How I learned to hate gurus and love blogging

Wait, what is the context here?

Perhaps you’re an aspirant blogger, or you’re looking to earn some money on the side through the means of the amazing worldwide web. This desire probably had you watching tens if not hundreds of YouTube videos. All of those threw more or less the same set of tips in your direction, with the added messages that “it’s just so easy, I made $20.000 just last week doing these very easy things”.

And you get motivated, you start to look into those “techniques” for quick success. Finally, you formulate your own plan and you get crackin’. The work is hard, you need additional research. The guru didn’t quite explain how to change the DNS record to get the Google Search Console for your domain working. You also suddenly need to find out what a Google Analytics code is and how you edit WordPress child themes to add it.

Hmmm, it also seems that these visual theme builders either take quite a bit of practice or plain suck. You will need to invest more time to either learn basic Html & CSS or find a more complete solution. There are some really awesome theme and page builders out there, but not for free, another investment that YouTube guru failed to mention.

You’re now getting more and more frustrated. You spent all this time just gathering resources to write articles, finding products to promote, registering on social networks, reading up on marketing techniques, setting up a website, … and so much more. And on top of that, you’ve paid a fair amount of money just because someone convinced you that you would be rich fast and easy.

I was in this situation too, about 9 years ago. Mind you, back then there were possibilities to trick Google but the market was already incredibly competitive and the getting rich fast thing was long dead. Only the original domainers have the right to say they became rich by doing nothing except registering something like pizza.com in 1995.

Facing failure: stop listening, just have fun

Guru nr 82 had me believing in a new thing. I wasn’t even going to try it anymore. I had 3 websites up and running and did everything they said. But sadly, it didn’t work. All three had but a trickle of traffic, despite thousands of words of unique content and question answering topics. It had backlinks, it had some visitors, it had no sales or relevant income.

I didn’t even really care about the topics I build them around. Therefore it was frustrating to do the research. Mind you, I DID all the work, even if I really hated it. Not seeing all that pain and misery pay off… it sucks.

What I did enjoy though, was blogging and building websites in general. That initial steep learning curve was easy enough to overcome because I actually enjoyed it. I even learned some Python scripting to automate things and became a total nerd in no time.

So I decided to just create a website on a subject that I love: cichlids. In case you don’t know, they are the most beautiful and lively fish you can get for any aquarium.

I wanted it to be my style, so I didn’t look up any designs or analyze competition or even considered how to monetize it. This website, which was pretty much a combination between an authority site and a personal blog, was to be my style. No more guru b*llsh*t, no get rich quick scheme and no focus on sales.

And then it happened, just like that. And there I was, just having fun.

Because I didn’t care about monetization or following some set marketing strategy, I just kept writing article after article. Mostly for my own reference as I was working on a new aquarium. I was basically writing down what I was researching for my own project.

So without really knowing it, I was doing two things:

  1. I was becoming an expert
  2. I was answering questions

So after about 4 months, I had written around 40 articles of various lengths. Remember, I didn’t care about any “rules”. So some were 250 words, others probably more than 3.000. Some had pictures, others didn’t. I really didn’t care about visitors or Google.

But when I went to check analytics, I noticed my page views had gone up to a whopping 300.000 per month. Honestly, I just thought “Did I really refresh my own website 300.000 times? I gotta stop doing that.”

Obviously now was the time to monetize it, so I put up some product links for the stuff I used myself. I also wrote some reviews, using my own aquarium as an example. The result? An income of $750 (more or less) a month. I was exactly at the point that I struggled so hard to get to, only this time I didn’t even realize I was building towards it.

So why did it become successful?

  1. I didn’t care about monetization
  2. I was writing with passion
  3. It had a personal touch
  4. I did research and tested stuff myself
  5. I stopped caring about keyword stuffing or any of that bs
  6. There were no annoying ads
  7. I was answering questions I was asking myself

As to why the page views skyrocketed quite suddenly: I have no idea. I suppose someone was looking for an answer to his question, I provided it and he probably shared it with others. That or Google just thought it was time to give my site a chance. It doesn’t matter.

So the only tips I will give you are to have fun, write about something you actually want to learn more about and answer your own questions. I’ve realized that almost any niche or topic has monetization potential. So don’t think about the money, just have fun and keep practicing your hobby.

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