As we approach 2023 – man, that sounds weird to say – I realized that I have been blogging for 10 years!
I don’t actually remember the date, so don’t be expecting an anniversary party or anything, but I made my first money as a blogger in 2012. Holy crap, that’s a long time.
In those 10 years I was able to grow a successful mom-lifestyle blog that paid off my student loans, let us buy our cars with cash, and put me on track to pay off our mortgage in 15 years instead of 30.
I also sold my blog when I was called to start Side Hustle Teachers and it grew faster than I anticipated. Blogging is a fairly low-key way to make money, but it still requires work, and I just couldn’t do both.
Now Side Hustle Teachers is a thriving blog with a highly engaged community, a new signature course that’s helping other teachers build and grow their own blogs, and a clear path to early retirement.
Over that time I’ve also discovered and consciously worked towards a more chill lifestyle, even as I continue to teach and my business consistently grows. I have more free time now than I did before I started my first blog!
When it comes to the business of blogging, a lot has changed, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.
So let’s dig in.
Technology is WAY Easier
Let’s start with the best thing on this list. Tech is way more accessible now than it was when I started. Not only is it cheaper (yay!), but the improvements and upgrades have also made it easier for the average non-tech-geek to use, making the internet a much more user-friendly place.
When I first started, putting up a website took either a lot of money or extensive knowledge of coding and internet language. Yes, I had access to WordPress and ready-made themes (it wasn’t the really early days), but any changes needed to be done manually or via code… I broke my site many, many times.
There are also a lot more tools available to use online. Pretty much whatever you want to do online, there’s a tool you can use to manage it for you. From payment processors to schedulers to customer management to auto-responders… you name it, it’s out there.
And – this is big – they all talk to each other! Your credit card processor talks to your bank, who talks to your business email, who talks to your email management system, who updates your database… It’s amazing. You can integrate all your tools, making automation 1000% easier, and taking a ton of work off your plate. There are even tools that help your tools talk to each other if they don’t have built in integration (thank you, Zapier!).
And one of the few good things to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is that, by forcing more people and businesses online, even more programs, platforms, and systems were introduced… and they’re not going anywhere.
All this makes starting a blog a totally doable endeavor.
I know many teachers are afraid of the tech that’s involved, but if you can handle the tech of a 21st century classroom, a blog is a piece of cake!
Social Media has Exploded
When I started there was Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest was still new and masquerading as a social network, and Instagram was just barely born. Social media was growing, but it was not the ubiquitous part of everyday life that it is now.
Cut to today when social media platforms abound and are some of the most trafficked parts of the internet.
For a while, every time a new platform was introduced, bloggers were encouraged to jump in and become founding members before it became big.
Side note, this was brought on by Pinterest, whose early adopters gained HUGE advantages on the platform, frustrating those who came after.
However, as we’ve seen, not all social media sites are created equally or are built to last… I’m lookin’ at you Periscope, Clubhouse, and Google Plus!
Today, anyone who’s telling you to be on every social platform, especially when you’re new to blogging, is given sideways glances and dismissed as out of touch. This is a very good thing for your content and your sanity. My focus is on the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group. Everything else is extra.
These days it’s better to focus your time, energy, and creative skills on 1 or 2 platforms where you can build authentic connections and engage with your audience. If you want to have a presence on more platforms, you can use tools to automatically share the same content in multiple places so your apparent omnipresence doesn’t take any more work.
So when the next big social media app is introduced, don’t feel the need to dive in. Just grab your username so it doesn’t get stolen, and feel free to delete the app.
Standards are Higher
When I first started my original blog, I published a post every day. Back then it was way easier to do that (though still crazy) because the internet rewarded quantity over quality. I still cringe when I think about some of the things I shared with the world. But I was trying to “catch up” with the people who’d been blogging for years, and volume sold.
These days not only do readers expect higher quality information, but search engines demand it.
I may have ranted about this before, but it bears repeating. Your readers expect and deserve quality posts.
On top of this, Google now considers your site’s authority when ranking pages in search results. People and posts who cite facts, give value in their content, and meet other authority based criteria (there are hundreds of factors considered), will be boosted in search results, and therefore discovered by more people.
But it’s not just content quality expectations that are higher. Internet users expect a beautiful, user-friendly website experience when they land on your site. They expect high-quality images with thoughtful design, and they have a very low tolerance for poor sound quality.
Interestingly, while video quality is important, users will watch a video with poor video quality longer than they will watch a video with poor sound quality, according to VTRep.
With all the tools available to help, people demand quality.
I’ll add a side note here, though, and this is important. While people expect high quality, they also understand and are forgiving – even appreciative – of authentic imperfection. In my videos you may see my cat wandering around in the background. In my podcast episodes you may hear my daughter singing or other family life noise. No one complains about it. It actually helps me seem more real and relatable. So, in my early days I would have spent huge amounts of time re-recording or editing, these days I’m happy to leave that stuff in.
Saturation is Real
The internet was already starting to get crowded when I began blogging, but now it’s downright mobbed.
There are 600 million blogs on the web today, compared to about 100 million when I started. That’s pretty massive growth!
The good news is that the number of blogs continues to grow because blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy and way to build revenue. That means that even though you feel late to the game, you haven’t missed out.
The bad news is that it can be harder to be noticed online with so many options. There’s a lot of noise online and sometimes it feels like you’re just waiting for your class to settle down and listen.
But the really good news is that if you want to be noticed, it’s pretty simple; Show up and be yourself.
It may take longer to build an audience, but if you continue to show up as your authentic self (and market your blog), your people will find you and stick with you.
So, a lot has changed in the last 10 years, but if I’m totally honest, most of it has made the online world better, more accessible, and more profitable.
And while it may seem intimidating to try to get into this space, there has never been a better time to give it a go. The internet has never been more readily available for those who want to form new relationships, build community, and make money.
The time is now!
If you’re ready to give a go at this incredibly profitable realm, check out Teacher Blog Academy!