When I recently decided to focus my efforts on growing this blog, I have to admit I asked myself the same question. Is blogging dead?
The answer I’m happy to say is that it’s far from dead, but it has changed from what it was 10 years ago when I started my online adventure.
In the old days, bloggers (“web-loggers”) simply documented their lives and whatever other topics interested them on sites like Blogger.com. Two decades later, blogging has transformed from a personal diary into a highly lucrative way to monetize your skills — and today, there are some 90,000 google searches per second!
So, I would say blogging is anything but dead.
What has changed however, is that blogging has merged with other forms of content creation under the umbrella of content marketing.
Due to its effectiveness as a marketing tool, blogging is now a far more competitive landscape — and so the new mantra is ‘quality of content is king!’
Is Blogging Dead? meme. Source: imgflip.com
In this post, we’ll cover the ten steps you need to know to keep up with the competition, grab a piece of the action, and start your own highly successful blog in 2021.
Is Blogging Dead?
First, let’s take a look at some recent stats to prove to you that blogging far from being dead is in fact a fantastic lifestyle business model!
According to Oberlo;
Out of 1.7 billion websites online, 600 million of them are blogs and 86% of content marketers use blogs as part of their marketing strategy.
According to WordPress there are over 70 million new posts being created every month!
And according to me, blogging is one of the most scalable, affordable, and long-term business models on the web today!
Blogs aren’t going anywhere! They’re not going to be suddenly dwarfed by the latest greatest social media craze, your content won’t suddenly disappear because the powers that be have decided you said something you shouldn’t have and closed your account. You don’t have to purchase inventory, invest in expensive software or buy any equipment. You don’t have to learn any special skills or gain any extra qualifications.
All you need is a topic you’re passionate about, a computer or phone, and the patience to keep writing, keep sharing your content and understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Is Blogging Dead?
Absolutely, categorically not on your nelly!
How to Start a Blog
Before we walk through the top 10 steps to growing a successful blog in 2021 and beyond, if you don’t yet have your own website setup and running online, be sure to check out my extremely comprehensive step-by-step guide to starting your own blog.
Let’s Get Blogging!
Here are my top 10 tips for launching and growing a fun and money-making blog in 2021 & beyond.
Before you start, let’s take a lesson from the history of blogging.
When blogs first arrived on the scene in the 1990s, they were like online diaries. People would document whatever interested them, from personal stories about their lives to gossip to politics.
Nowadays, things have changed dramatically. While it’s tempting to blog about anything & everything that interests you, it’ll be difficult to engage an audience that way. Readers have millions of blogs to choose from, and they’re unlikely to go online to read about your latest musings on a random topic.
Today’s readers are looking for specific content relevant to their interests — and they’re only going to find you if your blog is tailored to that interest.
The key to blogging in 2021 and beyond is to become an authority on a specific subject. It may sound counterintuitive, but you need to narrow your focus if you want to widen your audience.
So the first step to creating a successful blog is to choose a niche or the specific topic your blog will cover. Are you into:
- Personal finance?
- Antique cars?
- Running marathons?
- Video games?
Find the subject you can research and write about for hours — no, months & years — and then stick to it. If you’re passionate about it, that will come through in your writing, which will attract others with the same interests.
The trick to finding a niche is to be specific enough to attract an audience but not so narrow that you run out of topics to write about.
For instance, “video gaming” is a bit too broad, while “World of Warcraft” might be too narrow. It might help you to come up with a target reader and write for them. In this case, your target audience might be millennial/Gen-Z gamers who love online role-playing games.
If you’re still unsure your niche will find an audience, plug it into Google Trends and see how popular it is. You can even use the Compare button if you’re deciding between a few ideas.
Google Trends comparison
Now that you’ve chosen a niche, it’s time to design your content strategy.
The key to effective content is to focus on your readers rather than yourself. In our video gaming example, you may still struggle to grow your readership if you spend each blog post chronicling your personal journey through a video game.
If you want to share your life story, do that with Instagram stories or tweets. If you’re going to grow a successful blog, focus on being insanely useful — by solving your readers’ problems.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t tell stories; in fact, storytelling is a vital component of a successful blog. Storytelling is essential to turning readers into buyers, as any copywriting expert will tell you.
Humans are naturally drawn to narratives — and they see themselves as the heroes of their own story. But the trick is to use storytelling the right way:
- Capitalize on your reader’s “pain point.” What problem do they have that your post is going to solve? Start your article by explaining a hypothetical situation that your reader has probably experienced. Then show how your post can help them avoid or solve it.
- Make your reader the “hero” of the story. Your readers will be more likely to keep reading if they feel like the main character. Focus your article on helping your reader succeed, not merely giving them information or opinions.
- Keep your reader’s interest with a narrative style. Tell mini-stories that explain what you’re talking about or keep the reader hooked — but make sure they relate to the topic at hand and contribute to solving your reader’s problem.
Next, let’s talk about how often you should post. Even though common wisdom seems to be that you should post as frequently as you can, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by dashing off a few paragraphs a day that no one wants to read.
According to Moz, there isn’t a universal rule for post length or frequency. Instead, it comes down to your content’s quality and how comprehensive your posts are.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: an excellent article published once a month is better than mediocre content posted every day.
Better content can drive blog traffic up by 2000%. And according to Orbit Media, bloggers who take six or more hours to write a post are 56% more likely to see “strong results” than those who spend less time writing their posts.
Take Brian Dean from Backlinko. He gets a massive amount of traffic to his blog every month and is known for posting infrequently. As a one-man-band, he’s always valued posting extremely high-quality content, vs high quantity.
Backlinko blog traffic growth in the early days. Read more.
So the answer is clear: choose a publishing frequency that is sustainable and allows you to post quality content. You can always aim to publish more frequently as you grow and gather a team.
It’s not 2005, and people don’t just hang out on blogs like they used to. Don’t assume they’re going to find your blog by waiting around on WordPress Reader for the next great read. Indeed, modern blogging is a far cry from what it used to be in the noughties and that old approach to blogging is dead for sure.
SEO Your Blog meme. Source: imgflip.com
If you want your blog to grow quickly, you need to optimize your content to appear in Google searches.
For example, in just six months of teaching myself some basic SEO (search engine optimization), my Google traffic went from 1000 sessions in August to 15,000 sessions in January!
YourLifestyleBusiness.com organic search traffic from August 2020 to January 2021
Don’t get me wrong I’ve worked hard and created some quality content, but I promise, if you can teach yourself some basic SEO best practices, you’ll be in a much better position to accumulate an exponentially higher readership in no time.
Below, I’ve listed a few great ways to get started.
Don’t take this as permission to start keyword stuffing. Google’s algorithm can tell the difference between quality content relating to your keyword and word-vomit that repeats the keyword as many times as possible.
Is Blogging Dead? Is Blogging Dead? Is Blogging Dead? 😂😂😂 Only joking google! 😁
The best advice is to mention your primary keyword at least once in your introductory section and then scatter it (and its related keywords and phrases) appropriately throughout the rest of your article, including at least once in your subheadings.
Since 73% of blog readers skim, you’ll need to make the post easy to navigate.
Organize your content using headers (H2, H3, and H4), and use bullet points whenever you’re listing more than three items.
HTML text markup example
And remember learning in school that paragraphs are at least 3-5 sentences?
Toss that knowledge out the window.
In online content, whitespace is your friend.
Don’t be afraid to write one-sentence paragraphs.
Like this one.
Short paragraphs and plenty of whitespace makes your blog post more readable (and skimmable), which will encourage readers to keep reading to the end.
Did you know that how quickly a page loads affects how many readers you get?
Today’s readers are incredibly impatient. If your site doesn’t load within a second or two, most of your potential audience will navigate away — especially if they’re on their mobile device.
You can also install Web Vitals – a Chrome extension to measure metrics for a healthy website.
Here are a few good starting points to help your site load faster:
- Compress your images using plugins like Smush or Short Pixel. Or use Tiny PNG to compress before uploading to your site.
- Don’t use a bulky WordPress theme. Check out this post from HubSpot for fast themes that shouldn’t slow down your site.
- Turn on Lazy Loading to load images as your user scrolls down the page, rather than all at once.
If you use WordPress for your blog, install the Yoast SEO plugin. It will analyze your blog posts and give you advice on how to make your content more SEO-friendly, including:
- Keyword frequency
- Meta description
- Internal and external linking
- Image best practices
Read the guide to choosing the right focus keyword by Yoast SEO
People are more discerning of the content they absorb than they used to be. They search for specific topics rather than being passive consumers.
The exception is social media.
How many hours have you wasted scrolling your social media platform of choice? You’ll see posts from friends or people you follow, and you’ll probably click through to read an article that a connection shared because it looks interesting.
People may not be hanging around on blog readers anymore waiting for the next great article, but they’re hanging out on social media — and you can use that to your blog’s advantage.
The great thing about choosing Pinterest or YouTube is that these social media platforms are also search engines in their own right, so content stays on them much longer than traditional social media sites.
For example, the life of a pin is 400 times longer than Twitter and 100 times longer than Facebook!
Blogs are among the most shared content online. Producing pieces of content on other channels — like Pinterest and YouTube — will help grow a targeted audience quickly.
- Sign up for a Pinterest for business account (or convert your existing account). This gives you access to more analytics and upgraded pins called Rich Pins.
- Share your blog posts as pins. Link the pin to your blog post. Write an engaging description and title for the pin that includes your keyword(s), positive emotions, and sensory words.
- Include attractive images. The most successful pins have high-quality images with an aspect ratio of 2:3 or 4:5. Use Photoshop or Canva to add eye-catching text to your image (like part or all of the post title) for best results.
- Pin at the right times. Try to pin when your target audience is online. Check your Pinterest analytics to find your audience demographics, but a safe bet is Saturday mornings for most audiences and Friday afternoons for fashion and retail. Try to avoid pinning during standard work hours.
- Use the 80/20 rule. Don’t just pin your posts; try to pin things your audience will find helpful. A good rule of thumb is to pin 20% of your posts and 80% of others’ material (usually by repinning other pins you see).
- Join a group board. Search tools like PinGroupie to find community boards in your niche where you can pin to get more exposure and traffic.
PINGROUPIE – Pinterest Group Boards & Analytics
- Create a video to accompany each blog post. Tools like InVideo can convert portions of your articles into videos using a YouTube-friendly template. Your text will become subtitles, and the tool will use stock photos and music to make the video visually engaging.
- Optimize your YouTube videos for Google. Make sure your title, description, and tags include keywords you’re targeting. Select an eye-catching thumbnail for your video, too. Check out this guide for more advice on ranking on YouTube.
- Link back and forth. Include a link to your video in your blog (don’t just embed it), and don’t forget to link back to your blog from the video description or pinned comment. It’s all about that SEO juice baby.
These days, people want more of an experience when they visit a website.
To help your blog stand out, it’s a great idea to add a few different types of content to go along with your written articles, such as:
- Video — People spend more than twice as much time on pages with video. Adding video adds a face and a voice to your name — which adds trust. If you’re comfortable in front of a camera, experiment with creating and embedding videos on your site, such as tutorials, summaries of an article, an “About Us” video for your site, or video reviews for products.
- Audio and podcasts — 45% of bloggers report that audio improves their blogs’ viewership and engagement. Try recording yourself reading your blog posts for accessibility purposes (and to humanize you to your readers). Or, if you have a bit more time, consider starting a companion podcast that’s hosted on your website.
- Images: For SEO and aesthetic purposes, every blog post should have at least one image. You can take your own pictures with your camera or quality smartphone, or you can download them from a stock photo site like Unsplash, Pixabay, or Pexels.
- Infographics: Many people are visual learners, and an infographic can be a fun and creative way to present a lot of data in a compact, easy-to-understand way. Infographics are also easy to share on Pinterest; just use the AddThis plugin on WordPress to create image sharing buttons for your infographics. Easily create infographics with free tools like Canva or Adobe Spark.
- eBooks: You don’t have to be a fantastic writer to use eBooks as part of your content marketing strategy. If you can write a short eBook on a subject your audience cares about, you can offer it for free to subscribers. This is a great lead generation strategy to help build your email list. Having “written the book” on something can also help build your authority with your audience, so really, it’s a win-win.
When growing a successful blogging business, you’ll need to spend time cultivating a loyal audience.
Building an email list is one of the most important things you can do to grow your blog, your business, and your brand.
An email list allows you to build trust and have solid leads for monetizing. Whether you’re encouraging subscribers to sign up for a course, pay for a product, or just boost engagement, your email list is an invaluable asset.
Besides an email list, you can also start a Facebook group for your blog. A Facebook group is an excellent place to foster a sense of community, interact with your readers, and learn what interests your audience in real-time.
And what about your YouTube channel? If you’re already using it as a way to add video content to your site, you might as well leverage that content to attract new visitors to your blog.
Try repurposing some of your long-form blog posts into bite-sized videos (and link back to the original post). That way, you can target specific SEO keywords in your video titles and descriptions.
- Social sharing buttons: Prompt your readers to share your posts with a click with plugins like Shared Counts and Sassy Social Share.
- Email marketing and growing your email list: Collect subscribers’ emails and send targeted email campaigns with ConvertKit, MailChimp, or Sendinblue.
- Graphic design for post images and social media graphics: You can’t go wrong with free graphic design tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, or Inkscape.
- SEO and keyword research: Good SEO software can be pricey, but if you’re serious about boosting your readership quickly, you may want to invest in a subscription to Moz, SEMrush, or Ahrefs.
When you’re starting your blogging journey, it’s tempting to assume every other blogger is your competition — and, therefore, should be avoided.
But in reality, other bloggers can be some of your best allies. You’ll find that people are very supportive of each other, and it’s so important to network with and learn from others in the blogging space, both veterans and fellow newbies alike.
Try connecting with your fellow bloggers in the following ways:
- Join Facebook groups (start by joining my Facebook community for like-minded lifestyle entrepreneurs)
- Follow other bloggers on social media. Share their content and comment on their posts a reasonable amount
- Leave helpful and positive comments on other blogs in your niche
- Create a “tribe” on Triberr (a social platform for sharing content)
Your Lifestyle Business Facebook group
One great way to boost your own blog’s readership and exposure is to generate backlinks or links from another website that lead to your site. The more backlinks you have, the better Google will rank you.
So how do you get backlinks, you ask?
There are a few ways, but one of the best is to start contributing guest posts to other blogs in your niche — especially blogs that have a higher domain authority than yours.
It can be intimidating to approach other blog owners or companies and pitch them an article idea, but don’t let that stop you! It’s a common practice in the industry and remember: your content might help them as much as it helps you.
My guest post for Startup Nation
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Connect with the blog owner before pitching them your article. Follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, etc. Don’t be creepy, but interact enough that they’ll recognize and have a positive impression of you when you come back and ask to guest post.
- Keep your pitch focused on how it can help them, not you. You’re not asking for a favor (though you might feel this way). You’re suggesting an idea for an article you can contribute that’ll interest their readers in some way. Keep the focus on the positive results for them, and your pitch will have a better chance of being accepted.
- Write great content. If you get a chance to guest post, make that post the best quality you can. You want the readers to be so impressed that they share the post and visit your site, right?
- Make the most of your author bio. Don’t just say something like, “Jane Smith grew up in Chicago and loves dogs.” Your author bio needs to (1) include a link to your blog or landing page and (2) demonstrate your authority in your niche. Talk about your relevant experience that’ll make readers think, “wow, they really know their stuff!”
- Follow up and promote the post. Respond to comments once the website publishes your post. Promote it on all your social media channels just as you would a post from your own blog. Doing these things should increase engagement (and improve the blog owner’s respect for you as a professional).
This last step is the most important.
Starting and growing a blog can be a lot of trial and error, and the rules of SEO and content marketing are always changing. It may take months or even years to grow an audience for your blog, so stick with it.
Be consistent and make it your full-time job to be insanely useful to your audience, and you won’t go far wrong.
For lifestyle business owners, a blog can be a priceless tool. It’s your home on the web, meaning you can build it to suit your individual lifestyle and business.
Building organic traffic to your blog means better long-term benefits. And unlike building a social media following, which demands constant attention and can be lost at any moment, a blog is all yours.
Another great thing about blogging as a lifestyle entrepreneur is that when you’re ready, you can start selling whatever products you want. You can easily add:
- Digital products
- Books and eBooks
- Physical products
A blog can be a jumping-off point for many money-making endeavors, while it also helps you leverage your growing authority in your niche to build a brand and develop a loyal customer base.
And what’s better, you can do it on your own time and at your own pace, from anywhere in the world, creating content about something you love to talk about!
- Is blogging still relevant? If it hasn’t become clear by now, let me say it again: YES. Blog posts are some of the most widely-read content online, and they’re a huge part of big companies’ marketing strategies for a reason. When done right, blogging can build an audience and make sales like nothing else.
- Is blogging worth it? Absolutely! Whether you’re starting your blog to make money, promote your business, or just as a creative outlet, blogging can be extremely rewarding.
- Is blogging dead in the travel niche? Definitely not. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the truth remains: humans love to travel. Even when we can’t hop on a plane, we love to think about, read about, and plan for traveling! Now’s the time to prepare for when the world opens up. There’s no reason you can’t write about amazing places around the world that you’ve either visited or that are on your bucket list!
- Is blogging oversaturated? Yes and no. Sure, there are 4.4 million new blog posts per day — but there’s always room for more if they’re the right kind of post. If you just throw a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks, your posts may get lost in the crowd. But if you do your keyword research and write strategically, there’s definitely still a market for your blog. As long as people have questions to Google and problems to solve, there will be a need for new blog posts.
- Blogging vs. freelance writing: what’s the difference, and which should I do? Freelance writing can take many forms, but freelance writers are paid to write for other people in general. They may write blog content, website copy, or email newsletters (just to name a few). The term “bloggers” generally refers to people who write for their own blogs. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both! If you’re interested in getting paid to write, check out my guide to getting started freelancing.
- Can I really make money blogging? Yes! It may take some time, and you’ll probably need to be creative, but blogging can be extremely lucrative. You likely won’t earn a ton from selling advertising space on your site, but there are other better ways to make money blogging — like affiliate marketing or selling your own products and services.
- Why do blogs fail? Blogs can fail for several reasons. Some people get burned out and stop writing regular content, so their Google rankings plummet. Others don’t write engaging or informative posts that gain traction with readers. And others don’t take the time to use the promotion strategies we’ve already outlined, like learning SEO best practices or investing in social media. If you want to succeed in the blogging game, you’ve got to go all in.
- Is Blogging Dead
The internet is a funny thing. It’s always evolving, but some things stay the same.
Twenty years ago, blogging was a way for new internet users to share their thoughts publicly. Today, it’s become one of the top choices for content marketers to build an audience, drive sales, and grow a brand.
Blogging has always been about connecting with people — it’s just that today, you need to be a bit more strategic about it.
To use blogging as a business tool, you’ll need to play your cards right by:
- Choosing a niche
- Focusing on solving your readers’ problems and the quality of your content
- Investing in SEO and social media promotion
- Getting creative with the types of content you include
- Continually working on building your audience
- Growing your network in the blogging world
In the End, Is Blogging Dead as a Marketing Tactic?
No one can call it “dead” because marketing is all about positioning yourself as someone who meets your target audience’s needs.
If you enter the blogging game with this mindset, you’ll have the flexibility to meet your readers where they are and stay relevant into 2021 and beyond!