Understanding the Business of Blogging
Professional blogging takes courage and dedication. If you want to pursue running your own blog you may wonder “How can I make a living doing this”? How can blogging be a creative and profitable online business? The process of starting a blog is fairly straightforward, but understanding the business of blogging is something else entirely.
While there may be differences in what bloggers write about, the essential functions they perform are the same. Their blog is the platform for their online business. Bloggers who generate an income from their websites work to promote themselves online while trying to help others solve problems. This is accomplished when they:
- Create high-quality content. Bloggers are WRITERS.
- Design beautiful (and share-worthy) graphics. Bloggers are DESIGNERS.
- Promote their work through multiple channels. Bloggers are SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERTS.
- Make money through selling their own products and/or selling others. Bloggers are MARKETERS.
- Develop a strategy for improvement by analyzing blog performance stats. Bloggers are ENTREPRENEURS.
Pro Tip* Want to learn how to start your own money-making blog? Pete and Heather Reese of It’s A Lovely Life have a FREE 5 Day Start A Money Making Blog Crash Course that will have you up and running quickly. If you really want to make this work, I highly recommend investing in yourself with their 30 Day Blogging Fast Track Course. You are worth it!
Write High-Quality Content
The cornerstone of your online presence will be your writing. Above all else, the content you create and share is what will keep your audience engaged and coming back. If you only have a few moments in the day to devote to your blog, focus on your writing. Everything else can wait. Make sure you have the free Grammarly app installed, too, as this brilliant tool will check for spelling and grammar mistakes as you write.
Imagine your ideal reader as you create your content. Your ability to communicate with them is the key to leaving an impression. Keep your tone conversational and natural. In addition to straightforward blog posts, content creation should also include some of the following:
- Digital Downloads
- Online Courses
Take a look at this list and narrow down 3 or 4 that you know you are capable of doing. Writing posts with great graphics, creating downloads, and designing infographics work well for me. Some of you may love communicating your message through videos or webinars, while some may rely on their photographs more than words. However you do it, remember that your content should connect with your readers and provide value, while also promoting your products and services.
Design Beautiful Graphics
Professional blogs look legit because a lot of hard work goes into their visual content and presentation. But guess what? You don’t have to be a graphic designer or even hire one to achieve a professional-looking blog. There are many tools out there that are made just for amateurs and they deliver stellar results. I love using Canva for all of my graphic designing and since I’m not a photographer I rely on Storyblocks for most of my images. They offer unlimited royalty and copyright-free downloads for a very low yearly subscription rate. Promise that you will only ever use your own photographs or ones that you are absolutely sure you have a license to use!
Any successful business presents a well-designed brand. This is what communicates your message to the world and helps you stand out from the competition. For bloggers, the brand is not about a logo. I’ve seen too many women get hung up on the process of designing a logo when really, it’s not that important. Your brand is formed by:
- The tone of your content
- The typography you use on your website and graphics
- The colors you choose
- The style of your photographs
- The documents you create (for downloadable content)
- The design of your website
- The logo
When you are first starting out, remember, content is key. After that, you need to choose a few things from the list above to focus your efforts on and start implementing brand consistency. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP and remember, Canva and Storyblocks make this easy! Let’s use this website for example:
- Typography is Lora and Open Sans. This is used in all web and graphic images.
- Colors are blue, teal, pale pink and white. The hex codes are consistent across all platforms.
- Photographic images are bright, beach-themed wherever possible, and chosen to be inspiring.
- Pinnable graphics and blog titles are created using a consistent template so they are easily recognizable on social media platforms.
Promote Your Content
Now is the time to show off all your hard work! Imagine your blog like a shiny new business on the block, stocked and ready to wow your customers! Promotion is how you drive traffic to your blog and get those customers in the door. There are strategies and techniques to do this effectively, in fact, whole blogs are dedicated to this very topic, but the main way to drive traffic to your site is:
- Search Engines (like Google)
- Social Media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are tops!)
- Email (use a platform like ConvertKit for this)
- Referral (from other bloggers and sites)
You shouldn’t have to spend huge amounts of your time with sharing on social media. Make it easy on yourself and learn how to automate the process. Did you know you can schedule your Facebook posts right from your page? Once you upload your graphic and link use the drop-down menu on the Publish button to schedule a time for it to post. Do this to schedule out a week’s worth of content and then when you are on FB you can focus on the fun part, which is interacting with your readers and replying to comments. Pinterest is the biggest driver of traffic and Tailwind makes it a breeze to schedule MONTHS in advance. Twitter can be automated using the CrowdFire app.
Monetization is how bloggers make their money. Your blog is the platform for your online business, not the actual business itself. So what does that mean? You create content, you design a beautiful website and graphics, you promote the hell out of yourself, so how does that pay the bills? Most bloggers choose several different ways to monetize and these are the most common:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Create Your Own Content
- Gain Clients for your Online Business
- Write Sponsored Posts
- Display Ads
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product that you love and if your reader purchases it through your link you make a percentage of the sale. It costs you nothing to sign up to be an affiliate, it comes at no extra cost to your reader and it benefits the both of you. I love this method because I am already sharing the companies and products that I use so if I link to them as an affiliate there is also the bonus of a commission. It’s a win-win situation! Companies (“merchants”) use large networking platforms to attract affiliates (that’s you and your blog!). ShareASale is a proven affiliate marketing program and the majority of my merchants come from there.
Creating content includes digital informational products such as online courses, workbooks or planners, e-books, webinars and worksheets. This works if you are an “infopreneur” who loves to create things and share information. The 30 Day Blogging Fast Track Course is a stellar example of this.
Gaining clients is something that allows you to do freelance work in your field of expertise. So if you are a graphic designer, web designer, consultant, social media manager, coach, freelance writer or virtual assistant you will want to use your blog to promote your services to potential clients.
Writing sponsored posts is another way that bloggers generate income. Savvy companies will pay bloggers to publish content about their products or services. This is a great option if you are in particular niches like food, beauty or travel industries. Most sponsors will require a minimum amount of blog traffic before they invest in you, but it has the potential to be very profitable!
Displaying ads is last on our list because it is definitely a way to make money, but it is not the preferred method. Don’t you just hate those social media posts that are “click-bait”? You know, the one that has a catchy title and sounds interesting but if you click the link you have to scroll through 40 pages and a million ads. FRIGGEN’ ANNOYING! The key to making display ads work is to have high traffic and make your ads as minimally distracting as possible, such as at the end of a post or only on selected pages. Whatever you do, don’t make this your sole source of income!
Professional bloggers are entrepreneurs. They are organizing and operating a business by setting goals and measuring the success of their business. Analytics are used to find out what is working and what areas need work. This data and information can come from several sources but Google Analytics is the most comprehensive. When you set up your business accounts through social media platforms you can also measure your reach and engagement using their analytics. The purpose of all of this information is to help you improve the essential functions of running your blog as a business.
And there you have it. Hopefully, this has taken some of the mystery out of what this “blogging business” is all about. Have questions or comments about it? Leave a comment below!
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