Picture the scene, you’re tapping away from the comfort of your own home (perhaps wearing ‘loungewear’), coffee in hand, writing about the things you’re passionate about AND making money. How? Blogging. With a bit of nous you can join the growing army of professional bloggers.
There are a mind-boggling – or should that be mind-bloggling – 150 million blogs live on the web at this very moment. Don’t let that put you off, some of those blogs are also making their owners money.
Using our insider knowledge (we started as a little blog ourselves!) we’ve put together this guide to help you blog your way to flexible working and a nice bank balance.
How to Start a Successful Blog
Here we’ll show you how to start a successful blog, attract an audience and make some cash as well. It’s time to start spreading the word…
Before you embark on your own blog, it’s important to understand their appeal. We humans like nothing more than sharing tips and insights while also having a nose into other people’s lives. Thousands of years ago cavemen drew pictures on walls to express themselves, here in the 21st century, we blog.
If you have something to say or to sell (or have hobby or skill), blogging is one of the best ways to do so and connect with people. A blog comes from a personal place, it’s not just another dreary corporate website.
Starting a blog can be a great way to harness potential customers, make money and act as a springboard to other exciting and profitable projects.
Take a look at food blogger, Jack Monroe. After living on a shoestring, Jack started the blog ‘A Girl called Jack’ to share recipes for cheap and wholesome food. From a very simple idea Jack is now a successful businessperson and campaigner. Enough said.
Don’t Get Blogged Down
Not the best writer? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be. Good bloggers simply write about things people want to read or know about. Blogs are informal and conversational in style, you just have to write from the heart.
No good at tech? Again, you don’t have to be. You can set up a blog in the time it takes to make a cuppa. If you have a computer and internet access, you’re already half way there.
What Shall I Say?
Have a good think about what you want to write about. From DIY to sandwiches to parenting, you can literally blog about anything. Perhaps you already run a business and want to use blogging to promote it.
The rule is, there are no rules. However, your blog needs to have value for other people so make sure you think about your target audience when starting out. Who do you want to reach?
Also, if you have an idea that’s a little bit ‘out there’ or looks at something from a new angle, you will gain more readers. Have a look at Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator if you are stuck for ideas.
Getting Started: How to Start a Successful Blog Today
You know what you want to say, now you are ready to set up your blog. There are loads of platforms out there where you can set up a blog for free. WordPress is the biggest platform and is arguably the best starting point for beginners.
You can easily set up a free blog with WordPress but this has downsides: you won’t have your own domain name and there are limits to how much money you can make. Free blogs are more for hobby bloggers, so if you are serious about blogging, we recommend choosing a web host for your WordPress blog.
There are lots of web hosting platforms. We like Bluehost as it’s quick, easy and cheap and you can host your WordPress blog through shared hosting, and it also comes with a FREE domain name!
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Go to Bluehost.com and click on the ‘Get Started’ green button.
Step 2: Select a pricing plan from as little as £3 per month. You get your own domain name as well as the site, which you can customise.
Step 3: Choose a domain name for your blog. You will need to have a good think about what to call your blog at this point!
Step 4: Complete your account information and payment details (you will also be asked to create a password)
Step 5: Pick one of Bluehost’s themes for your blog (which you can change later). ) We use the WordPress Theme by StudioPress on this blog.
Once you have set up your account and had a play around with the template – all you need to do is get posting!
How to Gain a Following and Keep Them Hooked
As the saying goes: ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ The same goes for your blog. If no one reads it, does it really exist? Well, the brutal truth is no.
How to get eyes on your blog:
1. Write Great Content
You need great content and catchy, searchable headlines to gain traction in the blogosphere.
Digital word-of-mouth is the best way to promote your blog. Set up social share buttons for the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn) which makes it easier for readers to share through their own networks. Obviously you should share your blog on your own social media and other websites you have as well.
As well as inviting comments and sharing on your own blog, you should be reading and commenting on other blogs as well. Blogging is a community and fellow bloggers will share your content if you share theirs. It’s all about being visible online.
4. Use Amazing Images
Nobody wants to see a wall of text. Break it up with great images which highlight and illustrate your content. Either take your own pictures or download images from stock images (check payment to avoid breaching a photographer’s copyright). Stock images site Dreamstime is a great place to find striking images for little cost.
5. Ask People to Join Your Mailing List
Get readers to subscribe to your blog to receive regular posts. Install a subscribe button on your blog to make it easy for them. Then you can start collecting email addresses and keep in touch with your readers.
6. Have A Great ‘About Me’ Page
Blogging is personal and readers want to connect with you as a person. The ‘About’ page is often overlooked on blogs so make sure you sell yourself there.
7. Post Regularly
This is crucial. There is nothing worse than a ‘dead’ blog where someone only posts once in a blue moon. To be fresh and relevant, you need to post and share great content every week. If someone clicks on your site and it hasn’t been updated in a while, they will click away and probably won’t return.
How To Start A Successful Blog And Make Money
You won’t start raking in the cash as soon as you click ‘Launch Site.’ A profitable blog takes time and effort.
Spread the net wider by promoting your blog on social media. Get a Twitter page going with links to your blog. Tweet about things which are relevant to your blog and share and follow other bloggers with lots of followers. If they follow you back, their readers might read your blog too.
Once you’re established there are lots of ways to monetise your blog:
The main way to make money from blogging. As your blog becomes popular, advertisers will want to pay you to place adverts near your content. Use Google Adsense to manage this, they act as a ‘middleman’ between you and the advertiser and you can choose what adverts you want on your blog.
2. Affiliate Links
Where you promote other people’s products and services through your content. You can partner with brands and receive a commission every time a reader clicks on a link. You can find companies to partner with through your own networking or through sites like AWIN who ‘introduce’ you to affiliate partners.
3. Guest Blogging
If you are an expert in your subject, get paid to guest on other blogs for a fee.
4. Promote Your Business (Or Yourself!):
Blogging is a great way to promote any product or service you are offering. It builds up your profile and adds a personal touch to your business. It’s also a great way to prepare yourself for job applications, self-starters who promote themselves online are always attractive to employers.
Remember, you can only make money from your blog when you have traffic and following, so concentrate on the content and adding value to your readers before the cash.
Nurture it, love it and unlike a child, it might actually give you something back! It won’t happen overnight but get it right and blogging can be one of the easiest ways to make money online.
Are you ready to get started? Then click here to go to Bluehost and follow our simple guide.
Over to you – have you set up a blog and made money from it? Share your blogging stories and tips with us, we’d love to hear from you!