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How to Build a Successful Blog the Unconventional Way

written by Guest Blogger on February 17, 2012

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Life is all about choices; so also is blogging. In blogging, you can choose to run with the crowd and be just another blog; or you can stand out from the crowd and be a lone voice. When building a blog, you can also choose to follow the norm; and achieve normal results or act unconventionally and achieve extraordinary results. The choice is yours to make.

“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.” – Larry Ellison

I have been blogging for over three years now and within this period; I have made several mistakes, had some failures and reaped tremendous success. Now you may want to know how successful I am. Well, as a principle, I don’t believe in spitting out income figures except when it is critically needed. But let it be known to you that my blogs serve and help millions of people all over the world. As per income, my blogs generate enough revenue to pay me a decent monthly salary. My blogs also pay my team and employees; pays the office rent and bills and still generate a return on investment quarterly. So I believe I am qualified to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

However, it may surprise you to know that my most successful blogs are those I built against the conventional principle of blogging. Now to better help you understand the process I followed to get to where I am today, I have carved out 12 unconventional rules I adhere to in this business called blogging. So if your learning mode is still activated, then let’s set the ball rolling.

12 Rules of Radical Blogging

Rule 1. Perception is everything

Yes, perception is the first principle of radical blogging. Who are you? What do you do? If you get the right answer to these two questions; then you’ve on spot. My perception is the reason why I don’t do things the normal way; my perception is the reason why I am not a blogger.

“As a man thinks in his heart; so he is.” – The Bible

Yes, read my lips: “I am not a blogger” and I will never be because being a blogger limits my perception. I am an entrepreneur simply minding my business. Blogging is not my business; my business is to provide information in an easy to understand format; in return for a profit. I am not in the blogging industry; I am in the information/education industry. I don’t compete with small blogs, I compete with big businesses such as Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, Wikipedia and Inc.com. I don’t own a blog; I own a business and this is exactly the thin line between the elite blogs and the average blogs that struggle to survive. The bottom line is this: the way you see yourself and the way you think will greatly determine the heights you will attain. If you accept the conventional rule and call yourself a blogger, then you are. Now take a critical look at some big names in the industry such as Darren Rowse, Arianna Huffington, Jeremy Shoemaker, Timothy Ferriss, etc and you will understand why perception is the first rule of radical blogging.

Rule 2. Redefine your “why”

“I don’t make deals for the money. I’ve got enough much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it.” – Donald Trump

I have had people ask me how I found success doing business online and the first question I ask them is why they want to do business online. The reason I ask this is because your motive for doing a task will determine the result you will achieve. Now why did you launch that blog of yours? Are you doing it for the money? Or maybe you are in it for the fame it offers? Or are you blogging to genuinely help people? No matter what your reason is, make sure it provides you with enough fire and drive to pass through the tough times.

“I was worth about over a million dollars when I was twenty-three and over ten million dollars when I was twenty-four, and over a hundred million dollars when I was twenty-five and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.” – Steve Jobs
Now I don’t do publish blogs solely for money; but mind you, I have to factor that in to keep scores. I don’t also build blogs because I want to help people. Well, I am passionate about helping people but when it comes to blogging; it doesn’t provide enough fire for me. My real drive comes from the challenge of building blogs, the processes involved, the joys of success and the pains of failure, the excitement of going head to head with the big wigs and the feeling of self actualization. I just don’t want to help people; rather, I want to sit back and know that I have done a great job helping people while building a great asset and giving the competition a slap in the face. *smiles*. The reason I became an entrepreneur is because building businesses keeps me on my toes; it’s something that keeps me alive and keep my brains active. Now that’s for me, I don’t know about you and I can’t also help you find your “why.” It is something that has to come from inside of you.

Rule 3. Understand the basics

Conventional bloggers love to spit out technical jargons such as Pagerank, SERPS, Linkwheeling, Sandbox, algorithm, Link baiting, and all the rest. The truth is that you don’t need these jargons to succeed. Now I am not a geek, I am not even a programmer and I don’t love computers. I am simply an entrepreneur and all I started with were the basics. All you need to know is the basics such as WordPress installation (which is now made easy with Fantastico), post drafting, publishing and updating, searching for information, creating accounts, copying and pasting scripts and so on. Don’t waste your time mastering all the technical jargon associated with blogging, just learn the basics and get started. As you progress, encounter problems and solve these problems; your knowledge base will unconsciously increase.

Rule 4. Stick with what you know

I have seen people start blogs that they are not interested in; just to earn a profit. Well, it’s not a bad idea and I also do it. But my biggest and most profitable blogs are the ones I have a personal interest in and unfortunately, they are in the world’s toughest industry but I don’t care.

“Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you are generally better off sticking with what you know and the third is that sometimes, your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” – Donald Trump

Do you want to know why I survived in the world most competitive niches? Well, the reason is because visitors to your blog can smell your passion from your written words; they can tell if you are really interested in helping them or you are just another empty blog. For instance, I can distinguish between business articles written by entrepreneurs and professional writers. When I read an article written by other entrepreneurs, I feel their passion, I feel their pain and I feel whatever they feel because they are like me. But articles written by professional writers have no effect on me; because they lack the passion and drive needed to spur me to action.

Rule 5. Listen to the heartbeat of your readers

Your readers are the reason why you started a blog and they are going to be ones to determine if your blog survives or not; so listen to their heartbeat. Write for your readers; not search engines. Be passionate about helping them, addressing their needs and problems; and they will become not just repeated readers but loyal customers. I don’t just write articles to populate my blog; I write articles strictly to solve a problem or address a recurring issue. Most of my blog content are purely answers to real life questions that my readers asked repeatedly. For instance, a reader might email me with the question:

“I have $1,000; what business do I start?”

All I will simply do is reply this question by making an article out of it and my article header will look like this:

“10 Money Spinning Businesses you can start with $1,000 or less.”

Write for humans, not search engines. Your blog content should be aimed at making your readers fall in love with your blog; your write-ups should make them imagine you as a passionate person all out to help them. I think you have gotten my point.

Rule 6. Run lean and re-invest your profit

“Waste of resources is a mortal sin at IKEA.” – Ingvar Kamprad

In my years of blogging, I have always stuck to the 80/20 principle. It’s a known fact that 20% of your effort and resources will yield 80% of the profits; yet, you will find most bloggers concentrating their limited resources on the 80% systems that only yield 20% results.

When I started blogging, I made sure I only invested my capital on the core system of the blog. But today, you will find most new bloggers investing in blog design, logo creation, paid plugins and themes, expensive computers, software, etc; when their blog is yet to generate a dime in revenue. For me, I never went that route. Everything I purchased or invested in for my blog was done with my eyes on the bottom line; if it’s not going to increase profits/traffic in the short run, then it’s not for me. Back then I used a free theme, free plugins, studied the free resources online and even till now; I still use a free theme on some of my blogs provided that the theme has a smooth design and flow.

“Everything we earn we need as a reserve.” – Ingvar Kamprad

Now I am not against investing for the long term; I am only trying to make you see the need to generate cash flow now, while keeping an eye on your long term plan. Don’t waste your resources on the less important things; invest in things that get things done now, not tomorrow.

Rule 7. Ignore the shortcut

“The height attained by great men is not by sudden flight. For while their companions sleep; they toil.” – Anonymous

There’s no shortcut to success; it’s either you take it or leave it. The reason blackhat forums exist and are waxing strong is because people are looking for shortcuts; they are looking to make $10,000 overnight starting from scratch. Go to the most popular internet marketing forums and you will hear screams from people who have been ban by Google adsense or had their website de-indexed.

I repeat this rule again; ignore the shortcut. It doesn’t pay in the long run. There is nothing like an effortless push button system; there’s nothing like the lazy man’s guide to overnight success. The earlier you get rid of the overnight success mentality; the better for you. Success in any endeavor requires discipline, commitment, investment and time. Nothing more, nothing less.

Rule 8. Love your work; not the tool

“The tone is in the fingers……..not the instrument.” – Jason Fried

I am a regular visitor on Warrior Forum and I have noticed that the Warrior’s Special Offers section (WSO) is the most popular section on the forum. Why? The reason is because people are always on the lookout for the next push button system, shining toy or super fast software. Another thing I observed is that most of the offers are bought by the same set of people, year in year out; yet, they remain the same. But the simple truth is that you don’t need all the software and tools to become a success online.

I have a friend who has a dream to become a black belter in martial arts (note that I am also a Taekwondo trainee). This friend of mine is so committed to his dream that he has invested heavily in buying several kits, books and video tutorials on sparring techniques. He knows all the fighting styles and terminologies off hand; yet, never will you see this friend of mine sweating out in the Dojan (training ground). He would rather watch videos and read books than train. Is this friend ever going to become a black belter? The answer is no.

The same applies to business or blogging and unfortunately, most bloggers are just like this friend of mine. They live with the illusion that a new technology, business software or tool will make them better bloggers and push their profits to the sky. But improved technology or the latest software/tool will be useless if you are not prepared to put in the required efforts. An expensive golf club did not make Tiger Woods a star; a super computer did not make Bill Gates the richest man in the world, their skills did. The fastest server and plugins did not make Darren Rowse a successful blogger; his focus and commitment to his readers did. So don’t waste your resources pursuing technology if it’s not going to add to the bottom line of your business.

Rule 9. Concentrate on the core

“The most important recipe for success is concentration. Learn to concentrate your time, resources and effort on just one task; your most important task.” – Andrew Carnegie

What is your core? What do you love doing and know how to do best? If you can answer this, then you may have found your core; but make sure that your personal core corresponds to the needs of your blog. The operations of running a blog includes content writing, blog marketing/promotion, SEO, comment moderation, email replies, managing staff, etc. Now you can’t do all this alone, at least you can attempt all when you are starting out but you will burn yourself out in the long run. So what do you do? You simply choose your core, concentrate on it, eliminate the unnecessary and outsource the rest.

“Time is your most important resource. You can do so much in ten minutes. Ten minutes; once gone is gone for good.” – Ingvar Kamprad

Using my entrepreneurship blog as an example, I will explain how I used the principle of concentration to build it into a success. When I started my entrepreneurship blog, I concentrated on it alone. I did not start twenty blogs at once; I started with one and learned the intricacies of blogging through this one blog. In the first year of building this blog, I concentrated on content writing and article marketing; while doing a little of email replies and totally eliminating comment moderation. As years progressed and my blog began to generate revenue; my concentration shifted to managing staff while doing a little of content writing and email replies. My blog marketing, promotion, SEO, content editing and other technical work are now either handled by my in-house staff or outsourced. Comment moderation still remains eliminated because I don’t consider it a core.
So when starting out as a blogger, identify your core and concentrate on it. If writing is your passion; then make content writing, article marketing and guest blogging your core. If you love meeting and interacting with people, then make social media marketing, forum marketing and interactive commenting your core. If you are a geek, or you simply love technical problems and challenges; then you can concentrate on SEO and product development such as software, while outsourcing the rest

Rule 10. Be an authority

Most gurus advise that you build a lot of blogs in several small niches. While this may work for them, I think it’s bullsh**. Sorry for that language but that’s what I think. I would rather have one authority blog than 10 small niche blogs. Simply put, an authority blog makes you the blogger, an authority on the subject that your blog covers. Through your authority blog, you can get JV deals, organize seminars on the subject of your blog, start a membership site, create and sell products, grant interviews, get public speaking deals, offer services, become a coach on your subject matter and even build an offline business around your blog. In fact, the list goes on and on. Owning an authority blogs give you the blogger fortune, fame, power and respect. I don’t think small niche blogs can give you this.

“Where does great wealth come from? Years ago, oil and steel were the foundations of many American fortunes. Today, it’s more a matter of how many eyeballs you command.” – Forbes Magazine

To really understand the power of authority blogs; consider Arianna Huffington who raised millions of dollars for her blog Huffingpost.com. Think about John Chow, Jeremy Shoemaker, Darren Rowse, Dan Sullivan, Pat Flynn, Brian Clark, Timothy Ferriss, Matthew Torren, Seth Godin, Evan Carmichael, Steve Pavlina, etc. This list goes on and on and on but the end point is that you should forget about building ten niche blogs; focus instead on building one authority blog and you will find fortune and fame.

Rule 11. Connect with those that matters

“Talk is cheap. Learn to listen with your eyes. Actions do speak louder than words. Watch what a person does more than what he says.” – Robert Kiyosaki

One of the reasons why I succeeded with my blogs is because I followed and learned from the masters. My goal was not just to build an authority blog but to build a business around my subject matter so I had to follow and learned from those that have succeeded in that quest. I don’t bother reading 100 blogs a week; I just pick ten experts that have proven themselves. I understudy them, follow their proven strategies and most of all, stick to them. These are the few authorities I follow:

  • The Business side of blogging = JohnChow.com
  • Content writing = Copyblogger.com
  • Blogging = Problogger.net
  • Search engine analysis = Searchengineland.com
  • Business tips and insights for living = Fourhourworkweek.com
  • Internet Marketing case studies = Viperchill.com and Smartpassiveincome.com

Rule 12. Exit your blog before you begin

“Life is a journey, not a destination and so also is business. Your objectives keep moving.” – Thomas Burrell

This is the final rule of radical blogging; exit your blog before you even begin. Now you may be imagining where I am driving at? Well, you will understand very soon.

Have you observed that Darren Rowse no longer writes frequently on problogger; he doesn’t even do his long posts anymore. Do you want to know why? The simple answer is that Darren Rowse has exited problogger. He’s no longer involved with the day to day running of problogger; he only breezes in once a while to drop a hint or two. Problogger is now driven by his in-house team and outside guest bloggers. Do you think this is a coincidence? My answer is no. It was all part of his plan; it was his exit strategy. Do you think Darren Rowse is alone in this? My answer again is no. Consider Techcrunch that sold out to AOL for millions of dollars; consider the thousands of blogs been sold on Flippa and you will see the point I am trying to stress.

“Always start at the end before you begin. Professional investors always have an exit strategy before they invest. Knowing your exit strategy is an important investment fundamental.” – Rich Dad

Before I proceed, I want to ask you some questions. What if you had an accident today, what will happen to your blog? How long can you maintain the pace on your blog? Will you still be blogging twenty years from now? How can you decide the right time to sell your blog? What is the right time to move on beyond blogging?

The answer to all these questions revolves around your exit plan? The seed of thought I want to drop inside of you is that your blog should not be an end; it should be a means to an end. Don’t wait till you are bored of your blog before you start planning to sell; plan your exit strategy before you even start building.

For me, my exit plan is to work towards making my network of blogs independent of me. My plan is to grow my blog in a systematic way that it would no longer need my presence. My plan is to have my network of blogs been run by technical team in partnership with outside experts on the related subjected matters. This is the sole reason why I don’t build blogs around my personal brand; I separate myself from my blogs. I also do this for my offline businesses because I don’t intend to live and die with my businesses. I want to be free to travel the world and spend time with my family while knowing that my businesses are running at full capacity without me. You should do the same for your blog. Always plan an exit before you even start building your blog; it’s a good rule of thumb in business.

“Get in, get it done; Get it done right and get out.” – Donald Trump

In conclusion, this brings to an end my 12 rules of radical blogging. Now I know I have stepped on some toes, I know I have challenged the views of many; I know I stirred the waters of conventional wisdom. So I am going to level the playing field here. If you feel I have contradicted your views or principles; then feel free to shoot me through your comments. I am prepared to take your bullets and also respond with mine, so let’s begin.

Ajaero Tony Martins is a serial entrepreneur and investor with a passion for teaching people how to start a business. He is well known for his radical article titled “How to Become a Billionaire” and other unconventional write-ups.

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