When I began building my creative writing shop, Honey Copy, a good while ago, marketers were saying blogging was dead.
And, today, nearly three years later, they’re still saying blogging is dead.
(This is bullshit considering yesterday alone over 4,000,000 blogs were blasted onto the web).
While I’m by no means a marketing thought-leader on the topic of blogging (I’m not sure anybody is), I do think my words on the matter carry some small amount of weight considering I make a living writing blogs and other pretty words for badass brands of all shapes and sizes.
This piece is obviously intended to answer the question: is blogging dead?
But, more than this, it’s a reflection on my own journey as a “blogger” turned writer turned writer/entrepreneur hybrid.
I hope to paint a realistic picture of blogging — or at least what picture has been real for me — by simply telling you about what blogging has done for me and what it is still doing for me and how I plan to approach it in the future.
Let’s time travel, back to the beginning.
When I was twenty-two, I was voraciously reading a beast of a blogger named Mark Manson. You’re probably pretty familiar with his work. He would eventually go on to write the international best-seller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.
But, at the time, Manson was just a blogger with some polarizing ideas, a deep fondness for the word fuck and someone making serious cheddar slinging ink online.
I was reading him often with jealousy burning in my belly as I sat at a job I hated not getting to do the very thing I wanted to do… write.
While he wasn’t the only reason I eventually decided to quit my job and attempt to make a living as a blogger … his wild success and candid “I don’t give a damn” style of writing played no small part in pushing me off the ledge.
Until stumbling upon Manson’s work, I had always had a clouded perception of blogging and what ultimately made it lucrative.
I had read fashion bloggers and food bloggers and lifestyle bloggers and an assload of blogs ironically written about how to blog successfully… all selling me the same bullshit blogging porn narrative…
Get wildly rich blogging through affiliate marketing and banner ads and brand partnerships.
Yet, after making a few goes at this approach to blogging in college, I was left with countless domains and far less money than I had started with.
Fortunately, after watching Manson, I realized the beauty of blogging wasn’t in making money through everything I mentioned above… but instead, it was in audience building and lead generation.
This realization is what ultimately lead to me gaining some traction…
Honey Copy was built on blogging.
Every once in a while, folks will get curious and ask me how I built Honey Copy, my creative writing shop. What they’re really asking is how I figured out a way to make a living writing.
While my answer will vary depending on the day, there are a few responses that have always remained the same…
But, back to blogging.
It wasn’t very good.
In fact, I’d argue it was quite bad.
But, I kept showing up and writing each month (and sometimes multiple times a month) and eventually something magical happened…
While I didn’t make jack shit from “affiliate marketing or “banner ads”… I found myself with 94 articles that accumulated 6,200+ email subscribers, thousands of dollars in writing projects, hundreds of sales of my copywriting guide and a living breathing writing business called Honey Copy.
To say blogging has been good to me would be a massive understatement. And, I’d certainly argue blogging is still very much alive and thriving and worthwhile.
However, you have to do it the right way and in my opinion, here’s how…
Don’t be a blogger, be a [fill in the blank] that blogs.
Today, there is no such thing as food bloggers or fitness bloggers… at least not ones making a living doing it. The ridiculous narrative of blogging to your heart’s content and magical invisible elves delivering bucket loads of cash to your bank account while you sleep is over.
It just simply doesn’t happen.
Blogging is a marketing tool and it should be treated as such.
It is valuable for individuals looking to build email lists or interested in selling products or services and I’d argue that it’s invaluable for brands selling directly to other brands.
(Something like 70% of B2B buyers said that they read a brand’s blog during their buying process).
When I stopped viewing myself as a blogger and instead a freelance writer and entrepreneur selling his services and products through blogging… everything changed.
Let me hammer this point into your head…
There’s no such thing as a food blogger. There is such a thing as a chef selling a state-of-the-art pizza cutter that blogs to build an audience interested in buying pizza cutters.
There’s no such thing as a fitness blogger. There is such a thing as an online fitness coach that sells one on one training sessions that blogs to build an audience interested in buying a six-pack.
There’s no such thing as a tech blogger. There is such a thing as a SaaS company that sells a fancy piece of software that blogs to build an audience interested in buying their fancy piece of software.
Understand that blogging itself doesn’t make money, but the readers and prospective customers it attracts does.
So, when blogging, know who you are (and that’s not a blogger) and know what you’re selling (or have an idea of what you’re going to eventually sell).
In other words, don’t approach it like a dunce, be strategic.
Always pair your blogging efforts with a kick-ass email newsletter.
I designed the above newsletters after realizing 90% of folks who land on a website never again return.
If your blogs are bringing in traffic to your website, it’s imperative you’re capturing as much as this traffic as possible. No, this doesn’t mean you have to sell them right then and there. But, you should at the very least know where to contact them when you have something to sell them.
Blogging without a newsletter or at the very least with the intention of building an email list, is wasting time.
SEO should be baked into every blog post you write.
Do me a favor and Google the following…
The site you will see pop-up first on Google is Honey Copy. This is called SEO. There are a lot of experts out there that will try to make SEO more complicated than it needs to be.
Don’t listen to them.
SEO is about writing the best answer to a given question. That’s all. Use a tool like SemRush (affiliate link, no the irony is not lost on me) and find keywords you’d like your blog posts to rank for.
Write kick-ass blogs, sprinkle the keyword in your title and in the actual post and see what happens.
I’m sure you’re wondering…
Why would I be sharing this with potential competitors?
To be candid, 99% of my competitors reading this won’t do anything with it. Blogging (and building SEO into the blogs you’re writing takes a great deal of work).
And, for the 1% that does, I’m confident I’ll still kick their ass.
But, more than this, what you should be hearing is that if you’re willing to work your ass off and write blogs like your brand depends on it, you can drive traffic to your site and get more eyes on whatever the fuck it is you’re selling.
Psst… this article you’re reading is trying to rank for the keyword “is blogging dead”… I know, I’m one sly S.O.B.
Blogging works best for brands selling big-ticket products and services.
The reason banner ads are bullshit is because you need a ton of clicks to make a few dollars.
To really make money with blogging, it’s best if you’re selling (or eventually planning to sell) a big-ticket item like a piece of software or a course or an expensive service.
There is a reason brands like Hootsuite have entire libraries filled with thousands and thousands of blog posts. I’d guess they’ve invested a small fortune in their blog. But, at a price point of $540 a year for their software, Hootsuite knows it’s worth it.
The reason blogging has been so lucrative for Honey Copy is because my writing projects start out at $5,000. And, for folks and brands who can’t afford them… I have a lower-priced product they can buy that still puts a decent chunk of change in my pocket, my copywriting guide.
When you are selling big-ticket products and services, putting the time and energy into blogging isn’t just worth it… I’d say you’d be a fool not to do it.
Now, if you’re selling $10 ebooks, save yourself the trouble. It’s hard for me to see anyone making a living blogging whilst selling $10 products.
Have I left anything on the table?
I can’t give you everything.
If you Googled “Is blogging dead?”, it means you’re considering starting a blog for you or your brand.
Which means you could probably use my services.
Send me a note, here.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.