My Blogging Experiment: Why it Failed and The Lessons to Learn

My Blogging Experiment: Why it Failed and The Lessons to Learn

In my March update for "Journey to 100k, without a Job" I announced I was changing things here on Betterbythought. I was going to opt for more short update posts rather than longer, more detailed pieces.

At the time I made this move I  was frustrated. I had just decided to step away from Kindle Publishing, I was building my Fiverr account, in the early stages of researching and planning a niche site, and driving Uber for 40-50 hours a week. Not to mention trying to publish great content here and promote that content to grow the blog. 

I was running out of steam. I needed to make a change that would not only allow me to save time but more importantly, continue to grow my audience and provide quality content that would help anyone reading. 

When I brought these concerns and frustrations to my Mastermind group a blogger in the IT space suggested lots of short-form content rather than long, detailed posts. He had just started a new blog and was finding success with daily update videos. Each video was only a few minutes long but covered a specific topic and was actionable. 

I thought this was a very good, very interesting idea. An idea that had tons of promise. ​

To judge the success of this experiment I had to set some goals to judge it's effectiveness. The goals I decided to set were:

  • Write More, Promote Less
  • Truly give my audience a 'day to day' account of how I was building businesses and making money outside the 9-5, while still paying the bills. 
  • Organically grow my audience. 
1. Write more, promote less.

Success! Especially during the first month of this experiment, I was writing 2-4 articles a week on rideshare, freelancing, e-publishing and authority sites.

Not everything was peaches and cream, though, A lot of my content wasn't actionable, and it seemed like only a very small segment of my already modest following was interested in each post. Thus, I got very few shares, comments or backlinks to these posts. 

Many of the most successful and fastest growing blogs use long-form, detailed, actionable content. Unsettle is a great example. When I first stumbled upon Sarah Peterson, the author Unsettle, it was actually in an article for Entreprenuer. Then I saw a piece she wrote for the SumoMe blog.  After those two articles, I couldn't help myself, I had to check out her blog. 

Once at her blog I spent over an hour reading through her content. It was AWESOME. 

When I first went to Unsettle it didn't have that much content relative to many blogs in the niche, but everything that was there was great. 

Promotion example

Just a small sample of the places you can find Sarah's work

The other thing that was apparent quickly was Sarah promoted the heck out of herself. For a few months, it seemed like I was seeing her guest post on every major blog that I follow! 

So, while my first goal was technically a success, I think that it didn't do much to help the long-term quality of my blog. This might have been different if I already had a large audience that would help with much of the promotion. The battle for a small blog is 50% great content and 50% promoting the heck of out that content and in that regard, this goal had lost before it started. 

2. Truly give my readers a "day to day" account of how I was building passive income and making money outside the 9-5.

This was working well too, at least for the first month or so. The last few weeks of this experiment I only wrote 2-3 articles. As time when along I felt like I was running out of the quick, "easy" topics that I could cover without dipping into the mundane, boring details of the daily grind. 

I was left with a lot of topics that I wanted to dedicate more time and effort too. You simply can't cover many topics is great detail in 500 - 800 words. I have posts on some of the tools I used on a daily basis that will be several thousand words in length, which simply doesn't fit the "quick, daily posts" mold. 

Robbie Richards does an outstanding job with these detailed posts. He rarely posts more than twice a month but each one is an effective lesson on how to accomplish something. Using a video of his I was able to grow my twitter following by almost 1500 people in less than a month

A Great Example of the type of content Robbie Richards Produces

A Great Example of the type of content Robbie Richards Produces

I still really like the idea of a daily posted blog or vlog. I think under the right circumstances you could really use this to grow your site quickly. The sheer amount of content you could produce is staggering. Just don't sacrifice quality for quantity. You will have much better luck growing your blog by producing one or two amazing pieces of content a month (and effectively promoting them) than 20 pieces of good content. 

3. Organically grow my audience.

Although we don't know exactly how Google ranks websites and pages we do have a lot of good ideas. SearchEngineLand has a great table detailing the things most experts believe affect your SEO. As we look down the list things like Quality, Length, and Answers make appearances, Social signals like shares are also there. Google factors in details about your blog like History and Authority in their rankings. 

Knowing this information it's easy to see why none of the posts I wrote and published during this time have drawn any organic traffic. ​

All of these posts were relatively short (under 1000 words), therefore Google automatically dings them for quality. If my writing was effective then they do answer a question, but how many people are searching that question? 

Due to the fact I wasn't promoting these post, many of them have few if any social shares or comments on them, leaving Google to once again believe they aren't very high quality. 

Lastly, because this blog is still less than a year old I don't have a long history or much authority built up, so Google is going to automatically rank sites with higher domain authority and longer histories ahead of me.

Side Hustles

Compare these posts to my article on the 89 Best Side Hustles, which consistently does very well in bringing in organic traffic, and it's easy to see the differences. First, I should state the Side Hustle post is about 2 months older than anything done in this experiment which definitely will help its SEO ranking. It is also over 6000 words, with thousands of social shares, 17 comments, and 7 backlinks that I know of. 

Some of the content I produced during this experiment was high quality, and I do think that after I go back and spend the time I should have originally (violating my first goal) there is a good chance it will rank in Google. I don't' think it will reach the traffic that the 89 Side Hustles generates, though, it won't ever score as high with Google. 

Wrap Up

Failed might be too strong of a word for my results. I did learn a lot and I produced a lot of content that hopefully will help my audience for years down the road. I've got plans to expand some of that content which should further help the growth of the blog. 

My biggest takeaway, and the one I hope my fellow bloggers take away is this:

I'm Still Here. ​

Your blog will survive experiments. You will grow and learn each time you try something new. Chances are most of your experiments won't turn out like you hope, but the ones that do may just lead to huge growth. Don't be afraid to try things! 

5 thoughts on “My Blogging Experiment: Why it Failed and The Lessons to Learn

  1. Hi Tyler!

    Great piece. I just started blogging after contributing to various online publications. You are absolutely correct when stating that self promotion is important to the success of your blog. I am currently trying to work all those details out while producing content for my site and for other publications.

    Thank you for the insights. You have helped me tremendously!

    Kind Regards,
    Susan Leighton

    • Thanks Susan! Glad I could help!

      Good luck with your blog and feel free to shoot me a message with any questions!

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  2. A really nice piece. I wish promotion was not as crucial, as it’s easily the least enjoyable part of all of this. I did not know that the length of your blog’s existence affect Google search ranks, so this was a useful fact and also made me feel a bit better, as in maybe once I had this for longer it will pick up more. Whatever I like to say to myself, right? Haha

    • Thanks, Saturday on Wednesday!

      I’ve learned to outsource some of the stuff, or automate it. I will say I like the blogger outreach and some of that promotion, it seems most bloggers really appreciate you linking/mentioning them and I’ve got a few people I’ve gotten to know a little bit and have helped me out with different things!

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