Thursday, September 26, 2013
Blogging for Income, Part 1
I've purposed that as time allows I'm going to try and answer some of the emails I receive from time to time. They've been building up. Lately I have had people ask me about blog building. Like, five emails in the last three weeks. It makes me cringe for several reasons:
• I don’t feel like I have anything to offer on that subject. Ask me about potty training, ask me about sibling strife, ask me how to make an edible penguin, but if you ask me about blogging I may just fumble the ball. Come to think of it I might fumble the ball on those other subjects as well.
• I would much rather give you warnings about blogging than encourage you to do it. It’s a minefield. I've stepped on some.
• It seems repetitive when there are entire blogs devoted to the subject of blog building. And did I mention that I don’t really know what I’m doing anyway? Most days I’m a big faker. Ya’ll just think I know what I’m doing here.
But I am certainly willing to pass on what little I know about blogging for income. There is no denying that In the Nursery of the Nation has grown steadily into a toddler-sized blog over the last three years. This is evidenced by the fact that I get lots of sweet emails that bless me yet I can't find time to return them, and a few emails telling me I'm stupid and my kids are ugly. (Ya'll. For all my faults, having ugly children is not one of them.)
This economy, especially for those of us living on one income, is difficult and growing harder. There are groceries to get, bills to pay and homeschool books to buy. Some of us are blessed by still-growing families.
A few nights ago we were watching The Andy Griffith show and a family in the show had fallen on hard times. The wife “took in some ironing.” Well, the ladies who have written to me want to know how to take in some 21st century ironing. They want to make income by blogging and they want to know how to get started.
There are many ways to earn income online. Etsy shops, eBay selling, selling images from your photography, selling, selling, selling. But starting a blog is like setting up a piece of Internet real estate in which to sell what you have. You buy the website (or get it free), and then you make it your own and use it to earn.
Some people have criticized blogging for income, and I agree that there are many, many landmines in the blogosphere. Greed for one. Compromising your integrity is another. For instance, you might be tempted to give a positive review to your readers on an item that really stinks... because you want to keep the advertiser. Yep, it happens. Another one? Overcommitment. Some advertisers pay for ad space on the basis that the blogger posts x amount of times per week, leading to the temptation to compromise your family life in order to meet the deadlines.
Any home business can threaten to take over (even ironing for the public like in the old days!), but don’t get your priorities messed up. If you know the Lord is leading you to do this, determine to spend a specific amount of time on your blogging home business and stick to it.
First I will give you some ideas of how to build your blog traffic and then some ideas on how to make money with your blog. You have to have the first before you can get the second. Then, I will point you in the direction of some pros who have forgotten more about blogging than I will ever know.
Building Traffic: The Basics
1.) Write good content. You can do all the next things listed and if you don’t write good content you’ll get nowhere.
2.) Write consistently. Most of the pros say to write 3-5 times per week, but I cannot in good conscience advise that. We are wives, mothers and homemakers first. However I know that some of us are younger, have more energy, need less sleep and can blog into the wee hours after the kids are in bed. Some of you have a natural gift for writing and could write a post in 15 minutes versus the two hours it would take another. In everything, balance.
Only you and the Lord know how much is too much. But there is no denying the truth: the more frequent you write, the more traffic you get.
3.) Make the blog visually appealing. Light background with dark writing is a must. There is a blog that I would love to read, I know the content is probably good, but the background is black. It kills my eyes, so I don’t go there very often.
4.) Make the blog sticky. Make people read more than one post, either by having links to your most popular posts in your sidebar, quotes in your sidebar that pertain to your subject, whatever makes YOU stay around longer or click on things in a blog’s sidebar, is what you need to put in your own. Also, use previous links to things you’ve written, in your current post.
5.) Network with other bloggers by guest posting on their site. It is a win-win for everyone because this way you share traffic. You get links back to your own site from theirs, and the “teaser” you leave on your own blog goes to the other blogger. Again, keep this in balance. Guest posting can get out of control very easily. And my personal opinion is that it is much easier to guest post on someone else’s blog after you feel good in your own skin, on your own blog. And that takes time. I would say about a year but of course I’m sure there are exceptions. Blogging requires bravery!
6.) Write about things you’re passionate about. If you want to reach people who don’t know you, you have to write about something besides what you had for dinner (unless you’re writing a food blog). When your blog is older and people know you better they will care about that cute thing your kid said, but not at first.
Link your posts up at larger blogs. There are so many link ups that I know I will miss one, so I will just list the two sites who host link-ups and that I am a contributor for: Raising Homemakers has a link up on Wednesday and A Wise Woman Builds Her House also has one.
7.) Utilize social media and generously promote other bloggers. Do not see other bloggers as competition and don’t be jealous of them. You are on the same team :) There are times that other bloggers are unwilling to help another because of their own insecurities, but that is the exception and not the rule. Almost always, bloggers are willing to help each other so jump in and do the same without expecting anything in return. Just humbly help out your sisters.
8.) Have a blog you love? Do what she does. Not in a dishonest, copyright infringement sort of way (Please, please never copy and paste posts from other blogs!), but in a "learning from a pro" sort of way. Learn from her how long a post should be, how the fonts and types should be broken up and what sub-topics fit within the overall scope of her blog's focus.
8.) Don’t compromise your convictions. Be willing to break every blogging rule if they do not fit with your priorities and the job God has given you to do in real life (Read: Blog Rebellion and Six Reasons Not to Blog). I mentioned social media above, but I only joined Facebook a few months ago and I’m not sorry for the years I wasn’t there "growing." I didn’t jump into that avenue until I felt like the Lord gave me the okay. And you know what? My blog grew steadily, in spite of the fact that it shouldn’t have. The Lord will honor your obedience, so take all these suggestions as just that—suggestions.
Next week I'll post about ways you can earn money by blogging and how, as a reader, you can encourage a blogger who blesses your life.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Are there other questions you have, related to this topic?