I always get really excited when people want to get into blogging. There are many people out there that make a living out of blogging, and honestly, as someone who loves to write, I find it very therapeutic. Well, a friend of mine (a stay at home mom) recently contacted me about maybe starting a blog. She had 3 questions for me.
1. Have you ever been able to make money by blogging?
2. How does ad placement work? In other words, how do you make money from ads and does it go by the number of hits you have on a blog?
3. Also.. what would you recommend for a free(to test the waters first) blog hosting site that has nice design options?
Some of the biggest blogs out there are blogs run by stay at home moms, probably because they are at home and have the time to write, and are big because their target audience is also at home and has time to read them. One of my favorite technology journalists started her mommy blog and it has done very well. The key here, more than anything is consistency. You have to stick to a schedule (I have some tools that makes this very easy), whatever that schedule may be. Still interested? Keep reading for my take on these questions.
So, let’s get down to business. Starting with her first question. I have made money from blogging, using a platform called Socialspark. People go on there and submit their blogs. Advertisers then come and say, “Hey, I want you to write a blog post of at least xxx words, for my product or business.” You then choose which ones to write. The pay isn’t very much at first, you will get a lot of offers for $5-15 per post at first, but if you persevere, the amounts increase. That is only one of several ways to make money blogging.
That leads us to your second question about ads. Ads are great, since they are static, and just sit there without you actually having to do work, but the income is MUCH smaller at first, until you get more traffic to your site, then they will be your best source of recurring income. You have several ways to do ads. You can go with google Adsense, and have google manage all the ads. At first, you will make pennies per month, until you get a good amount of traffic, since the money you get will be based on clicks not impressions (impressions = views in the industry). Once you get a lot more, then they start paying you per hits on your site, which makes more money.
Or you can manage your own ads (there are programs out there like Komoona that allow you to put up a banner that people can click on and submit their own ads. Theoretically you could make a TON more money this way, but its only feasible if there are people out there that specifically want to advertise on your site, usually good for extremely niche’d sites.
To be a successful blogger, you cannot get discouraged, as it takes many months to get a lot of traffic. Once you get a regular following, and people begin to not only comment on your posts, but to have dialogues, then you know you are doing well. So that leads us to question three: Platform. There are many platforms out there to blog, but I stick to my favorite, WordPress. There are 2 flavors of it. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is great for beginners who want to taste what blogging is like, and want something free and now. It also takes absolutely no technical knowledge to get up and running. Simply create a free account, pick your subdomain (Your blog will have an address that ends with .wordpress.com) and you are ready to start blogging. This is great because you can be blogging in seconds, but it’s bad because you can’t put your ads on it and you have very little control over major edits on the site. But, again, it will give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to blogging.
WordPress.org is more complicated but it puts you in complete control. You can put ads, you can edit templates, you can do whatever you want on your blog basically. But its technically not free, and you need to know how to install a CMS script. You need to buy a domain name first (namecheap.com has them for 3 bucks a year I believe!), which sounds better than the xxxx.wordpress.com. Then you need a server to hold the files. Typically this means a monthly charge that can range from $4-5 a month to $40-50, depending on how powerful of a server you want.
I ended up recommending that she watch the movie Julie & Julia (which she had seen), and if you are reading this post, and haven’t seen that movie, go get it pronto. It is a great movie about a woman that decides to blog about her journey to make all the recipes in a cookbook. This leads me to the last tip I have, which is that one of the most important things you can do to separate yourself from the crowd of other bloggers is to find a niche to fill, and be consistent (if you say you will post everyday, or every other day, or every week, STICK TO IT!!) Like the movie, maybe come up with a challenge and document it through the blog. My rule of thumb is that a blog post should be at least 200 words, and include at least one nice photo. If you do this, and stick to it, your blog will see success.