Create Blogging Website: My Experience
Hi, I was asked by Ray to write what it is like to create blogging website. I would like to share my experience with you. Because I used to blog almost every day between 2007 and 2014, one successful site in Japanese and also an English site which was not so successful (due to my poor English at the time). Blogging opportunities and trends vary from country to country and my experience might not be as useful to everyone, but I'm hoping that this post will encourage you to start blogging and find lots of exciting possibilities.
Only up until a few years ago, it was really tricky to make a blogging website in order to make money as affiliate. (To me, anyway. I'm forever a tech novice.) Most of the ready-made blogging platforms didn't allow us to place affiliate links. One of the easiest options was to download WordPress and upload back to a web hosting platform. Unfortunately I just never understood the logic to it and somehow something went wrong on a weekly basis. During my 7 years of joyful blogging experience, the time I spent in pulling my hair out amounted about 2 years for sure.
Anyway it's become much easier now, as many web hosting companies offer WordPress-ready platform. You can start customizing the design of your site the minute you sign up.
Making Money With Blog
As far as making-money was concerned, things were much easier when bloggers were able to earn "hundreds of thousands of cents" via PPV and PPC. PPV stands for Pay-Per-View. Every time someone browsed my web page I received a commission. Nowadays very few companies offer PPV opportunities to bloggers.
Whereas PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. People used to click ads in my page so often so randomly for no reason, whatever kind of ads they were, my visitors would be curious enough to click them. Not as many people click ads anymore, as you know. Ads are ads nowadays, they are annoying things.
Looking back I cannot believe I was able to make a good income with my trashy site, despite the fact that I was writing about fashion and food and infidelity (I was having a very messy affair with a married man) day-in, day-out. My blog received around 2,000 - 3,000 views per day. 5,600 views at the highest.
I Gave It All Up
Because of the topic I was writing (about having an affair), I received so many negative comments on a daily basis. There were a few spammers who left foul-mouthed remarks but because they changed their IP address every time, I couldn't block them. In my defense, the man was from a country where polygamous marriages are officially recognized. But the fact that he was married to another Japanese lady, was the cause of controversy (among my blog readers!)
For that reason, maybe you can image that money was the only motivation factor for me to carry on blogging. And when PPV/PPC didn't work any more and my income sources dried up, I simply gave it all up.
Word-Count Rule Is Ridiculous
At least for English-written websites, it is considered essential to write a lengthy blog as part of SEO. At least 1,000 words, 2,000 words, or more. I think it's ridiculous sometimes, that bloggers find themselves deliberately lengthen their articles for the sake of SEO. By repeating the same information in different paragraphs using different expressions, adding a few extra examples unnecessarily in order to bulk up their post.
Perhaps not a bad thing for many readers who quickly surf and skim through. But some of us like me, read word by word, sentence by sentence, very frequently find a lot of blogs repetitive, too long, boring, "so what's your point?"
Japanese bloggers don't have to do that, because...
Blogging opportunity is slightly different over there. there are a few bloggers communities where millions of users visit daily (or every minute, in fact). You don't need to learn SEO technique to become a blogger in that country. Of course you do if you want to be ranked in search engines but why bother when you can be recognized easily in these special blog communities? Instead, each community has hundreds of categories, and each category has its own ranking system. So the bloggers focus solely on the contents. So what's the most appealing contents for Japanese readers?
No SEO, No Word Count But...
Please don't get me wrong, there are lengthy, informative, educational blogs exist. And people find them very useful. But generally most appealing contents within the blog communities are extremely short, no-quality contents.
For example, pets. Pet blogs are very popular. A pet blog owner's "keys to success" are (1) to own a couple of cute cats/dogs (2) update daily (3) placing a couple of photos is a must... But none of their posts has more than 5-10 lines or text.
"The weather is so warm today... Just had my breakfast... I am so sleepy... Meow!"
That's it, and many of the pet blogs receive 50,000 - 200,000 views per day. Readers seem to expect no more than a peaceful content that makes them smile for 15 seconds at the end of every hectic day.
Which makes you think, get a kitten, start an easy blog and you too will be a millionaire. But that's not the case, because of course, a lot of time and effort are involved to create blogging website. Not just to update it daily but there's a harder part.
The most time consuming part was to reply each and every comment. You don't have to, but it's nicer if you do. Particularly the readers over there seem to prefer to engage more. I was receiving 2,000 views per day and at least 200 comments per post every day. 10% of the readers left a comment. Not just my blog but I heard many others spent up to 8 hours just to reply all the comments.
The dilemma was, if I only replied to some of the comments I was branded ignorant. Especially with negative comments, if I replied nicely and politely with or without being sarcastic, there was always someone else calling me being “sad and desperate”. If I started to manually approve or disapprove each comment, they said I wasn’t treating my readers fairly. I could never win.
Not Always Affiliate Friendly
I was surprised to learn that many readers in Japan often showed hostility towards “just ordinary bloggers” who try to earn extra money "with no effort". It seems ok for internet marketers, as long as their site is built for commercial, promotional, or affiliate purposes from the day 1. What's the difference? Nothing!
If someone like me recommended a detergent spray, whether the link was an affiliate link or direct link, people would criticize me and call me “Stema”. (Pronounced “steh-mah”, the word comes from “stealth marketing”.) People would think I pretend to like the product for a commission. She's taking advantage of her readers and making money. Pure greed!
So, if I genuinely wanted to recommend a detergent and placed a link, each and every time I’d have to add a thorough explanation;
“Just to make it clear that I’m not a Stema. I really find this detergent useful and would like to recommend it to you. The link is a Rakuten affiliate link, so if you buy it from this link I’ll receive a small commission. If you don’t want me to receive it, just Google it and consider buying it because I think it’s really good.”
It doesn’t make sense, does it? Why would anyone have to declare each time that they’re not involved in stealth marketing, and make an “I’m being honest” statement? Anyone can become an instant blogger but it’ll be harder to monetise it as affiliate in that country.
Create A Blog Website
Maybe I’ve written about blogging situation that doesn't apply in worldwide scale. But a lot of things apply to English blogs too. For example readers comments, I hate to see some rude people leave nasty comments, but I find it most interesting to see how the postmaster replies without snapping. It’s important to keep dignity and agree to disagree.
It's all about how you can engage with your readers, and you'll get to learn as you carry on blogging. You'll improve the skills and people will react to you accordingly. Then it will motivate you.
Thank you so much for reading my post, and a big thank you to Ray for giving me an opportunity to talk about my blogging experience.
Mami is a multi-lingual freelancer - interior designer by day, digital marketer by night, and currently studying to become a psychiatrist in Tokyo.
Author // Mami Yamashita