I hate to break it to you but you’re never going to figure it all out when it comes to blogging.
Don’t bother trying.
I used to waste copious amounts of time planning, figuring, thinking hoping to come up with some complete masterplan that would lead to creating the greatest website ever.
All that time was largely wasted.
Nobody’s figured this web publishing racket out.
Websites are messy. It’s a battlefield out there. Even the best sites have blood and guts somewhere (as in mistakes, things needing improvement, broken links, garbage articles, etc.).
Just last week I discovered 50 articles on one of my sites with broken images, as in all the images were broken. The posts looked horrendous.
How I stumbled on those posts is pure irony.
A copyright troll claimed I infringed their client’s copyright. I went to the URLs and discovered loads of broken images. My copyright problem quickly took 2nd seat as I scrambled to fix what turned out to be a whole series of posts with broken images.
I broke the images doing something dumb. I reversed it and solved the problem.
As for the troll, I had written permissions for the images which I sent to them. I haven’t heard back. They moved on to prey on other publishers.
I probably should have thanked the troll for helping me find those broken images, but I didn’t. I’m not always as polite as I should be.
When Google launched, Sergey and Larry probably had no clear monetization plan. I’m sure they figured it would include advertising but the how, where and when was unknown.
Same with Zuck and Facebook.
This is a rapidly evolving business. Google and FB are not the same as they were 5 or 10 years ago.
Neither are my sites.
I no longer plan much at all.
When I need articles, I find the first 10 to 20 related topics (a cluster) that will do the job and go after them.
Rinse and repeat.
Take my new niche site Cyclebaron.com for example. I should feel pressure to make this thing work. Thousands of eyeballs are watching it closely to see what I do with it.
But I’m not too worried. If it doesn’t work, c’est la vie. So I look like an idiot. It won’t be the first time.
I think it will succeed though. I’m spending as if it will. But there are only two guarantees in life – death and taxes.
I’m certainly not doing any long term planning for the site. I’ve yet to come up with categories and tags. Everything is “Uncategorized”.
I don’t have ads on the site yet.
I don’t think I created a sitemap yet. I’m not sure. I don’t feel like checking right now but in time I’ll get motivated to do so.
I was told by a reader the favicon needs to be changed. It’s showing the WordPress favicon. Another task added to the todo list that I’ll get going on when suitably motivated.
What I am doing though, is lining up a ton of content for the site. It’s going to fill up relatively fast. Content and resulting traffic is task #1 for many months to come. Once I have thousands of daily visitors, I can worry about the other things. I’m not really motivated until then.
What do I care if posts are uncategorized? There’s no traffic (other than Fat Stacks readers but you’re not the targeted audience – I mean that in the nicest way possible).
Content is the priority.
All the other stuff can wait.
The sad thing is this state of “work in progress” never ends.
While that used to bother me, I like it now.
I’ve come to realize that there are literally unlimited keywords and topics to cover for any site. That means I can pick and choose willy nilly (I prefer obscure, low competition) and blast it out there.
I think that’s one aspect that folks struggle with. They like closure; all wrapped up with a pretty bow on top.
If you’re in this biz, you need to let go of that notion. You will never be done until you sell. You will work in a constant state of disorganization.
You will not have it all figured out.
Any plan you make will change/evolve.
You will face indecision constantly.
Indecision is tough to deal with. Our brains are wired for certainty.
What are some tough decisions you must make?
- WordPress theme
- SEO plugin
- Logo design
- Categories and tags
- Keywords and topics – this causes analysis paralysis for many
- Content sources (you, a content agency, a writing service, in-house?)
- Content formatting
I could go on and on. My heart rate jumped 15 BPM just thinking about those weighty decisions.
How’s this for sloppy?
I don’t suggest you take the same sloppy approach I do. I definitely have a lot of room for improvement.
I’m currently working with a site speed consultant. He did a pile of work then said to me “check your site out on staging to ensure no mistakes are made.”
My immediate response was “do I have to check out every post?”
He replied, “ideally, yes.”
Haha, there’s not a chance I’m looking at 5,200 articles. I told him that. He laughed but probably thought that I’m making a mistake.
Instead, I spot checked articles across many categories and tags. That’s the best I could do.
Me checking out every article is like a manufacturer inspecting every widget coming off the assembly line. Most don’t do that. They spot check enough to be statistically significant.
I still write 2,500 to 5,000+ words most days
Yes, most days, between emails like this, my daily responses and contributions to the Fat Stacks forum plus one, two or three articles for various niche sites, I crank out 2,500 to 5,000 words of content daily. 5,000 is rare but I hit it just the other day. That was cool.
Before penning this email, I wrote content for a sales page for a new course I’m launching next week. Next up I’ll publish something on Fatstacks and finish a monster article for one of my niche sites.
I hope I never lose sight of content first, the rest will fall into place.
I’ll never figure it all out but as long as good content remains a priority, sites will grow.
P.S. I say “sites will grow” but they also will suffer setbacks, traffic drops, plateaus etc. In the long run most will grow with good content but sometimes bad things happen like the Medic update. I still think that was too draconian, even for Google.
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 that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
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.