Dec 212012
 
how to start a popular blog

Your blog will be popular if you stand out in some way. Brand yourself a star!

A reader recently asked me if there is a market for her blog and if she can make money with it.

I’m no fortune teller, but here are a few signs a blog will be popular and a few tips for making money with a blog idea.

Before you start a new (or another) blog, you need to think about your purpose for blogging. Do you want a popular blog? Do you want your blog to earn enough to pay the web hosting costs? Or, do you want to start a non-monetized blog to record your physical and/or emotional journey, which you’ll share with family and friends?

Before you start blogging, know thy purpose. Of course you can change course at any time – which is the beauty of blogging – but it’s good to have at least a sketchy idea about where you want your blog to go, be, and do.

Help for Writers and Bloggers

In 75 Tips for Making Money Blogging, I share how I've been making money blogging since 2008.

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73 Tips for Firing Up (or Just Firing!) the Muse.

Here’s my reader’s question:

“I want to blog but I would appreciate your input before I start. I want to write articles, voice my opinion, and hopefully people will comment. I will write about current news events and various other topics. Is there a market for this and can I make money with a blog of this type?”

I’ll break down my answer into two different answers – because creating a popular blog doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make money blogging.

Will Your Blog Be Popular?

It depends.

What topics or subjects will you cover – arts, sports, travel, entertainment, current events, health, local events, gossip, etc – or will you touch on everything? Do you have enough time to write about everything? Don’t forget that keeping up with reader’s comments can be time-consuming – and yet it’s a very important aspect of blogging.

In my experience, blogs with a narrow focus are more successful and easier to maintain (which is why I created a series of Quips and Tips blogs instead of one huge blog – but I learned that a series of blogs is very time-consuming!).

My most popular blog post is about sperm

The most important thing about determining the focus of your blog is to choose something you’re passionate about, that you could talk and write about for hours.

I created Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility, only to realize that I don’t want to immerse myself in the doom and gloom of being a childless couple or the depression that some women and men feel when they can’t get pregnant. Nor do I want to write endless articles about fertility. Yet, that blog is my highest earner (apart from October, which I explain below).

You need to create a blog based on your interests, hobbies, and passions – not on what can make money. If you can’t sustain your blog, you won’t make a dime.

If you can’t write, fake it

Do you have an engaging writing style and voice? Do you know how to write for online readers? Are you a bit more than interesting – are you edgy and quirky? Do you have a couple of hours a day to spend on your blog? Can you write a post every couple of days?

The bloggers who make money aren’t always good writers. If you can string a sentence together, you can create a successful blog (depending of course on your topic).

Pay attention to the details – such as your comments section

Another really important aspect of creating a popular blog is your comment section. I can’t believe how many blog posts I’ve wanted to comment on, only to jump ship when I realize I have to sign in via blogspot or wordpress.com. Don’t make your readers jump through hoops. Captcha is a hoop; use Akismet instead.

To figure out how successful blogs work, spend a few hours visiting different sites. Note their layout, design, topics, colors, etc. Don’t copy them, of course. Let your personality shine through your blog while paying attention to what works for other bloggers.

Set your blog apart

Yes, I think there is room for a blog that invites discussion about current events and topics. However, I think it needs to offer something different than what readers are already reading and commenting on when they visit bigger or local news sites.

You’ve seen The Huffington Post, right? If Arianna can create a highly profitable, popular blog that discusses events and topics, then so can you! But you need be different than HuffPo.

Do you know HuffPo published a book about blogging? It’s excellent – I blogged the most important tips in The Huffington Post’s Blogging Tips – How to Blog Better.

Can You Make Money With Your Blog Idea?

I don’t think it’s wise to start a blog for the sole purpose of making money. Better, start a blog on a topic you’re passionate about.

Organic search trumps social media

In my experience, the “money making” blogs are the ones that readers find when searching for a specific topic. By “searching”, I mean readers doing an organic search on Google for articles, products, or services that they need to use. And by “a specific topic”, I mean how do to something, how to make something, or how to solve a specific problem in their life right now.

For instance, my Halloween articles (eg, Book Character Costumes) on Quips and Tips for Life’s Ups and Downs are my primo money-making articles. Every October, my blog income skyrockets because people search for costume ideas and click on the links in the article. They are motivated to get that costume.

That’s how Darren Rowse makes so much money on his photography blog; he gets a ton of organic search results and his readers are invested in photography because it’s their hobby or profession. It’s a brilliant blog idea.

Will your blog earn $150 a day?

I honestly don’t know if a news blog can make money because I’ve never tried it. But, the HuffPo succeeded…which means it’s possible. On the other hand, many online magazines and newspapers cost publishers money…which means it’s difficult.

The only way to find out if you can create a popular blog and make money blogging is to try it. You have to give your blog at least a year to grow legs, and you have to be consistent about sharing your blog on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, offline, etc.

Here’s how my Quips and Tips blogs pay my bills: How Do Bloggers Make Money?

Be Careful About How Much Time You Spend on Social Media

In Social Media Is Bullshit, B.J. Mendelson describes why Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc do not work as a successful marketing tool for most small businesses (including blogs! If you’re serious about making money blogging, you need to treat your blog like a business).

In an interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q CBC, Mendelson said one of the best ways for small businesses to gain popularity on social media is to entice other people to tweet or Facebook your links and products. This doesn’t mean paying others, it means creating noteworthy articles, blogs, products, and/or services.

I have over 8,000 followers on Twitter, and get almost no traffic from there. Even when I tweet a link every hour, I get almost nothing. Further, the traffic I get is from people who are surfing. They’re not looking for how to do something, which means they’re not clicking on ads.

Social media doesn’t work for me. It’s organic search traffic from Google that pays my mortgage and sends me on holidays to Jamaica, Hawaii, and hopefully Peru in a couple of months.

Phew – that’s my answer to the whole “will my blog be popular and can I make money with it?” question! I welcome your thoughts below.

For more blogging tips, read Want to Blog, But Don’t Know Where to Start? 5 Tips for Newbies.

  37 Responses to “Will My Blog Be Popular and Can I Make Money With It?”

  1. Its Great post. I’m not at the traffic levels you mentioned but I apply a lot of the practices that you do for my main blog (and they work). What are your thoughts on content “distribution” via social media or elsewhere?

  2. Thanks for the useful post – you need to remain 100% committed to blogging and be very consistent. I

  3. Hi, Laurie,
    Thanks for the information about the AdSense plugin (…I use …a plugin called Quick Adsense) I’m off to take a look at it! (But I’ll be back again later to keep reading. I learn new things often here. (PS I hope that you got a referral bonus from HostGator because I clicked through from your site last fall to signup with them when I started my blog.)

  4. Hi, I just love blogging. it does not matter for me that it will help me earn money or not?

  5. Hi Gang Chen,

    I use WordPress.org for my blogs, and a plugin called Quick Adsense that easily inserts ads wherever I want. I think Blogger’s advertising options are much more limited than WordPress’ are.

  6. Laurie,
    What engine do you use for blogging? I use Blogger by Google. How do you insert the big ad in the middle of the blog? The Blogger only put ad on the side on top bar.

  7. Hi Laurie, thank you so much for this very helpful article! It encourages me to stay focused on monetizing my blogs.

  8. I don’t care if my blog will make money. I just love blogging

  9. Hi Jessica,

    I think far too many people want to blog just to make a quick buck. They don’t realize that blogging for money is more than a full-time job, and requires more skill and perserverence than luck (but being successful also requires a bit of luck!).

    But, it’s less tiring when you love what you’re blogging about :-)

    Cheers,
    Laurie

  10. Dear Aprajita,

    Social media is definitely one way to increase your blogs popularity. So is writing guest posts…but it really depends on the social media outlets you choose and the sites you write guests posts for.

    You really need to experiment until you find the right ways to promote your blog. I hate promoting Quips and Tips because I would rather be writing or doing other fun things in life! That is why my blogs are not nearly as popular as they could be.

    It is hard work to create a successful blog that you actually make money with…but it is possible!

    Laurie

  11. The fact is too many people take blogging lightly nowadays. They don’t understand that setting up a blog and making it relevant both in the eyes of its visitors and in Google’s is a very complex, tiring and long process.

  12. In my opinion social media is the best way to get your blog popular and allowing guest blogging as well as writing for other blogs can also increase your traffic

  13. Thanks for your comments! You really have to believe in your blog, before it will be successful. If you don’t believe in what you’re writing about – if you’re just chasing money – then success will be harder to reach.

  14. Yes why not, your blog can make very good progress but you have to give some time to you blog, and you can make money from your blog

  15. Thanks for the useful article about creating a blog that you love – you need to remain 100% committed to blogging and be very consistent.

  16. Thanks for the useful post – you need to remain 100% committed to blogging and be very consistent. I see many blogs that posted very regularly in one month, then nothing and this is awful for maintaining readers interest. I have learned from this that I will regularly update my blog..

  17. Thanks for your comments – there is a nugget of gold in each of them :-)

    Creating and maintaining a successful, popular blog is a full-time job! Like with anything, it takes time, effort, and energy. One of the most important things is to try different things until you find what works for you and your blog.

  18. Content is the best way to keep people coming to your blog. Real content gets people to link to you and thus boosts your organic search. I think email newsletters are a requirement as well since they provide you a way to contact your reader apart from your blog, not to mention the conversion rates they have.

  19. Very good article. I especially like how you said one needs to blog about what they are passionate about rather than blog just to make money.

  20. Hi Laurie

    I think a blog can make money so long as the niche is right and it can easily be found on Google. Most of my readers are new visitors.
    I agree with your comments on social media I think it is over hyped.

    Cheers
    John

  21. I was surprised when you said that you get hardly any traffic from your social media, considering you have 8000 twitter followers. I suppose some tools work better than others, for some people may be a blog, for other twitter or facebook, but I find quite tiring to control and push them all!

  22. Very useful post, just take an example of our blog we have in blogging atmosphere about an 2 years even that we haven’t make even a single pound.

  23. Well-written article and I agree with all you said. The fact is too many people take blogging lightly nowadays. They don’t understand that setting up a blog and making it relevant both in the eyes of its visitors and in Google’s is a very complex, tiring and long process. Through my journey as a blogger, I’m beginning to appreciate the lengths that bloggers go through to make sure that unique and well-written content is delivered on a consistent basis.

  24. Really useful post. Most newbie bloggers will benefit from this article…It’s important to have a vision prior to venturing into serious blogging…

  25. Another tip for making your blog popular is to write about topics that you’re naturally curious about.

    Here’s a good article, which I just found today:

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-to-blog-successfully-about-anything

  26. Your blog posts are so thorough that I always come back to read more. I’m definitely going to try some of these techniques and tips you’ve shared about making my blog popular, thanks!

  27. Terry, you’re absolutely right, but I don’t see why money shouldn’t be a priority. I don’t care about someone’s motives as long as I get a good final product.

  28. Great tips on making your blog more popular and making money from it. There are some topics that I am interested in but I still can’t write well. Maybe its because I’m not a native English speaker. I’m looking forward to write my first blog article and share with my friends.

  29. Thanks for your comments, Terry.

    I just finished reading Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields – it has several tips from bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Books like that can help anyone start and build any type of business.

  30. Hi Laurie,

    Very well-written article. In my opinion, majority of new bloggers are blogging only for money. Their first priority is to make money from their blog which should be the last priority. Many trends in blogging have changed in the past few years like some basic SEO techniques have died and others are dying after changes made by Google. I think it’s very difficult to predict if a blog will gain popularity, the only way to find it out is to do it.

    Thanks,

    Terry

  31. I love the idea of blogging to learn more about your trade – thanks Len! That’s part of being passionate about your blog, I think. If you build your site around something you love to do, then blogging your progress and what you learned will help you keep your blog vibrant and growing.

  32. Thanks Laurie, enjoyed your post. I have started working on my blog, not for any intent of making money, but to just help me learn more about my work. I find that I research material to post about on my blog, which at the same time, keeps my mind fresh, updated, and informed. So, in reality, blogging helps me learn more about my trade. I have had a few offers from companies looking to place an ad on my blog, but none that matched my site, although I did accept some ad space for my personal web site. So, there are some chances to make some money, but you need to have an established site first. Happy holidays.

  33. Hi Laurie. Thanks for such an awesome article. I am thinking to start a new blog and I hope it will be popular. Your tips will help me to create a good blog. Once again Thanks.

  34. Hi, Laurie! Nice read, thanks for the insight. I love to see things from different perspectives and yours is quite different from mine. I receive most traffic from social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter and not so much through random surfers. Guess I need to work more on this aspect as well :)

  35. Great tips Victoria. Coincidentally, my pregnancy blog is the highest earner, but I don’t enjoy just writing about that, but it can be one of the many women’s topic that I like to write about. Passion is the key to successful writing.

  36. Thanks Victoria – I’m glad to know that news blogs do make money. And social media works for you, which is great.

    That’s why I think it’s so important to try it and see – and don’t let anyone tell you that a certain type of blog won’t be popular, or won’t make money. What works for one blogger may not work for another.

  37. Great tips Laurie! I just wanted to drop a comment and say – news does bring in revenue, speaking from personal experience, and social media can also have a profound impact. I run two websites – one makes most of its money from news, and the other from social media! Both are multi-author sites, but upscaling from a blog to a multi-author site is super easy and will take some of the load off when you just can’t face writing one more article on a topic, lol! :)
    Best,
    Victoria

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