First of all, I am not a great writer. In fact, I used to be one of the worst in my class (literature and English lessons, and those were the things that I hated the most).
However, when I started doing things on the internet, I realized that I needed content … and lots of it … and that it needed to be good!
That’s how my journey started…
So what you see here is a story of how I wasted my time and money in pursuit of getting rich quickly and making it big in the blogosphere through shortcuts and cliches.
Here’s how to be the worst blog owner in 5 simple steps:
1. Don’t hire a blog editor
… even if you have no idea about English, nor content marketing, nor blogging … you will surely figure it all out, right?
Initially, to minimize the costs (and later probably because I thought that I can figure this out) I didn’t hire anyone to help me with my blog content in any thought-through way.
Instead, I went for a quicker and more hands-off approach. You can do that too:
Search for a writer > Send them a topic that you think will work > Get the article, run it through Copyscape (to make sure it’s original), automatically check for grammar errors > Publish it on your WordPress blog > Repeat
Perfect, right? You don’t need a strategy for your blog. You don’t need anybody to make sure that the articles have the right tone. You don’t need content planning. All you need is just to publish things and hope for the best.
On a serious note. If you have no idea about content marketing or blogging (like it was the case with me), before getting a serious editor involved, try consulting with someone first. Work with them to develop a general plan / strategy for your blog. Find its place on the market. Decide on a budget, and then look for an editor based on that.
(Right now, it’s clear to me that I indeed need an editor to manage all the content we’re producing across our blogs, to work with the writers, and so on. I originally thought that it was too expensive because I had no idea of the kind of returns I can expect.)
2. Look for the cheapest writers, minimize the risk
Hiring a writer that’s cheap seems like a good idea at first. After all, you’re not investing much, so you’re also minimizing the risk. For example, if you go to Freelancer.com or Fiverr, you can pay something like $5 / article.
The only problem is that you will probably end up losing that money. Or, at best, you will be left with a so-so article that you can only barely publish and not be ashamed of it.
In my case, this is the exact mistake I did. Long story short, my first blog was a poker affiliate thing. I enjoyed poker, so I figured that I can tackle the niche with some $5 content. I had no idea at the time that this was one of the most competitive niches out there. Obviously, I killed the project after a while. Needless to say, it got almost no traffic, nor money.
3. Translate all the stuff!!!
Is your website not in English? Lucky you!
Even though you won’t get good $5 content, you can still go out there, find some good resources that perform well in English, and then have them translated to your language.
The cheaper the translator the better. Oh, and the more “officially educated” the translator, the better too.
Can’t find a translator willing to work with your budget? No problem. Use Google Translate as your last resort, and then just hire a proofreader for $5 to fix some basic grammar issues.
(Believe it or not, this is still how some news sites work these days.)
On a serious note. I did actually make this mistake too. After I saw that the online poker market is tough in English, I figured that it should be much easier to tackle in Romanian. I got some EMDs (exact match domains), some semi-Google-translated content, and started 10+ websites with some links pointing to them. This even worked for a while. I got some free accounts created through affiliate clicks. However, still almost $0 in my pocket. Eventually, Google updates killed those sites, and I ended up selling all of them for a little bit of cash.
4. Believe that good-enough content is good enough
OK, so you wanna launch a serious blog and you have money. You know that $5 articles won’t work. Either you tried that before or you are smart enough and understand this right from the get-go.
So you go out there looking for some decent writers, and you pay probably around $50 / article. You hit publish and hope for the best.
Again, you don’t create much of a plan. But you have good content, you publish once per day, things will come, right? Maybe they won’t come in a month or 2, but in a year, you will get loads and loads of visitors.
Oh … I wish.
On a serious note. Just good content is not good enough. You need GREAT content or good content + lots of marketing. “Good content” is what I did with the CodeinWP blog 2-3 years ago. The result? Here:
5. Replicate what works for other blogs
… then hope that it’s going to work for you too.
So you do market research, and you see that there’s this one website that has good traffic, and makes good money. You decide to try doing what they are doing. You might not grow as big as they, but you will still be fine.
It really doesn’t matter that you are doing this with much less marketing dollars and in a market that you don’t necessarily understand (plus maybe in a language that you can barely speak). Just publish 3 articles per day and things will come.
This won’t be a surprise to you at this point, but I tried doing that too. After I learned that the English market is a bit competitive, the Romanian market is too small, and cheap content doesn’t work, I decided that I will start a serious project. The project … drum roll … Android news blog in French (yet another foreign language).
I got on oDesk, hired an editor and 4-5 writers, and told them what my plan was. I needed 3 news articles per day. Ideally, published before the other French blogs get to them. This continued for a few months. No massive success though. I ended up selling the site on Flippa for something like $1000. In total, I lost money on that project.
I try not to take things for granted. I like to experiment, and maybe even make some mistakes to learn from them later on. I would lie if I said that I regret doing any of the above. I learned the hard way, but the lessons were worth it.
Of course, at the same time, I hope that this post will prevent you from making some of these mistakes yourself. Hey, people’ve been there already! There really is no need to become yet another person to find out that, say, cheap content isn’t worth it.
Any other “helpful tips” that blog owners should know? I would love to hear from you in the comments.