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When someone says “hobbies”, we typically think of leisure activities, not sources of profitable income.
Yet, if you’re stuck in a dead-end day job that you can't wait to quit, it might be time to look towards other money-making ventures, and capitalizing on your passion for writing could be a good place to start.
Maybe you run a small blog with nutrition and fitness advice, or perhaps you’ve caught the cryptocurrency bug and enjoy writing about blockchain tech.
No matter what your creative endeavour is, there's probably an audience for it on the internet. And with a targeted strategy in place, you might be able to transform a casual blog into a full-time income.
Ready to learn how it’s done? Let’s dive in.
#1 Build your brand ™️
Branding for a blog may sound like a simple, boring chore. As long as you have a good domain name and a memorable logo, then you are set, right? Not true.
Your personal brand encompasses everything about your website and the creativity your pour into it. Think of your brand more as a mindset or a personality. What kind of attitude do you want to promote through your blog?
Most new ventures work best if the personality of the website matches the person behind the keyboard, but that's not always the case.
Sometimes you'll need to amplify your own personal interests in order to attract a solid audience.
Vague enough? Let’s get specific. The major areas of consideration you’ll face as you undertake your blog branding mission can be broken into two categories.
Pre-planning brand basics
- Pick a good name: Sets the tone for the blog and has search implications. Use your own name or brainstorm something clever.
- Get the domain web address: Match it to whatever you chose in point #1.
- Come up with a tagline: All the best ones have it. Plus it further clarifies your purpose.
- Create visuals: Select the theme, colours, font, and design graphics.
Pre-planning brand ideology ®️
- Find bloggers: Write posts yourself or find others to do it. Make sure the tone and presentation are consistent.
- Pick a personality: Good blogs (meaning popular and lucrative) take on a personality of their own, whether it be serious, funny, quirky, or deadly dull. We suggest you avoid that last type.
- Content: Decide what topics you’ll cover and pick out associated keywords.
- Miscellaneous: Post length, publishing schedule, and legalese.
Of course, building a brand is a more complicated and lengthy topic than this, but this is just one article. And we can say with some conviction that, if you consider the previous points, you’ll be at least in the ballpark of creating the kind of brand that makes people reach for their wallet.
Oh, and did we mention social media? Might want to do some of that too and make sure it fits the tone and look of the brand you’ve created.
#2 Aim for a simple design 🖌️
The only way to start earning money from a blog is to convince real internet users to visit your website on a regular basis.
Poor website design and slow performance are two of the key factors that drive visitors away, so before you make a big push to launch your blog to the public, make sure you've got the layout under control.
Here’s an idea to put into your brain early and often. Simplicity isn’t just a good idea. It might be the difference between earning a buck online or retiring early from your day job.
Bloggers are often tempted to cram a surplus of information on their site. Too many buttons to click. Too many things to read. Simply put, too many distractions.
Decide early in the process what single action you want a visitor to take once they arrive at your website, then design everything towards that goal. Some marketing experts go so far as to say that there should only be one live link off the front page and that link should either collect an email address or sell a product.
In case you didn’t know it, you’re a marketer now.
#3 Grow your audience 👪
People can discover your blog through a number of channels, but most will probably land there via a search engine like Google or a social network like Twitter. One of the biggest challenges that all website owners have is how to convert a user into a loyal, repeat visitor.
No matter your product or service, it’s easier to sell to someone already familiar with you than to convince a stranger to make that first purchase.
That’s why we say start building your email list early and stick with it.
These are the people who like what you do enough to hand over their email address and agree to be bombarded (hopefully this is not what you do) with messages in the future.
How to build an email list - the short version
- Pick a third-party service like MailChimp, Mailbird, or even a WordPress plugin to build and manage your list.
- Figure out something you can use, called the “reader magnet” by some, to entice people to hand over their email. It might be a special report, yummy recipes, instructional video. You just need something to give away because people are much more protective of their email address than they used to be,
- Put a subscription form on your blog or maybe even create a separate landing page that does nothing but collect emails.
- Drive traffic to the sign-up page. There are more methods than what we can cover here - social media paid to advertise, search engine ranking - pick one to start with because this process can overwhelm you quickly.
#4 A word about technology ⚙️
When growing your blog, we recommend getting your own domain (eg, myepicblog.com), rather than a free domain like myepicblog.wordpress.com.
Not only does this give you full control over your content, but it also lets you grow and scale as your blog gets more traffic.
When you first launch your new blog, there’s nothing wrong with starting out with a low cost (but be extra careful about free host services) shared hosting plan. But if your dreams come true and your blog becomes popular, you’ll quickly outgrow it and need more bandwidth.
These limitations will manifest themselves as a website that takes forever to load or is unavailable for stretches of time. Obviously, a blogger whose site won’t load shouldn’t expect much success.
The easier way is to go for a company that spends millions in advertising but the smarter way is to sign up for one that offers speed and reliability.
#5 Advertising? Maybe. 💈
Simply learning how to write successful blog posts may not be enough to turn the hobby into a profitable endeavour. If you are serious about blogging as an income source, you should consider an advertising strategy.
One place to start could be an affiliate network. Retail outlets like Amazon and Apple set up platforms where bloggers can use special URLs when referencing their stores or specific products.
Then when a reader clicks on the link and completes a purchase, the website owner receives a small share of the revenue.
Once your blog has grown in popularity and traffic picks up, you might decide to sell private ads directly to businesses.
Final thoughts 🏁
The internet moves fast, and as an online entrepreneur, you need to keep pace. Don't get complacent with your blog and its readership. Be paranoid that you’re failing. Stay hungry to evolve.
At some point, you’ll want to consider brand expansion into podcasts, mobile apps, and whatever else is popular on the internet at any given time. Good luck and thanks for reading!