A Guide To “Getting Professional” With Your Blog
For a lot of bloggers, there isn’t really a key dividing line between when they were running it solely as a passion project or when it became a career for them. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to make that transition yourself. If it is your ambition to become a professional blogger, an influencer, or whatever else you might want to call this career path, there are steps that you can take to make it a reality.
Identify the path to monetization
The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that monetization is, in part, the goal and not a dirty word. A lot of bloggers have trouble getting over the idea that they’re “selling out.” Running your blog is labour and you deserve some compensation for it. But how are you going to get that compensation? There are lots of different ways to monetize a blog, from running ads to writing and hosting affiliate links, to selling your own eBooks or working in influencer marketing with brands. There’s no one correct way to make money, you just need to think about which you’re comfortable with doing and then find the strategies that help you best make money with that strategy.
Have a brand and stick to it
One thing that should be noted about the paths to monetization as noted above is that none of them is going to work is you can’t keep your readership. The first thing you should do, really, is to identify the purpose and the brand of the blog. Make sure that you have that nailed down so that you can make sure that every post is in some way related to it. You can transition your brand over time as well, but as long as you achieve some sense of consistency, you can make it work. If you’re only consistent in making posts that are wildly consistent, then which audience do you think you will be reliably talking to time and time again?
Work for that spotlight
Your career as a blogger is going to largely depend on how visible you are and how much of a following that you have. Your content and how you handle your community are going to determine how you keep that following, but you should never underestimate the power of a little PR when it comes to winning some attention towards your website. To that end, take the time to create a media kit, and to take opportunities to work with both related press and lifestyle publications, as well as brands to promote both your blog and their interests. Consider every new connection and how it could be a potential PR win.
Make sure that your site is pro, too
Your career is a blogger is more than just your personality, your content, or your following. It’s also the site that makes it all possible, the blog. If it has been some time since you updated your design and navigation, then it might be time for a little remote moderated research. Essentially, this is third-party user experience testing that can help you get an idea of what really works about your site as it stands and what does not. From there, you can make the corrections you need or, if need be, give your blog a fresh start and a rebrand. Making that transformation can certainly help you grab a little attention.
Be professional in how you deal with people
Bloggers have the room to get a little informal, to be playful, to use humour in ways that a lot of online businesses do not. However, it is a mistake to assume that because you have the room to be informal that you should never be formal. When it comes to making any appointments or any promises to your audience, to brands, to partners, to other bloggers, you should stick to them as best as possible. Be punctual, be polite, and be committed to any professional promises that you might make. If your professional reputation starts to suffer, all you will have is the passion of your following and it can be hard to reliably make that a long-term career.
Write productively and consistently
What does your content schedule currently look like? Are you laughing at the notion of even having a real schedule? Unfortunately, if you want to make blogging your profession, you can no longer wing it and fly by the seat of your pants. It’s a good idea to put together a conten creation pipeline. This can include several steps, such as the rough concept stage, the research stage, the post planning, the writing stage, and then the stage of posting it. It’s wise to make sure you have at least one idea or project in every stage so that you’re always thinking of, researching on, and working towards posting the next thing. Find your rhythm, discover how regularly you can post planned editorial content alongside reactionary time-sensitive content.
Your community is your job, too
You’re just a content farm that is there to pump out blog posts. A good blog quickly becomes a following that gets more tightly knit as a community with the more time that passes. As such, you should be making it part of your full-time job to support, engage, and nurture that community, both on the blog and on social media. Set aside some time of the day and use social media management tools to make it much easier to interface directly with those who are mentioning, retweeting, and talking about your blog. You don’t need to be constantly on the ball, but you need to be active at least for a bit every day.
The tips above are not exhaustive, nor are they a step-by-step guide. Your goal of running a professional and profitable blog is a discipline, one that will take time and efforts in a whole bunch of different fields. Consider the above tips to be movements in the right direction that requires constant movement. It’s not a checklist, it’s a compass.