Blogging and accessible blogging tools have given birth to all types of bloggers. Anyone with a computer and access to the internet can start a blog.
And they do. An estimated 1,000 users start a new WordPress blog every day. (And that doesn’t factor in the other available hosting services.)
Yet starting a blog is one thing. Persisting and building a blog is a challenge all types of bloggers face. Only 10 percent of online users – or fewer – actively create new content, a principle that’s dubbed “The 1% Rule.”
Over the decades, trends have emerged that reveal the types of bloggers that can be successful over the long haul. Those success stories fall into four buckets. You can be one of them. Here’s what sets apart these four types of bloggers.
Blogging was born when writers in the early 1990s began using online journals to share a public record of their activities, thoughts, or beliefs, or experiences. Their sites were sometimes called “Online Diaries” or even “Personal Pages.” In 1997, early user Jorn Barger was the first to refer to these online journals as “blogs” – a term that merged “web” and “logs.”
A year after that, computer programmer and web developer Bruce Ableson created Open Diary, a platform that allowed members of the community to comment on each other’s writing. Now bloggers could interact with readers across the globe about their experiences. Blogging took off quickly, leading the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to name “blog” was its Word of the Year in 2004.
Many of the early bloggers were programmers or academics, whose posts focused on what interested them: technical or intellectual subjects. And such remains the case for personal blogs today. The goal is self-expression.
A personal blog is different from a business blog or a niche blog or an affiliate blog in that the content is about you – your personal interests or struggles or experiences – rather than about your industry or a specific topic. You can blog about John Keats’ poetry … timing rocks for the sport of curling … your journey through skin cancer … parenting autistic boys. Anything goes. Personal bloggers build readership with others who have a shared interest.
It wasn’t long before businesses boarded the blogging train. As early as 1995, toy manufacturer Ty, Inc. operated a blog on its website that featured individual Beanie Babies. Visitors could vote for their favorites. The collectible stuffed toys became known as the first “internet sensation,” earning Ty, Inc. over $700 million a year at the height of their popularity.
Businesses embraced that model of marketing. A business blogger creates online buzz by introducing a new product or service … publishing tutorials about why a product or service is needed … offering how to’s for using a product or service … initiating discussion about a product and its benefits …
Businesses refer to this strategy as “information marketing” or “content marketing.” You provide information that resonates with readers – information that is related to your product or service. That information makes users receptive to buying products and services. 85% of B2C companies and 91% of B2B companies use blogs or other forms of content marketing.
But the business blogger understands that providing information from their hub is just one step in successful blogging. The key is to convert casual readers to leads.
That’s why business blogs include an opt-in or lead magnet. By capturing the contact information of those who read their content, businesses can continue to send them information and updates. Those leads now receive regular information and resources via email. Your business blog becomes a “lead generator.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re offering financial planning services to multi-millionaires or nutrition products to Angora cat owners. Your subscriber looks forward to your posts because she knows you’ll answer her questions. When she gets to the place when she is ready to buy a product or service in your industry, you become the natural provider because she trusts you.
An affiliate blogger partners with vendors to promote their products or services. When a reader clicks through from a link on your affiliate blog to the vendor’s and makes a purchase, you – the affiliate blogger – receive a commission. The vendor makes a sale. And the reader gets a product or service that she needs, one that is endorsed by a blogger she trusts.
Affiliate programs have been around longer than blogs. Among the first was PC Flowers, founded by William Tobin in 1989.
But the affiliate sales model truly took off when Amazon Associates got on board with internet affiliate sales in 1996 and accelerated further when Google introduced AdSense in 2003. At that point, it became possible for anyone to make money as an affiliate blogger – and for any vendor to increase sales by using affiliates.
And both have done so. A study commissioned by affiliate giant Rakuten reports that 81% advertisers improve their marketing through affiliate programs … and 84% of bloggers use affiliate marketing to grow their reach.
You can, too. The key to successful affiliate blogging is to produce quality information that readers trust. You don’t need to be an expert in your field (although it helps), but you need to be well-informed. When readers see your posts as credible, they will click through and buy.
As blogging gained traction in the 1990s, Stanford University Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to understand how readers could find all that luscious content online. Their doctoral dissertations introduced an internet search algorithm – the first iteration of Google – which allows users to search the internet for information and receive an index of results.
Subsequently, bloggers studied the way users searched for information. Turns out that choosing keywords and placing them strategically led to higher rankings. Today, we call that process search engine optimization.
The internet grew and keyword searches became more specific and focused, giving rise to hobby sites and special interest sites – now called niche blogs. The niche blogger shares quality information about a highly-specialized topic and gets something back in return: satisfaction in sharing about his interest, a new community interested in a common topic, and even revenue from affiliate or product sales.
Popular niche blog topics include lifestyle, health, parenting, faith, food, pets, personal finance, technology, DIY, fashion, and personal development blogs. Niche bloggers narrow their focus from one of those broader subjects to a more specific one.
For instance, gardening is a large lifestyle topic. Vegetable gardening slants the subject matter further. But my niche blog, Tomato Dirt (www.tomatodirt.com), drills down the topic further. It provides tips about growing tomatoes for home gardeners. I started it as a way to write about gardening and to make a bit of extra affiliate income.
For some, niche blogging is a full-time gig. Jon Dykstra at Fat Stacks Blog creates niche sites and sells them. In fact, he’s been in the niche site business full-time, earning a 6-figure salary, since 2012.
“But I don’t fit into one of the descriptions of the four types of bloggers!” I don’t either. The lines of blogging blur. You may blog in a niche but do so for business. Or maybe your personal blog has gained traction and you’ve been able to monetize it to earn affiliate income.
The key to a successful blog is starting one purposefully.
Begin with a primary purpose. Then build your blog. With a purpose in mind, you can stay focused. Your site will likely grow to be a hybrid of two or more types of blogs. And you’ll find you become one of another, different types of bloggers: a successful one.
More Blogging Tips
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Named to 2022 Writer's Digest list
BEST GENRE/NICHE WRITING WEBSITE
Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"