New posts only go to subscribers via email. EXCLUSIVELY.
You can read more here or simply subscribe:
Is blogging a good career choice?
A Twitter user asked an interesting question the other day and tagged me.
The question was –
Where does blogging stand in the future? In ten to fifteen years, will it still exist. Do you think I should pursue it as a career?
That’s an interesting question I couldn’t answer in a single tweet. So I figured, why not turn this into a Yeys post?
After all, I’m sure that’s a question many people wonder about.
Is this a viable path that would still be profitable in a decade or two?
Of course, I don’t know the answer, but I can share a few insights.
What is blogging?
The first thing that caught my eye when I read the question was the choice of word: “blogging.”
Here’s a standard definition of the word “blog” –
A website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writerThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I consider Yeys.com to be a blog. It indeed contains my personal reflections and comments.
My other sites are not blogs.
Some people in the industry would call them “niche sites.” Others might call some of them “authority sites.”
I just call them websites.
Instead of personal reflections, they offer a systematic collection of informational web pages.
Blogging vs. Web Publishing
While some call what we do “blogging,” I prefer “web publishing.”
Web publishing is a more generic term that covers –
- Niche sites
- UGC (user-generated content) sites such as forums
- Ecommerce sites
If it’s something that you create on the internet, then it’s covered under the web publishing umbrella.
While web publishing typically means you own your domain, I think YouTube channels and similar ventures qualify as web publishing.
You get my drift.
Let’s talk about those informational niche sites
The business model here is simple –
Create decent content => Bring in traffic (typically, organic Google traffic) => Monetize with display ads (maybe some affiliate commissions).
This entire model is just a few years old.
The current internet environment that allows for creating and monetizing sites is relatively new.
- Google – a significant source of traffic – is only 24 years old.
- WordPress is less than 20 years old.
- Header bidding – the technology responsible for the high RPMs – is not even a decade old.
Our entire business model has been in existence for under a decade.
What’s my point here?
My point is that it’s a young industry that’s constantly changing. It is, therefore, almost impossible to predict where it’s headed.
But I’m going to try 😉
The future of niche sites
The first few years when it all came together – ease of publishing and high RPMs – were a sort of “El Dorado” period. The competition was low – with most publishers focusing on affiliate marketing and competing over buying intent keywords.
Not many publishers went after informational queries and created niche sites monetized by display ads.
IMO, we’ve seen a significant shift in the past 2-3 years. The industry is maturing, and the competition is growing.
The competition is turning the ocean red.
I don’t see this trend weakening any time soon. The traffic is too lucrative for anyone to give it up. But here’s what I think is going to happen.
As the industry matures, we’ll move away from the cottage industry model and into a more competitive factory-model industry.
This isn’t to say that you won’t be able to work from home. It’s just that you will have to scale and become more professional at what you do to gain long-term success.
Look at Dot Dash and Leaf Group Media.
And yes, I know many of us can beat the big players on Google. I can do that too. Sometimes. I think their strong brands are more sustainable in the long run.
There are cons and pros to operating sites as a big company, but if done right, I think it can make you more competitive. And I have a feeling that this could matter more down the road.
So, is this the end for small-scale bloggers?
Not at all.
I still think there’s plenty of room for the next 5-10 years for small and medium-sized web publishing businesses.
However, I suspect it will become increasingly more challenging.
Does that mean you shouldn’t try?
I believe that if you love this game, you should give it a go. Just be aware of the shift.
Creating a successful website by investing nothing more than 10 hours a week is probably less likely to happen. You’ll need to invest more time, money, or probably both.
This brings me to my next and final point.
Web Publishing vs. Entrepreneurship
I already mentioned that I consider myself a web publisher.
But really, more than anything, I’m a business person now. An entrepreneur.
I own a company that focuses on web publishing, specifically those sites known as niche sites. But that’s just what we’re doing in 2022.
Aware of the risks involved, my main concern these days is diversifying both traffic and revenue sources.
Five years from now, my company may be following a different model.
We could focus more on mailing lists or social. Or maybe we’ll add video into the mix. AI tools will be stronger, so maybe we’ll use those to create content sites. Ecommerce and SAAS are not out of the question either.
The key here is this –
I focus on the best ways to move forward and grow while mitigating risks to the best of my ability. The type of site or platform is less important.
This is a business – much like owning a brick & mortar business. Only we’re operating in a far younger and more volatile industry.
So, is blogging a good career?
See, I think that’s the wrong question.
If you want to succeed in web publishing, you must consider this a business, not a career.
Are you ready – no, are you eager – to develop a business?
If you love the idea of running your own business, then yes, this could be for you.
You’ll be an entrepreneur. You’ll have to expand, invest and take risks, and always be on the lookout for changes in the environment.
You could start with a blog, a niche site, or an e-commerce site. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re willing to go all in, investing time and money.
And be prepared for challenges and failures too. They’re part of the deal.
Anyway, as always, this is just my own opinion. I’m sure many readers have different perspectives, and I hope some of them will be sharing those in the comments section!
Some interesting points to ponder. And I tend to agree, I don’t think any of this is going away any time soon – as with everything, we just adapt.
I think the throwaway “niche site” model will fade away as people dig deeper on building brands to have a moat around their sites.
As you mentioned, operating as a business rather than a “blogger”. There will always be somebody with deeper pockets as the space grows, who will come and look at this way and put their money where their mouth is.
Algorithm updates alone have everybody considering ways to solidify their efforts and investments long term, so email lists, branding, etc. all will be important.
I am personally heavily focussing on collecting emails and relationship-building.
I agree and we’re doing the same. It’s something that I started working on even before the recent algo updates because I don’t like the fact that we depend on Google traffic when they seem to be increasing their efforts to keep users from clicking through. We’ve been collecting emails for a while now but it’s time to get more serious with using that to create a brand and connect with our visitors.
nice post – I agree with the the outlook for content websites is vastly different today than it was 2-3 years ago. Mom+pop operations used to dominate, and that is quickly changing. I don’t think it’s just from an increase in sites, though. I think the biggest change is that Google makes it harder and harder to rank sites unless its very high quality. The bar is continually being raised!
I wish I could agree, Michael. We keep testing this and unfortunately, the correlation between content quality and ranking is still weak. It is unfortunate because as a publisher, I would love to be able to invest more in creating high-quality content. I know how to scale that too. My problem is that cheaper low-quality content is still likely to outrank such high-quality pieces.
Hopefully, Google will get better at figuring out good content from bad. Until then, IMHO, the problem is growing competition. Especially from companies who invest more into link building and not into creating awesome content.
Great POV as usual, thank you Anne! I really love to enjoy reading those insight article from you.
On the way to become an entrepreneur in this industry :). I just sell my first site for $20k. I will take it as a momentum for me to go far with publishing business.
Anne can you make another post related to running web publishing business? Would love to hear something about this such as: how much budget as beginner need to start hiring people, should we open an offline office?
I’m going to join Jon Dykstra’s course. I knew him for a long time, he is so talent but the main reason I want to join is cuz of your AMA inside his forum :). And btw, I would love to join if you launch your own course or membership.
I participated in your survey in the previous email. As long as it’s a product from Anne I’m willing to participate no matter the cost.
Best wish for you and your company. Wish us a bright future in this publishing industry 🙂
Congratulations on selling your first site! That’s quite the milestone! Thank you for your kind words and I hope you find the AMA interesting! Be sure to hang around the forums and interact with other threads there too. There is a LOT of valuable information there contributed by many members.
I feel like also the platforming has changed for blogging for example information sites on Google are getting pushed farther and farther down in place is YouTube videos and short videos slowly taking this top spots so at a minimum the blogging sphere will evolve from content websites to video platforms like YouTube and tick tock I don’t think it will ever disappear just the platforms will continue to shift and evolve.
Yup, platforms will continue to evolve. 20 years from now, we may have a mind-bogglingly different environment that would look more like the Meta vision.
Hi Anne, not sure if my questions fits here, but asking it anyway 🙂
What do you pay on average for an article? how many words?
How much for editors/ publishing team?
This changes over time and between people. Some are freelancers and some are actually employed. I decided not to reveal these figures moving forward though because its internal company matters.
I can tell you that, in my experience, a decent article should cost $70-$90 including editing and adding media. It’s not something I can break down further here, at this point.
This is the price range for what I consider to be good quality content but the kind that does not require heavy research or preparation. You can find it for much cheaper too, if you don’t mind the quality. Or you could invest hundreds of dollars into a single article. There’s more than one way to play this game…
So glad I found your site – lots of useful info. I just started my 3rd site and am doing things a bit differently with it and find it quite exciting. I’m not relying on social media as much as the other sites (barely at all) and doing more SEO work.
I’d love to know more about how you generate and use banner ads. I do mostly affiliate work and sponsored content. I can’t imagine running 25 sites and having 50 people on board as well. Thanks for your insights.
I think finding it exciting is probably the best indicator of future success! It’s amazing that you pull all of your revenue from affiliate and sponsored content. I hope you make sure the links in the sponsored content are clearly marked as rel=sponsored, or at least rel=nofollow, to avoid any issues with Google.
Banner ads are probably the easiest way to monetize a site. All you need to do is connect with an ad network. They provide you with a bit of code (usually a plugin) and they take it from there. We use Mediavine and Adthrive for our sites. Both are great but require you to have significant traffic before they take you on. I believe the number is currently 50,000 monthly sessions. If you don’t have that, you can apply to Ezoic where I think the minimum is 10,000. I hope this helps!
Glad I found your blog after reading Jon Dykstra email.
I have spent 1 hour reading some of your articles and I feel like I have been sleeping on this blogging business.
Your articles have really inspired me to work on my blog and publish more. The only limit I have is that I am still in college, which make me not to publish more articles.
Anyway I have learned a lot web publishing and I really want to build a business writing articles on my blog site. Thanks a lot.
I’m glad you found the blog helpful! Good luck, both in college and with your site!