What Are the Secrets of Successful Writing on the Internet? After investing some time and doing a fair bit of research, I can present a good overview of how to succeed with niche blog writing. Making a success of writing on the internet requires commitment, consistent effort, time and patience. You need to write high quality content and it needs to be published consistently. Patience is required because results take time. Organic traffic from Google will take time to increase, and ad revenue only comes in if there are people reading your content.
Do bloggers make money?
This is the motivation. The great thing is that the returns from this effort compound. If you write 100 articles and each takes a few hours, that’s a lot of time invested, maybe a day a week for a year(!). If an article makes $1 per day, that’s not much, but 1$ x 100 articles x 365 days in a year = $36,500. So if you (or I) can invest the time in creating this content, it can continue to pay back over time.
The compounding effects also apply to the value of the content created. 1 article on a site is probably going to earn $0. It’s unlikely that anyone (including Google) is going to trust a site with a single article. But as you add more content around a subject, the combined value compounds too. 20 high quality articles about a very specific topic could be the best resource for that topic on the whole internet.
I’ve discovered a nice activity that some people in the blogging community have started – income reports. People share how much they’re making to encourage others (and as some valuable content for their blogs). I suspect that there’s a sampling bias here – the people who want to share this information are probably those who are successful – but these are still great, motivating data points to give an idea of what’s possible. Do a search on Google, limit the results to the last month, and you’ll find lots of examples (these are the top results I got in the search):
Again, these all appeared at the top of the Google results. Successful sites with a good presence in Google are going to be doing better (and one reason for these posts is that they get links like I just posted). Presumably there are thousands of failures too, so use that as motivation and do a decent job!
How have I ended up here?
Quite a while back, when I was still in school I learnt a little about making money on the internet, read into some SEO topics and discovered Adsense (Google ads you can put on your site). The idea of making money through the internet was very interesting when I had no income, so I set up a couple of sites. I didn’t put much effort into them, and wasn’t focused. I also gave up pretty quickly. One site made a little through Adsense, but not enough to hook me in.
Since then, I’ve worked as a developer, a consultant and in sales. The first job I had was related to financial data, so I thought I’d build an automated trading platform (I didn’t). Another was related to email archiving, so I thought I’d build email archiving software (I didn’t). The latest job is related to marketing software, and that’s exposed me again to lots of internet businesses. I got pretty far into an ecommerce idea, but it turns out to be quite complicated and I felt I needed to invest more money than I was comfortable with to have a serious go at it.
I read twitter quite a bit. Maybe a bit too much (still, it has to be better than scrolling Instagram). I follow general learning/philosophy/psychology writers, as well as people building SaaS products, ecommerce stores and business.
Recently I stumbled on the account of @NicheSiteLady. I enjoy the way she writes, and it’s motivating to read a success story about someone whose background I feel close to. She is based in the UK, and I think there’s some cultural things (that I can’t really describe) that I find really endearing. I moved from the UK to Germany 7 years ago, and when I get a chance to talk to a native Brit, it’s somehow really grounding. Earning over $10,000 a month through content sites is unbelievable. Even when I was thinking about building SaaS products, what I considered to be a worthwhile goal was far less than that. And there are plenty of other people on Twitter and elsewhere sharing success stories too.
So, I’ve got a bit of knowledge in the area, I can set up a website, and I (hope) can write reasonably well. I though “Maybe if I commit then I can create something worthwhile?”
So that’s what this site is. As I’m just getting started, I’m in a great position to share the details. I find that once I’ve managed to do something, I become fluent in it, and I don’t think about the details an more. Which makes it more difficult to explain to someone else.
How can I start blogging as a beginner
To start blogging as a beginner, pick a topic that interests you, set it up using a platform like WordPress, and produce useful content for your readers to engage with. Engage with your readers, share your blog on social media, and optimise it for search engines. Be consistent, patient, and committed since it time and work to see any results.
The approach I’ve taken to each of these steps probably isn’t the easiest. I have some knowledge in a few areas, so that means I’m likely to make different decisions to those who don’t (and vice-versa).
I use Amazon Lightsail to host WordPress. It’s like having your own server that you can manage. This isn’t a great solution if you don’t want to deal with the configuration. I like that I’m running on the same infrastructure that’s powering serious companies, and I like having access to all the options. I’m running NGINX. A beginner friendly solution would be to just use wordpress.com – it’s going to cost $5 a month, which is fine, but that could also get you your own Lightsail server!
I chose the topic of adult development because it interests me, and also because I saw a domain for sale and got a bit sucked into an auction for it. I should probably do more research here, but the domain is broad enough that I can choose a nice sub-niche to develop. I want something that’s small enough that I can create a valuable enough resource that it can compete with the rest of the internet, and large enough that it can bring in enough views to generate some revenue.
I use WordPress because it has a great community and plugins for every functionality you can think of. When you run into a problem you can be sure someone has already figured it out, and you’ll find the answer through Google. I use only a few plugins – I don’t want to bring down site performance – and for the same reason, I use the Kadence theme. All of these are free!
- Yoast SEO – Helps me improve SEO
- Site Kit by Google – Gets Google Analytics and Adsense on the site
- Super Page Cache for Cloudflare – This one’s cool. It means that Cloudflare caches everything so that performance is great and my server doesn’t have to respond to all the requests. Cloudflare, like AWS, is providing infrastructure for half the internet.
- Redirection – makes it easy to redirect old pages to new ones
- Easy Table of Contents – Creates nice contents tables (see above) automatically on all posts!
- Cloudinary – this one might be a bit unnecessary. It serves all my images from their CDN, but also enables lazy loading.
How should a blog be structured?
A blog post should be structured to have an interesting opening that introduces the subject, sections and paragraphs that each address a distinct subject and headers and subheadings to facilitate skimming. There should be visually appealing videos, images, and infographics to engage the reader. The ending could (optionally) have a summary or key points and a call to action.
In terms of site structure, I’m currently into the idea of topical authority. It’s a way of thinking about the value that readers get from the combined content you publish. As mentioned above, a website with one post is unlikely to have much value, but 20 articles about a very niche subject could be the best resource around. So I want to have a collection of articles around a subject, and I want Google to know that they provide a great resource for the overall subject. To do this, I link between the articles that are relevant to each other.
I also care about the user experience of the website. I want it to feel valuable. I don’t know if I’ll keep this forever, but the way I have built out the structure is using three main subjects which link through to the individual posts. The site menu includes pages for each subject. Each page has longform content describing the subject and then links in the content to the posts. There’re also the category pages where all the posts are listed.
How do I write for a blog?
You have chosen a subject that you’re interested in, so hopefully that makes it easier to find inspiration and motivation. To write for your blog, first identify your audience and figure out what they want. Make an outline of your content and arrange it logically. Write in a conversational and clear manner. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points for readability and keywords for SEO. Include eye-catching text and graphics. Check your writing for clarity and grammar before publishing. Finally, to encourage discussion, finish blog posts with a query or call to action.
The first step is to choose a topic, and then research the topic and figure out how you’re going to frame it. I Google the topic and look at the “people also ask” section in the results. If you click on the relevant questions, then additional relevant questions will appear. I created a Julian Goldie, who posts some interesting content on Youtube.
Once I have the text for the post, I go through and add images. I like Unsplash – it’s totally free. I reframe and resize them to fit to the content (and so that readers don’t have to download a huge image). I suspect I need to invest more time in this – find better images, create infographics, charts, diagrams.
The process is still very manual for me, and it takes me way longer than I would like to write a post! I’d like to automate this so that I can put more time into either creating more content, or editing better content. I think the easiest option will be to use Google Sheets and the ChatGPT extension. I’m tempted code something custom, but that will take more effort, that I should probably invest in better content. It’s better to get started, to hit publish and avoid perfectionism – “Perfect is the enemy of good”!
So, go forth and blog! (apparently I should have a call to action)