I hate wasting my time.
In the pursuit of blogging success, I’ve tried a lot of stupid things in my day. I’ve tried things that gurus told me were “the greatest opportunity on the internet.”
They turned out to be colossal wastes of time.
Before you make the same mistakes I did, I wanted to point out 8 common time-wastes for beginner bloggers in 2021.
As a quick aside, understand that ALL 8 strategies can actually work.
I’m not really saying they CAN’T work, I’m simply saying that they don’t work for most people who don’t already have an audience of 100,000 people. I’m also saying that there’s much better things to do with your time.
Underneath every time-waste mentioned below, I’ll give you an alternative worth pursuing.
Let’s get into it.
Yes, trying to grow on Twitter is a waste of time. The organic reach is awful and in terms of creating a platform for yourself, there’s about 10 other social media sites better that Twitter.
If, however, you want to use Twitter to network and be around “your people,” then it’s a great solution for that. I’ve used Twitter to get into contact with my blogging friends.
Also, Twitter is my guilty pleasure. I spend a lot of time there, even though it does nothing for my bottom line.
Alternative: LinkedIn. The organic reach on LinkedIn is outrageous right now.
2. Affiliate Marketing
I’m going to get a lot of crap for this, but yes, affiliate marketing is a waste of time for most people.
Look, if you don’t generate at least 40,000 monthly pageviews then you shouldn’t be anywhere near affiliate marketing.
You’re not going to get rich with a 20% affiliate link for anything. You’ll make a few dollars maybe. There’s just — there’s better things to do. I’ve heard of folks making thousands of dollars monthly with affiliate marketing, but that’s only because they generate tons of pageviews every month already.
You probably don’t, so don’t mess with affiliate marketing until you got a pretty big audience.
Alternative: Create a small product for your audience. Sell a 3-hour masterclass on something. You’ll make more money and generate a stronger bond with your followers.
I made like 40 good-looking pins a few years back for 40 different blog posts and ended up generating a whopping 1,000 pageviews from them.
I spent 5 months on Pinterest trying to get anything more than a trickle in traffic and absolutely nothing worked.
I’m convinced Pinterest is generally a waste of time for most people.
Alternative: Go guest post. Write 20 guest posts for a variety of websites instead of making 20 pins and hoping the Pinterest Gods bless you.
4. Sharing Your Blog Posts On Facebook Groups
You know what I mean. The groups with the “Share your posts Tuesday” posts.
Alternative: Respond to all the comments you get on all your articles all the time with THOUGHTFUL stuff.
5. Starting A Medium Publication
If you asked me four years ago whether starting a Medium publication was a waste of time, I would’ve slapped you in the face. Crap, this post is getting a bit violent, isn’t it?
In seriousness, I would’ve told you to start one. The upsides were huge. You can send an email to your followers. You can create something with the help of a bunch of other writers. You can use other people’s contributions to grow faster.
Right now, as Medium is presently constructed, I renounce this belief. Medium publications are a disaster. Once you grow past 5,000 followers, submissions start coming in like ignored Acceptance Letters from Hogwarts.
At that point, Medium basically flips you the bird and tells you to fend for yourself without compensation. “Thanks for all the views you generate for us! But actually, no thanks we don’t care.”
They pay all the writers who use your platform to get more views, but they never pay you — the person who’s curating, editing, and deciding what gets published.
At that point you either let the publication die because you can’t keep up, or you just decide to publish anything and quality goes down the drain. Medium needs to financially support publication owners who hit a certain threshold. If they don’t, publications will just remain a labor of love that get no support from the big wigs on Medium and ultimately suffer a slow and painful death.
Alternative: Start a Wordpress site
6. Selling Ebooks
I’ll get a bunch of flack for this.
Look. It’s not always a waste of time to publish ebooks. I know many people who have been successful at selling their ebooks.
Just know going in that self publishing probably isn’t going to make you rich. If you know that, and you’re doing this for something other than the money, then by all means write your book and get it out there.
Alternative: None for this one. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into.
7. Paid Newsletters
Ugh. I’m waiting for everybody to bash me. Go ahead, you can. Just a few weeks ago I was shouting from the rooftops about a new paid newsletter I was going to start. Here’s another “Yes, but actually no” coming from me.
Keep in mind this article is written for beginners. I’m not addressing big creators who already established themselves on Medium. I’m talking to people who just got started within the last 3–6 months and want to monetize.
Paid newsletters are like ebooks. For me, they’re not the silver bullet to making boatloads of cash that you think they are.
For established writers with lots of followers, they certainly can be!
I know some folks who generate over 5 figures monthly with their newsletters. HOWEVER, this does not happen for everybody. First, it’s hard to get anybody to buy anything online. You gotta give people a big reason to do so.
A paid newsletter doesn’t always sell itself. You gotta give it some structure and get clear on what value you’re giving to people that justifies them giving up $5-$20 per month to receive it.
It can’t just be “sign up for my paid newsletter to support me!”
Alternative: Do a virtual summit. You’ll get email subscribers, money, and 30 new influencer friends.
8. Starting An Email List Without A Freebie
This was my biggest mistake and waste of time. Create a damn email list freebie. Give something to somebody in exchange for signing up for your email list. They won’t sign up without it.
I repeat: THEY WON’T SIGN UP WITHOUT IT.
Alternative: This is the alternative. Make an email list freebie.
I hope you don’t run into these 8 road mines in your blogging journey. Revisit these ideas a few months or years from now when you got a big audience. Paid newsletters, ebooks, and affiliate marketing could be a great idea for you once a lot of people know who you are.