Trying To Learn How To Blog?
Then you've come to the right place.
Blogging is one of the most fulfilling ways of earning money while also sharing what you know with the world. However, it's a huge leap to take from idea to earning money. To help you get started in the world of blogging, we've put together this guide to show you exactly how to blog.
How to Start a Blog That Will Make Money
Whether you're tired of barely scraping by with your 9-5 or are looking for something to keep you busy as a stay-at-home mom, dedicating your time to maintaining a blog can be a viable means of bringing in a steady income. In fact, there are hundreds of bloggers out there who earn $40,000 a year or more—just by blogging about things that interest them! Okay, so there's a little more to it than that. Being able to write well about topics that matter to you is one aspect of running a successful blog, but there are many other factors that come into play as well. From knowing how to utilize a content management system to understanding the basics of search engine optimization, there are quite a few technical skills you'll need to develop in order to run a successful blog that actually brings in money. Still, if you have the dedication and ambition, you can certainly turn blogging into a part- or even full-time career! The average salary of a blogger varies greatly, with most bringing in a few hundred dollars per month. The great thing about blogging, however, is that the possibilities are endless, and it is possible to earn a comfortable full-time living on blogging—if you know how to engage your audience and utilize the tools/resources available to you. Interested in blogging but not sure where to start? We've got you covered. By following five key steps, you can be well on your way to launching, promoting, and monetizing a blog.
Step One: Decide on Your Blog Topic
First things first: what will you blog about? These days, you can find dozens (if not hundreds) of blogs on just about any topic imaginable. From travel and parenting to food and beauty, everybody has a niche. The key is finding yours.
Follow Your Passions and Skills
Start by thinking about your passions, skills, and hobbies. What are you good at? If you have a college degree or some other kind of formal certificate in a certain topic, this can be a good place to start. After all, a formal degree will help to boost your reputation as a thought leader in the industry right off-the-bat. Even if you don't have a college degree, however, you have skills or specific knowledge you've acquired over time that others could benefit from. For example, if you're a parent, starting a "mommy blog," where you share lessons in parenting and similar stories could be a great place to start.
Consider Current Trends
Of course, in considering your blog content, you'll also want to consider current trends and your potential reader audience. For instance, while having a Master's degree in English etymology is quite the accomplishment, you may have a hard time reaching a broad reader base on such a specific and technical topic. Instead, consider the fact that the most successful blogs are typically based on topics that appeal to a wide audience. This is why food, parenting, and beauty blogs are so popular!
Grab a Good Domain Name and Reliable Host
Once you've decided on a general topic/focus for your blog, it's time to snag a domain name and hosting for your site. Choosing a domain name is more important than most new bloggers realize; you'll want to select something that's:
Ideally, your domain should be a ".com" and should contain keywords that relate to your blog topic itself. Just be sure to avoid any potential copyright issues or legal problems when establishing a domain. In choosing a host for your blog, there are literally hundreds of options and it can be overwhelming to try and decide on just one. Taking the time to do your research, explore hosting packages, and read reviews for hosting companies can make all the difference. Many companies that sell domain names also offer hosting as part of a package, so you might be able to save money by buying your hosting from the company you use to register your domain.
- easy to remember
- not too long
- catchy or clever
Step Two: Set Up a Content Management System
Next, it's time to decide on a content management system (CMS). This is where things can become a bit confusing for the first-time blogger. But don't worry; this stuff really isn't as complicated as it sounds.
What is a CMS and Why Do You Need One?
Specifically, a CMS refers to an application that allows bloggers (and other digital content producers, such as website owners) to easily create websites without the need to be able to code from scratch. This is ideal for the average beginning blogger, who doesn't know much (if any) HTML or CSS but still wants to be able to build a functional site and blog from scratch. A CMS may also have additional features, such as online support, the ability to install extensions and plug-ins, audit logs, and more. Many CMS options will also have their own themes available that can be easily integrated into your blog or site—some of which are customizable. A CMS will save you a great deal of time, hassle, and money on building a site from scratch. Instead, you can easily choose a theme, customize it to suit your needs, and be ready to post in the matter of minutes. A CMS also makes it easier for you to create a unified look and feel on your site, make changes as needed, and manage content with ease. Some CMS options also have features that allow you to schedule content posting in advance, so you can write a blog and schedule it to post on a certain date and time.
How to Choose the Right CMS
Generally, for beginning bloggers, WordPress is a good place to start because they have affordable hosting, allow you to use your own domain for a small fee, and also offer plenty of blog templates (both paid and free) to suit your needs. Their interface is also very user-friendly, which is ideal for those who are new to running their own blog or website. If you want to explore other options, however, there are some tips worth keeping in mind that'll help you select the right CMS for your needs. Start by considering the specific features your blog will need, both now and in the future. For example, do you plan on starting your own online store to further monetize your blog at some point? If so, then you'll need a CMS that supports eCommerce. You will also need to consider your specific budget. How much per month can you afford to spend on your blog CMS? Obviously, when your blog is first starting out and not making as much (if any) profit, you don't want to be stuck with a hefty CMS bill. Some of the most popular CMS platforms to consider for bloggers (aside from the aforementioned Wordpress) include:
Some Tips on Setting Up a CMS For Your Blog
Once you've decided on the content management system that's right for your needs, it's time to get started. For the sake of explaining the basic process (which more-or-less applies to all CMS options), we'll use WordPress as an example here. You'll need to begin by installing WordPress through your website host, which you can do either manually or through the host itself (most should have an option for WordPress due to its popularity). From there, you can login to your WordPress account and access your site's preferences and options. The first thing you'll want to do once you're logged in is to change the design of your site. You can do this by going to the "appearance" menu and selecting your desired theme. There are plenty of free WordPress themes out there, but you can purchase more advanced themes or even hire somebody to create one for you. Once you've selected your theme, be sure to test it not only on your computer, but on your mobile devices as well. Responsiveness is key, especially considering more and more people these days are using their mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones) to access their favorite websites. Also be sure to take the time to create an "About Me" page and customize your blog a bit so that first-time visitors will have an idea of what your blog is about without necessarily having to read through an entire post. From there, take the time to become familiar with WordPress (or your other chosen CMS) and how it works. You should have a sidebar available with options to create separate pages, install plug-ins and extensions, and create new posts. Depending on the specific CMS you have chosen, there may be additional features that allow you to keep track of your website traffic, page views, and other statistics that can give you a better idea of how your blog is performing. These tracking and reporting features will become extremely useful as you begin to post on your blog, especially since this will allow you to specifically track how well each blog post is doing, how many people it is reaching, and other metrics.
Step Three: Start Blogging!
Now that you have a better idea as to how your CMS works, it's time to start with your first blog posts. This is where taking the time to reflect on your audience and what will interest them becomes so important. With so many competing blogs there, the chances are good that whatever topic you're thinking about writing about has already been done! In fact, did you know that there are already almost 4 million mommy blogs on the Web, and that 14% of moms with at least one child run a blog? With that in mind, you'll need to find a way to make your content more engaging, interesting, and unique than all the other blog posts already out there.
Come Up With an Engaging Title
Your blog title is the first thing your potential readers will see, so it's important that your title is eye-catching and encourages the viewer to click and read more. A dull blog title can cause people to scroll right past your blog link, even if the content itself is fantastic. All too often, new bloggers find themselves facing a case of "writer's block" when it comes time to start their blogs because they can't come up with a creative title. If this is a problem you face, consider writing your blog first and then coming back to write the title at the end. After all, as content manager Amanda Hyer explains, "It doesn’t matter if you craft [your title] in the beginning, middle or end — regardless, you should make sure that it’s interesting and intriguing enough that people will want to read your post as soon as they see it." By the time you've written your blog, you'll have a better idea of your main points and can craft an engaging and enticing title with greater ease.
Make Your Writing User-Friendly
Just as your title is vital, your introduction paragraph is also super important in getting people to continue reading. Ideally, introductions should be relatively short and to-the-point, in addition to providing a general overview of what the blog will be covering. If you can, the introduction paragraph is also a good place to include an interesting quote or statistic that's relevant to your blog topic. Another thing to keep in mind when it comes time to write the "meat" of your blog is to make it as user-friendly as possible. Readers should be able to easily skim through your blog post and get the gist of your ideas without necessarily reading it word-for-word. This is where bullet points and strategically placed subheadings can make all the difference. By breaking your post up into several key ideas, readers can skim as needed, in addition to being able to better navigate your post if they need to refer back to something. Subheadings and bullet points also help to break up blocks of text, which can be a visual "turn off" for your readers otherwise. These features can be the difference between your readers feeling like they're reading an inviting piece of text and feeling like they're back in their high school English class reading a long, boring essay.
Find and Develop Your Voice Over Time
Keep in mind that your first blog posts are probably not going to be your most successful, and they likely won't represent your best work as a blogger. This is especially true if you're new to blogging in general. As you write more blog posts, you'll develop your own voice over time, and you'll improve as a writer. You'll also gain a better understanding of your audience, which will make it easier for you to tailor your writing to them. The key is to always be striving for improvement!
Don't Forget to Incorporate Images and Other Media
Finally, don't forget that humans are visual creatures—today more than ever. This is exactly why, as you scroll through your Facebook news feed, you're beginning to see more and more images and videos (and less plain text). With that in mind, it's never a bad idea to incorporate relevant photos, videos, and other media into your blog posts (as long as they're relevant and will contribute to your reader's experience). If you choose to incorporate any media into your blog posts, just be sure to give credit where it's due. Failure to give credit to a photographer or other blogger could result in litigation, which you definitely don't want. For photographs, using the Flickr Creative Commons is a good place to start when it comes to finding stock and other photos that you can use on your site.
Step Four: Optimize (And Monetize) Your Blog
Okay, so now you've got a better handle on how to create your blog and publish new posts, but how do you go about actually making money off your blog? The key is to optimize your blog posts for the search engines (thus making them more easily discoverable by your prospective reader base) and taking the right steps to monetize your site as a whole. Let's start with a basic explanation of SEO and how it can impact your blog's performance.
Choosing Tags and Categories
SEO refers to search engine optimization, which is basically just a fancy way of referring to the steps you can take to make your blog rank higher in the search engine results. For example, if you run a parenting blog on your experiences with raising twins, and somebody searches on Google for the term "twin parenting tips," of course you want your blog to show up in the results. However, your blog won't automatically be in the top of the search engine results just because your blog topics are relevant to what people are searching (that would make it too easy). Instead, you'll need to optimize your blog to make it easier for the search engines to find your blog when people search for relevant terms. A good way to do this is to appropriately tag and categorize each blog post. Specifically, you'll find that on your CMS publishing page, there will be a space for you to tag your blog with specific terms and to categorize it for the search engines. You should never skip this step when publishing a blog post! Skipping this step is a sure-fire way to make your blog post nearly impossible to discover through the search engines alone.
Selecting SEO Keywords
Keywords are another important factor that come into play when it comes to your blog's search engine rankings. Keywords are individual words or phrases that people commonly search for. Typically, keywords can divided into one of two categories:
According to Mike Templeman, CEO and Founder of Foxtail Marketing, "developing the right keywords for your brand to target your specific audience will increase your online traffic, resulting in more chances to convert leads to prospects and end it with a sale." Keywords can come into play on your blog in a number of ways. For starters, you can always tag individual keywords in your tags and categories. However, you should also find ways to naturally incorporate relevant keywords into your blog content! Doing this organically is a great way to improve your SEO, which can in-turn lead to more people coming to your website and reading your blogs.
- short-tail keywords - these are typically shorter, succinct keywords of one or two words and are quite broad. For example, "parenting tips" or "parenting blog."
- long-tail keywords - these keywords tend to get a lot more specific and are generally longer. These are the types of phrases people type in when they're looking for something very specific. For example, "how to get twin boys to get along" or "how to get my child to eat vegetables."
Other SEO Tips and Tricks
In addition to knowing how to best utilize keywords on your blog, there are some other SEO tips and tricks worth keeping in mind that can increase readership and result in greater monetization of your blog, too. First of all, while it may be contradictory to your instincts, avoid using industry jargon too much in your blog. Jargon refers to any specific terminology that only industry specialists would be familiar with. Remember: your blog should appeal to as broad of an audience as possible, so speaking in "Layman's terms" when possible is a good way to make that happen. Another type to keep in mind when it comes to your SEO is using simple sentences and a readable font. These small little changes can make a big impact on your SEO, believe it or not.
Monetizing Your Blog
Alright, let's get to the fun part: using your blog to make money! There are several ways to go about this, which we'll outline below. CPM Short for Cost Per Mile advertising, CPM ads allow you to get paid based on the number of page views you get. There are plenty of CPM providers out there, all of which offer different pay-out amounts and other stipulations. Take the time to explore your options and see which works best for your site and format. Of course, this will mean placing ads on your site, which can be a turn-off for some of your readers. Therefore, you'll want to do your best to make sure your site's overall functionality and design isn't affected too much by the ads themselves. PPC Another advertising option that can yield profits for your blog is known as Pay Per Click advertising (PPC). A good example of this type of advertising that you've likely heard of is Google AdSense. With these ads, you get paid for every click visitors make on the ads themselves. These tend to be the best option for blogs that have high traffic, as the pay-out per click is usually quite low. Setting Up an Online Store This probably isn't something you'll monetize from off-the-bat, but if your site takes off and become popular, you may want to consider setting up an online store as a means of selling merchandise with your blog logo or other brand. Other monetizing options to consider include:
- in-text/text link ads
- ad widgets
- affiliate marketing
- product reviews
- writing/selling your own eBook
Step Five: Build Your Social Strategy
Any successful blog also has a successful social strategy behind it. This means making your blog's presence extend beyond your site and onto social media. For instance, as more of your readers share your posts on social media, they'll get "friends" and other followers to read. In turn, more of these people will share, and it turns into a snowball effect that can greatly improve your blog's readership and traffic (thus boosting your profits through ads).
Become Familiar With Common Social Media Platforms
Start by understanding the types of social media your target readers are using, and learning how to use these for yourself. For example, if you're starting a mommy blog, then Facebook and Pinterest will be a good place to start. Understanding the ins and outs of these platforms, and setting up your own dedicated professional profiles, is a must.
Keep Your Profiles Updated and Engage With Followers
Once you've set up your social media platforms, it's important to keep your profiles updated (with links to your blog and a description of what you do), as well as posting regularly and engaging with your followers. Taking the time to respond to comments on your social media page, in addition to running fun contests and otherwise getting involved with your followers can make all the difference.
Consider Bringing in Social Influencers
These days, bringing in social influencers to promote your blog or even guest post on your blog is a great way to spread your social presence. For example, you might consider inviting another blogger to create a guest post on your blog, and then share that blog on their own social media page. This is a great way to cross-promote, as well as to possibly gain some new followers on your social media platforms. You can read more about social influencers and how to make them work for your blog here.
Schedule New Posts Ahead of Time
Consider setting up your social media pages so that they post on a specific schedule or calendar. There are plenty of free apps you can use to make this happen. This way, you won't need to remember to post on social media every time you post a new blog. Instead, you can set your social media pages up to post simultaneously, thus saving you time and hassle. This is also a great way to make sure your followers stay up-to-date on everything that's new on your blog.
Track Your Success and Make Adjustments as Needed
Last but not least, be sure to track your success and and followers on social media using one of the many free tools that are available. This is a great way to see what's working in your social media strategy and what areas you may need to improve on. Managing and monetizing a blog is something that takes time, patience, and lots of dedication. You may not be making hundreds of dollars a month right off-the-bat with your blog, but if you keep at it and follow these tips, you can start making money by blogging about things you love! Looking for more advice and tips on blogging? Check out our resources at BlogCatalog.com!