From scaling a company blog to over a thousand blog posts in a few years to scaling individual niche sites that have hundreds of blog posts today in just a year and a half or so, I’ve seen my fair share of data and what it takes for a blog to be successful.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 10 things I’ve learned from creating over a thousand blog posts so that hopefully you can learn a thing or two, as you build your blog.
Lesson 1: The Pareto Principle holds true
The first lesson I’d share is that the Pareto Principle often holds true. That is that 20% of your posts are going to make up 80% of your traffic. And 80% of your posts are only going to make up 20% of your traffic. It can be really hard to figure out which of your posts are actually going to help skyrocket your blog traffic.
And so my biggest piece of advice here is to make sure that you have enough quantity to give yourself enough at-bats in order to give your blog a chance at success. Without enough quantity, it’s really difficult to figure out whether or not your niche is truly too small, or if it’s just something in which you haven’t produced enough content to give yourself enough opportunities for that breakthrough moment.
Lesson 2: 100-1000 monthly volume keywords stack fast.
The second lesson I’d share is that keywords that fall between the range of a hundred to a thousand monthly searches can really start stacking on fast and add to your organic traffic. What I like about these keywords is that their keyword difficulty score is typically 75 or lower and attaining a page one ranking for these sorts of keywords is often highly achievable. For helpful tutorial walkthrough of how to identify these longtail keyword opportunities, check out my SEMRush tutorial video on my channel.
I’ve often found that with these long tail keywords, it can be a little difficult to see the long-term impact of these keywords until you start ranking for at least 10 of them. But once you have 10 of them, you’ll start to notice an incremental uptick that happens in your organic traffic, which continues to snowball over time. And it’s once you have that compounding effect in that flywheel going that you’ll really start to feel the impact of having gone after these 100 to a thousand monthly volume keywords.
One of my biggest recommendations when you’re first starting your blog is to target these hundred to a thousand monthly volume keywords, as opposed to those larger keywords that are in the thousands of monthly searches. The reason why is because you need to build up your authority and have Google trust your site first before you target those bigger keywords.
Lesson 3: “Best of” and versus content will always be evergreen
The third lesson I’d share is that best of or versus content is always evergreen. People love it when you break down a post for them as to what the best thing is in a particular topic. These can be, for example, product reviews or general informational posts and versus posts are also a great way to create evergreen content.
The reason why is because in pretty much every single niche, there is always a question as to how a compares to B or how C is better than A. So by answering these sorts of intent-based keywords around the vs. phrases, it can be a great way for you to build your organic traffic. Ultimately, as humans, we always love a showdown or some sort of ranked list. It’s the same reason why there are YouTube channels that are fully dedicated to comparing and contrasting different tech products, as well as ranking the top 10 movies of all time.
Lesson 4: Exhaustively answer the 5 Ws and H and people will come
The fourth lesson I’d share is to always aim to exhaustively cover the five W’s and How, and people will ultimately come. This creates a win-win situation for you because in the case where you are able to create something that ranks, you’re going to get organic traffic. But in the case where you don’t actually rank, you’re going to have some sort of asset that will answer a commonly asked question in your respective niche.
What’s really helpful here as you aim to answer these who, what, where, when, why and how questions is to always think about what unique perspectives or value you can add to what already exists out there. It’s through this unique perspective that you’re going to be able to differentiate your content and make it so that people stick around when they interact with your content. Having a unique perspective or adding value is also the best way to build an audience and build trust with your desired audience so that they come back time and time again.
Lesson 5: Find the Goldilocks zone of quantity and quality
The fifth lesson I’d share is to learn the Goldilocks zone of quality and quantity. I know that bigger SEOs like Brian Dean often share about the importance of quality and emphasizing quality over quantity. However, the thing he doesn’t share with you is he has so much more authority and expertise already established in the space of SEO that he can get away with creating only 12 or 15 posts in a year. Nine times out of 10 when you are first starting out, you’re going to need a lot more quantity upfront, coupled with quality in order to get noticed.
The reason why is because on one level, we still don’t have the authority in our respective space that we want to be known for. And also on another level, we haven’t developed enough taste in terms of what makes great content. So the takeaway here is that it’s really important for you to get enough data from your audience as to what content works in your space and what content doesn’t.
Typically in my experiences, this requires you to make at least 25 pieces of content. And if you’ve already made 25 pieces of content, then make 50, then take a step back think about what’s worked and what hasn’t, and double down on what has worked.
Lesson 6: Find the content gaps and fill them
The sixth lesson I’ve learned is the importance of finding content gaps and filling them. No matter what topic you’re talking about, there is always an opportunity for you to provide a fresh perspective on it. This correlates back to lesson number four, when answering the five W’s and how.
Ultimately there is going to be a lot of existing content on whatever it is you want to talk about. And so you want to think about the particularities of particular questions that people have and how you could fill that void that might exist in your space.
This is typically done in three ways. Either by creating content that is more succinct, more comprehensive or more creative. For example, if you were writing some sort of content around Marie Kondo’s organizational method, and you notice that people keep asking this particular question, but other pieces of content out there haven’t actually talked about this question, then you want to make sure to include an answer to that question in your own content.
It’s by filling these sorts of content gaps that you, again, differentiate your content and stand out from the rest of the pack. And it’s the same reason why, when you think about YouTube as an overall space, it’s not a zero sum game in which one creator getting a view means another creator doesn’t get a view. Ultimately, every creator has their own unique perspective. And if you can add that to the conversation, then it moves the collective topic forward.
Lesson 7: Google literally tells you what people want.
The seventh lesson I’d share is that Google literally tells you what people want. I think that people oftentimes over complicate SEO. And if they were to just use some common sense, as they use Google, they would figure out 80% of what to do when it comes to keyword research.
For example, you can search a term and then people also ask what output for you the most commonly asked questions that people have around a particular phrase. Or if you scroll down to those Google results, you will see a list of related phrases that people often search with the query that you started with. It’s by using these sorts of contextual cues that Google is giving you, that you’ll be able to figure out specifically what sort of topics that people that you’re writing for care about.
You can apply this tip for pretty much any Google product, including YouTube. All you need to do is put in the keywords that you are searching for and look at what the auto complete gives you, or put an asterisk in front of your query to see what other related phrases come up.
I see that people talk about things like a keyword golden ratio, but in my opinion, that’s all noise and actually just over-complicates SEO that isn’t all that hard. Instead. It’s a better use of your time to figure out what Google is getting placements for and how you can create content that meets the need for the people that are searching for those phrases.
Lesson 8: 9 times out of 10, blogs with teams beat individuals
The eighth last night share is that nine times out of 10 blogs with teams will beat individuals. The only reason why I’ve been able to release a hundred plus posts of quality long form content on a site or even 500 plus on another site in a year and a half has been through systems that I’ve scaled with my team of blog writers. Blogs with teams are ultimately able to delegate more and scale faster in testing out new content ideas and getting eyeballs onto their content because they simply have more pieces of content being released.
If you want to see great examples of this, just check out the top performing posts that are shared in the sub Reddit just start. Here you’ll find people with websites who have either created all of the content themselves, or they’ve brought on a team of writers. And in most situations, these sites that are generating four figures or five figures or even six figures in revenue are the ones that have teams of writers to help them out.
On the other side of things, the creators that are often struggling are the ones that are writing every single piece of content themselves, because either they’re restricted by their budget, or they don’t want to bring on a team to write content for them. In my opinion, blogs are more or less the modern publishing houses of what we used to have with newspapers and magazines. And so it’s really important for you to maintain that balance of that Goldilocks ratio of having both quality and quantity of content on your blog.
Lesson 9: Compounding takes months and years, not days
The ninth last night share is that compounding often takes months and years and not days. It’s really easy to get discouraged in those early months of blogging when you see very little results for what you’ve worked on. For example, I’ll share a screenshot of one of my websites in there first six months and you can see just how little traffic there was on the site at this time. However, it was only by consistently publishing content every day and every week and every month that I was able to break through this plateau and establish myself with a new level of authority to then see more organic traffic building month over month.
I’ve noticed that this happens again and again, with any online related project. Oftentimes you will see little to no traction in those first 12 months, but it’s only past those 12 months that you will start to see some breakthroughs and some legs up in terms of the growth of whatever project you’re working on.
The problem though, is that most people quit before they actually get to see the compounded impact of their earlier efforts. For one of my websites, it plateaued for a long period of time. And for months I was just publishing new pieces of content and seeing no ROI on my content. However, once there was an algorithm update from Google in which was favoring sites that had much more content and much more authority around particular spaces, I noticed that my traffic then started uptaking again and scaling. So I obviously was really happy that I continued to publish during that time. But if I had quit, then I would have never seen that next phase of this site’s growth in terms of organic traffic.
The key takeaway here is to play longterm games and not give up way too early. This is a universal truth that can be applied to anything you invest in or anything where you want to experience leverage later on. Whether that’s real estate investing, creating a great company, or just developing some sort of professional skill to add to your resume.
Lesson 10: Nothing is passive about blogging
The final lesson I’d share with you that I’ve learned from publishing over a thousand blog posts is that nothing is passive about blogging. I know that there are YouTube videos and blog articles out there that talk about how blogging can be a passive income source, but honestly, that’s nothing further than the truth. If you were to build up a blog that got traffic and then didn’t do anything for the next year, that site would ultimately die.
It might not necessarily lose all of tje traffic overnight, however, it would gradually lose traffic and lose its ranking as compared to peers. And the reason is simple. Because there’s always new competition. Going back to the earlier lesson around content gaps, there’s always going to be a new competitor filling some sort of content gap that existed in the space.
And there’s always going to be new upstarts that are trying to take away your organic traffic that is currently ranking really well. So anybody that tells you that blogging is a passive income source is simply lying to you. The reality is that blogging can be a leverage income source in that the work you put upfront can yield to outsize returns later on. However, it is something that does require regular work and consistency in order to see longterm success.
This article could be an entire article by itself, but you can see this with just things that happen within affiliate program changes. For example, in 2020, a ton of bloggers were impacted when Amazon decided to change their affiliate program to reduce the commission rates by a significant percentage. That resulted in bloggers having to change their overall content strategies in order to make sure that their blogs were still sustainable. So the next time that you see somebody telling you that blogging is passive income, just keep in mind that that is not true. And that blogging at best is a leveraged income source.
There are two things I want you to remember from this article:
- The first one is to expand your time horizon when it comes to how long you’re going to blog for. It’s only by expanding your time horizon, that you’ll be able to see the compounding effects of your blogging efforts.
- The second big takeaway is to stay laser-focused on providing value above everything else. The only thing that matters when it comes to blogging is making sure that you are fulfilling reader intent and creating the content that people are actually searching for. You don’t want to clickbait and you don’t want to provide no additional value than what’s already out there in other posts. Instead, focus on offering informational content that provides a unique perspective that doesn’t already exist.
If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you know that might benefit from these lessons that I’ve learned from creating over a thousand blog posts.