In this Monday’s with Michael episode, I share why my blog failed and in reality why most blogs do!
I don’t regret the lessons I learned along the way, though, and it has led me now to becoming a successful freelance writer. Blogging has evolved and there is both an art and science to becoming a successful blogger. I learned the following tips of ‘what not to do’ when starting a blog.
Don't make these mistakes as new blogger:
- Don’t use your blog as a personal diary
- Don’t assume it will be a success overnight
- Don’t make your blog about you
- Don’t think you will rank organically without knowing SEO
- Don’t assume people will find you without any promotion
- Don’t push out short form, not good quality content 2x a week
- Don’t assume that you can do everything
- Don’t think that you can do this without spending money
Do these things as a new blogger:
- Niche your blog about a topic you want to help others with
- Be in it for the long haul
- Make your blog about your reader
- Learn SEO tactics
- Promote your blog with social ad spend
- Publish only quality content = quality over quantity
- Hire virtual assistants to assist you
- Spend a small portion of your earnings on social media ad campaigns to bring readers to your blog
Learn from Other Successful Bloggers:
Blogging Not for You? Try Freelance Writing!
Michael: 00:01 You are listening to inspire your success podcast. Episode number 45. This episode is all about why my blog failed and why so many other blogs fail as well. If you want to make money blogging and writing, you’re going to want to listen to this.
Michael: 00:21 All right, welcome back again, this is Michael Leonard and as always appreciate you being here with me today. If you’re listening to me on a Monday, hope you’re having a solid Monday. Maybe give you a little bit of motivation here to, uh, to figure out this whole blogging thing, right? And, uh, it’s pretty funny when you think about it. Like there’s so many ways to share a message now you have YouTube, podcasts, blogs, medium, Instagram. You know, back a few years ago it seemed like no one even really knew what podcasting was. And now still it’s, it’s, it’s blown up. It’s still just getting started. And, and blogging is one of those things. It’s really evolved. Uh, again, I’ve talked about it a few times, but I started my blog in 2016 January of 2016 and for a very long time, I had no idea what I was doing.
Michael:: 01:12 I mean, I did everything wrong. So if you’re someone that you know, wants to create a blog and wants to start an online brand and wants to produce content, I think you’re going to enjoy this because again, I have made pretty much every mistake you can make when it comes to online business and blogging specifically. So kind of want to share what I used to do and what I’m doing now. And again, just why so many blogs fail. Because at the end of the day, it is competitive. But if you can figure a few things out and stay consistent, you can really make a lot of money blogging. And you know, in the first few episodes of this show, I brought on several bloggers that have just made tons of money. I mean people, uh, you know, that I’ve had on here from like Nick Loper on side hustle nation, uh, to another guy, uh, who was able to sell his blog for, I don’t know if it was seven figures or close to it.
Michael: 02:10 I mean, it’s crazy. So yes, blogging is still definitely a great way to get started. It is going to be a lot more work usually, or a lot longer payout, I guess, uh, than freelance writing. So again, that, that’s really something to consider. But yeah, F blogging is, is how I got my start and all this. And before I ever became a writer, I was a broke blogger. As I say. I mean, I, I left my six figure job, you know, I’d made $200 ever, so I don’t really recommend that. Um, but needless to say, after probably, so I quit in may of 2017, uh, or I like to say early retired. As I told my boss when I, uh, quote unquote quit. Um, yeah. So I early retired in may of 2017 and I was like, you know what, going to make money as a blogger, I see all these other people doing it.
Michael: 03:03 How hard can it be? Well, I got my ass handed to me there for a good six to eight months. I mean probably a maybe even longer than that. So it’s pretty much the entire 2017 I was just set, you know, I’m kind of a stubborn person if you know me, uh, off this podcast of I’m pretty stubborn. Like when I get an idea I want to make it, I’m going to see it through. And so when I got started, I, that was my thing. I was like, I can do freelance writing. I bet you know that that’s going to be kind of my backup, right? Like, but I want to make money blogging cause it’s my brand. I don’t want to work for anybody else. I had just like me against the world attitude, right. Equipment, job or as I like to call it, the millennial life crisis.
Michael: 03:45 Uh, and so I left and I was like, I’m sitting in my office here just writing away and trying to figure out Pinterest. And I mean, the first six months was a cluster. I mean, guys, I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, I was buying every online course out there. I was trying to figure out what I blogged about and we’ll talk more about that here in just a second. Um, but yeah, I mean, I, I had no idea what I was doing. I just was like, I can do this, you know, I can do it. And really the biggest mistake, the first mistake that I made was I made my blog, my diary. So don’t do that. And, uh, that’s, that’s probably the first lesson of this podcast is don’t make your blog, your diary, uh, unless that’s, you have a massive brand already in huge following on other platforms and you can direct them there.
Michael: 04:33 And for the most part though, you need to write about, you know, something specifically. And that was the first, that was kind of the first thing is I made it my diary right? So I was like, Oh, I’m writing about personal finance. Oh, I quit my job, I write about quitting my job. Oh, I’m really into personal development. I walked on fire with Tony Robbins. Oh, I’m going to write about that. Like guys, I was scattershot like straight shotgun and we’ll, we’ll talk more in just a, just a minute about niching down as well. But I mean, like I said, I made every mistake, so from may to pretty much November, December, I mean I think I made like, I dunno, two or $3,000, like it started to kick in like, Whoa, my money starting to run out here. Like I’m using some balance transfers, I’m getting real crafty with the finances.
Michael: 05:18 I’m like, this blogging thing is not paying off. Uh, but again, you know, the universe was trying to tell me something and I just didn’t listen cause I’m stubborn and uh, so I just kept trying and trying and I was like, look, like it was about about the, the end of the year and I was kind of like looking at my quote unquote finances of how much I made. And like the first six months I made like a couple thousand dollars. And like it was, it was just from like Google ads and like, I think I sold like one online course and like other stuff is like sinuses and things that are random, like selling my life away on Craigslist, trying to like not go back to the job. Um, so yeah, it was kind of a cluster, like I said. And so I’m like, I have to figure this out. And that’s when I really got into freelance writing.
Michael: 06:01 And so that’s why, you know, I like blogging. I’m still blogging now, but in a very different approach. But writing is, is, you know, 90, 90% of my income right now. And so you can make a lot of money with writing. And that’s why I, you know, I really want to become, uh, uh, an authority here in this space because I love it. I think freelance writing is great. I think blogging has potential, but that’s again, I see so many people fail because they do exactly what I did. And so that’s what I want to talk about now is like why I was failing as a blogger and why most blogs fail. So again, I don’t know the stat out there, I should have looked it up before the podcast, but like eight alarming amount of blogs are out there that are dead. You know, people start them, they want to start and maybe it’s about cars or fitness or financer, whatever your passion is, right?
Michael: 06:48 It’s like I’m going to start a blog, I’m going to get this, I’m going to make money. I see all these people making money. I read these income reports, this is so cool. I don’t have to work for anyone. I could make money on like computer. Does that sound about right? Cause that’s exactly where I was. I literally, I remember just sitting in my cubicle and I, it wasn’t a cubicle, it was like a table set up. Right. You know, techie, we’re cool open workspace. But I remember sitting there and I had a screen protector cause that’s, I have really bad eyes. And so that was the one good thing at my nine to five. I had a screen protector too. Basically I kind of blocked whatever I was doing cause I was never working. I was pretty much always reading about blogging and personal finance and how the hell to get out of there.
Michael: 07:30 So I remember though like just figuring that out and I was reading these income reports and I remember Michelle Schroeder of making sense of sense. Um, she was like the first person, I think one of them that was like, Whoa, you can make 100,000 a month. Like that sounds so cool. Who doesn’t want that? Right. And then I started following a Jill and Josh Stanton of screw the nine to five who now I actually know, which is super cool and full circle. But yeah, I mean like I saw these brands out there that were making money as bloggers and you know, I was a nine to five guy. I didn’t know anyone doing this stuff. Like everything was just a business insider or Yahoo headline. Like everything just sounded like a pipe dream to me. But it wasn’t until I actually made like my first dollar on like my blogs and I was like, wow, this is pretty cool.
Michael: 08:13 You can really do this. But again, that’s where most people do. They get really eager in the beginning and then if they don’t see results, they quit. So that’s one of the biggest things. But the first thing I want to talk about is if you do want to start a blog, just make sure that you are in it for the long haul. Like nothing great happens overnight. You might get a viral hit or you might have some cool articles like that might happen, but at the end of the day you’re not going to be making a full time income in a month or two months. Like in, unless you like are really advanced with Facebook ads and funnels and things like that, like 99% of people that start a blog or are not advanced like that. So if you’re just someone that wants to share a message and share your story and help others, you know that’s great, but just know that it’s not going to happen overnight because I know I thought I could do it and I worked so much.
Michael: 09:05 I mean just pounding energy drinks, working 1215 hour days, writing all the time, posting on Instagram, posting on Facebook, posting on Pinterest, trying to figure out all this crap out and it just didn’t work. So again, cause I wanted it overnight. So the first thing I would say is just understand that you can do it, but it’s the long game. That’s why freelance writing is like, it’s contrast, like everything about blogging that you don’t like. Freelance writing makes up for it. Like if you don’t want to wait six months to make money, start freelance writing, you can get paid this month. You can get paid by the end of the week if you want. Right? So that’s like the biggest thing of like freelance writing, blogging, like just, just something to consider there. The second thing, like I talked about at the beginning of what I did was I just made it my journal.
Michael: 09:49 Like, you know, people, at the end of the day, they don’t really care about you. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, but at the end of the day, people literally want, they care about themselves more than anyone else, right? We’re, we have a survival mechanism between our ears. Like it literally just wants to make sure you survive and then you have this, you know, part of your conscious mind that’s like, Ooh, yeah, let’s, let’s buy a yacht. Let’s make $1 million. Right? Like you want to do all that, which is totally great. You’re not going to get that if you’re reading a personal diary of someone, right? So that’s why it’s important to create a blog around a niche that you’re, you have an expertise in. But to not make it all about you, it’s about how you can help people. So, you know, if you went on my site back in the day, I mean, it was just like a, Hey, Mike, quit his job.
Michael: 10:32 Hey, Mike’s doing this and Hey, it’s like it was, it was garbage. I don’t blame people for not reading it or like the bounce rate was like 90% right? Because nobody cared and I don’t blame them, right? My mom read it like, thanks mom, you know, but at the end of the day, like people want information and content that will help their lives. Now if you go on my website, you go on inspire your success. I mean it is geared towards people that want to make money writing. Like that’s, that’s it man. You go on there and it’s like, here’s a step by step how to start a website, how to build your portfolio, get clients, get raises. The tools I use, it’s literally not about me, it’s about everyone else. I inject my story in personality, in Sprite, inspiring tone in there, but it’s not about me, right?
Michael: 11:13 Like that’s the biggest thing. So if you want to create a blog and you have something you can share, great. Just understand some take a little while. First off, second of all, make it about the reader. If you can help people, then you will get an audience. You will attract money, you will create products, you’ll be able to do things with your blog. But it all starts by serving that. That’s the biggest thing. So if you have the, you know, attitude that, okay, it’s not going to be overnight and I’m just going to help people, then you can start, you know, figuring out ways to monetize it once you build your audience and things. But it all starts there. So please do not just think, I’m going to launch a blog signing up for Bluehost today and next month I’m going to be raking in money.
Michael: 11:57 You know, it’s, it’s, it takes them, it’s gonna take some time. So those are the two biggest things. But then there’s a few other things that I think are super important too, because again, blogging is, it’s, um, it’s a robust thing. I mean, people I know that really make a lot of money blogging, they’ve been doing it for awhile and they’re constantly learning. Like, uh, you know, I know the guys who started dollar sprout, you know, they’re making six, seven, you know, six figures a month, you know, multiple seven figures probably this year. They’re crushing it, but it didn’t get that overnight. Right? Like they have a crazy inspirational story, but they were also learning and they’re always learning. Like whenever I talk to these guys, they’re like so far ahead of me on like SEO and all this stuff. I’m just blown away. So that’s another thing is like, you need to constantly be learning and not just like trying to do the same thing over and over and over again.
Michael: 12:44 Because that’s again what I did. You know, things weren’t working, like people weren’t reading my psych, but I still kept publishing this same stuff and then it just didn’t work. So the third thing is to constantly be learning, but again, don’t just learn, Oh, I was going to implement. And that was, that was my problem. I would been, Ooh, that sounds good, but then I wouldn’t do it. So that’s the third thing. The fourth thing is you got to promote it. You have to promote it. So many bloggers have great content out there that never gets read because they spend all of their time writing instead of promoting. Now, I don’t have some magic formula that says, well, 50% of your time should be writing and 50% of your time should be promoting. Like, I don’t, I don’t have it for you. If you’re looking for the magical answer, I don’t have it, but it’s okay because you just have to test it and figure out what works.
Michael: 13:36 But in all reality, you need to spend more time creating really good content. Like, yeah, I always do. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made is people are like, well, you need to be consistent. You’ve got to post twice a week or three times a week. Well, you know, I disagree with that. Now quality is better than quantity because Google and readers want an indepth the answer. They don’t want just like thin content that isn’t gonna help. Because if you have super thin content that is like 500 words, you know, Google will never rank that. Like most page one stuff that makes it to Google is like 2000 words. So if you try to create three, 2000 word blog posts a week, plus you have a job or a career or you’re raising a kid or whatever else you’re doing all the time, like that’s a lot to do.
Michael: 14:26 So do not fall into the trap of what a lot of new bloggers do where it’s like, Oh, I’ve got to pump out content. Like, Oh I just got to get new stuff. No, you don’t need to do that. You need to create really good content so that way it will pay you for years and years and years because that is huge. Instead I did the exact opposite. Like I said, wrote about everything road all the time. Random stuff did not make sense for my site and then maybe two months ago I just deleted it like 70% of the content on my site because I was like, this doesn’t make sense. Like this isn’t, this is all over the place. So again, quality over quantity, Google rewards that. So speaking of Google off, you’re going to be a blogger and you want to make money and you want to impact the people and you want to share your message.
Michael: 15:15 You have to learn SEO. I mean you just have to, whether you want to learn it by a course, um, or hire someone, I mean, at the end of the day, Google is gotta be your spot. I mean that is where you can get so much, I don’t want to say free because it takes time to get traffic on Google, but organic, right? So you want to get organic traffic to your blog. So super, super important there. So if you are going to write Epic content and you know, only post once a week, that’s fine, but just make sure, you know, SEO or learning. And again, you can always tweak stuff, all that, you know, I’m constantly learning about SEO, but you know, I’ve taken a lot of courses. I’ve had coaching on it. I mean I have done a lot of stuff because SEO helps me as a blogger and as a writer because if I can get my clients stuff to rank, then they will get more sales leads, emails, and they’ll be like, well Mike really gets up to, you know, rank high on Google.
Michael:: 16:10 Like we’re going to keep him around. And that’s why I tell all my students in my course and with coaching, like you gotta get some SEO knowledge. You don’t have to become the, you know, Neil Patel be like a guru overnight, but you need to understand it, right? So study and learn SEO. So that’s, that’s another thing I’d say that’s probably what, four or five. So like I said, I’ve made all these mistakes. I’m not trying to say like, Ooh, I figured it all out hardly. But that’s another big one. The next one is if you really, really want to crush it as a blogger, you got to spend some money. Like bloggers had this, like I can bootstrap it mentality and that that just, you could only do so much as a person. Like, I love Gary V to death, but I’m not going to tell you to like work until your eyeballs bleed and work 14 hours a day.
Michael: 16:57 Like that’s nonsense. Like you’re going to burn out. I did that guys. I burned out. I literally fell into a pit of depression. Like I’m not joking because I was working so, so much. I mean it was, and I wasn’t getting results. Like let me clarify something. I was like, Oh, I’m, you know, making 10 grand a month or 20 grand that all that, all the money I’ve really made in the last, you know, in the two and a half years in my journey, most of it was made in the last six months because I stopped working so much and I started getting help. And so that’s super important. So if you want to actually grow blog, you’re going to have to spend some money and I recommend doing it in two ways. First off is to spend some money on ads, learn about Facebook ads, whether you do it or you hire someone or a combination of both.
Michael: 17:44 When it comes to like getting people to your website, like you can create the best content in the world. Even if you SEO the hell out of it, it’s going to take like a couple of months or like six months or even a year sometimes before Google is like, yup, this is really good. We’re going to put it on the first or second page. So you know, you might not have that time, right? You might need the money quicker. So if you don’t want to be a freelance writer, which again you can always do, um, and you want the content to rank higher, you’ve got to get people to it. So one of the things that I’ve learned from a lot of successful bloggers is when you publish a new post, a new blog posts is to get traffic to it. So run, you know, a $5 a day budget.
Michael: 18:22 And that’s something that I’m doing. It’s like I’m just running small budgets. So these blog posts, because I have a lot of content that’s like on the second page or third page, and I know it can be on page one if it just gets some more eyes on it. So I’ll run some ads, right? Get cl, you know, low of clicks you can get maybe 5 cents, 10 cents, whatever. Like just get people to your page. If they stick around, it’s signals to Google like, Oh, okay, yeah, well actually they like this stuff. We’re going to raise it up, you know, to the second page or the first page or the bottom of the first page, middle of the first page. They always say, if you want to bury a dead body, put it on the second page of Google. Right? So that’s why Facebook ads can be super helpful.
Michael: 18:59 So again, spend some money on it. And then the other thing that I would spend money on is a virtual assistant or an in person or like an assistant, you know, in your town, wherever you’re at. I hired a several assistants here in the last few weeks or few months, excuse me. And it has been life changing. It’s the reason that I’m relaunching the podcast because I finally have people that can help me grow the brand and you know, expand my vision. I’m so grateful for them because I have people, uh, in the U S I have people in the Philippines and you know, it’s all about leveraging your time. And so we’ll talk more about like calculating your hourly rate, things like that. But one of the reasons, one of the many reasons as you can tell that my blog was failing, is us trying to do it all right? I was trying to write and then promote and then go on Pinterest and I got to create a pin and then I got a schedule it on tailwind and then, Oh man, I’ve got to go into tailwind tribes.
Michael: 19:54 Oh. And then I gotta write an email about it. Oh, I should probably post on Instagram and probably an Instagram story. Like you guys, you just can’t do it. Like it’s okay. Like I come from a background, like my dad’s a such a workaholic. You gotta do it yourself. And I grew up with that. I mean forever, right? And now I’m like actively trying to outsource everything in my life. Like everything. Like the like we’re going to get cleaner soon. Uh, I’m trying to outsource everything in my business just because I’m focusing on what I’m good at. Because even if you can do things, you know, guys like other people can do them just as well sometimes or maybe even better and it’s a small, small price. So that’s the biggest thing. Like that’s how I’m trying to grow my blog now or how I am growing my blog now is with the help of others by using my freelance writing income to then leverage help to get, um, you know, occasional writers to get people to help me with Facebook ads, to get people to create blog posts for these podcasts episodes to get help with videos for YouTube.
Michael: 20:56 Like all that stuff is now being outsourced. And so that’s something I challenge you with. And again, blogs fail for a lot of reasons as you can tell. Those are the ones that just came up to me because again, I know that if you actually have a message, there is nothing more frustrating than putting out content and no one reading it. Like having your mom it be like texting you like nice job today. That’s the only thing that you know, like is the only person that’s reading your blog. You know? It’s disheartening but I get it like I’ve been there. Again, I have literally had crickets on my blogs. I had crickets on everything I’ve ever done in the beginning. So understand that yes, it’s part of the process, but you can speed up success if you use these tips that I talk about today because there’s no reason that you have to be a broke struggling blogger anymore.
Michael: 21:45 Like there’s too much stuff out there. So hopefully you can use some of this. Again, you understand what I’m doing now? I’m trying to outsource, I’m trying to scale and really niching down. So that’s kind of the last thing I, I briefly talked about it, but I want to hammer this point home for you is to niche down, become an authority and an expert in whatever you’re doing. You know, if you’re talking about gardening, become the best Gardner ever and then niche it down even further. Right? You can always go broader. Like you can always do it, but you have to start somewhere and it all starts by getting your following, gaining your authority, your expert status. And then from there you’re going to attract more people. Google is going to reward you, you can monetize it, you can scale, you can hire and you can crush it online.
Michael: 22:29 So yeah, that’s kind of where I’ve been. Again, I’m coming up on four years of doing it. I know there’s a lot of opportunity there, but yeah, I just don’t want you guys to waste as much time as I did. So like I said though, I’m very glad my blog, quote unquote failed for a few years because it led me to freelance writing and now I get to help a lot of people with that. So it all worked out. But yeah, you can do both. Um, but just don’t try and do everything on your own. So if you have any questions, again, uh, let me know. I’ve, I’ve had a lot of good interviews in here, so we’ll link to ’em. You know, Pete from do you even blog, Nick from side side hustle nation, uh, Kate from, uh, the remote nomad. I’ve had all kinds of cool bloggers make money on here and be on the show, so we’ll link up to some of those as well if you need some more inspiration, uh, to figure out how the heck he actually make money blogging.
Michael: 23:19 So, as always, I appreciate you being here with me today. Uh, I think the next episode that we have coming up here is kind of the opposite and it’s kind of a parlay from today of why you should start freelance writing, even if you’re not ready. Because like I talked about, my blog failed. I turned to freelance writing. I was able to 10 X my income in 12 months while working about 20 hours a week. And that’s really changed the out outcome of my business and honestly my life. So that’s why I think you should start as well. So we’re going to cover that here on the following Wednesday episodes. So thanks again for being here with me today. And as always, I hope you have an Epic day.
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