I don’t begrudge anyone who shares a strategy that doesn’t work for me.
I’ve learned so much for free as a result of many generous people who share their successful methods on their blogs, videos, free reports, forums, Skype chats, email, etc.
In fact, I’ve learned far more good things than bad.
Moreover, it’s not as if the things that didn’t work for me didn’t work for them. It did and does work for them. It just happens that it didn’t work for me. It happens.
I, fortunately, don’t get hung up on failed efforts. This business requires making mistakes and doing things that don’t work. Most businesses do.
Here’s the irony.
This post is a list of suggestions that weren’t the best suggestions for me. In effect, this list is really a list of suggestions for you. And therefore, you need to realize following anything I say may not work for you. That’s the nature of the beast.
BUT, when something works in this business, it can have a huge positive impact. That’s why it’s worth sifting through things that don’t work. When you hit on something that’s a good fit for you or your sites, it can be a game-changer.
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Why am I publishing this seemingly unhelpful list?
First, I think it’s helpful to get a perspective that’s contrary to what are many popular opinions. That does not mean you should blindly hold my view of things. Many people totally disagree with me and don’t like what I do. That’s fine.
Second, a list like this illustrates that I’ve made many mistakes or have attempted strategies that work for some people but didn’t work for me. Most people with a thriving online business have. My hope is that it helps you understand that what works for one person may not work for you… but does not mean that you can’t make it work.
One thing I’ve learned to look out for is to get as full of an understanding of someone’s online business before I follow anything they say. For example, is their advice based on their success with the blog on which they’re giving me advice? Or, do they actually have other niche sites in different niches from which their advice stems?
I make this important distinction because blogs that discuss how to make money with blogs are a unique beast. Fat Stacks is such a blog. I monetize and operate this site very, very different than my other niche sites.
In fact, 95% of the information I publish around here pertains to what’s working on my other niche sites. I don’t really blog about how I made this blog a success. After all, I think you know.
Here’s my list of 10 worst blogging tips I’ve followed.
1. The money is in the list
In some niches, the money is definitely in the list.
The problem with this type of advice is it’s easy to interpret it as “the money is only in the list”, which is not true.
I have high earning niche sites that make very little from the email list. Most of the revenue is from display ads and on-site affiliate commissions.
2. AdSense is a waste of time
Again, in some niches AdSense is not the best way to monetize a site.
However, in some niches it is.
If you read someone say “AdSense doesn’t earn much” or similar, that just means it doesn’t do well for their niche.
The thing is, AdSense and display ads in general, can do very well in many niches.
3. Don’t change the niche of an existing site
I’m reluctant to include this because I really don’t have much data to suggest this is bad advice. I have only one example.
I bought an aged site with authority. It was in a niche that made almost nothing. I totally changed the niche and quintupled the revenue in months. It’s growing every week.
I had nothing to lose trying another niche because it earned nothing anyway.
I think if you’re thinking of changing an established website’s niche, it’s best to start slowly and test some content to see how it does. That’s what I did. The different content ranked well. I tested another small batch. Lots of that ranked and earned well. I then opened the floodgates and totally pivoted.
Again, take this snippet of info with a grain of salt. I really don’t have sufficient data to conclude this works.
4. Use page builders to make blog content look pretty
When page builders hit the scene, everyone jumped on board. Their content looked great. I wanted to do the same.
So I did.
Now lots of that content looks like garbage because ads are askew and other problems arose.
Fortunatley I didn’t create too much content with page builders, but the ones I did, I’m reverting to the regular WordPress visual editor.
5. Pay for an expensive infographic.
People have been hyping infographics as a link building strategy for years. I decided to give it a try. I hired an infographic agency for a lot of money to create one. They did.
It looked great. They were definitely pros.
I started doing outreach.
The result: Ziltch.
I think I may have attracted one or two links. I don’t even want to think about the cost per link for that failed effort.
AGAIN, I’m not saying infographics don’t work. I’m just saying they didn’t work for me. Of course, I only did one, which is maybe prematurely throwing in the towel. The concept may have been bad.
The plus side is I found far better ways to attract natural links with no outreach or any link building at all as a result of my failed infographic outreach effort. So in a round-about way, it was a big success.
6. Niche down
Some bloggers have tremendous success in hyper-focused niches (aka microniches).
In fact, I have one such site that does pretty well.
However, my more successful sites are in big, broad verticals. I love the freedom and flexibility broad verticals offer. It’s a much better fit for me.
7. Promote content via outreach
If you read SEO blogs, you’ve likely read people talking about how great promoting their content to other bloggers is for getting links and shares.
It does work for them, but usually, it works for the blog that tells you that promoting content works.
I can tell you that in many niches, contacting other bloggers and website owners is a total waste of time. I’ve tried.
Other bloggers don’t care.
But in some niches, other bloggers do care and want to share.
It really depends on the niche.
Don’t expect outreach to work unless you have something to offer.
8. Be everywhere
One effective strategy in some niches is to leverage content into many formats and blast it everywhere.
You take a good article and create a video, podcast, slideshow, series of tweets, email newsletter, guest post, etc.
Yes, this can work.
But you really need to measure results. It’s time-consuming to create all those other formats. You need to see if the time/cost it takes to do all that is worth it. In many cases, it isn’t.
In a former life, I built backlinks. Thousands of them. It worked… temporarily.
Like all the strategies listed above, building backlinks still work.
However, I’ve found a better way.
Instead of focusing time and resources on building backlinks, I put time testing and creating content that attracts links naturally. I’m talking about no outreach or guest posting or anything.
Yes, other bloggers and website owners including small business owners will link to other sites. They do so all the time.
The key is creating some content on your site that other sites want to link to.
Hint: it’s not necessarily making your content better. A big part of it is coming up with content that attracts links. Once you figure this out in your niche, it’s game over.
FYI, not all content I publish attracts links. Just some of it.
10. Gap keyword analysis
I love Ahrefs. I’ve done very well by them.
But I really do question this keyword research approach.
SEMRush offers this functionality too.
I simply don’t get it.
The concept is to find out which keywords your competition ranks for and then you go after those keywords.
I don’t really understand trying to rank for the same keywords as other sites.
ONE BIG EXCEPTION
If the sites ranking in the top spots have very little authority and you do have authority, then it may well be worth doing.
Otherwise, the concept of simply targeting the same keywords as the competition doesn’t make sense
My twist on the approach is to get ideas and go after slightly different topics with different keywords. I use Gap/competition analysis for inspiration only.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.