Some people might tell you that blogging is dead. Other people might tell you that you may as well forget about email marketing. And while the value of Google PageRank is questionable in the modern age, search engine optimization just doesn’t work anymore. The fact of the matter is that none of these things is really “dead.” Instead, like everything else on the Internet, they just keep changing and if you want to continue making money online, you need to learn how to adapt to these changes.
Blogging is easily one of the best examples of this. I put up my first website some time in the late 1990s before what we would call “blogging” became a thing. The website was powered by Geocities, I had zero monetization whatsoever, and the whole thing had to be coded in raw HTML. It wasn’t until 2006 that I got started with Beyond the Rhetoric, my first site that could properly be referred to as a “blog.” However, the Beyond the Rhetoric of 2006 looked and worked nothing like how it does today.
I look back at that site with both a sense of nostalgia and disgust. The design was far from great, it wasn’t even powered by WordPress, and the monetization was hardly optimized… but it was a start and a lot has changed in the last eight years.
First, blogs have become not only a lot more mainstream; they’ve also become increasingly commercial. Some of the most popular websites on the Internet today either started out as blogs or continue to operate as blogs, even if they’ve been acquired by AOL or Gawker. You’ve got Gizmodo and the Huffington Post, as well as Problogger and Shoemoney. “Real” companies recognize the power of blogging now.
The second biggest change has been the rampant growth of social media. Some people will say that the longer blog post holds less relevance today, because people are more likely to read a short post on Facebook or a 140-character update on Twitter. That’s not entirely true either.
Social media platforms certainly have their value in 2014 and we expect them to be even more important in 2015, but they are not sufficient on their own. They aren’t really means to an end on their own either. Instead, your social media strategy needs to be integrated with the overall content strategy of your site. All that traffic and all those eyeballs should be funneling into your system, heading to your site to buy your products and click on your ads.
You can see just how much blogging has changed even here on John Chow dot Com. Long-time readers might remember the old monthly income reports that John posted. He doesn’t do these anymore, but we can safely assume that the trend of earning more from private sales and affiliate marketing has continued to increase with ad networks like Kontera and AdSense falling off the map.
And that’s a third big change with blogging today. Ad networks still exist and they’re still relevant, but there is far more competition between them and it can be even more difficult for a new blogger to carve out a decent income. That’s why you need to stand out. That’s why you need to have an awesome unique selling proposition that makes your blog special.
The mainstream has come to embrace blogs and their accessibility. Social media has dramatically changed how we interact with our audience. And how you make money blogging has continued to change too. But amidst all this change, at least one big factor has remained exactly the same: great content is still great content. And that is truly at the heart of successful blogging.