This is a post by Glen who writes about viral marketing at ViperChill. He’s had a lot of public success with blogging over the last 18 months so wants to share some of the things he’s learned.
At 16, I built my first ever blog. That was almost 5 years ago, and I’m still blogging to this day. Despite having recently sold the 10th biggest personal development blog in the world and gaining 2,000+ subscribers on my marketing blog in the last 4 months, I used to be a total blogging failure.
ViperChill, the site I recently relaunched, is the first blog I ran. In my naivety, I didn’t write at all for human visitors at all; I didn’t care. I simply wrote for search engines, and aimed to get as much traffic from them as I could.
Obviously this wasn’t a very good strategy, ending my first year of writing with 0 blog comments and 6 subscribers, which were probably all me on different Google reader accounts. But hey, I was getting some search engine traffic.
Thankfully, I have managed to turn that 1st year of blogging-hell into experience, and now run some very popular websites. I recently sold my biggest blog, PluginID, for a mid-five-figure fee, so I want to share the story of how I went from being a nobody in a niche to dominating a market.
The Story of PluginID
PluginID was my blog built for the personal development niche. When I started it, I was an absolutely nobody in the industry. And, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t read any blogs in the industry either. I was going through a lot of personal growth in my life after having recently moved to South Africa at 18 (where I didn’t know one single person) and decided to document my experiences.
Having been in the internet marketing space for 3 years prior to starting the site and having companies like Land Rover and Hewlett Packard receiving my services, I was confident I could make the site a success. Yet, dreams and hopes aren’t anything without taking action to make things happen.
As I had a full-time job when running the site, I would usually work on my blog from 7pm onwards, and sometimes wouldn’t stop until 2am in the morning. I really loved writing about topics like motivation, productivity and being who you want to be, so the long hours didn’t bother me.
I worked hard on the site and finally reached what I view as a respectable milestone – 500 feed subscribers – after 7 months. I say finally as with my background, I expected a little more. Little did I realise that blogging really does have a ‘hurdle’ to cross when you first start, and 5 months later the site was at 4,000 subscribers.
After 18 months of running the site I sold it to someone I know for a fair, five-figure fee. The site was making around $3,000 per month on average through selling ads and products, so it was a nice deal for both involved. I honestly never thought I would sell the site as I loved the topic so much, but I had been longing to get back into the topic of internet marketing where I had spent so much of my earlier years online.
I’m all for doing what you love, so I decided to relaunch my “baby.”
The Success of ViperChill
In October 2009, I posted a “I’m back” message on the site. I hadn’t posted on the domain for over two years, but was fortunate to start with around 2,000 subscribers, although I doubted many of them were still active. After writing that first post, I just felt really excited to start getting into the swing of things again. In fact, this was exactly how I felt when I started PluginID.
As you’re reading Tyler’s blog, you probably know of quite a few other sites in the internet marketing space. I sure did, and besides Tyler’s blog there was clear factor about most of them: they write short, dispensable, throwaway posts. For every 20 articles on most of these sites, there might be one gem that you can learn from.
Through my experience with PluginID, I knew I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted every single post I wrote to be valuable and one of the best resources on that topic you can find. In other words, I decided not to churn out 7, 500-word posts per week like a lot of these sites. Instead, I post once or twice per week and write articles that are usually over 2,000 words in length.
The result? In the last 4 months the blog has grown by over 2,000 subscribers and I’ve been mentioned frequently on some of the most popular blogs in the industry.
What this has to do with you…
I’m not sharing my story to show off or so that you think of me as some sort of guru. There are lots of other people who would prefer that kind of Ego boost or guru status. Instead, I’m sharing my story because the secret to making each of these blogs successful is simply that there are no secrets.
Sorry if that annoys you and you were looking for something to overcome your “competitors” (there are no competitors to valuable bloggers), but it’s the truth. Sure there are tweaks and tricks you can apply to get the most out of your site, and your audience, but for the most part, there’s just a few fundamentals that matter.
Here’s What I Want You To Do
I don’t have any ads or affiliate links on my site, so there’s nothing I want to sell you or convince you to do. However, I write in this space because I genuinely want to help people share their true value with the world (often in the form of blogging) and live the life that they want to live (making a living online).
Therefore, I have a few suggestions for you.
1. Stop Making Excuses
Picasso wasn’t born with a paintbrush in his hand and J.K. Rowling wasn’t possessed with some special talent that has made her over $1bn through writing. When you’re born, everyone starts on the same playing field. I understand that some people have a wealthy family or aren’t born into the best environment, but if you’re able to read this article, then you’re better off than most.
I look back on how I spent a few years online and honestly cringe. The countless hours I spent browsing Digitalpoint and buying the latest ‘make money overnight’ product could have been spent doing things that really helped me.
I am not lucky, I simply provided enough value to my audience on a regular basis and received the success I did because of that. If you do the same, your position will be the same. Get rid of your excuses right now, because they aren’t helping you progress, they’re just holding you back.
2. Stop Caring About What You Get Back
It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on monetary or subscriber rewards and started focusing on providing value to people that my websites actually became successful. It makes sense right? If you genuinely focus on helping people then things will come back your way.
Look at the top sites in this industry like Problogger, Copyblogger and Chris Brogan. They have been consistently providing value for years and now they’re being rewarded for their efforts.
The top blogs are the ones that have a core focus on helping their readers. Do you think Seth Godin needs to sell more books? Do you think he needs to blog everyday to continue to make a living? Of course not, he’s a multi-millionaire, but he just genuinely loves helping people.
Unless you run a news or some form of entertainment site, then everything you do should be around your readers and providing massive value. Again, it’s not surprise that those who give the most get the most back in return.
3. Finally, Stop Looking for the Secrets
As I mentioned earlier, there are great tips and tricks to pick up for your blog around the web. One I particularly liked was by Tim Ferriss where he found that changing his ‘Categories’ section to ‘Topics’ massively increased their click-through rate.
I love reading things like this, but they’re only going to take you so far. Having a blog with awful content that is plastered with ads isn’t going to take you very far, even if you do use the Thesis theme for WordPress and rename that category label.
Look around at the top 100 Technorati blogs and the biggest sites in your industry. Notice how they are consistently providing massive value to their readers. They may do it in different formats (text, images, video) and they may have different posting schedules, but they’re still doing it.
The real switch happened for me when I stopped looking for the tricks and secrets to make me money, and just started building sites around the things that I loved with the aim to really help people with that topic. It’s not the same as most of the advice you read online, but most of the advice about making money is from people who only make money by teaching you.
Now, can you please promise me you’re going to share your value with the world? Because I can promise you, the world is waiting for it.