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Successful Blogging: It’s a Long Way to the Top

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As I stated in my previous post about Twitter, I don’t automatically reciprocate any followers I receive. Instead, I take the time to read through profiles and select those people who I would be happy following regardless of whether they had noticed me or not. In amongst the gems and surprising insights, there are also some who seem to be concerned solely with generating traffic to blogs and making money online.

Internet marketing is nothing new. Since WYSIWYG editors made setting up a website child’s play, there have been those who have promised infinite ways to make your fortune online. On the social web, these messages have changed from “sell stuff and make some money” to “generate traffic and make tons of money.” I suppose I should be flattered that so many of these people have read my Twitter bio (they haven’t visited the blog, trust me. I checked my stats) and decided that I am in need of their wisdom, but what is interesting is that so many of them are in the same line of work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all of these marketers are charlatans. I know for a fact that some of the people I follow on Twitter have indeed made significant amounts of money from their blogging and marketing efforts. Going by the number of tweets I come across on a daily basis that promise to give the me secrets of coining it in through blogging, however, either everyone is far richer than my bank manager would like me to be, or somebody is trying to pull a fast one.

People like to feel – if not be – successful, and they will therefore gravitate to others who already are successful. I read successful blogs that have thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of RSS subscribers; they are obviously doing something right. From my observations, I notice that they all have the following in common:

  1. A wealth of information for free. It’s almost as though, having become successful, the websites would rather encourage competition than stifle it. Rather than keep the secrets of their success to themselves, they share their knowledge.
  2. A sense of community. A number of the sites also have forums or boards where regular readers can interact with each other and conduct their own discussions amongst themselves, giving them yet another reason to visit the sites.
  3. Comprehensive advertising. Not only do these websites promote themselves on their sites, but they also carry advertising for other companies. Some may limit themselves to Google ads and a monthly sponsor; others may be signed up to an advertising network or even manage their own advertising accounts.

Of course, being able to decide who advertises on your website means that you are already successful, having generated enough traffic to your domain that you are an appealing propect to those who would want to advertise on your website. But how do you actually get there? For a newbie blogger, getting to such a level is a daunting challenge.

Not all of the advice given about how to generate traffic to your website or build your blog is bunkum. Some is very useful; the occasional nugget can be invaluable. What has struck me is that much of the advice that purports to help new bloggers is based on the presumption that bloggers have already reached a certain level. For the fresh, newly-minted blogger, much of the advice given can be irrelevant. There’s no point dragging people to your website if you have no content.

It’s important to remember that it takes a while to buld a readership. This blog carries no advertising, and my efforts to market it have been fairly slack so far. Why? Because I don’t think I have enough content yet. As far as I’m concerned, at under a year old, with blank periods when I’ve had work commitments/writer’s block, I don’t think this blog has earned the right to have people driven towards its content.

For content is still king. Yes, you could run a blog based on linking to other sites and hoping that readers click on some targetted advertising, but to encourage repeat visitors, you need to provide them with something that they want to read or interact with. And building up a decent body of content takes time. You can’t do it overnight. For this reason, at the moment, I’m going to continue ignoring the promises of overnight riches. Ask me in another two years or so, however, and my response might be very different.

[Image by Dru]



  1. kachwanya says:

    Content is the king to any form of website be it company or blog sites, a fact which i think is still hidden to most Kenyans. This is a big challenge for most webmaster coz some clients have the mentally that as soon as they get the sites it should be top ranked not necessarily thinking about the content

  2. Inari says:

    The problem with Kenyan websites is that regardless of how they identify, they still appeal to an international audience. Even if they restrict their content to those at home, others from the diaspora read them.

    There is no way of setting up a clearing wall for Kenyan websites to restrict their content, and quite frankly, I hope such a thing never happens. I love hearing what is going on at home, and I would feel disillusioned and marginalised if Kenyan-based websites found a way of excluding me.

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