Here’s some random thoughts and observations from my month spent building FindABlog – the soon to be internet’s largest directory of WordPress and Blogger blogs.
First of all I’ll point out that domain name extensions don’t make a tonne of difference to your site’s success. In 2013 I wanted to build a forum directory to replace big-boards.com (yes a .com). I settled on FindAForum but the .com was taken so I bought the .net instead. Thus findaforum.net was born and it has gone on to be my biggest site in terms of traffic. It’s not a huge money spinner (my niche blogs have done better) but it’s a popular site so I keep it going.
In December 2020 I decided to clone FindAForum and build a blog directory along the same lines. Sure, there are many other sites that have had the idea. However, most of them are aimed at end users who just want to find blogs to read. FindAForum and FindABlog have been specifically aimed at bloggers and make money online folk who want to look for sites to reach out to and do business online.
The State of Blogging in 2020
FindABlog is largely automated when it comes to adding new blogs to the site. This is a huge relief to me because I manually selected each and every one of the 1300 or so forums indexed by FindAForum.
I do however keep an eye on what’s being added to FindABlog. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of familiar patterns emerging:
- So many bloggers have followed Smart Passive Income Pat Flynn’s lead and become the friendly figurehead of their blog. Anonymous blogs are kind of on the way out.
- Lots of blogs have social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter). To do well in some niches (particularly cooking/dieting) you simply have to be everywhere.
- Lots of bloggers now have email lists, with many offering freebies to get users to sign up. I did actually make a Niche Laboratory list, but although I got quite a few subscribers I just gave up after a while. You need a high level of commitment to make a list work.
- Make money online blogs are very popular, and I now see a lot of them following Pat Flynn’s lead and publishing income reports. Maybe I should do the same, though my income reports wouldn’t be that interesting… I actually make more money from my investments I bought from my original online business then my first wave of niche blogs.
- Bloggers are putting a lot more thought into writing viral sounding blog post titles. Did you like what I did with What I Learnt From Cataloguing 4,091 Blogs For FindABlog? Incidentally if you want to generate some catchy blog post titles then I have a tool for that on Niche Laboratory. It’s definitely a big thing right now because soon after I built the tool it stormed into the #1 spot of all the pages on the Niche Laboratory website.
- Big posts are IN! More bloggers are spending days crafting immensely long posts. Check out this post: The Definitive List Of 2,531+ Profitable Niches (That You Can Steal). How long did that take to write? I guess it’s worthwhile because I was all over that post I can tell you. But blogging’s come a long way since I made a load of money in 2010 churning out 750 word articles in various niches.
- There’s a lot less in your face advertising on blogs. I wanted FindABlog to show if a website is monetised with AdSense or Amazon or something else. I didn’t find a lot of blogs monetised with AdSense. At first I thought my code was broken, but no, it just seems to be that few blogs are actually using AdSense these days. Is Made for Adsense over for good? So how are blogs monetised? I’d say that newsletters are pretty key these days. Product reviews are also big. Finally there’s that grey area of being an influencer and getting ‘kickbacks’ from companies that want bloggers to promote their wares. Quite a lot of bloggers have simply “gone big” too – Pat Flynn (SmartPassiveIncome) has a media company, Alex Becker (one of my influences in 2012) has started multi-million dollar companies and Japan blogger Danny Choo started an enormously successful business reinventing ball jointed dolls for the 21st century.
By the way, if you just want to gain an overview of what blogging is like these days, then FindABlog has a random blog link at the top of the page. You can also go here and get a random blog in a completely random niche: https://www.findablog.net/Blogs/Random
Incidentally, WordPress is still the preferred blogging platform. So far I’ve added 4,091 blogs to FindABlog and only 4.75% of them are hosted on the Blogger platform. That’s not to say that Blogger is to be avoided – far from it. I’ve done quite well with Blogger blogs over the years. I find that they tend to work well in really small micro-niches. I do kind of like Blogger too, although it can be a pain to get posts laid out nicely as the formatting often goes awry, especially when adding photos.
The Massive Popularity of WordPress
One thing I’ve noticed from building up the content on FindABlog is that many big brands use WordPress. I kind of suspected as much because in 2016 I went for a job interview at one of the UK’s leading magazine publishers. I was surprised to find out that they actually used WordPress to publish most of their digital magazine content. This wasn’t so much because WordPress was amazing technology, than the fact that so many writers are familiar with the interface and just find it a good writing environment.
It’s kind of a double-edged sword for FindABlog though. I’ve tried to focus on adding smaller blogs to the index, you know, the kind of blogs in niches we could actually compete with. But for the ‘bigger’ keywords like weight loss the search results are increasingly dominated by the major players, and more often than not they’re using WordPress too.
So there are some random thoughts about blogging. If you’re starting a blog in 2021 or just want some ideas then remember to head over to FindABlog and have a good browse. If you want me to add some additiona features to the site then post your ideas below…