Over the last year I’ve been learning a few things about starting a successful blog (ie people read it) with the opportunity for monetizing (making a few dollars to a earning a full-time wage). Here are some important pointers I’ve learned along the way (some of them the hard way).
1. If you want the blog to really be yours, you’ll want to self-host, instead of having your blog hosted by another party, like WordPress. To self-host will cost you a little bit (around $100 to buy the domain name and set everything up), and a small fee of around $60 a year thereafter to run. By paying to self-host your website (I went through Web Hosting Hub), you’ll be able to make money off your blog in the future with sponsored posts, joining one of the many networks, hosting advertising, etc. Definitely worth the small fee if that’s your goal.
2. Get google analytics. You will need this specific tool and tracker for reporting data (views, traffic from where, averages) in order to talk professionally with networks and clients you are interested in working with. This I learned the hard way, as I didn’t have it analyzing this blog for the first couple of months, and you cannot go back and retrieve data on traffic that has already happened.
To get Google Analytics working on your site, you will need a google account, so if you don’t have one yet, go set that up. Then, the easiest way for beginners to get the analytics going on their blog is to add a Google Analytics for WordPress plug-in (I went with the one hosted by Yoast as it was by far the most popular option).
3. Learn some simple SEO. I use a Yoast plugin that offers SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that you can be found when people search online for information like what you have to provide. Also, make sure you’re verified on all the major search engines. (Like almost everything, there’s a plugin for that.)
4. Get your blog a spot on all the different social media channels you feel you can use. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and/or whatever it is that comes out next. This is how people will be able to find your blog posts, and part of how networks and sponsors will decide if you have enough influence to be part of their campaigns, based off the number of fans and followers you have.
5. Use attractive images. If possible, use a quality camera as much as you can. Get a nice photo editor, and make your featured imaged look enticing. If the picture featured with your post link looks tacky and is mainly text, viewers will likely regard it as spam and not click. This is especially important for Instagram and Pinterest, as the focus is certainly on the image.
6. Join a group of bloggers. Joining in with a group of bloggers on something is a great way to make connections, ask questions, and find support in your journey. Find a blogging challenge, join a Facebook group, read, comment, like and share posts by other bloggers. More people are interested in what you have to say when you show an interest in what’s inside them, too.
I’ve been a part of a few daily blogging challenges, and I found it was a great way to get eyes on your page and feedback from other bloggers. Having a group of other writers and creative minds has helped me to see what others are doing that I like, given me inspiration for posts, taught me about different tools and tips, grown my social media followings, and shared my posts with more influencers.
You could look to join up in another challenge like this by searching around, or – if you’re Canadian – you could join in on a Facebook group for bloggers in your area (like the Canadian Writers and Bloggers group).
7. Get professional help. There certainly is something to be said for enlisting the help of people who really know what they’re doing, and will probably have a lot more thoughts on how to best present your blog’s brand than you would have considered.
It doesn’t need to be an immediate thing (although it can be). Just keep an open mind about what you need some help with, and don’t be afraid to pay someone else to do what you think you should be able to figure out on your own. Trust me, letting someone else who knows makes things so much better, so much faster, and so much easier.
Happy Blogging! Please share this post for others if you’ve found it helpful!