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10 Tips to Help You Fail at Monetizing Your Blog
[Abstract: This post provides tips to help you fail at monetizing your blog. It could also be seen as a list of things for you not to do if you want to succeed at blogging, but I have very little experience with that, so I'm sticking to what I know.)
I really wish I had the experience to tell you how to succeed at monetizing your blog. There are many different approaches to succeeding, all well documented and explained by Steve Pavlina and Darren Rowse, to name a few bloggers. However, I can give you tips on how to fail at monetizing your blog, seeing as I've done a pretty decent job on that front. What follows, in no particular order, is my Top Ten Tips to Help You Fail at Monetizing Your blog.
Pick a crappy domain name
Maybe not the best tip, but a pretty good one, is to pick a crappy domain name and theme. Yes, domain names and themes can be easily separated, but generally non-eponymous domain names are chosen due to their themes. For a good example of a bad domain name, consider this blog's name: www.productiveflourishing.com. It tells the reader almost no information about what it's about, unless the reader knows that PPD stands for "Personal Productivity and Development." For a reader to find and remember this site, they'd have to already be looking for it or already know what PPD stands for--given that I've got three readers, with two of them being my wife and my mom, it's not likely that they'll be looking for me. (Sadly, this domain name is the second that I've chosen, with the first being www.lifemanagementforacademics.com--perhaps I didn't do such a great job at failing on the first go-round so I needed to do it again.)
Picking a crappy domain name is a good way to set yourself up for failure, so if that's your goal, put that on the ToDo List.
Write posts no one cares about
I knew off the bat that writing about philosophy would not be the thing to do if I wanted to monetize this blog. After all, no one cares, and hence no reads, about philosophy. But, I thought, people care about time management and productivity! And, what's more, academics should care about time management, given how pressed for time we are.
It took a while to dawn on me that academics generally don't care about time management, and those few that do already read other sites that are better established than this one. Given that the site is pitched to academics, everyone else has a tendency to run off, assuming that the content doesn't apply to them. Those brave few that do stay are then subjected to many forms of textual torture (see the next Tips #4 and #6), so that if they were inclined to stay in read, they quickly meet their threshold of pain and move on.
So, while some of my content can be pretty good, it turns out that no one cares to read it (due to my excellent domain name picking ability). To make matters worse, I often write posts such as The Three DIfferent Types of Digital Residents and On the Uncertainty of Life, which almost no one cares about.
Continually writing about stuff that no one cares about is an excellent opportunity to waste your time at monetizing your blog. So, next time your gut tells you that you're writing about something that no one cares about it, and if you instead regard your blog as intellectual masturbation and you're not afraid of masturbating too much, then, by all means, pay no heed to it and keep right on a-writing.
Write about many different topics without a good reason for doing it
The best blogs spend time developing a certain niche of topics and then continue to post content related to that niche. Their readers know what to expect when reading a new post, and often find their blogs by wanting to know more about something related to that niche.
To ensure that you fail, buck that mold and write about all sorts of topics. If something comes to you, write and post it! Be damned before you think about whether the particular post fits in with your theme or whether it's something your readers would find the content valuable.
As you've probably guessed, I can point you to excellent examples of this without you ever having to leave this blog. I've written about music, personal finance, time management, philosophy (see Tip #2), rest, writing, blogging, and whatever else came to me. I figure it's like a box of Crackerjacks, and the anticipation is figuring out what random prize you'll get. Everyone loves surprises, but follow this tip and there'll be no surprise when your attempt to monetize your blog fails.
Write long posts rather than splitting them up
Time is short, and people who spend time surfing the web are especially stingy with their time. Sure, you may think that getting out your entire idea in one posts makes the most logical sense--but your readers have to wade through a lot of words to figure that out. While no one likes to read a paragraph post and have to wait the next day to read the next paragraph, just a few more like to read long posts when those posts can be byte-sized and swallowed in multiple sittings.
For excellent examples on how to write really long posts, consider reading these two gems:Buying And Choosing an Instrument and The Three DIfferent Types of Digital Residents. Note that the second post violates this tip, Tip #2, and Tip #6; triple failure points! Granted, I don't think it could have been split up easily, but it still probably never should have been written if I were looking to monetize this blog.
Splitting up long posts not only makes your posts more surfer-friendly, but also increases your post frequency, both of which tend to make more successful blogs. But that's not your goal, so write away, my failure bound friend!
Fill your writing with bad grammar and typos
Sure, writing on the internet is different than submitting academic papers (as I've quite often failed to remember). There is, however, a general agreement that internet content still has to have acceptably well-structured sentences and contain relatively few typos and misspelled words. While there are very few people that are going to get picky about the rules of English writing, horribly bad writing is enough to irritate and frustrate the most charitable of readers.
(Sidebar: Leetspeak is becoming more and more accepted on the internet as an acceptable mode of writing. Generally, dropping in a few words from leetspeak does not annoy most readers. However, reading a post that looks as if it was written through text messages or video games can be very frustrating for a reader that came to your site looking for information.)
Your writing abilities are wicked, however, as your many B-'s from your 10th grade composition teacher demonstrates. You don't need a spell checker, and subject-verb agreement is one of those hokey problems of the past. Taking the time to reread your writing is just too much to demand, and you know that what comes out the first time is write, because, well, you pwn and those that think otherwise are just snooty.
Go ahead, disregard the accepted rules of Internet writing and do your own thing. The reader will eventually figure out what you're saying, and they'll be all too happy with you and will reward you with many clicks on your ads. You're not trying to make money off of your blog anyways, so who cares if people can't figure out what you're trying to say?
Write in a way that isn't web friendly
Websurfers and bloggers, as I've already alluded to, are stingy with their time. In general, they want to get as much content from you in as little time as possible. They have become used to people helping them read their content by making the content scannable.
Most blogs and web content in general is full of bullets, emphasized words, and bolded words to point the reader to important points and to keep them moving along. But, remember, you're not wanting to follow this successful trend--you're wanting to go your own way and do your own thing. Go ahead, omit the bullets and other techniques, and confound your readers in massive mire of words. They're sure to stick around and return to visit, because, after all, everyone likes a challenge, right?
I've already referred you to some other examples of posts written in a web-unfriendly manner, but look to the previous posts in case you need a deeper case study.
Should you gain readers who aren't legally and financially related to you, you'll want to defy the common trends about writing somewhat frequently and on a somewhat regular schedule. I mean, if they've already taken the time to read some of your stuff, they'll wait until you decide to write something else and come back and read it, right?
You'll get bonus points if you spread your posts out between a few months and then write a post everyday, only to take a few more months off. For a great example of this, I'll point you to none other than this very blog (surprise!). Notice the lack of posting for about six months and then the relatively high frequency as of late.
Spend a lot of time fidgeting with the site layout and features rather than making good content
It has been proven over and over again that, on the web, Content is King. The best bloggers focus on content and allow their content to do the work for them. Their readers return, day in and day out, because they know that they'll be reading good content along the lines of something their interested in (see the tip above.)
You're not going to go this route though, because you want your site to bling, baby. It just has to be this particular color...and what does that plug-in do...and, ooh, this new blogging software just came out...and maybe you need a forum...and, gee, what song do you need to be played in the background...and what does your logo need to look like? Nevermind that you only have two posts, with one of them being your Hey World! post. Posts can come later, but style...now's the only time to work on that.
Whereas most successful bloggers endeavor provide the cake (content) for their readers, you don't want to be successful, so just keep on working on that icing.
Don't take yourself and your content seriously
People who are successful at monetizing their blogs have a business-minded perspective. They approach their content, their layout, their themes, and their whole blogging effort as a serious way to bring in revenue. For them, blogging is not an idle past-time--it is a day-to-day endeavor that requires scheduling, planning, and execution.
Not only do they take their blogs seriously, they take themselves seriously. They are writing to provide informative, quality content to their readers from the voice of a serious, experienced, and credible writer. This translates through to their writing and content, and readers continue to return to their site, and continue to develop trust, because they believe the writer is a serious, experienced person on the topic they are interested in.
You, on the other hand, don't want to succeed at blogging, so you write with a half-ass approached and disregard the persona you are projecting. Whereas they're branding themselves as a source of information, you will be brand yourself as someone who is flippantly creating content for purposes unknown to anyone including yourself. Your approach to blogging needs to be quite casual--write when something hits you when you have free time.
In short, leave it to your readers to figure out why they should take you and your blog seriously and you're well along on the road to failure.
Make your readers fight around your ads or monetization schemes
Most readers get frustrated quickly when they hit a blog and have to jump through the hurdles of ads to read the content on the site. Bouncing ads, ads that flicker, make noise, cause pop-ups, and all the other things that they do do those things for the purpose of distracting the readers' attention. What they're distracting the attention from is the content of the site, which is why the reader showed up at the site in the first place.
You, however, have the reader figured out. Rather than coming to your site for quality content, you know that they really came to your website to click on ads. Surely they're tired of reading posts that require little effort and instead need to do some visual gymnastics--their eyes need to jump here, zig-zag there, avoid this spot--like you've set up a visual obstacle course with the goal being to make it to the end of the post and remember anything you've read.
The single best way to do this is make ads stick to the center of your content so that the reader has to read around the ads. Remember, what you want them to remember about your blog is having to fight around your ads, so next time their eyes need a work-out, they'll come by and visit you.
I could go back and fix some of the bad posts that I referenced, but my goal throughout this post is to give you excellent examples to copy in your own endeavor to fail at monetizing your blog. Please, if you view this post and want to help your friends succeed at failing to monetize their blogs, shoot them the link to this post. Conversely, if your friends need a checkup to see how their blog stacks up, let them know that I've got a checklist for them to go down.