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The Future of Pro Blogging: Will You Make the Cut?

This guest post is by Sunil of the Extra Money Blog.

Saturation, Panda, Penguin, Zebra and Donkey have changed the blogosphere completely from what it was. With a new blog going up every 90 seconds, what will it take to succeed as a blogger in the future?

Blogs started as personal web logs or diaries, and readers flocked to specific blogs to follow their favorite writers and topics. But with the increasing number of blogs on the same subject matter, what will differentiate your blog from another?

A blog is now very seldom used as a personal web log. Facebook and other social hubs provide an outlet for people interested in personal raving and ranting. Blogs, at least the more popular ones with mass followership, are now platforms where readers go to obtain thought leadership on a specific subject matter expertise. At least that’s how I see it from my perspective influenced by my observations online.

With all of us lacking the common element of time, readers need a compelling reason to follow you as a blogger. You need to carefully think about your value proposition if you want to grow in this space beyond just having a few hundred friends and family riding on your bandwagon.

Ask any successful blogger today whether they can succeed the same amount in the same time frame as they did earlier. In most cases the answer will be no. There is no doubt a blog like Problogger.net can be successful if started today, but it will certainly take a lot more work and a lot more time to reach the same level of success. With more saturation comes an exponentially more difficult success curve. I am sure Darren will tell you the same.

The pretenders

The pretenders are people I classify as those who are not necessarily subject matter experts in the topics they blog about, but are at least somewhat interested in those topics, either because of potential profits involved or as hobbyists or aspiring students of the subject.

And while many pretenders can be dedicated students of the topics they blog about, often they lack personal, practical, first-hand experience.

Until recently, many pretenders did just fine, leveraging search engine optimization and other internet marketing strategies like aggressive link building and social media initiatives. However, recent changes in search engine algorithms such as the Google Panda and Penguin (see below) updates have changed the game significantly to favor true subject matter experts.

With the recent changes taking place, several non-SEO attributes, such as the time spent by a reader on a website, carry a lot more weight than before. Your content cohesiveness and relevancy matters more than ever before. Google has also gotten much better at identifying unnatural link building initiatives, which are more often engaged in by the pretenders (experts automatically attract links).

Several pretenders have been hurt as a result of this evolution. For example, Shamelle from Better Blogging Ways had her site completely wiped out due to “over optimization”, which is a key component of the Google Penguin update. In a much broader study of over 1,000 respondents to a poll, 65% of SEOs where hurt by the Google Penguin update.

Where in the past, internet marketers were able to manage a portfolio of niche web properties that were “thin” in nature with “quality” and useful—but not expert—content, we’ve seen a big shift in the direction in which search engines are headed, whether deliberately or not. Search engines favor the true experts.

The experts

True expertise stands out loud and clear, because not only does it carry with it deep, engaging, and high-quality content, but also volume, value, and real social proof. Blog readers are a lot more sophisticated today, and are easily able to sift through the minutiae and find the blogs authored by true experts. Your readers can definitely see through the tone and voice of your writing.

It is no surprise that search engines are favoring bigger sites with thicker content when they display a search engine results page (SERP). These sites are often ones that are authored by people that have first-hand, expert experience in the subject matter; for example, the author’s profession, skill, expertise, often accompanied by factual data, numbers, graphs, and charts of sorts. Now that is sexy—it’s exactly what readers want.

Take it from someone who both has a portfolio of several thin niche sites, and more recently a handful of expert authority sites: I have seen online ranking and revenues decrease for some of my thinner niche sites, while I have seen revenues from my bigger, deeper, expert-authority niche sites climb. Not long ago, I wrote about my biggest Google Adsense earnings check, worth $5,963.41. These earnings were generated by significantly larger, authority niche sites.

In another case study, I have seen my expert authority site on requirements to become a CPA pick up organic traffic a lot faster and more naturally than any other site I have established in the past.

Why? Because I am a CPA (Certified Public Accountant. I know the accounting industry inside-out, and can write straight from my knowledge base, first-hand experience, and years of expertise. The content is genuine, solid and I know that I can produce the best content on this particular topic.

Having said that, establishing such web properties takes exponentially more time and effort relative to, say, a niche site that was built and let alone for the sole purpose of generating ad revenue from Adsense.

But this is exactly what Google seems to want. It is well apparent that Google is pushing authors in the direction of establishing expert authority websites, and naturally—because of what it takes to do so—one can now effectively only manage a smaller number of web properties (as opposed to a large portfolio of thinner sites they could run in the past).

The future of professional blogging

There are still thin, niche websites that do well, but that will last only while there is little to no competition. It is my contention that a new site with even the most mediocre content on the same subject can likely knock a thin site out of the ranks if it carries more content or has a slightly better command over the subject matter.

So while there are those remote possibilities, the message is loud and clear.

If you want to be a successful blogger going forward, read the writing on the wall and focus on topics that you are a true expert in. This is clearly the direction Google is trying to push us into, and it’s obviously what today’s sophisticated readers want.

With each search engine update comes an additional push in a forced direction, compelling internet marketers to adapt, which in the grand scheme of things enhances the web with bigger and better sites of higher quality, truly expert content.

And with that comes a very interesting question: can one website, blog or online business actually become the most comprehensive resource of its kind on its subject? If another player was to challenge Google with a different approach that also supported quality, but in a different way, what could that mean for the web?

Are we going to experience free market capitalism on the democratic web space soon? Let freedom ring—and let the white dove sing. Share your thoughts and opinions with me in the comments.

Sunil is the author of the Extra Money Blog, a platform that discusses expedited wealth building through multiple streams of active and passive income where you can download his free report on How to Establish a $1,000 a Month Passive Income Stream in Your Spare Time in Less Than 180 Days. He was a CPA in his previous life and has also authored the CPA Requirements portal which guides CPA candidates in passing the CPA exam and expediting their career success.

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Comments

  1. Spoken like a true expert Sunil

    I would like to echo the sentiment that bloggers who take the time to pay attention to their readers. I have found that the more effort is put into a blog post the better response it receives. Like you say the experts always turn heads. Why? because is they are a subject matter expert, but also because they answer the burning questions readers are actually looking for.

    Blog Posts that seems to get a lot of traffic even for old posts and are still getting new comments and likes are pillar or resource posts and tutorials. This seems obvious but if time is taken to create a really good resource or a easy to follow tutorial it will always get traction.

    So yeah… this does mean that you might have to actually put more effort into blogging, by listening, researching and becoming more knowledgeable if your’e not on the subject matter.

    Great Post… Kudo’s

    • Original content is no. 1. Original content with deep understanding of the matter will work better. Natural backlinks will happen if you know what you are talking about.

    • Agreed Geoffrey, and that is where we are evolving in what I am observing.

      I think you are missing the most important aspect of it all Trent – which would be the sheer quantity of content. there is plenty “original” content online.

  2. Well I believe in working as co-worker for an established blog. No matter how much you work on your blog it will give you just a week or so fame which is not so long lasting but if you work with an establish blog you will not only make some good money but also the fame you will get is long lasting.

    People started recognizing you as you are giving something good to a blog which is being read by thousands or millions of people. So I think being a good popular person is good instead being a problogger.

    Let me know what you think? :)

    • I think both routes are viable Irfan, one just needs to determine what their goal is. you can certainly blog as part of a network that you don’t have stake in and benefit from it, but I feel you are making the overall entity “richer”, which may not be your own. there are many successful bloggers who have gone at it and done it alone, but it does take longer.

  3. What an awesome post! I recently started a blog based around helping people with their problems by helping them see them in a different light. This is seriously making me think differently about the way I produce my content. Thanks for the help!

    Jack

  4. Fakhrul Alam says:

    Blogging world can never die as long as Google loves new content, when this search engine dies than probably the blogging world will die.

    Sure there are some thin website and nice website in the market but if that thin website have good quality content than Google is bound to show in the first page and if they have some good quality backlink as well than Google is forced to show their content on the first page.

  5. Saad says:

    I Agree with irfan i also want to work with an established blog to further brand my name :)

  6. Ehsan Ullah says:

    I must be agree with you on that all the animal updates from Google which were panda and penguin and upcoming lion and zebra to make us focus on those topics in which we are passionate about and interested in. If it is the direction Google is trying to us with their updates than I want Google to release more updates like this because this is the key to success in blogging.

    If you aren’t passionate about the topic you’re blogging about and you aren’t enjoying it than you aren’t going to stick with it for long time.

    Thanks for making it clear Sunil.

  7. For a long time it is annoying that those bloggers with non-original content, mostly photos from elsewhere, are drawing too much traffic. Those with original and personal content deserve to be rewarded more for that. Let’s hope that the future of professional blogging will be more fair.
    You can get to my blog from my links page… (last one).
    Mariette’s Back to Basics

  8. Lisa says:

    This one comment from your post gives me hope that even a new site can flourish if they produce great content and bring added value to the blogosphere:

    “It is my contention that a new site with even the most mediocre content on the same subject can likely knock a thin site out of the ranks if it carries more content or has a slightly better command over the subject matter.”

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a little harder each time Google changes the rules, but even established sites get hit hard by Google changes. So I would encourage, not discourage, newbies from starting a blog – again with the biggest differentiator being the quality of the content.

    Does anyone out there agree with me?

    • this is the only way to go today Lisa in my opinion. I am all ears/eyes for examples proving otherwise. I think it’s just a matter of time before a “new” level ground is set for existing websites and blogs

  9. I agree that it’s more important than ever to write blog content that shows a deep knowledge of the subject and is informative for readers. It’s hard work to write a thoughtful blog post with facts and and graphics to support your points of view. My blogs have gotten much longer than when I first started blogging. I decided not too long ago to cut back to once a week from twice a week. While my Google traffic has fallen off slightly it’s not nearly as much as I thought and — this is interesting — I’m getting more subscribers. I think that’s because I’m providing value added which is what people, and Google, are looking for.

  10. Lovely post Sunil.

    I guess the challenge is always the transition from “pretender” to “expert”. I strongly believe that most people start their blogs with the intention of creating a passive income.

    Whilst you may be a subject matter expert, I truly believe you start out as ‘pretender’/ rookie in terms of professional blogging and building a thriving audience.

    But, I agree 100%, the value of good quality content over SEO ‘skill’ should be a great advantage for authentic bloggers in future.

    Lovely post once again!

    • you might be a pretender at blogging, but the point here is what you blog on. you can blog on a topic you know inside out from day one. I believe your comment is focused more on those who blog about blogging and making money online, correct?

  11. Very thoughtful read. I always enjoy bloggers who know what they are talking about, and have something to offer.

  12. Very Interesting Post! Quality post is more important than SEO factors.

  13. Troy Rutter says:

    Ive tried the micro-niche and the niche websites. They brought short-term “success” of a few dollars a day, but you have to have a complete portfolio of hundreds of sites to make the kind of financial gains as one site you are passionate about.

    I remember when I had “make adsense” sites, and then had a couple other “sites I actually have fun doing” – guess which ones stayed and which ones actually made more income?

    Enjoyed the post. Thanks!

  14. Greg says:

    Thanks for a thought provoking post! My thoughts…

    Google is designed to help users find what they want. And blogs should provide the content users need.

    Sadly, at some point the blogger got greedy and started to put what they want (quick traffic, profit, etc) ahead of what the user, and thus what Google wants. I think that’s the logic behind this shift.

    It’s not awful, and not depressing really. If your site still holds great content, and if you have a loyal following that knows you as a person, you’re not going under any time soon.

  15. Joy says:

    Interesting post. Thanks for your insight. I am trying to apply your strategy in the complementary health market place.