One of the questions I get asked a lot is how did I get into blogging and do bloggers make money? So if you want to know how to start a blog to make money read on.
I am not new to blogging I've had numerous blogs over the last decade and currently my blogs are:
www.sydneychic.com.au - Established in 2013
www.debcarr.com - Established in 2014. This is actually more of my business website than a blog, but I do post occasionally on it about digital marketing tips
www.thejasmineintheforest.com - Established in 2013. This is a nature/spiritual blog that I love but it goes on the back-burner sometimes because I get too busy
www.northcoastnswlifestyle.com.au - Established 2018. This is my latest blog and I love it! I have big plans for this one and already in a short time I've had interest in local businesses
I can build a basic website in about two hours.
My platform of choice is Wix and I use Wix to create websites for all my clients, in fact, I've created so many I am part of the Wix Arena i.e. a Wix Expert and they promote my services to potential clients. When people ask me how to start a blog, I always get them to think about the time it takes and also the money it costs to start blogging. First steps of starting a blog is choosing the platform. Most bloggers prefer Wordpress, I'm not a fan and I swapped to Wix in 2013 and never looked back.
As this is not a website building tutorial I suggest you head over to WIX sign up and use the ADI site which basically builds your site for you, all you do is answer a few questions. As you get used to WIX you will be able to learn to edit as there are many video tutorials to learn. Make sure you add a BLOG when you are creating your site. You will also need to purchase a domain name, I use Crazy Domains so which has the .au at the end but if you are happy with .com WIX provides the domain free for the first year.
It's worth noting that you will need to upgrade your site to a premium site and WIX hosts this for you starting from $112 US per year. Your website also gives you access to free stock photos and videos and you can change the look of your site at any time. The photo below is one of the free stock photos however I usually take my own photos when I can.
STARTING A BLOG
Before you start ask yourself this question, why do you want to blog? Is it to learn to blog for pleasure? Hobby? Business? Do you want to start a blog to make money? Enhance your career skills? Write your answers down in a notebook.
Can you blog about your passion? Think about what you will post about. Where will you find the content? How often will you be able to post? Think about what you are an expert at. This will be the starting ground on what to blog about. Think about something that will look forward to writing about every day. One question to ask yourself is who will read my blog? These two steps are crucial before you start your blog. Maybe you will be blogging about food, travel, lifestyle, marketing, sales, art, history the list goes on. Just brainstorm until you are clear on what you will write about and why are you blogging.
There are a number of reasons that you might start a blog. It could be to attract more clients, you may wish to promote a charity or cause, it could be that you want to become a famous blogger or you have a passion for something that you wish to share with the world. It could be to make money from the blog by selling advertising or with affiliate marketing. Maybe you are a photographer and you want to sell your photos. Or you create jewellery that you want to sell online. Is it because you want to become an expert in your field and be sought after for your opinion and knowledge?
Whatever the reason, you should get this sorted before you proceed to the next step. For me, I have been marketing online since 2004 and I had other blogs on all sorts of topics, recruitment, professional speaking, inspirational, sales advice then one day, I realised that wasn't the type of blogging I wanted to do so I started Sydney Chic and grew it to rank high on Google in a very short time.
WHO WILL READ YOUR BLOG?
Who will read your blog? In other words who is your target market?
You need to start doing some research here before you even think about blogging. It will be a waste of your time and money if you start a blog and nobody is interested in it. You could even use SurveyMonkey and create a survey to send to people you know and ask them if the would be interested in your topics www.surveymonkey.com.
Think along these lines: What problem do you solve for your reader? How do you help your reader? What is so interesting about what you are writing that is relevant to your reader? What other blogs might your reader be looking at? What age would you reader be? Female, male or both? Where are they likely to live? work? What sort of income would they earn? These are all questions you need to think about so that you can attract followers to your blog. So write this all down in your notebook.
Before you even start blogging think about the keywords that will be driving traffic to your blog here is an article with a keyword tool that I wrote about on my business website.
Every time you decide on your heading for your blog post think of the keywords that you will use and incorporate into the heading, then use them throughout the post and especially in the first paragraph. But be warned, Google frown upon 'keyword stuffing' so don't randomly use your keywords, make sure the sentences flow and make sense.
WHAT WILL YOUR BLOG LOOK LIKE?
This is the fun part. Here you can start jotting down ideas on what colour schemes and fonts that you will be using for your blog. For example, on Sydney Chic I have kept it simple, white and black with a little colour in the header. Whereas The Jasmine in the Forest, it's very nature looking and pretty. North Coast NSW Life and Leisure is focused on beach and beautiful photos.
Homework: Visit other blogs similar to what you will be writing about and start keeping a list to refer back to for inspiration (bookmark them in a folder called BLOG). It goes without saying no copying the content.
Think about colours, themes, fonts.
On your notes jot down notes about the fonts, colours codes etc so things will always stay consistent.
You should also consider a logo for your website and you can use online services such as Mojo Marketing to create one yourself or hire an expert.
Without great content you don't have a blog. So you need to be very organised and also think outside the box. Content doesn't just have to be writing it can be a video, podcast, poem, news item that you have commented on, photos, infographics and the list goes on.
Content is about giving good advice and sharing interesting information. Blog posts don’t necessarily have to be text all the time, you can create fabulous graphics with an inspirational message, create a video post, offer tips and "how to" advice.
Blog content can be to advertise a new role in your company, share news regarding awards and featuring your staff! People are interested in people.
Start a spreadsheet and clip the URL’s of places you find content
The following is where I look to get content for my blogs:
Events and launches I have attended
Local attractions to write about
Experiences i.e. climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, flying in a helicopter, indoor skydiving.. these are all things I have done as 'media' in fact so many, I can't even count
Fashion and style
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week
Upcoming events and festivals
Travel and destinations
Luggage and accessories reviews
Apps to review
Digital Marketing posts
Google Alerts: Type "google alerts" in your browser and sign up for topics you think you can write about and you will get alerts in your inbox each day which could give some content inspiration
How to advice like this one 'How to Start a Blog'
If the thought of keeping a blog updated is too overwhelming there are a number of options you can implement to make it easier:
Use a calendar and schedule time for posting each week/month
Hire a ghost writer (I have never done this however I have been hired as a ghost blogger as part of my freelance work)
Record notes into your phone to blog about later
Keep the mindset that all your hard work is helping to drive traffic to your business
Be very clear on your message and stick to your niche and keywords
Comments: Most bloggers have comments on their blogs I don't on mine which is probably a little detrimental to my SEO, however one of my pet grievances on social media is the amount of haters that feel they have a right to say vile and hurtful things so I don't give them the opportunity to add their trash to my website.
Add a subscriber form on the header of your blog to help you to build a database of people who want to hear from you. With this database you can send out weekly updates of your posts and news.
Your subscriber database is a goldmine so focus on building it. As you grow your blog and start to monetize it you will be grateful that you have a solid database. It will also help you to attract sponsors and advertisers down the track.
Your media kit is something you prepare if you are going to take advertising for your blog. You will need a good following before people will pay to advertise hence you need to keep a track of your social media followers and hits to your website. I keep my media kit private and only give it to potential advertisers and PR companies as it has my rates and other information I don’t want everyone to know about.
Your media kit will need to have your stats, information about your readers i.e. who are they, the number of people on your database who receive your emails and as much information as you can provide to attract potential buyers.
Disclosure Policy - this is extremely important if you adding subscribers to your database, being paid for sponsored posts and using affiliate links. If you scroll up the top of this post you will see my disclaimer says that 'some' of my posts may contain affiliate links I then direct my readers to my full Disclaimer page which you can read yourself. If you are upfront and authentic your readers will appreciate this so please don't put your disclaimer at the bottom of your posts, put it before your reader might click on any links.
HOW OFTEN TO BLOG
This depends on what your blog is about and how much you want it to be high ranking. I try to post every day, and sometimes I do more than one post on Sydney Chic. I have contributors who write regularly for me and attend events on my behalf.
MONETISING YOUR BLOG
There are a number of ways to monetize your blog:
Gaining new clients
Many people start blogging to increase their exposure as an authority in their industry. If you are blogging regularly on a specific topic and sharing information that your clients want, this will help to attract more clients and give your business exposure. It’s also a great way to showcase your client’s on your blog, which helps with goodwill. I will stress though, unless people are reading your posts then it will be a waste of time, hence you need to maximize your social media and make this an every day part of your day. No excuses. With blogging, you may be able to catch the eye of a journalist too who might be looking for information on your expertise. That’s why it’s a great idea to hop onto www.sourcebottle.com and register yourself and get the updates. I have had good luck with being published in media because of Sourcebottle.
Once established as an expert in your field, you may wish to pursue a speaking career. I have spent ten years in the speaking industry and I can assure you, if you get the work it is lucrative, or you may wish to do what I am doing with some coaching and training seminars.
You can listen to some podcasts here where I've been interviewed on blogging.
Affiliate marketing is another way to make some income on your blog, however it takes a lot of work and you will need to have a big following. One very successful blog that does affiliate marketing very well is www.snobessentials.com.
Basically, you sign up as an affiliate, in my case I use www.commissionfactory.com and joined a few programs. These affiliate companies then provide you with a tracking code so that if anyone clicks the link or the photo that has your tracking code, and purchases a product, even 30 days after the original click you earn a commission. This commission does not add any cost to the purchaser and in some cases you may actually be able to offer them a discount. Be careful not to have too many affiliate links in your blog though as Google may pick it up as spammy. You can use your designated affiliate link in your social media too.
On some occasions you may be able to collaborate with one of the advertisers as a sponsored post too. This is one I did recently on Priority Pass.
It's worth joining ShareSale as they have a great range of tutorials on Affiliate Marketing.
I am also with Commission Junction, AWIN and Booking.com
You will know when the time to advertise is right because someone will approach you about your media kit. Obviously your blog will need to be popular and be able to prove that you have the numbers that is attractive to advertisers. Sometimes advertisers may wish to place a banner advert on your blog, in which case you nee to establish what you would charge. This is difficult to say so I would go along these figures: 5,000 monthly unique hits = $50 per month etc. I don't have many banners on this site, a couple of affiliate banners and some to direct people to my freelance business. Nothing makes me leave a website faster than an overload of intrusive advertising banners.
Another way of advertising is a sponsored post. This is where you are paid to publish a post written either by yourself or by the advertiser with a link to their website or product. Again, it would depend on the number of hits and your social media following as to what would be a good price. When I write sponsored posts I try to avoid talking just about the client i.e. I might talk about "Five Places to Visit in Sydney" and link the client into the story.
Always put a No Follow link on sponsored posts and your Disclaimer i.e. that you were paid for this. Now I personally don't think it is anybody's business how much I get paid for a sponsored post and even why I really have to declare it considering it is my income. After all would you go up to someone and ask them how much they get paid for their work? No of course not. However with bloggers there is a fine line. if you are recommending something but have been paid for it you need to be 100% honest in your review. Another problem stems from SEO companies wanting to pay for backlinks. I get hammered with requests by these people all the time and my answer is always, NO. They usually write to you from a gmail account and they have a pittance of a fee. What they are actually after is a backlink to their client's site (they only target sites that have a good Google ranking). Some of them even pretend to be bloggers and set up social media platforms as a blogger (I'm serious!). Be careful with these type of people. I only work with reputable companies and brands.
I also get paid in product, for reviewing however I always declare it under my DISCLAIMER on my website.
You can sell ebooks, courses, your services and of course products from your blog.
Freelancing and Gaining Clients
This is the main way I monetize my blog because I have earned a reputation at being good at what I do. So I gain clients that need websites, social media training and social media management. When you can showcase your expertise through your own blog then that's a great way to gain trust from potential clients. It doesn't matter what business you are in, you can certainly use blogging as a marketing tool.
MARKETING YOUR BLOG
Obviously the more you learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) the better chance you will have to have your blog posts get to page one on Google. It takes a lot of work and persistence to get to that level, but once you see your posts are ranking it's a real buzz.
I'll take you back to the subscriber list I talked about earlier too. You can send your blog post out automatically each time you publish or you can do what I do, and send a weekly review of your posts. I find that if I am posting every day I don't want to be annoying my subscribers with daily emails, so I opted for a weekly newsletter.
Social Media is a big part of marketing your blog too. I use many tools to help me schedule and monitor what is working and what is not. My main tools for scheduling are Buffer.app and Tailwind. Buffer lets you add numerous social media accounts and you can schedule your posts then go to analytics to see what posts were most successful.
Don't underestimate the power of Pinterest it's an amazing tool to drive traffic to your website. I suggest you join Tailwind and sign up for a free account, and I'm sure like me, you will discover the power of this tool is so great, you will upgrade to premium.
As you can see there's a lot to learn about blogging and this really only just touches on the basics. To maintain a website like I do with this one, plus my other three, is massive so if you are looking to building something like Sydney Chic be prepare to put in the work.
If you enjoyed this article and would like me to write about other digital marketing or blogging tips drop me a line with your suggestion to email@example.com