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There’s more documentation on ‘how to make money online’ than most subjects out there, yet I can safely say that 99% of people who try to replace their offline income fail to do so. Many of you have seen the case studies of marketers – who clearly already know what they’re doing – building another successful website. Inspiring? Without a doubt. But obviously there’s still something missing.
For a long time I wondered what it would take to fill that gap. What would increase the number of people who follow advice in this space and actually achieve some form of success. Then the answer came to me. Or rather, she did.
Her name was Andrea, and with just a few emails she inadvertently helped me realise where I think those teaching (myself included) may be going wrong. The thing is, these case studies, examples and strategies are very rarely based on someone’s first website. The people behind them have usually had years of experience in this field, and as such, it’s near impossible to know exactly what beginners are struggling with or even how they’re dealing with all of these new concepts and ideas.
Since the maps out there clearly aren’t getting people to their desired destinations, I’m going to draw a new one.
On that note, it’s time to announce my next project. I say announce, and not launch, because I’m not the one launching it. In fact, I’m privileged to say that a media company you’ve no doubt heard of gets those honors. They’re called the Guardian, and you can learn more about my newest project in their newspaper today (September 3rd). It’s the main feature of their Work section.
That’s the headline you’ll see sprawled across the website I’m launching. I’ll link to it in a moment, but you should really go and read that article first if you haven’t already. I’ll still be here. It really is better that you check it out before continuing.
If you read the entire article you’ll see that I’m launching a site which will maximise your whole experience with this case study, aptly named: BloggingCaseStudy.com. It will tell you more about the project and become home to all of the extra guides, videos, links and everything else that we can’t fit in future issues of the Guardian column.
“Wait, a column?“. I’m anticipating you have a few questions already, so I’ll answer them all in one place. Before I do that though, I have something I need to say…
Though I do hope that we can help a lot of people to start making money online, it’s definitely not my only focus with this project. After all, I can’t think of one highly-successful blogger I know who would tell me that they just did it all for the money. I recently read an article on TechCrunch which highlighted how upset players of Slide’s ‘SuperPoke Pets‘ game are after news that the Google-owned company are closing it down. Reading the comments section was actually quite sad, with hundreds of people saying how much the game meant to them and how much money they had spent playing it.
A few stories that really got to me were from women who had disabilities and thus were bed-ridden 24/7. Many of them described the game as a way for them to be creative and connect with other people around the world. In their unfortunate situation, it genuinely gave them something to look forward to and enjoy during the day.
I couldn’t help but think how much blogging also gives people those opportunities. The ability to share ideas with people across the globe who are passionate about the same things as you is pretty amazing. Just this Wednesday I noticed my friend Steve was in Madrid and told him to connect with another friend, Adam (a presenter for Real Madrid TV). Both people I met through blogging. Steve later tweeted:
There isn’t much I need to say about the creative possibilities that blogging brings besides that it literally gives you a blank canvas to fill with all the words, pictures and videos you want. And more importantly, it lets you do that in your style.
As you’ll read in the Guardian article, blogging for a full-time income isn’t for everyone. More than anything I just want to show people that they can build something they’re proud of and passionate about. I’ve realised how rare it is for people to find things that make them come alive, and if I can help just 100 people find that this is something they enjoy doing, then they’re going to change the lives of a lot more people in turn.
Since I am drawing a new map, I do have to keep all of these things in mind if it’s to be the ultimate resource on this subject. Not only will I be sharing unique advice on how to grow a blog (and documenting the case study) but I’ll also be learning so much as a teacher that I can improve what I’m sharing. And of course, something like this just wouldn’t be complete if you don’t try and help people with the mindsets they need – and pitfalls they need to avoid – when it comes to succeeding in this space.
I want this not only to be something you’re interested in but something you would pass on to your brother / sister / cousin / grandmother and be sure that they’re getting taken by the hand, shown what to do, and helped with their problems along the way. Some members of my family are going to be joining in; hopefully enough evidence that this project is not something I’m approaching halfheartedly.
There’s an FAQ page over on BloggingCaseStudy.com, so make sure you check that out. I gathered that many of you would be interested in hearing the finer details so I’ve decided to share some more information in a mock Q & A format.
“Okay, so, a column?”
Yep. Not only are the Guardian mentioning myself and other bloggers in today’s feature article, they’re also going to be documenting this project every other Saturday, for six months (!), in their Work section. That’s 13 issues in total.
“How did that come about?”
On February 23rd (yeah, this kind of thing takes a long time) I received an email from a woman who pitched the idea of working with me. Specifically, she wanted me to help her grow a successful blog in the public eye. The email was very long, but the “Can Glen Allsopp help me make money?” subject line definitely caught my attention and prompted me to read the whole thing.
After getting my head around the idea, I said I was interested and she had my backing if she wanted to pitch it to any publications. Though I thought the concept was great, I was somewhat pessimistic about whether anyone would be interested in running with it. Thankfully our first choice publication loved the idea, and once we had all of the specifics worked out about what we were going to do, it was given the go-ahead on July 14th.
Ever since then we’ve been doing everything necessary to get this whole thing up and running. I should add that we’ve never met, making this more of a challenge, but that hasn’t stopped us from chatting on the phone and exchanging literally hundreds of emails.
“Why is all of this free?” or “What’s in it for you?”
You must be new here. There are no hidden surprises. When I said in my niche rockstar post that I really want to put my all into projects and do the work that matters, this is the type of thing I was talking about.
I like to think that I’ll do other things in my life worthy of a newspaper column, but I can’t deny this is a pretty exciting opportunity for me too. You know that feeling you get when you give someone a gift, expecting nothing in return. It feels good, right? Well, times that by a few thousand and you feel even better.
Of course, I’m not the only one working here, and the right people will definitely be highlighted along the way for their efforts. Andrea deserves full credit for the entire concept, after all.
“How do we know she’s a beginner?”
Heh, this one is easy (sorry Andrea!):
“How did you get that domain?”
I was surprised as everyone else when I found the domain available to register. Good timing, I guess.
“Will I learn anything new?”
Hell yes. I’m finally bringing together the flaws I find in current blogging models with the benefits of other strategies I use and creating what will eventually become the most effective blogging strategy I know. I’ve been testing my ideas in multiple niches over the last few months to prepare for this and things are going far better than I expected, though with some surprising results.
Of course, in the beginning, the content we cover is going to be very beginner orientated. If you run a blog already – even a popular one – I still think I have a few things to teach you, but you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer until I get to those lessons.
I’ll make sure it’s worth the wait.
“What’s the case study website?”
It would be kind of pointless to do a case study and instantly send thousands of visitors over to the website we’re working on. If someone else can’t replicate it, then we’re not going to do it. The site is not indexed in Google so shouldn’t be too easy for anyone to find right now. If you do ‘discover it’ then awesome. It means the case study is going well, but please keep it under wraps until we mention it publicly ourselves.
At the end of the day we can disregard certain traffic sources from our stats if this were to happen, but it would be nice not having to worry about it.
“What will you do after the six months?”
Ideally I would like to let everyone do their own thing for a few months, and come back to me with any new challenges, questions or problems they’re having a long the way. Then I can update the site once again, and leave it as an open resource for anyone in the world to freely benefit from.
“Finally, Glen, how do you feel about the whole thing?”
If you want to become the world’s best BMX rider, you don’t learn two tricks and then perform nothing but those for the rest of your career. It becomes too easy, and your growth stalls. You need to keep pushing your own limits if you want to improve at something. The challenge isn’t always fun or easy, but it makes the end result (improved skills) even sweeter.
I’ve been ready for a new challenge for a while and honestly couldn’t think of anything harder than this. Doing a case study takes enough work as it is, and I respect those who try them, but actually having someone else follow your steps and highlight their progress. I think that’s turning the difficulty factor up a notch. Not to mention the fact that she will have to write the Guardian updates at the same time and I’ll be busy working on the website.
I’m excited, slightly nervous, and feel under a ton of pressure (though I’m sure it’s mostly self-inflicted). Getting this out there – since it has been a secret for so long – also feels a bit like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Like the first paragraph is written, and now it’s time to turn the page.
Thanks for sticking here after my blogging absence, but you can hopefully see what has been keeping me so busy. Thanks to Thomas, Jeff and Dragos for helping me with some early feedback. Also, I apologise for turning off comments – I know how annoying that can be – but I’m certain I’m going to be really busy today, so if you have any feedback, please send me an email over any form of communication.
If it’s any consolation, I guarantee your mail will be read: HQ -at- BloggingCaseStudy.com
P.S. After you go through the Blogging Case Study opt-in (like that cartoon?) you’ll see links to some other blogs. It’s rare that this industry gets a chance to do something good in public, so I want to link out to even more of you during the course of the case study. If you’re making a difference in your niche, send me a mail.
And if you have any other suggestions on how I can best represent this industry – on top of the zero ads and zero affiliate links approach that I’m taking – then send those over too.