In the survey last year, I asked if you could ask me one question what would it be? I was completely surprised to see so many questions about blogging! I love blogging and am always happy to talk about it, but don’t do too much of it on the blog here as it is not the reason people read this blog.
But today, I have put together questions readers asked about blogging and answer them from my perspective. As always feel free to leave questions in the comments if you have wondered about blogging and I haven’t answered your questions. And if you are already a blogger, be sure to read to the end to find out about a special offer for readers of PWK.
How/where did you find the inspiration to set up your blog?
I talked about this recently in my post How did you know what you wanted do? but to recap, I started blogging in 2008 and it was not with the intention for it to be a part time job. I had been out of the paid workforce for eight years and realised I needed to update my skills. My husband was studying an MBA so I was pretty home bound while he was undertaking his studies with our four young children.
Choosing what to blog about was pretty easy for me – I chose to write about the things people asked me about in real life. A friend might see one of my spreadsheets for example and ask me to send it to them or a visitor to my house might ask for a recipe. These were things I liked talking and now writing about. It is important to like the topic you write about.
How to start a blog?
Big question! There are blogs who write entirely on this topic like Darren Rowse’s Problogger. But I will give you a super short and super quick run down:
Starting blogging you have a number of options in terms of choosing a blogging platform. Two of the most common are:
- Blogger – free and you can set it up in a few minutes. Your domain would look something like myblog.blogger.com.au. Blogger hosts your blog and it is a very simple process to set up. I started on Blogger but moved soon after as I realised I wanted the greater flexibility and functionality of WordPress.
- WordPress.org – please note that there are two versions of WordPress. There is wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress.com is very much like Blogger and is free and easy to set up. WordPress.org is what my blog runs on and is simply a blogging platform. You then also have to purchase a domain from placed like godaddy.com and find somewhere to host your blog. I currently use Synthesis which is a more premium host. Hosting is super important so you need to make sure you have a reliable host. Many bloggers recommend Blue Host (aff). Setting up on wordpress.org requires much more technical expertise and you need to do your own back ups, updates and maintenance.
Does it cost money to start blogging?
You can start up for free using Blogger, but if you think you want to start blogging and earn an income from it, I would recommend starting using wordpress.org . The blogging platforms like wordpress provide you with a structure for blogging and a very base theme. The theme determines the way your blog looks. You can pay someone to create a personalised theme for you or you can use free themes like the ones found here:
- 50+ Beautiful & Free Responsive WordPress Themes to Build Awesome Websites 2015
- 37 Free Responsive WordPress Themes
Or you can buy a premium theme. This blog uses a Genesis premium theme but there are many others out there:
How much technical knowledge do you need to be able to blog?
How much technical skills you need depends on the platform you choose. Blogger is pretty simple and user friendly. It has a dashboard that allows you to write posts like writing emails, inserting pictures, links etc.
WordPress is more complicated and you need to be prepared to spend time googling the answers to the technical problems that will arise when starting out. It is completely learnable though and you don’t have to be able to write code. You just need to be prepared to research, learn and toil away. I had very little technical skills when I started (one of the reasons I wanted to get into blogging was to work on this) and I have managed okay.
What do you need to start blogging?
- A computer – although if you were keen you could blog directly from a mobile device. I don’t think that would be sustainable though, as there are some things that require a desktop.
- Internet – that is pretty obvious really!
- A strategic plan – this only applies if you intend to earn income from blogging. How you set the blog up, SEO, categories, a niche etc are all super important if you want to start blogging as a career and you need to take the time to plan it out.
- A content plan – I would also recommend creating a content plan if you are intending to blog as a career. This will determine what you blog about, how often you blog and when you blog.
- Boundaries – blogging does take up time and it is a great medium that can become quite addictive. Set up your time boundaries first so you can control how much time you spend on blogging. Also set boundaries before you start about how much personal information you are prepared to share about yourself and your family.
Do you enjoy blogging as a job?
I love blogging as a job. I love the ability to share something that has worked for our family with readers who can hopefully take some info away and have success with their family too. I don’t find the task of writing difficult. I am not a great writer, writing pretty much as I talk, but I very rarely get writer’s block and always have topics I want to write about.
Putting yourself out there (on the internet) on a regular basis can get tiring though. You have to get used to people discussing you, criticising you and disagreeing with you. The larger your audience becomes the more scrutiny you come under.
I have worked hard to always be non judgemental in my writing and to understand and communicate that not all families are the same, what works for one family may not necessarily work for another. I feel lucky that this is the attitude I receive back from readers the almost all of the time. I do know other bloggers however who come under constant criticism, which would be tough going.
When motivation plummets whilst running your own business, what do you do to bring back the spark?
I have shared on the blog this year how I did feel like quitting last year. Three actions were critical in me being able to bring back the spark:
- Assessment – I assessed how was I spending my time and how was I feeling about the activities I was spending my time on.
- New goal – I made decisions about what I wanted to do both short and long term. I created a single goal for my business and made decisions immediately to help me get there. Every decision I make now must support my goal.
- Rest – running your own business it is easy to see your time as infinite when it simply isn’t. I took time off and pulled back. I am now ensuring I get more sleep and have more planned breaks through out the year. Having adequate rest and time away from the business ensures my spark lasts.
How you have managed to monetise your blog?
For the first two years of blogging, I made almost zero money. From there revenue grew, however it has only been the last 2 -3 years have I made money which adequately reflects the time and energy I put it into it. Revenue sources for my business are:
- Sponsorship and partnerships with brands
- Freelance writing
- Book and app
- Conference organisation
- E-product creation
- Product creation
Blogging enables me to work from home, in hours around the kids as they grow up. It has allowed me to travel domestically and internationally, have a book published and brought some amazing opportunities.
And it hasn’t just been me that this has happened to either. Check out the Kidspot 2014 Hall of Fame list and you will find many bloggers who blog as a career either full or part time.
Want to learn more about blogging?
Last year I taught a blogging course for the Australian Writers’ Centre at the Abbotsford Convent called How to get more blog readers. You can read more about it here along with some lovely testimonials from those who took the course with me. To enable more people to access the course I worked with the Australian Writers’ Centre to develop it into an online course.
This course assumes you have a blog up and running, so won’t teach you about blogging platforms, hosting or how to set up a blog. I share in the course the approach I have taken to blogging, which has enabled me to grow my blog to build a the lovely large audience I have today.
You can find the course by clicking here.