It seems everyone is blogging these days! They’re blogging about cooking, fashion, and art. They’re blogging about DIY projects, travel hacks, and photography. Heck! They’re even blogging about blogging. It’s nuts! So, with so many people out there already, is there room for you too?
With almost 330 million people in the United States alone, not to mention the world, there is an audience out there who wants to hear what you have to say. Even if you’re the 300th person with a blog on ‘How to Properly Trim Your Eyebrows,’ people will find your content and read it, but only if you do it correctly.
You Don’t Have to be an Expert to Blog
First off, I am not an expert…yet! I just love to write and and tell stories, and provide helpful information to my readers. So, why listen to me? Well, with a few years of blogging under my belt, I can share real-life information about what I have leaned, what has derailed my progress, and finally, some turning points that propelled me forward.
What do I mean by ‘real-life?’ Well, if you look up How to Start a Blog, you’ll find at least 100 different articles on every aspect of blogging, with the step-by-step instructions of doing it. And that is great! In fact, I learned a lot from sites like Wired Creatives, where I ran through a simple online course to help me get to the next level of blogging. They even offer a FREE online web class, teaching you the basics of creating your brand, building your site and how to gain followers. As a fairly new blogger, I’ll take all the free advice I can get. Of course, I found the content so valuable, I signed up for a low-cost monthly subscription to help keep me focused and moving forward.
Take advantage of the FREE online web class now! What have you got to lose?
So, the point is, there is a wealth of information out there. So, much so that you can get literally get swept away and forget the most important part about blogging: the content! What I didn’t seem to find when I was researching the basics of blogging was real stories and lessons about the struggles of blogging and how to power through. Here’s a little of what I have learned about the Basics of Blogging:
Creating Your First Blog
There are a lot of different blogging platforms out there, and I do not have experience with all of them, but you’ll need to research and pick one in order to get your blog created. Some popular examples are WordPress, BlueGator, BlueHost and the one I’ve been using: TheBlogPress.com (WordPress hosting). Take a little time to research them all, and then get started by following my advice below:
- Write about what you are passionate about: If you’re going to be talking day in and day out about something, it had better be something that interests you. For example, if you start a cooking blog but you don’t really like to cook, you’re going to fail. It’s that simple. Write about something that excites you, even if you’re not an expert at it. If you like what you’re writing about, your readers are going to like it too.
- Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed: There is so much information out there about blogging, you could literally sit in a dark room for a year, researching all the things you need to do to create a successful blog, and still come out clueless and confused in the end. Cover the blogging basics below and don’t give up.
- Do not spend a bunch of money on expensive hosting companies and ads: There are plenty of web hosting companies out there, promising instant success and six-digit incomes if you follow their advice. There is no overnight success to blogging. It takes work, patience and persistence. Go with a service that has a cheaper introductory price and a proven support team to help you. As you learn and grow, you can always upgrade.
Ads can be a helpful way to build your audience, but if you start throwing money at them too early, you’re just throwing that money away. Without consistent content for them to read, they will visit your site once, see that there is nothing of value to read, and leave with no intention of coming back.
- Create! Create! Create!: This is, in my opinion, the most important piece in blogging. If you love what you’re blogging about, this should be fairly easy. Well, unless you have kids and a full time job! In that case, good luck! However, if you’re spending all your time researching topics like SEO, key words and phrases, snippets, etc., and not creating valuable content for your readers, your blog isn’t going to grow.
Below are a few key ingredients to moving your blog to the next level:
Growing Your Blog
1. Create an Email List
This is one of the most important pieces of blogging. You can blog all day and all night, but if you don’t have anyone reading your stuff, you’re really writing for yourself. Sure, social media is a great way to get your new posts out there too, but then you’re at the mercy of when people check their accounts and all the algorithms set up to keep your readers from finding your content. Email is the one, sure-fire way to guarantee your content will find it’s way to your audience.
- Constant Contact is my chosen email provider. I used them for over 10 years when writing a newsletter for work. Back then, I only cared about how amazing their customer service was and how easy it was to put the emails together. Today, writing for myself, I’ve discovered all the other amazing features they have, such as easy customizable templates, easy sign up forms and automated delivery options, tracking and reporting features, and it’s worth mentioning again…the best customer service, hands down! And when you’re just starting out, this is key to your success! They’ll even let you try it free for 30 days…but wait! They’ve given their current users (aka, me) the ability to offer it to you FREE for 60 days! Click below to get started!
- Building Your Audience: Your list may initially consist of a few good friends, your parents and Grandma Pearl, but it’s a start. You can use this time to practice to fine tune your newsletter style, and discover the best ways to drive people to your site. And that’s the goal, right? If people are reading your newsletter, but you’re not creating links that take them to your blog, what’s the real point of the newsletter?
That is where social media comes in! You can create a “Join My List” button on your Facebook site; share your posts on your social media sites and link them back to your blog, where they can sign up for future posts; and you can create daily posts to interact with your audience and remind them at the end to “sign up!”
- Be consistent: FYI, this is where I could take my own advice a little better. With a hectic schedule, it’s hard to find the time some days. When you find the best time to publish your newsletter, stick with it. Better yet, figure out the best time to publish it based on when your readers will most likely open it and publish it at that time.<a href="http://<h3 id="574094"><a href="https://constant-contact.ibfwsl.net/c/2324411/574094/3411">Get ready to do more business with 60 days of free email marketing.</a></h3> Constant Contact lets you pick the day and time you post it and even gives you their suggestions for the best time. By staying consistent with your content, your reader will learn to expect something from you and you’ll have a higher Open Rate.
2. Using Social Media
Social media may not reach all of your readers all of the time, but it is still one of the best ways to promote your blog, after your email list. The one thing email doesn’t provide you is the instant feedback or engagement with your readers like social media. If you do your research and post at the most opportune time for your niche or your readers, you should start seeing comments from your readers to help you understand what people are liking and not liking.
- Claim Your Social Media ‘Account Names’ Right Away!
The last thing you want to happen is to create your website and get everything set up the way you want it, only to find out your website name isn’t available on social media. As soon as you decide on a website name, check to see if you can also have them on all the social media platforms.
- Choose Only Two(2) Social Media Platforms to Focus on in the Beginning.
Once you’ve start blogging and have set up all your social media accounts, it’s normal to want to post on them all. My suggestion is to pick two and focus your time and efforts there. Unless you’re a social media expert, there will be a lot to learn about the best ways to use them, and it will eat up a lot of your time. Time which is much better spent creating new content. Once you’ve got it streamlined, or maybe even learned how certain online companies can schedule your posts for you, like Hootsuite, TweetDeck or MeetEdgar, by all means, tackle them all.
- Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience and what social media platforms they follow will greatly aid you in reaching them with your content. For instance, Instagram is all about pictures, so if your blog has to do with fashion, food photography, or anything visually appealing, this may be one of your top picks. If your audience falls into the over 40 gang, Facebook might be your first go-to. But, don’t go posting on Twitter, SnapChat or Pinterest everyday as well, or you’ll find yourself burned out without nothing to show for it.
- Post Regularly to See Results
Remember the algorithm I mentioned? If you post something once a week on Facebook and your key audience misses it, odds are they will miss it the next time around too. The more often you post, the higher the chances they will see it and interact with you. Just be sure you’re posting quality content. If you’re posting just to post and your content isn’t relevant, you’ll take the chance of putting people off.
- Experiment with Posting Times and Days, and Track Your Results.
This will take up a little extra time in the beginning, but it will definitely pay off in the end. If you have a willy nilly posting style, posting at different times of the day, you’ll probably see days where you get a lot of traffic and days where you get none. This probably has to do with your reader’s habits. If the majority of your audience spends their time online in the early morning and you’re posting at 10 o’clock at night, they are not going to see your stuff. Take your two platforms and try out some different posting times, and see what response you get. Better yet. schedule your posts for the entire week through the “schedule” features on your platforms to save yourself some time.
Monetizing Your Blog
This is the goal of most every blogger. Yes, it’s fun to spend all your time creating content for people to read, but most likely you’re looking for a way to grow your blog into a business, right? That is where the monetization comes in, and there’s quite a few ways to do it. My advice: Don’t worry about this step until you have everything else figured out. If you don’t have many readers because you’re not creating content, there will be no one to advertise to. So, spend your time on growing your audience first! Then dig into the methods below:
Affiliate links are probably one of the best and easiest methods for monetizing your blog…aka, making money. Many companies are now offering bloggers and influencers like us the ability to sell their products for them online, and offering a commission in return. It is as simple as signing up for their “affiliate program” and embedding links into your content or your readers to click on.
Just know, not all affiliate partners are created equal. Some will not work with you until you have a certain number of followers. Some offer higher commission rates than others, but they are harder to get in with. For instance, Amazon will let anyone sign up but they offer some of the lowest commissions out there. They will also cancel your account if you haven’t shown any sales in the first 180 days.
Next, companies like Patagonia or Columbia offer much higher commissions when you work with them. But you’re going to need a much larger audience and some proven sales before they’ll let you play in their sandbox.
Drop-shipping can be a great way to make money online. You’re basically selling products for a company without having to keep an inventory in your garage. Companies love this because you’re doing all the advertising for them, and they only have to pay you once you make a sale.
Just be careful if you decide to go the Drop-Shipping route. If you’re trying to sell products that don’t align well with your brand, people are going to drop you! For instance, if your blog is all about health and fitness and you’re trying to sell TV’s and couches to people, you’ll probably lose a few readers. However, advertising and selling the best new athletic shoes, or workout bands or equipment, this could be a match made in heaven.
Display Advertising (Banner Ads)
I include this only to let you know it’s out there, but this is certainly not my cup of tea, or Long Island Iced Tea, for that matter. I suppose if you do this minimally and the ad is very in-line with your brand, it’s a good way to make some extra dough. But a lot of people pop ads all over their site, and nothing annoys me more than having to X out ads in order to see the content I went their to read. Read more about how display ads can be used to monetize your blog here.
Again, there are many sites out there to help you build your website and your audience. I do not pretend to know it all, but I’m constantly learning along the way. So, I hope I provided some valuable advice to help get you started. If you have any specific questions I might be able to answer, I’m happy to help! Just reach out in the comments section below.
Until then….good luck and Happy Blogging!