This is a guest post from Tom Walker. Thanks for the submission Tom. I think this post covers some important issues every business blogger should address. Let me know what you think!
Blogging is the latest way to make money on the web. It can be done with little technical expertise, it’s low cost, and you can potentially make millions; just look of the success of the world’s most famous blog, Craig’s List. Making money or even a career out of blogging, however, is like starting any business, and the same principles apply. Follow our guide to make sure you avoid the pitfalls, and get your blog on track faster.
- Pick a niche – your blog will only stand out in the millions of other blogs if it offers something different. Your blog is a product like any other, and so you need to tap into a demand in order to have something to sell. Blogs about personal opinions, for example, are ten-a-penny, and probably not going to draw a lot of interest.
- Think about your sphere of influence – part of finding your niche is about looking at your sphere of influence. When people look at setting up a shop somewhere, they look first at the sphere of influence of the local supermarket to see if their shop will fall within it; if it does, their shop stands little chance of competing. Do you want your blog to be useful to people in your street, town, county or country, or does it have international appeal? For example, there may be a local news source for your county, so there would be no point competing with it, but there may not be a news blog about your town, so you may find a niche there.
- Gauge interest – you may have found a niche, and you may know for a fact that a few people are interested in your topic. The next stage is to gauge if that level of interest will be enough to make your blog sustainable. Will there be enough subject matter to blog regularly about? Will the blog topic attract enough interest to get a reasonable amount of hits to drive ad revenue that will pay for the time you spend blogging? If the answer to these questions is “no”, you may have to rethink your topic.
- Move quickly – blogging has democratized the publishing process. A blog is the simplest, fastest kind of publication to set up, and there are virtually no barriers to how much or how quickly you can publish. For this reason, you need to move fast; if you have spotted an opportunity, it probably won’t be long before someone else does. Make sure you get there first; even if you don’t set up the full blog, at least nab the domain name to stake your claim.
- Plan – nobody can attract investment in a business where the proprietor doesn’t know how much they plan to make in a year, or how they are going to do it. Too often, bloggers hit on a fantastic idea, but the blog falls by the wayside due to a lack of direction. Once you have set up your domain, sit down and make a plan of what you are going to do and by when; even a simple plan will help. For example, you could plan to publish 50 posts within a month, attract 30 incoming links within two months, and draft an advertising rate card by the end of the third month, with a view to approaching advertising clients within six months. Stick to your deadlines once you have them.
- Use clear branding – millions are spent on branding products every year. Your blog is a product and as such it needs to be branded. Don’t just stick any old header at the top of your blog and pick the first colour scheme that pops up. Think about what the essence of your blog is, and choose colours accordingly, i.e. baby pink might not be the ideal colour scheme for a serious financial blog. To make a memorable header with your title, try finding a creative commons licensed image online that represents your blog’s topic, or even take some photos yourself. Once your have decided how your blog is going to look, try not to tinker with it too much; consumers trust and feel comfortable with products that maintain the same appearance.
- Work hard – blogging is easy to learn, but hard to master. Don’t be fooled by the entrepreneurs who started blogs and then retired to their millions at 25; they worked as hard at their blogs as any business demands. The only way to make money out of a blog is to invest your time and energy into it.
This is a guest post by Tom Walker who blogs and designs with an online supplier of HP 364 inks, toners and refills. He is both writing contributor and editor at the CreativeCloud where he blogs about what interests him most, namely print design and the arts.