The idea of blogging seems like a great idea - at the time. Write a few blogs about the world or life or books or movies and hey, someone might even give it a read. Someone other than your Mum. The harsh reality is most bloggers won't get any monetary value out of the words that they write, even if the do use an advertising platform such as Google AdSense.
Whether you do it for the love, the money or the need, there are a few harsh truths you need to know before you get started.
Yep. I've done some pretty extensive research on this subject, and this seems to be the lucky - or not so lucky - number. The first harsh reality is, you won't be able to quit your day job, unless you become part of the 20% club. Okay, maybe not everyone is out to make money, but it would be a nice bonus, right?
Blogging is something so many of us do, and chances are, we even blog about the same topics. Type the name of this blog post into Google and there will be 300,000 results, most of which are blog posts that have the exact same title. This blog post is likely to be somewhere way down on the list. (Woohoo)
Someone has already been there, done that. That doesn't mean you can't do it again, but it's your own voice that matters. Finding yourself and what works for you will increase your traffic and bump you up on step closer to the 20% club, but until you find your voice, get ready to fail.
I know I drone on and on about him, but Casey Neistat (read about him here) lives by this rule. He may be the most famous in his field and so everyone wants to be like him so they create vlogs that are almost identical. It's like plagiarism in the form of vlogging.
If you want to be in the club, you're going to have to be unique, and it's going to take time. It takes more than one blog post to generate any sort of traffic. You're going have to blog your butt off.
Okay, I know, this is a 'Top # List', but I'm hopefully going to make a valid point here. I'm not at all saying that a list of the ten reasons you should start a blog or the seven reasons you must buy a cat won't work, in fact, I'm saying the complete opposite. They will work, and they will generate traffic to your site, but is that a good thing?
As we become more and more attune to this instant gratification that the internet - especially social media - brings, everything needs to happen fast. Chances are, you're not even reading this line right now because your read the title of this section and got what you needed. Top lists work because of our need to get information fast, but the content becomes less and less important.
And that is the second harsh reality. Here I am, calling myself a writer, meticulously reading my posts over and over for grammatical and spelling errors - and still missing them - and it probably doesn't even matter.
Vlogging may just be a better option for this very reason. It's visual and less intense - people don't have to take the time to read. I know, it's a sad world to live in, but if you want to succeed, you have to move with the times.
Once you start a blog, it's like a waiting game to see if anyone is going to read what you've written. You might tell a few friends and family members about it and they may or may not be supportive, but even if they are the most encouraging people in the world, it doesn't mean they are going to read what you write.
I just automatically assumed my family and friends read my blog posts after all this time. I'd often find myself mid-conversation saying something like 'Hey, that's just like what I was ranting about in my blog last week!', only to be met with looks of confusion or guilt.
You guessed it. Sometimes, my Mum doesn't even read my blog posts. Shouldn't that be a sure fire thing?
It's not such so strange to assume that out of your close family and friends and your contacts on social media, that someone will read your posts, but a large percentage won't.
However, you will find people out there that will keep coming back, and you may even get the chance to connect with them, just don't expect everyone to be talking about your witty humor and inspiring thoughts at your next dinner party.
Whether you like it or not, social media is going to one of the main driving forces behind your blog traffic. In fact, paying for Facebook advertising has proved to be one sure fire way to generate more traffic to your site, but it still doesn't mean that you'll make money. This does mean you will have to create a Facebook page and actually post content on it, including links to your blog posts.
And you thought this was going to be easy!
Social media is a blogger's traffic gold mine, and will continue to be for many years to come. Not only can you target your audience, you can even remind your Mum to read your blog posts and tell her friends.
But there's a way these things work, and it means more work for you. If you want to use social media to its full potential, you're going to have to share the content and depending on the platform, that's going to differ. For example, having a Twitter account will help and you can generally post the same thing several times, but do this on Facebook, and people are going to get annoyed and unlike the page you just created.
It's all about timing, diligence and you guessed it, work.
SE - what?
Even if you've heard the term before, chances are you don't really know how it works or how to use it to your advantage. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it's the reason people are going to find your blog when they search for a topic in a search engine. (You know, that thing called Google?)
Adapting your content to use keywords and increase its online visibility will mean more people will 'stumble' across your blog. Once they get there, what will keep them coming back? A whole other harsh truth of blogging: Eye-catching and interesting content is a must.
Why? Because getting other people to link to your content is an important part of SEO. The more people that link to your site, the more relevant your appear to search engines such as Google. The more relevant you are, the higher you will be on the search ranking.
Being aware of SEO when posting means being aware of the words that you use, the terms, the relevance and where you put the content on your blog.
It's all about the content. The quality of it, the amount, the relevance. Post one blog and you're going to get next to no traffic, post several and the traffic will slowly build.
Content is not just about making sure you post about the latest television show or political uproar, although that will help. Consistent and continuous content that is marketed in various forms will increase those clicks. Readers will see your links more often and varying your content will keep the interest alive.
There's just one problem. Keeping the ideas flowing is hard. Writer's Block (or procrastination) is the one flaw in the plan.
Finding ideas is one thing. Getting them into some sort of order is another. Currently, I have 32 ideas for blog posts in my drafts folder, all that are somewhat completed, whether it be just a title, or a post that's 98% complete. Sometimes the idea is not enough.
Finding the drive to keep going is a harsh truth you won't understand until it happens to you. And it will.
It's not for the faint of heart, and even if you think it's for you, that may change very quickly. Writing a blog post is one step of several hundred you will need to take.
The harsh truth? It takes time to find your blogging feet, and even longer to build a following.
So you better get started!