Sharing expertise, attracting new custom or to gain professional recognition; whatever your reasons for blogging, you have the potential to turn your online musings into money. However, it’s important to note that while approximately 17% of bloggers are able to generate a comfortable income from their blog, 81% make less than $100 a year. Of course, there’s then the elusive 2% who blog for less than two hours a day and make around $150k a year (Tim Ferris, we’re looking at you). So while blogging for financial gain is achievable, it’s not quite as simple as hitting the ‘publish’ button and hoping for the best. Here are some of the straight up skills you’ll need to kick some serious content goals:
Get a handle on your content
Your ability to make money from your blog all comes down to the content you provide. Be you a fashion, food or mummy influencer, you need to find your niche or demographic. Once you’ve established what your blog is about and who it’s for, you then need to produce consistent, useful content. Posting infrequently will lead to your audience losing interest. Then, to promote it properly, try brushing up on your skills with Billy Blue College of Design’s WordPress Basics class or a social media bootcamp course like General Assembly’s offering: you’ll be ahead of the ‘click me!’ game in no time.
Make a media kit
A tried-and-tested way of convincing potential advertisers or brands to invest a slice of their advertising budget in you is to create a media kit (especially if you can make it look like you mean business – visuals are a lot of the battle here). A media kit outlines, in a visually engaging way, the key facts and statistics of your blog: what your blog is about, how many followers you have on social media, how many subscribers you have and how many monthly page views you receive. It’s basically a cheat sheet for any potential collaborator and your customisation is the best way to prove through numbers and design that you truly can streamline creative content that will make them the big bucks. The Blogger Project and Portrait Store offer a simple, effective downloadable media kit template but to make it super personal, try taking an online course in logo design over at Brit & Co. to really make it yours.
Pick up some marketing tips
There are millions of blogs being created every day so it’s of course important to make yours stand out. If you’re not sure where to start (or you don’t know your clicks from impressions), try getting a crash course from an online institution like Lynda. Run like an educational Netflix, Lynda has a wealth of content you can click into on any subject from 2D drawing to cloud computing (but also quite a bit in the digital marketing realm). A simple way to start building an audience though is ensuring you’re interactive with the audience you already have (activating a comments section on your blog and replying to all of them), as well as networking with other bloggers and offering to guest blog on another popular blog. Bringing your work to a wider, established network is your first step to gaining your own dedicated audience and if you can tap into that from someone who’s already cultivated it, why not?
Get down with laws on disclosing paid posts
Under Australian Consumer Law, failing to disclose which of your posts have been sponsored or paid for can be seen as deceptive and misleading. That said, each case is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the responsibility of those who are paid to post. (You can do some extra homework through something like Arts Law’s helpful breakdown here). Save yourself the headache and view it as your moral obligation to be upfront with your followers – authenticity never backfires.
Know your way around copyright
When you create content for your blog, you are creating copyright-protected material. So if someone chose to use your words or pictures without your permission, they are effectively stealing from you – just as you are stealing from them if you use their content without asking. Just because it’s readily available on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s yours. Try taking a crash course in copyright like the one the University of Texas has pulled together for a general overview but of course, be aware of any particular local grey areas. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution.
Make sure you manage your time
It may take months (even years) to build up an audience big enough to generate an income. So until then, it’s likely you’ll have to juggle building your blog with holding down a full time position. It might be tricky, but it’s important to post at least once a day in order to attract regular traffic to your site. Find a realistic window to work on your blog daily – that might be first thing in the morning or during your lunch hour – and stick to it. Being in control of your own creativity can be tricky (especially if you keep checking into Facebook) so try tracking your time with a program like Toggl to see if you’re really using your limited time effectively.