Back when I was in high school, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write what I wanted, when I wanted. I wanted it to be informational, yet conversational. I wanted to control when and what I wrote about, yet still have a consistent job.
If the Internet had existed back then as it does today, I would have known I wanted to be a blogger. In 2009, I took the plunge and started my blog! While blogging is a very flexible activity, ranging from a hobby to a profession, it is actually a viable business for those who want to make it one. My blog now earns a modest full time income.
It’s important to know that, with blogging, as with anything, you get out of it what you put into it. There are a number of things to know if you want to make blogging successful for you.
1. Create a Unique Name
The name of your blog is the brand you’ll be marketing. Make sure it stands out, but it also is easy to remember and represents what you are about. My blog is about alternative living (attachment parenting, homeschooling, natural health, real food) and I named it “Modern Alternative Mama.”
2. Buy a Domain Name
Nothing says “amateur hour” faster than having a web address like yourblog.bloghost.com. Buy your own web address immediately – www.yourblog.com. Many places offer this for as little as $10, and it’s really important for a serious blog/business. You can run your blog on self-hosted WordPress.
3. Get a Professional Look
Pay a professional designer to create a logo for you. This can cost as little as $50 but also a lot more depending on the designer. When you have the money down the line, you can (and should) get a full professional blog design.
4. Write Quality Content
Although the look and feel of your blog is important to attract readers, quality content is what keeps them coming back. Use proper grammar, bold important points (so they stand out to readers who skim), and break up your posts with sub-headings or bullet points. Include citations to research if needed. Know the FTC guidelines. Allow your “voice” to come through as well. People follow bloggers because they’re excellent writers and relatable people.
5. Use Social Media
Create a social media presence for your blog. Have a Facebook page, Pinterest account, Twitter account, Google+, and whatever else you want. Use these outlets regularly, sharing your content. The more you interact with your readers, the more they’ll pay attention to what you’re doing.
6. Cozy Up To Other Bloggers In Your Niche
You’ve created an excellent blog and social media presence, but you have no readers! Find as many other bloggers in your niche as you can. They are not your competition, they are your colleagues and possibly mentors. Read their blogs daily. Interact with them in the comments section or on their Facebook pages using your blog name. Write to them and offer to write a guest post. Become their assistant or contributing writer. Join a blog network. Get your name and your work in front of them as often as possible, and you’ll find your readership growing!
This is the trickiest step, the one many bloggers aren’t sure how to do. Check out other bloggers’ affiliate programs and add links to their products in your blog. Sign up as an Amazon affiliate as well. Use the WordPress plugin “Affiliate Link Manager” to automatically add these links to specific keywords in your posts (this can realistically earn you a few hundred dollars a month for doing nothing, depending on the size of your blog).
Write to companies that sell products you like and talk about and offer to sell them ad space on your blog – aim for $1 per 1000 pageviews your blog receives monthly as your starting price. You can offer banner ads, social media promotions (a Facebook post, a tweet, or a pin), product reviews and giveaways, or anything creative you can come up with. Use http://www.rafflecopter.com to run your giveaways easily.
Create your own digital products (ebooks, podcasts, etc.). Creating your own is the best way to ensure a steady income, especially if you have a subscription model! Some bloggers offer monthly printables, ecourses on various topics, a variety of ebooks, and so on. Marketing these products is much easier when you already have an audience who trusts and follows you on your blog. Some bloggers will sell 5,000 to 10,000 copies during the first couple days after they launch, depending on their audience and their pricing.
Blogging really isn’t for the faint of heart, or those looking to make a quick buck. It takes awhile to build up quality content, a good readership, and monetize effectively, but for those passionate about a writing job that allows nearly infinite freedom, it’s a wonderful choice.
Kate Tietje is the creator and main author behind http://www.modernalternativemama.com. She also owns http://www.modernalternativekitchen.com, http://www.modernalternativehealth.com, and http://www.modernalternativepregnancy.com. She has been blogging since fall 2009 and has contributed to a number of other popular blogs in the real food and natural living niche, including appearing regularly at http://www.keeperofthehome.org. In September, she is launching an offshoot of her blogs, http://www.tradishen.com, a real food recipe and meal planning site. In addition to her writing career, Kate homeschools her four children and dreams of homesteading some day soon.