Why This Blog Sucks (and So Do Most Blogs)

blogging Why This Blog Sucks (and So Do Most Blogs)

I have been blogging on JetSetCitizen for more than 4 years now. After hundreds of blog posts, my readership and subscribers are still growing at a snail’s pace. I’ve seen many of my peers explode online in recent years, so what am I doing wrong?

My recent interview with Steve Kamb of Nerdfitness.com really helped highlight what is lacking with this site. Steve told me about his own realization that his blog sucked and what he did to change it. Nerdfitness.com now often gets 250 new subscribers per day and Steve Kamb is at the reigns of a rapidly growing fitness empire.

Why Do I Want Lots of Traffic?

Before getting into the details of how to get more traffic and subscribers to JetSetCitizen.com, I think it’s important to step back and ask why? I don’t want my life to be about competitively striving for more. A quality life is not about maximizing material possessions, experiences or online popularity. I don’t need a top blog to enjoy my life or find meaning and purpose. My life is pretty damn good now, so I want to be clear to myself that I’m not chasing superficial goals.

Do I need an A-list blog? That’s a difficult question to answer. In the back of my mind, I’d love fame and fortune, just like anyone, so I have to keep myself in check. I’m not writing to promote the latest “make money online”  or “find your passion” gimmick. Although my focus seems to be lifestyle design, long-term travel and making money online, I really have ulterior motives.

I think the way most of the developed world lives is destructive to the planet and counter-productive to our own personal happiness. I’m trying to subtly, and sometimes not-so-subtly, encourage people to change what they think a good life is. For that reason, I want to reach as big as an audience as possible. Is that selfish or manipulative? Maybe. But, there it is in the open for everyone to see.

Now back to why this blog sucks.

The Ingredients of a Successful Blog

If you follow any of the blogging gurus, you will see a pretty standard list of key factors to building a popular blog.

1. Epic Posts

Long form content that goes deep into problems your readers are likely to have is valuable content that people bookmark and share. There is far too much generic, superficial fluff on the internet, so great content gets noticed.

Good infographics, slide shows, podcasts and videos will also increase sharing, so having some content diversity is also very benefical.

2. Be Helpful

Great bloggers solve problems for their readers. Your mom might be interested in a personal diary of your experiences, but most of the internet is not. You are either entertaining or solving problems. Short posts of regurgitated facts, (13 Reasons You Should Travel in 2013), are annoying and boring.

3. Networking

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This is true offline and online. If you want to promote your content and products online you have to build relationships with bloggers that are more popular than you are.

You can comment on the blogs of others in your niche, share their content on social media or interview others. All those strategies work to a degree but there are a couple of more effective networking strategies. Number one, buy the products of those you want to connect with. No one talks about this very often, but there is no better connection to a blogger than being their customer. The second best strategy is attending real world events. Meeting someone in person once, is worth hundreds of online interactions.

4. Tell Stories

Great bloggers, like WanderEarl, tell stories that catch your attention, build up interest and and then reach a climax, just like any good book or movie. Factual posts like ’10 Things Every BackPacker Must Bring” might get clicks, but content like that is boring and largely useless for most people. Great story telling never gets old.

5. Be Unique

In every niche, there are thousands of bloggers and they all write about essentially the same things. To stand out, you really have to be different. That is easy to say, but often hard to do in practice. People like Mars Dorian or Ashley Ambridge get attention because they are unique and interesting in an authentic way. Their personalities come through on their sites. The most obvious sign of a generic and boring business is the ongoing use of ‘we’ when you are alone. Trying to pretend you have a large team is stupid if you are an individual freelancer. Celebrate your individuality, don’t pretend to be a stale corporation.

6. Have a Story

In order for people to take notice, you have to be doing something worth noticing. Chris Guillebeau is travelling to every country in the world. Benny Lewis goes on language missions where he learns a new language in 3 months. Pat Flynn makes $50,000 per month online. Brandon Pearce makes tens of thousands of dollars a month working an hour a day. Niall Doherty is travelling the world without flying.

Those are all fantastic stories that people want to spread. A great idea naturally spreads, it has too. All the marketing in the world can do little to help a boring story.

Another way to look at it is, “What Guy are You?”

  • Chris Guillebeau is the guy travelling to every country before he is 35 years old. That’s how he is identified. It’s on his website and Twitter profile. The minute you find out about him, you know what “guy” he is.
  • Lewis Howes is the Linkedin guy.
  • Chris Brogan is the social media guy.
  • Steve Kamb is the nerd fitness guy, and the fact that is his domain name is even better.
  • Corbett Barr is the blog traffic guy.
  • Cody McKibben is the Digital Nomad Academy guy.

What guy or gal are you?

7. Be Everywhere

Super bloggers like Pat Flynn are active everywhere. They have lots of videos, popular podcasts, are active on social media and they frequently write high quality content for their blogs. There are few short cuts to gaining massive attention. Put in the work and you will build an audience.

8. Promotion

Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com has a great post on Why Bloggers Fail. One of the key reasons he identifies is that writing great content is not enough, you have to promote it to get more traffic. That means getting guest posts and mentions from popular bloggers.

Why JetSetCitizen Sucks

I know exactly what is necessary to build a great site, yet I don’t. I think many people are in the same situation. We all know what success entails but most of us dream that some short cut will allow us to get massive results with little effort.

Here is a more detailed break down of why the growth of this site has been mediocre.

1. Epic Posts

I occasionally write long, content rich posts, and they get shared. I know they get results, but these types of posts are a lot of work. Also, my motivations for writing epic posts are primarily traffic focused. It’s not usually the most important idea I want to convey. Catering to what is popular is often selling out in my mind. I’d like more traffic, but not at the cost of publishing content I’m not proud of.

From my surveys and reader feedback, I know most of you want information on how to make money online. That can be a very sleazy topic to write about so I have to tread carefully there.

My favourite topics are more related to encouraging social good and more thoughtful living, but these posts don’t seem to resonate so well with my readers. I hope that will change over time. I want the world to change, not the topics I write about. icon smile Why This Blog Sucks (and So Do Most Blogs)  Making money is interesting to me and valuable to most readers, so I will cover those topics on occasion, but I want to focus on bigger ideas.

I have some big projects in the works, that I hope some of you will be interested in, so maybe there is some epicness in my future. icon smile Why This Blog Sucks (and So Do Most Blogs)

2. Be Helpful

I’m trying to provide practical and actionable advice, but I also want to promote critical thinking about our lifestyle choices. I enjoy the interviews because it allows me to meet fellow digital nomads and I love hearing about how others earn their living online, but interviews are not my primary interest.

Far too many talented entrepreneurs are spending all their time making largely socially useless businesses just to earn a small amount of money, while billions in this world still don’t have food and clean drinking water. Aren’t there better things we could be doing with our time?

I know that most of you don’t want to hear these messages all the time, so I try to limit the preaching, but I still want to push that message.

3. Networking

I’m not very comfortable in social situations so this is still difficult for me. I’m trying to connect with more people, but I know I can still improve in this area. Interviewing so many people has definitely helped, but I should also be dedicating time every day to contacting people online and attending more conferences.

I don’t buy many products online because most of them haven’t really been worth the money. I’m sure there are some great products out there, but I don’t really need more information. I think all of us need to take more action, not consume more products. I should buy more products of the top bloggers just to help me get noticed, but I hate buying things I know I’m not going to invest much time in.

4. Tell Stories

Telling great stories is an art form and is not something you can fake. I’ve never really been interested in reading fiction so I’m at a disadvantage here. This is something I’m actively trying to change. I’m reading more novels and trying to be more conscious of story arcs. Unfortunately, my posts still don’t communicate much emotion.

I think one of my better story posts is Foreign Travel is Scary and Dangerous. I need to try more posts like that.

5. Be Unique

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to standout. Everyone does interviews so that is not really a differentiator. My focus on social good might help me, but I’m not sure that’s how people identify me.

I really enjoy creating animations, so I hope to add more to the site in the future. No blogger, that I know of, is focusing on animations so this could be a way to stand out. The problem is that good animations take a long time to create, so I’m not sure if they are worth the effort.

6. Have a Story

I don’t really have a good story. I thought that My One Year Plan to a New Country and Career could be my story, but I don’t think that is powerful enough.

To be clear, a good story is not some made up marketing tag line like a unique selling proposition. A good story is something meaningful and authentic that resonates with people and is easy to communicate. It’s about doing something bold and unique.

I need and want to do bigger things with my life. I hope to reveal some new developments very soon. Maybe I will finally have a story worth telling.

7. Be Everywhere

I’d like to do more video and audio, but they take a lot of time for me to edit. I love how Niall Doherty puts video on every post, but I’m not so comfortable on camera so I’m a little reluctant to start down this path. However, the fact that I’m uncomfortable with video, makes me want to challenge myself to overcome this fear. Okay, the challenge is set. I will post more video on this site.

8. Promotion

I think I’ve only done one guest post and that was a long, long time ago. I definitely need to put more time into promotion. If more traffic is the goal than guest posts on popular sites should be my primary focus. Challenge number two; ten guest posts before the end of the year.

In Summary

I know what needs to be done, the question is whether or not I will take the time to do it. Is it worth putting in  massive effort to get more traffic to JetSetCitizen? I’m not sure yet. I don’t make any money from this site, but maybe I could if I put more effort into it. There are little profits in promoting social good, so I don’t expect to earn much. On the other hand, if I were making money with this site, I would likely invest more time into it.

Why do you think my blogging sucks?
What can I focus on to get better?
What content would be more popular?

 

 

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

63 Responses to Why This Blog Sucks (and So Do Most Blogs)

  1. I don’t think your blog sucks! I rather like that you wrote this sort of post. It was interesting and useful and it took guts to write it, I’m sure. I like your risk-taking and authenticity!

  2. Brad West says:

    Since your aim is to encourage “social good and more thoughtful living,” what if you profiled charities and the organizers of those charities? That’s not to say you need to stop doing the interviews with entrepreneurs, but this would give people a better understanding of volunteer or sponsorship opportunities so it could cross your interests in social good, entrepreneurship and travel.

    And if you’re going to do this, I think it’s important to call people out in the reviews. Don’t only talk about the good they’re doing, point out where they could improve. If 50% of their operating budget is spent on administrative tasks, let us know.

    Not sure what “guy” this would make you or how it would build your story but I think it would build more integrity between your thinking and writing. And maybe that integrity will lead you to your story.

    • John says:

      Thanks Brad,

      I’m not sure if interviews with charities would be a good fit for this site. I’ve been considering creating another site for that purpose, but I think there are more effective projects I can work on for social good.

      One thing I want to do is to profile more digital nomads that are doing good things. I have a few of those interviews now and hope to have a lot more as more travellers include volunteering and social entrepreneurship into their lives.

      I agree with the value in calling out non-profits for inefficiencies. There is another project I’m working on that will help to highlight the most effective NGOs. That will come soon.

      I don’t know how my story will unfold. I definitely hope that it has a strong social good component though.

      • Jeanne says:

        As a follow up to this idea, you could write a post about the things that Pat Flynn and others who are successful online are doing to give back to their communities. They might mention your site in return and generate traffic for you from people interested in doing good in the world.

  3. Juha Liikala says:

    Hi John. It’s been a while :)

    This was really a good reminder of the inner struggles I often had while writing for Nomad Couch. The struggle to “stand out”, the struggle not to become just another “sleazy internet marketer”..

    It was hard back in 2009. Now it’s even harder. But still, I’m currently drafting my next blogging project on paper.. There’s just something about blogging that I miss so dearly. And yes, there’s also that nagging feeling about the failed self challenge to create a successful blog (Nomad Couch never really got the kind of traction I wished it had).

    I’d like to add one ingredient to the “successful blog list”:

    - Build and treat your blog like a startup

    Even if you don’t plan to make any money with it, treating it like a business right from the start forces you to really think about the stuff that can make it or break it.

    I personally found it very useful to put my new blogging concept on a “lean canvas” (google for it). It’s a one page business model, that can be applied to blogging as well.

    Thanks for the mind provoking post John! Looking forward seeing how things evolve here at JSC! :)

    • John says:

      Great Comment Juha,

      Thanks for the Lean Canvas link. Actually, I’m a big fan of Business Model Generation, a similar canvas is in the Business Model You book, as well. Both are great books by the way.

      I’ve never thought of applying that thinking to this site though. Thanks for the tip. I really like the idea of structured thinking around business problems, so this is a good way to frame the issues I’m dealing with and find possible solutions.

      Can you please clarify what you mean by treating a blog like a startup? I’ve had several startups, so I think I have a decent understanding of the business world, but how should I change my thinking about this blog? Don’t I cover everything in my 8 factors in the post?

      Making money from this site has never been a priority so I don’t have the same cash flow urgencies I would have as a startup. It has been more of a way to get writing practice, meet other like-minded people, and help get my ideas out into the world.

      I think I done very well on the first two, but I would like a bigger platform to get my ideas out to a broader audience. How could treating this blog like a startup help?

      Some initial ideas I have are to have a ‘launch’ to generate a lot of buzz in a short time. Maybe I should also think about getting other contributors so that I’m working on the business and not in the business. (If this indeed is a business.)

      Any ideas.

      • Juha Liikala says:

        I’m a huge fan of lean thinking (whether applied to business or other fields in life). Also read Osterwalders book. The Business Model You is a new acquaintance for me. Thanks for the tip!

        Although startups are usually quite chaotic (in the very beginning at least), I think there are some key takeaways in running them that can be applied to blogging as well.

        Like you mentioned, structured thinking would be one (putting your blog on lean canvas helps you get started with this). Another important aspect would be to have set goals that you monitor on a weekly basis (not too many, just the most valuable ones). Having set the “right goals” is one thing. Identifying just the right metrics to monitor if you reach those goals is another. If you got these two right, then it’s all about optimising your busin.. blog, based on those. Pivot or persevere, you know the deal ;)

        I think it all boils down to, what it really is that you want to accomplish with your blog. For one person, the “grand goal” could be that they want to get x amount of monthly cashflow, coming through their blog. For someone else, it could just be that they want to get y amount of new monthly subscribers. The third person wants to build real relationships with their readers (reach out to z numbers of readers on a monthly basis and help them with their spesific, your blog topics related problem).

        Vanity metrics are something to be cautious of. Those can easily delude anyone thinking, they’re getting somewhere – when in reality, they’re not.

        How do you think you would describe your goal for “getting ideas out to a broader audience”? What would be the concrete goal(s)? What about the metrics that would help you monitor, whether you’re on the right direction to reaching those goals?

        Oh, and yes – the 8 factors you list in this post are ALL great points. Those cover pretty much all the essential incredients. Just a little bit of spice with structured, goal & analytics based thinking and voilá, the perfect cake! But I’m a sucker for analytics & goal based thinking.. so I added those to the mix!

        Not sure if the startup vs. blog analogy hit home with everyone. I think there are common grounds found in both, but maybe it’s just me. :)

        Best of success to your upcoming blogging moves John!

        • John says:

          Ah! Now I see the light.

          In the post, I’ve phrased everything in vague general terms like reaching a “broader audience,” but I don’t have actionable goals or metrics to achieve those results so my plan is largely meaningless. I now need some more structure to make sure I’m making progress towards concrete goals.

          You are wise and all knowing. :-)

          To follow that line of thinking, I first need to identify worthy metrics. For example, let’s say I have the goal of adding 500 new subscribers per month. It’s much more than I’m getting now, so it’s a good stretch target, yet definitely attainable.

          Then I would need to focus on improving all aspects of my site and promotion to reach that number of conversions.
          That could include:

            A/B testing email sign up forms
            Creating and testing landing pages for subscribers
            Writing more long form content aimed at my target audience.
            Better defining my target audience.
            Regular guest posting on popular blogs.

          To play devil’s advocate here a bit, I am doing all of that stuff, with the exception of guest posting, to a degree. Minor tweaks and adjustments do get results. I’ve more than doubled my newsletter signups with the site redesign for example. However, I still think there are bigger more inspiring ways to approach this.

          I know that there are ways to increase traffic 20% or maybe even 100% by acting on structured goals. I also believe there are much bigger things to focus on. The way I’ve described this in the past, is that “Lady Gaga isn’t a more efficient Brittany Spears.” Or another way to look at it is, a person that makes one million dollars per year, isn’t 20 times more efficient or harder working than a person making $50,000. It’s a completely different magnitude of results, so incremental improvements will never take you to the next level.

          When you are sufficiently unique and have a story worth spreading, metrics are much less relevant. A good example, is Chris Guillebeau’s Overnight Success Ebook. Getting mentioned on Seth Godin’s blog, led to a massive (thousands) increase in subscribers literally overnight. Those types of level jumping “Big Ideas” are near impossible to plan. All you can do is take risks and put yourself out there. You usually get mediocre results, but once in a while you knock it out of the park.

          I’m trying to focus more on those big ideas. I want to do bigger, more challenging things with my life. It’s not really about tweaking my site for more signups, I want to do things that are bold and compelling, that encourages others to take similar challenges. That way the journey becomes a lot more fun and it’s not just about some end goal of reaching an arbitrary number of subscribers.

          I know I should have a more structure approach to most of my business projects, but I don’t want to be looking at spreadsheets all the time. I just want to bring beautiful things into the world. :-)

  4. Jean Galea says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post with quite a bit of curiosity :) You raise many good points here, I’m sure this will become one of those popular posts. It’s a reality check many people should do every once in a while. I’m guilty myself of not having a proper story, and I’ll be trying to work on that more this year.

    The social good aspect is a very interesting topic, I wonder if there is the opportunity of having a blog that creates awareness and improves the lives of the less fortunate, while still making money for its owner. It would be a very satisfying blog to have.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jean!

      There are definitely people making money serving non-profits. I still have some problems with that though. Taking personal profits from money that people donated for the needy doesn’t seem right to me on many levels. I understand that non-profits need to invest in marketing, technology, etc. but I think businesses should be providing those services at greatly discounted rates. At least, that is what I want to do.

  5. Hi, John,
    This was a timely post. I, too, have been blogging for about a year and half and still have so much to learn about how to best attract and keep loyal subscribers. Everything about this business was pretty darn new to me, including much of the techie stuff around building and maintaining a website. I have been on one long learning curve with no end in sight. Along the way, I have met some really great people from all over the world without leaving my desk. That is fascinating to me, but I am still reaching for what lies just around the bend and it can be fun but also exhausting at times. As an international house sitter turned digital nomad, my time is not unlimited so deciding where to place the greater emphasis each day is important to me. I also feel that I have a message to deliver. AS a baby boomer and a female, I want to be a role model for the positive things about aging disgracefully by choosing to live outside the mainstream in many respects. There is no age limit to creative living nor should any of us feel that freedom and adventure is only available to certain economic brackets. By changing our thinking even by a few degrees, opportunities begin to open up.

    • John says:

      Hi Teresa,

      It’s good to hear from you. Most lifestyle design bloggers seem to be in their early twenties with little life experience so I definitely think there is an audience for more mature bloggers like ourselves. I’m noticing that I’m starting to attract many boomers and retirees so that might be a good niche for your site.

  6. By the way, I have never attended a conference. Which ones do you recommend?

    • John says:

      The World Domination Summit is great. I’ve also heard good things about SXSW and TBEX. However, there are great smaller meetups on every topic imaginable around the world. Organizing your own meetups is also a great way to meet new people.

  7. Cameron says:

    You just wrote a thousand words that I didn’t read because they were about you. No one cares about you, we care about ourselves.

    Good luck.

    A better headline would have been: “Why Your Blog Sucks”

    Ever read Cashvertising? I recommend it.

    • John says:

      Hi Cameron,

      Thanks for the comment. If I wrote about “Why Your Blog Sucks” I would have to speak in generic terms applicable to everyone. I was hoping that by giving specific examples, readers would gain more from the article.

      I do understand your point though. Good titles that catch the readers attention are very important.

  8. Tina says:

    How can I share this article easily? I just see buttons for following you. I don’t see a Twitter or Facebook button for sharing the article.

    By the way, the reason I subscribed to Jet Set Citizen is because I got excited about your lifestyle and your reasons for it. But what I found most appealing about this site, was your higher purpose – to do good and help people change their consumerist lifestyle. Knowing that this is the motivation with which you write, makes me enjoy your articles even more, especially when that motivation shines through.

    • John says:

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for wanting to share. There are social media buttons on the left side of every post.

      Thanks for the kind words about my secret ulterior motives. :-)

      • Tina says:

        Ah, see them now! I usually don’t view the browser full screen cause there is just enough space on my screen to view two windows side-by-side. :)

  9. Jannell says:

    Great post and personal insight. I’m a long-time fan of your blog and don’t think it sucks at all, but I understand your focus on the blog as a business. Completely guilty of lacking in several categories myself. Lots of fantastic comments and suggestions: Brad’s suggestion about interviewing charitable organizations, Juha’s comment about treating the blog as a start-up business, and I’m in Teresa’s boat about still being new to attracting followers. Your blog continues to be a ‘touchstone’ for me and appreciate your honesty as well as opening up more of the world to me.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jannell!

      I’m glad you like my site and it was also great to meet up with you last year. Hopefully, we’ll meet up again soon.

      I’m making slow and steady progress with this site, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about traffic so much. However, I would also likely to maximize the effectiveness of the time I invest into it. It sure would be nice to get better results for my efforts. :-)

  10. Josh says:

    I enjoyed reading this post, it was a good reminder to not make mediocre content and to go out of my way to help people in my posts. Kudos for writing it.

  11. Brad Hussey says:

    Great article! Thanks for the resources. I just bookmarked some awesome bloggers, thanks to you:)

  12. Manuel says:

    John,

    I’m sure you’ll find other ways of monetizing your experience as a digital nomad, like creating your own product (digital or otherwise) which Pat Flynn is advocating openly at his SPI site. Tim of Marginal Boundaries, who I met and talked to when I was in Cancun is an ardent follower of Pat and he has a lot of digital products specifically about his experiences – selling information on how to live like a local in every place he’d lived in. You’ve been living in Chiang Mai and other places and I’m sure you can write about those experiences too for the benefit of your readers and by selling the most detailed information to them. Maybe you’re thinking that the internet is already awash with information like those (Trip Advisor as one resource) but actually many more people are willing to buy products like those because I think retiring people are specifically searching for information like that.

    You may also conduct workshops on how to go about living a life of a nomad while at the same time making money online or thru investments, I think there is a market for that because Kathleen Peddicord is selling out most of her workshops as well (Marginal Boundaries is starting a workshop in March).

    What I want to say is that, your blog does not suck. You have great and interesting content already and all you have to do is capitalize on your experience and transform it into an ebook or something. Giving people the information they need that you already know will translate into sales for you.

    When you have your own product, you don’t have to depend on much traffic just to convert some sale. All you need are people who crave for the information you will provide.

    All the best,

    Manuel

    • John says:

      Thanks for the advice Manuel.

      I’m don’t think I will go the route of trying to sell destination or digital nomad guides. Sites like TravelFish.org seem to be doing well with their iPhone apps, but I don’t think ebooks are a very good business model anymore. With the Kindle now, there is a lot of price competition so the vast majority of bloggers make very little money with ebooks. Even if the books were selling well, I would need to write a new one every few months to keep the income flowing. That to me is more of a job, than a business. That model doesn’t scale so well. Kindle publishing can be a lucrative business model, if you outsource the content and focus on high demand topics, but again that is not really my goal with JetSetCitizen.

      Actually, I’m not so interested in creating travel guides. JetSetCitizen is not really about travel, it is more about living a better life and lifestyle design. Those topics are more general and harder to monetize but that’s okay. This site is not really about making money. I’m trying to convince more people to live simpler and more fulfilling lives.

      Pat Flynn makes most of his money through affiliate sales. His only product now is for the LEED exam, and that is only about 5% of his income. Pat is a great example of online success. He has achieved that through lots of hard work and now has a massive audience to recommend affiliate products like web hosting. I might do a little of that here, but it’s harder in the lifestyle design niche.

  13. Nico says:

    Hey John,

    what can I say? You’re right. I can totally relate to the issues and the kind of hesitation you’re writing about.
    The advice you’re mentioning comes from marketers. I’m also familiar with it but I more and more get the feeling it doesn’t suit all kinds of people. You might not be the type (as I feel I am). Sure, as you’re mentioning with the video content, you could take on the challenge to do something you’re not comfortable with BECAUSE you want to, you know, stretch your comfort zone and stuff. And yeah, this could all just be excuses, but on the other hand … back to what you want to do: You seem to be genuinely interested in raising awareness for some issues. Sure, people can’t do much unless they create some degree of personal freedom and making money is undeniably a part of it.
    I still think, to keep this short, there must be a way – meaning a slightly different way – to do the stuff you want to do (and are doing obviously) and get people on board without being everywhere, writing epic posts and the like. Maybe others can do that (not for your but for your cause) once you inspired and gathered them in some manner.

    I hope we get a chance to have a coffee and talk about this while we’re both in CM. @nicoappel

    • John says:

      Hi Nico,

      Marketing can be over-the-top hype with false scarcity tactics, misleading headlines, long sales pages and manipulative emotional pleas. It can also be quality content that is everywhere. I’m not interested in the manipulative sort or marketing. That’s just not me. However, I do see value in trying to get my message out in as many places as possible.

      I really hoping that I can find some creative ways to have a much bigger impact. Maybe one of my animated videos will go viral or an ebook manifesto will get lots of attention. I’m not sure, but I’m going to keep trying.

      I’m in CM until March so let’s try and meet up.

  14. simon says:

    I don’t have advice so much as i wanted to say that i really enjoyed reading your blog recently and that you write very well. You put yourself into it and you don’t claim to have all the answers, which is something people can relate to, whilst at the same time you have great advice which helps people. Great work!

    • John says:

      Greetings Simon. Thanks for the kind comment.

      I definitely don’t have all the answers. All of life and business is an experiment for all of us. All we can too is to try to continually improve.

  15. Ned says:

    Noble intentions, but the reason your blog sucks is that you are pursuing conflicting goals: profit and social benefit.

    The only work for “the social good” that means anything is work for the abolition of the capitalist system and thus all of the exploitation, degradation and alienation that comes along with it. Charity and “ethical capitalism” is nothing more than a way to prop up a faltering system that has lost legitimacy in the eyes of many of the world’s people. It’s a way for the oppressors and exploiters to sleep at night, to preserve their good name, etc. Like Carnegie building concert halls and libraries with the blood money he squeezed out of immigrant steel workers, it ultimately offers nothing to humanity.

    • John says:

      It’s pretty hard to do anything good in the world if you don’t have any money. Profit and social benefit must go together.

      Concert halls and libraries offer nothing to humanity? I think you’ll find that most people disagree.

      I agree there are problems with capitalism and we need to move beyond economies focused on GDP growth and excessive materialism, but I don’t think anarchy is the solution. I prefer to focus on trying to help those in need now.

  16. Ned says:

    You’re looking for individual solutions to a social problem. This isn’t surprising. The disillusionment brought about by the horrors of Stalinism, the bureaucratization and putrification of the unions, and most especially the disappearance of social struggle in the decades immediately following the “fall of communism” and “end of history” combined with the destruction of social labor via factory closures, outsourcing, automation and the rise of the precariat has left most people in a similar position.

    But (finally) once again the struggle is breaking out into the open. Indignados, Arab Spring, Occupy, Madison, South Africa wildcats, etc., etc.

    Profit is surplus value extracted from labor, e.g. exploitation. By definition profit and human liberation are polar opposites.

    If you want to see a real change, if you want to stop the slide into utter barbarity that is taking place as this system collapses around us, you will join in this struggles — social and class struggles aimed at overturning the profit oriented system and creating a social system geared toward meeting human need in its place.

    If you want to feel good about the way you earn your living, than “social capitalism”, “responsible entrepreneurship”, or any other similar crap would be the right choice.

  17. [...] was reading a really interesting post on another blog that struck a few nerves with me. Made me feel all tingly, in a not so warm kind of way. So that [...]

  18. Alan says:

    Thanks for this post, it inspired me to find some ways of making my own blog better.

  19. Paul says:

    Well this is the first blog that I’ve read on your site, and it most certainly does not suck. Very insightful, personal, and informative. Thanks!

  20. Darren says:

    Hey John,
    First of Your blog doesn’t suck at all. I really look forward to reading the interviews you do, I actually just sent your last email to a mate, he was whinging about wanting to travel and work, but didn’t know what to do

    After reading this blog and other like it. I just booked my first trip to the Philippines, to see what its like with the thought that I might move there from Australia.

    so keep up the good work

    • John says:

      Hi Darren,

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Finding a way to make money online can be difficult. So many people get caught up in finding the perfect passion that they don’t take action toward learning the skills and gaining the confidence to create an online business. My recommendation for your friend is to just start doing something boring that people will pay for now.

      Enjoy the Philippines. Thailand is also great!

  21. Ivan says:

    Great post John, I pretty much share the same sentiment and are at the same spot as you blogging wise.

    Much of my content is spiritual/psychological in nature and I have had a hard time getting comfortable with the money/business side of blogging.

    I know I have a lot to offer and from a unique perspective, but I just haven’t quite figured out exactly how to package it in a marketable way.

    I have basically come to hate the word ‘marketing’, especially with the online world, but how else am I going to share my work?

    Thanks again for this post, gives me a lot of points to meditate upon as I try to get clear on my future vision.

    Many blessings to you,

    Ivan Campuzano

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Ivan!

      Asking people for money is always difficult, particular for content. I’m not comfortable selling high priced ebooks promising easy answers to business or life problems, so I don’t do it. However, high quality content and services are worth something and can be sold.

      I’m not sure if I’ll ever create products on this site. I don’t think that’s a particular good business model. I have other projects for income. This is my passion. I think it’s often better to separate the two. Maybe you could do the same. Find work that pays you well, and blog for your own interest.

      Many information marketers push the idea that it’s okay to make lots of money selling high priced products, that is how you fund other activities. They might give 5% to charity as more of a marketing gimmick. However, I don’t like that approach. I think I can spend most of my time doing social good projects and make a little money on my side projects. I don’t need much money to live anymore so I want to spend my time creating value for people who need it the most, not those most willing to pay.

  22. Sidney says:

    It took a lot of guts to openly admit that your blog sucks. LOL. Great headline though ;-)

    I think your blog looks and sounds great. And I totally agree with “take more action, not consume more products”. I am a culprit of that – but am changing that this year.
    A reformed product junkie – if there is such a term.

    Also, I think social good blogging is do-able, you just need to guest post in the right places where like-minded people are?

    About connecting with others, I would recommend: http://howtoconnectwithanyone.com

    Pretty solid stuff.

    All the best – and I am definitely bookmarking this entry :)

    • John says:

      Hi Sidney,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Consumer goods can make our lives better, but too much consumption is detrimental to our wallets, free time and the planet. It’s all a matter of finding balance.

      With regards to social good blogging, I don’t want to write for people who already get it. The real trick is trying to reach the vast majority who don’t. I want to appeal to a broad audience, and occasionally push content that questions their world views. That is the real challenge and opportunity.

  23. Barry says:

    Really inspiring and thought provoking post. Thank you.

    Your ‘ulterior motive’ really strikes a chord – its hard to find people talking about that in sensible ways.

    “profile more digital nomads that are doing good things”
    I would read that!

  24. Rowan says:

    Hi, I have no idea who you are. I came to jetsetcitizen to watch an interview or something I got in an email rather than working. I can’t remember your name or what you do here.

    Something like ‘online business while travelling the world’ blog?

    I mean I can fix Sean Ogle, Pat Flynn, Dan Andrews, Spencer Hawes in my mind instantly. This blog doesn’t scream out what you do. Nothing on this page tells me much, just a load of web 3.0 articles. Honestly, it’s boring.

    Well best of luck.

    • John says:

      Thanks for stopping by Rowan.
      I’m not sure I understand your feedback. What is “a load of web 3.0 articles”? This is a single blog post you are commenting on.

      My name is listed in the side bar on my Google and Facebook profiles. Also, there is more information about me on the about page, clickable from the top or bottom of the site.

      It’s funny, this is probably my most popular and commented post ever, and the only one I’ve been criticized about. Twice now. :-)

      I’m sorry you found it boring.

  25. Sergio Felix says:

    Well this actually opened up my eyes really hard man, I just found out I don’t represent anything or better said, I’m not the Go To Guy for anything lol

    Have to really work harder on my branding and my USP so thanks for the reminder man and great article too!

    Sergio

    • John says:

      Hi Sergio,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Actually, I don’t think this is about branding or a USP. a pretty design and a catchy marketing slogan are not really much of a differentiator any more. Anyone can get a nice looking site and come up with a hyped up slogan. Doing something that matters, is what matters most. I believe people want to be inspired and are looking for role models. The only way that message can be conveyed is through a compelling story. A good story is not something you can fake. You have to do something that is unique, authentic and meaningful. The best UPS in the world can’t compensate for having no story.

  26. Guy says:

    John, I really think you’re transitioning from The Determined to The Magnet. Next–The Master, and it’s not so far off.

  27. Amber says:

    I just came across your site from Wandering Earl. I am at a tipping point in my blog, wondering why I could network with the best of them and have an amazing professional network in my prior career as a tax attorney, but suck at driving traffic to my site. Maybe my contact sucks? Who knows. But, I am happy I found your site and plan to spend a great deal of time with it over the coming days and weeks. I hope my husband won’t be jealous when I am reading your blog on the iPhone in bed! Thanks for being a resource for bloggers like me.

    • John says:

      Hi Amber,

      Thanks for reading. It’s difficult to gain traction and I think it’s getting harder as competition intensifies. I personally feel that ‘story’ is the critical element. Get that right first and then experiment with everything else. What are you doing that’s remarkable and newsworthy? Answer that question well, and you’ll get a major boost to your traffic.

  28. Thanks for this post, it has helped me a lot in looking at shifting the direction of my blog and paying attention to my core purpose of it.

  29. Pascal says:

    I don’t think your blog sucks at all. You write compelling and interesting content!

    It’s just that there are so many different blogs that it’s really hard to stand out.

    • John says:

      Thanks Pascal!

      I appreciate the kind words. Yes, you’ve identified the problem exactly. “There so many different blogs that it’s really hard to stand out.”

      The problem is that if I don’t stand out, there is no reason for anyone to read my content. That means either I do something that people care about, or I don’t. Not standing out equates to ‘my blog sucks’. :-)

      I’m still missing the mark with this site.

  30. Stu says:

    John,
    As long as you enjoy doing what you are doing, keep doing it. If you do not enjoy it anymore, stop doing it. Similarly, if you want to earn the money you have to go through the effort og marketing through social media and all those stuff the gurus say. I find it too hard and so I accept the low traffic and even if one person reads what i write, I am thankful. Nobody owes me a living. If I cannot make it this way, I have to find another way. Good Luck.

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