A lot of people like to talk about how easy it is to “make it” as a blogger. They’re often promoting some kind of “secret formula” at the same time; ways to grow your followers quickly and easily or to double your traffic in a month, or an eBook about how to become a professional blogger fast. Those tricks may or may not work, but a lot of these blog posts and eBooks neglect to mention one very crucial detail. Your blog has to be good first.
Anyone can start a blog, but if it’s not really good chances are no one is going to read it. And if no one is reading it, no one will want to work with you. You can make a post SEO-perfect so it ranks first in search results, but if people click through and realise it’s rubbish, they’ll leave again. If brands don’t see any engagement on your blog, they won’t want to advertise on it. In short, the one thing you need to have in order to start monetising your blog is a good blog. And in order to run a good blog, you really need to have at least one of the following skills:
- Photography or Video
- Expert Knowledge
Well, duh! Blog posts are still predominately word-based these days (unless you’re a vlogger), so if you can’t communicate well in a written format you may struggle to engage an audience. If storytelling is your forte, and you’re actually good at it, you should find it easy to engage readers and build a following of people who want to read more.
That being said, you definitely don’t need to be Shakespeare or have an English Language degree to run a good blog, and in fact I can think of dozens of successful bloggers who write quite badly. But at the very least, you need to be able to communicate your experiences and/or feelings in a coherent and intelligible way. So, brush up on your grammar, re-read every post at least twice before publishing, and spell check EVERYTHING!
Photography & Video
Again, you don’t need to be an amazing photographer to run a great blog. There are plenty of famous YouTubers who are crap at video editing but still get tons of hits. But, both photography and video do extremely well on the internet, and if you have a real talent for one (or both) then you may find it a lot easier to get noticed.
Nothing says professional like a well-designed blog. If you can make web pages look pretty, design cool graphics and killer logos, and generally create a slick, professional looking blog from the get-go, you’ll probably attract more readers faster. And it’s possible you’ll attract brands faster, too.
“Good design encourages a viewer to want to learn more.” Alexander Isley
The key to growing any blog is marketing. You need to promote yourself and your blog on social media and build an online presence up: you need to build a brand. Bloggers I know who came from a marketing or PR background are awesome at this; if you have strong marketing skills then the growth side of blogging should come easily to you, as will the pitching and networking sides of working with brands.
A Great Personality
Even if you’re terrible at writing and can’t operate a camera to save your life, people will still engage with your blog if they like your personality. If you’re really interesting, funny, or just plain nice, people will connect with that and want to read your posts.
If you have an area of expertise or a specialist subject, and can provide insight that no one else can, you can attract a readership. The more specific the knowledge the better. If you’re an expert in something and can pass your knowledge on in a way that’s easy for other people to grasp, you can use that to build a successful blog – even if you have none of the other skills listed here!
Ask yourself honestly – can you bring at least one of these skills to your blog? If not, you may struggle to build up a following, and later find brands to work with – which is what you need to become a professional blogger.
Above all, stay true to yourself. Don’t try to write amazing posts if that’s not your strong point. If you’re not at all funny, don’t try to be. Just like Genie told Aladdin, BEE YOURSELF: that’s what blogging is all about after all. And if “yourself” is something people like, they’ll keep reading and following – which is the basis of a successful blog.
Finally (and I say this all the time to new bloggers), do not start a blog just to make money. This is a job that will consume your entire life; you need to love it, and I mean REALLY love it – you need to find it fun. If you just want to make money, find anything else to do – it’ll be easier!
If you have any other tips on how to become a professional blogger or how to grow a successful travel blog, scroll down to leave a comment!