On Saturday I got a little message from WordPress wishing me a happy seventh anniversary. I was writing inconsistently for the first four of those, but have been writing regularly since 2014. Here’s a few things I’ve learnt about blogging since I first started.
P.S. I will be releasing this as a Youtube video/podcast if you feel like waiting for version instead.
#1 – Trends will bring you traffic
My site first got a massive surge in hits back in 2012 when I wrote a post detailing the changes for League of Legends, along with a ton of screenshots showing those changes. League of Legends was starting to get very popular at the time and I managed to hop onto the bandwagon and get a lot of visitors as a result.
#2 – But chasing trends can be hard
One of the topics I write about here is film, and as a South African it’s almost pointless for me to try and generate traffic by releasing movie reviews (good thing I don’t only write for hits). We often get movies a few months after they’re released, and by this time the hype has usually died down. This means I get very little walk through traffic on these kinds of posts, and it’s usually only your regular readers who’ll stop by and take a look.
#3 – On the flipside, niche information is also incredibly valuable
Two of my most popular posts of all time are my Sinotec TV review and MSI Windpad tablet review, even though they are not very detailed by hardware review standards. No one else covered these two electronic items so Google sent people my way.
#4 – Sex sells
I avoid sexual content here, but there’s no doubt there’s a lot of people searching for anything vaguely sexual online. The Pantless Anime blogger, an anime writer who draws in way more visitors than I do, wrote in a blog post a while back (mildly NSFW) that a lot of his traffic comes from people searching for sexy anime content.
#5 – The more you write, the more hits you get
This may seem obvious, but you really need to write a lot to stay afloat in this media saturated world. It makes sense that I’ve never really experienced another increase in traffic since I have only written between 100 and 120 posts a year for the last four years. In comparison, The Pantless Anime Blogger wrote 230 posts in his first year alone.
#6 – The less you write, the less hits you get
Being back at university this year has definitely hurt my traffic for the site. We are six months into the year and I’ve only made about 30% of the traffic I normally make. Another issue that ties into this is…
#7 – Even if you write a lot, you will generally have a few key “tent pole” articles that bring in the majority of your visitors
A lot of your work will go by “unnoticed”. However, a few of your pieces will probably go viral and get you a lot of traffic (relatively speaking). Just don’t make the mistake I made of assuming that these popular posts would draw in traffic for longer than they do and slack off as a result.
#8 – Unless you can build up a large fanbase or pitch your site as an influencer site to advertisers, do not expect to earn money by creating content
I’ve done a lot of research into making money via blogging and Youtube. If you want to make a living off either and do not have LARGE amounts of traffic (100 000+ hits per video, or 500 000+ subscribers in the case of Youtube), do not expect to make money off ad revenue alone. You will need to take sponsorship deals if companies see you as a potential influencer with a target audience that you can advertise their product to.
#9 – Updated bonus tip! People like photos from events
I forgot to add this in so I’m quickly throwing it in here. One way to get people coming to your site is to cover an event and then share it on social media. I usually cover all the local geek events and these make up a huge chunk of my traffic. Unfortunately I missed out on a lot of traffic this year because I was working so I couldn’t take photos.
#10 – Updated bonus tip! The time you post matters a lot
I now post around 12 pm South African time, but as a result I mostly get South African readers. When I used to post later at night, I got a lot more American readers. Depending on who you are aiming for, post at a time where those people are most likely to read your work.
And there you have it folks. These are a few of the things I’ve learnt as a writer/content creator over the last seven years. Hopefully some of you out there will find this useful.