How to launch and grow a blog

Every company is a media company, so no matter what business you start, you need to understand the world of content & how to grow a media product. Today: how to grow a blog.

Each week I help founders & marketers spark their creativity by sharing a new business idea & how I’d launch & market it.

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A few things from me:

Another mega-week of growth! Welcome to 833 new subscribers who joined this week!

Speaking of newsletters, I just subscribed to Janel’s. It’s called BrainPint & is a weekly curation of the best newsletters, ideas, & products for creators. I’ve followed her for a while & can say with confidence that she knows more about growing newsletters than anyone else. Join me & sign up here!

Now, on to this week’s product idea. Today’s idea is courtesy of Bryce, who reached out to me on LinkedIn asking for advice on how to grow his blog: WGMO Network. I asked if I could feature it in a newsletter & so here we are.

Side note: if you have a business or idea you’d like me to write about, DM me on Twitter @lukecannon727 or find me on LinkedIn.

Value proposition:

  • In his own words, Bryce wants WGMO Network as a source of content on sports, culture, & politics. A value proposition shouldn’t stop there though. Your value & identity aren’t just what you write about, but how you write about it, & who you write it for. There are hundreds of sports media companies, & hundreds more in culture & politics, but there’s only one WGMO. What’ll be your differentiator? For most media companies, it’s not new content, but a unique voice & style that relates to your audience.
  • Think Morning Brew – they didn’t invent business news, but they were among the first to bring business news to millennials & Gen Z-ers in an engaging way. And they sold to Business Insider for $75 million.
  • WGMO already features some thought-provoking, non-click-baity articles, so WGMO Network’s value proposition should be that it covers sports, culture, & politics in a down-to-earth & thought-provoking way for Gen Zers. If you can go even more niche, do it.

How I’d launch:

  • It’s not as relevant for Bryce which website to use (& I don’t know what platform they’re using), but if you’re starting a blog, consider a WordPress theme (there are thousands, & WordPress is easy to customize) or Webflow. Squarespace is easy to use, but if you ever want to use affiliates, Squarespace prohibits you. Here’s how Adam Tank lost his entire profitable blog overnight.
  • Now, for content. If you don’t care about people reading what you write, write about whatever you want. Otherwise, you need to be extremely strategic. Politics, culture, & sports is extremely broad, so I’d recommend picking one initial topic. Use a tool like Ahref’s to find low-difficulty, medium-volume keywords on that topic. These keywords are usually long-tail (meaning not “chai tea” but, “is chai tai good for solving back pain”) & easy to rank for if you target them individually, since they’re not worth a big brand’s time. The exception is Reddit, which has great domain authority, but lower quality content which is easier to outrank. Generally, a good strategy is just to find & target keywords that Reddit ranks for. Aim for publishing one new article a week. Btw, you always want to focus on evergreen content that will be relevant 5 years & 10 years from now. Otherwise, your content will be worthless past a week or a month from now.
  • Next, pick a social media platform to double down on. It’s better to be a mile deep on one platform, than a foot deep on five. If you’re writing about sports or culture, consider Instagram. If politics, perhaps Twitter. Shape your weekly article into content tailored for that platform, i.e not just posting a link, but a high quality thread, or an Instagram carousel. Over time, you’ll get better at this social-first content & learn what works.
  • Finally, capture emails in your header or footer & with a pop-up (with a 30 second delay). Share new articles with subscribers via a weekly or semi-weekly newsletter. This will drive traffic to your website & get an engaged audience coming back to your content again & again.

How I’d scale:

  • After you see some traction, you’ll want to double down on want works. If you get decent organic traffic, increase your SEO efforts. Hire freelancers to write more articles. Write “Best of” lists & reach out to the companies/products on it to let them know you included them (many will want to link to you, & backlinks are the #1 factor in domain authority). Create lead magnets that people will visit your website or enter their email in order to access (how about downloadable guides to a particular city, or printable politics-themed bingo), & test running ads to them. Create interactive content that people want to share with their friends, like this for example.
  • Once you have a decent amount of traffic, say 1000 monthly visitors (which is more achievable than you’d think), you can think about monetizing. By this time, you’ll know a lot about your readers & who they are. Identify a sponsor that would be perfect for that audience (an indie video game for sports readers, a nascent shoe brand for culture, etc.) & email them. Explain why your audience is a great fit, the interests they have, & how much traffic you get, the more specific the better.
  • An alternative to sponsors is affiliate marketing. Amazon’s affiliate program is among the most popular & easiest to join. You can earn commission off of any purchases within 24 of someone clicking a link from your website, & promote millions of products to get those clicks. Many other companies have affiliate programs too (for example, email marketing providers) & even if they don’t, you can often arrange a deal with them yourself.
  • Long-term, a blog builds an audience just like any newsletter or influencer does. You’ll be able to sell your own products to your audience. YouTuber Ali Abdaal started a YouTube course, & Rihanna & Kylie Jenner came out with their own clothing & make-up brands. It takes a sizable audience to be able to do this, but the more relevant the product is, the smaller your audience needs to be. For example, Gotham Chess has less than a million YouTube subscribers, but makes thousands of dollars a month selling chess openings courses.

Why it would work:

  • We’re in the middle of a massive media shift, & the billions of dollars that used to go to newspapers, radio, & TV are having to shift elsewhere, like Facebook, Google, podcasts, & newsletters. Some incumbents are seeing digital success, like the New York Times, but others aren’t pivoting fast enough, & whenever incumbents are failing to pivot, that’s an opportunity.

Why it might not work:

  • Media & blogs are relatively easy to start & ideal for a 4-hour workweek. There’s no complex tech & everyone knows how to write. But as a result, they’re some of the most competitive businesses to run. Can you find a unique voice & build an engaged audience? Will you survive long enough to see the compounding returns of SEO & audience attention?

Question for you: what do I know or enjoy that I can build an audience around? Am I good at it, or at least entertaining?

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