Why blogging should be on YOUR to-do list, especially during tough economic times

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on March 2, 2009

in How To Guide,Making Money,Resources

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:

Blogging 101

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”.

Weekly:
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)

Daily:
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

Copyblogger writes,

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, TechnoratiSiteMeter 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.

Blogging Tools and Resources:

Technorati
Feedburner
SiteMeter
Google Analytics
Blog Carnival List
Windows Live Writer
Help A Reporter Out
Problogger
Copyblogger

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Christie March 2, 2009 at 8:09 pm

You have great tips here and I really like the way you have laid it out. Perfect for newbies and a refresher for seasoned bloggers as we all know how easy it is to let something slip through the cracks. I also like to hang out in places like Mom Bloggers Club to meet other bloggers and to get new readers.

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Stephanie's Mommy Brain March 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Hi! Just found your blog tonight.

“But nonetheless, because of my blog, interesting and profitable income opportunities present themselves.” Love this quote. It’s so true!

My blog hasn’t made me a dime, yet. But, it has brought a part time admin job for a bigger blog, given me some cool free stuff, allowed me to email with an author I enjoy and opened up a position as an intern so I can learn more about blogging. All that happened in the last 8 weeks.

I’ve learned that a closed door may just be the springboard into something bigger and better.

Yes, blogging is a lot of work. But it’s also FUN!! :)

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Shanel Yang March 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Great post, Jen! Highly useful information you’ve included here. : ) I want to offer more tips on blogging to your readers from my “For Bloggers Only” Series that I had a lot of fun writing and, as a blogger myself, I look back to from time to time to remind myself of the important of these little tips: http://shanelyang.com/2008/08/24/fbo-how-to-be-a-great-salesperson-or-blogger/

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K-money March 3, 2009 at 1:48 am

I agree completely. Thank you for a nice informative post.

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Cathy Herard March 3, 2009 at 6:26 am

I love how you laid this all out. It is a great guide!!

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Jo March 3, 2009 at 10:02 am

This is timely info for me. Thanks! I just started blogging. I am experimenting this year with taking control of our investments and trading for a (partial) living. I am documenting the process through the blog.

I just feel that the professional financial /investment community has let us down, and we need to educate ourselves and our children to take care of our own finances. I have so many ideas and thoughts in my head,and I need to organize and present them better on the blog.

I especially appreciate the advice on self-hosting advice and the schedule…more research for me!

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Bob McDonnell March 3, 2009 at 11:41 am

Thanks for sharing this info and talking to Brian Schwartz’s blogging class. You have so much information to share. I will put your blog on my RSS reader.

The blog class and guest speakers inspired me. I am READY to blog.
Bob McDonnell Freelance Writer and Blogger
http://www.wordsbybob.com

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Moyra March 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I am probably blogging for other reasons, namley keeping myself on track with my own goals – a bit like writing a journal really. I am enjoying reading other blogs, some useful resources, some just to find other people on similar life paths.

Its really interesting to see that it can be used for professional reasons, and this looks like a right good guide. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. I find your blog a very good resource. Best of luck with the book.

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Emma March 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm

One improvement would be to make your posting more regular. Your writing is great and your story is absolutely inspiring. But there is not any consistency as to when a post will come out and sometimes there are mutliple back to back and then a dry spell for a week or so.

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Laura March 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

This is a great resource to get people interested and started in blogging. I agree with Jo that we need to take responsibility for or own finances. While for most people blogging isn’t lucrative, it can still be an alternative source of income.

Wonderful points on the secondary benefits of blogging. I have gotten freelance work through my blogs and it has helped strengthen my resume and portfolio.

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Carrie Lauth March 3, 2009 at 10:31 pm

I couldn’t agree more! There are so many possibilities with blogging as you mentioned, and I’ve been on a mission for awhile now to educate moms about the power of a blog as an income vehicle. Great tips for getting started too.

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The Kiwi Millionaire March 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

That’s some great advice Jen. You have a great writing style and your passion shines through in your posts, which I think is why you’re doing so well. Keep up the great work :-)

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tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations March 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

I agree with you. Once I started my blog and kept being consistent my business has increased 100%. I have been telling my husband to start a blog. He is a genius with computers and very gifted. He has an incredible amount of knowledge and know how of how to find the information out there. :) We are on our way to financial freedom too. :) thanks for your sharing your insights. :) Tereza

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Millionaire Mommy Next Door March 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

Thanks for the nice feedback, everyone!

Bob McDonald. it was a pleasure to meet you, too, and I wish you all the best on your new blog! Suggestion: Your comment was automatically sent to my spam filter, perhaps because you included a link within your comment? You don’t need to add your blog URL in comments because your name is hyperlinked to your blog already. (If someone likes your comment and wants to see your blog, they simply click on your name.)

Shanel, good stuff in your series. Thanks for sharing.

Jo and Moyra, yes, personal accountability is another great reason to blog!

Emma, rather than post content simply to keep to a schedule or improve my SEO, I prefer to blog more meaty posts when I have something of value to say. These posts take me considerable time to put together. Consequently, I do post less frequently than some others, but hopefully it’s worth it in the end. My life moves and flows at different rhythms. This is the beauty and flexibility of financial freedom! If you haven’t already, subscribe to my feed by email — then you don’t need to keep checking back to see if I’ve posted anything new, because my posts will be delivered automatically to your inbox.

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ale balanzario March 4, 2009 at 9:10 pm

First time in your blog, Im glad i have found you, will come often to visit you, I have a blog since may 08, but want to go foward now. all the advices are welcome. Ale.

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A Frugal Friend March 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Thank you for this. I was particularly interested in how you had to start over from scratch when with Blogger. Oh my! I am still learning all this and really appreciate the effort you took to create this post. THanks

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Betsy Bargain March 5, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Thanks for the useful tips. As a beginning blogger, I found your latest post really helpful.

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Andy @ Retire at 40 March 5, 2009 at 6:58 pm

I think the reasons for blogging are varied but no matter what the reason, I think most people get enormous satisfaction out of it. It’s a creative place that you’re in charge of and not directed to do things by other people. I find it very fulfilling and rewarding (and not necessarily in a monetary sense).

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Kristin March 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Hi – It’s fantastic to see a mommy write an article about how to make money blogging. So many articles out there are written by men. You inspire me! I’m currently finishing my bachelor’s degree and use blogging, mystery shopping, and eBay to make money. Thanks!

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Chad @ Sentient Money March 6, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I felt like I was being scolded as I read the post, and rightly so. I have been slacking for a while now.

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SonyaAnn March 7, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I’ve been blogging for a while but I’m on a $0 budget for getting traffic. From what I can tell this seems to be the problem that most “new” bloggers run into, any ideas? I’ve been blogging for 6 months with maybe 5 people stopping by. I love to talk and writing for me is just an extension of that so I’m not going to stop. I’ve found a free hobby that I love but I would like to have some company.
Thank you for all of your articles, I stop by often.

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Bob McDonnell March 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for the feedback. A rookie mistake.
Is that true of all blogs? I thought you were supposed to include your URL. I do see on yours that how to click on the persons name. I will have to check other blogs.
Thanks so much

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Nicole March 9, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Hey Jen,

I noticed I wasn’t on your blogroll anymore (as I was when you were still at blogspot). I wasn’t sure if that was because you didn’t know I moved (makeitbetter), my inactivity or something else . Either way, great new site and thanks for the love in the earlier days!!

xox.

Nicole

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Millionaire Mommy Next Door March 9, 2009 at 10:17 pm

SonyaAnn, refer to tip #9 for some ideas on finding an audience of readers. If you don’t interact with others online, no one will find your site.

Nicole, I periodically check my blogroll for discontinued blogs. You hadn’t (and haven’t) written anything for 3+ months. I’m glad to hear you’re still writing! May I suggest doing so on a more regular basis. (Heck, I get emails from readers disappointed when I skip one week!)

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Nicole March 10, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I know, I know, sad isn’t it?

I’ve had prouder moments :).

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Allison June 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

This is an incredibly helpful post, thank you!

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dolores April 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm

sounds like alot of work and some fun,Ido enjoy reading your blogs.

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Deb February 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

Thanks so much for this information and for the site in general. I am in a different point in time, position to yourself but find your story so inspirational as it opens up possibilities for those of us who struggle with day to day financial stuff and are trapped by working for a wage or a boss. My children have left home and although I was unable to provide them with the kind of lifestyle I wanted while they were growing up, I would love to be able to help create their own abundance. Thanks again.

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