A survey of 1,000 bloggers by Blogging.com in 2012 found that only 17% were able to support their families from blogging. 81% never even made $100. The remaining 2% were making $150 000+ p.a.
It’s highly unlikely these numbers have shifted much since then. So should you even bother reading more about how to blog professionally?
That depends on how serious you are about making money as a blogger. What was true then, still is. Some people are earning a living in this way, why not you?
Knowing how to blog professionally won’t guarantee your success but every successful blogger had to start in the same place, at the beginning. That’s what this post is all about.
If you do accept the challenge, you have just as much chance as anybody else to be successful and maybe even earn a lot of money. Here’s how to start your journey.
Choose an Idea to Blog About
The great thing about blogging is you can choose just about anything as your focus. This means if you have a hobby, interest or passion it’s an ideal subject for your blog.
So what are you passionate about? Cooking, travel, parenting, business, a sport, something else?
It’s important to go beyond the bigger picture subject, though. This means you must identify a specific audience within your subject area to target.
For example, If you wanted to blog about tennis, it would be a mistake to try and reach everybody about everything to do with tennis. Your target audience would be too broad and you’d find it difficult to compete with older authority tennis websites.
Could you identify a smaller audience within the tennis niche? One that uses the Internet to find information and purchase related products and services? For example, could older tennis players suffering from arthritis or left handed female tennis players be suitable audiences?
The best approach is to make a list of as many smaller audiences as you can think of to do with your niche. Then you’ll be ready to test them to ensure they are viable and more importantly that each spends money on the Internet. Remember blogging professionally means your goal is to make money.
Choose a Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is the software framework you’ll need to publish content to the Internet in the form of your blog.
There are a few of these around but if you want to be a professional blogger I suggest you go with WordPress.
As one of the biggest and most popular platforms, WordPress offers tremendous flexibility when it comes to the look, feel and design of your blog.
In addition, there are over 10 000 add-on features to improve your blog’s functionality. WordPress also offers great search engine optimization which means more people will find your blog when they search for related information online.
WordPress has many users. This is an important benefit since it’s easy to find support and help when you need it. Last but not least the platform is also free to use.
It’s not that you can’t succeed using one of the other platforms but it’s much easier using WordPress, so why would you choose to make life more difficult unnecessarily?
Buy a Domain
A domain is the address of your website on the Internet. For example, this blog’s domain is thiswaytomoney.com
Your domain name could be derived from what your site is about, like learnguitarhere.com or it could be your main keyword such as, playbassguitar.com. Alternatively, it could be a made up name that becomes your brand name, like thestringedmuse.com.
Aim to make your domain name easy for readers to remember and the shorter it is, the better. Be warned, that unless you come up with your own unique brand name, it’s highly likely that whatever you want to use for your domain, will already have been taken.
Rather than pull your hair out, brainstorm as many ideas as you can first. Then use any of the free domain name generators to help you with your search. I tend to use instantdomainsearch.com because it’s easy and fast.
Some blogging platform companies offer free domains. These are add-on domains to their own primary domain. I do not recommend this option if you want to be regarded as a serious professional blogger since the company who owns the primary domain will ultimately have control over your website.
When you get your own domain, you buy the rights to use your domain for an annual fee. I suggest you shop around to find the best price. The cost will be determined by the type of domain you buy, how many years you pay for up front and whether you’re paying for added extras like privacy.
I recommend buying a .com domain over others. They are still the most popular and reputed to be better performing overall. I currently buy my domains from 1&1 who I have found to be the cheapest and offer good service.
Subscribe to a Hosting Service
A hosting company will host your blog on their servers. It’s also where your blog files are stored.
Hosting providers can be quite competitive so again it will pay you to shop around for the best deals at the time. Be sure you know what you’re getting for your money. As a rule, you get what you pay for. Going with the cheapest package may not be the best option for you.
Find out what services are included, how many websites they will host for the price, how secure your site will be from hackers, how much storage space they offer, and most importantly, how fast their servers are. Nobody waits around for a slow website to load.
Although I use the company, Arvixe to host one of my older sites, these days I much prefer to use the hosting that comes with the Wealthy Affiliate platform. There I can host up to 25 sites and everything is included which other hosting companies charge more for.
Design and Build Your Site
Besides using the WordPress blogging platform, you will need a theme for your site. This is what will give your blog it’s front end look as well as determine what you can and can’t do on the back end.
There are free and premium themes available. Unless you already own a premium theme I would suggest you start with a free one. You can always change your theme later. It’s likely that eventually, you will opt for a premium theme as it will provide better benefits but this is not necessary when you start.
There are hundreds of free themes to choose from at wordpress.org/themes. In fact, there are so many that people often feel overwhelmed about making a choice.
One of the best free themes I have come across is the Make theme. They also have a premium version if you like it and decide to upgrade later.
My advice is to choose any free theme that is as customizable as possible and very importantly has been updated recently. You can check for this on the WordPress listing of themes as in the example of the Make theme below.
New bloggers often get caught up spending too much time on the look and design of their blog at this stage. Your site’s look and brand image is important but it’s something that will change and grow as you do, so don’t waste too much time on this when you start.
I suggest you choose one or two colors and perhaps a basic logo and leave it there. You can even create basic word logos for free at flamingtext.com and cooltext.com.
Later if you don’t feel particularly confident about designing your blog yourself, you can always hire someone to help you. This can cost anywhere from $200 into the thousands of dollars.
In terms of putting it all together, which means combining WordPress, your domain, and theme so you have an actual website, there are many free tutorials available on Youtube that can help you. The way in which you do this often depends on which hosting company you use so they should also have tutorials you can follow.
It’s important to set your blog up in the right way. Once again I do all of this via Wealthy Affiliate where the process is automated and takes about three minutes tops.
Personally, I don’t want to spend unnecessary time trying to figure out technical stuff when my time is better spent on other business activities.
There’s no point in having a beautiful website that has no content on it that nobody is visiting. So get your website up, start creating content and make design changes over time as you go.
When you have enough content in place, search engines will start to recognize your website as an authority site. Only then will they will present your link in search results. At this point, people will start clicking on your link and start visiting your blog.
Monetize Your Blog
At the same time as you start creating content, you must think about how you are going to make money via your blog so that when people do start visiting, there are ways for this to occur.
You could sign up to ad networks like Google Adsense. They will use your blog to advertise related products and services to your visitors. Payment to you can be for page views or clicks depending on the network.
Some premium ad networks will insist on exclusivity agreements, a stipulated time you must have been blogging or have requirements about how many visitors your site is getting.
I am not a fan of this type of advertising. When someone follows an advertisement they leave my blog. My aim is to keep people on my site.
You can also write sponsored posts. This means writing for a company about their products on your blog for which they pay you. Again this is not an income stream I favor since it takes away my control over what I can write about and promote.
By far the best way is to promote products and services related to your blog audience’s needs. These can be your own or they can belong to someone else. When they belong to someone else you are paid a commission every time someone buys via the link on your website.
This is what is known as affiliate marketing and is my preferred income stream channel as it gives me control over what I promote and how I do it. There are tons of affiliate products available which you can sign up to promote on your website.
Promote Your Blog
Apart from creating lots of quality content you also need to promote your blog so that others know about it. One of the best ways is simply to use your preferred social media channels to promote your content.
I also recommend you read the top blogs in your niche and leave worthwhile comments at the end of posts. When others read your comments and they might be intrigued by what you had to say, click on your website link and visit your blog.
A variation of the above is to visit forums in your niche and answer questions. If what you write is useful it can also attract new visitors to your site.
Finally, it’s worthwhile networking with other bloggers by joining Facebook blogging groups. When you develop relationships with other bloggers you can help to promote each other’s content.
So is it really possible to become a professional blogger? In theory, anybody can learn to do it. It’s not neuroscience, but it does take a strong enough desire, the ability to follow some instructions and commitment to take consistent action.
I am not sure I could have done it on my own which is why I rely on an online business platform like Wealthy Affiliate. Perhaps like me, it will be the difference between being successful and not for you too. Wanna find out more for free? Join me here
If you have any questions about this topic or anything else to do with an online business leave them in the contents section below. I’d love to help you.