Starting over with blogging

I am starting over with blogging because I got to the point where I realized my blogging aspirations were pie in the sky and wondered if I could ever make the grade.

Have you considered whether you should start over or just give up completely? This is exactly what I asked myself almost 4 years ago.

I had spent a couple of years writing around 100 posts and had made some money from affiliate marketing. However, when one of my affiliate programs told me they were moving out of this space I had a hard look at myself. I discovered that others were writing reviews and questioned if the truth was that I really didn’t hit the grade.

I spent over 2 years sulking, reviewing, thinking about what to do, reverting posts back to draft, and redirecting the URL. At the same time, I studied and researched as much as possible trying to learn more.

I needed to find the path I should be taking. I stopped and started a few times, and really felt lost.

I’m now on my fourth attempt at this blog. My blogging journey has been a bit rocky.

Starting my research over again.

enjoying a walk through the park

Although I couldn’t resist going for a walk accasionally and enjoying the landscape, I did spend the majority of this time reading books and blogs, scouring social media for information, and listening to YouTube.

This time, instead of taking everything at face value, I have tried to read between the lines and analyze what others are doing in order to understand what I really need to do.

Research is more than just gathering a little information, curating the content, and regurgitating it in your own words. The research should include an analysis of what didn’t work, discovering alternative paths or viewpoints, and applying ideas to your unique situation. This is an ongoing process. It doesn’t stop.

Why did I decide to blog?

Over ten years ago my husband and I gave up working full-time and started traveling Australia, selling goods as we went. We found time to walk and go sightseeing, camping, prospecting for gold, and having fun.

In our travels, we met others living a similar lifestyle. Some, like us, worked as they traveled and others had a second form of income.

We were working part-time but always seemed to be busy. In the latter years, I was spending a lot of time online researching business alternatives, including Amazon, to reduce our workload. It seemed to take a lot of time and effort just to find a suitable product to manufacture and in the back of my mind, I wanted to spend less time working, not more.

I decided that blogging would be my new form of income allowing me to give up sales work. My audience would be people looking to give up full-time work and begin their own journey. I have always journalled and love to simply write ideas down.

I looked around the internet and saw others writing about travel and thought this looks easy. I can do that. I will write about what I learned and tell others about it.

What I did wrong with my blog.

I started learning how to blog and wrote about what I learned. I thought I could research the questions I had, write about the results, and make money by sending people to affiliate links related to the solution. Many people I listened to seemed to be promoting this method, or so I understood.

BIG MISTAKE. The only results I could share were research results, not experience results. I could not teach others what I did not fully understand. Whilst I did make some money from affiliate sales, it was not sustainable.

I made two major mistakes. Firstly I was regurgitating content even though the information was either out-of-date or just plain incorrect. The second lightning bolt was that I was looking to promote products in order to make a little money and not talking to, or helping, any audience in particular.

The majority of the posts on my blog and social media had a call to action that was about checking out a product review or asking for a sale.

When selecting the topics to write about make sure that you have the knowledge and personal experience in the subject that you are talking about. Otherwise, you simply don’t know what you don’t know.

A major life reset.

Towards the end of 2019, we decided to settle for a couple of years, get part-time jobs, and start saving madly while deciding the best way to continue our travels. Our motor home remained our permanent residence reducing accommodation costs.

It was at this time that the affiliate program I mentioned above closed it’s doors and I started sulking.

When Covid hit in 2020, we found ourselves fortunate that we had choices especially as many people were stressing about how to survive on a reduced income. Although we did have reduced income, our expenses were reduced due to our lifestyle choices. During this time, I decided that our future direction could be built during the pandemic.

I had time to really think through the mistakes I had made with blogging and social media and conduct research on how I could improve. Hence my past 4 years of research.

An interesting discovery.

I was listening to an interview recently and the message was that You are the brand. You need to talk about the unique things you have done. It could be a transformation you have achieved or your knowledge of a particular topic.

It is possible to create niche websites around particular topics. However, to be successful you need lots of knowledge or money to pay knowledgeable people to write for you. Simply reading what others say and repeating it in your own words is no longer an acceptable path. Simply put, it is not uniquely helpful.

Nor, I believe, is simply churning out Ai generated content. This is usually just a recap of what is already available on the internet so it is really no different from what I was, unsuccessfully, doing earlier.

If your website is about you and your journey, then you are the most knowledgeable person on the topic. Your point of view is unique.

This discovery led to a change of direction.

I came to terms with the mistakes I had made and started to seriously reconsider my blogging journey. I decided to change the focus of my blog to write about my lifestyle choices, the mistakes I have made, and my journey.

enjoying wildlife with a simpler lifestyle

I now live a simpler lifestyle, travel often, and have time to dedicate to improving this blog with a goal to help others. Long-term I will do so here, on social media and with a membership site.

My lifestyle is quite different from the path most people are taking. The path to get here has been a bit of an adventure as well.

I have made many mistakes in starting my blog and social media accounts. This means the knowledge I have may be useful to others who are not happy with their current lifestyle and are looking for alternatives.

I guess I am not the only person to make blogging and social media mistakes. In order to be accountable and document my journey I will document my mistakes and discuss my current actions.

What is my current lifestyle?

I gave up working for more than a year and lived a simple life. I spent 10 years houseless and traveled Australia in my motor home. During the past couple of years, I have been stationary on a piece of land that I lease. It is my intention to buy a cheap house in a country area very soon.

I have time to enjoy my hobbies, visit with family, and just relax appreciating life and my surroundings. Blogging is just one of my hobbies.

How can I fund my travel lifestyle?

Our previous lifestyle was funded through a retail business and savings from the sale of my former business.

money to fund lifestyle

I now have access to my superannuation so I have a small income for food and essentials. My husband will qualify for the aged pension in a little under a year, and I will do so in just under five years.

Our superannuation will last until that time and we can access a small amount to cover a cheap house.

This blog and social media are my attempts to add a little extra income. I don’t need tens of thousands of dollars per month. A couple of hundred here and there would suffice. This would give me fuel money to travel whilst maintaining a house.

I can also work part-time when I am not traveling.

Restarting my blogging journey with an eye on the future.

laptop used for blogging
blogging using a laptop. Easy to set up and pack away.

Restarting my blogging journey included rethinking the whole process. I decided to take advantage of the domain name age (as it is not too niche-specific) and re-write the blog while updating old content and pivoting direction.

I believe Google is now looking for new helpful content rather than several posts discussing the same search intent using different keywords. As I move forward I will be consolidating related posts to avoid duplicate content.

Instead of just concentrating on content, I will consider the entire business of the blog. Presentation and branding are important as I believe Google still wants to promote businesses or brands.

AI can now scrape content to find basic information, but can’t give a unique perspective. This, I believe, is why we need to be a brand that people get to know on social media and follow in order to get different viewpoints.

I predict that in the future, building a brand will create an authority that both search engines and users will relate to. As users start to realize that AI answers don’t always result in satisfaction, they will look down the page further just as some of us do when we realize that adverts at the top of the SERP are not what we were looking for.

A brand can be promoted through social media, perhaps with a trademark, and have a presence in the media or authority through books.

If users search by name, a brand is likely to be considered more authoritative than a blog trying to gain an audience through SEO alone.

External factors such as social media promotion and shares, traffic to and from other websites with similar content, and traffic from email should continue to be beneficial.

I say traffic rather than links because I believe that Google will determine user actions as a factor to consider. If external links are built that do not send traffic, or if the link does have traffic that immediately leaves, this could determine that the content is not useful or relevant. Just as Google wants to promote a good user experience, it will expect our website to do the same.

Do you need to restart or restructure your blog?

With the future in mind, do you need to restart your blog from scratch as I did, or can you reconstruct your existing work and pivot to a library of useful content that is read and shared by others?

I trust this will give you some thoughts to consider.

If you want to follow my journey, perhaps you would like to check out my social pages. I will be documenting my journey as I move forward, even though I am still putting it all together.

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