Recently an adult asked my daughter what I do for a living. “She goes to parties.” was my daughter’s response. Looking at my life, I can see how one could come to that conclusion. Certainly there are many fun opportunities. And yes, cocktail parties are a nice little perk.But the life of a blogger is not all cocktail parties and swag bags.
Every week I get emails from readers who hope to start blogging. Usually they want to know how I got into it, how I built my audience, how I find stuff to write about and most importantly, how do I make money?
So, I thought I’d write this post for those of you who are flirting with the idea of starting your own blog.
When I first started out writing The Coupon Goddess, it was never to gain an audience. I had zero expectations. I just wanted to share my crazy antics in the stores. I think that’s the key. I had no expectations.
If you start out blogging with the expectation that you are going to get thousands of pageviews as soon as you hit publish, then you shouldn’t start a blog. Period.
You have to like to writing just for the sake of writing.
So, where did my readers come from? I have no freakin’ idea. To be honest, when I started writing TCG we were nose diving into a depression. People were interested in saving money. I guess I came in at the right time. Not to mention that blogging was less saturated back then.
And then that crazy Extreme Couponing show came out and the world went nuts. Once again, writing about the right subject at the right time.
But as many of you know, for a time I couldn’t write about shopping any longer due to the accident and I found that writing about shopping was sucking the life out of me. Hence, the birth of Melanie In The Middle.
Now, to answer the question “how do I find stuff to write about”. Basically I blog about whatever is going on in my life. When I’m out and about I always snap pictures of things I find interesting with my cell phone. That way if I have writer’s block, then I can search through my phone for inspiration.
Other than that, I have no set editorial calendar which is very contrary to most of the blogging community. My style is more like a diary. I envy bloggers who write beautiful power pieces on parenting and political activism while I’m writing about my kids making me nuts and warehouse sales.
But that’s what I’m good at. I excel at random.
Next question “how do I build an audience?”. What I’m going to say about this is going to sound terribly harsh, but I want to be honest with you. In order to gain a following, you need to be worth reading. You have to be at least one of these:
- A subject matter expert
In other words, you need to offer something of value to keep people coming back for more. I see so many mom bloggers sharing adorable posts about their kids taking their first steps, eating their first bites of food, heading off to their first day of school, etc.
And as cute and sweet as those posts are (seriously, they make my ovaries erupt), they are as boring as the day is long because so many people have that same cuteness already at home. You need to offer something more. Set yourself apart. Otherwise crickets will be chirping on your blog.
So, don’t be boring.
Last question for today. How do I make money? Well, making money at blogging is no easy task. It’s also inconsistent. Some months I make a good wage and other months I don’t. It’s a lot like freelancing.
Here are they ways I make money from blogging:
- Ad revenue (the more traffic, the more you make)
- Working with brands (make darn sure you only work with brands that you actually like)
- Guest posting on corporate websites
You’ll notice that I do not use affiliate links on either of my blogs. It’s just not my thing although many bloggers make very good money doing this.
I also make money by consulting for brands who want to find bloggers to work with. I guess you could say I’m sort of a match maker. This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. It’s fun and I get paid. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I wish I could tell you that blogging is a great money generator. It really isn’t. Your success will depend on numerous variables which include:
- Traffic (a lot of companies gauge your influence on this)
- Your location (big cities often times have more opportunities, but not always. Look at Pioneer Woman)
- Your skills (you need to have some)
The more chutzpah you have, the more skills you have to offer, and the more engaging you are, the more money you will make. This business is entirely what you make it.
Be bold and network your butt off.
My best advice for those of you who are considering blogging? Just do it. There’s very little investment. So, you won’t lose a lot of money. Do it for the enjoyment. Do it for the sense of community. Do it to make a difference in other’s lives.
Just don’t be boring.