I know right now my blog doesn’t look like much having on launched a few months ago, but I hope you’ll find these tips for turning your blog into a business, or a more serious hobby, useful. These are all things I have learned from the past 4 years of blogging, and from my previous two blogs – both from success and failure of design, types of posts, how I promoted them, and getting involved with other bloggers.
When I first started my blog, it was a really fun hobby where I could share the things I love and hopefully get to meet some new and interesting people. I quickly grew addicted to the world of blogging, and over the past few months have been working to get my blog to the next level of moving from a hobby page to something that I can work on as a side business opportunity. I recently started working in Social Media and Marketing, which, even over a short space of time, has taught me so much about the more professional side of the online world and presenting yourself in a professional manner. This is so important to any business, especially as a blogger when your brand isn’t something like a clothing line or a product, its YOU. Hopefully these tips help you to transform your blog, even if just by a little bit to get to that professional business level of blogging.
1. Treat every post as a product you are selling
I’m sure we have all been in a situation when we don’t feel inspired to write something, or we have put so much effort into something for it to not work out how we wanted it to, be it a unique post idea or a product or service we are reviewing. I have certainly had days when I have felt that what I have written just isn’t working. As annoying as it may be to abandon something you have been working on, if its not up to a professional standard, or the standard you want people to expect from your blog, don’t post it. Save it as a draft and go back to it another day when you are feeling more inspired or have found out some more information to make your post shine. You wouldn’t put an item of clothing out in your shop that didn’t go with the rest of the shops feel – so why do it to your blog online?
2. Crowd Source – take cues from everyday life
This is certainly one for lifestyle blogs, but can be transferred to blogs across the board. It’s fantastic to have an opinion on something, but writing a post that is completely your own opinion and more of a ‘rant’ isn’t something that will get your blog noticed as a business. By writing your own opinion, but researching news stories, or asking around for other peoples opinions and experiences can give your post an interesting and unique twist and a much more professional and accessible reader base.
3. Think carefully about your media and content
There are bloggers out there who preach that media or content that isn’t yours should be left of your blog all together. While I completely agree that copying another bloggers post, or indeed a news story or company post or taking images that are copyrighted and don’t belong to you legally is very wrong and should be avoided at all costs, quoting or crediting another’s work with your own opinions and content or using free images for commercial use, for example, from websites such as Pixabay, is completely fine as long as they are appropriately referenced! Obviously, every post you make shouldn’t have media and content quotations that are from other sources in every single post, but here and there can be a great way to build up links to a more professional reader base and a more rounded view of your content. Also, don’t feel that every post has to have an image – sometimes it can be more effective not to have one.
4. Give the whole story to your readers
I don’t mean pour your heart and soul all over your posts, giving every detail of everything, but just avoid exaggeration and lying. It’s painfully obvious, and potentially destructive when trying to get your blog noticed as a professional platform, when a post is made up of lies. Honesty is always the best policy in blogging. Whether its for a lifestyle piece that is very personal, or whether your are reviewing a restaurant, hotel or beauty product, lying will get you nowhere. Be honest – if you didn’t like a product, say why you didn’t like it. For example, if a moisturiser for dry skin that didn’t clear up your dry skin, say why you think it didn’t, suggest other moisturisers that are stronger that could help, suggest people that it may be suitable for. Having a negative opinion on something doesn’t mean you have to slate it – be constructive. As for personal posts, being honest about what has happened can be very emotionally compelling and will connect with your readers. We don’t need every single detail, but what we do need is for what you decide is appropriate to put in to be truthful.
5. Know your target market
Whether you have a specific blog that only covers one topic, or whether you have a variety blog, knowing your target audience and market is key. When writing your posts, think carefully about what tags and labels you want to give your posts compared to what key words your target audience, and indeed companies that you would like to work with will be searching for. This translated greatly into your social media – follow people who are in the same industry as you, or people who are interested in what you have to offer. Having 1000 followers that you connect to and create a positive feel to your social media is 100 times more effective than having 10000 followers, 9000 of which are fake accounts (especially those you have paid for – this is a big mistake and can easily be traced) or not interested in what you have to offer at all. Use your social media bio effectively too – put your blog url into your bio, and make sure people know how to contact you.
6. Have others contribute to your blog and contribute to others
This can be done in a number of ways – through having interviews on your blog from interesting and influential people to you, having guest posters from other blogs post about what they love about and connect with their audience, or by guest posting yourself (though its essential to guest post on blogs that are still in your target market), or by doing collaborations with other bloggers or businesses (this is a fantastic way to get traffic moving between sites). Don’t be afraid to ask people if they would like to work with you – they can only say no, and there is certainly a higher chance of them saying yes if you actually ask!
7. Use appropriate, effective and easy-to-use architecture
There is nothing worse, personally, than discovering a blog that has some great content and connections, but their site is impossible to use or navigate. Fancy layout may seem appealing, and it may seem like a great way to connect to others and make some money off your blog by having a wealth of advertising, links, connections and images on your blog, especially in the side bar and footers, however, this is just plain distracting! Having little things like ‘My Top 3 Favourite Blogs’ with links, or your social media connection widget or one or two advertising spaces is very beneficial, but overkill is easy to do. Make links clear and titles of posts (and imagery) informative to what the post is about without writing an essay. Also, make it easy for people to know how to get around your blog. Have short, but informative page headers and links. Interactive websites are also a great way to give your blog a more professional look, but make sure that it doesn’t distract from the purpose of your blog or your content market. Having a beauty blog that has animations of cars zooming across the screen whenever you click on anything isn’t going to get you very far.
8. Leave your bitchiness at the door.
While it’s more acceptable (although I still wouldn’t want to read it or visit a blog which did) on a personal, hobby blog to have a rant about who dissed your hair colour or new makeup look on Twitter and get involved with ‘Twitter drama’ that’s not directly involving you, you just happened to be on Twitter at the right time to see drama between two other people, this is a massive NO-NO on a blog that you are trying to make more professional and carry forward as a business. Companies, brands and other bloggers don’t want to work with bloggers who are going to sandwich their professional products or posts between rants of who is being nasty to one of your online friends.
I hope these tips help, even if this post was a little bit rants and long! Let me know in the comments below if you are going to give any of these a go, if you are currently starting to move your blog to a business from a hobby, or if you have any alternative tips you like to use that are effective.