There’s a romantic illusion about writing and blogging. It starts with phrases like, “everyone has a book inside them” or “you’ve got so many funny/crazy/sad/amazing stories; you should write about them”. But, the fact is that it is borderline-impossibly hard to get published or recognised unless you have something extremely special and unique to offer, coupled with a LOT of hard work (read: actual sweat, tears and maybe even some blood, depending on how hard you hammer away at those keys).
Blogging is a fabulous outlet for writers or aspiring writers who have something to share. Especially something that doesn’t fall under the writing-and-publishing-a-book umbrella. And, thanks to the explosion of information available to us, it has become even more do-able for the everyday person.
- Blogging creates a fantastic platform for those who enjoy writing to get plenty of experience and to establish an audience. Once you have a group of people that know you, understand your topic and enjoy reading your blog, you have a considerably bigger chance of being published and read as an author.
- A blog is a great complement for your existing business. Whether you’re a hairdresser, chef, or engineer, having a blog gives you the opportunity to reach more people with current comments and topics.
- Once you’ve nailed blogging, you can use it to make money, without spending much (or any) money in the process. Still, this isn’t easy money. It takes lots of work.
- Blogs are important parts of any online subject or community. You can use yours to help parents that have lost a child, couples going through a divorce, or young ones in need of advice. Or, you can use it to post tutorials on how to cut hair or decorate a party venue. You can even use it to reach out to others for advice and to share insights you wished you’d known before. There’s no telling how far-reaching and beneficial your blog could be.
- Pick a topic – choose something that you’re invested in and have some opinions about, something you’ll research over the long term, and something that affects others. You’ll have to understand your market and have a keen insight into how your blog will add value to them. It has to be about more than your opinion. Your blog needs to be useful, relevant and current.
- Decide on a platform and host – I use WordPress because it’s easy, quick and has attractive templates.
- Plan ahead – ensure that you have a page that explains who you are and what your blog is about, as well as a contact page. Then, start planning your tabs and categories before you start writing. This will give your blog shape and will guide you in your writing.
- Before you launch your blog, ensure that it is populated. Write a few blogs as well as all the static content (e.g. Home Page). It’s a good idea to have a Twitter account and Facebook page for your blog too so that each new post can be shared on social media. Do all of these before officially launching your blog to the public.
- Once it’s ready, share your blog on social media (the blog’s accounts and, especially in the beginning, on your personal social media accounts). Find blogging groups and share it on those too.
- Keep it up to date – I fall short here. Life gets in the way, work keeps me busy and, before I know it, it’s been months since my last post. It’s important to stay current and active – both for the blog and for your own enthusiasm.
Deciding on what to blog about is 80% of the battle. Well, probably. It can’t just be me.
A good guide to deciding on a blog (the whole concept or each blog post) is to ask:
- Does it solve a problem?
- Can it help someone to get through something? (this can refer to a fear, a loss, a trauma, or a hurdle)
- Does it teach something?
- Will it help my readers to reach a goal?
- Is it entertaining?
It needs to be at least one of these things.
EARNING MONEY FROM YOUR BLOG
Earning money from your blog is an organic process. Yes, there are ways and means of getting there more efficiently and proactively. But, there’s no magic button that will get the bank balance soaring. The most important way that you can earn money from your blog is to focus on getting accurate, interesting information. Then, write it well.
Another of the best and easiest ways to start earning is to endorse other people’s products on your blog and to charge a set rate or a commission. This is Affiliate Marketing. However, if your blog is about a service that you offer, then stick to offering that right from the get-go.
I enjoyed this excerpt from SmartBlogger on the subject:
Affiliate marketing is a good way to start for several reasons:
- It’s faster. Instead of investing months or even years creating a product, all you have to do is publish a link on your site. Assuming your audience is engaged, you could be earning commissions within hours or even minutes.
- The income from affiliate marketing is almost entirely passive. You don’t have to worry about creating products, supporting customers, or any of the technical complexity of selling your own products or services. You can also invest the time you save into growing your traffic, leading to more revenue later.
- It can guide future product creation. If one affiliate product sells 10X better than all the others you promote, you might want to think about developing your own version of the product, because you have proof your audience wants it.
In addition, ensure that your blog is getting some exposure on relevant Facebook pages; such as this one. This sets up a public platform. Here, you can post new pieces, engage with other bloggers, and get feedback from your target market.
Other than this, the success of a blog comes down to its being well written and on topic. There’s just no getting around it. So, invest the time into research, interviews, participating in forums and honing your writing skills to present something of value. When your blog is valuable, your market is more likely to follow.