So, you’re thinking about starting a blog? I don’t blame you. You’ve probably been reading about all these bloggers who get free vacations, free beauty products and get paid to endorse products on their blog and you’re thinking hey, I could do that. You’re right, you could do it, because starting a blog is completely within your reach as long as you’re willing to dedicate at least 10 hours per week towards the project and willing to invest a little bit of money towards it, too. It’s not very expensive to build or maintain a blog, but it does require your time and your attention. You can’t neglect your blog for weeks at a time and suddenly decide you’re interested again. Just like a relationship wouldn’t work without consistent attention and effort, it’s the same deal when you start a blog. Here are 6 things you need to know if you’re thinking about starting a blog:
1. Don’t quit your day job (yet)
The thing is, most blog owners don’t make a profit for the first year or two because when a website is new, Google isn’t sending traffic your way just yet, and you can’t make much money without the traffic. That’s why most bloggers start a blog as a passion project or side gig while they keep their regular day job. If you’re consistent for a year or two, your google ranking will increase over time and eventually, your blog will get noticed and you’ll start to get inquiries regarding paid posts and endorsements. It takes time for Google to give your blog a decent ranking, which means it takes time before random people will find your blog via a google search.
When you’re new, Google doesn’t know if they can trust your website or not, but they’ll notice if you’ve been providing consistent, original and quality content over time. Be patient and keep working on it, and ultimately you’ll be rewarded. Most successful blogs didn’t become successful overnight, but the bloggers who don’t give up and stay consistent will be recognized and make money by the two-year mark.
2. Come up with a niche concept that already has an audience that digs its subject matter
Niche blogs have a better chance at succeeding compared to broad, all-encompassing blogs. For example, the niche “eating raw on a budget” food blog will likely do better than the broad “eating healthy” blog, and the niche “romantic getaways” travel blog that targets couples will garner more followers than the ambiguous “fantastic travel destinations” blog which targets all travelers. It’s important that you research your niche subject matter and ensure that there’s already an audience out there that would follow your blog. In other words, if your niche topic is already being talked about, and there perhaps aren’t enough platforms out there that cater to your niche, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to build a following.
Even better: You’re an expert in your own niche. If you’re an expert in this particular area, you’ll have a chance at becoming an authority figure within your niche. So, if your blog is about eating raw on a budget – let’s hope that you yourself eat raw on a budget with notable success.
Better still: you put a unique spin on a niche topic, creating something nobody else is doing. In the blogging world, that’s one of the best ways to make it big.
Buy a real domain name, and Google will like you better. I didn’t cheap out with babereport.wordpress.com because I knew buying thebabereport.com would look more professional and be better-liked by Google. Make sure your domain name is short. For example, I never would have bought thebombshellconfessionals.com because long domain names are the worst. From a branding perspective, you want a domain that is easy to say, easy to type and easy to remember.
3. You’ll need to pre-plan your blog’s launch, not just wing it
Launching a blog is much more successful if you build buzz around your new blog before your launch day and before your blog is live, as well as pre-planning what the promotion of your blog will look like once it’s live.
You shouldn’t just decide one day “I think I’ll launch my blog today” and wing it. Instead, have a plan of attack and introduce yourself with a bang.
Pre-planning the effective promotion involves researching and contacting influencers well in advance, and securing a date that they’ll be promoting your blog. Instagram influencers are the way to go, because their followers check up on them often and hang on to their every word. Their followers trust them and get inspiration from them. Here are some great tips for choosing an Instagram influencer to promote your blog.
My advice is to invest a bit of money hiring one or two perfect influencers who already have a following in your blog’s niche. As long as they don’t have a crazy following like one million followers, they shouldn’t charge an arm and a leg for a couple of promotional posts. For example, if your blog is about following a raw foods diet, you may wish to hire @TheRawMermaid to promote your blog on her Instagram. Sure, she may technically be your competition, but chances are you’re both doing something a little different (you both have your own unique spin on things) and there’s probably room for both of you in the food blogging world. Plus, it’s unlikely that she’ll turn you down if you offer her fair compensation.
Another great way to pre-plan the promotion of your blog is to pre-write guest posts that plug and mention your blog. That way, once your blog is live, you can submit these guest-posts to big magazines and if they choose to publish your guest-post, chances are they’ll also leave that mention of your blog in there, which is free advertising for you.
Building buzz around your blog before it’s live can be as simple as starting a Facebook group and adding members. For example, I’m starting a new blog called Bucket List Babes. It’s a niche blog that will target travelers searching for bucket-list-worthy destinations. So, I started a Facebook group called Bucket List Babes and I’ve started posting teaser content. Do this, and watch your Facebook group grow (ask your friends to add members to the group, and ask your friends to tell their friends, etc.) Before you know it, you’ll have a huge group of people you can introduce your blog to when the time comes.
The reason starting a Facebook group is better than starting a Facebook page is because when you add members to a group, they’re automatically joined to said group. In comparison, when you invite your friends to “like” your page, action is required on their part to hit that “like” button – which they may not do. Build your following with the group first, and start a formal page later.
4. You’ll need to prepare a blogging strategy
Before you start your blog, you should do a lot of pre-planning when it comes to strategy and implementation. For example, you might decide that you’ll be posting new blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday. That’s perfect, because consistency is key. Blogging on a consistent basis on the same days of the week trains Google to keep coming back to your site more frequently and helps you build trust with Google. So don’t plan on posting sporadically! Posting every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday is even better because the more often you post, the faster you’ll get indexed and ranked on Google. I would say post every day, but we want to keep this whole project plausible and it is likely not plausible for you to post new content every day, especially since anything you post has to be of quality (you can’t just post whatever, whenever.) Your content must be original (not published elsewhere), unique (not copied) and of quality (good writing, good layout, etc.)
Pre-planning your blogging strategy will involve pre-writing a couple of months’ worth of content, and forming strategic connections and alliances within your niche and within the blogging arena. You’ll want to reach out to other experts in your niche about guest-posting on your blog, and you’ll want to reach out to authority websites and start guest-posting so that when the time is right, you can plug your own blog within a guest-post.
Your content should tie in with your niche theme, and your plan should involve offering your reader something with your content. Each piece of content should offer something valuable to your reader. This strategy involves researching your niche audience and figuring out they type of tips and advice that they would find valuable.
You’ll need to strategize your SEO, too. Get familiar with SEO and keywords strategies before you start your blog, so that you go into this venture prepared and ready to succeed.
5. Your blog should align with your passions in life
Remember earlier when I said you’ll need to invest about 10 hours per week into your blog, consistently? Well, those 10 hours per week won’t feel like work as long as your blog aligns with your passions.
If you’re passionate about shopping, fashion and outfit-curating then maintaining a fashion blog won’t feel like work. If you love cooking, creating recipes and eating vegan, then your blog on Veganism will be fun and content ideas will come to you easily. If you’re passionate about travel, you travel a lot already, and you love discovering new destinations, then working on your travel blog will never be boring.
If you lose interest in your blog, or you start to neglect your blog, it will fail. But that won’t happen if you’re blogging about something you’re truly excited about. Plus, by being passionate about your blog’s subject matter, you’ll naturally create better content. It’s a win-win!
6. So, how much will all of this cost?
Starting a blog (and maintaining it) doesn’t cost a huge amount of money, but you will need to save up some money before you being this venture. Here are the basic costs:
Costs associated with starting a blog:
- Website design: $500 – $1,000 (this includes the purchase of a WordPress theme and the custom development required to change the colors, fonts, design and format to suit your preferences.)
- Logo design: $150 – $350
- Promotion / launch: $500 – $1,000
Costs associated with maintaining a blog:
- Hosting fees: $10 – $50 per month
- Facebook advertising: $10 – $100 per month
- Hiring a writer to commit to writing 2 – 4 posts per month for your blog: $50 – $150 per month
These costs will vary depending on how much money you want to spend advertising your blog, or whether or not you need to. Many of you will already have connections and high-authority figures and influencers you can collaborate with, and you therefore won’t need to spend much money advertising your blog. Many of you will be able to find writers to contribute content to your blog for free, in exchange for your services. However, paying a writer is a great way to get secure, standing content delivered. Unpaid contributors are often quite flaky and unreliable.
Generally speaking, you can start a blog for about $1,000 and spend only $75 per month maintaining it, on average. Costs will vary with each and every one of you, but in general, owning a blog is a low-cost (and therefore low-risk) endeavor. Because of the low cost and low risk, I highly recommend starting a blog, because once you build your raking on Google you’ll notice how many amazing opportunities your blog will bring your way.
Erica Gordon is the author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available here.