It may feel like fun, writing posts and getting paid for them, but make no mistake—blogging for money is definitely a business. There were about 31 million bloggers in the U.S. in 2012, according to blogging.org, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. While you don’t have to turn into one of the corporate managers you’re doing this to get away from, you do need to keep some basic business practices in mind if you’re going to make a living. Learn to narrow your focus and pinpoint unusual opportunities, and you’ll have a better chance of running a successful blog.
Discover Your Niche
You can’t just blog about anything that comes into your mind. Well, you can, but that’s not the way to actually make any money. The best way to attract readers is to appear as knowledgeable in your niche; be someone who can be relied upon for the best information. This means narrowing down your subject matter to a smaller group of topics and specializing in just those ideas. Google’s Adword Keyword Planner is the ideal tool for this. You can use it to put in a general topic and it will suggest dozens of smaller, related niches.
The best way to get discovered in your niche it to become well-known among the big names. This means reading their blogs and adding intelligent comments at the end of almost every post. This doesn’t mean advertising your business; just the opposite. The idea is to become one of them without pushing your agenda, so that when you do offer your services, it’s just as one of the group who is already known and respected.
Finding blogs in a niche, searching through Google results and following these links can take a long time. Use a service such as Alltop, a blog discovery tool. Type in almost any topic imaginable, and you’ll get links for dozens of applicable blogs.
One mostly untapped areas for blogging is local business, although more smart bloggers are picking up on this area. Go online and check out local businesses to see what kind of online presence they have. Stick to businesses that have some tie with your niche expertise. Visit those businesses that don’t have an effective blog or site and offer your services. Be prepared with statistics that prove the type of business increase they’ll get with a steady Web presence, and consider offering a free blog post or two just to gauge the results.
Create a packet to leave with your potential clients, and include a memorable business card. Use an online printer like Printing For Less to find a variety of useful items that can be created for the client to keep. From calendars to bookmarks, the idea is to give them something they’ll want to keep around.
Market Every Day
If you’re going to make a living blogging, you have to market your services on a daily basis. It’s easy to get confused about who you’ve written to and when they’ve responded. Keep track of all your submissions with a tool such as Sonar. It’s a writer’s database designed to track submissions and their results. With one glance, you’ll know what’s working, what’s not and where your efforts need to fine-tuned.
Melissa Jordan started blogging from home after earning two bachelor’s degrees (one in English and one in history) the same year the Great Recession hit. The economy’s picking up, but she like the freelance lifestyle and doubts she’ll look for a “real” job anytime soon.