Blogging For Pay, Part 1: Preparing For Your Future

December 13, 2008

Finances

After writing my post about snooty attitudes toward bloggers who blog for pay, I got a lot of comments and emails asking me for more information about how to get started, blogging for pay. I thought I’d write a few posts about my experiences. I’ve been blogging for almost nine years now, and have been blogging for money for just over a year. Maybe my experiences along the way can shed a little light to help you. There’s a lot of information to share (remember, sharing makes you feel good inside), so I’m breaking this topic up into “parts.” Today, I’ll cover Part 1. And this is about starting a blog with the intent of preparing it to make money.

First off– NEVER start a blog for the sole purpose of generating money. It will be a scourge. Blogs are highly personal and/or informational. And readers are not stupid. Readers can tell when a blog is being pimped off for the filthy lucre, ykwim? Not everyone can blog, and not everyone can successfully make a living off it. It takes a certain style and a certain consistent effort– and the number one priority is to write GOOD STUFF. Right from the start.

Yeah, yeah, everyone has their “off” days or “off” weeks. We all understand that. But in general, your blog should contain content that people WANT to read. It should be entertaining or informative– you should provide a service when you blog. Some people can do this just by rattling off the day’s events– their style of telling a story is so riveting that even their supermarket exploits are Pulitzer Prize quality, lol.

But take it from me– the average blog writer is OK, too. Not every post has to be Pulitzer Prize quality. But it does have to be good. A blog filled with ads and sponsored posts is awful. No one will read it, and the advertisers will leave because no one’s reading.

So you need to assess yourself- everyone has the need to make a living, including you. But can you make a living blogging? Can you provide interesting content on a regular basis? Can you generate traffic and maintain social networking relationships to build traffic, link-sharing, and readership? Can you maintain a blog, with all its technical work, upgrades, coding, (and technical problems)? If you think you can, forge ahead. If you are not sure, try out blogging for a while to see if you like it. You can start a free blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com and test the waters. You can opt for putting down some capital by buying your own blog, too.

Personally, I recommend that you get your own blog– that is, get your own domain name (buy from a company like GoDaddy.com or eNom.com). Domain names are usually around $10 or so. Once you buy your domain name, you can host your blog with your new domain name. A really inexpensive way to do this is get a Blogger blog, which is free. Blogger is owned by Google. You can use either their blogspot.com domain name, or use your new domain name and have it hosted by Blogger. Another alternative is to have a WordPress self-hosted blog. There are TWO kinds of WordPress blog platforms: one is WordPress.com and it’s free like Blogger is. But as with a free Blogger blog, you will have .wordpress.com at the end of your blog name (like myblogname.wordpress.com). And WordPress.com blogs are prohibited from making money. Blogger blogs are not prohibted (I monetize a few Blogger blogs), but some advertisers do not like Blogger blogs, and your options may become very limited.

WordPress.org is where you can get the free hosting software. You use this software with a web hosting company. Web hosting companies are Hostgator, Bluehost, etc. I use three hosting companies (because I have eight blogs!): Bluehost, Blogger, and Whip An Orbit (recently bought out by WizzerdWerks). There are pros and cons with all of them. My blogger blogs are totally free, but I don’t make a ton of money from them because advertisers prefer blogs that are owned by the bloggers (and not the “free” blogs). Bluehost is very inexpensive but they have their periods of downtime. Their tech support is incredible, which is why I recommend them to people new to all this web hosting stuff, and they have good security. Whip An Orbit/WizzerdWerks is a small company out of Florida, and they are rarely out of service. But their tech support is NOT. I think they JUST got a toll free number last month! And they are a little pricey, pricier than Bluehost, anyway. But their servers are extremely reliable, much more than Bluehost. If you do decide to check out these companies, know that if you click on the links for them here and wind up placing an order, I will earn a little money on the side for recommending them. It’s called an “affilate” link. I don’t do them very often, but every dollar counts! So perhaps you’d consider clicking the link here if you choose to order from one of these companies; I’d definitely appreciate the support, as well as the cash. šŸ˜€ Here’s a great deal at GoDaddy.com, too.

Clicking this banner and ordering at GoDaddy will get you 10% off your order.

The nice thing about buying and maintaining your OWN web hosting is that you have 100% control. You can get free hosting with Blogger, but you do not maintain control over it– Google does. And as far as I know, there is no easy way to backup Blogger blogs right now.

Self-hosted WordPress blogs on a web hosting site that you paid for is more liberating, and advertisers like these more. You can add all sorts of nice doo-dads and features, and backing up your blog is easy. But it’s much more complicated than just clicking a few buttons, like at Blogger. You have to learn how to use an FTP program (Filezilla is a very good free FTP program). An FTP program allows you to communicate and transmit data to your blog’s server and back. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy but it does take some patience and learning.

Finally, once you have decided that blogging is for you and you’ve got your blog up and running, it’s time to let the world know you exist. Start posting really good content. Get a good theme/template that is attractive and not too full of graphics. Heavy graphics take a long time to load (especially for people on dial-up internet) and you may drive people away with it.

Also important is joining some social networks. Sites like MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, Entrecard, and forums (like the Izea Forums, which are very good) are made for building relationships. Do some research by surfing the Marketing and Design topics in forums; you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work. But be sure that you have good content at your blog, waiting for the visitors.

And be sure to visit other blogs, preferrably in your own “niche.” For example, if you run a cat blog, spend a lot of time visiting other cat blogs. I will be first to say “diversify, diversify, diversify,” though. DON’T just stick to your niche and that alone. There’s a whole world of bloggers in other niches who may just fall in love with your blog.

OK, so let’s quickly recap Part 1: Preparing For Your Future:

  • Don’t come into this with the attitude of pimping your blog for money.
  • Assess yourself and count the costs of maintaining a blog. Do you have the time and patience to devote to it? Can you express yourself adequately so that people will want to read your blog?
  • It’s recommended that you buy your own domain name.
  • It’s recommended that you buy your own blog hosting from a web-hosting company.
  • There are three components to a blog: domain name, blog platform software, and web hosting.
  • The domain name can be a free one (but it will always have the company’s name tagged at the end, like myblogname.blogspot.com) or one you purchase (like myblogname.com or myblogname.net).
  • The blog platform software is the special software that allows you to write posts, allow people to comment, give your blog a “pretty GUI face” (the theme or template), and more. Blogger’s and the WordPress.com’s platform software come free with their free web hosting service. Because it is free, it is also limited as to how much you can customize it. The WordPress.org blogging platform is free, too- but you must have it hosted somewhere because the WordPress dudes don’t have space at their place to hold it for you. And free blog service comes with very little tech help.
  • The web hosting company is the place where you park your blog. They put your data on their “servers” (think of it like your computer’s hard drive holding all your PC’s data). The web hosting company charges a fee for this service. And most times, you don’t have to install WordPress’ platform software here– the web hosting company already has the way for you to activate it and get your blog going.
  • Get a nice theme/template and starting writing good posts.
  • Join social networks and acquire some readers. Generate traffic. Visit forums and do some reading. Visit other blogs and leave comments. Establish friendships and contacts.

Making money from a blog is a side-dish venture, in my opinion. Your first goal is to create a great blog. Your second goal is to build a readership. Your last goal is to make money from it. If you have worked hard on the first two points, the last point– making the money– comes much, much easier and is more delgihtful for you and your readers.

I hope this helps! In the next section on this topic, I’ll tell you what advertising companies I have joined, and give some tips about writing sponsored posts.

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12 Responses to “Blogging For Pay, Part 1: Preparing For Your Future”

  1. Roxiticus Desperate Housewives Says:

    Very helpful post… I’ve got a mix of Blogger and WordPress (MU, actually) blogs, and actually monetize them in different ways. I “pimp out” my Blogger blogs, even though the fact that Google has taken my page ranks to zero due to paid posts hasn’t helped that income stream. I don’t do paid posts on Roxy’s Best Of… (http://tags.roxysbestof.com) but eventually expect to have local advertisers, which may include posting, for all of the local sites in the community.

    I look forward to your continued posting on this subject.

    All the best,
    Roxy

  2. chilly Says:

    Very good read. Thanks! Taught me a few things and hit on a couple things I’d been wondering about.

    Hi There! Hope your having a great weekend! šŸ™‚

  3. tahtimbo Says:

    I have one word to say…WOW!! This is fantastic advice and I look forward to reading your other installments. I do have a question: If I purchase my own domain name, do I lose the page rank I currently have? Thank you again for your assistance; you are the best!

  4. Jena Isle Says:

    These are very good pointers. But do these bought webhosts have a user friendly template? is it the same as blogger or will i have to re-learn again? Thanks.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    Thanks for your comments, guys and gals!

    tahtimbo– yes, if you change your domain name you will lose your PageRank. The PageRank you have is assigned to your current domain name. So even while, to you, your new blog is the same as the old with the same content, to GoogleBot it is a totally different place because it has a different address. What I did was I kept my old Blogger blog, and built a new blog, and I did paid posts on both. When I lost the PageRank on the old Blogger blog, I stopped posting as frequently (but I do still post from time to time) and turned my attention to my new blog.

    Jena Isle– some webhosts do offer user-friendly templates, but not all. Installing your own template is not very hard, and the ones you install yourself are much more attractive than the freebies from the company. Either way, be SURE to read the Help files and Tutorials at the sites, before you jump in. It will make the transition much easier. I also found it helpful to bookmark helpful pages for future reference, because I knew I would eventually need to go back to them for help.

  6. Rebecca Says:

    P.S. If you guys found this post helpful and think it might help others, please feel free to StumbleUpon this post! I’d sure appreciate it! šŸ˜€

  7. Loislane26 Says:

    I started blogging on today.com about a month ago. You’re right, you shouldn’t just pimp your blog for money. For me, it’s a lot of fun. I love to write and read other bloggers’ comments on my posts.

  8. Karen Says:

    You wrote an excellent post, as usual! Stumbling.

  9. Carri Says:

    Great post, Rebecca! I wish I could get you to answer some of my tickets. šŸ™‚
    I’m going to Tweet it and Digg it and also save the URL so that I can reference it in the future.

    All the Best,
    Carri Bright
    IZEA Customer Love

  10. Terri healthy mom Says:

    Thanks very interesting post, good info.