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The 5 C’s of Blogging (What I’ve Learned Over 6 Years at ProBlogger)

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of September 2010 Video Posts 0 Comments

6 years ago today I imported a series of posts that I’d written about blogging on my previous blog over to the ProBlogger.net domain – ProBlogger was born. I look back on that time and while I was almost making a full time living from blogging there was so much about the medium that I didn’t yet know. I still feel I have a lot to learn but thought I’d take a few minutes out today to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned about blogging.

I’ve identified 5 things that I’d concentrate (I only started this video with 3 but by the end had 5) on if I were starting out again today. They all begin with ‘C’.

Thanks to everyone for making ProBlogger what it is today – 6 years on from that first day!

Notes

Transcription of – The Five C’s of Blogging: Reflections on 8 Years of Blogging

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to get it that way. The transcription provided by The Transcription People.

Today as you, as this video goes up on ProBlogger, it’s the six year birthday of ProBlogger. Naomi Dunford emailed me last week to remind me of the birthday. I think she started blogging on my third birthday, so she remembers it every year. She reminded me of it and offered to put a guest post up on that day, a birthday post which will go up later today.

I wanted to take a few moments out today to reflect upon the six years of ProBlogger and the almost eight years that I’ve been blogging. I started in 2002, and I wanted to reflect on some of the lessons that I’ve learned and particularly how I’d go about it if I was starting out again today.

Whilst what I’m going to share today isn’t really rocket science, I think it’s good to be reminded of these things, whether we’re new bloggers or older bloggers because whilst we often know this stuff, we don’t actually always do it – and I find myself in that category as well.

If I was to start out again today, there’d be three or four different things that I would be focusing upon.

1. Content

The first one is content. Now, that’s a bit of a no-brainer in many ways. Of course you’d be focusing upon content as a blogger, a blogs not a blog really without some kind of content whether that be video or text or audio or images.

But really, your blog’s success hangs upon what you put up on to it.

As I’ve said many times on ProBloggers over the years, if it’s not enhancing someone’s life in some way, the chances are, they’re not going to come back again. That enhancement of their lives, solving problems, meeting needs in some way could be a big thing. It could be helping them to be a better Dad or a Mum, or helping them to learn something that will help their career.

It could be big things like that, or it could be small things. Giving them a chuckle, giving them a laugh. Helping them to know that they’re not the only person with a problem. Giving them a sense of community, a place for them to connect with other people. These are problems that you can be solving with your content. Your content needs to be useful in some way. And really I guess a lot of what I would be doing if I was starting out again today, is identifying the problems that people have, needs that they have and trying to work out how I can develop content that is meeting those needs on a daily basis. Just putting content on a blog that doesn’t really mean anything, that doesn’t actually help someone in some way, it’s kind of empty, and as a result, most blogs that do that don’t really reach the heights that they could.

2. Community

The second thing that I’d be putting a lot of time into and I guess I did this particularly in the early days of my first blogs was community.

Helping people who come across your blog to feel like they’re being noticed, feel like they’re being heard, and giving them opportunities to meet other readers of your blog. It’s just such a vitally important thing.

People don’t go online just to consume content any more. They’re actually going online to belong and we’re seeing this with the rise of Facebook and Twitter and social media. The popularity for many years now of forums and chat, and all this web stuff that we’re seeing, it’s all about community, it’s all about belonging.

This is what attracted me to blogs in the first place, is that one, they would give me a voice, but two, they would enable me to connect with real people who shared my passions and interests in life. And yeah, so I guess, starting out again today and even tomorrow as I continue with my blogging, community is something that really I think needs to be a priority for us.

Taking notice of your readers, valuing your readers opinion, including that in some way. Valuing that in a public way on your blog is really important.

3. Connection

The third thing I guess I’d focus on, and this is something I didn’t really focus on that much for the first few years on my own blogging, was, is, I call it, to keep the “C” theme running, the content community, I call it connection, and giving people connecting points for you.

It’s perhaps not the best word for it, but if we want to keep the “C’s” rolling, then that’s what we’ll go with. Really it’s about capturing people’s email addresses, a place where you can continue to have that connection with them, it’s about getting them to subscribe to your blog in some way, it’s about connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook, wherever it might be that’s relevant for your niche.

This is so important. I look back on those early days on my first blogs where I didn’t focus on this, and I think of all the tens and hundreds of thousands of readers that came through my blogs that I didn’t actually offer them a way of an ongoing relationship.

For many years, I was just satisfied that people were reading it, and that’s a great thing, but what if I could get those people back again? Those hundreds of thousands of people who kind of just slipped through my fingers over the years and that didn’t connect in some deeper way. Now many of them did, they went out of their way to find ways of connecting with me, and I’m grateful for that.

It was only in the last few years that I began to offer people newsletters or connection points on Twitter and Facebook and that type of thing. So, whatever it might be for your niche that’s a relevant way of communicating with them and connecting with them, go out of your way to find ways of connecting with them. Don’t rely on other people going out of their way to connect with you.

4. Cash

The fourth thing I’d say is, again, keeping with the “C” word is cash, is money, is it monetising. Now this isn’t a goal for every blogger, but for me, as someone after a year or two decided that I wanted this to be my way of making a living, I began to have to think of ways about monetising my blogs and really, it’s about sustainability.

If you’re able to sustain your blogging in some other way and don’t need to make money out of it, then that’s fine. But for many of us, we want our blogs to at least break even, we want to be able to pay for the costs of the blog. We want to be able to, you know, pay for a nice new design or the hosting and that type of thing. And for many of us we actually want to make a living out of that as well.

In this regard I’d say, experiment with different ways of monetising your blogs. Many of us start out with AdSense or an ad network or Amazon’s affiliate program, and these are great starting points, but don’t just be satisfied with, you know, doing it in one way. Actually be constantly on the lookout for new ways of monetising, and be on the lookout for ways that you can directly monetise, and you don’t have to rely necessarily upon an ad network, or some other third party to help you monetise your blog.

Be thinking all along of, ‘could I write an eBook? Could I run a course? Could I have a membership site? Could I sell myself as a Consultant? Could I write a book?’ These types of things that you can more directly monetise your site also.

5. Contribute

And I guess the last thing I’d say, and it’s not really a “C” thing at all, and it really comes down, it really incorporates all these different things is, actually do something that’s worthwhile. I come across bloggers from time to time who create blogs that kind of are, they’re just about making money and they’re not actually about contributing anything to the world that we live in. And whilst I kind of understand that on some levels, you know, we all need to make a living, I kind of went through a phase where I did that myself. I had blogs that were just creating noise, and, in the hope of, you know, getting a few readers from search engines and making a few dollars on the side. And I actually found that to be a really empty process.

Creating blogs that are just sort of spammy, adding random content on to the web may actually make you a few dollars, but make it your ultimate goal to contribute.

If we’re going to use a “C” word, perhaps it’s contribute. Do something that makes a difference in this world.

It strikes me increasingly as I do my own blogging that people are coming to read my stuff every day and I’m helping through my content, but perhaps there are ways I can contribute and make the world a better place as I’m also doing that in different ways. I, early next year I’m going to Tanzania with a charity to actually look at one of their projects and to capture the story of that in video and image and to share it on my blogs. And whilst that’s not really on topic in some ways, I kind of feel like as bloggers we have a responsibility to use the voices that we’ve been given and to use the profile that we have and the credibility that perhaps we have and to actually use it for good in some ways. And I think that’s a responsibility for us as bloggers, and I’d love to see us as bloggers really take this more seriously. And for me that’s something that I want to do over the next few years in particular.

So, there are my five “C’s”, content, community, connection, points of connection, cash and contributing something of value to the world and the blogosphere. They’re some of the, I guess, the lessons that I’ve learned. The things that I am wanting to inspire, re-inspire myself to continue to build on as I go forward in to the next six or so years of ProBlogger. And I’d love to hear some of your feedback in comments below.

Hope this has been of some value to you as you continue your own blogging.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I’ve used this same 5 Cs to make my blog explode over the last year. I went from a nobody to somebody literally in under a year (CNN, CBS, Newsweek, etc). Fantastic advice.

    I never comment, always read, but this post is awesome.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Darren, and Happy Birthday!

    I love that your ‘C’s are all so basic. So often we look for some magical potion, but what really creates the magic is remembering and applying the basics day in and day out.

    Thanks for all you do, Darren. It’s appreciated.

  3. Thanks Darren for this. Each of the 5 C’s are critical. I especially liked Content (no surprise) and Cash. Cash is huge because it the ingredient that keeps your head in the game and your blog improving.

    Cash buys great designs, sends you to conferences, and allows you hire help (wink). I’ll be reading this post again because there is alot of excellent stuff here.

  4. No question that number one is content (and more generally, quality.) Love the perspective of this post. Let’s hear it for the letter “C”

    Mark
    masonworld.com

  5. Yes! I’ve been concentrating on these things as well as I’ve just jumped into full time blogging!

  6. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for sharing this great post mate and Happy Birthday!

    I love the way how you putted 5 C’s of Blogging.
    Really excellent post man.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post:).

    ~Dev

  7. Happy Blogiversary! :-)

  8. This is an excellent post for Bloggers of all types.

    I might humbly submit the “C” of collaboration. What I’ve seen in the growth of many excellent Blogs is an unspoken partnership between fellow writers to help each other succeed.

    The pie is not limited, but instead can expand exponentially through collaboration.

  9. First, just want to say I’ve always enjoyed the way that you clearly break things down, throughout your blog here.

    I do agree with your 5 C’s, and I guess they all seem to build upon one another, which is good, cause enhancing one aspect can help you with the others.

    But it can be tough to maintain all 5 at the same time. So I guess that’s why certain blogs are the most successful though, cause they are able to do so.

    Thanks for this. Like you said, it’s good to be reminded of these things.

  10. Janet Hulet says: 09/23/2010 at 3:29 am

    Outstanding insight, Darren. And, throughout your discussion, I felt that those five C’s resulted in an alignment of purpose for us bloggers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. This is a great list. Thanks. It is a common sense list but often needs repeating.

  12. Thank you so much for this…short and sweet and totally to the point. Really valuable!

  13. Have a happy birthday!

    All bloggers have to be a bit careful about the cash part, especially the bigger ones who have a lot of influence to sell stuff because of their credibility.

    I have unsubscribed to a few blogs because after a while it felt as if they were too salesy in nature. All posts eventually led to the promotion of some webinar, course, book or something or the other.
    Best to keep a balance.

  14. Darren,

    Thanks so much for continuing to provide quality content on a daily basis. I’ve been blogging for 4 years now and you are one of the few resources that I continue to read daily. You’ve helped me take a hobby and turn it into a six figure business that continues to grow month by month.

    The best part is I make money helping other solve simple problems.

    Well said and Thank you!

  15. May I please add another ‘c’?

    Commitment. It takes a lot of time and effort to blog well. I am not saying I blog well personally, though! I’ve just noticed that a lot of the really good blogs are the ones where the blogger has applied some commitment to the project.

  16. Happy blog birthday Darren!

    Know that you’ve fulfilled your sixth ‘C’ in spades. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and doing it in a way that makes it a joy to read.

  17. Hello Darren, first of all I wanted to say Happy Birthday on your 6th year with your problogger site. I’m from Los Angeles in a small city called mission hills in the out skirts of LA. I actually wanted to post some brief because it really helped me out a lot when I saw your video today. You see it’s been one of goals to get more involved in blogging because I enjoy writing but I had not really have had any direction on how to start writing for blogging. I’ve done some very amateurish writing on 2 very quirky blogs I started and have struggled alot to get my voice out on what I know. Thanks to your video today my mind set has opened up as to how to think that it’s not just about writing something I know but how I can prodide a solution and like you said connecting with people. Thanks so much you for your input. Your an inspiration to me. May be in the future I will touch base with you.

    Sincerely,
    Louie Rosa – Mission Hills, CA
    Blessings To You!

  18. Thanks Darren. It’s truly inspiring! As for me, I think contribution and passion should underlie all the 5Cs. In the past, I can blog on something without the passion and interest, just purely for money. I failed miserably. Without the passion to contribute genuinely, I can see a lot of tweeters just blasting their ads and affiliate marketing links across their tweets purely for the greed of money without any genuine interaction and connection! Thanks for your contribution to the community.

  19. Happy birdthady to Problogger!
    My blog is a little over a month old and while I don’t intend to monetize it or become number 1 in my niche, using Problogger’s advice has been a huge help in building things up.
    I definitely agree about Contribute. So many bloggers in my niche (fashion) are all about showing how cool they are, not about giving something to readers that they couldn’t have anywhere else. It helps to analyse comments and send emails to subscribers to ask them what they like about the blog to find a clear direction to stick to. When I get “thank you” comments from readers about the content, I know I can be satisfied with my blogging.

  20. I have just started reading and LOVE this blog–it is so informative, empowering and I have learned so much. I do have one question–what would you officially call someone who is teaching others how to make money on their blogs through advertising? A blog advertising consultant? A blog advertising coach? Is there a name out there or do I need to make one up? Thanks for your help. :)

  21. Wow Darren,

    It’s funny that you bring up the C’s because one of my products in the future is similar to this with what your focus is here. Blogging really provides a lot of ways to stay in touch and is a great way to share information across the blogosphere with so many people.

    … Happy Birthday ProBlogger!

  22. Happy Birthday Darren and thanks for everything you have done for all bloggers around the world!

  23. Thanks for the information, Darren. I’ve been reading your blog for just a very short while, but I am thinking of buying your book to try and gather more information on kick-starting my blogs.

  24. Hi Darren,

    You’ve come a long way and successful as well. Happy birthday and thanks for been a super mentor all this while. Your blog rocks.

    I love the concept of the five C’s and i like the fact that content is coming in first on the list. The success of other other C’s hangs on producing killer content. The cash aspect is a welcome development so far your content is adding value to people’s life.

  25. Darren, thanks for sharing your experience with us, your daily readers :).

    If you let me “Constancy” it’s another big C. Happy birthday and again thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  26. Nice post, I believe when we have a vision of contributing and enjoy it, we will have all other Cs coming together with it.

    Sense of contribution is a definite fuel for a successful blog.

  27. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences and insights, Darren. Other people wouldn’t easily share their success story coz it’ll just give your other competitors and other people ways to take you down. Such a generous act. Thanks!

  28. Hi Darren ~
    firstly congratulations on the 6th Birthday of Problogger!!
    Hip Hip Hooray Yay three cheers!!
    We need you!!
    Loved the video of you and particularly that you had the written format as well !
    Great to be reminded of the importance of the five C’s …

    Thank you soooo very much for all you give to us, your expertise, experience, knowledge and wisdom!

    warm hugs from a ‘newbie’ in Aussie !!

  29. Wouldn’t change a thing in your post. You hit the nail on the head with these 5. Content…so glad this is number one. Sometimes this gets thrown to the side and people really do notice. Thanks for the post!

  30. Happy birthday.

    Great post too.

    Thanks for all the contributions your blog has made already in my blog. Wish you many more successful years ahead.

  31. Thank you for the useful article. But isn’t advice in “contribute” the same as the first one, “content”? As far as I understood, bit are about writing some useful content that is not spammy and can be of help to your reader.

  32. I appreciate this post, and using video was an effective way to communicate about the topic. I loved the discussion of making a Contribution which, of course, is tied to content but goes beyond that to the underlying philosophy of a blog.

    Great comment too by Michael Reynolds who suggested an additional C, namely, Collaboration!

  33. Happy Blog Birthday, Darren!

    Thanks for the reminders you’ve posted here. As you say, these are things we all “know,” but it’s hard to remember to do them consistently. Summarizing them like this is a big help.

    My favorite C is Contribute. I think that word captures the essence of what really sets Probloggers apart from everyone else. Probloggers are interested in making a difference in the WORLD, not just in their own communities or their own readership or their own market. That’s big.

    Thanks for setting the bar so high!

  34. Love your video posts. My blog is the ‘give people a chuckle’ type of blog. Liked your advice of helping people solve problems. I always learn a great deal from these posts. Thanks a million. You’ve inspired me to keep working on the content of my blog!

  35. Darren- Great C points in the video, thanks a bunch for them.

    I think the C I like best is community. That’s definitely been a large part of the internet (at least for me) and it’s definitely important to feel as though you belong and have the ability to voice your opinions.

    A solid community is important as it helps with your ability to get your products/self/service out there. People often take stock in their connection with you- building the rapport that’s needed.

  36. Happy 6th ProBloggerversary, Darren!

  37. Great video and congratulations on your 6 year reunion of ProBlogger!

  38. I appreciate the things that you offer in the way of useful content. I am a very new blogger and I want this to become something more for myself and for my wife who is also a new blogger. Giving these ideas in such a clear and concise way is very helpful.

  39. These are great Darren. Thanks for listing these out.

  40. Darren,

    Congratulations on your sixth anniversary of blogging on Problogger. I love your site and this video is an excellent summary that helps keep a guy focused on what is important.

    Two months ago I started a newsletter to talk about my passion, stock picking. I knew almost nothing about blogging and ran across your site. It has been very helpful and next week I’ll be starting my first blog. Thanks for all the help. Your site is the best.

  41. Happy Birthday and thanks for the video. I found it very affirming as I am winding down a blog that I’ve made my living with the past 3 years because it felt too selfish, and starting a new blog that I hope will make a difference in the world. I was going through a bit of low self esteem this afternoon about that plan until I watched your video. It reminded me I know what it takes to make a quality blog and that the world could always use a bit of saving.

    Thanks again.

  42. Happy anniversary!

    Great post as usually, but, if you don’t mind, I’d have to grumble about the size of the embedded video. 300px is really really small, if your content area is more than 500px wide. On 1600px monitors (and I bet your stats will tell that those are not rare) it’s just too small. Are you trying to make us go fullscreen?

  43. Hi, Happy Birthday & Congratulations :) I like how you spelled out all the basic component of blogging. It’s meaty yet simple. It’s also very realistic and relevant. We need this to remind all of us that life just like blogging needs simple components only. We don’t need to complicate things. It will just confuse us. Thanks.

  44. Congrats on your 6 year anniversary with ProBlogger and thanks for your insight! Awesome advice and great reminders to stay focused on what matters most. The Big “C” for me is Contribute. I’m reminded of the old saying: “Be a friend to have a friend.” You have been a friend, an inspiration and a help to me and others. — Hooroo

  45. Great advice Darren – I have only been blogging for about a year and a half now. Some of these C’s I have been building upon, but it all needs more work and dedication. I used to visit ProBlogger a lot, but I’m going to start doing it again to sharpen my game.

    Thanks again,
    Steven

  46. Definitely a strong reminder. Providing solutions to people’s real problems is how I successfully built my first site. It seems trickier the 2nd time around.

    How do I find out what the biggest fears and frustrations people have when it comes to blogging or building a profitable site?

    I wish I could get a stream of answers to that question because then I could create content to solve those problems.

  47. Congrats Darren! – Happy anniversary and thank you for everything you do! (P.S. I know it’s not actually your “birthday” since we share that day.)

    ;)

  48. Hi Darren, please write about how much traffic should be there for a new blog within six month of its launch.

  49. The 6th ‘C’ therefore must be “Congratulations Darren”. 6 years is a considerable achievement.

    I wonder what percentage of blogs continue for more than 6 years – I would imagine it is considerably less than 0.001%.

    This is a fantastic resource – thanks for all the posts.

  50. Thanks too much for this post. It’s very simple and clear.
    Sometimes the most simple things are also the most hard to remember. :)

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