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Starting a blog opens a variety of business possibilities whether you already operate a company or want to launch one. Getting started requires securing hosting, buying a domain name and crafting a plan for producing content on a consistent schedule. After the site launches, you can explore monetization and other revenue-generating opportunities.
Starting the Blog
Popular blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger offer you the option of purchasing a unique domain name through their service, but if you plan on blogging long-term, it is best to launch using a hosting service such as GoDaddy, HostGator or DreamHost and manage your domain name through the host. This allows for greater flexibility as your blog grows and reaches a larger audience.
Your hosting service walks you through a basic installation if you opt for a traditional blog format. Picking a theme allows you to customize your website's look to best suit your content. For example, a website focused on architecture may opt for a theme with a photo focus while an aspiring author would want a text-driven site.
Planning Content for Your Blog
Before you embark on a search for a host and domain name, plot a vision and content map for the first several months of your blog, leaving room to pivot as needed. Plan to update your blog a minimum of once a week as it starts up but consider more frequent postings until you establish a catalog of content for search engines, such as Google and Bing, to index and for new readers to explore. Generate a list of topics and prewrite several posts before taking your website live.
Generating Blog Revenue
Income streams for blogging are diverse and range from traditional advertising to affiliate marketing to leveraging an established, popular blog for book deals, speaking engagements and merchandise offerings. For the new blogger, display ads and affiliate marketing are easy to access immediately and offer room for growth as a blog takes off.
Google AdSense offers a low barrier to entry for display ads. You need to be at least 18 years old and have a website that complies with program policies regarding adult content, profanity and offensive content. After signing up, you can create ads in a variety of dimensions for your blog's sidebars, headers or footers, generate HTML code for the ad unit, and copy and paste it on your blog. The ads served are random and pay-per-click units. When a reader clicks on the ad, Google adds a payment to your account. After $100 accumulates, you can send the funds to your bank account.
Affiliate marketing is available through retailers such as Amazon and firms that manage the programs for individual businesses, such as Rakuten Marketing and CJ Affiliate. After you register, you can generate ads for a particular product or store. When a reader on your site clicks through and makes a purchase, you receive a commission, which is a percentage of the purchase price. To maximize affiliate marketing, promote products and services in line with your blog's focus. For example, a beauty blog would experience greater success featuring ads promoting makeup stores or beauty products than legal services.
Whether your ultimate goal is to turn blogging into a full-time business, a side hustle or a tool to promote an existing business, the journey to your goal can offer as many rewards as the destination. Owners of well-managed blogs have become celebrities, embarked on speaking tours and launched adjacent businesses. As you write posts, establish an adjacent social media presence and reach out to others with similar interests. Connect with other publishers. As your blog grows and more advertisers connect with you outside of traditional ad services, embrace new opportunities, such as video campaigns and podcasts, to promote your brand.
Adding to an Existing Business
Blogs can also provide small businesses with an opportunity to establish a digital identity online and locally. Whether you are publicizing a dentist office or a boutique, a blog connects with potential customers through copy that promotes your business while establishing individual expertise. Avoid sharing only straight promotional content. Instead, insert plugs for your business in informational articles or stories about past customers or current products. For example, a dentist office could share tips on keeping teeth white or avoiding cavities and mention cleaning services offered in the article, while a boutique can highlight seasonal fashion trends and tie the information to current in-store offerings.
- Entrepreneur: 4 Ways to Use Your Blog to Market Your Business on Social Media
- PCMag: The Best Web Hosting Services of 2018
- Rakuten Marketing: Affiliate
- CJ Affiliate: Publishers ... Start Your Revenue Engines
- ProBlogger: How Often Should You Blog
- ProBlogger: Make Money Blogging
- Forbes: Seven Ways to Generate Money Using Your Website or Blog Content
Ashley Adams-Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and has covered personal finance, career and small business topics since 2009. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter and holds a BSBA in accounting from Columbia College. Her work has appeared online with USA Today, The Nest, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance.