How many people harbour the romantic dream of becoming a writer? Move somewhere down by the coast, spend your days tapping out those bestsellers on a little laptop, your evenings eating nice food and sipping fine wines? Ahh, it’s bliss isn’t it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for many wannabe writers. Writing fiction is very hard, there is lots of competition, homes by the sea are extortionately priced, and, unless you’re a functioning alcoholic, hangovers and writing don’t mix.
However, these are the days of the internet, which one may well be tempted describe as the glory days for the writer as far as opportunity and work is concerned. No, not all writers can be successful novelists or poets or playwrights (which is exactly what I thought I’d end up being after spending 4 years at university and working hard to end up with 2 writing degrees), but what we do all have the capability of doing – be we qualified writers or not – is blogging.
Starting up a blog is something that we can all do, and, what is more, so long as we have a computer (desktop or laptop ideal, tablet at a push, smartphone at a shoulder-barging shunt) a little time, a little enthusiasm and a little creativity, we can do it for free.
However, this is a blog about being a pro blogger, which of course is to say a professional blogger – and professionals get paid, right? Right. So what does it take to turn your words green with the glory of hard cash for your efforts? How do you monetize a blog? Indeed, will you ever be able to quit your day job?
Let’s see, shall we.
Really? Can Any Old Muppet Make A Living Out Of Blogging?
Well, potentially yes!! In reality, no (sorry). While the potential is there for absolutely anybody to do anything, the harsh reality unfortunately is that a lot of people won’t have the stamina and the patience to keep something going until they reach the point where it is exceptional and meaningfully profitable. However, thankfully those people aren’t you, are they? No. You’ve got what it takes – patience, determination… and this blog post to guide you on your way.
So, let’s now jump in and take a look at the practicalities of turning your blogging into your profession.
1. Don’t Use Free Hosting and Don’t Use Free Domains
When you start blogging, you’ll probably begin with going to something like wordpress.com or blogger.com. These will offer you a free domain and free hosting for your blog. Sounds great doesn’t it? Something for nothing. And, surely since you’re now in business for yourself, the less you spend means the bigger your margins, right? Well, technically right, however, if business were as simple as that we’d all be millionaires.
The point is that there is of course a catch when you opt for a free domain and free hosting. Here at markITwrite, we use WordPress for our website and blog (i.e. the one you’re reading now), and if you take a look in the address bar at the top of the page, you’ll see that we are found at www.markitwrite.com. Now, this is because we have paid for our domain name and hosting. If we had gone for the free option then the address that we would be forced to display would be www.markitwrite.wordpress.com.
It might seem like a pretty insignificant thing, but what we would be saying to the world is that we do not believe in our business enough to invest the few pounds it costs every year to pay for our own domain name and the few extra it costs to host it – so why should you either? It’s all about appearing professional, and it’s not very expensive to do so. So, do it.
2. Start Capturing Leads From Day 1
Blogging for profit shares a lot of similarities to a job in sales, and anyone in sales will tell you that you need leads to make money. If you don’t capture leads, you can’t make any sales, and you don’t make any money. It’s as simple as that. So, firstly, you’ll need to start building that email list. You need to make your ‘Sign Up’ section sing loud and proud from your blog so no one can miss it. With people subscribed, they will then receive an email every time you post, reducing the chances that they will miss anything new that you put out, and also conveniently meaning that they won’t have to keep checking your site for updates. But your readers will only subscribe to your blog if, frankly, it’s great, which brings me nicely onto my next point.
3. Offer Something Unique, Entertaining, And, Above All, Brilliant
Content is king. No matter what you’re blogging about, your words have to be no less than brilliant. And that doesn’t just mean that they should all be spelled correctly with no grammatical errors, mixed metaphors or disqualified absolutes. Your actual content must be valuable, too. And by valuable I mean that the reader should take away with them some proper actionable advice or tips or information that they did not have before. The narrative of your blog must also be seamless, make sense, have a beginning, middle and end, and otherwise just be truly excellent. Indeed, nothing less will do.
It must also look good. Choose the right colours to match your content, think about your layout, your images, your links. Think about everything very very carefully, because a bad looking blog, no matter how great the content is, will deter traffic. No ifs, no buts, they’re gone. So, take the time and make it look great. And, my recommendation in doing so would be to use WordPress. It’s simply the best blogging platform available.
4. Making The Dollar – Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Selling a Product
Ok, now it’s time to talk about making money. Generally speaking, there are 3 main ways that pro bloggers do this. So let’s take a look at them one at a time.
This is very simple in theory. You place adverts on your blog, your visitors click on those ads, and you make a percentage. Simple enough. But you won’t make a very big percentage, so in order for this to work you will need to take the time to build up your following, and of course choose the right ads that are likely to be clicked on by people who are interested in your blog.
There are 3 types of advertising that you can choose from:
- Selling ad space for a monthly price
- Pay-per-click (i.e. every time someone clicks on your ad you get a little bit of money)
- Commission-based ads – these are when you receive a commission from sales that come directly from your advertisement
Ok, making money from advertising using any of these methods is going to take you a long time. You will need a lot of traffic to your site, and for that traffic to generate a lot of clicks and purchases before you start to see any meaningful return. That’s where your patience and determination will need to come in, because the sort of traffic that you will need won’t just come to you overnight. You need to take the time to grow your following.
The other thing that you do not want to do, however, is to plaster your blog with a dozen different ads trying to play some sort of percentage or numbers game. Your blog will simply start to look shabby and indeed cheap that way, and your users will have too much choice and so will be less likely to click on any. Instead, 2 (or 3 max!) well-chosen ads (which you can change at any point in the lifecycle of your blog) are much more likely to see you some sort of return on investment.
Affiliate marketing is big on the internet, and is indeed how a lot of bloggers make money. The process is simple – you refer a product to your readers, and you take a cut when they purchase it. However, what works best is when you are genuinely enthusiastic yourself about a product, and therefore when you write about it, that enthusiasm is infectious. For example, if you are writing some sort of foodie blog, and you always use, say, Global Knives when you’re cooking, every time you write about chopping some veg you give a big shout out to those brilliant knives that you use. And you do it genuinely because you genuinely swear by them.
If you’re writing great blogs and enjoy a large following, then the chances are that what you like to use, your followers will too. So, they will click on the link you provide them to the Global website and they’ll buy a set for themselves, and you’ll take a cut every time that happens.
Of course, this means that you may have to approach certain companies to see if they run an affiliate program. Some websites will do this as a matter of course, others will not, but that’s not to say that they won’t if you ask them nicely – and you never know, they may well end up promoting your blog for you if you turn out to be the great brand ambassador that they had always dreamed of.
Otherwise, check out clickbank.com, which is the world’s biggest affiliate marketing product website in the world. It is always of great importance that you deal with reputable companies, as there are a few horror stories out there about people not getting paid etc. for their promotions.
Selling Your Own Product
Of course, the sole purpose of your blog might be to sell your own product. This is fine, and in fact might end up being your biggest earner. Though of course it will mean that you will be more than just a blogger, but a marketer and all round businessperson as well, but whatever it takes to get you that nice place by the sea, right? Now, this might be the next great health product, or your next eBook – whatever it is, just remember that your blog cannot be solely about the shameless self-promotion of your product (or the promotion of any of the other products that you are advertising or marketing for that matter), but primarily about giving your readers useful and valuable information that they will want to keep returning again and again to your site for. Your blogs can relate to your product of course, and be a promotion of a certain lifestyle that would promote its use, but the most important thing is that your blog is not just a platform for one big advert after another. It has to be unique, valuable and useful to the reader in its own right – only that way will you generate a great following and thusly the sales, clicks and affiliate marketing revenue that will see you laughing all the way to the bank.
Author: John Waldron