Not a week goes by when I don’t get asked “Emma, I want to start a blog. Can you give me some tips?”
I am so flattered people see me as a successful blogger, and I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished. After all, just one month after launching WealthySingleMommy in August, 2012, I had 9,400 page views in 30 days.
Since then, I’ve found blogging to be amazing. WealthySingleMommy has led to high-paying speaking engagements, an appearance at the United Nations, thousands of dollars in advertising income, invitations to write for top publications like the New York Times and Forbes, and being quoted in amazing outlets like NPR, Wall Street Journal, Women’s Day and CNN. I also found it is easy to earn about $1,000 per month just from a few affiliate partnerships, right away. This year I will earn multiple six-figures from my blog.
Plus, more than any other work I’ve done in my 15+ years as a professional journalist, this platform allows me to help people in a very real way. WealthySingleMommy has connected with hundreds of thousands of women all around the world, many of whom comment and email about how my message has given them comfort when they needed it, helped them find new and higher paying work, enjoy dating, find love, and relish their role as a mother.
To help others create their own powerful platform and blog, I thought about creating a video course (which I would sell top you for a lot of money!) “How to Start a WordPress Blog in an Hour.”
Then I realized that my hosting service, BlueHost, has that very video — FOR FREE. And they do a way better job of helping you with the basics than I could have.
Knock yourself out. Thank me later :)
First step: Find a domain name (it’s free):
Then hit this vid. Sign up for hosting services on BlueHost.
When selecting your theme and fidgeting with design, keep in mind these things that I learned (some of them the hard way. You’re welcome.):
- Make it personal. There is no such thing as an anonymous personal blog anymore. People connect with other people. Use your real name.
- Place your photo front and center. People want to know who is speaking to them. Again: It’s all about connection.
- Social media buttons must be top of the blog, and front-and-center of every single post. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn (depending on your topic and audience) is how people find out about you. Even the most successful sites have very few people visiting directly, but instead rely on social media to draw audiences.
- Prioritize social media channels. Focus on one or two media — Twitter and Facebook are good places to start. Again, this is where people will find you. Readers have very short memories, so you must remind them of your work where they hang out: On social.
- Make it mobile. At least half of content is consumed via smart phones, and that figure grows daily. If your site is not designed to be read on a tablet and phone, and does not have social media buttons for mobile, you may as well not exist.
- Prioritize email building. See at the top and center of WealthySingleMommy the “Free Guide”? I didn’t have that for the first TWO YEARS of blogging. I estimate I missed out on collecting about 10,000 email addresses. Don’t make this mistake! Email is a powerful way of connecting with your audience, including selling them stuff. I use email management service Aweber, which is one of the most popular ones, and offers great customer service.
Once you get your new awesome blog up and running, here are my basic tips for driving traffic:
- Post regularly. I post at least three times per week. Once per week is the minimum.
- Headlines: STRAIGHT-FORWARD. Just say what the post is about. This is important for SEO (search engine optimization, which is how Google helps people find your site. For example, I use the term “single mom” whenever I can, since that is what my blog is about, and the search term I want people to use to find me).
- NO PUNS. If you try to get clever with headlines, you miss opportunities for SEO power. They are confusing and make people think — which no one has time for when you’re competing against — literally — millions and millions of other, straight-forward headlines. Plus, puns are horrible. No one appreciates puns except your corny 70-year-old uncle. Again: NO PUNS.
- Interact with your readers! Respond to every comment, whether on the posts or social.
- Have a point of view. There is so, so, so much content out there. Who should anyone care what you have to say? If you have something new, surprising, personal, controversial, unorthodox, funny, edgy, sad or jarring, you win. Plus, when you have something to say, big-name media pay attention, and interview you. I didn’t get quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Women’s Day and other big outlets by being boring.
- Connect with other bloggers. Email other bloggers, and editors at large sites with audience relevant to yours, and simply ask if you can guest post. Do not ask for money, but do ask for a direct link to your blog. This builds readership and SEO.
- Connect with influencers. Tweet your latest post to the big names in your area. Send an email introducing yourself to the hottest podcasters with shared target audiences.
- Track traffic. Google Analytics is free, easy to use, and has an app so you can stalk your traffic, minute-by-minute, on your phone. This way you can start to understand what posts resonate with readers, what marketing efforts work.
- Partner with really successful people. Your network is everything — not just for landing clients. But for inspiration, finding best practices, sharing good vibes and surrounding yourself with support and, well, success.
- Think big. Really big. Then think bigger. Because, really, what’s the point otherwise?
Once you get some nice traffic going, it’s time to monetize. I’ve found the easiest way is through affiliate ads — like the one I have with Bluehost, which pays me a flat fee every time someone signs up through my site. Other affiliate partnerships include FlexJobs, Match.com, Care.com and CashforDiamondsUSA.com.
Find these partnerships either directly through the company sites, or networks like:
A few tips for success with affiliate marketing:
- Be authentic. I never write about products I don’t really truly endorse and/or use. People follow me because I’m honest. It doesn’t work if I suddenly start promoting sleazy weight-loss programs or whatever. For example, I really love FlexJobs, the career board for part-time, telecommute, remote and other flexible jobs. I know the founder, and just this morning bumped into a SAHM mom I know while I was working at Starbucks and recommended the site by showing her on my laptop.
- Write about how you use these products. Again, this is about building rapport and trust with your following.
- Examples of these posts:
Finally: Keep at it. Blogging is hard work. It is also very rewarding, powerful way to connect with other people and change the world. It can lead to professional opportunities, income, personal growth and, well, lots of fun. But there is no fool-proof recipe for blogging success. Every successful blogger I know has tales of months and years of ruthless writing, trying numerous marketing efforts, and staying focused and energetic — even when it gets discouraging.