1/ Don't Start a Personal Blog Just to Get Advertisers
It always surprises me when a brand new blogger asks how to get ads. Personal blogging, first and foremost, should be an outlet to express yourself. It's where you explore your hobbies and connect with others. I started my blog because of a passion for writing, photography, design, sustainability, and creativity. I never dreamed it would become a huge revenue source.
If you set out from the start to make your blog a profit-making enterprise it takes the "personal" out of it. You'd have to run it like a business, making a business plan from the get-go. You may need start-up capital so you could advertise or cross-promote with bigger blogs or a loan/savings amount to pay bills until your blog's making that green. It's very difficult to make a living from your blog, and it takes a long time to build your audience. (I have been blogging under this name since 2009, I didn't think about ads until at least two years in.) Start your blog from a place of love and passion instead. And that leads into a 2nd, and better, way to earn income from your blog...
2/ Focus on Connected Shops, Opportunities, Networking
Running Thrift Core directly led to my ability to be self-employed. It was not via the advertisements. Instead, Thrift Core made me money by bringing buyers to my online shop and introducing me to marketing clients. I continue to learn from my generous readers. More important than the ads, a blog is a valuable selling and networking tool.
3/ Think of Your Theme
If you want to have advertisers, you may have to pigeonhole yourself a bit. Brands want to advertise on a page with a clear identity. This is another pitfall of starting a blog for advertisers or hinging your living on them; it can limit your blogging creativity. Think of a short slogan for your blog (let's say, 7-11 words max, as limits force creativity) to help you narrow your focus.
4/ Grow Your Readership Authentically
A blog needs readers to sell ads, because these individuals will click through and support your sponsors. A brand new blog, devoid of daily visitors, shouldn't think about ads for this reason. The best way to grow your readership is by posting genuinely helpful, entertaining, quality content. Write the content you would want to read, do it to the best of your ability. Make genuine connections with honest, helpful comments on other blogs and forums. If you build it, they will come.
5/ Ignore Counters, Stats, and Numbers (at least for a while)
When I first started blogging it was random. When I decided to take it seriously a year in, I put all of the skills I learned working as a web marketer/copywriter to the test. I wrote in a specific way, I networked, I social media'd. I looked at what posts were popular and created new posts based on those. I checked my counters, google analytics and stats daily. With that single-minded focus on traffic I got stuck in an unwanted direction (thrifting versus the intended lifestyle theme), because it was popular.
Now I check none of that. I casually blog and write, I'm back in my experimental phase. It's more important that I share exactly what I'm passionate about to keep this space sincere. I highly recommend anyone go through this path of discovery at the start, and it's easier to do this when you ignore the numbers.
6/ Don't Compare. Don't Copy. Be Yourself Completely.
I know it's hard as hell to get out of the comparison rut. You see bigger blogs, you want their ads and clicks. You may be jealous they can seemingly make a living from blogging so effortlessly. Seemingly perfect lives are photographed, shared, sold, and set on pedestals to emulate.
But you know better. If it looks too good to be true, it is. They're not sharing the arguments and frustrations going on behind-the-scenes. Running the biggest blogs requires a huge commitment of time and energy, believe me, they are just as stressed as you are. There are lovely perks, like setting your own schedule and working at home, but it has soul-crushing moments. Stay in your lane, focus on making your work the best it can be. Make it exactly like you want to without emulating another. Like my favorite artist quote says, this is a reward in itself.
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I'm not sharing this advice to be discouraging, quite the opposite. It's my firm belief that everyone should blog and/or keep a journal. But I want to be real and honest, blogging for pay is hard, trying to blog for a full time living is harder. But there are many examples that it can be done. I have marketing services and ebooks on the way for indie business owners that need help, but, as always, feel free to comment below or e-mail me if you have any questions.
Let's Discuss: What do you think makes a good blog? What do you like to read? Do you feel like advertisers take away from the experience?