When I started blogging, way back in 2005, “blogging” was a newish word, and not so many people did it. A blog was a way of sharing your interests, usually painfully specific, with perhaps a few dozen readers who may have been mostly family members.
Blogging has changed. A lot.
1. A decade ago, “monetize” was a joke. Today, it’s the primary reason someone starts a blog. Many people start blogs just to drive traffic to another blog, which then, in turn, drives traffic to a main marketing site where the big sell takes place – an ebook, an online “course,” or some collection of substandard products. And sometimes, there isn’t even a “big sell,” the blogs generate money on their own, through ad revenue – it’s their sole raison d'être.
2. A decade ago, bloggers loved their blogs.They loved their topics, they felt passionate about what they shared with readers. The writing may have been so-so, but the sharing was genuine. There was a sense of community, of giving away information that couldn’t be had elsewhere. See above – today, most blogs exist solely to drive traffic and entice eyeballs into clicking on links.
3. A decade ago, the content was real. Heck, it wasn’t even called “content,” it was just called “writing.” Today, well, I don’t even want to think about what I’ve seen. There are automated programs that will generate blog posts on any topic you like, “spinning” content found on other sites so it can pop up fresh and new on yours. Think the comments, at least, are real??? Think again; lots of folks on fiverr or elance will do comments for you on the cheap as well.
4. A decade ago, there were no acronyms. Forget PLR (Private-Label Rights, cheap human-written posts bought for a dime a dozen), SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMM (social media marketing) and CTR (click-through rates). We bloggies were naive types who posted when we could, loved reading through comments, and thrilled at the idea that somebody out there – maybe even someone who wasn’t an immediate family member – was enjoying what we’d written.
5. A decade ago, Google was a mystery. Actually, this is still true. Despite many marketers’ confident claims that they’ll get you to the top of the Google rankings, nobody knows exactly how Google’s algorithms work. Some argue that unique content helps bump you up, others say Google doesn’t care as much about uniqueness. Nobody really knows.
6. A decade ago, us “little guys” could hope to be important. If our blogs fell within a nichey-enough niche, we could even find ourselves linked from other sources as “valuable resources” in whatever that niche happened to be: sewing, crocheting, homeschooling, family organization, digital photography… or even writing kids’ books.
Things are very different today and although it’s scary, I still think blogging can be great. Not too often, I plunge into the world of “professional” blogging, if only to find out what factors I’m up against. Factors like…
The Nightmare that is Content
- “Our main concern is having fresh content on a daily basis”
- “___ is the very FIRST utility I open when I sit down to create content.”
- “I can tell you from my own personal experience that using such content works and works great.”
- “The articles _(software)__ produces are often much more readable & serviceable than old PLR articles fed through [a spinner]
The word content, frankly, makes me (as a writer) feel kind of sick. “Content” is not so much about writing as it is about producing words that flow, in some kind of order, that are readable by Google and damn the human readers.
Content is to a real blog post as the “contents” of my composter are to a delicious meal.
The Gibberish that is Spinning
Here’s an example of a free online spinner whipping up some content based on a previous blog post here, Five Facts about Copyright that Won’t Bore You to Tears. Here’s a sample paragraph:
Once you've written something, you own it. Nobody else can use it or take it away. This copyright protection is almost universal. Trouble is, if there's ever a problem, you've got to prove that you're the person who originated the content. There are various ways of doing this.
And here’s how it got spun:
When you've composed something, you claim it. No one else can utilize it or take it away. This copyright assurance is practically widespread. Trouble is, if there's ever an issue, you've got to demonstrate that you're the individual who started the substance. There are different methods for doing this.
Not bad, right? Here’s another spun version that’s a little worse:
Once you have prepared anything, you keep that. No person else can use that or get it away. This specific copyright laws safeguard is nearly wide-spread. Issues can be, in the event that there's at any time a challenge, you have got to prove you're the one who came from the content. Types of options for achieving this.
Both of these fall on the wrong side of human-readable, but Google isn’t human; Google doesn’t care. And therein lies the nightmare for old-fashioned bloggers like me who aren’t willing to invest hundreds in software and generate content just for content’s sake.
Why I keep blogging anyway!
Actually, I keep blogging for the same reasons I started blogging. Nothing’s changed. I have knowledge and experience that I love to share. It’s great hearing from readers and connecting with other bloggers and sites around the world. I write well and clearly and hopefully can help others, a little, within my little nichey niche.
And remember I said that Google is a mystery? The truth is that on every “how to trick Google” page listing secrets to help make sure your site ranks as well as possible on Google’s SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), there’s a little coda tacked on that reads something like this: “On top of all these sneaky tricks, you must generate as much high-quality, original content as possible on a topic of interest to your readers.”
At some point, “content” comes down to “writing,” and writing is what I do best.
This imperative, treated as a “secret weapon” in the jam-packed arsenal of today’s blogging universe, is basically my mission statement: what I set out to do, and what I still try to do, with every single blog post. High-quality, original WRITING that is relevant to readers’ lives.
I may never rank in the top-whatever on Google, and my blogs will probably never show any kind of profit. But people are smarter than Google and I hope to keep on sharing real writing with real people long after the spammers and scammers and black-hat SEO guys have dropped out of the race in despair.
I hope you’ll keep on reading and writing right along with me!!!