Blogging Trailblazers And Copyists

Deborah wrote a thought-provoking piece a couple of weeks ago about whether traffic (visitors/readers) or money should come first when blogging. She also talked a little bit about a radio interview she’d participated in where they drilled for information about making money online.

Deborah’s post struck a chord with me on two levels:

  1. about the focus on money by the media, and
  2. the resultant copycat bloggers who think it’s a fast way to get rich

In this post, I’m going to talk about my personal experiences of both these points.

Passion Versus Profit?

Our story follows the blogging dream: we started a blog about something we loved, and after a while, visitors flocked to the site to comment and read our latest posts. The industry became familiar with our blog and started to cooperate with us, improving the information we were able to provide to our readers. We got interviews, exclusives, etc.

To promote the blog, we circulated some press releases to the media and secured a number of radio and newspaper slots on local and national programmes.

The single biggest question from all these journalists wasn’t “how’d you manage your stellar success and build such an amazing website?” It was “You couldn’t be running this website for free – how do you make money?”

Now, I can tell you in five minutes how we make money online. AdSense, TLA, FeedBurner, IntelliTXT, etc. But ask a sweeping question like that and you’ll miss the vagaries of fluctuating CPC, the frightening dips in revenue during the summer months. These wild generalizations about blogging miss out on some pretty important stuff in their rush for AdSense cheques.

Some of these journalists would do well to study the success rates of most bloggers and how much an average blogger can expect to make, rather than hyping it up as easy cash.

Hard Work And Enthusiasm Comes First

Although we had adverts on our site at the beginning, the earnings were poor. That’s because the traffic was poor. That’s because we had very little content and no backlinks other than the odd directory submission. The WordPress theme needed to be optimized and myriad other little things had to be done to improve the site.

The bottom line? We worked our asses off. My wife wrote the content and I managed backlinks, SEO and a bit of offline promotion. I tracked other sites writing about our topic on Technorati and made comments where I could. We experimented with MySpace and promoting ourselves through new social networks to different levels of success.

Other bloggers will recognize the hard times too. There were times for us when we almost threw in the towel. Traffic growth was incredibly slow, and often we felt we were wasting our time. But our fanbase was growing and we blogged on.

Copycats And The Get-Rich-Quick Bloggers

These are the folks who think a five-minute WordPress install is their key to massive riches. They see a condensed blog post about how someone made money online and assume that it’s easy.

The most personal example for me was after we’d done a newspaper interview. A friend of ours suddenly joined our forum and started posting. While we were initially pleased, we discovered he’d done it to drop links to a blog he’d created. Worse still, the blog was on a very similar topic to ours and absolutely plastered in AdSense!

Anyway, I deleted his spammy posts and he disappeared from the forum for a few months. We kept an eye on his blog, but it seemed to die a death. A few months later, he came back with another blog, on a different subject. Again, his posting rate was poor and the site was covered in AdSense. I’m sure he’s sitting in front of his computer, checking AdSense incessantly, wondering where his millions are!


And that’s my point people. It is no accident when a website (blog or otherwise) succeeds. Generally the people behind those websites carry a passion and determination that shows in their work. They tweak their blog themes, promote their sites, write great articles and people are attracted to those sites. They tell their friends about those sites. They link to those sites from their blogs.

This post was written by Gerard McGarry. Gerard is a music blogger for Unreality Music and designs websites at Scribble Designs.

5 thoughts on “Blogging Trailblazers And Copyists

  1. It can be difficult dealing with a spammy friend sometimes; I can think of two examples, one stopped posting after I moderated posts, the other when they do post usually add a great deal to the conversation.

    My advice to anyone just getting started blogging is if you really enjoy it, hang in there (also tell some people opffline who may be interested in your content) and the traffic will come if you keep your quality and posting pace up.

  2. Thanks Deborah – I think that’s got to be the best kept secret in blogging: perseverance. If you’re the kind of person who gets easily disheartened, you’ll walk away from blogging pretty quickly. Especially if you’re starting from the ground up.

  3. Awesome post. I really don’t have anything to add as you’re right on the money. It takes time, anyone who blogs for the quick fix won’t last long.

  4. You have said it all about starting a blog… while many are still trying to find ways and means to take shortcuts, it is still better to go through the process of being genuine… Who wants to go to a blog full of adsense and the contents aren’t really original? Moreover, the traffic they have attracted must have been really bad as well!

  5. We worked our asses off

    Sums up, in 5 words, what blogging at the beginning is all about.

    I would add though, that as soon as you get traction and income you should look at leveraging resources and hiring people to do your work – you may still be working 12 hours a day but unless you have more people working for you (and therefore more man hours per day spent on your projects), you’re not going to scale too well. I think Ryan made a very good point about this some time back.

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