Dollars and Sense

Blogging for Bucks

Here is an undeniable truth: You are an expert on at least one thing, maybe more.

You may not think of yourself as one, but every person has a certain topic they know a bunch of information about, whether it is a science fiction TV series or how to effectively manage your family's busy schedule. Donít believe it? Stop and think about your favorite free time activities or topics others come to you for advice on. See! There's something you are an expert on. But what does that have to do with your finances?

We live in a time when information is a very strong commodity to have and to be able to spread around. In fact, more and more jobs involve managing and/or disseminating information. It's been estimated that tens of thousands of people make a living by gathering, creating and sharing that information via blogs. That's where your knowledge and experience comes in.

If you are looking to add a new revenue stream flowing into your bank account all it really takes is knowledge (which we determined above that you have), a little bit of money, and the steps below to make it happen.

Choose your subject matter
First off, your blog needs to be something that you have a passion for. It may take many months before you are able to start making money off your blog, so it's best to make your site about something you would spend a lot of time "nerding out" on anyway. 

You may love stories and pictures about puppies, but that is going to be hard to monetize since there is already so much of this kind of stuff on the web. However, if you have an interest in blogging about a rare dog breed that is hard to find information on, you might really have something. The bottom line is that if you want your blog to stand out, you need to find a niche topic that isn't being covered in a thorough way elsewhere.

Get a domain name and hosting
Next you need to figure out what you site will be called and what company will publish it to the web for you. When choosing the name for your blog, it's best not to over-think it. For example, if your site is about collecting antique railroad lanterns, some combination of those descriptive words would make a great title. This will help people who are doing a general search engine query find your site. Also, try to go with a ".com" site if at all possible since these are easier for users to remember.

Once you've got your domain name picked out, you need to find a company to publish your blog to that address. Performing a web search for “domain hosting” will give you some options from which to choose. You can figure the domain itself will cost about $10 per year to register, while hosting can be had for around $10 per month. 

Choose your blogging platform
Most bloggers use a blogging platform to give their site a nice appearance. These platforms give you a way to present and organize your information in a pleasing way that makes your readers want to come back for more. Templates are created so that you don't have to do all the layout work yourself. If you look in the fine print at the bottom of the home page of your favorite blogs, you will get some ideas for which platforms are most popular.

Start cranking out the content
In the initial stages of your blog, the most important thing is to add as many new posts as you can on a regular basis. You want people to get the idea that they can return to your site every day or every few days and get fresh, entertaining information. This will go a long way toward laying the groundwork for potential financial success down the road.

Try to write as you normally speak. Even better, write in the way you would tell a friend about a great new restaurant you tried or a hilarious movie you caught last night. You want readers to feel the excitement you have for your topic. Plus, you want to develop a brand around yourself as a blogger and this will come naturally when you express your personality through writing.

Promote your site
Once you've got all your great blog posts up on the site, you need to make sure people know how to find them! There are several ways to do that:

  • Use Twitter and Facebook to enhance your social media presence
  • Comment on other blogs using the name of your blog as the poster ID
  • Trade links or guest posting spots with similar sites
  • Join internet directories for blogs on your subject matter
  • Interact with those commenting on your site to help them feel engaged and invested in your site

Try to actually make some money
There are several ways you can attempt to turn your blog into a cash cow:

  • Sell ad space on your site with Google Adsense or by selling space directly to advertisers
  • Use affiliate marketing to promote products via your blog posts
  • Sell your own products such as crafts or e-books
  • Advertise your own freelance services, such as consulting, content generation, speaking gigs, etc. 
  • Accept donations via the site

Always continue analyzing and learning
Once you begin to explore the realm of blogging you will find that there are myriad ways to analyze how people are coming to your site and just as many ways to devise strategies to get people stopping by. Google Analytics is a great free service to get you started on figuring out what's working, but to be successful long-term with blogging you will need to make a commitment to continuing to explore new ways to get readers to your site.

Blogging isn't a get-rich quick scheme. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. And even with all that work, you might end up making just a little bit extra each month. However, if you can find just the right hole to plug in what the internet has to offer, you may find that you can beef up your cash flow and have fun doing it.

Blog Topics That Make Money

  • Celebrities
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Fashion
  • Finances
  • Technology
  • Social media/blogging
  • Making money online
  • Job opportunities
  • Small businesses

Recommended Reading

Blog Wonderful, Dana Fox, 2012
Starting a blog on your own can feel like designing a yacht by watching ships pass in the harbor. There are so many great ideas out there, but how do you know what will work for you? And how do you make yours not end up just a mishmash of highlights from others? Dana Fox's recently published e-book, Blog Wonderful, helps you make your blog less of a Frankenstein's monster and more of a unique creation true to your vision. Herself the author of a very successful blog, Fox details mistakes she had made in the process, letting the reader learn from her missteps. She also demonstrates with her casual, friendly tone in this book the kind of writing readers will respond well to for your blog.

Fox's background as a web designer also means that there are lots of great tips for the layout of your blog. Paying to have a professional design or re-design your site is expensive, so Fox's tips on sharpening the appearance of your blog are for more economical. Although this book isn't cheap, you should be able to find enough practical tips here to make it worth the investment. .

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