It seems that everyone and their brother are bloggers at the moment, but few are truly successful. However, when a blog has 100,000 subscribers or more, what might have started out as a bit of a side interest can become a full-time job and a great way to earn money.
So how do you start a successful blog?
Be passionate about what you are blogging about
Although a blog might be successful at some stage in the future, and make money, it’s unlikely that you will make money out of blogging if money is your sole intention.
Becoming a blogger isn’t really a business decision – you have to have something to say to be a blogger.
Let’s say, for example, you start up a blog about the web hosting industry because you have noticed that web hosting is an internet intensive industry where few businesses have a physical storefront and they need internet advertising to reach consumers – a blog about web hosting must be a winner, right?
To get to the place where people want to visit your blog you have to have content they might be interested in reading, and to get that, you either have to know or learn about the web hosting industry.
Now, imagine getting into the web hosting industry just to make money from a blog.
While the component parts of web hosting are fascinating to many, for others they are not.
Imagine trying to learn the differences between the different aspects of web hosting if you weren’t especially interested in them!
Cloud computing, shared hosting, managed hosting, SSD hosting, VPS, SSD VPS, Managed SSD VPS – if you didn’t have a genuine interest in the technology it would prove a soul destroying task to try to write about this industry.
So, before you consider becoming a blogger, consider – do you have anything to say that you genuinely care about?
If the answer is ‘no’, then it’s not for you.
Sharpen your writing skills
If you can’t write well, then you have a problem. There are a number of online courses that will enable you to sharpen your writing skills.
Edx has some free courses that take you through the basics, and of course, there are some paid courses. Skilledup gives you the details on some good ones, but there are numerous available, and which one is right for you is going to take some research.
Will your visitors be hardened pros or complete newbies?
For instance, will that web hosting blog I mentioned before be explaining the basic ideas behind cloud computing, or will you be catering to a group of people who are going to need more complex information.
When you know the audience you are targeting, you get a much better idea of what you need to write to keep your visitors happy.
Learn about the blogging technology available to you
There are a number of Blogging platforms available to you that will cost you absolutely nothing. Blogger.com is the best known and probably the original blogging tool.
It launched in 1999 and was purchased by Google in 2004 so it has a solid pedigree. There is very much a ‘Blogger’ community and as a solution it has a good number of features - you can share posts with other Blogger users, for instance.
WordPress is though one of the most popular solutions with Bloggers and its online version, WordPress.com, offers free blogging accounts. Joomla.com is another free option. Some though believe that to be truly successful a blog must be free of the restrictions of a free blogging service. If that’s the case with you, you will need hosting.
To acquire hosting essentially you rent space on a web host’s server for as little as $2.50 a month and in return you get a fully operational blog.
Being away from free platforms you have more choice regarding what your blog can do and you can add modules to provide your blog with greater functionality.
In addition, there’s more choice regarding the look and feel of your blog – you can use free and paid themes make your blog look just right.
The advantage of paid hosting is if your blog takes off your web host can upgrade your account and give you more resources to manage your visitors.
You aren’t going to get anywhere with a name like www.myblog.blogger.com. To have any chance of success you need your own domain name, and these can be purchased easily starting as little as $10 per year (depending on the extension you use - .com, .net., blog, etc.).
One advantage of Blogger.com is that you can use your own domain name with your account free of charge, while WordPress.com charges $13 per year to use a custom domain with your account.
If you have your own hosting, most hosts are able to sell you domains, but if not, there are literally thousands of domain name registrars your can choose from. GoDaddy is one of the biggest.
Do some research
You are new to blogging and you need to see how others are achieving what they achieve.
Take a look at the big boys, but also look at the interest group blogs. It goes without saying that you should look at blogs that cover the exact area that you will cover (if of course they exist).
If your blog is going to be successful, unless you have found an absolutely unique niche in the market, you are going to be up against some of the most dedicated and disciplined people you would hope to meet writing the same thing.
You are going to have to write something regularly – and if every day can’t be managed then at least every week.
The most successful blogs put something out at least TWICE A DAY!
What you write must be valuable to the people who read your blog for them to want to come back – if it’s meant for entertainment, then entertain. If it’s meant for education, then educate. There can be no half measures.
And blogging doesn’t mean just rehashing what’s on other blogs. If you want a genuine readership you are going to have to offer something original – something they can’t find on other blogs. In such a crowded environment, that’s a particularly tough challenge.
Harness the power of social media
90% of the time I don’t turn on the computer and tune in to my favorite blog. Most times I am doing something I need to do on my computer and I receive a notification that my favorite blog has added its latest content to Facebook.
This makes Facebook important to bloggers but Twitter and networks like Instagram are also useful. Social networks are a great way to pick up an audience.
When 100,000 people follow your Facebook page, then things are heading in the right direction. But it’s not just as simple as just adding your latest blog posting to your social network accounts.
For example, when you add something to your Facebook account, it is roughly only seen by 10% of those 100,000 followers – even less than that actually.
To really reach your fans, you may have to ‘Boost’ posts and that is going to cost you some money – not too much but enough to put you out of pocket.
You can get plenty of online courses to help you get over the social network hump, some are free, others offered by people like Podium provide courses at cost that lead to certification.
Note your users’ comments
Key to successful blogging is people engaging with your content and leaving comments.
Some might be kind, others not.
Develop a thick skin and extract as much useful intelligence from every reader’s comments as you can. You visitors will pretty much tell you the direction you should be heading in.
Don’t give up
It can take you 10 years to be an overnight success and unless you put in the spade work, you will never get there.
As a new blogger you are learning your trade.
When you have mastered your trade, anything might be possible, so have faith and keep up the good work!