Being your own boss and being paid to write about your opinion, experiences, and your expertise can sound like a dream job. You hear stories about bloggers who make huge amounts of money. If you’re thinking of changing your career and you have a blog – you might think that blogging seems like a great career choice for you. All you need is a laptop and WIFI, right?
How I Started Blogging
Most of my blogging friends are like me and are blogging more as a hobby than a job. If that is true for you, feel free to skip this post. I won’t be hurt. This story starts when I had closed my little store at the flea market and my online store. Even though I was retired, I wanted to do something besides reading books and watching TV. I am happiest when I am challenged. I have always been an explorer of interesting information, and the web’s “international library” of sites gave me a new world to explore. I used to do emails to friends who shared my interests on things I had found online. So I decided to do a blog.
I wasn’t expecting to ever be a paid blogger but living on Social Security did make me interested in it. If you are starting a blog, there are lots of experts out there with blog posts on how to start a blog. I read so many posts about the pros and cons. Some of those websites by the way have so many ads, I don’t trust what they said.
There are some basic decisions you make when you start a blog. What platform will you use? The two biggest platforms are Blogger and WordPress. I checked out Wix and Weebly as well as others. I was looking for a platform that didn’t require a degree in coding to set up. Will you go with a free site or pay a fee to a host? I really considered a free Blogger or WordPress.com blog which would have a free space on their servers. But after reading about possible problems in the future such as one blogger totally lost their blog, because the free hosting didn’t like something they wrote. I also read about the nightmare of transitioning your blog from a free blog to a hosting environment if your audience greatly increased. I decided to pay for hosting and went with the WordPress.org free platform. I kept my online name of Comfort Spring that I had originally gotten for the store identity. Again I read lots of reviews for hosting companies but made a bad choice. My first hosting company was not responsive in customer service when I had a problem with my blog. I admit I made a newbie mistake when I first set up the blog, but they told me to pretty much fix it myself. I transitioned at the end of the year to a new host, and their guys were fabulous in walking me through the migration and setting up the blog.
One interesting blogger, BlogTyrant.com, wrote a great article, “6 Decisions That Changed My Blogging Career.” He sold his first blog for money and has had multiple successful ones. It’s well written, and there aren’t 2 million ads popping up. I know we all would like a little income, but if you make me sit and wait for all the ads to load when I visit, I tend to not return.
Last year a blogger I respect and consider a leader wrote a note to several blogging friends that she was considering closing her blog. She listed all she had spent in the last year in money and time trying to “optimize” her blog, etc. Her traffic did not significantly increase. I was shocked. I consider her a successful blogger, but she was not meeting her own goals.
Now let’s get real as there are a few things to consider if you’re seriously thinking of heading down this path. It’s not always easy. So what do you need to ask to decide if you’ll be a professional blogger?
Look At How Much You Can Earn
Before diving in at the deep end, it’s important to first discover how much you could realistically earn as a professional blogger. Most bloggers do not share their income. Life Hacker has a post written in 2014 but it’s still relevant, Can I Really Make A Living Blogging? She wrote
If you’re passionate about a subject and you have decent writing skills, blogging definitely could be an alternative career path for you. The short answer is, yes, it is possible to make a living—a very good one, even—by writing online. On the other hand, the hard truth is most of the millions of bloggers today don’t make enough to support themselves just with their blogs…
There are 2 kinds of professional bloggers – one with their own blog and one employed by a company or large site to write blogs for them. Getting hired as a professional blogger is much easier than starting at ground zero with your own blog. Getting a job with an established company means you can earn a good living right off the bat. According to Life Hacker, starting a blog your self that makes money means more work than starting a business. The majority of bloggers will never make a cent off their blog.
A survey of 1,000 bloggers by Blogging.com in 2012 found that 17% of bloggers are able to sustain their lifestyle or support their family with their blogs, while 81% never make even $100 from blogging. This is probably still true today. Your content alone won’t likely make you money. Instead, you’ll have to get advertisers, sell services like consulting or speaking, use affiliate marketing to get a percentage of sales from links people click on your blog, or maybe offer products like ebooks or premium content to actually generate income. The key is to offer something readers want. If you fill your blog with ads that only pay with clicks, you make nothing if no one clicks. Design a course, write a book, design a craft kit, or offer a service that is unique to you. Are you a painter, photographer, a survival training expert, or a fitness expert? I think the advice I got decades ago in college from an English professor still holds true – write what you know.
You Have To Be Passionate and Determined
When you start a blogging career, you need to have the passion and determination to become successful online. Not only do you need a dedicated office space within your home, but the devotion to writing. At first, I had to overcome the “blank screen” that intimidated me, but if I had a topic that was dear to me I found it easier to write. Examples for me include healthy fresh food, beautiful gardens, and nature. You have to find a niche or area of interest for your blog. I personally found my niche expanded after time while many bloggers’ topics narrow. Some bloggers are expert birders, crafters, gardeners, computer genius, fitness expert, or cooks with so much knowledge and experience. They should share their expertise.
For a greater impact, start with set topics for your blog and write. Proof. Rewrite. Without determination, you’ll find that your blog simply doesn’t gain the traction that you need to attain an income. To effectively do this, you need a schedule that you should stick to every day so that you successfully put out a consistent amount of quality posts for your target audience. I have a set pattern that I follow most mornings in responding to emails and comments, visiting social media sites, and sharing my latest post. Certain days of the week I spend the afternoon writing posts and editing photos. The schedule can change as my real life demands pop up, but I have to be consistent to write posts that I feel meet my minimum criteria of readability.
You Need to Have Good Writing Skills
OK, so not everyone starts their blogging career as a great writer – this can develop over time. But you at least need to use good grammar and punctuation so that your readers can seamlessly follow your articles. Use a spelling tool to check your spelling if you have a problem with it (although I dropped it due irritation when it always wanted to change a perfectly good word to the wrong word with the same sound). You’ll find that readers could get bored trying to work out what you’re trying to say. If you are new to writing, I suggest what my 9th grade English teacher taught me. If your sentence structure is to long and complicated, break it up into simple sentences. Too many conjunctions like and, but, although can lose your readers and confuse them. Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.
To improve this, you have to make sure that you are honing your writing skills every day – and that you use certain applications such as Grammarly to point out any errors that you’ve made.
It Takes a While To Get Noticed
Unfortunately, there are millions of blogs out there. But that’s not to say that you can’t be successful in blogging. You need to know that it takes a while to get noticed and gain loyal followers. So don’t give up hope – keep up the hard work and soon you’ll have a collection of readers that are enthusiastic about what future posts you’ll put out.
To get your blog noticed, you could use several methods, including:
- Finding a niche that’s unlike anything readers have seen before
- Sharing your content via social media
- Offering a variety of different types of media (e.g. video)
- Working with other bloggers
- Asking for guest posts
- Joining online groups
Alongside these, you should also work on optimizing your blog by learning the key aspects of SEO. In the modern-day, SEO is one of the most powerful tools that your blog can use. Increasing your blog’s ranking in search results, it’s vital in getting people to discover your site organically.
To do this effectively, you should:
- Choose target keywords carefully for every blog post
- Include your desired keyword throughout your content, including in the post title, meta description and URL.
You Have To Be Consistent
As mentioned before, you need to be consistent with your blog posts. Readers will quickly lose enthusiasm in your writing if you’re only putting out a post every few weeks. Professional blogging is a full-time career, and one that you must take seriously.
Work on writing a piece every single day, and schedule these to go out at times that will achieve traction. For example, many bloggers feel that there is no point publishing an article in the middle of the night. Post it at a time when people are likely to read it such as at lunchtime or after work. Many of my readers are mothers, retirees, and others who read posts from morning through the afternoon. I post in the early morning hours my time so that whenever a reader checks their emails in the morning, my notification is waiting for them. It really depends on your target audience and whether your readers read your blog in the morning or afternoon.
Be Prepared To Communicate With Readers
As well as posting articles every day, you need to be prepared to communicate with readers. Like any other business, you need to showcase a friendly face to your readers, otherwise they might not want to come back to your site. Have a page that introduces you to your reader. No, you don’t have to give them your full name and address, but Bob the architect or Jane the nutritionist or Sandy the elementary school teacher tells them something about you in simple words. It also adds to your brand so to speak. Carol @ Comfort Spring is a homebody and garden-lover who also loves fresh salads, easy dishes with whole foods, simple crafts, wellness, and travel.
You should allow comments on your posts and have sharing buttons on each post. Encourage sharing. On your contact me page, give your preferred business email, a contact form for the blog, and/or a link that allows them to send you messages via a virtual mailbox.
Separate to your personal mailing address, this ‘business’ mailbox can be used specifically for your blog. You can use it as a way for businesses to contact you if they want to work with you. Be sure and have a Work With Me link in your menu with a page dedicated to reviews, collaborative posts, and sponsored posts. Be aware that many new bloggers will be contacted to do a post for a major site with links on certain topics without any payment or acknowledgement from them. I wrote several fabulous posts for 2 major websites that was supposed to help me be a blogger on their website. Nope never happened. After it posted, my contact said she was sorry but the one in charge of blogger wait list said it was full. She had offered me something she couldn’t provide. I thought it might get me new readers – nothing. They never linked to my post. Last year I did a small segment for a local TV station making my Deviled Easter Chick and other appetizers for spring. It aired and is still on their website with a link to my blog. I never got one new person who ever visited my blog and commented. It was fun but I don’t know if I’d do it again.
I have enjoyed free items including beautiful faux plants, canvas prints, sheets, and more that were for honest reviews, but that doesn’t pay the bills nor make me an income. There have been multiple possible sponsors I said absolutely NO to. I won’t write about smoking – pipes, cigarettes, cigars. Turned that down multiple times. I won’t write about “magic diet pills” – we won’t talk about how much those magic pills cost. So know what you will accept and what you won’t accept on your blog. If you know your true interests, write interesting articles, and take good photos, you can become a go-to blog for information. Good luck with your blogging dreams.
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