The twenty first century has brought us many new technological advancements. With tech becoming more mainstream by the minute, almost anyone from the 7th grader to the retired grandmother of 10, is able to turn blogging into a viable source of income. Some bloggers are not earning loose change, they are making a living out of blogging full time. Blogging is no longer some strange, and foreign concept unexplored by the masses, and used only by night owls to chat about whether Luke Skywalker will finally find a love interest in the next Star Wars movie. Today, blogging is a verb heard around the globe, and with platforms such as Blogger, and WordPress, turning your thoughts, experiences, and ramblings into an online crowd-pleaser is easier than ever. Even the most technically-challenged new blogger can find solace in online guides, and video tutorials, which are being posted around the clock in order to help both new, and experienced bloggers succeed on the World Wide Web.
While “The Blogger” is a title used to define a vast community of individuals who are using the internet to gain online recognition, this community of people can be divided into several different subcategories of bloggers.
First, we have the part-time blogger. This individual uses his or her website to share personal likes, dislikes, and anecdotes. This casual blogger typically maintains his website as a type of hobby, with no real intention of launching the website into his primary form of capital, although it would be nice. Typically this type of blogger will post a plethora of photos, and videos he or she has found around the net as a means of sharing their interests with others, and staying connected.
The next type of blogger often found online is the expert blogger. These experienced individuals use their blogs in order to market themselves online. Perhaps, their blog covers a specific area of expertise, or even promotes the bloggers service, or profession. This online expert typically sees a fair amount of profit from his website, but the revenue he earns online is nowhere near as valuable as the money he is making from his full-time profession.
The third type of blogger, who in recent times has become the envy of most nine to fivers around the world, is the blogger who quit his job, packed up a suitcase of bear essentials, and is managing his website full-time from a sandy beach, with a piña colada always in hand. This third type of blogger is a combination of the two previously mentioned types on steroids, well, hypothetical steroids that is. You see, while this blogger’s job of staying at home perfecting the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, or island hopping from beach to beach in search for the best bed and breakfast by the sea, may seem like an easy gig, in fact, this blogger works harder than most. The blogger is using his thoughts, and ideas in order to market a type of lifestyle that online users cannot help but fall head-over heels in love with. Not only does this blogger manage to captivate the masses with his retellings of nights spent under a full moon with a bucket of rum and coke, but he has everyone else wondering, “how do I make money from my blog?”
Probably the most essential hidden ingredient to a life spent blogging, and beaching is patience. This must-have quality is something most of the Blogging 101 guide books tend to leave out. But why is patience so important? Your one-way ticket to Europe is booked. Your backpack of bare essentials is packed, and you are ready to take on the world, and publish every minute of it as a means of exploring and making money doing it. Hold it right there, buddy. Your unforgettable EuroTrip will happen, and if you play it smart, you might just be able to do what many have tried to do and fail, which is make a living off of your blog. The first step, however, before quitting your day job, is to make sure that you have the right game plan. Making a successful living off of your blog most certainly takes patience, mainly because a successful blog just doesn’t “happen” overnight. There is a long list of things any blogger must do before he will ever see a penny from his hard work and creativity.
So, to narrow things down, and to help catapult all of you dreamers into blogging success stories, here is a list of steps, which are sure to help you kick start your blogging career.
Step One: Choose A topic You Love
All too often new bloggers come onto the scene and start blogging about a popular topic that they know little about. The key to successful blogging is not to cater to the masses, but rather to write about what you love and let the masses come to you. Even if your passion is turning old socks, who have lost their pair into stuffed animals, it is recommend that you write about that, instead of posting a poorly-written tech post that lacks any type of credibility. This is not to say that someone hoping to break into a new niche market, cannot try their hand at starting a blog on a topic they are not overly familiar with. The bottom line is, it is always easier to write, and keep writing about a topic you love, rather than forcing yourself to produce a post about a topic that does not interest you at all. On the topic of choosing a topic, another mistake often made by new bloggers, is starting a website that covers a number of topics, instead of singling in on one niche. Starting small is often the key to walking away big. Not only is it easier to blog about one specific topic, especially if you are managing a blog alone, but by blogging about a specific subject you will be narrowing your target audience, and focusing on a specific group of people. Ultimately, if you choose to blog about everything, and your target audience is everyone it makes it much harder to focus on any single topic, which means no search engine is going to focus on you. Google has to be able to recognize some specific keywords that keep reappearing in your posts in order for you to start getting recognized as an expert in a certain field. No matter how much you think your two cents is worth, Google won’t be buying any of it, if you do not show some clear and cut points of focus.
While choosing a topic you love, and writing about it seems easy, there is a catch, and it’s one that lands many new bloggers in the dog house. Yes, it is best to start blogging about a topic you love, but that topic needs to be relevant enough in order to get a significant amount of followers. Take a look at some of the most successful full time bloggers. They are usually running a niche blog with posts covering topics that people want to read about. But what sets these bloggers apart from the rest? In a very subtle way, these bloggers manage to write about the ordinary, from a perspective that makes each post sound extraordinary. Putting your unique twist, or take on an everyday story will help you better connect with your target audience. The one thing other bloggers cannot duplicate is your individuality, which should stream out of your posts. The internet is a colossal home to articles, videos, and images. It is certainly a buyers market, and if your posts cannot captivate your readers within the first few sentences, there is nothing that will stop these passer-by’s from moving on to the next URL.
The trick to successful topic-choosing is to find the fine line between relevant, and overexposed, and dance on it. You want to choose a topic that you feel comfortable writing about, as well as one that readers are sure to be interested in. With so much going on, and everybody talking about it, the trick is finding a topic that people want to read about, but that isn’t splattered across every web page on the internet. While you may have every episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians recorded on your television, writing an in-depth post on what possessed Kim to name her child North may be a topic that is just too talked about. Try to stay away from telling people what they already know even if that topic interests you. Readers don’t have to attention span to continue down your post line after line hearing things they have already tweeted about an hour ago. Try to stay current with your posts, or better yet, stay ahead of the game.
Step Two: Be A Professional
Behind every successful blog, is a professional blogger. Now, when we say “professional” we do not mean suit and tie. The professional blogger comes in many different shapes and sizes. The key to being a professional, is knowing how to blog under any circumstance. If your plan is to make a living off of your blog, then the world is your office, and you need to be able to set up your cubicle at a moment’s notice. A blogger’s most valuable tool is his computer. Without a good computer, a serious amount of battery life, and internet access, your blogging life is bound to get a lot more complicated. When you decide to start your blog, be sure your computer will be able to see you through it all. Finding a reasonably priced computer, with a good battery life is easy if you do your research. Being a blogger means being your own boss. The tougher you are on yourself, as an employee of yourself, the better your chances of building a successful online business will become.
Step Three: Choose A Platform That Best Suits Your Needs
Choosing your website’s platform is like choosing a car. There are tons of different models, which all offer a different set of features. Before you start your blog, be sure to do your research on which platform you are going to start running it on. Not every platform is designed for every blogger, and getting stuck on a platform that cannot best serve your website will leave you in a very sticky situation. Ultimately, whichever platform you choose may require some minor adjustments, but the less time you waste tailoring your platform to meet the needs of your blog, the more time you will have to develop your successful website.
Blogger and Tumblr are a great pick for any new blogger looking for a simple platform with a few monetization options. If you have a passion for writing long, and detailed posts often, then these two platforms are best for you. Both Blogger and Tumblr allow you to add images to the pages easily, and you can have Google Adsense, or Yahoo ads running in no time. These two platforms are not the best bet for any blogger hoping to test out many different types of plugins. However, if your main reasons for starting a blog are to get fulfillment out of showcasing your well-written content, then these are the right platforms for you to be running your website on.
Most people have heard the name “WordPress” float around at one point or another. What many blogging newcomers are not aware of is that there are two types of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. If your aim is to start and maintain a successful blog it is probably best that you do not run your site on WordPress.com. This platform is littered with issues, and is a very limited service all-in-all. On the flip side, WordPress.org is a great platform for anyone hoping to start a successful blog that will highlight contributions from various guest posters, plugins, custom comment sections, and many other extras. Any newbies to the WordPress world, should keep in mind that WordPress.org does require hosting, and a personal domain in order to run.
The best part about these platform options is they are completely free, aside from hosting on WordPress, which should run you anywhere from $5-12. While choosing your platform, be sure to settle on a catchy sounding domain that is easy to type in, and relates to the topic you are going to blog about. With a platform that meets your needs, and a domain title that is easy to remember, you will certainly have one foot in the right direction to starting your successful blog.
Step Four: Choose Your Strategy Wisely
You have your topic. You have your platform and domain. Now, what about your strategy? Having a good game plan is the key to having a successful blog. What do we mean by game plan? Well, posting should be like eating. You do it at set times every day, and you keep doing it in order to survive. Before you start your website, make a decision with yourself on when you are going to post and how often. Posting must remain a strict routine, in order to maintain a steady following. Your blog posts must be rich, and interesting, and if you do not have time to post regularly, then you must make the decision to find the time, or hold off on blogging until you will have the time. One of the main keys to maintaining a steady flow of followers, is to have a group of people twiddling their thumbs, waiting for your next post. Make a strict posting schedule, and be sure to stick by it. In doing so, your followers will start expecting your posts, and following your website on the days they know something new will come out. Once you get the ball rolling on your website, you will be responsible to meet the needs of your readers. In the end, if you cannot keep up with your followers demands, they will most likely dump you and move onto the next webmaster. Sorry, dear.
Step Five: Building Blocks
Aside from having a clear-cut strategy, another important step to building a successful blog, is to work with some heavy-duty building blocks. Once you know the direction you want your blog to head in, create your pages so that they meet the needs of the audience you plan to target. Don’t you know that everyone’s eyes are too big for their stomach? Well, if you plan on starting a cooking blog, be sure to add some savory images to those recipes in order in order to really get the attention of your users. Similarly, if your are blogging about politics, do as the politicians should, and stick to some to-the-point texts for your pages. Keep in mind, that the foundation of your blog must relate to the audience you are trying to reach. Always consider your readers when blogging, and remember to build your blog in a way that will appeal to your target audience.
Step Six: Timing Is Everything
No matter whether you decide to open a website just for fun, or to capitalize, the right way to get your website to where you ultimately want it to be is to play it smart in the beginning. Many website owners make the mistake of jumping the gun on ads, and other features in the early stages of their websites life. This error could mean the difference between whether your website will see success, or whether it will flat line. Timing in the blogging world is everything, and knowing when it is the right time to start monetizing your pages is vital. Once you have a solid number of daily followers, and by solid we mean anywhere from 10,000 visitors a day and up, you can start thinking about inserting smart ads that will allow you to capitalize off your pages. Until you reach 10,000 followers a day, you better keep calm and carry on. When your website is new, and your followers are sparse, it is important to focus on your content, and the look of your website. Make the handful of followers you do have feel comfortable on your pages.
Once you get a group of people who like what they see on your site it will surely start to generate a buzz, and before you know it that handful of followers will start to multiply. When the time is right, you can start by inserting a few non-intrusive ads. While your new baby is still growing, try not to stunt his growth with overwhelming ads. While advertising options for websites are endless, a wise choice would be to start with services like Infolinks or imonomy. These are non-intrusive ads that will not take up valuable real estate from your pages, and while your website is still growing, space is key. Google Adsense and Chitika are very popular, but until your website has reached a mature status, it is best to stay away from these big boys.
Step Seven: Get Connected
Being a website owner is a huge responsibility, and if you want to successfully spread the word about what it is you are talking about, you better get connected. Of course posting regularly is important, but after publishing your posts, you need to focus on following-up. Reply to your users comments. Start conversations between yourself and your users, and get your followers to subscribe to your website’s newsletter. After you have published a new post, be sure to get the word out, and share your new work. Don’t sit back and expect Google, or the magic internet fairy to do the job for you. If you want the generate buzz, and encourage people to want to come see what you have to say, then you need to let them know that there is something to come looking for. Once your blog is up and running be sure to get it a Facebook page, open a Twitter account, and start a page on Pinterest. Generate more followers, make new connections, and get fans. In short, get social!
Step Eight: Keep Your Friends Close
Once you decide to start your blog, the one thing you can be sure of is you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of blogs are started each day, with millions of posts getting published by the hour. An important step in not only building, but ensuring your websites success is to befriend your URL neighbours. As a website owner, you are part of an immense community of individuals, who for the most part, all deal with the same daily challenges, and tasks. By creating strategic partnerships, and friendships with other websites you will be protecting your blog from being left out down the road.
Step Nine: Keep Your Cool
Always keep in mind that a blog is meant to be fun. Remember to keep some time for yourself, and be sure to take your head out of the wifi clouds every now and again. By burning the candle to thin, all of the hard work you sunk into your blog will go to waste. If your well-written content, and good looking pages managed to attract followers from the start, then your goal once you are up and running should be to aim to keep them there. Good content comes from good inspiration, and unless you relax, and take a breather every once in awhile, you may find yourself uninspired.
Step Ten: Just Do It
At the end of the day, the only way you will ever become the owner of a successful blog, is if you start one! It is time to quit sitting around, staring at the computer screen without taking action. Once you have your website’s game plan all mapped out, you certainly have nothing to lose. Nowadays, with so many free and easy-to-use tools specially designed to simplify the lives of website owners, there is no excuse to getting started.
Always remember to have fun, play it smart, and by this time next year, you may just find yourself laying on a beach, sipping on an icy beverage, blogging-away.
Written by Avishai Sam Bitton and edited by Leytal Ross.