Being a blog writer sounds like a dream job. You write about whatever you want and people come to your website, bringing along valuable eyes for ad revenue. You can work from anywhere and set your own hours. If only it were that easy.
The truth is that there are thousands of blogs that have gone nowhere because many an amateur blog writer bit off more than they could chew. If you really want to make a career out of blogging, you need to be prepared to write professionally. Here’s everything you need to know to actually make a living off of blogging.
The Basics of Blogging
While this might seem rather obvious, if you don’t know how to write correctly you’re going to have a bad time as a blogger. Native speakers of every language tend to take their writing skills for granted. We automatically assume we’re competent writers because we’ve been using this language our entire lives.
But that’s a fallacy. Good writing is a craft. Like any craft, you’ll get better the more you do it, but you also have to take some time to learn the right way to do things. For instance, do you know the difference between passive and active voice, and when to use each? Do you know when to use past perfect or when to tack on that “–ly” to your adjectives to make adverbs? Do you know how to craft a sentence without creating a misplaced modifying phrase?
Brush up on your grammar. Tools like Grammarly are just that: tools. They’re aids to writers who already know how to do it. They can never make up for a lack of knowledge and skill in writing. Brush up with a course if you need to!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
With English out of the way, let’s talk about SEO. If nobody sees your blog, you’re not likely to go very far. Of course, it takes a while to build up a following regardless of your SEO, but clever SEO tactics can help you get seen more quickly.
People don’t always write their searches as you would expect. While Google ignores tiny words like articles and prepositions for the most part, you do need to pay attention to the terms people are using. Answerthepublic.com is a great tool. You can see exactly what questions people search regarding a topic and plan your content accordingly.
And don’t forget to check out Google Trends, which tells you what people are searching for. You can even get a timeline of trends to see which topics peak throughout the year. Obviously, Christmas-related searches will spike in November and December, so save your Christmas content for then.
Post Length and Frequency
When you have a good grasp of writing and SEO, you’re ready to start blogging. You’ll want to define how much you’re going to write and how often. Set reasonable goals and try to increase the frequency before you increase the content itself.
600 words is a recommended amount for a simple blog post. If you have a video clip or other content in the body of the article, you could bring it down to 300 words or more. Anything less than 300 words is unlikely to be prioritized by search engines.
Try to post at least once a week to start out. Consistency is important. Your followers will expect content to come out regularly, so stick to a schedule. Even the time of day that your post launches should be consistent.
Standardization and Planning
To build a loyal following, your readers need to know what to expect from your work. While you should experiment with different topics and formats, try to stick to a standard outline for a while. Consider the who, what, where, when, and why of every topic and craft an outline for your content that you can use repeatedly.
When you have a template you can consistently use, writing becomes easier. It’s almost like playing those Mad-libs games where you simply plug in words. You want to remove obstacles to your writing, and standardization does exactly that.
Planning is also extremely important. While you might get hit with a burst of inspiration and produce a beautiful blog post from time to time, don’t expect that to happen every morning with your coffee. Practice writing down post ideas every day. Record these and plan out your content at least one month in advance.
Find Your Niche
When it comes to writing, it’s all been done before. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an original thought. You need to find your niche or your unique approach to the topic.
For example, there are hundreds of photography blogs out there. What can you do to make yours stand out? Perhaps you photograph something unique that most people don’t. Maybe it’s how you edit your photos. Or maybe you tell a story for each photo.
Try to give your content a unique twist that will make it stand out from the rest. People follow blogs because they learn something new and see the world from a new perspective when they read.
Improving Your Skills as a Blog Writer
Once you’ve established your blog, your next mission is to improve your writing. Although practice makes perfect, there are a few other things you can do to enhance your writing. Dedicate at least a few hours every week to your training and you will see results.
Read Other Blogs
This is the easiest place to start improving. If you have a blog that you follow, analyze it. What is it about the writing that you like? How does it approach topics in a unique way? Dissect your favorite blogs to see what you can do to improve yours.
Of course, you should never plagiarize another person’s work. However, you can certainly get some topic ideas from other pages. Perhaps you see a little design feature that you love on one site and you import it into yours.
Even the most successful blog writer in the world has gleaned insights from other writers. Nobody is 100% original, so don’t feel bad about looking to others for ideas.
Practice Your Writing Skills
Never assume that your writing is perfect. It could always be better. However, once you get to a certain point, you’ll realize that you aren’t pushing your writing skills. So, how do you push the envelope of what’s possible with your writing?
Several authors have published great guidebooks for writing. Consider picking up one of their books. Many of these include exercises that put your skills to the test. For example, John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction includes writing exercises like “write the longest sentence you can” or “write an entire page without using the word ‘I’.”
Practice writing in a completely different format or style. Adding a bit of fictional-style prose that paints a picture or helps you tell a story can be a great addition to your blogging style.
Consider doing a writing challenge! It’s a great way to change up your routine and pump some fresh air into your work. Maybe you set a goal of one post per day or a certain number of words per week. Whatever you do, stick to it!
Challenges like these help you develop your resilience and persistence. There will be days where you don’t feel like writing, but your blog and its readers are waiting. A challenge teaches you to power through these moments of demotivation.
Increasing Your Income From Blogging
Ultimately, the goal is to make money. So, with your blog growing and your readership expanding, how do you extract as much revenue out of your blog as possible?
When your blog grows and has a regular following, you can convert those eyeballs into dollars with ad revenue. Google AdSense is a good place to start. However, you can get more lucrative ad deals by targeting companies who would do well on your blog.
For instance, if your blog is all about living abroad in Colombia, businesses that frequently market to other expats would love to advertise on your blog. Pitch a banner ad or sidebar ad by telling the company just how many people see your site every day.
You can go one step further by writing sponsored content. Be sure to be transparent with your readers, as nobody likes a writer whose content feels bought or compromised by business interests. It is possible to write content that informs and sells at the same time.
An honest restaurant review where you got a meal for free or a product review from a sponsor is a great way to break into the world of sponsored content. Start with local businesses if possible. Once you’ve become a trusted name in the industry you specialize in, bigger companies will come knocking.
Besides monetizing your own blog, you now have a very valuable set of skills that could be put to use for other people. You’re a blog writer now! Your fingertips are like expensive tools that other people can rent.
There are plenty of websites where you can offer your blog writing services to the public, including Fiverr and ProBlogger. However, these are unlikely to pay as much as a reputable writing agency would. Another option is to cold email companies directly and offer them a blog package.
If finding your own clients seems like too much trouble, but you could use some extra income, might we suggest SteadyContent? We help businesses build their own blogs by connecting them with talented writers like yourself. Go to SteadyContent today and let us know if you’re interested.