It seems like such a ridiculous goal, doesn’t it? To make an incredible amount of money from something as simple as a blog about, say, writing white papers, or about social media. But there are a few who blog and rake in an impressive revenue each year, and one of those few is Michael Stelzner.
Reading the incredible account of his meteoric rise to internet fame and economical success via the blogging medium, it got me thinking. Why aren’t we all doing this? I’m a copy-writer, and I’ve written millions of words relating to every subject you can think of over the few years during and after university.
But it takes social media knowledge to drive traffic in. People aren’t going to bother visiting a site unless one or both of the following two conditions are met: a word-of-mouth recommendation, or a larger online social media campaign. But how do we achieve these two goals? Social media, social media and social media.
Firstly, if you’re aiming to grow your fan-base with a loyal cult following, then the foremost thing to consider when attempting to start it off in the first place is your network of colleagues and friends. Everyone knows that when a colleague or a friend makes a new website, you’ll all visit, have a poke around. Some will even return regularly, provided it’s interesting and updated often.
However, that’s only a few, and you’re going to have to work hard. No one enjoys having a friend push their blog at them purely for the sake of the site’s hit-counter. But people do like the odd nudge in the right online direction by someone who knows someone who’s writing some really funny, smart stuff on a daily basis.
However, if you’d like to take the more formal route, or you’re a solitary warrior writhing in existential agony and feeling like you’re one of the army of unread bloggers , then you’re going to have to consider social media as your best, and only option. In this day and age, newsletters are not read like they used to be, and we’re probably not going to visit another news site by seeing an advert for it on the one we’re already reading.
However, we might just have a quick peek if the site turns up on somebody’s Twitter account, or regularly forms a part of someone’s Facebook profile. Of course, when they visit and enjoy your content, there’s the small chance of the gold-dust re-tweet, and once that happens it tends to spread like wildfire through people with similar interests.
Take last week, for example – I had someone spontaneously find this article, read it, and tweet about it. I don’t know them personally, and two of their followers re-tweeted the link to this article. There was no prompting, no request at the end of my blog asking those who enjoyed my work to talk about it: it was free advertising for writing someone enjoyed.
These kinds of digital thumbs-ups are important, because eventually you’ll find your way onto the “must read” list of someone big, and that list often now finds its way onto the web. When I first started to write for a publication called Resolution Magazine, I wrote a long screed about the simulation of cultural identity. It was something I’m proud of to this day, but not half as proud of that as what happened to it.
Kieron Gillen, founder of New Games Journalism and arguably one of the best in his field, included it in his Sunday Papers post that listed his favourite bits of writing during the week. To be endorsed by such a major face had a serious impact on my confidence and the success of the article, and the fact that we got a fair amount of traffic simply by repeatedly turning up in his list.
It’s not impossible to become the blog to end all blogs – you’ve just got to utilise the same method that started political revolutions, the Renaissance, and Twitter – word of mouth. If one person says your site is fantastic to a room of ten people, and they in turn do the same, in a day’s time you’ll have 100 more unique visits. Things multiply if you keep the quality up, so do so, and thrive.