Blog

LEARNING TO BLOG FOR MONEY

By CM Strawn 10/1/19

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the websites that I have linked to. I have included them for your convenience.)

          I am learning how to make a living from blogging. This is what I have wanted to do for years. Since I am now semi-retired, no longer working long hours and have Social Security coming in, I have the opportunity.

          Starting a blog would be simple, or so I thought. Just go to WordPress.com, get a website for free and start posting blogs. Easy, right?

          That was my first attempt at blogging. A few random posts generated a few curiosity seekers. But when they saw how poorly set up my blog was, they bailed. Can’t blame ‘em. What I put together was pretty lame. I didn’t know what I was doing – and it showed.

          There is a lot more to building a blog than just slapping a few random thoughts on the worldwide web. There is actually a lot of planning involved. Starting a blog has to be on purpose or it will fall into the heap of half-baked blogs that never have visitors.

          Those few random blog posts of mine showed me that my writing needed help. I went in thinking that my writing was pretty good. Reading those first posts after they had been online for a while made me realize what an amateur I am. I needed training, but I didn’t know where to get it.

          I decided that I needed to take this seriously so, I would need training. Nearly everything that I have learned, with the exception of welding and the United States Air Force, has been on-the-job (even the Air Force was mostly hands-on). I learn by doing. Well, there was no one to demonstrate how to blog, so I was left groping in the dark.

          A search of the internet turned up a lot of websites that gave good advice on blogging and online business, but nothing that would teach me from the ground up. Everyone assumed some level of familiarity with blogging and online wizardry.

          Udemy.com turned up in one of my searches. It looked promising and affordable so I checked it out. They offered classes on a wide range of topics taught by various people who seemed to know their subjects: WordPress, SEO, Online Business, Blogging, Copywriting and other related subjects were available.

          I found a writing course: Writing With Flair by Shani Raja, Ex-Wall Street Journal Editor, that I thought would help my writing. Since the instructor had been an editor for the Journal, I didn’t think I could go wrong.  His teaching was excellent and included exercises that reinforced his lessons. My writing improved a lot. Taking the course online and on my own schedule was great.

          Many of the websites that I visited were beautiful, professional and easy to navigate. Their content had lots of white space and they were easy to read. I wanted a website that looked like that. I had no idea how to do it, so I went back to Udemy.com.

          The Complete WordPress Website and SEO Training by Robin and Jesper was what I needed, and the price was right. They went through the process of building a commercial website and a blog step-by-step. All of the information they provided made my eyes glaze. I wasn’t able to absorb it all, but since I own the course I can go back as many times as it takes for me to get it right.

          Robin and Jesper showed how to build a website that sold their own digital products. They also showed how to use Google AdSense. Then they demonstrated how to build a blog to drive traffic to their website with winning content. (Winning content is what I want to write.)

          SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a critical part of blogging, which they covered in detail. There are many things that can hurt a website that are impossible to figure out without help. Google’s search engine ranks websites in many different ways. The websites that show up first are the ones that search engines like the best. There are things that will hurt ranking and keep the site out of the top spots that the blog owner can do accidently. I need to know SEO so that I won’t shoot myself in the foot. Sometimes I shoot myself in both feet.

          Robin and Jesper have a course – The Complete SEO Master Class 2020 –  on Udemy.com that will address my ignorance about SEO. It is a six-hour course which shouldn’t take too long to finish – along with everything else I need to learn.

          Again on Udemy.com, I am taking a course; Blog For A Living: Complete Blogging Training [2019 Update] by Theo McArthur. I am again learning how to build a website, which doesn’t hurt. This time, I will be learning about affiliate marketing.

          Affiliate marketing is where product owners place their ads on a blog owner’s website. When visitors click on the ads, the blog owner gets paid. I’m about half-way through with this course, so I don’t know much about this yet. It seems like it has a lot of potential.

          Having a great looking website with all the bells and whistles is only part of the package. There must be a topic to blog about. Notice the word topic is singular and not plural.

          My blog is all over the map. I need to narrow my focus to only one topic. It will be easy for visitors to find information that they want if my blog is not a hodge-podge of unrelated posts. It was great to write about anything that struck my fancy, but that will not attract visitors. I want my blog to have traffic, not languish in the dead backwater of unread blogs.

          What topic should I choose? I have a lot of experience, but it seems quite boring to me. I can’t see how anyone would get excited about listening to me drone on about all the things I’ve done and all the things I’ve seen. I need to write about what people are interested in – what they are searching the web to find out.

          Searching the web once more revealed a lot of popular blog topics. Quicksprout.com and jobmonkey.com are two websites that have popular blog topics. Finding one that suits me should be easy – or not. Some of the topics include: Personal Stories (how about that); How-To Guides; Product Reviews; Travel Posts; Inspirational Posts; Health and Fitness; Start a series or regular feature.

          I am going to continue to practice on this blog until I find a topic that I’m comfortable with. It is reassuring to me that not many, if any people read what I write here. I can continue to improve my writing and web-building skills invisibly until I feel like I’m ready for prime-time.

          This is a work-in-progress. Making money online is brand new to me, so I have a steep learning curve. But learning is a lifetime occupation. There are many resources available online, some free and some not, so that should help flatten the curve a little.

          I am at the beginning of this journey and I already feel good about the direction I am going. Being an online entrepreneur is the right decision for me. All choices have challenges and nothing worth having comes easy. My goal is to replace the income that I have lost and to have time to enjoy life. Blogging for money will do that for me.

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