Bored? Want a Hobby? Need extra Cash? Is Blogging for You?

by Sherryl Perry on July 30, 2010

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Seems these days, everyone knows someone who’s blogging. Whether it’s for fun or for profit, people are blogging. In my previous post, “To Blog or NOT to Blog. That is the Question”, I geared the discussion towards people who want to make money either directly with a blog or by driving traffic to an existing website (presumably where you’re trying to make money promoting a product or service).

Blogging is definitely a great way to promote a product or service and it absolutely has a place as part of an online-marketing strategy but not everyone who blogs is going to be successful monetizing their blog. Making extra cash is always nice but what if it’s not your primary focus right now? Maybe you already have a full-time schedule with school, family and/or work but you still think a blog could be fun. Maybe you’ve recently been down-sized (or fear you’re about to be) and you want to do something online but you’re not sure exactly what. Blogging could be perfect for you. It would add one more skill to your repertoire, you could make new online friends and you could just have fun with it.

Here are three tips to help you formulate some sort of a plan/roadmap to starting a blog. (Roadmaps can be helpful to eliminate speed-bumps and detours down the road.) 

Tip #1 – What’s your Passion?

Well, if you’re going to blog and you have any hopes of sticking with it, you probably should pick something that you know a little about or at least enjoy. People blog about all sorts of things ranging from family, humor and politics – to specific people, places or things. It certainly never hurts to write about something that you have a passion about. Maybe you’re passionate about going-green or you have great tips on supporting a family in a down-economy. Bottom line is that blogging is a commitment. The Internet doesn’t need any more abandoned blogs! If you are curious at all about what sorts of blogs are out there, take a spin by Technorati and see what the buzz is about.

Tip #2 – Free Blogging or Self-Hosting ?

Free is tempting. Free often works but in the long-run, free sometimes does end up costing. There are plenty of opportunities out there to host a blog for free. Blogger.com (owned by Google) is one option. WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org – the open-source effort behind the WordPress software) is another. Basically, you’re hosting for free under their domain name not yours which means that instead of promoting your brand – you’re promoting theirs. An option to seriously consider is  to “self-host” your blog

So, what does it mean to self-host your blog? Well basically, you need 3 things:

  1. A Domain Name: (Figure on spending about $12 a year for a dot-com domain name, including the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) fee.
  2. A Website Hosting Plan: (Beware of free hosting and really low-cost plans. Expect to spend $5 to $9 a month depending on your needs. You may want to read “Is Website Hosting More than Just a Server?” before selecting a hosting vendor.)
  3. Blogging Software: (WordPress open-source software is a good choice. Hosting your blog with a vendor that specializes in WordPress should make the installation easy. If they have good customer support and a forum, you would also have an additional support system. BTW – In case you didn’t already know, open-source software is free to use.)

Tip #3 – Why Not Start Now?

Making decisions like using free blog hosting, self-hosting and even which hosting vendor to go with should not be taken lightly. Yes, you can always move your blog but instead of paying now… you may end up paying later. And the cost of your time, aggravation and possibly lost-opportunities may be worth more than the (relatively) minimal investment now. Just something to think about! Free blogging is definitely an option especially if budget is a deciding factor. Whatever you decide, try to not let “analysis-paralysis” get in the way of starting today. 🙂

As always…. please feel free to offer your thoughts, ideas and experiences. Your two-cents is worth a lot more these days!

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Swayam October 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Thanks Sherryl, for the update! I’ve started an online marketing Blog under Blogger.com but I’m facing problem joining Google AdSense 🙁 they say that my “content is inappropriate”.

I don’t know why they say so because I write original contents! I create them!

Can you kindly take a look and help me out…

Hoping to hear from you soon! 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
October 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

I just had a chance to check out your blog and I’d like to email you offline. Please either send an email to Sherryl [at] keepupwiththeweb [dot] com or use the contact form on this site.

My initial impression is that you should seriously think about moving your blog to your own domain. I already have some ideas (and a few questions). I look forward to hearing from you. – Sherryl

Allegra Sinclair September 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Hi Sherryl,
I think point #3 about starting NOW is very important. I suspect many people identify a passion and are not dissuaded by the actual blog set-up. Instead they procrastinate until some dream-killer (although perhaps a well-meaning friend or family member) convinces them that it’s not the right time, or the effort put into blogging is not worth it. Who knows all the things we might have accomplished if we had simply gotten started?! I think if we would be more protective of our goals and desires and just do SOMETHING, we would amaze ourselves. Allegra

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
September 29, 2010 at 11:02 am

That’s a wonderful way of looking at life Allegra. Be “protective of our goals and desires”. When I announced that I was going to blog, my husband, who is my biggest supporter, mentioned a couple of times how many bloggers are out there and how it’s close to impossible to make money at it. He supports pretty much anything I want to do but if I weren’t confident and driven, I may have simply put this whole blogging idea on the shelf. Now, I’m trying to convince him to start his own blog! I’m betting he will. 🙂

Dvorah Lansky August 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

The ol’ “free versus self-hosted” blog discussion!

I like to compare free blog platforms to renting an apartment while self-hosting your blog is more like owning your own home. With your own home you have much more flexibility, freedom and obviously, ownership. You also have a branded domain name which gives you more credibility and search engine rankings.

Great article Sherryl!
D’vorah

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

Great analogy Dvorah! Hope you won’t mind if I “borrow” it. 🙂

Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
August 6, 2010 at 7:44 am

Yes blogging has become an important part of marketing for better or for worse.

Agree with you that self hosting is optimal. However, to choose the right provider is crucial. Made the mistake of opting from Godaddy which was a mistake. Sure you can always move it but it’s a major headache to put it mildly. So be careful wich hosting company you choose since it will have long term effects.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 6, 2010 at 9:41 am

I couldn’t agree with your more about choosing the right hosting vendor. Even if you start out with a vendor (that’s meeting your needs at the time) you may end up having to move your site. For anyone who is facing that decision, I wrote this article: http://keepupwiththeweb.com/afraid-to-move-your-website-but-know-you-should/

Angie Perez August 6, 2010 at 12:58 am

“Not everyone who blogs is going to be successful monetizing their blog.” OMG, this is so true. I’ve been blogging for about a year now and I just found my authentic voice. I know it sounds corny, but it took me a while to figure out what I could write about for hours on end and make it so that other people want to share and bookmark my site; although, I am not blogging as a hobbyist. I make blogging part of my work day and leverage my blog entries to educate, attract and engage my clients.

My fiancé has a hobbyist type of blog and he does a lot with videos. The most important thing in blogging for me anyway is building an audience and making a connection with them. At some point, with enough traffic and when you get noticed, the opportunities to monetize your blog will start. My fiance has 130 subscribers. . .after a few months. It’s not a huge number but he likes that he got them all through good content generation.

I agree with Susan. BlueHost Rocks!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 6, 2010 at 9:54 am

Angie, Sounds like you and your fiancé are well on the path to monetizing your blogs. Finding your “authentic” voice and connecting with your audience is the key to success. Thanks for joining the conversation. Good luck to both you!

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I am not launching another site Sherrly, one is certainly enough for me at this time. I meant launching another training product.

I have been blogging about 18 months and still learning as I go. Rob I use BlueHost and I must say they have been good so far and very helpful.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Sorry, I misunderstood you. A product launch… good for you! Keep us posted. That’s probably as big (or bigger) a project than launching another blog. It’s good to hear good things about BlueHost. I use Rochen but I always welcome learning about other reliable hosting vendors too. Thanks.

Rob Berman August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I think you make some great points. When I wanted to start blogging I had coffee with a successful blogger who went through some of these questions and a host more of them. Branding is key and you can get hosting for about $50 per year including the domain registration. I did it with BlueHost who has a great reputation.

Rob

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Thanks Rob. I hope it helps someone who is on the fence about whether or not they should start blogging. I agree that branding is key. To me, spending $50 a year to register a domain name and host your site should be looked at as an investment not an expense.

Julia M Lindsey August 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm

One year ago I converted a static web site, an inspirational blog and a blog on publishing. I merge all of the sites together under one domain. My traffic has increased significantly. Of course I blog more consistently and I can focus on one site. I do think having everything in one spot is better for your brand and SEO.
Julia M Lindsey recently posted..Creating an SEO Keyword Strategy for Your WebsiteMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Wow! That must have been a fairly large undertaking to merge all of the sites together. Thanks for letting us know that your traffic has increased significantly. I agree completely that having everything together is better for your brand and SEO. It’s good to hear from someone who has proof that it works!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I hope Alison comes back and comments again. I know she didn’t ask for advice but I really think integrating her blog into her existing website makes sense. She’s now driving traffic to 2 domains rather than one.

You’re launching another site too? Where do you find the time? How long have you been blogging for Susan?

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hi Sherrly,

I agree about branding and the domain name. Where possible I think it should be part of a website. Everything I do goes under my brand name. Also blogging has changed from the advice where you shouldn’t sell to it makes sense. Having a couple of products on my site has definitely helped my income and I am about to launch another.
Susan Oakes recently posted..How to Last The Distance- Survive and ThriveMy Profile

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I think a blog is the centerpiece of any individual’s social media strategy so, of course, I’m all for them. I admire anyone who launches more than one blog — I find it time-consuming enough to keep up the quality of content with one blog. When I’m getting stuck on a particular blog — or I find myself running to the refrigerator instead of writing — I impose a 30-minute rule on myself. Get the blog written and posted in 30 minutes. That seems to get me jump-started. Some of my best blogs (in my view) were written very quickly because I was either so passionate about the subject or it was tied to a news event and I had to get it out quickly. Other blogs, that weren’t as powerful (again, in my view) I dithered over for and hour or two. So I think the point is to write what you know and are passionate about and the words will come tumbling out.
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..If you register your site for free at My Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm

That’s good advice Jeanette. I’m still new to blogging. So, I’m trying to find my stride. Your comment made me take a good look at which of my posts have the most comments. Some of the ones that I spent the longest to write have the least comments. They are also the most detailed which I would have thought would have made them popular because they’re teaching something. Someone commented on another blog that when people are looking how to do something, they tend to get their answer and leave. That could be part of the reason no one has commented. Also, having more comments on my newer posts could simply signify that more people are finding my blog and are reading what’s recent. I should go digging through my Google Analytics to see page views and time spent but that might just mean I’m procrastinating the post I’m supposed to be writing now! Maybe, I’ll try your 30-minute rule as soon as I get back from the fridge. 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 5, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Paul, I would love to read those blogs if you launch them! I’ve been toying with the idea of launching a couple of more blogs too but I’m still tweaking this one. I figure I should finish what I started but the idea of starting a less intense blog is very tempting. Sometimes, I labor over the articles I post here. I read somewhere about writing the 15-minute blog post. I can’t do it. How long do you usually spend writing an article?

paul novak August 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I’m curious as well Sherry. Adding the blog to a sub directory of your main domain and using a few internal links is a great way to increase your main sites SERPs and rank, not to mention cheaper.

You’ve read my rants elsewhere, so you probably know I could go on quite a bit with this subject. Most people don’t realize the potential that blogging has for producing income. Whether it is an Adsense blog or one where you use your audience and ranking to produce nice promotional returns, the potential is huge, and open to anyone willing to pursue it.

I am currently at the point where I am feeling comfortable enough with what I have learned to launch a couple blogs dedicated entirely to monetization. Even with small effort and PPC strategies, the increased income is worth it.

Alison August 4, 2010 at 11:43 am

I have recently started blogging and added ‘blog’ onto thte end of our domain name. So babygoshop.co.uk became babygoshopblog.co.uk.
Early days but at least we are keeping the brand and it is very much a businesss blog.
Great post. Thanks

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Alison,
Thanks for dropping by. (I checked out your blog and left a comment for you.)

I really like both of your sites. They’re attractive and easy to navigate. I’m curious. Why did you chose to create a new domain name for your blog rather than host it in either a sub-domain or a subdirectory?

Heather Fonseca
Twitter:
July 30, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I wonder sometimes if the domain name thing is all that important with blogs. There are some great, and very followed, blogs out there that are done on the “blogger” platform. Even though I went the domain name route I now wonder if I should have started with a free platform instead.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 31, 2010 at 10:17 am

Heather, I am huge on branding and your domain name is a critical component of your brand. I agree that there are some great and very popular blogs on the “blogger” platform. (There’s no way of knowing if they would be even more popular using their own domain name.) There are more reasons than just using your own domain-name to self-host. The biggest reason to me is control. Blogspot is owned by Google and if spammers were to flag your blog as spam, Google can (and sometimes will) remove your blog. It’s at their discretion. Wordpress.com does not allow you to use FTP (file transfer protocol) which means that if you do decide to move your website to self-hosting, you’re limited to the import/export tool. That means you cannot simply move the contents from your “wp-content” folder to your new host which results in losing any customization that you’ve done on your theme. What’s making you think you should have kept your blog on a free platform?

Heather Fonseca
Twitter:
July 31, 2010 at 11:41 am

My blog was never on a free platform. I read from a whole bunch of sources that getting your own domain name was the way to go so that’s what I did. But now I look at what people do on “blogger” and their blogs look great, there seems to be more of a community than that on wordpress.org, and plus they’re free! Although I’m glad I went with a domain name for my portfolio/website (heatherfonseca.com) I’m not sure I should have bothered with my blog. Plus I wish I had spent more time dreaming up a domain name. It’s hard to find good ones, of course, but I think now I might have been able to find something better.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 31, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Have you considered incorporating your blog into http://heatherfonseca.com and building that one brand? Blogs are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Search engines love blogs because the content is (at least should be) fresh. It looks like a natural fit to me.

Heather Fonseca
Twitter:
July 31, 2010 at 12:33 pm

That’s actually how I started initially, with a website/portfolio/blog thing going on. The problem is I design dolls for a living, but I didn’t just want to blog about doll designs and the blog/website combo wasn’t helping my freelance business. The people I work for are used to seeing portfolios on line, and I think the combination was confusing them. Also, I’m planning on branching out into fashion design so I wanted my blog to help me with that.

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