1. Be Better or Die Trying
While I encourage all out compassion and cooperation with your niche's bloggers, you must treat them as competition. Your blog has to look better, have better articles, produce better products, have greater diversity in content types (think youtube, charts, images, etc), and have better comment conversations than your counterparts. Use your own niche to judge the quality of your blog. If at any point you start thinking you're good enough, then you've already started the declining era of your blog.
Above all else, be different than your competition. I did things like host monthly blogging carnivals, guest post on smaller blogs, branch out to related niches, guest host on podcasts, create youtube videos, etc. None of my competition did that and I left them in the dust.
The only times my blogs have broken the six figure income benchmark have been when they were the best in the niche they resided in.
If you can't be the best at your niche, invent a new spin on it. Be yourself and be it well!
2. You Must Be Passionate
When I'm passionate about a blog, I wake up in the morning with blog ideas. While running, I talk into siri to remind me about a post idea I just had while avoiding broken glass in the road. During the day I am constantly making mental notes about conversations and situations that I can blog about. For whatever reason, I recall almost any post out of thousands that I've written (subject at least) and why I wrote it. Excitement fills me with each new person I connect with and help to achieve their goals. If your blogging topic doesn't do that for you, find a new one or don't blog at all. Maybe youtube videos would be a better outlet for you.
I believe that the number one reason so many businesses fail is because we start off thinking we're passionate and then we slowly realize it was just a short burst of endorphins squashed by the amount of effort required to be successful.
3. The Money Can't Be the Reason
Especially when you first start out, making money won't be a good reason to blog. Can you guess why? Because you won't make any. I was very lucky and made $800 my first month blogging, but that is definitely an exception to the rule. Your goal should always be to make money, but it can't be the source of your inspiration or the way you rate your success early on. Focus on having fun and helping/interacting within your niche (hello vlogging!).
4. Social Media Is Not A Recycling Plant
The best method I've found for building links with social media is to do more than just link article titles on twitter and facebook. If you put a little effort into starting a conversation at the same time, you'll do fantastic on social media. For example:
I did the ice bucket challenge but I still think it's an annoying fad! What do you think? Have you done it yet? Will you? [Link to article].
That little bit of effort will yield fantastic results. Not only will people leave comments, but they will often like/retweet posts with a little more thought put into them. Every time someone responds you connect not only with them but every person they are connected to. If you only put the link to your article, odds are they will save their comments for your blog, essentially turning your twitter or facebook account into a private messaging system that only targets people who are already your fans. Boring and pointless!
5. Waste Your Money on an E-Product
I believe that every would be marketer/blogger and entrepreneur has bought at least one online product at one o'clock in the morning. These impulsive, often immediately upsetting, purchases are viewed as a lapse in judgement instead of as a learning opportunity. What I'd like you to do this year is buy a product promising to teach you about all the secrets to making money online. You should at some point buy my honest tale of earning six figures online, but it's probably better for this experiment to buy from one of the classic "enormously long pitch page with catch headline promises you everything" product that are so famously laughed at online.
Take in all the effort that was made to sell the product, then focus on how reading/watching/listening to it makes you feel. Are you immediately feeling cheated? At what point did you decide you had wasted your money? Was there anything of real value?
The biggest thing I did for my websites was figure out how much content was needed to impress my buyers and then exceed it. If you truly want to make money online, you must fulfill a need and do it at a price that people view is a deal. The more value in your product the more likely it will be a deal to the customer!
6. Most of Your Businesses Will Fail
Three of my five online businesses are failures in my eyes for two reasons:
- Didn't live up to their potential.
- Didn't make enough money.
One of my failures is the blog your reading, which is still a truly great resource for bloggers but I was so distracted attending to my successful blogs (that were making me six figures a year) that I never put the time and effort into The Traffic Blogger that was necessary to make it succeed. This blog will always be more of a journal regarding my success than a platform for making myself money.
If you want one of your blogs to succeed, then you need to put the time into all aspects of it (marketing, outreach, link building, writing, etc). Which brings me to the next tip...
7. Start New Blogs Often
Don't take up too much time doing this, but periodically you should try creating new blogs to take advantage of trends in your own interest. If you're into rare Japanese action figures that shoot orange juice then I'm sure somebody else out there is too. Maybe even a few thousand others (probably not). I have created dozens of blogs with only a handful of pages but they all make some money! This is due to Adsense, low competition on Google, and sheer volume of topics. Some of my successful blogs actually spawned from these little experiments.
8. You Can't Start Without a Megaphone
Someone out there must believe in you besides your mother or you're never going to succeed. Some examples of successful methods I've used to instantly rank on Google and get a few dozen readers in the first 24 hours of blogging:
- Stickied Post on a niche's Biggest Forum.
- Guest Article on a niche's Biggest Blog.
- Guest Hosted on a niche's Biggest Podcast.
9. Relationships Beat Content Every Time
How often do you read a decent or even poor article on a major website? More often than most of those sites would admit publicly. If you know the right people, even a mediocre article can get published. Spend time building relationships with fellow bloggers and you will always gain some level of exposure. Just make sure that you bring something insightful to the table!
10. Live the Role of "Best"
The biggest blogger in a niche is like the president; they are expected to behave differently than everyone else. You should be respectful at all times, and your website should reflect the success of your online business. Be classy but fun and impressive but relate-able. Sort of like dressing for success, you can do the same with your blog and personality very early on in your career.
As they say to most doctors who are just starting med school: fake it till you make it ;)