Lessons Learned from 500-Plus WordPress-Powered Blog Posts

Note: This is a summary of the 5-minute presentation that I just made to the Tucson WordPress Meetup Group.


Thank you for coming to the Meetup! My name is Martha Retallick and I’ve been a full-time freelancer since 1994.

Along the way, I’ve worked as a web designer and photographer. These days, I focus on copywriting. Which means that I write the words for websites, online courses, and marketing pieces like brochures. You can see my work on the Western Sky Communications website.

My website runs on WordPress, and it’s had a blog since 2007. I’ve written more than 400 posts on a wide variety of topics, and I’ll get back to this point in a moment.

Now, let’s look at the first of three lessons learned…

Lesson #1: SEO isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ll start this lesson with the part that everybody likes to hear about. The part where search engine optimization really works. Here goes – from my own experience:

Between 2002 and 2006, I ran an eBook publishing business. It did so well that it helped me buy a house. During much of this time, my Postcard Marketing Secrets website was ranked #1 in Google.

Why did this happen? Well, I worked with a great SEO guy – 100% white-hat. We kept the site focused on one topic – not a wide variety. If you want high rankings, you must focus. And on this site, the focus was on how to successfully promote your business with postcards.

Here’s the bad news: In the marketing world, things get hot. And then they’re not. In other words, today’s hot technique – like postcard marketing – can be tomorrow’s has-been.

In 2004, my Postcard Marketing Secrets eBook sales started declining. They never recovered. And, yes, I was still ranked #1 in Google. Turns out that the law of supply and demand is stronger than the search engines.

Lesson #2: Blogs are easy to start. Keeping them going is a challenge.

The trouble with blogging is that you have to keep coming up with new material. And you know how life gets in the way? Next thing you know, you haven’t posted in a long time. Guilty as charged!

It’s true. I’ve been a slacker blogger for as long as six months.

If you find yourself in the same situation, I have this to say:

It’s okay! There are times when you need to take a break.

Lesson #3: You can make money as a blogger.

I’m not talking about the content mills that pay a few bucks an article. How high can you go? Well, one of my friends recently wrote a financial blog post for $750.

And now, here’s the bad news: Unless you’re a name-brand blogger like my friend, this work isn’t going to come to you. You have to pitch for it.

Pitching is how I became a staff writer for the FreelanceSwitch blog. That one was about the business side of creativity and it was operated by Envato, the company behind ThemeForest.

FreelanceSwitch ran on WordPress, and I wrote more than 100 posts between 2008 and 2013. In the beginning, I chose the topics. Toward the end, topics were assigned and had to use certain keywords. SEO – again.

Alas, that sweet gig came to an end. Envato closed FreelanceSwitch in 2013. The good news is that I’m back with Envato as a Tuts+ writer.

Okay, that’s writing for blogs and getting paid. Here are three ways to make money with your own blog:

  1. Sell books and courses like Dave Stuart Jr.
  2. Endorse products and services and get paid when people sign up like my friend J. Money does at Budgets are Sexy.
  3. Sell ads like the financial bloggers at Three Thrifty Guys.
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