Know how to write,
write it well and love what you do.
No one cares about what you made for dinner unless it caused you to set your house on fire.
I’m going to say that for some reason I think this subject is taboo. This is what people pay the big bucks for in order to go to and learn these things at conferences. I could be wrong but it seems like blog training is like talking about salaries - you don’t do it. I’m going to do it. I’m sick of emailing it. Now I can refer everyone who asks to this post and get page views out of it.
I have NO IDEA how I’ve gotten my following. I think it’s the way I talk to people. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not your typical mommy blogger. I don’t even have time to find followers, it just happens (except when I can do a giant email blast. I did that for Facebook). As for blog monetization, I get asked that constantly so I’m going to take a second and tell you what I did and save myself a lot of time. I get about a dozen people a week asking me and I have an email I saved. This is pretty much it, with alterations. You might be a successful blogger who thinks my methods are total shit but they worked for me. I started out scared and alone, thinking all blogs consisted of mom’s posting pictures of their kids (I actually had one of those just for my family) and now I own my own LLC corporation and do fairly well for myself.
First off, it’s best to get a self hosted wordpress or blogger blog and buy your own domain name. If I created a momspective.blogspot.com, someone could easily have gotten momspective.com and could rip me off. I hate Blogger. I’ve logged into my friends accounts to do things for them and even though I understand it, I hate it. Loathe it. I think WordPress allows for easier blogging, design and manageability. Starting your own website can be costly though like buying the domain space and the .com, .net and .org and anything people could use to confuse people into thinking their you, but do what you are comfy with.
Blog design is KEY. You need to look professional. Just look at some good ones (*AHEM* mine) and see the things they have in common. Also, Google everything you want to know. I started blogging with no concept and taught myself everything. Photoshop, HTML, web design…you can do anything you want to if you Google it.
Backing up, you need a good name. A really creative one. You want it short and memorable. If you have www.mysupersuperlongdomainname.com, no one is going to remember that. If your blog name doesn’t match your domain name, no one is going to remember and you might be driving traffic somewhere else. When I first started, I was CoolMomGuide.com. That’s now my corporation name. There’s another site that’s way older than me and it’s a COMPLETELY different type of site and our visitors were getting all kinds of twisted up. It look be about two days to come up with Momspective. I don’t even like my blog title but I am a mom and I have a skewed perspective so it fits me. It’s not just a blog name. It’s ME. I am Momspective now. I am my own brand. I have a trademark pending (they take FOREVER and cost A LOT).
Don’t forget you have to pay for someone to host it. I used GoDaddy to start and they were fine until the day after my birthday when I was nailed with three viruses in two weeks that cut my numbers in half. I wholeheartedly suggest using Lagniappe Marketing (http://lagniappemarketing.net/). They are attentive, affordable and you’re not one of the masses. They pay attention to detail and you’re sure to develop a fantastic working relationship. Also, and this is important, you can tell them what you’re looking to do (integrate Facebook. Twitter and Google ranking) and they will apply the plugins necessary to do it. They monitor your database to keep it clean and they are perfect for blogging beginners that just need their blog to be networked properly. They are NOT paying me to say this. I pay THEM to host me. What does THAT tell you? That I like using CAPS?
You’re going to set up a feed so people can follow you. There are so many ways to get people to visit your blog, you can’t just rely on Feedburner to check your stats anymore. People might choose to read you through Networked Blogs on Facebook or Google Friend Connect – make sure you set all of them up and put them on your page. I have absolutely no idea what my numbers are. I never look. I happened to accidentally see my page views the other day and did a happy dance but I won’t go back there to look again. If you have a spike in numbers you might put too much pressure on yourself and if you don’t have good numbers you might give up.
Please for the love of *insert worship of choice here* just moderate your comments. CAPTCHA is like blog DEET. Countless people won’t bother commenting on you if you use it and I know people who won’t revisit a blog that uses it. I also don’t want to do math so cut it out. That’s why WordPress is better. Get the Akismet SPAM plugin. It works. I rarely get SPAM in my comment section and I always scan the spam section throughout the day before I delete it to ensure no real comments went there. I use monitoring as a tool to make sure I return comments. Every time I approve a comment, I open up a new tab with that person’s blog and I always comment back. I took a survey once and every blogger said they’d prefer a random comment back over a comment within the email or via email. We all want traffic. Bottom line.
As far as monetizing your blog, you have to build a following first. Then you sign up with an ad network. BlogHer won’t let you do reviews so if you want free stuff you need a review sub-domain like I have if you end up with them. Pretty much everyone starts off with Google AdSense. Even I did. I took all the steps up like you have to. Start with it, even though it’s total crap just so you can get used to seeing ads on your site. No flash, no popups and never put an within your post. It’s tacky. You can’t make money from the ads if no one wants to return to your site.
As you grow a following you’ll figure out who the other ad networks are and you’ll apply and sign a contract with them. You’ll also have people approach you for ad space. Be reasonable and please don’t put a blank space telling people to advertise. In my opinion, it’ll make it less likely someone will want to place an ad on your site. I also tend to keep all public ads on my left side and all of my personal promotions on the right to keep things clean. You want to promote yourself first and foremost and I think people look to the right over the left when they first click on a page. I also make a lot of things up in my head.
You need a bio. Create an “About” section. No brand is going to ask you to work on a campaign with them or advertise with them without it. Who are you and why are you as awesome as I am? What’s your background? You need to give a general overview of your stats, where you come from and how they can contact you. I have two boys, I don’t want girl toys. Don’t put your ad rates up, you’re locking yourself in if you do. What if someone comes in and offers a higher number? If they see that they’ll win out.
Another way to get fun stuff like reviews and sponsored posts for your blog will simply be brands approaching you from seeing how you Social Network. You’re going to want to have your Social Media name reflect your blog name and you can set your blog to auto post your posts to all Social Media outlets you’re linked to. I spent weeks signing up for every single one – DIGG, StumbleUpon and whatnot and even though I only use Facebook and Twitter they all link to your feed and every time you publish, it tells your readers. The more people who follow you, the more the big companies will approach you. Companies look at Twitter numbers, Alexa Ranking and Google Page rank. Once your blog is set up, you have to list yourself on those places (Trust me, this is a pain in the ass. Turning your blog into a business is a 40 hour a week job). I rarely approach a company for campaigns or sponsorship. Maybe three times. I let them come to me. I don’t know what they’re looking for (types of tweets, followers or what) but I think I’m just lucky. Others may not agree with me and have had success, it’s just my opinion because I swear A LOT and I talk about messed up stuff so if a company wants to pitch to me, I’m assuming they clearly know who they’re dealing with.
Companies should eventually approach you to review products if you seem like you’ve got your stuff together. Only review what fits your blog and don’t let them bully you into giving a non-biased review. By law, you have to have a disclaimer policy on your posts because if someone gives you shit for free, you have to disclose it or people will come after you and them and that will be very bad. If you review something on your own, state that as well. I started reviewing things on my own so companies could see my review style and said “This is all mine”, pretty much like my Pillow Pet story (unless they give me free pillow pets so I can have a pillow pet orgy).
Just remember, it is a huge pain in the ass and it takes time. A lot of people started blogging when I did and I watched as people tried like hell to make money, got frustrated and gave up within six months.
“They” say most people don’t see success for 2 years and that’s why people quit. That’s the average because of the Google sandbox – Google has some policy that they won’t give good page rank to new blogs because all the spammers by domain names and use keywords just to get big, so that’s how they try to ensure only real websites qualify. Just like with dieting, if you don’t get an immediate result, you give up. I’ve seen great writers just quit because of the time and effort needed to be successful. Especially if they have a regular job. This is my only job. I work from home and have childcare. My kids are in school.
There are other ways to get money too, through affiliate marketing. That’s something you can do right away. Say you find a deal or write a review, you have an amazon affiliates account and you go through there and link to your product there. If someone clicks on it and buys something you get a percentage. I get more from ads than affiliate stuff but there are sites that get TONS from that. I don’t review sale products and always forget to affiliate link to new products because I’m too lazy. You’ll need to Google how to do that or ask around. I can’t help you there. I’m willing to bet I’m losing some good money and I seriously should start linking to Amazing but like I said – lazy.
I think I’ve covered everything. I know I forgot something but this is really long. If you have questions, ask them here and I’ll put a Q&A at the bottom of this. I think it’s a very valuable post and I think all people have the right to know. When I first started blogging, I was introduced to some great people like me and they gave me advice and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be here now telling you. I think everyone should have a chance but remember to start small. Yes, buy your own domain but you can hold off on buying every possible version of it and the .net’s and .org’s until you get a feel for it. It shouldn’t cost too much. Buy one year’s worth of hosting and your blog name (if it’s available) and see how you feel.
Q1 -I’ve never asked anyone, but how the hell do you use twitter to promote your blog? Does it have the RSS feed, too? Or, do you just tweet what your recent blog is about?
A1- I don’t know about how Blogger works but with Word Press, you have plugins you install that will automatically post a customized tweet or Facebook Wall Post. There are tons of them to choose from. I use “Sociable”. I also will put links back in there from time to time just by manually publishing them.
*Bows and asks you to lick “Like” below so I know if you dig this, I have a growing obsession with seeing tiny faces under my posts all of the sudden*