By Patti Hale
Have you ever wanted to know how to blog?
At some point in their work from home career most WAH workers will see the value of an online presence.
For writers, a blog is an obvious way to showcase writing abilities, display an online portfolio and talk to prospects and gain an audience.
For work from home workers, an online presence serves as a place to refer prospective clients to their resume and build a client base for their work from home business.
Having an online presence makes anyone look more professional and, using a free blogging site, can be had for free.
1. Getting Started
While it may seem a very public thing to do, it is very possible to start a blog without anyone being any the wiser.
For one thing, you can blog under an assumed name or nickname. For another, with the number of new blogs, hubs, lens, and websites going on-line everyday, it is next to impossible to get immediate attention unless you are actively promoting it.
So if you’re concerned about looking foolish–don’t worry about it.The best way to learn is to pick a subject and start! (After you have finished reading all the steps in this post, that is )
Will you make mistakes? Of course. Will you look back on your beginning efforts and cringe? If you learn as you go along you will! If you do, then that’s grand because it means you have made progress and learned how to do better.
To quote Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
The changing nature of the internet requires us to be continually evolving and learning. If you are going to be successful as a blogger, this must be something you continually do. I am constantly revising and improving as I go and the fact that I can still see room for growth is what keeps it interesting to me.
Here are some resources to start you down the path to learning about blogging,
If you’d like to improve your writing skills–and who wouldn’t?–subscribe to some of the many blogs about writing:
Signing up to follow any of the blogs on this list will give you a daily dose of free writing inspiration/wisdom with a free report or e-book as a sign up bonus.
Carol and Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer run a 4 week Journalism School at different times of the year that teach the basics of journalism and host the Freelance Writer’s Den, where they coach freelance writers in how to get into better paying markets.
I’ve always been a fan of Copyblogger.com and recommend signing up for their free copywriting series Copywriting 101.
Copyblogger, on the other hand, recommends the The American Writers & Artists (“AWAI”) Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting which I have seen given high marks on Carol Tice’s blog as well.
If your genre is more in the creative writing field, you might like Writer’s Digest, one of the oldest writing resources. Writer’s Digest publishes books about writing, the annual Writer’s Market Books that lists thousands of writing markets and the monthly magazine Writer’s Digest. Here’s where you can see a selection of some of their books: Getting Started in Writing Premium Collection.
In addition there are various spell check/plagiarism/grammar programs available including the one by Grammarly.com. Running your finished work through a grammar checker like Grammarly (available in both free and pro versions) helps both beginning and seasoned writers:
What to write about? The standard answer is to write what you know. I would add that you could also write on a subject you would like to know more about and would enjoy researching like I did.
Another good piece of advice is to read, read, read. Reading what others have written on any of the free blogging sites will give you an idea of the many different subjects that are being written about on blogging platforms.
2. Free Blogging Sites
Free blogging sites have the advantage of placing the new blogger in the middle of a blogging community that helps encourage each other and build an audience to their blog. These sites also provide design templates that make setting up a blog easy to do. This allows the new blogger to gain experience without investing money into the blog.
This list of Revenue Share Sites is a list of links to free blogging sites that will let you set up a blog for free while sharing advertising revenue.
The disadvantages of these sites is the lack of control of blog design and added features like e-commerce sites and affiliate marketing. Those who like more control, want to become affiliate marketers or run e-commerce sites usually opt for the added cost of web design, web hosting and domain registration which requires added skills and capital–which is ultimately what you will need to do if you’re really serious about blogging.
However, if you’re still trying to figure out what your online career is about, free blogging sites are a good place to start.
Do NOT, however, fall for one of the turnkey affiliate sites where you have to pay! Read Why Turnkey Affiliate Websites are a Waste of Money.
I started at WordPress.com, Hub Pages. com, Squiddo and a few others. At each place I learned a bit more until I felt ready to move on.
When it came time for me to move to a self hosted site, I chose the WordPress.org platform (WordPress.com’s self hosted platform), chose a design template from Studio Press using the Genesis Framework and added hosting on BlueHost.com which made it easier for me to make the move.
Finding your niche and your audience takes time and in most cases, a lot of trial and error.
Even fantastic writers like you and me are not able to do this quickly unless you already have the kind of following a celebrity has or talking about a subject that everyone is searching for but no one else is writing about. This leads us to the next tip:
3. Naming Your Site
Search engines have the potential of bringing the most people to your site so in order for search engines to find you, it helps to have the name of a popular search name, called “keyword” in the name of your site. For example, anyone looking for “How to Blog” would more likely find this page through a search engine than the name I originally used when I wrote about this subject on my Hub Page: “Blogging Lists”.
How do I know? Google has a free keyword tool that tells you how many people search for the term “Blogging Lists” (which is zero by the way) and how many search for the term “How to Blog”. The tool also tells you how many other blogs or websites are using that term in their page titles or content to rank in the results. It will also give you a list of similar terms used for searching that topic and how competitive or popular those terms are.
This is not to say that you cannot name your blog something that does not contain a search term and still be successful –look at Google, You Tube, Yahoo, etc. It just means using a keyword term may make it easier to rank in results.
Using your own name for your portfolio page will mean you will need to use keywords in your copy to attract search engine visitors. Alternatively, you can give your blog an entirely different name but use your “About” page as your portfolio page as I have. (My about page is labeled “About” but its url is named patti-riggs-hale.)
After you have come up with a name, you will want to check to see if anyone else is using that title. If you are on a free blogging network, you will check to see if anyone on that network has the same name. If you are setting up a self hosted website, or think you will ever want to in the future, then you need to check and see if that name is registered to someone else by going to one of the many domain registrations sites like Register.com or GoDaddy.com.
Registering (buying) an available domain name averages about $9.95 a year. It can cost more (whatever they want to charge for it! ) if you try to buy the domain name from someone who already has that name registered–providing they want to give it up!
Because they have been around the longest, the more prestigious domains end in .com, .net and .org and will usually cost more than the newer extensions and be harder to find.
For more information about learning how to name your site to rank in search engines read this article:
To learn about choosing keywords I’m listing two of many articles (there are also You Tube videos) explaining how to use the keyword tool. (I find if I do not understand a subject by just reading one article, I keep reading different explanations until it sinks in, lol!)
SEO.com: Understanding Google keywords tool
Matt’s Marketing Blog: Choosing Keywords for SEO
Here is a link to the free Google keyword tool
4. Getting Traffic by Promoting Your Site
Getting a following or traffic to your site takes a lot of work. You can’t expect to “build it and they will come.” To have a following, you need a lot of friends who have a lot of friends who have a lot of friends. See where am I going with this? It’s called networking. Free blogging sites have a community built-in that can help you get traffic to your site.
Visiting other’s sites, participating in forums, belonging to social bookmarking sites, “liking” people on Facebook, “guest blogging” on high traffic sites for visibility, and a number of other methods go into getting traffic to your blog.
Here are some really great articles on traffic building :
Traffic Generation Cafe:The Ultimate Blueprint to More Profitable Website Traffic
Think Traffic : 21 Quick Actions for Massive Blog Success
You can also quick start your blogging career by joining a forum like A List Blogging Boot camp (affiliate link) where for $20 per month you can get training and advice from blogging pros.
The best kind of traffic comes when a blog comes up on the first page of search engine results. This is accomplished by optimizing your blog in a way that lets the search engines know which search terms apply to your blog.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO specialists make their living “optimizing” websites for a fee. However, for those without a budget, there are some well-known tactics you can use to optimize your fledgling blog or SEO programs you can buy that will help you with SEO.
5. Monetizing Your Site
In very simple terms, monetizing means choosing from one or more ways to earn money by advertising or selling your own or someone else’s product to the traffic to your site.
This is the paid commercial announcement you are all familiar with on the radio or TV so to speak. This is the way most people who make a living blogging earn money– they either have a blog that brings in enough traffic to make money selling their own or someone else’s product or they work for someone who does. In order to make money blogging you have to learn how to monetize.
Therefore, it helps to write about a subject that attracts an audience either you or your advertisers can sell things to.
So how are advertisers found? For starters, you can let Google feed ads matching the content of your blog through Google Ad Sense.
If you are writing about or reviewing a physical product, sign up with Amazon.com and let Amazon display an ad for the product you have praised. If your reader clicks on the ad and buys it, you will receive a commission.
If you have developed a product you would like to have affiliates sell, affiliate tracking software from iDevAffiliate will help you to do that.
To get you started, here are articles from affiliate marketing experts I found helpful.
Sugarrae.com Understanding Affiliate Marketing Lingo that is very helpful for both beginners and intermediate users (like me).
SmartPassiveIncome: Smart Affiliate Marketing
Free Affiliate Marketing Series from mattsmarketingblog.com
7. It’s Not a Get Rich Scheme
People are really intrigued when I tell them what I do for a living and usually can’t help but ask, “Can you make any money doing that? ”
There are two answers to that question: 1) There are many people making money blogging or else so many people wouldn’t be doing it and 2) Many are not–at least not making a lot.
Here are examples of the kind of money some people make with their blogs:
Pat Flynn reports his monthly income for Smart Passive income is between $40,000–$50, 000 per mth!
The food blog Pinch of Yum reports an income of around $4,000 per month.
And FallforDesign makes $404.48 per mth so as you can see, the amount of money being made from a blog is all over the place.
Here is a report of the Top 18 Blog Income Reports from July
Am I making a lot of money blogging? Not a lot. Fact is, very little of the money I make comes from my blogs and most of what I make comes from my freelance writing gigs. But, I haven’t really been at this long so only time will tell.
In the meantime, I am learning as I go and doing exactly what I suggested people who want to have a blog do in the first place: I have started.
I hope these tips, links and sites will get you on your way to making money with your own blog.
Do you know of other blogging tips or links you’d like to share? Do you have questions or comments you’d like to have discussed? If so, please let me know in the comments below.
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Thanks, I appreciate you stopping by!