I’ve been blogging for a long time, and spend most of my days talking to other bloggers. So I forget that there are still people out there who are asking “Just what is blogging, anyway?”
Last weekend, my husband and I went out for drinks with some online friends from here in Lima. Then we started talking about jobs. I was quickly reminded that for some folks, blogging really is almost like a foreign language.
I realized there were probably a lot of other folks like that out there, so I thought I’d share a post today for those of you who are thinking about blogging, but not really sure what it involves and whether it’s really right for you.
So, What Is Blogging, Anyway?
Blog is short for “web log”. It’s really nothing more than a simple website that can have information easily added to in the form of posts. Posts show up in order, newest first. The fact that it can be updated so easily gives it a lot of advantages over the old-school static websites of the past. If you want to learn more about that, Darren Rowse went into a little more detail about what blogs are over on his post at ProBlogger.
There are different ways to get started blogging. You can choose a free site like Blogger, or you can choose to self-host, which I’ll talk about a little more further down in this post.
Blogging can be a way to express your feelings and share your life on the internet, but it can also be a very good way to earn an income. Most stay at home moms who blog fall into one of three categories:
Lifestyle blogs: These are the ladies often known as the ‘mommy bloggers’ even though they don’t all blog about being a mommy. They might blog about mommy and family issues, or they may blog about their life as a footloose retiree. They typically start out doing it for fun, and then when they start building an audience, they realize how much money they could be making. They’re more likely to monetize their blog with ad networks like Google Adsense and with promoted or sponsored posts. Sunny Sweet Days is a great example of a lifestyle blog.
Niche Blogs: Ladies who have niche blogs have picked a specific topic that they blog about, and the majority of their blog posts are about that topic. A weight loss blog is an example of a niche blog. Money saving blogs and couponing blogs are also types of niche blogs. Niche blogs can also used to support a separate online or offline business; for instance, a pet care site could be used to support your pet sitting service, or a craft/DIY site could be used to send traffic to an Etsy store. My blog qualifies as a niche blog – I’m in the “teach people to blog” niche.
I started my professional blogging career with niche blogs. I had blogs in the Halloween niche, fashion (specifically shoes and purses!) and pets. You can monetize a niche blog with ads and affiliate products. You can also monetize with products you create yourself, like printables, sewing patterns, or ebooks.
This is also the form of blogging I focus on teaching here on my blog. While a lot of my basic blogging information is helpful for any blogger, my main focus is on helping people create an affiliate marketing niche blog.
Learn to create a wildly profitable affiliate niche blog >>
Combination blogs: I don’t know if there’s really a name for this… But some blogs are a bit of a combination between niche blogs and lifestyle blogs. I think there’s a tendency for some people to start with a niche blog and then as they become comfortable and start growing an audience, they begin to share more of their life in their posts. I see these especially in blogs from foodies, crafters and homeschool moms.
Wait – What’s This Niche You’re Talking About?
If you’ve been Googling “what is blogging?” you’ve probably read a lot about “finding your niche”. I’ve blogged about finding your niche and niche marketing quite a bit on this blog. But “niche” in this case doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have a niche blog. So I’m going to try to clarify that a bit more here.
Niche Blogging: Obviously, if you do plan on having a niche blog, you need to decide on a niche before you start. The three BIG niches are weight loss/health, money, and relationships, but there are literally millions of other things you can choose from. Those three things are popular for a reason. They’re the three things that cause people the most grief in their lives, so lots of people are out there on the internet looking for solutions. And that’s the key to success with a niche blog. You must find a niche with an audience that is willing to spend money to solve their problems.
Let me explain a little further:
A big niche audience would be weight loss. People are desperate to lose weight, and they’re willing to spend money on things like shakes, wraps or exercise programs to do it. On the other hand, a fanatic audience would be something like model railroad enthusiasts. It might not be as big a niche as weight loss, but model train people LOVE spending money on new stuff!
Lifestyle blogging: On the other hand, what if you’re thinking of having a lifestyle blog? Even if that’s the direction you’re going, your blog needs to speak to a certain niche, or in this case, a specific audience. Most likely, that niche is going to be people like you. If you’re a mom with a new baby, you’re going to connect with other new baby mamas. While your blog won’t be about a niche topic, necessarily, you are going to attract a certain audience and you need to know who they are.
How Do You Compete In a Huge Niche?
If the niche is really big, you can bet your buckets that there’s already a lot of blogs out there on that topic. So what you do is what I call “niching down”. Look for a smaller subset of that huge audience that you can connect with. For example, if you want to have a weight-loss blog, you may focus on “Weight Loss for Women Over 40”. If you want to blog about saving money, you may want to narrow it down to something like saving money on groceries as a mom on a budget.
There are many, many, MANY blogs out there that teach people how to blog. I focused on a smaller niche: the stay at home mom blogger, because that’s what I am, and that’s what I know.
With lifestyle blogs, you really need to focus on a specific aspect of your life. Ree Drummond – better known as Pioneer Woman – did a great job of this by focusing on her transition from city girl to cowboy wife. Other lifestyle bloggers have done this by focusing on their families love of camping or theme parks. Still others focus on homeschooling, or raising children with autism.
I’m betting that most of these ladies focused on these issues without forethought. They started a blog based on what was going on in their life. And of course, not all their blog posts are going to be about those topics, but it will be a running theme throughout.
Niching down to a more narrowly defined audience has lots of advantages:
- Content is easier to create, because you know exactly who you’re trying to speak to.
- Your audience can find your more easily, because they’re looking for exactly what you’re writing about.
- Brands and affiliate programs will love you, because they see that you focus directly on the people they want to sell to.
OK, So What Else Do I Need To Know?
A lot of people decide to start with a free blog on Blogger.com. I do know a few women who have successful blogs on Blogger. But generally, people see self-hosted blogs as more professional and take them more seriously.
Self hosting is only a little more complicated than a free blog. For more info on the options, you can click here to read my post on choosing a self-hosted blog. If you decide to go this route (and I really think you should!), I recommend HostGator for your hosting. They’re one of the best and most reliable hosting companies out there – and where I have all my blogs hosted. Also, you can get an automatic 25% off by using my HostGator coupon code – TAKEACTIONHOSTING.
You’ll also need to purchase a domain name. This is your blog address, your “www.heresmyblog.com”. Think carefully about it. You don’t want to choose something you’ll regret 3 or 6 months down the road. I’ve got some tips for choosing a domain name here.
But Kelly – What Do I Write About?
And finally – content! Content is what your blog is all about. You may think that no one cares what you have to say, or that someone else has already written about it, so why bother. Well, I bet you there are over 10000 blog posts on the internet with the same information I’m writing right now, and guess what?
You’re here reading mine, and there’s a reason for that. No matter how many times something has been written, there are quite likely people out there who are waiting to read it in the unique way that only you can write it. No one else has your perspective and your opinions.
You want to post quality content, stuff that’s important, entertaining, or educating to your audience. And you want to post consistently. If you write 5 posts this week and then don’t post for a month, you’re not going to gain followers. People become loyal when they know they can depend on you for content that is both consistently good, and just plain consistent.
Before I wrap this up, I feel it’s important to tell you that if you think blogging is going to be an easy ride to riches, please reconsider! Blogging is time consuming – it’s not a field of dreams, where if you blog it, they will come! It takes work and patience to find readers and build an audience. It will take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before you really start seeing a return on your blog.
I don’t say that to discourage you, but to help you see things realistically. Way too many would be bloggers give up because they expect things to happen quickly. The time you spend on your blog is like an investment, and over time it builds worth. Don’t give up before you ever get the pay out!
So there’s the basics of blogging in a nutshell. Well, maybe a coconut shell, because that’s a lot of information! I hope it answers the question “What is blogging?” so you can decide whether or not blogging is for you.
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