Don’t be fooled by articles and advertisements that promise earning thousands of dollars a week by blogging. You might be tempted to dramatically quit your day job and start earning six-figures by blogging full-time from a St. Lucian beach, but the truth of the blogging business could not be further from this ill-conceived notion. Check out these 8 tips that can help you work towards your dream of earning a solid income from blogging.
1. Set yourself up for failure
We put this at the top of the list not to discourage budding bloggers, but to prepare them for the reality of the business of blogging (note the distinction between that and the hobby of blogging). As of 2013, there are more than 239 million blogs combined on WordPress, Blogster, Tumblr, LiveJournal and Weebly (snitchim.com). This number excludes the blogs on Blogger, Posterous and Blogsome. There is a lot of competition out there, and only a handful of the 239 million are earning at least some profit. Simply having your blog online isn’t enough to generate revenue and a sustainable source of income. Treat it as you would a start-up business. You need to put effort into making it grow. It will either take-off or flop, and expecting riches quick is unrealistic.
2. Choose your niche wisely
We’ve visited countless cooking blogs, fashion blogs, beauty blogs, and the soccer-mom blogs who manage to squeeze in just enough time between diaper changes to blog about the experience. The truth is that many of those blogs will fail because the market for that topic is over saturated. If a broad topic such as fashion is your true passion, focus on a particular detail and grow from there. For example, instead of blogging about fashion, you can instead dedicate your entire blog to Denim. Once you delve deeper into this one particular subject, you have the potential to become a well-known (and respected) denim blogger.
3. Quality vs. quantity
If you go around commenting on every random blog you can find, telling them to visit your own blog, chances are you’re not going to get a good following. Don’t expect to gain hundreds of followers in a short period of time, either. Blogging takes time, but finding your target audience is more time-consuming than the writing process itself. Research blog topics that are similar to your own and take the time to read their posts. If you are genuinely interested in their work, make productive comments and follow them. By doing so, you have a higher chance of attracting a quality target audience who will also be genuinely interested in your posts. Remember to also spend a good amount of time looking in your back-end analytics, this will give you a realtime indication as to what content is meaningful to your readers.
4. Use social media (duh!)
Having an online presence is a key factor in having a successful blog. If you already have a solid following on your blog, start a Facebook and Twitter account (if haven’t already done so). If you already have a good following on Twitter and Facebook or other networks and are just starting a blog, use those networks to promote your blog. Be persistent and be patient. Tweet, re-tweet, and repeat. Follow the right people on Twitter, and be an active member of all your social network communities – it’s a great way for you and your future or existing fans to connect and spread the word.
5. The money-maker
Although to some this may seem like selling out, if you’re looking to earn money off your blog, having advertisements is a good way to do so. If your blog has enough traffic, you can offer up space for Google Ads or other content providers on your site for a reasonable fee (just make sure it’s brand safe!). Also, have a look into affiliate links within both your posts, and in the form of ads. And don’t forget: search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to optimize your posts to be more search-engine friendly, and Google offers various tools you can use to help your blog with attracting more visitors (such as Google Trends and Analytics). It takes a lot of work, like any business. If you’re in it for the long haul, the work will eventually pay off.
6. Reach out to PR agencies
Contact agencies that fit in with your particular blog topic. For example, if you have a travel blog, reach out to agencies that specialize in tourism, hotels, travel, etc. If you write them a good pitch, you can potentially receive free samples or one-night stays at hotels in exchange for publicity on your blog. Be forewarned, PR agencies worth their salt will want to know some of the analytics behind your blog, so know your unique monthly visits (not page views) along with your demographic!
7. Don’t forget the art of writing!
What it all comes down to is that blogging is about writing. You can’t expect to have a successful blog if it has no substance. Good writing takes practice, so don’t get discouraged if your thoughts aren’t being translated the same way via text. Keep writing and you will find your own distinctive writing voice.
8. Make an editorial calendar
Aside from all of the above, your blog needs two main things in order to succeed: regularity and reliability. In order to stay organized and on top of your posts, make an editorial calendar for yourself. Write down ideas in advance and make clear, organized notes for when you plan to publish each post. It’s difficult to come up with a new subject on the spot every day or every other day. It’s much easier to think of a few different ideas and put them in a queue for publishing on your blog.
With all these in mind, happy blogging and good luck! If you do end up getting rich, don’t forget to take us out for a drink or two