Yep, write a few blog posts and the sponsors and advertisers will be beating down your door with wheelbarrows filled with money.
If only it were that easy. Blogging takes time, patience, time, persistence, time and some luck. Maybe a long string of luck or just one big break. Many people do make a living writing a blog as they travel the world. Michelle, author of Making Sense of Cents is open about how much she makes each month, and it’s mindblowing.
Blogging is a way to make money in your spare time but it can also be a great outlet for sharing your thoughts and ideas with other people who might not want to listen to you going on and on at a cocktail party.
And, best of all, anyone with a computer or smartphone can do it. That’s you (and everyone else these days).
Back around 2004 I launched my first blog at JameyTucker.blogspot.com Those were the days not many people even knew the difference between a blog and a website (many still don’t). I was recently unemployed having left a gig with the CBS station in Memphis, Tennessee. I was a little ticked off the way that went down and vented through the blog which also covered the news about TV news.
When I took a job with WKRN in Nashville, TN as the religion reporter I started blogging again for the station on its “Nashville is Talking” blog and stopped writing my personal blog.
When the plug was pulled on that site I stopped blogging altogether. I never made money with my blogs and never tried but if you know what to do, what to blog about and how to attract readers (subscribers) and sponsors (advertisers) you will make some money. How much depends on how good you are.
If you’re thinking of blogging, here are a few things to think about before publishing the first entry:
What Will You Blog About?
The obvious answer is blog about your passion. Is it art? Is it music? Is it trivia? Is it knitting? Whatever you have some knowledge to share, THAT’s what you should blog about. Is there an audience for it? Are there enough people who are also interested in the subject? Niche blogs with a narrow focus are often more popular than blogs that cover too much. Rather than blog about music, blog about country music or music from the 1980s or hairbands. You get the point. It’s easier to find an audience for a niche subject than getting lost in all the other blogs about music in general.
Don’t blog for the money because that won’t happen right away. A successful blog is one the author is passionate about to the point they’ll blog even if no one is reading it. The more you blog excellent content, the faster your blog will grow.
How Often Should You Blog?
This is entirely up to you. How much time do you have to prepare? If this is a side-hustle, you may only be able to blog once a week. That’s fine. There are many successful bloggers who post new content only once every week or two. The key here is to make the posts compelling enough for the reader to come back for more. With that said, you shouldn’t go too long between posts or your audience will forget you.
Try to publish a new blog post a few times each week.
Where to Start?
There are free blogging platforms that are easy to use. WordPress.com and Blogger are two of the most popular. Don’t go there. While they’re both simple to start and there are lots of free themes (what your blog will look like) these have practically no wiggle-room in how your blog is designed. Plus, readers will need to enter your blog name plus .wordpress.com, or .blogger.com. That just screams to readers that you’re not devoted to growing your blog. Plus you don’t have much control over adding sponsors and advertisers and how those ads will appear on your site.
Go to www.wordpress.org and sign up for a blog there. Your readers will be able to find your blog by typing in www.yourblog.com which is more professional. You’ll find free themes there too that are totally fine to use in terms of appearance.
Get Your Own Domain
To use a self-hosted domain such as www.yourblog.com, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. If it’s your first domain to purchase you may only pay a few bucks for the name for a year. www.GoDaddy.com is the web host I use and they frequently have .com domains for $2-$4.
But…good luck finding the domain name you want as a .com. All the good common word domain names are taken in the .com extension. You may be able to find the domain you’d like by searching for a .biz, .net, .tv, .rocks, .xyz (look it up, it really is an address extension). Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding what you want in those extensions but web hosts such as GoDaddy and BlueHost (another great service) will let you search the name through every extension that’s available.
If you still can’t find the domain name you want to consider another spelling or even a made-up word. Think Google was a word before it launched? Don’t make it too hard on your readers. Google is spelled like it sounds so there was no confusion but you don’t want to have to spell out your domain everytime you tell someone about it.
Both GoDaddy and Bluehost will install WordPress for you but you’ll still want to learn how to do some things yourself such as uploading images, spacing, installing plug-ins to make the blog run smoothly. WordPress has some excellent tutorials on its site so take a few evenings or a weekend to familiarize yourself with the language of WordPress and how to do what you want to do.
This is the time to get the design of your blog just the way you want it. Since you haven’t told anyone about it or shared it on Twitter or Facebook no one knows it exists so play around and experiment. If you break something at this point you can start again without losing any readers.
Finally the fun part. Welcome your readers. Spend some time on your About Me page so when someone visits for the first time it’s clear who you are and what you’ll be writing. Don’t neglect the About section at this point. Include a photo of yourself. Dedicate the first post to introducing yourself and the blog. Not only will readers want to see that first, it should be the easiest post you’ll write because it truly is ‘about you’.
Write Some More
The death of a blog is when the blogger writes a great first post or two then falls off the face of the earth. Many promising blogs fail because after the first few posts the author stops writing for a week or more. You don’t want people going to your blog several times in those early days and seeing no new posts. So write some more. I suggest writing a half-dozen or more posts before you even tell anyone about your blog. Always have a few blog posts in reserve so when you sit in front of the blank screen with nothing to say in those first few weeks, you’ll have one in your pocket. You’re guaranteed people will quickly lose interest in going to your blog if they don’t see anything new.