When I first started blogging a little over 4 years ago, I never dreamed that I would one day be bringing in an income. I had originally started Bullock’s Buzz as a way to cope with my father’s ailing health, using it to get my mind off the whole situation whenever I had some time to myself.
I started out reviewing products that I already had at home and then progressed to reviewing products I received from bzzAgent, Crowdtap, and Smiley360. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to cold-pitch brands. From there, with a lot of hard work and dedication my blog began to take off.
That first year was spent reviewing product after product, joining multiple blogging groups, asking tons of questions, promoting my blog on social media, and constantly working on my blog design, my writing voice, and my photography skills. It wasn’t until my seventh or eighth month that I finally began to learn how to make some money.
While there is no one set way to become a successful blogger, just like there is nothing I can tell you that will magically make you a blogging star overnight, I can share with you some tips that have worked – and are still working – for me on growing my blog and monetizing my influence.
Getting Started and Growing Your Blog
Design a Blog You Love that is Uniquely You
There are three major things you need to consider when starting a blog:
- Your Blog’s Name – pick one that stands out and is memorable so your readers will remember you. You also want that name to be marketable and to give people an idea of what the blog is about.
- Your Blogging Platform – choose which blogging platform to use. The two most common ones are Blogger and WordPress. I started out on Blogger since it was free and easy to set up and use, but once I determined that my blog was becoming more than a hobby, I switched over to WordPress.
- Your Blog Design – both Blogger and WordPress give you the ability to create your own layout and design. However, if you are not comfortable doing this, there are many blog designers out there who can do it for you.
Establish Your Presence on Social Media
Your social media channels are just as important as your blog. Brands look at the entire package when considering working with a blogger, and your social media reach will play a big part in their decision. Set up a profile/page for your blog on all the major social media networks and keep it completely separate from your personal profile.
At the very least you should have both a Twitter and Facebook page for your blog, although I also recommend adding one for Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram, and even YouTube. To help you get started, consider reaching out to a leadership expert like Kurt Uhlir to help you create a comprehensive social media presence.
A leadership expert can help you understand how to use social media effectively, and will also provide you with advice on setting up an effective content strategy. Additionally, they can help you build relationships with the right people in the industry who can help take your blog to the next level.
Join a Blogger Community
As a blogger, you are most likely going to be working at home by yourself instead of working in an office full of people. However, that doesn’t mean that you can make it on your own. You need to get out there and join as many blogging groups, forums, and Facebook groups as you can.
You need to develop a network of blogging friends who are willing to help you out with tips and advice along the way, and that you are willing to help in turn. Networking is one of the best ways for getting noticed, meeting other bloggers, connecting with brands, and learning. I would not be where I am today without my blogging network.
Monetizing Your Influence
There are lots of ways to monetize your blog and social media channels. Some are easier than others, but all can provide a good income.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and for many, the best way to start a relationship with brands is by cold pitching. Search brand websites for their media contact information, and ask around in your blogging groups for those companies who enjoy working with bloggers.
Once you have several to contact, come up with a professional pitch letter that clearly states who you are, what you are looking for, and why you want to work with that company. Let them know exactly what you can offer them. Keep in mind that most bloggers begin by receiving products and reviewing them, and eventually work their way up to getting paid for their writing.
Ad networks are a pretty good way to monetize your influence. Just keep in mind that you usually need to have some decent traffic to see some decent income. Most ad networks pay based on how many clicks you receive on their ad, also known as CPM (which is per 1000 clicks). There are some networks that also offered sponsored posts and social media campaigns as well.
Affiliate networking is another way you can make money off your blog. This is when you include links within your post to other pages and get paid for the performance of those links. One example would be an Amazon affiliate link where you link to a specific product on Amazon and if a person clicks on that link and purchases the product you would then get a percentage of the sale.
Join Influencer Networks
Influencer Networks such as TapInfluence are one of my biggest income providers. There are many of them out there that work with bloggers offering sponsored posts, sponsored social media posts, reviews, giveaways, travel opportunities, and more. They basically act as a bridge between bloggers and brands.
The influencer network will be hired by a brand to run a campaign, the network will then search for bloggers they feel are a good fit. While some networks require you to have a large amount of traffic, others will work with smaller blogs. It’s been my experience that as long as you do a good job for them, they will continue to use you.
Before I leave you I want to share with you one of the most important things I was taught always write about what you love and be passionate about what you write.
Best of luck to you in all of your blogging adventures!
What are some of the ways you have monetized your blog? What are some of your favorite brands to work with?