The best bloggers do it for the pure enjoyment. There are many aspects of blogging business sure, but the best blogs are the product of passion. Truly love your subject and love the art of writing, and you will create compelling content.
In the past that might have been enough to carve out a career. But in modern times authors have to wear many hats. Not only do they have to create the content, but they also have to run the entire publication. That can be to their advantages, though.
Writing, and therefore blogging, takes time. In order to actually make money for their craft, authors do need to show a bit of business savvy. Thankfully, when it comes to blogging it's not that hard. A little technical know-how and a little hard work can go a long way.
How to run the Blogging Business
1. Start right with a quality web host
The options all look attractive. Dozens of web hosts will offer you an introductory package that costs less than $100 per year. That's less than $8 per month, which seems like a steal for hosting a blog. Yet those deals aren't quite what they seem.
It takes a little research, but finding a good web host is relatively easy.
- Upgrade plans. Introductory plans might be cheap, but a good blog will grow beyond them relatively quickly. Looking at pricing for VPN and dedicated hosting will be important, since authors can anticipate paying those fees eventually.
- Data centers. This takes a little googling, but finding what kind of data centers a company uses can make a difference. I recently read how power company ABB provided secure data centers, so I now look for data centers associated with them.
- Customer service. A customer service rep is a gatekeeper for the technical people. Good reps will connect you to the right person. Bad reps will give you the runaround. The test: call the host and see if a human picks up. That's a good sign. As a question, and see how quickly they connect you to the appropriate party.
2. Find the ad networks that work with your niche
Let me preface this with the observation that ad networks in general don't provide much revenue. Some in the industry call it webmaster welfare, because it pays the bills and little more. Still, if running a couple of display ads pays for hosting costs, it can be a worthy investment.
Google Adsense is always the first stop, but this isn't always the best for a particular niche. Shop around to auction companies, such as Pulse Point, that can provide a higher overall CPM (cost per 1,000 visitors). Also google around for ad networks in a particular niche. A sports blogger would do well to search for “sports blog ad network” and see what comes up.
3. Determine if you're affiliate-ready
While ad networks can pay the bills, affiliate marketing can pay for a lifestyle. Of course, not every blog can handle affiliate sales. After all, it's called affiliate marketing for a reason. There has to be an active marketing element involved if any money is to be made.
The question a blogger or author has to ask herself is whether she's prepared to write about products and services and then point readers in that direction. Some writer are not comfortable with this, and so affiliate links will bring them no revenue. But a little bit of marketing here and there can certainly pay some more bills. It's worth a shot.
4. Always be emailing
The modern web is all about communities, and it's amazing what people will to do help people within their communities. Yet if a blogger is alone on an island, even a friendly community will not help. It's up to the blogger himself to make connections within a community. In most instances, that means emailing.
It takes just a second to dash off an introductory email. The only advice I can provide is that it not be self-serving. Be genuine. Ryan Holiday has a great bit on emailing people you don't know. Make sure to show respect, and make sure to offer something. After that, you can build a real relationship within a community.
5. Guest post like crazy
Just as I'm doing right now, authors need to guest post in order to promote their blogs. This doesn't have to be anything crazy. It should be a few, targeted sites that can provide a few benefits.
- Audience and attention. When an author writes for a new audience she shows her best stuff to people who otherwise might not have heard of her. With some quality material, some of these people can turn into fans.
- Traffic. This isn't greatly important, but traffic does build upon itself. In order to get that snowball rolling, there needs to be a boost from somewhere. That can start with a well-placed guest post.</li
- Ranking. Again, this shouldn't be of foremost concern, but blogs offer a blogger a link back to his blog when he guest posts. Google then indexes that link, and it raises the blog's ranking. Building a few links this way can prop up a blog in search engine rankings for its niche terms.
6. Brainstorm products
Ebooks are hot these days. Many blogs have created ebooks on topics that you won't see in a local book store. Every author has a story — that's why they're authors. Turning that story into an ebook can help generate revenue. It might even generate more revenue than affiliate sales and ad networks.
This needn't be a work of fiction. In fact, fiction ebooks don't sell very well. It should be a story from personal experience that can help others. A blog on internet marketing might write an ebook on link building or SEO. A blog on food might create a unique cookbook. There are so many possibilities, and it's so easy to create an ebook.
7. Analyze everything
It's one thing to implement many ideas on the business end of a blog. It's quite another to keep track of them and determine how they're helping. That is to say, it's not enough to merely collect data. The blogger has to analyze that data and make sense of it in order to make the proper adjustments.
For instance, a blogger might see great success from AdSense, but not from a niche ad network. It's time, then, to start running more AdSense ads. If affiliate sales are doing well, perhaps it's time to change an ad network spot to an affiliate one. Ebook sales not going well? Perhaps it's time to come up with a better offering. These adjustments are necessary, but can only be made after data are collected and analyzed.
Each of these points can go much deeper, of course. This is merely a primer for an aspiring, or perhaps established, blogger to get started on the business end. The good news: this is the internet, where anyone can find information on anything. So go a head: explore web hosts, ad networks, and affiliate opportunities. It's all there for the taking.