People create blogs for many reasons: to keep in touch with family and friends; to promote a product or service; to make money working from home.
A few full-time bloggers reportedly earn a very healthy income from blogging. Bloggers sell links and space to advertisers and generate referral income from affiliate sales programs. For those that blog as a means of making money, generating traffic is paramount. The higher the number of page views, the higher the opportunity to generate income. A-list bloggers make a lot of money because they receive tens of thousands of hits every day.
Most bloggers, however, earn very little. Don’t be discouraged though, because even with low traffic counts, blogging provides other valuable income opportunities.
Let me explain by way of example: I don’t make much money from the advertisement placed in my right sidebar — and what I do earn is donated to Kiva.org. But nonetheless, because of my blog, interesting and profitable income opportunities present themselves. I’ve appeared on national television, I’ve been profiled in several books, newspapers and magazines, I’ve been encouraged by literary agents and publishers to write a book, I’ve been offered writing and speaking gigs, and I’ve established a coaching business.
Considering today’s tough economic times, blogging should be on your to-do list too because it can open new doors.
Blogging provides a way for me to:
- network, make connections, and influence others in a positive way
- build my platform as an author before writing a book (essential in today’s publishing market)
- offer my coaching services to a targeted and receptive audience
- improve my writing skills
- express myself and share an exchange of thoughts and ideas with a diverse, worldwide community of readers
- promote topics near and dear to my heart (personal empowerment, science of happiness, financial literacy)
- help small businesses operated by working, impoverished women in developing countries by pledging my blogging profits to Kiva.org
If you’re a consultant, small business owner, paid professional – or currently unemployed and looking for work — you owe it to your financial future to establish a blog of your own. But how? Here are the lessons I’ve learned:
1) First, answer the question “Why do I want to blog?”
Blogging takes a lot of time. Most bloggers quit within their first three months. Without a clear purpose, mission or vision statement, you’re likely to become a disillusioned short-term blogger. Realize that it takes plenty of time and work to create and maintain a well-trafficked and respected blog.
2) Research the business of blogging and find mentors
Before launching my blog, I invested three months time researching the business of blogging. I followed successful blogs and those that teach the art of blogging (like Problogger). I joined a writers’ group to share my ideas with other writers, ask for feedback and reciprocate proofreading. Knowing that first impressions are everything, I made sure that I was ready to impress new readers during their first visit.
3) Carefully select your niche and blog title
Pick a topic that you are passionate about. Your passion will be evident in your writing. You will spend a lot of time blogging about it, thinking about it and talking about it. Make sure you love-love-love your blog topic! Now, craft a title that will convey your blog’s topic AND grab your readers attention. Ask for feedback before committing.
4) Have a plan
Before launching my blog, I drafted an outline for my 52 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom series (which I may eventually turn into a book), wrote an About Me page to introduce myself to new readers, and made a list of hundreds of topics I’d like to blog about.
5) Use a self-hosted domain
I started my first blog in July 2007 using Blogger’s free service. Just four months later, my blogspot domain had earned thousands of inbound links and a nice Google page rank. It was discovered by the media and I was invited to appear on national television. My blog’s readership and traffic continued to climb.
In October of 2008, my entire Google account was hacked into and disabled. This means my blog, my gmail account, my calendar… the whole shebang… were gone. Since Blogger is not self-hosted, I had no recourse. I had to start all over again.
Now I pay about $10 a year to register my own domain URL and $99 a year for my hosting service. Take it from me, the expense and hassle is worth it!
6) Schedule blogging time
One of my favorite productivity tools is a digital kitchen timer. As a work-from-home mom of a three-year-old, I find it necessary to structure my writing and blogging time according to her schedule and push to get it done. I write when she’s sleeping, engrossed in Sesame Street or enjoying one-on-one time with her daddy.
Nothing can sideswipe my attention and redirect my efforts quite like the world wide web. The timer keeps me focused, motivated and targeted on the individual task at hand.
Identify your daily, weekly and monthly activities, set a time limit for each one, and start the digital timer in countdown mode. Save your favorite activities for last to serve as your reward for staying on task.
For example, here’s the timed list I strive to keep for writing and blogging activities. (Note: You can also use your digital timer for other tasks: managing personal finances; housecleaning; de-cluttering; exercising; tackling a big project or assignment.) Use your timer to “eat your elephant one bite at a time”.
15 minutes: backup previous posts and template changes
15 minutes: submit posts to blog carnivals, write and publish my blog carnival roundup
30 minutes: thank bloggers for new incoming links
(Total = 1 hour per week)
30 minutes: reply to emails
15 minutes: respond to blog comments
15 minutes: check stats
30 minutes: read other blogs, leave comments, copy my comments for future post ideas
(Total = 1.5 hours/day x 5 days = 7.5 hours per week)
1-2 Times Per Week (my writing process):
30 minutes: brainstorm topics, research, outline, collect relevant links
60 minutes: write rough draft
30 minutes: proofread, edit, polish
15 minutes: publish post to blog, check for broken links
(Total = 2.25 hours oer post = 2.25 to 4.5 hours per week)
TOTAL = 10.75 to 13 hours per week
The digital timer can also serve as a reminder to get up from your desk, stretch your muscles and rest your eyes. I usually multi-task these mini-breaks: I throw a load of laundry in the dryer, do some yoga stretches with my daughter, or take the dog for a walk. About 10 minutes later, I’m sufficiently refreshed to sit at my desk for the next itemized task at hand.
7) Create post titles that grab attention
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.
But a headline can do more than simply grab attention. A great headline can also communicate a full message to its intended audience, and it absolutely must lure the reader into your body text.
At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more.
8) Provide value
Aim to make each post a resource for your readers. Content is king queen. Quality content creates value for the reader, and in turn, value drives long-term traffic. Proofread before you hit the publish button.
9) Seek exposure with a targeted audience
Submit articles to blog carnivals related to your niche. Offer guest posts to other bloggers and include your web page link in your byline. Participate in conversations on related blogs and online forums. Include your link in your email signature.
10) Be a polite blogger
Respond to readers’ questions, comments and emails. Link back to blog carnival hosts. Monitor inbound links, comments and mentions of your blog via Google Alerts, Technorati, SiteMeter and Google Analytics. When you detect a mention of your blog, visit the referring blog and thank the blogger in the comments of the post.
11) Share the link-love
Creating a blog roll and link out to other web sites within your niche. Encourage an online conversation.
12) Make it easy for readers to return to your site
Ask readers to subscribe to your feed and make the process as easy as possible. Then keep in mind that your subscriber list is full of people who have trusted you with their valuable attention.
13) Measure and evaluate your progress
Regular evaluations using analytical measures are important for keeping on track and staying in alignment with your vision. Identify what works, what doesn’t and what you want to accomplish next.
14) Ask for reader feedback
Readers, I welcome questions, comments and suggestions. Please let me know if (and how) I can improve this blog to better assist you in your journey to success, wealth and happiness.
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