Today we want to talk about starting a blog.
But first, we need to make a big fat disclaimer.
We started Ship 30 for 30 to help writers avoid making this MASSIVE mistake when starting to write online.
The problem for people just getting started is launching a blog makes two big assumptions:
- You know what you want to write about
- You know what readers want from you
99% of beginners don’t have answers to either of these.
We see so many people fall into this trap.They spend hours and hours (and money) setting up a blog, learning about SEO, tinkering with design themes, only to hear crickets once they hit publish after four months of setup. Then 30 days later, they fizzle out, give up, and claim blogging doesn't work.
Here’s the thing: blogs slow down the learning process.
And it’s hard to get feedback in an environment with zero traffic.
Instead, you want to write in social environments, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. You'll have millions of potential readers, 1000x faster distribution, get rapid-fire feedback, and it won't cost you anything or take time to set up. It's a no-brainer.
Do not start a blog (yet).
Instead, start a Social Blog (where readers already are) and learn.
End of disclaimer.
So, When SHOULD You Start A Blog?
There are two scenarios when you should consider starting a blog.
Scenario #1: You've validated your high-performing topics and are ready to give readers MORE of "what's working."
The vast majority of people who start writing online “think” they know what readers want to hear from them. They're usually wrong. And the truth is, you won't know until you write, publish, and gather data. You'll either confirm your assumptions with data, or you'll learn that you were wrong and discover new topics that perform better. In either case, you now know.
Once you know what is resonating, then it makes sense to double-down, build out a website (maybe), and move readers over to your own domain. Just remember, if you start here, you are building entirely on assumption. And you will usually end up building the wrong thing.
Scenario #2: You want to build a business.
People think a blog is just a personal platform to share thoughts and ideas. But the reality is, a blog is a business, and it requires careful planning and strategy to make it successful. From figuring out the right niche, understanding your target audience, creating valuable content, and using effective marketing tactics - all of these elements contribute to making a blog a thriving business.
Once you've learned what works and what doesn't, and you want to turn proven topics into products, services, etc., then it makes sense to have your own site. But again, before you take the time to build a product or launch a service, don't you want to make sure you know that's what your readers want?
The truth is, you can go years online without a blog or website.
The only time you should start a blog is if your website is ACTUALLY your business (aka: your business is to monetize the site with ads and/or sell products like a store).
Again, if you want readers, write in social environments.
Period. End of story.
A Well-Structured Blog That Generates Organic Traffic COULD Make A Lot Of Money
A blog with a solid monetization plan could be a gold mine.
"The Penny Hoarder" blog makes $40M+ per year promoting affiliate products related to personal finance, such as credit cards and financial tools. They also make money through sponsored content, e-books, courses, and display ads. It has a well thought out monetization and marketing plan, which has resulted in a profitable and successful blog.
This is not the norm. And it's not a guarantee.
It takes an enormous amount of work to structure your blog so that it is organized, user-friendly, and easy for readers (and search engines) to find what they are looking for. Remember, people don't read linearly online anymore. They read spontaneously, so even if you do a good job getting them to your site, chances are they will be gone within 30 seconds of scanning any post that led them there.
Keeping readers on your blog is hard enough.
Turning attention into money is even harder.
How To Start Blog Writing: 3 Tips For Building A Blog And Publishing Your First Post
From here, we are going to proceed under the assumption that you have clarity on your niche—you know what you're writing about and what your audience wants.
- You Practice In Public
- You validate your high-performing topics with data
- You have clarified your language and created your niche
- You have a library of content that continues to grow week after week
- You are now here: thinking about moving to your own site.
Don’t skip to Step 5.
Decide On Your Monetization Strategy
Spend 10X longer thinking about how you will monetize your blog than how to build it.
From selling products to advertising and affiliate marketing, there are plenty of ways to monetize. The trick is to choose the method that aligns with your blog's niche and your goals.
For example, if you're a fashionista blogger, getting paid to promote clothes and accessories might be the way to go. If you plan to sell products, you need a platform that has e-commerce capabilities, like Squarespace.
Once you know your goal, buy a domain name, pick a hosting platform, and start configuring. Sites like Carrd, Wix, even Wordpress, make it dead simple to get up and running fast.
Copy/Paste Your Top Performing Content
If it works well on a social platform like Twitter or LinkedIn, chances are it will work on your blog.
Go into your social analytics platform. Sort by “Views” for a broad understanding of what's popular. Curate your top-performing content based on Views instead of engagement as it varies on different platforms. Views are a more universal metric and hits tend to transfer platforms.
Copy and paste your social post to your blog.
Keep the same headline and hook, but take a closer look at the format to ensure sub-headings and text flow. Put on your reader hat, scan the post, and check for any inconsistencies. Elaborate and add pictures if you want. Hit publish!
Showcase your best and most valuable content.
Build Your Blog With Proven Short Form Content
Build on the work you’ve already done, and the data you’ve gathered.
Your job is to assemble words, sentences, and ideas the data is already validating and proving to “work,” just in new and different ways. Don’t sit down, open a new word document, and start at the beginning. Start from your short-form content (Tweets, short LinkedIn posts, even short Atomic Essays) as “Outlines As Content.”
For example, look at this individual tweet Cole wrote.
Looks like an outline, right?
It was popular, so Cole expanded it into a Twitter thread. The thread performed well too, so he expanded it even further into a blog post. By the time you publish to your blog, you should know the topic is performing well with your audience.
How To Monetize Your Blog: 4 Tips For Making Money Through Blogging
The key to making money with your blog is finding the right balance between making money and delivering value to your audience.
- Focus too much on monetization, you risk being the used car sales lot of the internet.
- Don't focus enough on monetization, you may never be able to put food on the table.
Ads, affiliate marketing, and selling digital products and services are all ways you can generate revenue. They each have their advantages, and the right approach depends on your blog and your goals.
Make It Easy For People To Find Your Blog
Before you can sell anything, you need people visiting your website.
No traffic, no money.
It's a simple formula: the more traffic you generate, the more opportunities there will be for people to see your business and brand.
- Include links in your social media bio
- Optimize your content for organic search
- Drive traffic back to your website in your blog posts (or others)
Sell A Product or Service
Find out what type of content your audience is looking for, then create it!
For example, selling cookbooks or recipes on a cooking blog makes total sense. You could also offer "courses" that teach people how to make their own meals in the kitchen (and maybe even get them started with some basic equipment).
If you own a blog about fitness and health, then selling workout plans or workout videos makes a tone of sense. Offer up nutrition plans that are tailored to each individual's goals (lose 10 pounds in 30 days, gain 5 pounds in 30 days, etc.)
Make It Easy For People To “Buy”
Include an obvious "Buy" button on your website.
Make it easy for people to buy once they get there. You can't sell products and services if there's no way for people to buy them.
- If you want people to buy your book/eBook, they need to know you have a book/eBook for sale.
- If you want people to buy your course, they need to know you even have a course to begin with—and what problem it solves for them.
And remember your free content on social media and your blog is the "engine" that introduces people to these more valuable assets.
Ads, Affiliates, And Sponsors
Don't overdo it.
If you have proven that you can get traffic to your blog and have built an audience of readers who are interested in your niche, then consider folding in ads, affiliate links, and sponsorships.
Behind each of these monetization strategies is a rabbit hole of techniques and strategies that you could spend months learning about. It's too much for us to cover here. Just remember, you want people coming back to your website. Showing ads or affiliate links over and over again until a reader clicks on something is the fastest path to losing traffic, not growing it.
Focus on writing for the reader. Double-down on the data and build your content flywheel. Readers will come back because they like what they see and want more of what they found the first time.
The money will come. We promise.
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