My “first time” as a blogger was in the content mill era.
Remember Associated Content? You could submit ANYTHING. You got paid pizza money upfront. Everything else was pay per view. A few writers made bookoo six-figure incomes; the rest of us just re-submitted our high school English reports and made $3.47.
Of course, the world has changed since then. Yahoo absorbed Associated Content into its massive online database. Now, you can’t get paid for publishing 3,000-word essays on how the Nile river delta influenced Egyptian culture.
But I’m still seeing lots of newbie bloggers making basic mistakes. If you’re serious about blogging as an income, don’t write these blog articles.
1) Are People Asking About It?
If no one’s asking, don’t write it.
Easily said, rarely followed. Lots of bloggers want to be interesting. Instead, you should focus on being valuable.
You should be more digital encyclopedia than pulpit preacher.
Your job is 90% answering questions, 10% telling people what you think they should know.
And how do you figure out what people are asking? Simple: Keyword research. And browsing Reddit and Quorasub-threads.
Some of my favorite free keyword research tools are:
These are intuitive keyword research tools that don’t require in-depth SEO analysis.
2) Can It Be Answered by Alexa or Siri?
Typically, these are yes/no sorts of questions.
- What’s the weather today?
- How tall is Hugh Jackman?
- How many teaspoons in a tablespoon? (3, by the way)
Here’s an example of a yes/no question that Siri or Alex can’t answer: Is $5,00 a good price for a used pickup truck?
The answer is a big fat “It depends.” And that’s where the blog post comes in!
3) Is It Evergreen?
As a solo blogger, you can’t afford to write about [insert current boy band’s name] haircuts.
It’s just math: Would you rather put in 3 hours of work for an article with a 10-year lifespan, or 3 hours of work for an article with a 3-month lifespan?
4) Can It Be Answered by a Google Snippet?
SERP features have reimagined the blog landscape. If a question can be fully answered in three sentences or less, the Google snippet has done your job for you.
We all know that the best ranking blog posts tend to be anywhere from 800 to 4000 words, with 1500-2000 somewhere in the golden middle.
If a question can be succinctly answered in a few sentences, then what’s to hold the reader’s attention? As a writer, you’re swimming upstream!
The reader wants to move on; you’re looking for every chance to keep them going. Your headings start sounding like a midnight infomercial: “But wait …. There’s more!”
In the end, your bounce rate suffers, and no one hangs around to make you money.
5) Is Text the Correct Medium?
Do you know why recipes are usually text and not video?
Think about it.
Do you just read a recipe all at once, and then pull the food off the shelves, mix it up, bake it, and never return?
Or, if you’re like me, do you return to the recipe every 30 seconds to make sure you didn’t miss anything, that you’re measuring in teaspoons and not tablespoons, or whether the butter gets melted, softened or creamed?
Imagine how awful a video recipe would be!
If I want to know how to hop a mountain bike over a log, I’m going to YouTube. I can’t visualize the written instructions: “Yank up on your arms, sit back over the seat, flatten out the pedals, hop the front wheel onto the log, push the handlebars forward, shift weight forward …”
I just want to watch it!
Although . . . you might be able to get away with an Instructables-type post, where we “tell” the reader with our words and “show” them with images.
6) Is Domain Authority Firmly Established?
Let’s say you’re shopping for a used car. And you have your eye on a 2005 Ford Focus. You want to know if the seller’s asking price is reasonable.
You’ll go to Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com, of course! These companies have analyzed billions of transactions by car, condition, zip code, etc.
You would NEVER accept the word of some random blog post, however well-written and formatted.
This is an extreme example, but we run into this challenge all the time.
I like the idea of writing an article about weight-distributing hitches (WDH), for instance. WDH are a common purchase for new RVers, they aren’t well understood, and an affiliate commission from a $600 purchase ain’t too shabby!
I might think, “I’ll write an article explaing how weight-distributing hitches work.”
However, there are several weight-distributing hitch manufacturers who are ALSO highly intent on explaining how their hitches work. Who stands a better chance of snagging the coveted first-page ranking: Me or them?
Why would I go toe-to-toe with a multinational manufacturer on their home turf?
On the other hand, no manufacturer is going to present an honest comparison article. That’s an area where A) I have a chance of winning the SERP war and B) I can claim superior “authority” than the original manufacturer. They’re biased; I’m not.
7 Reason Number Seven
Is there a seventh reason? No, no there isn’t. But clickable listable headlines usually have odd numbers, so here’s number seven.