Blogging is about as dead as an iPhone 4S. Or yesterday’s viral meme. It’s old school shit.
Is blogging dead? Is that what you think? Do you think blogging is actually, legitimately dead?
The short answer… is err, to put it simply, no. I wouldn’t have gone through the hassle of starting a blog in 2021, if that was the case.
In this blog post, I’ll be digging into case studies on blogging experts and the unique approaches they used to nurse their blog to stellar health – by that I mean, they helped tons of people with kickass content and generated a shit ton of money just from blogging. I’ll also outline why it works and what you can do to apply the same strategies.
Who in the heck are these blogging experts? Can you give me a quick overview so I know I’m not wasting my time here?
I’m glad you asked. Here’s your overview, you sweet son of a gun.
- On content strategy and top quality blogs: Julia McCoy of Express Writers
- On authority status and niching down: Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus of Create and Go
- On networking and guest posting: Tom Hunt of Virtual Valley
Satisfied? Great! But before that, let’s talk about stupid questions like iS bLogGinG deAd and why they’re stupid. Stick around for the show because blogging is very much far from dead.
Valid… but ultimately stupid questions about blogging
Welcome, welcome to another episode of Stupid Questions About Blogging! Yes, you’ve heard it right, folks! “Is blogging dead?” is a stupid question. To be fair, I get why people are dying to ask.
According to a HubSpot survey, 88% of people want to see more brand videos in social media and beyond. Only 18% wanted to see blog posts.
This was way back in 2018 – imagine how much the numbers have changed now that everyone’s nuts for vlogging, podcasting, and of course, social media. And well, there’s our ever shortening attention span to take into account.
Well, let me tell you something: Blogging is a bitch that keeps on kicking. It’s not dead, it’s evolving with the times. It’s not waddling its fat fins struggling to stay afloat, it’s a thriving jungle of text, images, and videos that pulls readers to websites in liberal numbers. No, I’m not just saying this because I’m a blogger trying to keep my art alive.
Here’s your social proof: there are thousands of people who keep squeezing out moolah by the millions from blogging. One of the top paid bloggers in 2020, Perez Hilton, netted an income of $41.3 million annually!
The good news is we don’t need to be this Hilton person to be a millionaire. Every blogger has the potential to earn just as much, if not more. I kid you not.
What people don’t talk about is this: blogging is not jUsT wRitinG. Blogging is pretty technical. Our blog will die if we don’t water it with good strategies like backlinking, search engine optimization (SEO), guest posting, and monetization schemes. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
My point is Hilton succeeded because he knows the technical stuff and applied it to his own blog, day in and day out. Like him, you too can be a millionaire figure if you know how to be strategic.
Around a week ago, I already talked about what earns the most between blogging and vlogging – yet another stupid question, by the way. Spoiler alert: the no-bullshit answer is it depends. I compared vlogging and blogging in terms of income potential, revenue streams, resources needed (like money), and other variables. Hop on over there if you need more convincing, you big skeptic.
Now, let’s get back to debunking the death myth that’s running rounds in the Internet like a guy on steroids. Here are three case studies on crazy successful blogging experts and what they did to make it big.
Content strategy is a fucking superpower (case study on Julia McCoy)
If you’re a serious blogger or content writer, then you’ve got to know Julia McCoy of Express Writers.
Julia started blogging way back in 2011 with only $75 in her college student savings account. Since then, she built a team of savvy writers and published 1,200+ blogs strategically made around the best keywords.
“The amount of content we publish on our blog, the consistency of it, and the quality and relevancy of our blog posts are the biggest factors behind what is now 90,000+ visitors/month coming to our site,” she said in her case study.
Steady as a mountain climber, their traffic rose over the years. But it wasn’t until they implemented a content strategy in 2016 that they hit the goldmine.
The strategy in question?
Julia and her team decided to go for quality over quantity. They basically cut down from publishing 4-5 blogs a week, to only 1-2!
Sounds petrifying, I know. With so much competition in the blogosphere and with vlogging rising in popularity, it sounds risky to cut back on content. But the thing is Julia didn’t do it without good reason. At the core of it all, it was a strategic move.
To her, quality meant:
- Focusing on long-form blogs
- Using targeted keywords
- Developing brand style guidelines and targeted personas
- Conducting audience research and surveys
What in fuck’s sense does this all mean?
Here’s my explain like I’m five spin on this: She started writing longer, more detailed blogs specifically for her readers. Blogging became less of a ‘writing for everyone’ type of thing, and more of an ‘I’m talking to a specific person’ type of thing. She used terms and phrases she knew her target readers would look up in Google. She wrote in a language that those readers prefer and understand. She talked to these readers to know exactly what in the heck she should be writing about. And she kept at it, every single week.
As for the quantity, she made the transition gradually. It doesn’t make sense for her to publish 4-5 blogs a week the first month, and then the next month cut down to a measly two. Her readers may have gotten disoriented if this was the case. It took her around 15 months to fully transition from writing as much as five blogs a week, to as little as just one.
Her earnings hitched from $66k monthly to $120k monthly. She also started ranking #1 for hot keywords like “content writing outsourcing” and got 21,600 other keyword rankings in Google.
Why did this work?
No doi, it’s because she made up for the lack of quantity with grade A quality, highly targeted content. She took her time understanding her readers better so that she could give them exactly what they wanted.
Does this mean I should start posting 1-2 blogs per week to see the same results?
No fucking way, Jose. A content strategy is not something you should crudely copy paste into your own process. Content strategies should be tailor-fit to your audience, your goals, even your team.
Jeez. Then why the fuck did you bother to tell me all this?
Calm your horses. There’s a lot to learn from this case study and that’s her process for mapping out and perfecting her content strategy. I’m saying talk to your readers, learn what makes them tick, write exactly for them, and always keep them in mind.
Less is more, so niche down (case study on Alex Nerney and Lauren McManus)
Alex and Lauren co-founded health and wellness blog Avocadu in 2015. It took them months of penniless blogging until they started earning at least something. And that something is $172.82. In one year.
Fast forward to 2021 and they’re now making over $100,000 every month and own another blog too!
“The solution to long-term blogging success is to dedicate your time and energy to becoming an expert in your chosen niche,” Alex shared in a blog on the lessons they learned from blogging.
This is heckin’ important because even I do this. I don’t just write about aNytHiNG uNdEr thE SuN.
Sure, that might have worked in the past but it’s 2021. Google is a lot smarter at differentiating real experts from people just blogging with an existential crisis. Readers can also tell when you don’t know your shit.
Like Alex said, “the solution here isn’t tactical.”
Yes, catchy headlines do wonders, longer blog posts are more attractive, and yes building links help a ton, but ultimately, you need to have a niche or subject of expertise for any of these tactics to even work for longer than, I dunno, a week, give or take.
So what did they do?
They positioned themselves as “professional bloggers”. They flexed those relevant creds in the About section of their new blog and website Create and Go. For example, Alex mentioned that his first blog flopped and that he later grew his next site to six figures in one year. This is pretty relevant since the blog’s goal is to help people make income with blogging. Little tweaks like this help readers and Google know that they know their shit, basically.
Let’s be real. Would you listen to someone give blogging advice if they’ve never done blogging? Yeah, thought so.
So what can I do to replicate this? I’m not an expert at anything.
Mate, I’m sure you’re an expert at something. You just don’t know it yet, or you got a bad case of impostor syndrome. Do some deep ass soul-searching. What’s something you’re known for informally? What do friends and colleagues seek advice for from you? What’s something I never get tired talking about? Think about it.
And if you really can’t think of anything, then learn something new! Take online courses, hit the books, learn by doing. Once you’ve figured out your niche or expertise, update your website and social media accounts to reflect that. Write content about it consistently, you know the drill.
Don’t be a loner, or a stranger (case study on Tom Hunt)
This last case study is a strange one. Tom Hunt wrote a whopping 43 guest posts in 3 months, but the man has no active blog of his own as far as I know. His guest blogging strategy was to promote his marketplace for entrepreneurs and virtual assistants.
To that vein, he’s written guest posts for DuctTapeMarketing, Thrilling Heroics, Blogging Wizard, even HubSpot!
Okay, that sounds cool and all, but what in the fuck does this have to do with blogging, then?
Since you asked so kindly, I’ll tell you about my personal case study. There’s a bonus for you!
Guest posting or guest blogging helps a ton with redirecting traffic to your site. That’s why I reached out to Zapier for a guest post. Like most credible blog posts out there, you’ll find an author’s bio somewhere in the page, probably some links leading to my social media handles and website too.
This means that if I wow Zapier’s readers, they’ll get curious. Who is this Jakob Staudal person? Where can I find more of his stuff? My blog, of course. This is a smart approach for new bloggers who are still trying to reel in loyal readers or grow traffic.
Now back to Tom and his story. Before even guest posting, one has to do some outreach. This basically means you talk to well-established strangers, pitch your content idea, and wow them enough to reply to you. Easier said than done.
Sure, there are tons of plug-and-play templates out there but that’s just not smart. And Tom knows it.
Tom went the extra mile and took the time to craft a personalized pitch and message. In one example, he included in his pitch a list of influencers he knew that blogger Cody McKibben followed. This gave the pitch some familiarity and added appeal.
Another thing that Tom did smartly was taking every post as an opportunity to network. He wanted to do a guest post for HubSpot, so he mentioned them in another guest post. When he reached out to Matthew Barby, the Global Head of Growth & SEO at HubSpot with a guest post submission, he casually said that he linked to HubSpot in a previous post.
The ending? He ended up publishing a post for HubSpot which has millions of loyal readers as an established authority.
What can you do to replicate this? Reach out to people with personalized pitches and messages. Templates? Yeah, gag me. Take every chance you get to network. Bottom line is don’t be a lone stranger.
A Farewell to the Myth of “Is Blogging Dead?”
Now that you’ve seen social proof and backlinks that prove that blogging is alive and well, put the “is blogging dead” question to rest, please, for the love of god.
Pay your respects to the art of blogging and put the strategies you learned into practice.
What unique approach appeals to you the most?