Selfishly Being Selfless – Why Bloggers Fail #2

Hey everyone, thank you for joining me for my second post in the series “Why Bloggers Fail”. Just in case you didn’t catch the first post, every other Friday, I’ll be publishing tips to help new bloggers succeed. In this series, we’ll talk about why bloggers fail, why bloggers succeed, and what you can do to be on the winning team. In the last article in the series, we discussed how comments can make a huge difference in the success of your blog. If you missed it, check it out here! So, let’s jump into the lesson for this week.

Selfishly Being Selfless

Why Most Bloggers Fail

One of the biggest reasons for bloggers failing is that they simply don’t know how to market their blog. Unfortunately, we are well past the “If you build it, they will come…” days of the internet. These days, if you build it, write great content, have an idea of how to get that content in front of people, know how to make search engines trust that content, and get a bit lucky, they will come. So, there have been a few steps added into the system.

The biggest problem is that most bloggers blog. If you’re a successful blogger now, you know just as well as I did, it took tons of time and effort. You beat your head against the wall trying to bring traffic in. Then, for most of you, you had that aha moment. You know, that moment when you realized that you’re going to have to earn links to be looked at as a trustworthy resource.

This is where most bloggers come to the fork in the road. We all realize that this blogging thing is going to take much more time than we had originally thought. Next, we give ourselves the choice…

  1. Keep blogging, put the effort in, and hope and pray it works! Or
  2. Cut my losses and quit blogging.

But, what if I told you that getting quality links didn’t have to be a hard, time consuming task. What if I told you that you could earn quality links every week for free, doing little more than what you’re doing right now. Well, you probably would think I’m selling you something, but the reality is that I’m not! Here’s the tip I wish I would have learned years ago. The tip that took me more than 4 years of blogging to figure out. The tip that has pushed CNA Finance to all new heights. Are you ready? Well hold on, I think this is a great place for a heading!

Why You Won’t Fail!

OK, I guess I’ve kept you waiting long enough. Here’s the tip…to be successful you need to be selfish and selfless at the same time. I know, this sounds incredibly strange, but here’s how I see it…

  • Reciprocation – As I moved further along with the marketing for this blog, I quickly found out that the more I commented, the more people would come to my blog and comment. The more I shared things in social, the more people would share my posts. The more I did great things for other bloggers, the more great things started to happen for me…seemingly out of no where.
  • Community Building – Tons of people have a pretty bad idea of what community building online really means. Community building doesn’t just mean that you’ve got 20 people who religiously read your blog. No, it means building a community that will interact with your website, and most importantly, being there for your community when they need help.

Both of the bullet points above are incredibly important to any blog. However, to achieve reciprocation, you’re going to need to make the first move. To build a community, you’re going to have to selflessly help others. But are you really going to do these things selflessly? Isn’t there selfish reasons for you building a community or commenting on a blog? Of course there are, if there wasn’t, you wouldn’t be doing it!

So, the key to this post is to get you to think outside of the box; to think of ways to be selfish, but mask your selfishness as selflessness. To get your brainstorming started, here are a few things that I do on a regular basis that I would consider selfish acts of selflessness…

  1. Comments – In the last “Why Most Bloggers Fail” post, we talked quite a bit about comments. Well, I don’t just talk about it, I actually practice what I preach. I spend an hour every day leaving comments on other blogs that I enjoy.
  2. Links – This one doesn’t take much work, but provides one heck of a return. Bloggers love to get links to their work. Let’s face it, we write these posts hoping that people will be able to find them, links help that process along. So, in hopes that it will lead to other bloggers linking to me, I make sure to link to other bloggers. Some bloggers do this by way of a Friday post roundup, but personally, I like to link to great reads at the end of each of my posts. This way, I’m not limited to earning links one day a week! This really doesn’t take a lot of time either. I just take note of my 2 favorite posts for the day during my morning reading. When I write the upcoming post, I’m sure to include those links. In return, most of the bloggers I link to, eventually return the favor!
  3. Give Away Free Advertising – When it comes right down to it, we all want to make a little money from our blog. Once you’ve been doing it for a while, you’re going to see a dollar sign on each post. You know that people will pay you to post on your blog, and it helps your blog survive. However, have you ever thought of selflessly giving away free advertising for selfish reasons? For instance, I pick a few bloggers a week to contact and ask if they’d be interested in writing a guest post. If they are, I get a day off of writing, and they get a quality link to their blog. As a result of the arrangement, new connections are made, and I’ve got friends to lean on in the future. Sure, I could have charged someone to post in that slot, but the relationship is worth far more than the post price tag in the long run!

Final Thoughts

As you get further and further into your blogging career, you’ll notice that you’ll start doing more things in the selfishly being selfless category. The bottom line is that you have to be selfless enough to be willing to help your community, to be willing to give away free advertising, to be willing to spend your time helping a new comer pick a theme. However, you have to be selfish enough to know that the time you spend being selfless is valuable and find ways to make the selfless time pay off in selfish ways. I hope the 3 examples above give you a kick start to the concept, and would love to hear your thoughts of the idea in the comments below.

Reader Question

What are some ways that you’re selflessly selfish with regard to your blog?

Great Reads Around The Blogosphere

Here’s to practicing what you preach…

20 Random Things About Me – Laurie is an awesome blogger, and I really enjoyed this post. It’s filled with high speed chase action and all! Being honest…it was really nice getting to know Laurie a bit more!

What Are You Investing In? – Andrew at Living Reach Cheaply is great at what he does. In this post, he poses an incredibly valid question!

39 thoughts on “Selfishly Being Selfless – Why Bloggers Fail #2”

  1. Joshua, you are right on the mark here. Selflessness and following the above tips are one of the key ways to a truly successful blog. As a side bonus, building those communal relationships means that you get back as well. I’ve built so very many valued friendships, such as yours, from putting your tips here into practice.

    • Hey Laurie, thanks for swinging by. I have to agree, the relationships we build really help us in the long run as bloggers, thanks again!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more Josh. Blogging just as in real life is all about how much you give out that will determine how much you get back. If you do not share and help others, how can you expect to succeed on your blog or in life? Plus, it just feels good to help other people, it’s part of that synthetic happiness stuff, right? 🙂

    • Hey Shannon, let’s call it blogger Karma! As far as synthetic happiness, it’s the kind of thing that happens when you don’t have a choice in the matter. I think Dan Gilbert explains it the best. Check out the TED Talk when you have a chance!

    • Hey Stefanie, comments are a great way to go. They may not earn you money directly, but on an indirect level over time, it’s amazing what comments can do.

  3. The community aspect is huge for me. It’s hard to cultivate and time-intensive to manage, but totally worth it. So many good things have come from having connections and genuine friendships in the blogging community. I think reciprocation, commenting, sharing, and also personally emailing or meeting up is a great way to forge a relationship with other bloggers.

  4. Nice insight here Josh! So much of building a community around your blog is by being selfless. Whether that be in the way of highlighting someone else’s writing, sharing it socially or giving a platform to someone who many have a desire to guest post they’re all great things to do. The other thing I like to do is answer questions I get from others. It helps build those individual relationships and I find I generally get back much more than I give.

    • Hey John, thanks for swinging by. Answering questions is definitely a great way to go to build relationships! Do you do that in forums or just when people email you.

  5. I really love what you are doing Joshua. As you already know, I’m a new blogger and this information is truly priceless.

    I really appreciate people like you that take the time to help others. You can bet that I will do the same because I’m starting to really feel like a part of a community. I feel like I’m starting to know all the great bloggers out there even if it’s just through their writing.

    • Hey Aldo, I’m glad you’re really starting to feel the community aspect of blogging. It’s really one of the most rewarding parts. No problem on sharing the tips. I think it’s important that newbies learn before backing out of blogging because they don’t know what to do. Thanks for swinging by.

  6. What a great post – as someone new to the blogging community, I shall take these tips on board 🙂 It’s a bit daunting but building those relationships with other bloggers and sharing your hints and tips will only bring good things to life, one step at a time 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more. Hey, I haven’t seen you around here….do I have a new member of the CNA Community? Anyway, doing good always brings good, especially in blogging. Thanks for swinging by!

  7. I can usually tell if someone’s blog is going to fail before they even start. Some people think “I don’t have time to blog.” What they don’t realize is there is a WHOLE lot more that goes into it other than writing blog posts. I would actually disagree with this statement -> “What if I told you that you could earn quality links every week for free, doing little more than what you’re doing right now.” I think blog commenting is an effective approach (if not essential) but I also think it’s an incredibly time-consuming task.

    • Hey DC, I definitely agree that blog commenting is very time consuming, but when I said…

      “What if I told you that you could earn quality links every week for free, doing little more than what you’re doing right now.”

      I guess I got a bit carried away with extra tips after this, but the way to get the links with little effort is to give links in your posts…doing so will make others want to link to you in return. I’m pretty sure you gave me a link like that at least once.

      Anyway, thanks again for swinging by DC!

  8. I’m a believer that selfless and selfish are actually one in the same. It’s about self. Basically, do what is good for you is ultimately doing what is good for someone else and vice versa. We all want the same thing in the end and working together is far more rewarding.

  9. I could easily spend 4 hours a day commenting on blogs! It means a lot to me when people comment on my blog, so I do the same.

    I try to be selfless when it comes to writing guest posts. Never should I think the process is about me – it’s about what I can do for the site owner.

    Also, I try not to make my content to “me” oriented. The only reason I use “I” often is to remind the audience that I’ve done and the stuff I’m recommending and it’s worked out really, really well for me.

    Thanks for another post, Professor Josh!

    • lol…professor Josh at your service. Will, I’ve been very impressed with what you’ve had going on over at FQF ever since I happened across your blog. Keep up the great work!

  10. Great article – I read your stuff over at Modest Money all the time but I think this is my first time checking in at your site.

    You’ve got a great message here. I’m a big believer in Mentor/Mentee relationships, and most people would be surprised how willing people are to help you if you just show them respect and appreciation for what they’ve built. Most importantly, you’ve got to listen to what they have to say when they do offer you help.

    This might not be very “PC” but I’m going to say it anyway: If you really admire someone’s blog/site and you want an easy in with them, give them a little business through one of their affiliate links. It might cost you a few bucks, but look at it as an investment. You want their help, and you’ll find it easier to get their help if you help them out. Once you use their affiliate link, send them a message letting them know you used their affiliate link and introduce yourself. They may have been willing to help you anyway, but now they’re even more likely to give you the time of day.

    I really struggle with building backlinks. I am the type of blogger you mentioned where I feel like content is king, but unfortunately I don’t allocate enough time into trying to develop backlinks.

    • Hey Zac, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my work at MM. I really enjoy working with Jeremy. When I first started blogging, I didn’t think anyone would help me. I soon figured out, that the blogging community is really a community and I love it.

      As far as helping bloggers out by using affiliate links, I have to disagree. Sure, I like it when people use my links because I make money, but I don’t want anyone doing it as a thank you, I want them to do it because they actually NEED the product or service I’m offering, but if it works for you, there’s really no need to change it. I just feel like I have an ethical duty to my advertisers to only bring them the type of business they want…people who want and need what they have to offer.

      As far as back links, really start doing things selfishly that seem selfless. Link to others in your post and others will link back to you. That’s a great way to start and really doesn’t take too much time. I honestly believe that building links isn’t worth it, but earning them through reciprocation is!

  11. Like many out there I’m just getting started, I love the advice. I like to write about my stories, but I enjoy reading a great article just the same that makes you think a little more or brightens your financial day.

    Thanks again Josh for asking me to be apart of your guest posts, it’s a “win the lottery” type of feeling when someone shows interest in your work.

    • Hey Even Steven, thanks for swinging by. I like how you write over at Keep it up.

      As far as the guest post invite, my pleasure, It was great publishing and seeing how people reacted to your piece!

    • Ohh yea, commenting can definitely be addicting. Sometimes I have to tell myself to stop because I get so into reading other blogs that I’ll spend all my time doing it by the time I realize it. Thanks for swinging by!

  12. Thanks for the tips. I like your idea of linking to other posts at the end of your posts. I’ve been looking for a simple way to to this and I may copy this idea, if you don’t mind. 🙂

  13. Solid advice here. I think the most amazing part of the PF blogging community is how supportive and positive everyone is. When I first started I didn’t realize how important comments really were. My previous experience was mostly knowing about how many tolls online there where and so I thought that comments were mostly irrelevant. Boy was I wrong with that assumption, sometimes the comments spark entirely new conversations that start new posts for me.

  14. Hey Josh

    Three points:

    I agree with what you’re saying. Reciprocity seems to be the norm. I also will say, some bloggers are better at it than others. I don’t care, I put myself out there as part of the community, and I will offer to help anyone or help anyone that asks. I don’t play games, but you can’t help but gravitate to those who you develop a natural affiliation with. Plus there are so many blogs out there, it’s impossible to visit them all on a daily basis (although I’ve tried yuk! yuk! 😉 )

    I am amazed at some people that seem to be able to visit so many blogs in one day. By the time I get there, they’ve been there too and I’m always dumbfounded at all the sites they get to. DC, Stefanie, Brian at Luke1428 are three that come to mind. I spend more than 2 hours (probably 3 -4 )in a day reading and commenting and although I enjoy it, it can be exhausting. Trying to find the right balance will be key to longevity.

    What about the non-bloggers that we want to have in our audience? I love the community and support I get from PF bloggers, but I think DB40 wrote a good post recently called “Preaching to the Choir”. Sometimes I wonder if there are a lot of comments to a post from other PF bloggers, does that turn non bloggers off? Do some bloggers not approve comments from PF bloggers because they want to limit this activity? I don’t know but I’m just throwing that out there, because I’m new and I like to ask dumb questions. I also want to build my non Blogger community. These are the people I want to reach with my messages.

    Great share, and as you can see, you’ve stirred a lot of questions from me! Awesome!

    • Hey Debs, thanks for the comment. I’d like to focus on blog comments first. The reason most comments are from other bloggers is because they are selfishly being selfless. There’s no agenda or reason for the average person to leave a comment, so those come few and far between. However creating relationships within the blogging community will drive normal people to you. In a sense the relationships lead to links, links lead to search traffic.

      As far as how some people get to so many blogs so quick. I’m not quite sure. I’m not going to throw anyone under the buss, but I do know that some people pay VAs to go around and comment for them. So, they never actually have to.

      Thanks again for your comment Debs!

  15. Hey Josh,

    I’ve always included other blogger’s links in the content of my posts when they are relevant to my topic, but I think your idea of the “Great posts from the Blogosphere” is absolutely brilliant!

    It is an amazing way to create awareness, and showcase some incredible writers out there!

    Again, I learned a lot in this post too, and thoroughly enjoy your writing style. I am still in the process of trying to figure out how to be just a bit more conversational.

    Can’t wait to see what post #3 has to teach me! Thank you on behalf of all struggling bloggers for taking precious time out of your day to help us out!

  16. I have to say I love your blog! Your tips are nothing short of fantastic, they have been so helpful. I don’t know what else to say except: thanks and thanks again once more!

  17. Thank you for this post, I don’t think I have ever read a post on this topic that broke it down as easily as this. It makes sense. See? I’m commenting!
    In all honestly, it makes it sound simple. The next trick is the actual doing it! Any tips on maintaining your online presence? Some days I am more eager than others and I notice my blogging community response changes because of that. Anyway to maintain either my eagerness or their presence?
    Great post though!

  18. This is right on the mark. I was making some really good headway on my blog until I fell off the map while taking on paid project. I honestly think continuing the relationships rather than taking on that work would have put me in a better situation now. Glad I discovered this early in my career. Great post!


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