I’ve been blogging since 2005. In the first 4 or so years, I’ve just been writing stuff to amuse myself and to document my life for some reason. I never really considered putting a lot of effort in it. I didn’t even consider making serious money out of it. Blogging was simply something I love doing and nothing more — until last year when I triumphantly quit my job and looked towards an awesome career in dicking around the Internet for the rest of my life.
My plan was simple: experiment on available online options for generating income (blogging, freelance writing/designing, domaining, SEO) so I won’t have to go back to the corporate jungle. Of course I had to get a homebased job first to keep a steady flow of income as I dived into the black waters of the Internet. There were times when I felt I was going nowhere but I managed to keep myself patiently waiting for results.
Now, one year later, I have my results and I thought I should share some lessons I learned in my one year experiment in blogging and other online shenanigans. Keep in mind that I didn’t magically become rich and I’m not suddenly an expert in blogging, but if you spend an entire year tinkering with the wonders of the web, you’re bound to learn a thing or two. If you just started a blog or are considering entering the blogging fold, these morsels of information are for you. I’m going to dispense these lessons in 4 parts spanning 4 days. Today, let’s focus on content.
Content is King
What a cliche, amirite? But it’s true. Blogging may not just be about content but content is the heart and soul of your blog. I’ve read enough redundant blogs about blogging to realize that creating engaging content is the backbone of your entire blogging operation. Most people agree that if your content sucks like a mosquito that is also a whore, you will most likely fail.
What You Should Write About
Putting up a personal blog may be the easiest way to start blogging. You get to write about anything you want without anyone telling you that you’re doing it wrong. Review your favorite TV show that nobody else watches? It’s OK. Tell everybody what your cat just coughed up? Nobody’s stopping you. Post random blurry pictures of your bed? Knock yourself out. This approach may not make you relevant beyond your small but loyal circle of readers, but it can help you develop your writing style and your blogging voice.
Niche blogs and business blogs are entirely different animals. I started seriously dabbling in niche blogs last year and I found out that sticking with a definite theme will not make writing easier, but it can force you to be creative. That’s a good thing. It’s kind of hard to choose a specific topic you like that nobody else is already blogging about and you won’t do yourself favors either if you choose a really obscure theme like, say, “naked geocaching”. Before you start a niche blog, list down topics or themes that fascinate you first and narrow it down to a list that you think other people would find interesting as well. It’s better if you can find a topic that will allow you to share valuable information that people are looking for.
Experiment and Play
While you write blog entries that — based on your instincts and proper research — you are sure will attract readers aside from your online stalkers and your mom, think about writing outside-the-box pieces as well. Be creative. Play around with concepts. Write fake news. Post weird images that you Photoshopped. Talk in the 3rd person about Spider-Man and time travel. Go crazy once in a while. You’ll never really know what kind of content will shine in your blog so keep a good mix of safe bets and ridiculous ideas in your to-write list.
After writing different types of blog entries across different blogging and micro-blogging platforms (self-hosted WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, Twitter) for an entire year, I have concluded that developing your writing style in a test blog, choosing an interesting topic and choosing to stray off the path every once in a while are the foundation of your awesome content.
I hope to see you again tomorrow for the second part of A One Year Experiment in Blogging. We’ll talk about the lessons I learned about blog presentation. And possibly stupid domain names.