When you’re just starting out as a blogger, the temptation to start monetizing your blog is so strong. You may look at it as “easy money” or maybe you’re just eager to find a way to earn some extra income. Neither perspective is inherently wrong, but I’m here to tell you that blogging because of your desire to make money will almost never work. If your primary goal is to earn while you blog, especially when you’re just beginning, then your goals are entirely skewed and you’ll spend more time judging your success based on how many dollars a post made you, rather than the interaction you received from new readers or how well the post came together.
I cannot stress this enough – blogging must be about the passion first, before anything. If you aren’t blogging because you love the content, love writing, love designing, love connecting, you will frustrate yourself into quitting and then the world will be deprived of your unique vision and creativity. I’m a firm believer that anything you do should always be about establishing a base, first and foremost. From there, you build upward – your readers, your ideas, and, eventually, your income.
I want to share with you 3 things you should always do before you even think about trying to monetize your blog.
Get your blog the way you want it
Whether you’re finding yourself a free or nominally-priced templates (I recommend ThemeForest as a great starting point) online or having a designer build you one from scratch, take the time to get your blog looking exactly the way you want it. When I started RecentlyHeard.com and JordanDAmico.com, I would spend weeks pouring over every single detail. Nothing was going to be left untouched when I was done with it. It had to ultimately be a reflection of me as a creator and I knew that had to shine through as the first step in creating a connection between those who would soon be reading my content.
Over the next four years, I’d spend even more time and energy (and money) on RecentlyHeard.com, changing the look to reflect my current interests, aesthetics, and a lot more. The blog always, always, always had to look the way I felt creatively. Of course, there were certain concessions I made for design trends I knew people would respond positively to. But, it ultimately came down to my individual taste. If you don’t love every square inch of your little corner of the internet and if you design it for other people, I can almost guarantee you’re already heading down the wrong path.
Get creative and let the juices flow
You have a blog and it’s perfect. Now, get creative. I hope you spend hours and hours and hours every day thinking about your blog – about what you’re going to write, what you want to share, what you’re going to tweet, what you’re going to pin, and so on and so on. Spend as much time as you need thinking about ideas for content, about what your niche in the blogging world is and how you want that to come through in your blog posts. Try out new posts and see how your readers respond, then go back to the drawing board until you can find something that works for you and connects with your readers. Remember to always lead with authenticity and never click ‘Publish’ if it doesn’t feel like you’re being yourself. Nothing – and I mean nothing – makes my skin crawl more than when I’m about to publish an article or a blog post that feels completely inauthentic. I could never defend what I’d written or talk about it passionately with friends because I truly don’t care about it. If I ever led with that mindset, I’d be so screwed because I know my passion – what got me to this point – would fizzle out in the blink of an eye.
Find your social influence
Of course, we all know how important social media is to growing your blog. Each platform – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – is a branch on your tree and each one needs to be running at full speed to help your blog rise towards the sun. Spend time finding your groove on each platform and what works for you. Spend time interacting with likeminded people and building meaningful relationships. Spend time figuring out which kinds of content work on each platform. Social media should be treated the same way you think and act on your blog. Always be yourself and always lead with passion and enthusiasm for what you’re saying. Don’t Instagram a photo you hate because you think other people will like it. Don’t tweet out a quote you don’t believe in because you think it will get retweets. Don’t post something on Facebook you aren’t excited about because you think it will get shares.
Once you’ve established the foundation and, most importantly, done the leg work, how are your readers responding? Are they loving your content? What does your traffic look like to your blog? Is it consistently growing (even just a little bit)? Maybe it’s time for you to look into ways to monetize your blog now. If you’re looking for something to keep your daily tasks on track, I have a free printable designed just for that. Print it out and keep it with you throughout the day.
I know a lot of people get into blogging because they want to make money and I 100% understand that feeling. I’ve been blogging since I was 18 (about 9 years) and so I speak from experience. If your #1 goal is to work with brands and become an influencer and buy into the idea that you will easily make $1,000 blogging if you follow the path of another blogger, you won’t. It’s as simple as that. I’ve seen a number of people in social groups, proudly declaring they’re starting a blog or have only just launched it a week prior (go you!), already asking how they can work with top-tier brands and monetize their content. I want to save you all some time, as someone who has worked the influencer game from both ends: The people you connect with at brands and companies that make the decision to work with a blogger or influencer are really good at what they do and having a nice blog with good photos isn’t enough. They know how to look for your true social reach, beyond the superficial likes on your Facebook page.
This is all to say that I hope you lead your blogging adventure with passion, above all else. It can be, and will be, such a rewarding endeavour for you, both mentally and emotionally. I’ve somehow learned more about myself while blogging than I have through almost anything else in my life. It has given me time to reflect on who I am, what I feel, and what I believe. If you’re looking to find the same about yourself, let’s connect.
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