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How to become a professional blogger

Girl blogging on a laptop
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In recent years, social media has been revolutionising the way people find jobs. Social media is now becoming a job in itself, with many people turning their blog or website into a viable moneymaker. If you’re hoping to become the next Perez Hilton or Sam and the City, here are some simple steps to get started.

Getting started

If you are considering starting a blog with making money as a goal, there are many things to consider besides where to put your advertising. Creating and maintaining a successful website is incredibly challenging, especially if you are more concerned with profits and page hits than creating interesting content.

Most successful websites and blogs start out as an avenue for a particular interest or as an outlet for creativity or emotion. Think about the area or niche that you’re passionate about – whether it is music, technology, fashion, social justice or exotic insects of South America. It needs to be a topic that excites you and inspires you to start talking.

Credibility

The instant nature of the Internet has created a shift towards online news sources – and now online information, including many blogs, are seen as reliable resources. Australian site Crikey, an independent news blog, has garnered more and more influence and credibility with its online coverage of news and politics. Blog Mashable, created by 19-year-old Scotsman Pete Cashmore in 2005, is now listed in the top 10 blogs in the world and is regarded as a reliable source on web developments and social media.

Mia Freedman, former Cosmopolitan editor, now runs a successful website, Mamamia. She has noticed the shift in loyalty from print to online information and entertainment.

‘More and more I see magazines losing credibility with readers as people start to understand the level of digital manipulation that goes on. Websites have an authenticity that magazines can’t even hope to have,’ says Freedman.

Mamamia has a loyal following of women in Australia and overseas, with over a million hits a month.

The Bloggie Awards, considered the most prestigious awards on the Net given to outstanding blogs in different categories as voted by the public, have also helped to change the reputation of blogs as a hobby into a credible and serious media format.

This has also upped the stakes, and in order to be taken seriously as a blogger you need to create accurate and non-defamatory content. Keep a check on copyright and trademark laws. While opinions are valued in the online world, remember that blogs are not exempt from legislation.

Passion over qualifications

There are no requirements to start your own website or blog apart from a commitment of time and creativity. And this is the reason for their success as well as their overwhelming quantity. What conveys strongly through one’s personal blog or website is the passion, sense of humour, and quirks of the creator.

Dave Ross, co-creator of Australian blog Stoney Roads, created the website armed with simply his passion for deejaying and music, after he saw how popular blogs were becoming.

The conversational tone of the bloggers, funny posts and updated content work like a charm and keep his followers coming back for more. With large numbers of visitors flocking to the website monthly, the Stoney Roads crew began to monetise the site and turn it into a brand.

‘Our popularity is a result of a dash of pixie dust, a drop of ninja blood and some smurf droppings! But really comes from a combination of regular updates, talking to as many artists as possible, replying to emails, getting new music first and keeping the blog looking fresh and interesting. It’s easy to do when you enjoy it!’ says Ross.

Stand out from the crowd

In such a saturated market, using your strengths to your advantage can help attract a devoted audience. Have a think about what makes you so special. If you have a great way with words be sure to display it through your writing. Or perhaps you have an eccentric sense of style.

One of the most successful fashion bloggers, Tavi Gevinson, is a prime example of how playing up your quirks and characteristics can be a recipe for success. At the age of 13 Gevinson has a blog called Style Rookie, which draws nearly 30 000 readers each day. Her tongue-in-cheek writing and cultural references make for a highly enjoyable read, while her love of fashion and cutting-edge style has won her acclaim outside of the virtual world, with front row seats to fashion shows, interviews and guest columns in magazines.

Virtual communities

Blogs and websites let members feel connected. People are attracted to this sense of belonging and enjoy being vocal in an active society. It is up to the blogger to foster this communal relationship by engaging in ongoing discussions and maintaining two-way communication.

As Mia Freedman explains, ‘People don’t go to church as much as they used to; they don’t know their neighbours anymore. Websites like Mamamia have become the new community for women to reach out and connect with other people, share things and support each other.’

So how can you draw readers to your blog?

Spread the word that you have a new blog to your friends and family. Promoting your blog through relevant sites and forums is also a great way to attract a readership. Be careful not to create spam and make sure you have permission before you promote your website on somebody else’s.

Free blogging websites often provide basic tools on monitoring traffic to your site. Keep an eye on the trends and statistics. The best thing you can do to improve your traffic and search engine optimisation (SEO) is to make your posts consistently interesting, relevant and ‘sticky’ so that people will want to read on for longer and return to your site.

Always remember why you started blogging in the first place. If you concentrate on the profit side of things, it will come across in your website and may cost you more than you make.


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