Starting a blog has exploded in recent years as one of the best ways to build an online business and make money online. And why not?
It’s no surprise that this business model has gained popularity over the years with bloggers like Pat Flynn and Michelle Schroeder-Gardner pulling in $100K month-over-month. They even publicly share their successes to prove that it’s possible.
While bloggers often publish their successes online via income reports, it doesn’t always give you a clear picture of how much WORK is entailed in achieving this kind of success
Though I’m sure they would be the first to share that running a successful blog is a job.
#1 Your Blog IS Your Business
Running a blog takes time, effort, and consistency.
You should treat it like a business if you want to see the kind of success you see from popular bloggers today. You must put in the work every day. Can you tell I’m preaching to the choir here?
When you are starting out, as I am, you are also running every single aspect of your business without help. That is unless you have some extra money to invest in outsourcing some tasks. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Content strategy
- Audience building
- Writing and editing
- Blog performance optimization
- Google analytics, tag manager, and search console
- Social media strategy and marketing
- Email marketing and list building
- Promotion and networking
The list goes on and on.
Looking at this can seem overwhelming, but if you are serious about blogging and creating a business from your blog, you need to be realistic about the work that’s entailed.
#2 Know Your Audience
Before you start researching WordPress themes, setting up your social media, and designing a logo, you MUST understand who you are going to talk to.
If your only focus going into this venture is making money, your blog design, or how many plugins you have installed, you will quickly lose focus of why you started blogging in the first place.
WHY Are You Starting a Blog?
Blogging is about a CONNECTION with your readers. You are connecting with others in the world wide web around a central idea or dream.
For me, that is living a location independent lifestyle and traveling. The only way to achieve this is to earn money remotely, which is why I talk about remote work a lot. You should be passionate about what you write about.
Your audience can read between the lines and know whether you truly believe the topic you’re writing about.
The great thing about starting a blog today is that there is plenty of room to talk about very niche things! You may not even realize how many people in the world LOVE exactly what you like to blog about.
- You don’t have to be an expert.
- But you should ENJOY the topic/niche you choose.
- If you are using your blog to document your learning of a particular topic along the way, that’s great! Your readers will learn right alongside you.
Build Your Blog Personas
To give you better idea of your ideal reader, it’s helpful to map out your audience by creating personas.
What is a persona?
Personas are often used in marketing to create a fictional story around your ideal customer.
In the case of a blog, we are creating a story or picture about our ideal readers. This gives you a guideline of how to tailor your content marketing strategy to those specific people.
There are many ways that you can gather research to start building out your blog personas. Here are a few:
- If you have a Twitter account, you can use “Audience insights” in your analytics dashboard to gather detailed demographics on your followers.
- Try joining some Facebook groups that cater to the audience you’d like to attract. There, you can peruse recent posts to get a sense of pain points you can address in your copy.
- If you already have a small following, don’t be afraid to ask them! Send an email to your email list and get to know your subscribers.
Check out Hubspot’s Make My Persona tool to help you frame your ideal blog reader.
#3 Building Your Blog’s Brand
Your brand is NOT your logo or how your website and business cards look.
Branding is the process of determining what you want your reputation to be.
When done well, branding determines how you look, how you sound, and how you act. It is a filter for making decisions—often difficult decisions—about who you are as a business, and perhaps more importantly, who you aren’t as a business.
A strong brand becomes a familiar entity. The name and logo of a business represent a clear set of values, ideas, personality, and actions. Being clear about your brand helps others who believe what you believe, find you, and join with you.
Your brand also acts as a guide for those who represent you—such as affiliates or brand advocates.
As much as design is important, all the things that make your blog sound, look, and feel are the REPRESENTATION of your brand. Everything you do offline and online are the symbol of your blog and what it means to your readers.
- The tone and style of your writing. This can be evident in your blog posts, social media, email, videos, webinars, and any other piece of content you create.
- Your fonts, color palette, photography style, and user experience. Did you know that even the fonts and colors you chose give your brand a personality?
#4 Develop Your Marketing Strategy
Once you have a solid understanding of your brand and your audience, it’s time to develop your marketing strategy. But where do you start?
It starts with your goals and objectives.
We start there because you want to be very specific when you set goals for your blog if you want it to become a flourishing online business someday.
Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.:
If you are too broad with your goal setting, you won’t know the specific strategies or tactics it will take to reach them. But if you have goals with a specific number behind them, it becomes a bit more attainable.
Once you’ve determined your strategy for attaining your goal you can start to consider the best channels to use this strategy. The part where many people fall here is they think with digital marketing, they need to be everywhere all the time and that’s simply not true.
Your readers might spend more time on Twitter than they do Facebook or Instagram more than they do Snapshot. You must live where your audience lives.
It’s actually more effective AND efficient to use specific channels strategically.
After you determine what channels to use, it becomes easier to choose the tools you’ll need to execute your strategy.
Now I want to hear from you. What was your biggest takeaway? What are some things you think should be considered before you start blogging?
Leave a comment below!