Blogging is a great way of telling people about what you like, informing them about the latest tends in fashion, beauty or technology and a fab way to earn a little income on the side. A lot of people are put off starting a blog because they feel that they need a really good knowledge of the technical side of the internet when in fact, starting a blog is really easy…the hardest part is deciding what you want to do with it.
Free or paid for hosting?
Deciding whether you want to monetise your blog is probably the biggest deciding factor in how you host your blog.
If you just want somewhere to scribble your thoughts and don’t care who reads it then going to a free site such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com is the perfect place. I’ve personally tried Blogger.com for previous blogs, just to get the hang of it all, and they’re easy to set up and manage. The biggest downside to a free blog is that the company who you go with effectively owns your content, they can decide to remove posts or close down your blog if they want – again if you don’t mind losing content then this is a good option. You will also be stuck with a URL containing something like .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com unless you pay for your own and redirect it.
Paid for hosting
If you are looking to earn from your blog, whether that’s through Google Asense or Affiliate Marketing (adding links to products and earning commission from sales) then paying for your hosting is a MUST! There are many places out there that will host your blog for a monthly or annual fee and most of these will include a personalised domain. I did a lot of research before I chose my hosting company as I wanted the right balance of features and cost, in the end I went with Vidahost.com who are a UK based company with amazing customer service; I recently contacted them on a Sunday afternoon and within the hour they had answered my email. They also don’t spam your email and call you constantly trying to sell you additional products or get you to refer a friend like I’ve had with previous companies. My hosting cost me less than £30 for the year including my domain (I used the code “JUSTASK” for 20% off). They also have a one click WordPress plugin which, I feel, is best when it comes to blogging.
The content you post is yours and having your own hosted site looks good to any potential affiliates or if you want to work with other companies/bloggers in the future.
What do you want to blog about?
The number one piece of advice is to blog about something you know about and can write confidently about – caring about the subject is also a big help. If you don’t know anything about quantum physics then creating a physics focused science blog isn’t the best of ideas. A good niche is a strong start but something with a too small audience could be detrimental; I tried an “alternative” blog about everything to do with the alternative music scene but I soon found it hard to get the views because my audience was so small. Finding a popular niche can also be a bad thing as an over-saturated market means you are fighting with others for views.
Trying to find the right balance is key – I created this blog because there are so many areas I want to talk about and I find it hard to focus on one element so I have my Younique, money making, baking etc all rolled into one place. It means I’ll never have a focus on one area but I will always have something to talk about and it won’t feel out of place.
Companies know that bloggers love nothing more than a freebie and that in the right hands, a free gift to a blogger can see many sales as potential customers search for reviews and opinions from real people. Some companies will require you to have a large social media following, a large monthly visitor count or a self-hosted site before they will consider sending you free items to review; there are some that don’t. Check out Tomoson.com and The Orchard at Tesco, there are many other sites but I’ve received things from both these places. Once you are confident you can start approaching companies to see if they’d interested in working with you, obviously approach those that would be of mutual benefit – no point asking a meat company for a few freebies if you are a vegan food blogger.
Making money from your blog
It isn’t as simple as just starting the blog and BOOM! the money comes rolling in, there is mixed opinions as to when you should start monetising with some people saying it is fine to start straight away and others saying to leave it to around the six month mark. I added Google Adsense to my blog as soon as I got it up and running then added a few banners of my own to the sides for things like my Younique page. I think it was about three months in that I started adding affiliate links and banners.
Google Adsense involves having adverts placed on your website/blog which when clicked will generate you an income. The adverts will try to appear appropriate to your page focus but sometimes they are completely irreliavent to what you are writing about. Adsense is the easiest way to earn from your blog as you just insert the tracking information, confirm where you’d like the adverts to be placed and then wait for people to click them. It is a very slow way to earn as it does rely firstly on people not having an ad-blocker active on their browser (no, you can’t ask them to deactivate it on your site) and secondly them actually clicking the ads.
The more traffic you can get to your blog, the better chance you have of earning from Adsense.
Signing up to websites such as Affiliate Window, Commission Junction, Paid on Results and Trade Tracker means you can sign up to host links from certain companies. When something is bought via your unique link you then earn commission. Amazon Affiliates is a great scheme if you are looking to review/test products or want to talk about things that people can buy from there as you will earn commission on each sale.There is also Skimlinks which will search your blog for keywords and link them to a whole host of companies where you can receive commission from sales.
Once you are getting a good amount of traffic and views, you may be asked to advertise for other companies/websites and for this you may receive payment for that allocated space. The cost of hiring your advertising space is completely up to you but most companies will look for a high visitor rate as well as you owning the domain/self hosting.
Again, once you have a well established blog with a good stream of visitors companies may approach you to ask you to write about their services/site/product and pay you to post that to your blog. These companies realise that bloggers are a fantastic marketing tool and can often reach more people than traditional marketing; and for a lower price. This cost is completely up to you but take in to account the time it will take you to research and write the post, then promote the post to your readers – it takes longer than you’d think.
Content writing for other blogs
This is probably the quickest way to make money around your blog, using sites such as PeoplePerHour and Fiverr is a way of selling your blog writing services. Once you are established you may be approached by other bloggers to “guest post” for their blogs – they may want your knowledge of your niche in order to feature it on their site.
Promoting your blog
Starting a blog is more than just writing up your content and publishing it, you need to tell people it is there so they visit your site; and hopefully tell others. Social media is, without a doubt, the best and easiest way to go about this. Taking the time to get to know what you can do on each platform won’t be a waste of time and keeping up to date with changes is a must to keep moving forward.
Facebook, Twitter and Google
No matter what your niche, having an account on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is a must for getting your blog seen. These are a great way for your viewers to see that there is new content up without having to constantly think about visiting your site. As well as alerting them to new content, it is also the best way to build up a relationship with them so that they trust you and keep coming back. Luckily there are many tools out there to help with posting such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck – both which allow you to schedule the same posts to multiple places, and sharing add-ons should you choose a WordPress plugin.
Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest
These platforms will work better for some niches more than others. Fashion, beauty and food based blogs will benefit from using these social media channels more than most as they are all very visual genres. That’s not to say don’t have these accounts if you are outside these niches, they are always great to show you as a person – your followers can get to know who you are and find common interests with you.
Blogger specific sites
Connecting with other bloggers is a great way to increase your traffic. Finding other blogs similar to yours and commenting on their posts will leave a trail back to your blog for their readers. There are also websites designed with bloggers in mind such as Bloglovin and Networked Blogs, these sites allow readers to follow multiple blogs from the same place and provide emails to let them know what posts have been shared by the blogs they follow. Netmums’ Parent Blogger Network and Mumsnet’s Blogger Network are also worth joining, you don’t have to be a mummy either.
A blog takes time to establish
For most bloggers, it takes anything up to one or two years for them to be hitting the targets they want from their blog; whether that is visitor numbers or income. You really need to bare that in mind when starting a blog, it is a labour of love and to make it successful it will take time and effort. I’m 10 months into Chammy In Real Life and I’m not earning that much, but my numbers are increasing and I’m starting to see companies want to work with me. You need to spend the time building it up, promoting not only the blog but YOU on your social media sites; as I’ve said, some companies want a good social presence in order to agree to work with you.
There is plenty of help and advice out there from sites like The Money Shed and UK Bloggers who are full of people who have been blogging for years and some that bring in a healthy annual income from it.
I think I have covered all the basics here, hopefully this will help you in your quest to starting a blog and if you have any more questions then please don’t hesitate to ask.