Is blogging difficult? I don’t mean starting a blog because that is extremely easy to do these days. I mean, is it difficult to take a blog to a reasonable level of profitability without too many compromises? As we are trying to grow this site, I ask myself this every day. What should I be doing to deliver growth consistently? To answer that question, I have put together my own little study of what works for my competition and what I can do to beat them.
How can I beat so many competitors?
Reportedly there are over 600 million+ blogs on the internet today. By that statistic alone, is blogging difficult? Yes. How on earth are we supposed to stand out from that. Every niche, every angle is probably being done by somebody already. Quite discouraging.
Okay, there is a lot of content being generated across the world but the question is, why does some content make it to the top?. There are few very strong reasons.
For these reasons, I actually believe that blogging today is easier than ever if we set our expectations accordingly.
From Ahrefs study, top pages ranking on Google are on average 2+ years old and top ranking pages are 3+ years old.
Okay, so for a brand new site like this one, expectations need to be dialed way down. This one little statistic helped me tremendously with my mindset. I basically told myself that for the next 3-5 years I expect a big, fat zero. Zero traffic, zero income.
Domain rating is a term coined by SEO software companies like Ahrefs that use some proprietary formula to calculate whether a site is strong or weak. This rating is based on website’s backlink profile. Basically, the more high-quality backlinks the website has the higher the domain rating.
Okay, so how do we get backlinks? There are techniques for sure that a lot of SEO companies hope you buy from them but main factor will again be time. Over time, if I am putting out content and get even a few hundred readers reading each piece, somebody out there will link back to the site.
Again, I am facing the same enemy (or friend), TIME.
Blogging is similar to value investing and time is a friend
AlternaInvest is an investment-oriented website. We talk about various investment vehicles, one of them being investments in blogs & various websites. But the site itself is a content website. It is also an investment for us. Although, unlike traditional investments where we invest capital, this investment is mostly an investment of time. The time it takes to put together a post like this or analyze an investment portfolio.
Investing in these sites, whether you invest in one or build one from scratch, is like active value investing.
With value investing, you find an asset that is undervalued or is underperforming and you either wait for the market to recognize its value, or you do something to it so it generates more value.
Your blog is a business. You might own 100% of it or less, depending on who you build it with. When you first start, this business generates no value for society. It doesn’t produce anything of quality yet. It is your job to build a product and promote it. Your product is your content.
You work on your product consistently and improve it every single day until a point where the product starts having a positive impact, one person at a time. After a while the market recognizes the value in the business and rewards it. In the case of a website, rewards it with traffic and backlinks. All it takes is patience.
Relevant: Why patience in investing is crucial?
So why is time our friend ?
Out of 600+ million blogs out there, how many of them will survive the 3+ year window it takes to rank a single page? Time is our friend because it will naturally remove the competition for us. How many people will have the patience to create content consistently for 3+ years without expectations of any significant returns? Not many. I fell into this trap many times before. I have made investments in companies that I knew if I was patient enough, would produce abnormal results, but the moment they started performing, I would take my profits and look for a new venture.
So it’s not that some of these businesses don’t survive, but they actually achieve a certain level of success and their founders move on to other “bigger” things leaving room for newer players.
- Time kills the impatient.
- Time allows us to become better and make our product better.
- Time allows for old businesses to move on.
I often hear blogging is not a sprint; it is a marathon. I don’t see it as a marathon. I see it as a straight out survival game but not of the fittest but of the most patient.
Okay, but what if my competition is as relentless as I hope to be. What if the big players never stop innovating and producing content, they are already authority sites in my niche, and it will be stupid for them just to quit one day. They already possess insanely high domain rankings and will always outrank me. What do I do? I had to realize that business, blogging included, is not a zero-sum game.
Blogging is not a zero-sum game
Investopedia is the biggest site on the planet when it comes to investing websites. They are an absolute authority. Whatever topic they decide to cover, they will likely appear in the top 10 results of Google within a few months, easily, just because they have the domain authority. Does that mean every other investment website should just pack it up and quit?
Well, of course not. There are a lot of other extremely profitable sites in every niche.
When we create something, we don’t take away from the overall pie. We make the pie slightly bigger.
Big sites will never rank for every single keyword. There will always be something that you and I can do better. Opportunities remain limitless. Take enough of these little things that we can do better, stack them up and now we can build an audience that can benefit not just from the giant authority sites but smaller, more focused bloggers.
There are more spots on Google’s first page than just #1. Search result number 2-10, still get traffic and still build a loyal audience that eventually doesn’t need Google or any other search engine to come back to the site.
That is enough to start building a foundation to grow on. In addition, we don’t need to dominate every single position.
Also think of it this way, I read multiple sites in the same niche all the time. These are competing sites but I like the perspectives of different writers enough to read them all. Plus, although they are in the same niche, they never write about the exact same thing.
We don’t need to dominate to succeed
Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired magazine, in 2008 wrote an essay titled 1,000 True fans. This essay remains one of the most important pieces of content that every entrepreneur needs to read! You can read the whole essay here: The Technium: 1,000 True Fans People who look at the unsurmountable amount of competition and ask, is blogging difficult in 2021? Is it all worth it, given the competition? Just read the essay.
The essay opens with this:
To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.
The idea is simple. We don’t need to completely dominate in our respective niches to make a successful site. The idea goes that if you have just 1,000 people who are your true fans and you can offer them something of value and earn $100 profit per year from each fan, that is enough to have a good living.
For a blog the numbers might not be 1,000 but they are definitely not in the millions.
Depending on the niche, a site with 10,000 views per month can generate enough profit to sustain its creators. For most bloggers, 100,000 page views per month in most cases is enough to make a full-time living. How many website visitors do you need to make money?
Blogging quality is generally lacking
Most bloggers see their posts like fishing lines in the water, trying to catch as much fish by launching as many lines as possible. The problem with that thinking is that the quality of those posts simply cannot be good enough for the practice to be sustainable.
This creates a massive opportunity. We can be extremely unscalable and come out ahead.
Create long, hard to produce, impossible to outsource content.
Write more in-depth, write more technical stuff, do better research. The harder it is to outsource our content, the harder it is for competition to compete with it.
In many cases, for some very niche keywords, content that is ranking today was written a long time ago, back when low-quality content outsourced to a non-English speaking country was enough to get the rank. The bar has been set much higher since then. If things continue to move this way, soon, most top ranking content will be fairly impossible to outsource. This will completely eliminate a lot of bloggers chasing passive income.
Bloggers obsession with passive income is an opportunity
Content sites make great investments, How to buy a website as an investment? but the industry seems to be obsessed with the concept of passive income. Yes, blogs are great at generating income while we sleep but I argue that while the whole blogging community is sleeping, we can keep innovating our product.
Google, loves new, relevant content that is of high quality. It is best if this quality new content comes from a very old authority site. So, if we reach a point where the blog can enjoy “passive” income, that is the best position to be in to keep innovating and producing because this is the point where a lot of content creators will stop.
Is blogging difficult in 2021 has been asked every single year?
This question has been posted every single year by every person dreaming of creating content since blogging started in 1994. WordPress is 18 years old, and I am certain that for 18 years, people have been asking the same question. How difficult is it, and is it worth it? And the answer has always been the same.
Is blogging difficult? Yes, but also easier than ever to win if we focus on quality and longevity.
Blogging is more difficult than creating crappy short-form content was back in early 2000s. It is more difficult because you can’t just buy 100 crappy links from artificially created social media pages and rank on the top page. Blogging is more difficult since you can’t outsource content to Philippines in hopes of actually getting somebody to read that content. So in that regard, yes.
But at the same time, the community hasn’t realized that completely and likely never will. Majority of people are still pumping low-quality content because they read “How to start a blog” post on Instagram. All in hopes of creating a few posts and cashing in on that magic “passive income”.
Blogs are easier to monetize
It may be more difficult to create a high quality web site but if you put in the work and have the patience, once you have built a loyal audience, it is easier than ever to monetize. With programatic, highly targetable advertising, advertisers are able to hone in and serve perfect ads to our readers. The quality of these ads has gone up significantly as well from the early days. No more cheap Viagra ads.
This creates a win-win proposition for publishers and advertisers. Highest quality blogs, will get access to the highest quality ads that pay a significant premium to what ads used to pay.
Premium ad networks like Adthrive earn publishers as much as $30+ for 1,000 page views. Compare that to the old days where you could earn less than a dollar from Adsense with that many page views.
Days of crap content are not gone
The quality of content is very subjective, of course. But I am seeing a trend emerging. Bigger blogs with high domain authority seem to be cashing in on guest posting and outsourcing quite a bit.
Rise of Listicles
In 2021, listicles are probably the most popular type of post to write. They get the attention, are sharable and linkable. This leads to every site posting and reposting the same list items without adding any new information.
I have seen the same post over and over again, just in a different order a million times.
So the quality of these posts is definitely up, they are well written and each item on the list is well described but it is the same content.
This, again, is an opportunity. There is nothing wrong with listicles, but can we not rehash the same old list just in a different order and add new value? I truly believe we can.