The Secrets to Blogging Success (Minus the Secrets)

March 10, 2010 Posted by Glen
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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.

Glen Allsopp writes at ViperChill on the topic of Viral Marketing. He recently posted a guide to WordPress SEO that you may learn a lot from.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: March 10th, 2010 under Guest Posts  

39 Responses to “The Secrets to Blogging Success (Minus the Secrets)”

  1. Glen says:

    Thanks for the opportunity, Tyler!

    I hope your readers here get something out of the post :). I’ll check back for questions if anyone has any.

  2. Nice work on the sale, I love hearing stories like this, and really enjoying your content on ViperChill!

  3. Wow..great job on the 180 flip on Viper Chill! Looking back at your 0 comments to an average of 50 comments per post is a great achievement man!

  4. Soares says:

    It´s really inspiring…you story,your path to what you are on this days!!
    Congratulations

  5. PPC Icon says:

    Good guest post. That whole concept of “there is no secret” is so correct. People think they need the latest thing or fad just to get started on their projects. Go watch Kung Fu Panda, the same message is in there! Like Nike said, Just Do It !

  6. Great guest post. I love reading motivational stories like that because it helps me get off my rump and start making things happen. ViperChill looks like a great blog by the way.

  7. thanks for sharing this article. now i know one of the best strategy to blogging success..

  8. hotel says:

    Good guest post. That whole concept of “there is no secret” is so correct. People think they need the latest thing or fad just to get started on their projects.

  9. 100 percent agree. Although there is strategies and tactics which people use, there are no real secrets.

  10. Amazing tactics and remarkable tips has been provided on blogging.

  11. Cheat Codes says:

    Wow I never though that will make a sense in blogging strategy

  12. Diabetis says:

    Thanks for shairng this Glen.

    This is a great tip.

  13. teknoloji says:

    Amazing tips here, even though minus secrets:)

  14. no matter how many secrets you find sooner or later you just need to write good content. Thanks Glen.

    • Yeah a lot of those “blogging secrets” things are bunk.. bottomline you need to write good content and then let others know about it. Nothing too advanced about that! :) Glen writes great content and then lets others know about it through his guest posting. Good strategy :)

  15. This was an awesome post! I’ve been a fan of Glen’s site for some time, he’s on my RSS feed :)

  16. Amazing tips here, even though minus secrets:)

  17. Kat says:

    It is amazing what kind of results you can have by providing a community with real content and not just trying to get traffic. Thanks for the reminder to always provide good content.

  18. orjin krem says:

    Amazing tips here, even though minus secrets. Good job Tyler :):)

  19. Mario Games says:

    very nice article, and nice tips for bloggers.

  20. Metin2 Hile says:

    It´s really inspiring…you story,your path to what you are on this days!!
    Congratulations

  21. Cheat Codes says:

    Bet is a good motivation in every field as well as prize

  22. Great post. This is what I got out of this: sit back, relax, and write about what you like. Be yourself and just have fun sharing your stuff.

  23. SEO Tricks says:

    I think its the best guest post i have ever read.
    Nice presentation and great content.

  24. What you’ve said is all so true. There are no secrets, you can’t make excuses, and you have to provide over-the-top value to your readers.

  25. Very good points. You are absolutely no secrets. Everything is in plain view. The main point is to start doing something.

  26. Metin2 Hile says:

    This was an awesome post! I’ve been a fan of Glen’s site for some time, he’s on my RSS feed

  27. Boxing Bags says:

    Nice one Glen! Thanks for sharing

  28. the secret is, have an idea? ok if you do then then put it into practice and see for your self how far you get!

  29. David Koh says:

    Nice information. I agree with you that you shouldn’t make excuses and that part about providing value to readers above all. Without providing value to readers you’ll be hard pressed to get something back.

  30. Job Search says:

    Very Inspiring Story. Yeah, youre right, we should focus on helping our readers, in that way we can have less stress by not always thinking about the money we get.

  31. Very much reminds me of Kung Fu Panda. (I know I probably shouldn’t admit to watching it but I actually liked it). In that the dragon scroll there is no missing ingredient, or there is no special magical power. It is all in yourself and the quest for something greater. Nice guest Post!

  32. What a knocking post.

    You have definitely knock some sense out of readers who are reading this post. I agree with you that the there are hurdles in this business and you have to cross it to get to the next level.

    Unfortunately most people are looking for instant gratification and miss the golden opportunity.

  33. What kind of post is this.But frankly speaking you told the bitter truth.The real secret is that there is no secret.Its all in the blogger’s mind.

  34. SEO Miami says:

    I love the story of ViperChill.

  35. maurers says:

    What you’ve said is all so true ;)

  36. est nakliyat says:

    I think its the best guest post i have ever read. :))

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