Eight Insider Tips for Turning Your Blog Into a Business – Part 1

The following is a guest post that I lined up to coincide with me going on Holiday! I’ve split the post into 2 sections for easier digesting. Anita Campbell is the Editor of the award-winning Small Business Trends blog. Her blog is central to her business.

People often seem surprised when I say matter-of-factly: yes, you can turn a blog into a business and make money from it.

Truth is, you can make money with just about any kind of website, and a blog is nothing more than a type of website. Of course, you have to make the right moves with your blog if you expect to make money from it. Here is my advice for any entrepreneur who wants to earn money from his or her blog:

(1) Update frequently — Update your blog several times a week, or even better, twice a day. Posting frequently gets traffic to your site, builds your audience, and gives you more pages to get indexed in the search engines. But don’t just take my word for it. According to the latest numbers from Dave Sifry at Technorati, there is a direct correlation between frequency of posting and Technorati rank. The highest ranked blogs average 53 posts a month, or nearly two a day.

(2) Be accessible – Make your email address very prominent. I’ve never understood Internet entrepreneurs who don’t want to be contacted. You are closing yourself out of potential opportunities. For instance, someone may want to hire you for a project. Or a journalist may want to interview you for a media story. They need to be able to contact you easily. Sure, you may have to deal with spam, but I figure that is part of doing business.

Put in place a good email spam filter and smile every time you see a spam message, because one day instead of spam you will see a promising opportunity arrive in your inbox.

(3) Be original – Regularly create original content, rather than always linking to news stories or other bloggers’ posts. When you create original content you give people more reason to visit your blog and link to it and talk about what you wrote. “Best of” lists, “top ten” lists, any compilation of hard-to-find resources, a tutorial or “how to” on a timely topic, product reviews – these are all good forms of original content.

For example, I regularly link to a post at Master New Media because it contains an exhaustive list of the top blog and RSS search engines, all in one place. If you have any data to share, that’s even better, because people love to get specific information they can cite.

(4) Build a community — The key to monetizing a blog or any website, is to have a community that comes back to your site/ reads your feed regularly. You want to develop their trust so that they will be receptive to anything you have to sell, your ads, etc. To build a community, think in terms of giving site visitors something to read (interesting written content); listen to (audio); watch (video or images); or do (interactive features such as polls or forums). Forget link farms. Sure, you could build sites consisting of nothing but AdSense ads in the hope for the odd click-throughs – but no one is going to come back to such sites except by mistake.

(5) Build a house list — Develop an email list and send updates to your email list. A house email list is like gold. It gives you a way to communicate with your community and remind them to come back and visit – and it can be used for marketing purposes. Contrary to popular belief, email is not losing effectiveness. According to a recent Marketing Sherpa survey, the vast majority of marketers say email is becoming more effective.

If you are serious about building your own house list, sign up for one of the email marketing services like Constant Contact – they make the job much easier. Then put an email signup box on your blog, build a page that describes your newsletter and offers one or more archived newsletter samples for readers to see, create a short privacy policy so that they know you take their privacy seriously, and wait for the subscriptions to start rolling in.

Remember, building a list takes time. I started my list in 2003 with 150 of my personal contacts, and just recently hit the 5,000 subscriber mark.

Now, check out Part 2!

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