A successful blog: One of the questions most often emailed to me is, “How do you make money blogging?”
The short answer is it’s easier and harder than you may think.
It’s easy because it requires very little cash outlay up-front, you don’t need a degree or certification, the field is wide open, and the profit margins are high.
On the other hand, setting up a successful blog that makes a part-time or full-time income will only be the result of massive amounts of effort, determination, consistency, and perseverance.
If you want to be a successful blogger, here are five qualities you must possess.
- Successful Bloggers Are Marathoners, Not Sprinters.
Anyone can be a successful blogger, but unless you’re already a celebrity, there’s no such thing as overnight blogging success. It takes hard work, sweat, and more hard work. It may be a few months before you ever see a penny from your hours of labor invested in your blog.
- Successful Bloggers Have Incredible Passion.
If you don’t think you could write three posts per week for the next two years on your chosen blog topic, you need to choose either a different topic or a different work-at-home idea.
- Successful Bloggers Are Self-Starters.
It’s great to learn from others, but if you want to be spoon-fed, you won’t succeed. Roll up your sleeves, start digging and researching. Read books on blogging, read articles on blogging, read blogs on blogging, watch bloggers who are successfully blogging, and do your own experimentation.
- Successful Bloggers Are Creative.
In a market that is already saturated, fresh and unique voices and approaches are those that will stand head and shoulders above the rest. How are you going to be different from all the other bloggers in your niche?
- Successful Bloggers Are Consistent.
Readers come back when they can count on you having regularly-updated content. It’s much better to post three times per week every week than to post thirty times one week every few months.
A successful blog?
- Pick a Great Name for Your Blog.
Your blog name should encompass your blog’s mission and should clearly articulate your blog’s purpose. Don’t hurry through the process of picking a name; it’s your brand and you want to make sure you love it and it’s something you’re going to love for years to come.
Take a week or two to consider potential names. Ask a few trusted friends to give their input. Toss around ideas, and when you land upon ones you like, check to see if the domain name (the www website address) is available on GoDaddy.com before jumping ahead and settling on any one name.
Important note: Blog names can be federally trademarked. This means that an individual or company owns the federal rights to a particular name or phrase. It cannot be used by others or you will be subject to fines and required to discontinue using the name. To be safe, search thoroughly online to make sure no one is using the name you come up with or a very similar variation of it.
- Purchase the Domain Name and All Variations.
As soon as you land on the blog name you love and have double-checked that no one is using it, buy the domain name immediately. It usually costs around $10 to $20 per year for this and it’s worth every penny to have your own domain name for your blog.
I always purchase domain names from GoDaddy.com just because that’s what I’ve always done. However, if you are planning to set up your blog through Blogger (see point 3 below), it’s much, much easier if you purchase the domain name directly through Blogger rather than through a separate domain name service because the domain will be automatically set to point to your Blogger blog. You won’t have to go through the process to manually input the code yourself to point the domain to your blog.
I also suggest, if you want to think long-term and hope to turn your blog into a successful business, that you purchase all variations of your domain name. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone else setting up a site with a domain name very similar to yours.
- Choose the Right Blog Platform from the Get-Go.
Not too long ago I was asked: “What is the one thing you wish you had done differently when setting up your blog.”
I immediately replied, “I wish I had started with WordPress*.”
I started with Blogger because that was pretty much the only blogging platform in existence at the time. I moved to TypePad when the Blogger SPAM bots marked my blog as SPAM in 2008 and I was locked out of my Blogger blog for 10 days.
Near the end of 2009, my blog outgrew TypePad and I was forced to switch to WordPress. Making the leap from TypePad to WordPress was daunting and tedious. We had to move thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments. There were all sorts of glitches and it was a big learning curve.
* Referring to self-hosted WordPress that can be downloaded at WordPress.org, not the free, hosted version of WordPress at WordPress.com
Truth be told, though it was a major headache, it was one of the best blogging moves I’ve ever made. WordPress has allowed me to have a much more organized blog and offer many features I couldn’t with TypePad and Blogger.
So if I were to suggest a blog platform, I’d highly recommend WordPress. It’s more expensive, but it gives you many more options than other platforms offers. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your blog getting locked or outgrowing TypePad.
Another big perk of WordPress is that it has much more sophisticated SEO capabilities (i.e. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically refers to optimizing your site so it comes up high in search engines. People will find you a lot more easily if you come up on the first page or two of Google rather than page 133!). More about SEO for bloggers!
- Hire a Designer.
Back in the “olden” days when there weren’t many blogs, if you had great content and updated regularly, you’d have a good number of readers— even if you had a basic, free Blogger blog design. Today, because there are so many more blogs, great content is paramount, but nice design and ease-of-use is also very important. If people find your blog design dull or your layout disorganized, they are much apter just to go find another blog.
Now please don’t let this discourage you. You don’t need a fancy-schmancy blog with lots of bells and whistles. A simple, clean design that is easy to navigate can make a world of difference. And paying someone to set this up for you may be worth the money.
If you can’t afford a designer, at least consider paying to have someone design your header, and then take the time to learn some basic HTML so you can tweak your sidebar.
- Plan Your Posts Ahead of Time.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a new blog advertised and been all excited to check it out, only to find there were a whopping three posts on it! If you want people to stick around, you need to have depth and series and a variety of posts.
Before you open your doors to the public, go ahead and post 10 to 15 posts, plus plan out and write another 15 to have in queue to post after you start advertising your blog. Not only will this allow you to get your feet wet and get accustomed to blogging before you have a real live audience, but it also provides some great content for people to check out when they visit your blog.
I love Google calendar for planning out post series long-term. I also have recently begun printing out a monthly calendar to pencil in specific posts for each day. This gives me accountability, inspiration, and the organization well, at least it’s better than my former blog-by-the-seat-of-my-pants routine!
A successful blog – Tips for Writing Top-Notch Content
- A successful blog – Be You.
One of the greatest hindrances to successful blogging is trying to be someone else. You are not someone else. You will never be someone else. You are you!
You are unique and one-of-a-kind. You have amazing gifts and talents that many people don’t. You have a perspective on life that no one else in the whole wide world does because no one else is you.
Learn from other bloggers, but figure out who you are, and be you.
- A successful blog – Be Confident.
It’s easy to become discouraged and to feel completely inadequate when you see other bloggers who seem to have more creativity, a cuter blog, a more-frequently-updated blog, more traffic, more comments, more Facebook followers, and on and on it goes. You can spend so much time worrying about not measuring up that you completely lose sight of what you have to offer as a blogger.
As I used to tell a dear friend of mine who often felt incompetent as a blogger (and who has now gone on to create a wildly successful blog), “Don’t be a mouse!” Any time spent sitting and sulking about your lack of ability, or worrying about what people will think of you, is the time that is wasted.
- A successful blog – Be Engaging.
Interact with your readers and respond to their comments and emails as much as you can. Ask your readers for their advice and input and listen to what they have to say. Your readers want to know that you value them. And you should, because without them, you’d have no audience to write for!
Don’t be afraid to try new things even if they fail. Don’t always post the same things in the same way. Throw in some off-topic posts, photos or videos every now and then. Occasional surprises and unexpected posts will help keep things exciting.
- Be Real.
Readers aren’t looking for perfectionism; they are looking for realness. We all make mistakes and we all have the areas we struggle with. Don’t try to pretend that you have all your ducks in an alphabetized row.
Be honest, be open, and be vulnerable (when appropriate). People will connect with authenticity, but they will run from hypocrisy.
- Be a Perfectionist.
This might seem to fly in the face of being real, but I’m not talking about being perfect as a person, but about being thorough and detailed as a blogger. Frequent typos and blatant grammar errors are irritating.
- Be Careful!
If you share something in a public forum like your blog, you can never completely take it back. Always assume everyone in the whole world may read what you write.
Don’t use names, photos, or other identifying information without thinking carefully about the potential ramifications. It’s better to be safe than sorry.