Becoming a professional blogger is a big step. No longer is writing a hobby — it becomes the way you pay the bills. It sounds like everybody’s dream job, but believe me: there is an enormous amount of work that goes into blogging, creating content and running an online business.
A professional blogger earns a living from their blog and most spend longer hours working for themselves than employees do working for their bosses. The difference is that you’ll make more money by doing something you love and most of the time, you can work when you want.
Professional blogging is a fun job (in my opinion), but if you want to go full-time, you need to plan ahead and then execute your plan. You’ll have to attract visitors to your blog every day and sell products or services that will help you settle your bills and pay for your vacations.
In this article, I’m going to outline a step by step plan that will help you work towards becoming a professional blogger and interspersed it with tips you might find useful.
Let’s get to it!
Your First Steps Toward Becoming a Professional Blogger
Before we get into some of the specific actions you can take and the skills you can develop, I want to talk about something that’s even more important:
I know first hand that the natural inclination is to focus on the tools, techniques and strategies that are associated with becoming a professional blogger. I’m here to tell you that while those things are important, they are not the “most” important.
Even if you master the strategies and technical aspects of blogging, without the right mindset, your progress and/or success will be short lived.
It’s absolutely critical that you spend an adequate amount of time working on your mental game and preparing yourself for the slow grind that in inevitably required in order to achieve success.
Here are a few thing that I’d recommend you do on a regular basis:
- Network. Spend some time networking with other successful bloggers and online business owners each day. Surround yourself with people who are more successful than you and I can guarantee that both their attitude and knowledge will rub off on you.
- Read and listen to podcasts. Success stories, motivating content and tales of adversity overcome will, over time, train your brain to develop a “can-do” attitude. The only thing to be cautious of is that you don’t fall into the trap of “shiny object syndrome”.
- Take care of yourself. One of the downfalls to self-employment is that it’s easy for your work to become your life. Make sure you take time to step away from your computer and think about something other than work. Exercise and eat well because it will have a positive trickle-down effect on your business.
Learn the Craft
If you want to become a professional blogger that stands out from the others in your niche, you have to acquire some skills and learn the business. It a process that you won’t be able to complete overnight.
First, you need to have a passion for writing. If you don’t have passion, you’ll lack motivation and probably quit when things get tough, because blogging isn’t always easy. You also need knowledge and skills in digital marketing and social media to remain relevant in the industry.
You’ll need to study your ever-changing audience and know what they like and dislike. This industry requires you to be open-minded, embrace new ideas, and maintain a positive attitude because you are often subject to criticism. Take all feedback positively and keep growing.
Find Your Niche
Your blog’s niche is its topic of interest. Ideally, it’s a passion that you share with your readers.
Here are some examples of niches:
- Women’s Fashion
- Small Business Software
- Keto Diet
Some people find selecting a niche to be the most challenging step, mostly because they have so many ideas. It’s also common to have a fear of selecting the wrong niche.
If you have a few ideas for a niche, start by writing them on paper, then narrow them down.
To help you settle on one niche, you can think of the story you want to tell. This decision should be based on your experiences, interests, passions, and your area of expertise.
Remember, the broader your niche is, the harder it is for you to stand out among other bloggers. Not only should your niche be something relatable, interesting, or have the potential to be helpful, it should also be very specific. Consider selecting a niche within a niche.
How to Start a Blog
It goes without saying that the first step towards becoming a professional blogger is to actually start your blog and begin creating content.
There are plenty of steps you’ll need to take in order to get started including:
- Selecting your ideal niche
- Purchasing a domain
- Choose a hosting company
- Installing a theme and plugins
- Design your blog
We not going to go into a lot of detail about the process of how to start your blog. If you want to learn more about the steps involved you can read our extensive how-to-guide HERE.
Skills to Develop as a Professional Blogger
Developing the skills required to call yourself a professional blogger will take time. Writing is important, any you’ll definitely want to develop your skills in that area. But writing is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of amazing writers out there with blogs that have almost no traffic. That’s a hobby at best, not a business.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the skills you’ll want to spend time developing.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an essential skill if you want your content to be found by readers. It the most basic sense, SEO involves optimizing your content so that it easy to read, well-formatted, valuable AND can be easily read and interpreted by Google bot and as a result is more likely to appear in the search results.
It’s important to take SEO seriously from the early stages and not put it off for a rainy day. Your objective is to get your content in front of your audience as soon as possible or risk posting content to no audience at all.
A few basic tips to get you started on the right foot:
Request that Google Crawl and Index Your Content
You want your site to appear in the search results. If you want be seen on Google, the process is much more efficient if you sign up for a Google Webmaster account.
Once you have an account, open the search console and add your blog by selecting “add property” and follow the steps required to add your blog. If you want it to appear on Bing, register for a Bing Webmaster account and add your site there as well.
Any time you add new content, it’s a good idea to request that Google crawl and index your newly published page or post.
It’s worth noting that your search engine results will be minimal at first with a new blog. This will change as you continue to add relevant and informative content consistently.
The more content you add, the better your search results will become. You will eventually get more traffic to your site.
Use header tags properly
Your writing should include some fundamental elements, such as header tags to optimize your blog for search engines. These are headings and subheadings, which should be wrapped in header tags.
Use various headings such as H2, H3 and H4. Doing so helps readers to find what they’re looking for and helps Google to understand your core topics and content structure.
Use of keywords and Alt text in images rich in keywords
One of the most common yet highly effective SEO strategies is using keywords to indicate what your content is about to search engines. The use (but not overuse) of relevant keywords in your content are essential to ranking for your desired search terms.
When you add images to your blog, make sure you take the time to name your images appropriately and populate the Alt-text fields.
Use of short URLs
Your URLs consist of essential elements that require keywords to gain maximum SEO benefits—the fewer the words in the URL, the better.
Shorter URLs are also easier to read and type. If the URL has fewer words, each word has more potential value.
Understand the importance of inbound/outbound/internal links
- Inbound links are links to your website that are present on another website. Readers are directed to your page when they click on these links.
- Outbound links are links that reside on your website, which point to another website. They usually direct the reader to supplementary information and reinforce both the topic and relevance of your article (among other things).
- Internal links are links within your content and blog that link to other content on your website. Good internal linking and proper use of anchor text are essential to a healthy website with strong rankings.
Getting Traffic to Your Blog
Being a great writer doesn’t translate to being a professional or even a great blogger. To get people reading your content, you’ll need to build your audience one person at a time and then keep them coming back.
This takes time and dedication. You’ll need to use those writing skills for sure but you also need to learn and master the technical skills required. Do that, and over time you’ll generate both recurring and increasing traffic to your blog.
Let’s take a look at a few tactics that can help to get started:
Notify your inner circle
The first people you should promote your blog to is your inner circle. These are your friends, family, and colleagues. Ask them to read the blog, subscribe to your blog, and share it on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. They’ll kickstart your success with love and support.
Promote your content on social media
Social signals are essential. Create a Facebook page, twitter account, Instagram account, Pinterest and YouTube accounts. You can use to promote your content as well as network and connect with your readers and other bloggers.
You can also use these platforms to post other relevant information or resources that your readers may find interesting. Don’t forget to use hashtags when posting to make sure you engage with your followers.
Make sure links to your social media accounts are visible on your blogs or website, especially Facebook and Twitter. Other readers who like your content can visit these pages, interact with you, and share your blogs on their pages.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to use every social channel to the same extent. Spend most of your time where your audience is located and use the other channels less aggressively.
Engage with other blogs
To grow your network, you’ll need to find other blog writers in your niche and engage with them. One of the ways to introduce yourself is by leaving constructive and engaging comments on their blogs. Most of the blogs will allow you to leave a link to your site.
Creating relationships with popular bloggers will help you rise within their ranks more quickly.
Build a relationship with your readers
Always engage with readers who leave comments on your blog or social media accounts. Reply to their comments and give them likes as well as affirmations. When visitors realize that you’re a relatable and caring person, they’ll be more likely to return and continue building the relationship.
Collaborate with respectable bloggers in your industry to help you become a figure in the community.
Collaborations might include:
- Writing guest posts for other blogs
- Regularly interacting with other blogs in the comment sections
- Promoting other blog posts within your niche
A professional blogger needs to post regularly. One way to make this easier is by creating an editorial calendar and following it. If you have long lapses between your posts, your followers will drop off, and your growth will diminish.
In terms of frequency of posting, there is no rule book. Just remember that frequency will have a dramatic impact on your rate of success.
It’s not always easy to post regularly, but sticking to a schedule builds consistency and a devoted following.
Create an email list
Apart from getting new readers, you need to make sure your current readers will come back.
Email marketing is important to gather reader retention. By collecting the visitors’ email addresses with their permission, you can notify them when you post something new. This allows you to build a relationship with your viewers as well as keep them coming back.
Monetizing Your Blog
Once you’ve set up your blog, created interesting and engaging content, and promoted your hard work, you’ll be on your way to monetizing. Blogs can earn you a lot of money, but don’t expect to start making money in the first week or first few months.
There are always exceptions to the rule but don’t be surprised if it takes six months or longer to start making and kind of income. It takes a lot of effort and dedication, but once your website starts receiving consistent traffic, there will be many opportunities to monetize.
Also remember that your first dollar is almost always the most difficult. Think of it like a snowball rolling down a steep slope. It starts out tiny and insignificant but before you know it, you’re looking at an avalanche.
Some of the ways to monetize your blog include:
Selling space to advertisers
Once your blog is generating traffic, you’ll be able to take a look at advertising networks. Essentially, advertisers will purchase advertising space on your blog. Use Google Adsense to begin with. As your pageviews increase, you have an opportunity to explore different ad networks and boost your ad revenue.
The advantage is that the company does all the hard work for you; you’ll only receive payments. Keep in mind that excessive ads can result in a potentially poor user-experience. Make sure you take this into consideration when planning your strategy.
Earning through affiliate programs
Affiliate programs are another way to earn commissions from advertising or promoting products or services. When readers from your blog click on the link you’ve placed on the site, they are redirected to an advertiser’s site, and you earn a commission if they purchase. This is an easy way to earn money through product or service reviews.
There are a few important things to remember with affiliate promotions:
- It’s vital to keep your readers’ best interests in mind. If they trust you enough to make a purchase based on your recommendation, you NEVER want to betray that trust.
- Make sure you properly disclose any affiliate relationships. Not only is it legally required but it’s also the right thing to do.
Selling digital products
Another way to increase your income is to sell your products and services. As your blog grows, you’ll receive more traffic which translates to selling more products and services. Make sure you’re not shy about promoting your good or services.
Many bloggers sell courses, eBooks as well as video tutorials. Although these things are time-consuming to produce, they’re a great way to leverage your time since you create them once and sell them many times. With digital products, your overhead is low and there are no shipping costs to worry about.
Another fantastic way to start making money from your website is by launching a podcast for your readers. Use your traffic to look for sponsorship from brands who want to advertise to your readers and listeners.
The best thing about having a podcast is that it creates a way for you to interview some of the prominent people in your industry. Depending on your niche, it might be easy to book interviews with people you look up to.
Another way to start earning money from your blog is to create membership options. Creating membership will allow you to offer your audience exclusive content, which is only available through paid membership.
Some of the services you could offer to your members include:
- Direct access to you ad your team
- Unlimited downloads of digital products
- An exclusive network where members can discuss issues within the community
- Private content available for members only
While I’m a big fan of offering digital products, I’m an even bigger fan of offering services. While you might decide not to offer services over the long-term, they are, without a doubt, the fastest way to begin generating revenue.
It’s possible to land jobs as a freelance writer for other bloggers and websites. But don’t hesitate to think beyond just freelance writing. The service you offer can be anything you’re skilled at.
For instance, some bloggers land side-gigs in:
- Graphic Design
- Virtual assistance
- Public relations
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Community building
- Project management and more
Who knows who you’ll meet as a result of working on your blog? Or who knows who you’ll interview one day in your podcast?
Freelancing can offer so many opportunities! You just have to be willing to market yourself.
There is so much work to do if you want to earn your living from professional blogging. However, I know first-hand that it’s a rewarding way to earn an above-average living while creating a community with other bloggers and devoted readers.
I have written this guide to make this journey easier for you, but it’s up to you to put in the work. You need to develop an actionable plan for implementing these ideas to achieve your goal. Do you want to drive traffic, get readers to sign up for your newsletter, or your audience to download your eBook?
Get specific about your goals and start planning your posts!
You also need to figure out who your readers are; they determine whether your blog is successful or not. To write to them, you’ll need first to understand them. Once you have your niche, you can plan out the content pipeline you will use for the upcoming weeks.
I hope that these steps will help you as you begin your blogging journey.
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