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Find the Right Blogging Answers By Asking the Right Questions

This guest post is by Nick Thacker of livehacked.com.

I first started blogging in 2009, and I had to learn the hard way.

I chased every shiny object there was—the informational products that were going to hand me the blueprint to strike it rich overnight, the newsletters promising me the “latest and greatest” in making money online and blog marketing tactics.

I am a lifetime (paid) member of the Warrior Forum, and still subscribe to the old-school “guru” blogs out there.

But only now, after three years, am I starting to build the platform I’d originally envisioned.

Don’t think I’m saying that I’ve “arrived,” or “I’ve made it”—on the contrary, I’m only just getting started. Instead, though, hear me when I say that as soon as I stopped focusing on myself, my blog, and my future, I started to really grow.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on a new book that helps bloggers get their dreams and aspirations on paper—and onto their blogs. I used this method to grow very quickly, and I haven’t slowed down since.

We bloggers love to see tangible, visible results, so here’s what I’m talking about:

Blog growth

That is my Google Analytics traffic growth over the period between March and April 2012. Obviously there’s a big spike right at the end, but you can see a steadily increasing amount of traffic in a little over two months.

Okay, one more:

Subscriber growth

This image is taken from my MailChimp dashboard, showing the 200% increase in my newsletter subscription rate for the past few months.

Now, I hate the “braggy” feeling of showing results (part of the reason I took off the numbers), but I want to stress one important point:

If I can get these results, so can you.

Seriously. I’m not an expert on any of this–in fact, I have a degree in music. However, I’ve realized the difference between the blogger I was three years ago, and the blogger I am now.

What is that difference, you ask?

I can tell you one thing for sure: it didn’t come from a “magic bullet” strategy, or even a “guru” answer. It didn’t just spring up overnight, either. It was a change in me that happened only after I put in the hundreds of posts, thousands of words, and countless hours of Twittering, Facebooking, and connecting.

The difference between my old blogging self and my new blogging self is deceptively simple.

Rather than focusing on finding the right answers, I started asking the right questions. I began to look for the right questions to ask myself, and then I asked them.

For example:

  • Instead of trying to find the answer to “how can I make money online,” I asked myself, “if I could make money online, how would do it?”
  • Instead of looking for the answer to “what is the best way to advertise on my site,” I asked myself, “do I want to advertise on my site? Do ever click on ads?”

The answers I gave to these questions, as far as many of you are concerned, are completely and utterly irrelevant.

They don’t matter.

The “answers” don’t matter because they’re mine—they’re the perfect answers for only my blog, my niche, and my products. They won’t work in the same way for your stuff.

I could easily have given you the “right answers” (according to me) to these and other questions, like “set up Google AdSense and start writing 60+ search-engine friendly posts a month!” or “focus on guest posting only and wait until you have 2,000 visits/day before setting up ads!”

But the problem with those answers, even if they seem to be well-intentioned and harmless, is that they’re not based on your particular site and demographic, they’re based on mine.

There are stereotypes for a reason, and there are generalities that make answers like these common at best and downright overused and over-promoted at worst. There are answers that are all-around “good,” but because they’re not laser-focused on your blog’s niche, they’re not as useful to you.

But if you ask the right questions…

If you ask the right questions, you’ll come up with some answers that fit your brand perfectly. You have already read up on the most popular blogging platforms, advertising systems, and income-generation methods.

It’s time to stop reading; to stop focusing on other peoples’ answers, and start asking yourself the right questions. Start with these:

  • Why do you want to blog?
  • Do you want to make money blogging? How much?
  • What is your passion, and how will it be incorporated?
  • How do your passion, your blog, and your marketplace relate and interact?
  • Why will someone buy your product from you?

These questions get progressively more difficult to answer on purpose—they’re meant to make you think; to make you really dig down into why you want to make it as a blogger. Sure, grandeur, fame, and fortune all are a part of it—but why?

You already know these answers, so I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can read every word on every blog, in every corner of the entire Internet, yet none of it can answer these questions for you.

It’s up to you—you decide the “why,” “what,” and “how” of your future with blogging—not us.

The blogging world can give you tools and ideas and products and methods and on and on, but we can’t answer these questions for you.

Unless you’re still a baby blogger, someone who’s brand new to all of this (and that’s perfectly fine! You’re in the right place!), you already have a large stock of these answers in your brain’s blogging storehouse.

You’ve got the tactics and strategies you need to make a killing online, and you already know the best plugins, resources, tools, and PDFs to help you with the details.

You have the right answers—you just need to ask the right questions.

Why I’m harping on this

Alright—you get it. You know you need to start asking the right questions, and more importantly, start answering them for yourself.

I’m a stickler about all of this for two reasons.

First, I talk with writers, artists, and creators every single day (through my fiction-writing course) who are all struggling with getting noticed, building a platform, and growing to a respectable size. They’re great at what they do—creating art—but are confused with all of the terminology, methods, and possible scams out there. It’s difficult for them to wade through the baloney and figure out what’s going to be helpful to them.

To these people, I offer the exact same advice every time: focus on the one or two areas where you can make an impact, and start connecting with people by adding value to their lives. Once you get this down pat, start adding channels and networks, and begin asking yourself the right questions.

Second, I really care about this concept of “asking the right questions” because I’ve been struggling for years to ask them myself.

I’ve suffered through eight or nine incarnations of my current blog, and many failed attempts at other blogs. I’ve sat by and watched as blogs I loved took off and started gaining massive attention in seemingly no time at all. The frustration and jealously I’ve felt was, though hard to admit, present.

Again, I’m nowhere near where I think I can be in one or two years’ time, but I’m doing much better than I’ve ever done before. It’s possible, it’s doable, and it’s not even hard if you ask yourself the right questions.

I’d love to hear your take on this—what are the right questions you’ve asked to achieve your blog’s growth? And what are the answers that you’d give to these questions?

Leave a comment below and let’s get this thing started!

Nick Thacker is a blogger, writer, and author of fiction thriller novels. He recently finished his book, Building A Blog for Readers, available through Amazon. You can check out his site at LiveHacked.com, or subscribe to the LiveHacked.com newsletter here.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the posts. It was well detailed and understandable, so I really appreciate you writing. Congratz on the growth that your blog has been experiencing, and I hope that growth can continue for you!

  2. 营销叛将 says:

    So great a post it is ! If you ask the wrong questions and you will never find the right answers you want! As the top 1 internet marketing blog on earth , I will study and watch your every post. Thank you!

  3. Top thoughts, Nick.

    I’m also big on the question rather than the answer. The answer is subjective. It’s unique to you as an individual, but the questions are usually the same. Finding them is another matter.

    Great to see your growth. Perseverance is big for all successful people. We must suffer through dark, cold mornings before the fragrance of spring :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

    • Nick Thacker says:

      What’s up, Matthew! Thanks for the comment–perseverance is definitely key; I can attest to that!

      Take it easy!
      Nick

  4. Graham Lutz says:

    I asked myself “what did I get wrong when I started trying to get healthy?”

  5. Nick,

    You’re completely right. Most people won’t ask those questions. I’ve found myself in the fortunate situation of just loving building my blog. If I had to work for the rest of my life and build my blog on the side I would. I think this means I will never tire of providing useful content.

    You’re blog looks nice. Definitely got a unique feel to it unlike others.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hey Jamie!

      I think that loving what you do can make it WAY easier to keep pushing forward, even when it seems impossible–I’ve launched (and abandoned) a number of blogs, but I’ve loved my topic as much as right now!

  6. J. Delancy says:

    Started my blog three months ago and still get thrilled when I see that I’ve gotten more than ten visits a day. This post is sure to help me focus my time and talents so that I can grow my blog successfully.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hi J!

      That doesn’t go away–I still freak out a little whenever I get a comment on a post, and I’m amazed at how my stats have grown. It’s a pleasure to be able to create something that people actually like!

      Good luck to you, and hopefully we’ll talk again soon!
      Nick

  7. Miranda says:

    I absolutely ‘get’ this! I have been blogging for 2 years and there are certain points in the life of my blog that had noticeable increase of traffic and reader engagement. Those were moments when my passion for what I was doing was the greatest.

    When I stop focusing on figuring out the magical equation to blogging success and bring my focus back to why I am blogging in the first place- that little ‘equation’ aligns itself.

  8. Dean says:

    Interesting post, just subscribed..

  9. Brock Taylor says:

    Hey Nick,

    Great post!

    I agree in full that when you stop thinking only about yourself and your blog, but when you begin to focus on others needs, and how you can make a difference, that’s when you start to see the results.

    P.S. I didn’t know you were a music major, what area did you focus on in music?

    -Brock

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hey Brock! Good to “see” you around here!

      I studied music composition and education, and my instrument was trombone, actually (that’s how you know I’m cool!).

      Talk to you soon, man!
      Nick

  10. This is my second go at blogging. I spent a year writing 140 posts to only get 800 visitors a month and I thought I didn’t need to blog anymore. Then my list stopped growing and my income went almost to 0.

    These questions are powerful and I spent a long time answering a couple of them, but reading this allows me to reconfirm what I have decided to do with my blog.

    Thanks a bunch!
    -Gabe

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hey Gabe–that’s tough. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.

      BUT once you ask yourself these questions you’ll be in much better shape for launching the dream blog you’ve always wanted!

      Hope you liked the post, and talk to you soon!
      Nick

  11. Asher says:

    I think the key problem I face in trying to drive traffic to my blog is I still want to write what I want to write instead of what the net wants to read. That makes my blog ‘unprofitable’ in that sense. But like you said, the question is what I want, not what others do. Thanks!

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hmm, that’s an interesting problem for sure! My first thought is that you should STILL write what you want to write on your blog, then guest post on other blogs writing in a style that suits the guest blog…

      That way you’ll benefit from the traffic gained from guest-blogging, and the people who “stick” on your blog will love the fresh style and subject matter of your writing.

      Don’t begin to think that there’s NO ONE out there who wants what you’re doing–it’s a big world!

      Nick

  12. Hi Nick,

    Gaining inner clarity is a great secret to online and offline success. You ask the right questions, receive the right answers and feel good about the direction you’re heading in. When you feel good, good things happen. Super simple strategy, and powerful. Great share here.

    Finding your Why reason makes you unstoppable. Check your venture. Why engage in this activity? Why blog? Once you find these reasons you are set, for your Why is the driving force of your life. You let no obstacle stop you and you tap into a continual flow of prospering, creative ideas which promote your success.

    Thanks Nick!

    Ryan

  13. Ayaz says:

    Hi Nick!

    Well Great post and for me asking the right question is an art and if you managed to ask the right question about your problem than there is more chance to get the right solution right away but most people failed to ask the right question for what they were looking for.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Hey Ayaz!

      That’s true–asking the right questions can be an art form, but there are the obvious ones (outlined in the post) that can be asked before we begin.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Nick

  14. Gary Darling says:

    Absolutely amazing post. It truly does make you think about why you are blogging in the first place. Sometimes those things are easy to forget. Thanks for bringing us all back down to earth. :]

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Thanks Gary! Glad you liked it!

      It can seem a little “out there” at times to just ask yourself questions, but it truly is key to developing a great platform!

  15. Ivy Jordan says:

    Some people blog to make money. Well, everyone learned the hard way. I certainly did for the past two years. Your article makes everything clear about doing the blogging business. Why it exists and Why it matters. Keep up your posts. I’ve been a Problogger reader for quite sometime now. These articles helped a lot.

    • Nick Thacker says:

      Awesome, Ivy–thanks for your insight, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      Problogger is an AMAZING resource–glad you found it!
      Nick