I’ll start off by saying that blogging is absolutely fantastic to do if you are passionate about a certain topic.
If you can write dozens or hundreds of articles related to the same topic without seeing it as a chore, then a blog is a great medium to build up an audience and establish yourself as an authority in a certain niche.
If you want to blog to make a full-time income, I can tell you that it’s possible but it’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight.
Let me share with you what I’ve learned since starting my blog
It’s been just over 2 years since I bought my blog domain. When I started Upgrade Reality, I had zero knowledge about websites, blogging or WordPress.
It took me an entire year of having a horrible theme, spending hours playing with code and tweaking my blog, and writing dozens of (in retrospect) terrible articles before I had a decent understanding of what a respectable blog should look like and what content it should have.
Looking back at some of my older screenshots and articles, it was so bad I can’t imagine how anyone ever read that I had to say.
I truly wish that I had spent money on a mentor or found a blog post like this one, because it would have saved me months of discovering things by trial and error. I can tell you that there is no point in re-inventing the wheel. There are proven methods and tactics that work, and until you know better…copy.
Here are 10 ‘Commandments’ you need to follow if you want to have a successful blog and dominate your industry.
1-Invest In Your Blog
With millions of blogs and websites to compete with, you need to set yourself apart from the rest in order to gain a big audience.
The first thing that a new visitor sees when he lands on your blog is the design.
I’m a big fan of a simple and clean, yet gorgeous design and pretty logo. Your blog should be easy to navigate and it should be 100% clear what you want the visitor to do (I.e. subscribe or click on your latest article).
Unless you have web-designing experience, don’t try to design your own blog layout. Find a web designer who will create a custom theme for your WordPress blog, and be prepared to spend $250-$500 on that. It may seem like a lot of money if you are just starting, but it’s the best investment you can make. Trust me!
2-Have A Specific Direction
Your blog needs to have a clear purpose.
What do you write about? (e.g. Self Improvement)
What are you trying to achieve? (e.g. Helping people gain confidence and get the life they want)
This direction that you have with your blog needs to be overly evident to anyone landing on your page. Every article you write should be related to the purpose of your blog (trying to help people) and it should be clear to anyone who lands on your blog for the first time (i.e. your logo or slogan should state what your blog is about).
3-Learn To Format Your Articles
One thing that took me a long time to realize is that articles on a blog are formatted in a completely different way to a book you buy in the store or an essay that you write in the office.
Articles on blogs are broken down into lots of small paragraphs, many sub-headings, list points and they often contain images.
The reason for this is that people don’t read massive chunks of text on their computer screens. In fact, the majority of people scan through an article, reading only the subheadings or bullet-points, and they will read the entire article properly if you managed to get their attention when they scanned the article.
For an excellent resource about writing and text-formatting, head over to Copyblogger.com.
4-Study The Writing of Successful Bloggers
There’s no better way to learn than by studying and copying successful people.
Take time to read and study the articles and writing styles of some of the top bloggers in the world like: Leo Babauta, Darren Rowse, Steve Pavlina and Jay White.
5-Start Building A List From Day 1
This is probably the biggest mistake I made with my blog and it is one that I regret.
If you do not have an email list, start today. The money is in the list. Not only will you be able to make much more money when you have an email list, you will be able to build a much better relationship with your readers and help a lot more people than when you only write articles on your blog.
I don’t mean a Feedburner email list, I mean using a professional mailing-list system like Aweber or Mailchimp.
6-Have a Free Report
Have a free report, a video or an ebook that you can offer to new visitors. People love free stuff, especially if the free stuff contains awesome content and information.
Offer your freebie as an incentive for people to sign up to your mailing list. It will increase the number of people who sign up to your updates dramatically!
Do you want more exposure and more readers to your blog?
Then you need to get your name out there. The easiest way to do this is to write great quality, useful articles as guest posts for other blogs in your niche.
Take a month or two and write 30-50 awesome articles that you are going to send to related blogs in your niche. You will see a massive increase in readers from a guest-posting campaign like that.
For a great resource about guest posting, check out this article on Viperchill.com
It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
This is such an old but such a true statement. Knowing the right people could result in massive growth and awareness of your blog.
Go out and find the top 10 blogs in your niche. Then go out and find another 20 medium-sized blogs in your niche. Then go out and find 10 smaller blogs than your own blog.
Leave a few comments on their posts and send the owner of each of those blogs an email. Follow them on Twitter.
Note: Don’t network for the sake of personal gain. This is very important. Be genuine, make real connections and make friends with these people without asking anything of them. Over time they will happily help you out if you have shown that you are trustworthy and shown them that you help them out too.
9-Create Your Own Products
Creating and selling your own products is by far the most profitable business model.
You can make some money with advertising space on your blog, and you can make decent money by promoting products and using affiliate links.
However, the most profitable is if you create your own products (ebooks, guides, videos, membership sites etc.) and you sell them to your readers.
Creating a product is hard work, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can outsource many parts, like the design, the sales page and even the content. If you know the problem you want to create a product (solution) for, you can give guidelines or a skeleton to an experienced writer and pay him to create the ebook for you.
Start with a small product, but start with it. Create your own products and keep creating them. Henri does it, hundreds of other bloggers do it, I do it and now you need to do it too!
This is the most important thing that I can tell you about blogging. You need to always provide value.
Whether you are making someone laugh, or helping them live a healthy lifestyle, or giving them information how to blog like a pro…make sure that your content is always useful.
If you are providing value, visitors will become loyal readers. They will return, and a percentage of them will turn into regular buyers of the products you create and recommend to them.
Before I end this article off I want to leave you with some final blogging advice.
If you are blogging to build up an online income, then you need to treat your blog as a business. A blog does not make money, a business does.
The blog is just the medium that you use to connect with the hundreds or thousands of people that could become buying customers. If you do not have the mindset that your blog is an actual business, I can tell you that you are doomed to make little money until you change that mindset.
Work your way through all the points in this list and you should notice a big difference in your blog’s traffic, readers and in the amount of money you make from it. (But it will not happen overnight).