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On this subject, here is an article about starting a Blog: If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog in 2018, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re interested in sharing some personal insights, or building a passive online income for yourself, a blog is an excellent idea.1
You can focus on whatever topic you’re passionate about, write what interests you, and connect with other people who share those same interests.
Blogging is great!
I’ve been able to write hundreds of blog posts that have helped thousands of businesses and bloggers, and I’ve leveraged that content into a full-time career as a CMO, marketing consultant and author.
Thanks to my blog, and the fact that I am a 100% work from home business, I have been able to move whenever and wherever I want, as well as work from Barcelona, Florida, California, Hawaii and countless other destinations.
Even my mom’s dining room! (Ok, that might not sound as glamorous, but being able to let my kids spend a whole week around Christmas with their grandparents and cousins, without having to take time off from work, was a big deal.)
And you can too.
“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn.”
– Scott Adams
But we all have to start somewhere. For a blog, that means understanding some back-end technical details, and some front-end style and best practices.
Throughout this guide I walk you through best practices and provide essential strategies and tactics for your success. I also recommend specific tools and services that I’ve used, some of which are affiliate links – those cost you nothing more and, in fact, in some instances I’ve negotiated an even better deal for you.
We’re going to cover a lot of ground. I’d strongly recommend that you hit CTRL – D right now to bookmark this resource so that you can come back to it later. You can also download it as a PDF for free here:
Blogging started when people first began using websites to journal their activities and ideas. The term blog came from “Web Log” and so the initial blogs were quite personal in nature.
That doesn’t have to be the case today.
Blogs are currently used in much the same way normal websites are used: to educate site visitors on a particular topic.
“The process for finding, creating, and consuming information has fundamentally changed with the advent of the web and the rise of blogging.”
– Ryan Holiday
One difference though between what one might call “normal” web pages and a blog is that a blog is expected to have new content added to it regularly, and thus the blogging system should facilitate that.
While most blogs might have comments and tags and other frills… it’s that regular addition of new content which is what really defines and separates the blog from a static site.
Even the posts themselves and the format they’re in matters little. It’s all just content. Here on The Social Media Hat, I use “pages” and “blog posts” and “articles” and “stories” to separate in my own mind and site organization what I’m publishing. But the normal site visitor likely wouldn’t know the difference.
We will get into some of those details very shortly. For now, what’s important is to understand that if you’re going to start a blog, that means that you’re going to be creating a website that you will need to update regularly with new information.
It’s an important point, because that represents a commitment on your part that you have to stick with to achieve success. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to set up a blog, publish one post, and suddenly get droves of traffic that drive crazy amounts of passive revenue.
That’s a pipe dream.
Rather, know that it will take you time to develop an audience. You’re likely going to have to write a lot of blog posts and create a great deal of content, over a lengthy period of time.
How much and how long will depend a great deal on your individual goals. Are you doing this for fun? Are you hoping to make a little money on the side? Or are you hoping to turn your blog and interests into a full time business and career?
Which leads us to a very important consideration: how to make money blogging.
If you’re blogging for fun, or already have a plan to monetize your blog, feel free to skip this section. If, however, you’re definitely interested in understanding how people can make thousands of dollars a month from their blog, I have a brief introduction for you.
There are actually a myriad of ways that people can make money from a blog and website, but at a high level, most methods fall into a few basic categories.
One of the most common ways to monetize a blog is to add advertising. Google AdSense, for example, will generate dynamic ads in whatever spaces you specify that is related to your content and therefore more likely to be of interest to visitors.
In order to see good revenue from advertising, you’ll need to establish growing levels of traffic. It’s poor SEO to fill a brand new site with advertising, and individual advertisers will likely only be interested in working with established brands, so don’t plan to implement advertising right away.
Another common way to monetize a site or blog is to sell products. These might be digital products that you’ve created or resell, or physical products. Depending on the product, you may need to integrate a shopping cart application into your site, or you might be able to refer visitors and interested buyers to a separate site (or just use PayPal buttons, for instance).
While you can certainly launch your blog with products to sell (particularly if that’s the point of your business), keep in mind that as a new business and blogger, you still need to establish a reputation, so keep your expectations reasonable at first.
61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (Source: BlogHer)
While selling services may not be the typical blogger’s primary focus, it certainly does offer a lucrative option, particularly if you’re simultaneously working to develop passive revenue streams.
In other words, while you’re working on building traffic and slowly earning more from advertising or other streams, you can still make a great living using your blog content to establish your authority in your niche and offer your services to other people. You can promote them directly on your site, as well as through third-party sites like Fiverr.com or Guru.com.
Finally, what’s typically one of the most effective ways for bloggers to make money is through affiliate recommendations and sales.
The arrangement is simple. You create your blogging site around a central theme, identify one or more businesses that are already selling products or services which serve that niche, and then you promote them on your site. As an affiliate, you are provided a custom link to use to refer readers which, when clicked, automatically associates that visitor and customer with you. You get credit for anything they purchase and earn a commission.
Like all of the other methods, this is by no means an easy path to untold riches. You still need to develop an audience and establish your authority. And when you want to promote an affiliate product, you’re going to have to really sell it and demonstrate value, just as if you were selling your own product or service.
The beauty though is that fulfilment is 100% someone else’s responsibility. And if you’re able to create some really effective systems for funneling readers into the recommended products, you’ll begin to see real monthly earnings – enough to build a real living off of.
I’ll outline what those systems look like for you later on.
“I’ve long advised that bloggers seeking to make money from blogging spread their interests across multiple revenue streams so as not to put all their eggs in one basket.”
– Darren Rowse
While it’s usually best to work on developing a rich archive of content and an engaged audience first, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan for how you’re going to earn money.
To help you figure out where to narrow your niche and how to best build the business side of the blog, I strongly recommend that you sign up for Solo Build It! for WordPress, the complete online business building program from SiteSell. For the price of a few good books, you’ll have access to what is essentially a Masters degree in online business. This version specifically for WordPress will tie some of the keyword research tools into your WordPress site for ease of use.
There are three main areas of concern that need to be addressed before you start blogging and then continuously while you’re blogging, and those are Focus, Targeting and Metrics.
Focus is important in order to keep your blog content topics as narrow as possible. When you stray off into posts that are off-topic, they’re usually a waste of time. It seems counter-intuitive to keep narrowing and narrowing the focus of what you’re writing about – it may seem like you’re limiting your audience. But the fact is, a highly focused set of topics will make it easier for you to figure out what you need to write about, and grow a highly interested audience.
I started blogging when I first opened my web dev business. At the time, I thought that writing about anything business-related would be good for my audience and great for my blog. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Those early posts that I wrote garnered no traffic, no leads, and no sales, and therefore were completely worthless.
What I lacked was an understanding of the connection between the content I needed to write and the audience I was trying to reach.
This is why it’s a good idea to develop one or more personas for your blog and business.
A persona is simply a made-up person that typifies your ideal or target audience. You might include demographic or geographic data if it makes sense to do so, but the more important features are usually their fears, issues, concerns, needs and goals.
If you can gain an understanding of what your audience needs, and how they’re limited, you can create a picture for yourself of how you can help them.
Once you’ve established one or more personas and have started to create content that you think is a better fit for them, you can use your analytics to confirm that.
Google Analytics will help you see how your site content performs, and all of the major social networks also offer reporting options to help you gauge the effectiveness of your social activity as well.
In fact, whenever you’re on the fence about whether a particular topic is a good one, it’s often best to test it with a short social media post rather than invest the time it takes to write a blog post. If the social post resonates with your audience, you know it’s safe to proceed with the longer article.
Example: Peg Fitzpatrick
A great example of a blogger with excellent focus is Peg Fitzpatrick.1 Peg is a marketing consultant and speaker, so she’s targeting small to medium business owners and brands with her content.
She knows that by sharing detailed blog posts about various aspects of social media marketing, she can position herself as an authority. She also knows that the people interested in her content will, for the most part, be too busy to read all of her articles.
There will always be people who need more help than you can provide in a blog post and will be willing to pay for your expertise.
One area that you may be wondering about is your “Voice.” Maybe you’ve heard other bloggers talk about it. What is it, and how do you get it?
Your voice with regard to writing and blogging is actually very akin to your spoken voice. By that I mean, when you and I are sitting in a cafe having coffee and talking about our career paths, you hear me speaking.
Not only do you hear the words, you hear things like intonation, cadence, stress, emotion, passion, confidence. You learn just as much from the way that I speak as from what I say.
Your writing is the same way. Sure, the typed words are important for facilitating what it is you want to communicate.
But there’s more.
Which words do I choose to use? Which words do I stress? Where do I choose to start new paragraphs or use short sentences.
These are things that, when combined, come together to be “uniquely you.”
But it also happens over time. When you begin to write your first blog post you may not have a clear idea of how you want to talk to your readers.
You may not know if you want to be funny or clever or even shocking.
Of course, whatever style you choose should usually reflect who you are outside of your writing. Most of my friends and colleagues who “met” me through my blog and then we meet face-to-face later find that I write almost exactly like I speak.
What style will you choose?
More important, how will you go about finding that style?
“The best way to develop your writer’s voice is to read a lot. And write a lot. There’s really no other way to do it.”
– Stephen King
Yes, like so many other aspects of blogging, your voice is going to take time to develop. Not only do you need more experience to be able to discern what your voice is, you will also need practice writing with that voice in order to make sure that everything you write is flush with your style.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Read your writing out loud. Ken Evoy showed me the power of this technique and it’s truly amazing. Not only will you be a better editor of your own work, you’ll really “hear” the voice that you’ve portrayed in your writing and may find yourself loving what you’ve drafted, or saying, “yuck!” out loud.
- Learn the rules of grammar. You don’t want to get stuck on spelling & grammar, and you definitely don’t want your readers to get stuck. Let them focus on what you’re trying to say, rather than any confusing mistakes you might have made.
- Know when to break the rules. Blog posts are not college research papers. It’s OK to break the rules if done deliberately, with purpose for the reader.
- Write from your own knowledge & passion. When your writing comes from your heart & mind, rather than a regurgitation of notes and research, your personality can come out clearly.
While we may not have spent a lot of time talking about your blogging voice, it issomething I advise you to think about quite a bit. This is one of the best ways you and your blog will stand out.
“A blog needs a voice that is both exclusive and authentic.”
– Nick Goins
Before we jump into the nitty gritty of what you need to do to start your blog, let me address and dissuade you from a few common mistakes and misperceptions about blogging options.
I Can Blog Using Social Media
This is fallacy #1. Some people will tell you that all you really need is a Facebook Page and you can just post all of your content there.
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