Everyone blogs differently. I’ve been able to support my family ( 4 people!) in a full time travel lifestyle, without house sitting or couch surfing, for several years now because of this blog. Should you blog the way I do? Well probably not because I am me and you are you. My way works, but so might your way, so long as you know the basics.
I’m not selling courses here, all my blogging tips are free for you to use, so let’s look at some of the golden rules of blogging and why you can, and maybe should, ignore them. It’s down to you.
The Golden Rules of Blogging and When to Ignore Them
Your List is Your Gold, Grow Your List
Are you selling stuff to your subscribers? If so you need to grow your list and focus on e-mail marketing and sales funnels.
I’m not selling stuff to these guys, they are my mates. I treasure them and would never abuse them so they will never be spammed by anything resembling a sales funnel from me. I hate sales funnels as I’m sure you do.
Sure, I grow my list now because every Sunday when I send out a newsletter my site gets a lovely traffic boost as just 20% of my 5,000 subscribers open their email and then maybe 10% actually clicks through to read a post. Yes these figures are pretty typical of the industry!
No, I do not grow my list using bribes. These are called lead magnets by blogging coaches and course sellers. In my experience, if a reader signs up just to get the free gift they rarely open an email ever again. I have a few free pdfs for new subscribers but I really don’t push them.
Personally, I’ve never subscribed to a site to get a freebie so I don’t know why anyone else would.
I am constantly deleting subscribers from my list for this reason, many of them never open even 1 email. Sending out emails costs me money, so I cull my list to keep numbers down constantly.
It’s very true that your list is the only thing you own. If Google stopped loving you and all social media platforms shut down, you’d be left holding your list. Right now, after the August 1st Google Algorithm change, I’m very glad of those 5,000 subscribers! I think I’ve found a fix for that by the way, will let you know.
It’s All About SEO and Writing the Post Around The Keyword
Well yes and no.
But do you think your subscribers or Facebook fans want to read your latest post on the best travel kettle?
No they do not. Maybe a few of them do but the majority will want to read a more general travel post that actually applies to them and their lives.
That could be a story from your travels or helpful tips that will appeal to a large number of followers.
Sure your travel iron post might make you an Amazon income forever more, but sending stuff like that out to your followers every week is the fastest way to get them to unsubscribe.
I sell a lot of tattoo packages. It’s highly lucrative and I sell several every month. I doubt I’ve ever sold one to a subscriber so it’s not worth me spamming them with my tattoo post. Be selective, know what each audience wants.
Get Backlinks to Grow Your DA
A couple of years ago this was the Holy Grail of blogging.
Grow your DA, climb the Google rankings.
Well guess what, I beat plenty of sites with far higher DAs than mine, regularly.
If your content is what the punters want, if it answers their questions, it will naturally rise to the top despite DA.
Yes grow your DA via an ever increasing number of backlinks, but don’t try to cheat the system and don’t make it your main focus.
Content is king. Content is your gold. Good content will serve you forever more.
Generally a high DA will help you get sponsored posts. I don’t ( incredibly rarely) do sponsored posts because they are against Google’s guidelines.
Don’t Write Stories or a Travel Diary, Give then Facts and Tips
A travel story, your ramblings and personal experiences, will have zero SEO and no keywords so it will never top Google.
But is topping Google the only way to get an audience?
It shouldn’t be. I have a friend who is a superb, funny, entertaining writer and her blog posts are a joy to read on any topic. I read her travel stories because they are fun, not because I’m looking for information or guides.
Will she ever make it? Will her natural talent be enough to make her a living as a blogger?
I don’t know yet. I don’t know of any travel bloggers at the top of the tree who do it this way but I’ve never come across a travel blogger as naturally talented as Liz.
In her case her blogging journey should be all about growing a following then maybe selling them something later.
I’m interested in how her story will unfold but to cramp her style with SEO writing would be criminal.
Do Write Stories, Be a Writer, Be Engaging and Entertaining
See above. If you are entertaining, be entertaining. Few of us are, so SEO and keywords are our best friends.
I’m no writer, to me blogging is a science, a set of knowledge, a pattern with tried and tested techniques.
I make a living and support my family in a full-time travel lifestyle by doing it my way. My way is not the only way. but if you’d like to learn from me you can, see this post and shoot me an email.
Stay Within Your Niche
This is such rubbish!
I started a homeschool site, then it became travel, budget travel, travel with kids. Then I became an authority on Sri Lanka, then Thailand, then Vietnam and now blogging. We cover luxury travel, resorts, hostels, trekking and more. I still rank highly on all of these topics and some others beside. I rock Google on Thailand with kids and on trekking in the Himalayas without kids. If the Google audience finds the answers they seek on your site, you can be an authority on anything.
Niche will, however, apply more in your Facebook following or subscribers, there you have to tread more carefully and give them what they want. Giving the family vacation crowd content on best Himalayan crampons will lose them as fast as travel irons.
You Can’t Make Money From a Blog Without Selling Courses or E-Books
I hate the course industry.
I’ve stalked them and snooped on them, the course selling gurus, and I disliked what I saw.
I saw greed and empty promises.
Information should be freely available as it is in the great museums of London. Anyone is capable of learning anything in a self-directed manner without any need of a “teacher”. Yes, if you want to blog you have a lot to learn but no, you do not need a course.
E-books I’m less down on and it’s something I might do one day.
But stupid spammy courses with thin content purely designed to line pockets…no way.
Yes you can make a living blogging without either of the above. I do. I’ve proved it.
You Must Have a Posting Schedule
This is complete hogwash.
Sure, you need to be creating content as often as you can but so long as you don’t go a few months without posting not much is going to happen. Your followers might be even happier to hear from you again once you get back to your blog.
What you should do, however, is send out a regular email newsletter. DO NOT send automatic notifications of every new post. Do it properly.
I use MailerLite for this ( Join here, it’s free at first but then this link will give you and I $20) and my Sunday newsletter brings a lot of benefits for my wallet and for my subscribers. It’s good to stay in touch with them. The subscribers generally aren’t Facebook followers in the same way that your social media audiences will be different on every platform. They won’t know what you’ve been up to lately and they like to know. You can also take the chance to direct followers old and new back to your key content that maybe they missed first time around.
Email newsletters can also contain affiliate links, not Amazon, but others are fair game. Remind your followers that your site exists once a week and send them back there. Here’s a reminder…Mailerlite is your best friend. I like it a lot more than MailChimp and I don’t need the super advanced features of the more expensive email service providers.
So that’s it, the rules of blogging. Always remember that rules are meant to be broken. Just do it the smart way, with know-how on your side.