May 13, 2011

Blogging is Serious Business


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If I had a dollar for every time someone I know asked me how to start a blog or told me “I’m gonna start a blog so I can get cool stuff too,” I could probably pay for my trip San Diego for BlogHer.  People assume it’s easy, so I sit at a computer and through some words on a screen and companies magically give me stuff.
I promise, it doesn’t work like that.  Now there are people who step into the blogging arena and seem to magically go viral.  But even those who seem to be instant successes, there is something to their success.  Either they have amazing writing skills or stories to tell.  Or maybe they have the technical know how to take the blogging world by storm.
But for the average Joe Schmoe blogger, blogging can be a full time job, or second full time job. 
When I started blogging over three years ago, I did it just to share the happenings of my kids’ lives with our extended family.  Before kids I had scrapbooked and I hoped that my blog would be a new way to keep track of memories for myself and my kids to look back on.  I started blogging using blogger.com because many of my online friends already had blogs and spoke of how easy it was and the fact that it was FREE. 
This is still how I would personally recommend a truly casual blogger start out.  It is easy and compared to other options it’s much more stress free…oh and FREE.  I’m still on Blogger because despite what some people seem to think, I don’t make enough off my blog to invest more into paying for services like dedicated hosting.  However, it looks like this will be something I may have to seriously consider as some blogger friends pointed out that by staying with blogger.com I am risking losing years worth of work if Blogger.com is eliminated or made into a paid service.

If you’re ready to start a blog you need to really consider what your goals are first.  If you just want to write and be part of the amazing community of bloggers out there, than consider Blogger.com.  But if you’re considering making money my blogging, you need to take the time to do the research first and consider if you wouldn’t be better off using WordPress (currently the MOST recommended by bloggers) or similar service.

Once you’ve chosen your blogging platform, you’ll want to consider what you are going to blog about.  You’d hardly know it by reading my mismosh of topics but most blogs have some focused theme or topic. There are blogs out there about everything and while narrowing your focus might seem limiting, depending on your goal it could prove beneficial.  If you have a passion for healthy living, food, fashion, etc etc you might chose one of those type topics for your blog.  But there ARE plenty of successful bloggers who keep it more general.  The benefit of having a narrowed niche blog is reduced competition, more loyal following and many brands prefer working with bloggers within their specific niche.

Once you have a solid idea on what you’ll be blogging about, you’ll need to pick out a name.  While I chose a cutesy name when I originally began, if I had it to do over again, I would probably pick something that better explains what my blog is about.  Having some key words based on what you will be blogging about will go to help you not only create a defined brand for yourself but also help in search engines.  Before nailing down a name, be sure to do some searches to make sure you aren’t infringing on someone else’s copy written name.

After you’ve finalized your blog name, be sure to secure that name in various social media outlets.  Twitter, Facebook and the like are key to blog growth and you’ll want to make sure that even if you don’t take advantage of them right away, no one else decides to scoop up your name in the meantime.  I’d also personally consider purchasing your own domain right off the bat.  If you are looking to work with brands, a .blogspot.com address simply doesn’t look as professional.  Directly a blogger.com blog to a custom domain is easy, you can even purchase the domain directly through blogger to make it even easier.

So now you’re pretty well set up.  Depending on your platform you’ll need to take some time creating the design.  If you are a casual blogger you can stick with free themes available online.  But keep in mind that the look of your blog can really play into whether a visitor will even stick around long enough to read what you’ve written.  Over a year ago I went ahead and paid a designer what I considered a inexpensive amount to design my blog and I’m still in love with it.  I use the colors and design on all my printed items as well.  Be sure while you’re setting up that you make it easy for readers to subscriber to your blog via RSS and email.  If you’ve set up (and will be using FB and Twitter) include them as well. 

Next, you will want to be sure to take the time to create an “about me” page for your blog.  Use this page to share a general idea of where you’re from, how many kids you have, what types of things you enjoy.  This is where companies will go to find out if you are a good match for their campaigns.

Now you’re ready to start writing.  While quality is more important than quantity, you want to make sure you are writing consistently.  Many companies look for bloggers who post at least 3 times a week.  And many will only work with blog that are more than 6 months old.

Write about things you know.  Don’t try to write like someone else.  Be you. And then share your work.  Many bloggers don’t share their blogs with people they know in their everyday life, but if you’re comfortable doing so, start there.  And then share on Facebook and Twitter.  Another great sharing site is StumbleUpon. 

Lastly, depending on your goals, joining a group of similarly driven bloggers can really make a huge difference in your success.  I am part of MomDot and have learned so much there in the last couple months, that I have grown my pageviews 5 times over. 


Disclosure: I am participating in a blogger campaign in behalf of The Small Business Authority, which provides dedicated server hosting. I received compensation to facilitate this post. However, the views and opinions are my own.

16 comments:

  1. Blogger really didn't have many things I didn't like about it, but when they have issues, they're just so huge and far reaching that it's hard not to get ticked.

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  2. You have some really great points!! That is why I started my "Blogging Basics" series on MamaDweeb.com I try to answer these questions too - like how to SEO, how to write good content, and I am going to do another one soon on how to leave comments that will bring you friends and possibly followers.

    This is a wonderful topic and so very helpful to people just starting out!

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  3. I started on blogger too and learned a lot through the process. I think people need to start a 'learning' blog before they start blogging for real...there's just so much to consider at first.

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  4. Those are great tips! And that's such a shame that Blogger had all those problems yesterday. That had to be very frustrating. I saw so many upset bloggers on Twitter yesterday. Glad it's back up now!

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  5. Great post! I really do need to get my "About Me" page done one of these days. It still says "coming soon." LOL

    And even though Blogger has royally ticked me off the past couple of days, it isn't enough to make me move. I still don't see the huge benefit of WP. This stuff can happen with any host. But we'll see how I'm feeling if they don't get the rest of my stuff back...and SOON!

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  6. What an excellent post - I wish this was around when I started blogging :)

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  7. I love this post! Great job!

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  8. Great points Lisa. I moved over from Blogger to SquareSpace and from Blogger to WordPress with both my blogs. The one thing I find lacking on Blogger blogs is the commenting system. Every platform and host has its issues though, no one platform is immune to anything!

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  9. When I started blogging I learned on blogger. Now all of my blogs are on Wordpress.These are some great tips.

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  10. Great post! I totally recommend Wordpress.

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  11. This is great information! Thanks!

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  12. I have NOT regretted (1) moving to Wordpress and (2) making sure that I always enjoy what I'm doing. It is so easy to get caught up in the stats-game of it all, but if you can write about what you love, it's worth it (regardless of what you "make").

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  13. WORDPRESS... WORDPRESS... Seriously, though, great post!

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  14. Great post! I actually have a similar post in the works.

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  15. I've been on blogger for more than two years, and a few months ago decided to try wordpress. Just can't make the switch, for some reason. Quite a few of your commenters here seem to prefer wordpress. What advantages are there for wordpress over blogger? Blogger is so intuitive, and wordpress to me is so... not. But if there are serious advantages I may have to rethink it.

    I like your article!

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Thanks for leaving me a comment!!