I started this blog back in 2015. At the time, I was an MBA student focusing on e-business. I needed a way to synthesize what I was learning, to prepare for exams and put into memory what we were studying. The thought popped into my head that other people would probably benefit from this too, and it would make for some great content. Tonyhymes.info was born.
This blog is not my first blog. While I’ve worked for many clients helping to build out their content marketing strategy, I’ve also had a few personal blogs along the way. My first blog was on a Google Sites that I set up from my bedroom in NYC. I could not get it to format properly and I also had no idea of what I was going to write about. It died as work picked up, and I was focusing on writing the DOOH Social blog of DOOH.com. At the time, the DOOH space was really heating up, so there was content, news, and best practices galore to share with our very niche audience.
That was followed by the Wrong Wing, a political blog dedicated to pointing out the hypocrisy of America’s conservative wing. That one hung on for a few years, as I continued to publish posts even after my move across the ocean to Paris. Eventually though, the futility of writing about politics became overbearing. Despite the cathartic effect of publishing content that exposed holes in certain political arguments, nothing is more frustrating than publishing content and knowing that it won’t affect anyone. After my complete deconnection with politics early November 2016, I can honestly say that staying away from politics contributes greatly to my overall happiness (except for one panicky post when I realized it was Obama’s last day in office).
Then I started to work for Whyd, the social music network startup, and content was central to our marketing strategy. The Whyd blog was born to profile our top members, propose curated playlists, interview musicians and DJs, review music, and promote our local events in Paris. I was pushing out content every day.
That’s the thing about creating written content. If I’m writing every day, I’ve found that I have a limit to producing it. It’s always been during the periods when I haven’t been writing for employers that I’ve been able to create content on my own.
This blog has been different. I have left behind certain notions of focusing on one or two subjects and instead have opted to talk about what I want, even if it isn’t directly related to the context of digital (like ranting about dog owners leaving their animals’ shit all over the streets of Paris). But mostly I’m just finding things of value that I come across during my daily duties as a Digital Activation Manager and sharing them with you.
Here are some interesting stats from the past four years;
- 109,866 words written, making it an average of 1098 words per post
- Traffic ebbs and flows throughout the year, the best months being the beginning of the year along with a dip in traffic during the summer months
- 63% of visits in 2018 come from search
- Linkedin brings in slightly more traffic than Facebook (I have about the same amount of contacts on each platform).
- The top two topics are Content Marketing and Social Media
The most-read article actually had nothing to do with digital. It was the story of the night of the November 13th, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks that scarred my neighborhood and the emotional aftermath. I’ve rarely used the blog to discuss personal topics but it sure felt good to get that one out and the reception really helped to boost my desire to keep blogging.
I’ve harped on social criticism like why I love to fucking swear so much, and my Books for Entrepreneurs series lasted for a few years, covering many of the books that I read that have helped me and the lessons I’ve learned. Surprisingly, the top-performing Books for Entrepreneurs post was Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” Maybe there aren’t that many bloggers reviewing 17th century staples of modern economics…
I even tried to do a sort of digital digest called REFRE5# with five different stories to follow published each Thursday. That lasted only about a month as the format didn’t really drive engagement and took up too much time to put out.
So I’ve gone back to posting as I can, focusing on trends and new topics if I have something interesting or valuable to say. But there are some takeaways that I would like to share to all of you bloggers out there.
Yes, I make money with my blog
No, I’m not talking about creating revenue from advertising – in fact I pay WordPress to keep advertising off of my site and I don’t pretend to have enough traffic to make it interesting from a platform like DoubleClick or affiliate sales. I’m talking about having people contact me through my blog to help them with projects. From this sense, that is business that I never would have gotten if it weren’t for people finding my blog, my blog is extremely profitable! In 2017 I earned about $5K from projects just from people contacting me on this blog. I spend less than an hour a week writing content here, and pay WordPress a premium plan, so less than $100/year. Not a bad ROI!
Twitter is worthless
I tweet out every article that I publish and I have over 1,000 followers on Twitter. Twitter accounts for 1% of the visits to my site in 2018, and that’s down from 2.6% of visits in 2017. Linkedin drives 7 times more visits (I also have over 2,000 connections, so that probably explains a bit more).
But every time I tweet I ask myself, is this a good use of my time? Twitter is struggling to keep users and it’s biggest draw – the American President – is about as toxic as a pipe dumping arsenic into the kiddy pool. The follower purge a few weeks back promised to normalize things, but it can’t bring back the energy that was there during the glory days. I get the feeling that people are only on Twitter to get more Twitter followers, especially in my field, which renders tweeting to these people useless.
You never know which content will perform the best
I was convinced that my ultimate guide to SEO would attract a lot of traffic. It hits all the basics: tons of value, updated regularly, over 4,000 words, a treasure-trove of all of my content and technical knowledge in one place. But the top performing post in terms of visits during 2017 was a little post about Google’s 3H approach to content marketing. And you know what? It’s also the top performing post of 2018!!
The lesson here is to let yourself write about quick and simple subjects because you never know what Google is going to pick up on. (It probably helps that it’s about Google though…).
Slow and steady wins the race
The secret to all of those bloggers who write about blogging is not necessarily in their strategy. A lot of it comes down to the fact that they were among the first, and have therefore been blogging the longest.
Writing a blog is not about trying to hit a homerun with each post that will immediately vault you to Internet stardom. That is the reason why almost all blogs are abandonned after 6 months. Writing a blog should really be thought of as building a blog. Building a foundation of content that will slowly attract more and more people until it becomes a destination that keeps rolling on all by itself. Of course there are ways to build faster – guest posting, creating different media formats, investing in a promotional budget – but it all comes back to the same place.
Now that I am at 100 posts I can look back and see how true this is, and how the new layers of content contribute to new layers of traffic. The more people read your blog, the better it is to be blogging, in a virtuous cycle that can bring a lot of positive effects to your life.
So thanks for reading, and here’s to another 100 posts!
4 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned About Blogging after 4 years and 100 Posts”
Hi Tony. I hope you don’t mind me asking a only somewhat related question. I’m a fairly new adjunct professor teaching Foundations of Marketing. I have 25 years in marketing but only at companies large enough where I didn’t need to get into the details of our social and digital execution. We had teams for that. I’m considering assigning a blog project to my class where they have to create a blog, post weekly for a semester and attempt to grow traffic. As an fairly recent MBA grad and someone who works in digital, does this sound like a fair project?
Hello! I think this is a great idea for a project, it’s hands-on, tangible, and you can see the results in real-time. Since traffic is hard to gain in the course of a semester, I would recommend grading them on the basics like editorial calendar, SEO fundamentals, and design more so than how successful they are in getting traffic. Once a week seems reasonable in terms of work if the articles you’re expecting don’t need to surpass 600 words or so. Happy to continue the conversation!
Thanks Tony. Good input.