Why blogging about what you love is the key to long-term success

It’s true what they say. If you create a website solely for profit and don’t care about the subject matter it will be very difficult to make it into a viable long-term operation. Only by blogging about what you love can you create a blog which others will find interesting and you can enjoy running for the long term.

blogging about what you love

Things used to be a little bit different

First, a “back in the day” moment.

Over the years, I had literally hundreds of different websites. Some larger, most smaller. Back in the early 2000’s, topics were up for grabs and search engines were easy to manipulate. I confess: I was part of the big pseudo-SEO festival of the period. I even scored key phrases in some lucrative niches such as loans (and actually, lawns too, but that’s a different kind of niche and far less profitable in terms of Adwords bids 😉 ).

These weren’t negative experiences. Some of them generated an excellent ROI for the time invested in making them. I had a website about the thrillingly fascinating topic of DVD cases back at the time. It made hundreds of dollars a month from Adsense and Amazon. Making it was fun but creating content on a regular basis was impossible. It was the dullest thing ever. At least for me. I’m sure there are people out there who find the topic of DVD cases genuinely fascinating. I don’t know any of them but with more than 7 billion people on this planet, they must exist somewhere.

Blogging About What You Love Is No Longer Optional

Things have changed on the internet. It’s no longer about gaming search engines into sending you traffic. It’s about putting yourself forward – as an actual person – and delivering engaging content.

I’ve blogged about the what makes blogs so successful. The key elements setting actual blogs apart from general sites include having an real person at the helm and producing a constant stream of fresh relevant on-topic content.

And that only works if you write about things you care deeply about. Blogging about what you love is no longer a perk. It should be your key guideline and form the core of your strategic plan.

With that in mind, let’s look at the –

3 Key Benefits To Blogging About What You Love

1. Research becomes fun!

If you are passionate about soccer then you probably read websites and blogs about the game anyway. You do that because you enjoy expanding your knowledge and learning from others. Isn’t it awesome that you’re actually working while doing that? All it takes is getting organized, taking notes and bookmarking resources and you have the perfect background materials for writing your own fascinating post about the Euro 2016 Games!

2. Writing becomes fun!

And it shows. When you write about something you love, your passion shines through. When that happens, people listen. Just like when you talk with your friends about your favorite topic. Enthusiasm is catching and it can make your blog content more sticky. It’s hard to fake too. Blogging about what you love lends your style a degree of authenticity that can’t be achieved without passion.

3. Connecting with others becomes easier

Authenticity also makes it easier – and again, more fun – to connect with other bloggers. Leaving a comment on their latest blog post, you will probably go beyond the “thank you for your post” line because you truly will have something of value to contribute. It will also be easier to interact on Twitter, Pinterest or whatever social network is right for your niche. You are probably already following that topic there anyway and know who the industry leaders are. When your knowledge of a topic comes from the heart, it’s easier to reply, like and otherwise engage them. Which in return means you get better exposure and more traffic.

Blogging about things that I love

These days I focus on topics I enjoy. I’ve learned that researching and writing are my strong suits and so I focus on creating quality pages and posts on topics that engage my own interest.

My passions in life are pets and travel. Guess what? I currently have three websites about pets and two about travel. They cover different niches so they don’t compete with each other. Sometimes topics do align and when that happens, I try to give each blog its own unique flavor and perspective.

Oh, and I blog about blogging too! Right here!

So, no more “DVD Cases”?

Hmmm, I did say “most” of my websites, didn’t I? There are a couple of blogs that I manage which deal with topics that, shall we say, I am not entirely obsessed with. It’s much more of a challenge, let me tell you. Researching I can do. Writing I can also do, and I try to bring my own life experience and create my own “voice”. Connecting with others is a whole lot more difficult though.

They are part of my new “Blogging Re-launched” project which I talk about here. Will they be as successful as the other blogs? I guess only time will tell. For now, my advice to those of you who are considering blogging and wondering which niche to choose: Blogging about what you love is the way to go.

 

Hyphenated domains: Are they a total waste of money?

I just bought a domain name on Godaddy for a new project. I really love that phase of a project. Searching for a good domain always feels like a treasure hunt. And yes, you sometimes still do find treasures out there. But not often. Which calls for some tough decisions, such as whether or not to go with hyphenated domains.

hyphenated domains

It’s 2016 and keyword.com domains have been taken literally decades ago. Some of the owners actually develop their domains. Others just squat over them, charging exuberant sums from any interested party. Not really an option when all you want to do is start a new blog on something you’re interested in.

So, we’re talking about domains with at least two words in them.

Anything with “blog” as the second word is taken. Duh!  Most other cool words like “love”, “lover”, “fun”, “central” or “about” are long gone as well. Some are available though and my keyword (a type of pet) was available in several fairly tolerable combinations.

Why even consider hyphenated domains then?

Some combinations just don’t work well without a hyphen. Everyone knows that famous example Matt Cutts used, right? How Experts-Exchange has to be hyphenated or people will read it as Expert-Sex-Change. Ha, ha.

Does that mean Matt Cutts ever recommended hyphens in domain names? Not that I’m aware of. That video is all about URL structure and how Google reads words. The message was that hyphens are used as separators of words while underscores are not. Hardly relevant to domain names.

Some SEO experts claim that whether a domain is hyphenated or not should not really matter. Hmmm, I can see how in theory that could be the case. After all, why would anyone be penalized for a hyphen if everything else is ok. I am guessing that’s the case.

That said, how many popular websites do you know with hyphens in their domain names? I can’t really think of any, to be honest. The ones that have words like “blog” or “forums” in their domain name, for example, seem to avoid hyphens and do well without them.

Hyphenated domains used to be relevant

I still remember the time when hyphenated domain names were hugely popular. Back then, in the early Jurassic era, people used extreme SEO tactics to create and promote what was basically MFA (Made for Adsense with some Amazon thrown in that A for good measure 😉 ). I know because I had such sites myself. There was a time when this was a viable and productive way to make money online. I promise you, a decade ago nobody considered this spam or blackhat SEO. It used to be a legitimate way to optimize your blog or website for the search engines.

Then the bad guys took over and spammed Google like crazy with sites that had shitty content. And by shitty (pardon my French) I mean either illegal scraper sites or sites that can barely be considered to be in English – those produced by word jumbling algorithms. The first type (scrapers) are illegal. The second type should be.

Using software to mass produce these junk sites means their producers couldn’t care less about what their domain name sounds like to surfers. In an effort to SEO to the extreme, they used domain names that had 2, 3 or even 4 keywords. These were almost always hyphenated. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the hyphenated ones were easy to find (so why waste time searching for non-hyphenated ones) or maybe they thought this was in fact better SEO.

The bottom line is: hyphenated domain names have become a trademark of junk websites. And if I can see that as a surfer, I am pretty sure Google sees it as well. After all, the whole point about the Google algorithm is that it tries to be as intelligent as a human being using the web.

So, are hyphenated domains always a bad idea?

Well, I will say that. I have very mature domain names that I use which are hyphenated and as far as I can tell they’re doing well on Google. You could say this proves that hyphens don’t matter but I suspect Google realizes that old websites – well over a decade old – were created in a different environment. Or it could be that they are mature enough for Google to realize they’re good sites despite the initial flag the hyphens may have raised. I still think a new website that starts out with hyphenated words could suffer.

Which is why – after some deliberation – I decided to go with a non-hyphenated domain name. I finally found the combination that works for me and will start working on the new project today (WordPress files being uploaded as I’m typing this!) Now, all I need to do is start working on some top notch content and hope for the best!