Twenty years or so ago, when blogging began, there wasn’t much competition. In today’s world, thanks to the convenience of platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and Medium, you can find bloggers writing about almost any imaginable topic. These platforms mean anyone can become a blogger, and as a result, blogs have become fruitful and multiplied. Nielsen, at the end of 2011, calculated 181 million blogs online – and that was four years ago.
If you’re a strong writer with original ideas, and you’re willing to put in the work, you can still create a thriving and intelligent blog. However, it’s frustrating to try to get your writing out, and it’s tough to cut through the garbage. Let’s be honest, just between us girls; there are a lot of crap blogs on the Web. Let’s take a minute and dish about the bloggers that none of us can stand.
The Billionaire Blogger
Although it’s true that some people who start blogs as a sole source of income have become quite successful – think Darren Rowse or Brian Clark– most bloggers typically don’t get rich without many years of hard work. Oh, but if you’ll give the guy from BillionaireBloggingBlowout.com your email address, he’ll send you a free e-book filled with his super-secret strategy for becoming a four-hour workweek super blogging billionaire. Unfortunately, your free e-book is usually a taster filled with pedestrian tips that you can find elsewhere for free. To get the really exclusive tips, you have to download the exclusive video series or “The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Blogger,” which will, of course, require your credit card number.
Remember Kevin Trudeau, infamous shyster and bilker of the elderly? When I was a manager for Barnes & Noble, Trudeau’s book, “Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” occupied our bestseller shelves for months. During my lunch break one day, I decided to thumb through the book. I discovered that the book contained no information about any sort of natural cures. It referred you to Trudeau’s website, which offered the real inside information – in exchange for a nominal fee.
Kevin Trudeau is in jail now. Apparently, his natural cures information proved about as useful as the “Super Secret Classified Amaze-Balls Guide to Blogging Riches.” I’m not saying that some people don’t offer great information in free e-books, but you can get plenty of good tips without giving up your email address or your credit card.
The Johnny/Julie One-Note Blogger
A vibrant mind can take a single subject and explore it from multiple angles. On the flip side, anyone can write hundreds of keyword-stuffed blog posts about the same topic and try to pass them off as unique content.
Most of these blogs are called something like SEOSuperGuruExtraordinaire.com, and they have posts that look like this:
- How to Get Better Google Rankings
- Can Your Business Do Better on Google?
- Top 5 Mistakes That Hurt Your Google Rankings
- 5 Secrets to Better Google Rankings That Matt Cutts Has Been Hiding From You for Years
- Google Secrets So Super-Secret We’ll Have to Kill You After You Read This
By the way, the same blogger has a site called SocialMediaSuperGuruExtraordinaire.com and a free e-book for you to download.
Essentially, these posts are the same non-unique tips with different titles. In music, we call this form “theme and variations." Trust me - if you want some real theme and variations, listen to Bach. He did it better. Way better.
The Vaguely Inspirational Blogger
The vaguely inspirational blogger stands on the mountaintop and calls you to a better life. His posts touch on all of those vague insecurities that we all have – are we living up to our potential? Is this really the life we dreamed we’d have? Do we think we’re capable of more than the job we’re doing right now?
Let’s face it: Most of us are climbing life’s jungle gym in an upward direction; we’re not looking down from the top. So we read these posts and think to ourselves, “This guy understands me.”
Because of course, the Vaguely Inspiration Blogger used to be just like you, gentle reader, until that blessed day when he discovered the secret of fulfilling his life purpose. And you can unlock the secret, too – if you’ll sign up for his email newsletter. When you sign up for the email list, your inbox will fill with vague and empathetic statements. “I, too, know what it is to roam our planet feeling like I have no purpose.” The good news is, he is sad no longer. He's discovered that his purpose is help you find yours.
And you can find it by signing up for his webinar.
Of course, after the webinar, you’ll receive an exclusive offer of 20 percent off his – wait for it – e-book! Or you can sign up for his members-only webinar series for a special introductory offer of only $99.
It’s an ingenious scheme, if you think about it; it’s existential network marketing. Instead of Amway products, you get a vaguely happy feeling and a webinar. In the end, the vaguely inspirational tips, like those old Amway products, end up in the garbage.
The “How to Be a Writer” Blogger
Many people have a caged writer living inside them who’s desperate to express herself. These people dream of tossing away their corporate employment and suburban lifestyles to become über-wealthy novelists. They’d like to find out how other people turned their own wordsmithery into income, so they seek likeminded folk online. Via Google, they find the already (self-reported) successful blogger who promises to teach them the secrets of making a living as a writer.
Don’t get me wrong: Some writers who’ve built great careers in their own right have gone on to help others market their work. Carol Tice, for example, built a formidable career as a freelance writer and now helps other writers figure out how to market their work through her “Make a Living Writing” blog. The nefarious “how to be a writer” blogger, however, will show you how to become a full-time writer even though she’s never published anything except for posts entitled “How to Fulfill Your Dreams of Becoming a Full-Time Blogger.”
Sign up for her email list, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a full-time writer, too. You can also download “My 135 Lights-Out Get-Rich-Quick Secrets to Being the Web’s Most Recognized Blogger Even Thought I’ve Never Published a Real Blog Post on a Respected Website in My Life.” Even better, enter her contest, and you’ll also get a prize worth $3,000 – which is not really cash, but a subscription to something you’ve never heard of, but whatever it is, it’s going to revolutionize your blogging.
See? There’s Plenty of Room for You
It’s a cinch to start a blog nowadays, and as you can see, a lot of incompetent people are doing it. People who don’t understand their subjects, people who are terrible writers, and people who have nothing original to say post drivel online every day.
The Web makes publishing democratic. It allows everyone to share his or her work without passing it through a gatekeeper. But here’s the thing: Those gatekeepers that everyone complains about are the ones who inspect things for quality. They edit writing until it’s good, and come up with marketing strategies that work. Although you’ll find plenty of blogs online – go democracy! – you won’t find many that pass through gatekeepers. That’s why so few blogs meet high standards for quality and originality and why there’s plenty of room for competition.
Don’t start a blog because you think it’s your path to working at home and getting rich. Also, don’t try to position yourself as a subject matter expert when you’re not. However, if you’re an expert on something, and you have the credentials to prove it – if you have something unique and valuable to say that other people can use – then please, for the good of all humanity, go ahead and publish that blog post. And if you need some editorial assistance, JLW Media is happy to help.