happens I’ll be able to fulfill my ultimate goal of building a secular, intellectual monastery. In the meantime, I’ll be playing my little humble part in raising awareness of important issues. Whenever I die, I’ll leave something behind that will hopefully in some way justify my existence. Then all the work my doctors (and possibly God) put into keeping me alive when I was a baby won’t have been in vain. Or maybe all of my irreverent, vulgar words will be nothing but a huge disappointment, but at least I’ll have had fun writing them.

Photo of me taken in Colorado in 2015 holding a 40 ounce coffee mug

Denver, Colorado 2014

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Blogging
My Goals
My Life Stories (in chronological order)
My Art

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