You’ve taken the leap and started a blog to make a little extra income. You chose a template, added your bio, and now all you have to do start writing the content, right?
Before you hit publish on your first post, some important planning needs to take place. If you want your blog to be a long term success it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. Use this seven point checklist to plan the future of your blog and make the most of every article you publish.
(If you want to jump ahead and get started with your own blog, you can follow complete step by step instructions here: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less )
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not setting goals. Short and long-term objectives will help keep you motivated when you just don’t want to write.
What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want ad revenue, traffic, social shares or all of the above? Set realistic goals and a time frame in which you can achieve them, starting with one month, six month and one year goals. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, aim for 50 or 100 visitors the first month. Then, set incremental increases for long-term goals.
Most people set goals for what they want to achieve, but never give a second thought to what they’re going to give. What are you willing to do to make an extra $100, $1,000 or $2,000 per month from your blog? Is it worth that extra hour of sleep in the morning? That hour of TV at night? Write out exactly what you plan to give to accomplish your goals.
For example, maybe your goal is to commit 1-2 hours every day to writing. Growing that writing muscle is extremely important for maintaining your blog.
Setting aside time for building relationships is another way to give. Spend 30 minutes each day commenting on five other blogs or building relationships through email outreach and social media. This is an easy and measurable way to be sure you’re staying on track.
One question you’ll undoubtedly be faced with early on is who are you really writing for -- yourself or your audience?
We’ll talk about this more in the near future, but here’s an example of what this decision looks like: You enjoy posting recipes of dinner meals but see your audience clearly enjoys breakfast recipes more. Are you going to respond to what they want, and post more breakfast recipes, or continue posting dinner recipes?
This is really a question of whether your blog is a passion project or a money-making project. If your blog is a passion project, and you want to treat it like a journal, it doesn’t matter what readers want. BUT if you’re treating this as a side business, you have to be willing to listen to your audience.
Once you know who you’re writing for and what you’re hoping to accomplish (I’m going to assume it’s for your audience and to make money), it’s time to decide on your niche.
There are hundreds of new blogs being created every single day. Competition is becoming much more difficult and so is your ability to stand out. When clients ask how how broad to go with their blog, I always tell them it’s better to be good at one thing then average at lots of things. An average blog is not going to get noticed and not going to build a loyal readership. Stick to one niche for now and you can always choose to go a different route later on.
Here are some examples of niches: DIY, recipes, gardening, hair and beauty, social media marketing, travel, etc. If you need more ideas, just check out the Pinterest categories list.
To really understand a specific niche, researching the competition and finding where the holes are can be extremely helpful. Evaluating your competition gives insight on how you can stand out and gives you a dose of reality on what’s already out there.
WARNING: this step can turn into a huge time-waster! Set a timer for an hour and only give yourself that much time to do research.
Start with the sources of traffic to your blog. If you’re creating a blog around food or fashion, it will be Pinterest. If the blog is business-focused, it may be LinkedIn, etc. Search for your topic and see who your competitors will be. What are they writing about? What do people like about them? Dislike about them? The comments are a great place to find this information.
Next, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find what content does well in your niche. Just put your competitor’s URL into Buzzsumo and it will give you their most popular posts based on the number of shares.
Now it’s time to plan your initial content. No specific posts yet, just the main topics you’ll be writing about. I call these content categories or “buckets” that each of your posts fall into. More than likely they’ll be in the category column of your blog.
Choose 3-5 categories to start with. On one of my blogs I started with marketing, social media, productivity and branding. From there, I added more categories over time.
Yes, it may sound crazy, but I promise it’s the only way to keep going. I’m sure you’ve started a project before and seen how much easier it is to continue with a group vs. working alone. Blogging is no different. Here are a few places you can start.
Featured image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.
If you are like me you've seen a lot of headlines online about making money blogging. Who doesn't want to make additional income doing something they enjoy that is time and location independent, right?
But is it for real? Yes. Very real.
What can you do with this extra money you are making on the side?
-Pay off student loans
-Pay off debt
-Save for a home
-Pay for a private school for the kids
-Buy a new car
The opportunities are endless.
Before we go any further I promised proof that I know what I am talking about so below is a screenshot from one of my Adsense accounts in regards to a site I recently launched. Below is the launch and 90 day earning summary for one site I launched last year that focused on food:
What would it feel like if you had an extra few hundred per month?
I'll tell you. It feels awesome.
We live in a great time in history. The internet can work for anyone.
If you get a blog setup and are willing to put in the time and effort, it can become some serious income. Many bloggers we work with make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Here is another example from SuperMommyClub.com).
Here we go:
To setup a Blog you need a host (where the site lives) and a domain name. Setting up a blog nowadays is super easy and costs very little - especially with the host we use - BlueHost (To help I've put together a more thorough step by step walkthrough here: How to setup Wordpress Blog on Bluehost :) )
For Your Domain Name - Pick something easy and memorable. This doesn't have to be a premium one word dot com but it does have to give people an idea of what you are about when they look at it.
Plus, right now BlueHost has a ton of specials on setting up a website.
Hosting- There are a lot of hosts out there but I'm a big fan of BlueHost. They are super affordable (like $5.95/month) and have great support. A host is where you website and content will "live". It's where the actual files are located that people will access - articles to read, images,etc.
With Bluehost you are going to be able to install Wordpress ( a blogging platform) at no additional cost. The reason I recommend Wordpress is because it is so easy to learn and there is a lot of documentation online and on YouTube if you get stuck or need training. Plus you can find amazing themes already prebuilt for around $50 on ThemeForest.net instead of spending $2,500 to have someone build it from scratch.
(To help here is a technical link I put together to help you step by step the entire way: How to setup Wordpress on Bluehost :) )
Adsense can be a gold mine for bloggers because as soon as you get signed up and approved, is starts running advertisers. All you need is a gmail account, personal info and a bank account.
You can sign up here: www.google.com/adsense
The key for Adsense is placement. Remember a lot of people are browsing on their mobile phone and ads on the top or sidebar don't get shown. Make sure you put ads in the middle of your web page like this:
This is a free Google tool (you can signup here )and extremely powerful. It is how you will measure exactly how many people are going to your website. By using this tool you will know how many people are going to your blog, where they are coming from and what they are reading plus a ton more data. Use this to your advantage - if you know people are most interested in your blogs on home improvement, write more home improvement blogs, etc. The more you provide that your readers want the more they will read. Below is a screenshot from one of our sites that has over 1 million visitors per month.
Just a heads up, these tactics are for advanced users. Those who have setup their blog, have content and are ready to go.
A lot of websites and individuals write content (blogs, articles,etc.) and publish them but have no idea how to put them in front of people who will actually read them. They just go out online and get lost in web space. I've found a lot of success in finding a niche that you understand and can be an authority in - moms with toddlers, car enthusiasts, adults with ADD,etc. and use that as your starting platform.
The next step is to then find people that would most likely be interested in what you are writing. Social media is a perfect tool for finding potential readers. Here are some of my tips for the ones I use:
-Join Facebook groups who have individuals that would be interested in what you are writing about and share your articles there.
-Reach out to Facebook page owners with topics and followers that would be interested in what you are writing about and try to get them to share your content across their pages.
-Start a Facebook page and start running "like" ads to build up your followers. (Great info from AdEspresso here). We believe in this - we currently have 80 Facebook pages we run with over 8.5M fans! (Link to pages).
-Look for group boards you can join that have followers that you can pin your content too.
-Create a Pinterest profile and pin high quality content that will attract the type of people that would love to read your blog. We have over 200k followers for our site LifeAsMama.com that caters to moms and I currently have over 996k followers on my personal profile of people that are into the stuff I am.
What are you waiting for? Its your time.