Blogging is more than just writing new blog posts and hoping search engines will take notice and rank them on Google.
It is a critical area of online marketing that allows companies to build value for their audience, foster trust, and establish their authority. At the same time, publishers and entrepreneurs make money blogging by creating quality content and attracting the right kind of visitors who will be more than happy to buy your products and services.
As a future blogger yourself (if you don’t have your own blog yet), you should know what it takes to achieve blogging success before you even begin.
Treat Your Blog as a Business
Some bloggers take the activity merely as a hobby where they can pour their thoughts into a website. These people may be content with the pure joy of writing, but even they will not pass up the chance to monetize their hard work—effectively turning their blog into a business.
Besides, monetization comes naturally with traffic, and one of the primary purposes of blogging is to reach the vast online community. Otherwise, why blog at all when you can write in a private diary? One way or another, you need to learn the practices that will help you build a blog that attracts a ton of traffic.
Below are some of the things you must do to treat your blog seriously and turn it into a living:
#1 – Choose a Niche
First things first, you need to look for a profitable blogging niche. A rule of thumb is to choose from blogging niches that you are most knowledgeable and experienced with. Keep in mind that once you pick your niche, you will be blogging about it a lot.
Additionally, you should think like a business and identify gaps between the supply and demand for accurate information to define your niche further. You can use a keyword research tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner to see what the online audience is looking for and the level of competition to get started.
#2 – Start a Blog the Right Way
Once you have a niche, it’s time to make a blog out of it. Most people run their blogs using WordPress as their blogging platform for a good reason—it’s convenient, easy to use, and allows you to supercharge your blog and get the most out of it with just a few clicks of a button.
To set up your WordPress blog properly, you must set it up using a trusted hosting platform with reliable uptime, fast loading time, and dependable customer support. Among the different hosting solutions available, Cloudways prove to be one of the better platforms over the year. It also has a WordPress hosting option, so you can install WordPress and manage it with a few clicks of a button.
From your WordPress dashboard, use a WordPress theme that is free and trustworthy to start with before you go with premium themes. Your blog theme will also determine its appearance and interface, which is vital if you aim for a specific appearance here. Finally, download and activate this list of beginner WordPress plugins to get your site up to speed in the market. These things enable you to create a WordPress website built on a solid foundation, which paves your path to a successful blog.
#3 – Create Content of the Highest Order
Writing blog posts that blog visitors want to read is what successful blogs have in common. However, the key here is blog posts—you need to sustain quality and consistency on all the posts you publish. You can’t afford to publish a mediocre blog post or miss publishing a post just because you don’t feel like it, especially for a new blog site like yours.
In this case, there’s no way around writing content fast and of high quality. You can practice doing this until you’re comfortable finishing articles within an hour.
If not, you can hire content writing services like TopContent to do the heavy lifting for you if you have money to spare. All you’ll do at this point is to create a content strategy and place orders to publish following their posting schedule.
Aside from the articles you’ll publish, consider including high-quality stock photos, if not unique photos, in each. They help flesh out your ideas visually instead of using words to break up the monotony of text.
Turn Your Blog into a Brand
It does not matter if you represent a company or yourself individually. A blog directly reflects a brand’s identity, which should be something your target audience can relate to. That is why the next step after setting up your blog is to develop your brand.
A solid blog branding strategy starts by identifying an editorial statement. This consists of three parts: the target audience, the deliverables, and the intended outcome. You should already have a clear idea of your target audience after finding a profitable niche. Now, you need to focus on the other two.
For the deliverables, you need to identify what you want to offer your audience. Do you want to write case studies, product reviews, features, tutorials, or videos? How about a combination of these content types? It is a good idea to be specific, but you should be able to develop a broader term such as “expert insights” or “proven guides”.
Finally, you need to decide the fundamental objective of your blog. You need to focus on the audience and figure out what’s in it for them. When you put it all together, an editorial statement should sound like: Our blog helps aspiring writers (target audience) with tutorials and guides (deliverables) to help them grow in their careers (intended outcome).
An editorial statement keeps your blog’s brand consistent and distinguishable from the competition, even if you have multiple writers. However, the ongoing branding process has various facets—such as networking with other bloggers, developing your brand story, and gaining insights through data. You may consider getting help from a branding agency to help build a stronger brand image.
Determine Your Monetization Channels
Once you have content published, it’s time to figure out how you want to earn money from your blog.
If you’re running a blog alongside your business, you want to promote the products and services available on your leading site. That also means you should create content about what you’re selling in the hopes of increasing your sales.
There are two main ways to make a living as aspiring bloggers for publishers who don’t have any product or service to sell.
The first is display ads. First, you must sign up and apply to an ad network like Google Adsense. Once approved, you need to install a code to make the dynamic ads related to your niche show on your blog. The goal is to get more people to click on the ads to earn money. But you’ll have to get more traffic first, which we will discuss later.
The second is affiliate marketing. Similar to display ads, you must apply to an affiliate marketplace where you can choose products to sell to your audience. Then use the affiliate link of the product and place them anywhere on the page where you think the majority of people will click on it. Affiliate marketing is a very profitable blogging venture, provided that you choose the best affiliate marketplaces with the highest payouts and observe the best tips regarding this space.
Build Relationships with Your Blog
Ultimately, remember that successful bloggers invest in relationship building not only with their audience but with the industry as a whole. Leveraging the network of popular bloggers will help you gain instant exposure for your site. You can also “borrow” some of the credibility and authority of a popular blog by guest posting or being linked to.
An integral component of relationship building is blogger outreach. This involves identifying the key influencers in your niche, planning your invitation approach, developing great content, and several other steps that encourage your active participation in the community. More comprehensive guides such as this one from SmartBlogger will help you with each phase in detail. Also check out their certification course and start earning more.
Develop Website Traffic
Most people rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to generate sustainable traffic to their blogs. But they can only get organic traffic if they start ranking on Google search results for their target keywords. And that only happens if they build enough authority by publishing high-quality content through the years.
To get traffic outside of SEO, leverage social media as another source of traffic.
Ideally, you want to focus on sharing your content on one social media channel first to build a following there. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are obvious choices since developing an editorial calendar for your posts, tweets, and pins are straightforward using a social media sharing tool. For instance, you can automatically share your new blog post across different social channels to automate the process.
If you’re doing video content, you can chop them up in bits and pieces that you can share on Instagram and TikTok if possible.
Keep in mind that your choice of social media channel depends on where most of your audience engages in. If your audience is composed of millennials, there’s a good chance that they frequent Instagram and TikTok for their social media fix. But it would help if you dig deeper to find out more about your audience and their social media preferences to be sure.
Blogging may only be a leisurely experience to some, but successful blogging requires an ambition to reach more people and let your brand be known. You must understand exactly what makes your audience tick with your blog by following the tips above. It should then help you conceptualize a solid plan on your way to success. even before you write your first blog post.
First published in August 2016; updated October 2021