I get a lot of emails asking me for advice on blogging. The truth is, I am not a blogging guru. My answers are generally always prefaced with, “Well this is what works/worked for me.”. The truth is, that’s the only advice anyone can really give about blogging for money (or just blogging in general). What works for me will not be guaranteed to work for you and vice versa.
I love these emails though. I love them so much because blogging is my passion. I attempt to answer every single blogging email that lands in my inbox, and if you have emailed me you might have been surprised at my lengthy responses! Anyone can set up a blog and write. Not everyone can set up a blog and make it successful. Success is subjective though and I can’t tell you at what point you can consider your blog a success (shoot I’m not even sure if my blog is a success yet!).
What I can tell you is what steps I took to get to where I am today. Please don’t think there is only one path to success though. You could do everything I did and end up surpassing my traffic in just a few months OR you could do everything I did and not see a trickle of traffic. You have to decide what works for you, but I wanted to share what worked for me:
1. Start a blog:
Well, obviously. However, it’s not quite that simple. Before you even name your domain you need to do some serious research. What do you want to blog about? Who do you want to read your blog? Do you intend to monetize? If so, are there available methods for monetizing within your niche?
Once you have your concept ready to go, you need to do some brainstorming on your blog name. Make it easy to remember and try to use some good keywords. Keywords are what people are going to use to search Google (or other search engines) for your blog. Make sure your blog name makes sense and no one else is using one that is very similar.
I decided early on that my blog would be self sustaining. Only growing as my income grew. So I started on a free Blogspot blog, and purchased the $10 custom domain a bit later. Eventually, I made the move to WordPress. Now that I am on WordPress, I really do understand all the fuss. However, Blogger blogs are great too. I do think that you will eventually want to move to Self Hosted WordPress though, so that’s something to take into consideration. Decide WHERE you want to start your blog and go ahead and buy your domain name. (If you need info on setting up a wordpress blog from scratch, check out Blogging with Amy).
2. Post frequently:
This has never been an issue for me on Family Friendly Frugality. However, if you don’t desire to start a time sensitive blog like mine, you might have to set yourself up on some kind of an editorial calendar. There are different ideas on how often you should post to keep your blog active and your readers interested, but I think to start off you should aim for at least 5 times a week.
Here’s why: When someone lands on your brand new blog and you only have a handful of posts, they might not stick around very long. Lack of content and lack of proof that you are in things for the long haul is a big turn off to new readers. Especially blog readers who are generally hungry for information and entertainment!
Spend some time in the first few weeks to work on some pillar content. These are the articles that really define your blog. If you run a crafting blog, maybe you’ll write one article about the crafting supplies you suggest having on hand. Another about a specific technique and maybe another about a specific tool that you find helpful. In addition, you’ll want to have some actual crafts available for readers to automatically dig their hot glue guns into.
This is also when you want to write your About Me page and make your contact information easy to find and available.
3. Set up your social media accounts and your email subscription service:
If people like what you have to say, they will want to follow you! This is a great thing. Make sure you sign up for a Facebook Fan Page AND a Twitter account for your blog. Make sure you have links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts displayed prominently on your blog. Sign up with an email subscription service. I use Feedblitz which is a paid service, but Feedburner is fantastic too (and free!).
Make sure people know how to find you OFF your blog. Remember, readers have a lot of options nowadays. If you don’t make yourself easy to find, contact or subscribe to…they might never come looking for you again!
If I stop by your blog I immediately want to know how I can:
- Subscribe by email or RSS (really simple syndication, you can set this AND your email subscription service up through Feedburner)
- Follow you on Facebook
- Follow you on Twitter
- Contact you by email (this can be just a contact form)
4. Promote Yourself!:
This was hard for me. I hate pushing myself and my ideas on others. Everytime I posted a link on my personal Facebook wall, I cringed and waited for the verbal assaults to be thrown my way by friends and family. Thankfully, they never came. I tried to teeter the line and avoid being overly self promotional or spammy, but it’s definitely a different line for everyone. You won’t please everyone, but those who care about you and want you to do well will be happy to follow you and support your early endeavors!
Try not to take it personally either if some of your family and friends don’t follow you. To this day I have family and friends that don’t like to acknowledge what I do. I simply ignore them and think about those that do support me!
Twitter might be an easier outlet in the early days because Twitter is definitely more “promotion” friendly. Of course, be sure it’s not all me me me me. You have to spread the love around! You get out of social media what you put in. Make friends and promote fun stuff you find around the internet.
Here are some other great ways to promote yourself:
- Comment on other blogs within your niche. Most blogs allow your name to be clickable and link back to your own blog. Amy from Blogging with Amy has some excellent advice on how to blog comment effectively.
- Add your blog link into the signature on your emails
- If you are a member of forums, add your blog link to your forum signature (make sure this is okay first).
- Make business cards and hand them out at local businesses or with friends and family
- Guest Post! Guest posting has been great for getting my name out there. Especially in the early days.
I also highly recommend becoming active on some kind of social bookmarking site. StumbleUpon works well for my blog. If your blog is more in a tech or news niche, you might do well with Digg.
I started monetizing from day 1. Eventually you might want to do private ad sales or get involved with an ad network, but those require a good amount of traffic. Here are some affiliates you can start making money from from day one:
- Logical Media
- My Savings
- Google Affiliate Network
- Google Ad Sense
- We Use Coupons
- Commission Junction
6. Be prepared to work hard. Very hard:
Money will not come easily. Maybe at one time, when blogging was still new and shiny, you could just stick a few ads up and call it a day. Nowadays though, you can pretty much guarantee you will need to work hard to set yourself apart from the rest. If you enter into an untouched niche, you might find success a bit easier, but most niches that are profitable are pretty well inundated by now! That doesn’t mean you have no chance, just know you will have to work for it. Blogging is a full time job for me. I love it, so I’m okay with that!
Only you know if you are capable of devoting the time and energy it takes to make a blog successful.
I definitely encourage you to also read my article: Blogging Resources all Bloggers Should Have!
Please email me if you have any questions, but hopefully I’ve given you a good start!
Are you a blogger? What path did you take to get to where you are today? Do you consider yourself successful? I know my readers will benefit from others experiences as well!