We get it: your blog is your life. You spend more time updating, adding posts, and connecting with readers than you do at your day job. You’ve got a gift — so why not turn that pet project into something more? Here are five steps to becoming the online entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed of being.
Make sure you’ve got good content
You might think this goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there — if you want yours to stand out, it needs to be really, really good. Besides a recognizable online personal brand — which you’re already doing with your blog, kudos — what’s the best way to ensure that your blog is worth visiting? Pick one specific topic or niche area that you’re interested in, and write about it better than anyone else does. A good start is to get into the mindspace of your readers — what are they looking for? what appeals to them? — and then write to that.
It also helps if your topic is one that most other bloggers don’t think to write about; maybe you’re really interested in cult horror movies or homemade gelato recipes. By pairing things you might not expect — like your love for yoga and motorcycles (we know you’re out there) — you’ll be able to provide a unique and original take because it’s something you’re personally invested in.
Build a base of readers
Sadly, it just isn’t enough to have good content. You have to have readers, too. There are tons of different strategies for getting your name out there — too many to list here — but here are five crucial ones.
1. Make your blog SEO (search-engine optimization) friendly by using keywords and searchable terms in your posts.
2. Keep an active presence on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to bring friends and followers to your blog.
3. Connect with other bloggers you admire, and ask if they’ll write guest posts on your blog to gain members of their audience (and vice versa).
4. Have a consistent editorial calendar, so your readers can expect timely, quality content on a regular basis.
5. Don’t be cheesy. Readers will see right through you if you use cheap tactics like overly to gain traffic. Stick to what you do best and your audience will respect you for it.
Get a memorable domain name
This one should be obvious. Registering a unique domain name will distinguish your blog from the millions of WordPress pages and Tumblrs out there, and will make it easier for your fans to spread the word about you and your awesome content. Check out our search feature to find a domain name that’s as unique and memorable as your blog is. (Here are some tips to get you started.)
Learn how to start making bank
Okay: You’ve got great content and your readers love it. Now what? Most bloggers tend to make money through three different venues: affiliate marketing, advertising, and products.
There are a lot of myths out there about affiliate marketing, but in simple terms, it refers to money you make from promoting someone else’s product or service. It’s a tricky tactic, but you can keep your readers’ trust by choosing products that fit your niche, and ones that you’d personally recommend. This post has a lot more information on what affiliate marketing is and how to do it. We also love the blog Pinch of Yum, which publishes a handy monthly income and traffic report that outlines how much each affiliate source brings in.
If you’re looking to go a more traditional route, advertisements are easy to set up and maintain, and can make up about a third of revenue for successful bloggers. However, bad ads can push away potential readers — be patient, and try to choose advertisers whose content lines up with your blog’s content.
And if you’d rather make money selling your own stuff than someone else’s, you can always go the old-fashioned route — using your blog to sell products and services. This tactic boasts the biggest profit margins of the three, and it can result in even more ways to monetize your blog: book deals, handmade wares, apps, you name it. If Stuff White People Like can do it, so can you.
Don’t give up
Even Mark Zuckerberg had to work his way up the ladder. (I mean, you’ve seen The Social Network, right?) Your blog probably won’t explode with popularity overnight, but if you stick with it and have patience, you stand a much better chance at turning your blogging hobby into a bona fide business. Good luck!