How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Set Your Blog Up for Success

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If you missed part 1 of the How to Make Money Blogging series, read it here.

1. Pick a Great Name for Your Blog

Your blog name should encompass your blog’s mission and should clearly articulate your blog’s purpose. Don’t hurry through the process of picking a name: it’s your brand and you want to make sure you love it and it’s something you’re going to love for years to come.

Take a week or two to consider potential names. Ask a few trusted friends to give their input. Toss around ideas and, when you land upon ones you like, check to see if the domain name (the www website address) is available on GoDaddy.com before jumping ahead and settling on any one name.

Important note: Blog names can be federally trademarked. This means that an individual or company owns the federal rights to a particular name or phrase and it cannot be used by others or you will be subject to fines and required to discontinue using the name. To be safe, search thoroughly online to make sure no one is using the name you come up with or a very similar variation of it.

2. Purchase the Domain Name and All Variations

As soon as you land on the blog name you love and have double-checked that no one is using it, buy the domain name immediately. It usually costs around $10 to $20 per year for this and it’s worth every penny to have your own domain name for your blog.

I always purchase domain names from GoDaddy.com just because, well, that’s what I’ve always done. However, if you are planning to set up your blog through Blogger (see point 3), it’s much, much easier if you purchase the domain name directly through Blogger rather than through a separate domain name service as it will be automatically set up for the domain name to point to your Blogger blog rather than you having to go through some complicated process to manually input the code and do it.

I also suggest, if you want to think long-term and hope to turn your blog into a successful business, that you purchase all variations on your domain name. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone else setting up a site with a domain name very similar to yours.

3. Choose the Right Blog Platform From the Get-Go

Not too long ago, I was asked what is the one thing you wish you had done differently when setting up your blog. I instinctively replied, “I wish I had started with WordPress.”

I started with Blogger because that was pretty much the only blogging platform in existence. I moved to TypePad when the Blogger SPAM bots marked my blog as SPAM in 2008 and I was locked out of my Blogger blog for 10 days.

Near the end of 2009, my blog outgrew TypePad and I was forced to switch to WordPress. Making the leap from TypePad to WordPress was daunting and tedious. We had to move thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments. There were all sorts of glitches and it was a big learning curve.

Truth be told, though it was a major headache, it was one of the best blogging moves I’ve ever made. WordPress has allowed me to have a much more organized blog and offer many features I couldn’t with TypePad and Blogger.

So, if I were to suggest a blog platform, I’d highly recommend WordPress. It’s more expensive, but it gives you many more options than other platforms offer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your blog getting locked or outgrowing TypePad.

Another big perk of WordPress is that it has much more sophisticated SEO capabilities (i.e. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically refers to optimizing your site so it comes up high in search engines. People will find you a lot more easily if you come up on the first page or two of Google rather than page 133!). I don’t do a lot for SEO at this point, but I’m all about doing small things to help improve where MoneySavingMom.com shows up when you search for “money-saving blogs” or “grocery budget”. WordPress makes it extremely simple to accomplish this.

4. Hire a Designer

Back in the “olden” days when there weren’t many blogs, if you had great content and updated regularly, you’d have a good number of readers — even if you had a basic, free Blogger blog design. Today, because there are so many more blogs, great content is paramount, but a nice designer and ease-of-use is also very important. If people find your blog design dull or your layout disorganized, they are much more apt to just go find another blog.

Now, please don’t let this discourage you. You don’t need a fancy-schmancy blog with lots of bells and whistles. Just a clean design that is easy to navigate can make a world of difference. And paying someone to set this up for you may be every bit worth the money.

If you can’t afford a designer, at least consider paying to have someone design your header and then take the time to learn some basic HTML so you can tweak your sidebar.

5. Plan Your Posts Ahead of Time

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a new blog advertised and been all excited to check it out, only to find there were a whopping three posts on it! If you want people to stick around, you need to have depth and series and a variety of posts.

Before you “open your doors to the public”, go ahead and post 10 or 15 posts, plus plan out and write another 15 to have in queue to post after you start “advertising” your blog. Not only will this allow you to “get your feet wet” and get accustomed to blogging before you have a real live audience, it also provides some great content for people to check out when they visit your blog.

I love Google calendar for planning out post series long-term. I also have recently begun printing out a monthly calendar to pencil in specific posts for each day. This gives me accountability, inspiration and organization — well, at least it’s better than my former “blog-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” routine!

Next week, we’ll talk about five tips for producing creative content.

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear your top tip for setting up your blog for success. And, if you’re brave, I’d love to hear what you wish you had done from the get-go.

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Comments

  1. says

    GREAT post, Crystal! Yes, people PLEASE research the name. And if the name you want is taken, don’t just do a slight variation. How is that going to set you apart???

    My biggest mistake in starting my blog was trying to create it more of a website, and less of a personal blog. Thank goodness I realized a few months in people were reading the site b/c they enjoyed my POV, so I made a decision to play up the personal aspect of my blog. I’ve incorporated more photos, had the fabulous Joy Miller of Five J’s give my site a warm feel, and shared more of my opinions. While mine is a coupon blog, I’ve enjoyed posting a range of stuff.

    My biggest advice for a new blogger would be BE AUTHENTIC. Please don’t decide to start a blog b/c you enjoy reading another blog so much you want to recreate it. BE YOU.

  2. says

    As someone who has been blogging for almost 4 years, I can 100% agree with each one of those points. I absolutely wish that I had started with WordPress (I also went the Typepad route and spent a lot of money, time and headache switching over after 2 years). The options and flexibility that WP gives me through plugins and themes (I use Thesis) is just unbelievable and I can’t believe I ever blogged without WP.

    I also think it’s really important to choose the right name for your site and to put a lot of thought and effort into that choice. I almost didn’t stick with my desired name (Keeper of the Home) because the .com wasn’t available. But my gut told me that it was the right name, and so even though I ended up with the .org (and .net, .info and .ca) I did it anyways. It was the right move, because it was the best name to suit my blog and it’s purposes. And eventually, I was able to grab the .com about 2 1/2 years in, so I got what I wanted anyways. :)

    As for point #5, about planning out your posts and ensuring that your blog has something substantial on it, I couldn’t agree more. About one year ago I launched a new blog called SavingNaturally.com (which I no longer own). Prior to launching, however, I spent over a month beginning to write various pages for the blog, begin content series, and even posting deals that I knew would be irrelevant by the time I officially “launched”. When I did launch, visitors could really see what the blog was all about and have a reason to stick around, and the response was fantastic. I was so glad that I took the time to really prepare the blog!

    Lastly, I think that having an editorial calendar of future blog posts is crucial. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to write up a post spur of the moment, just because it’s something you really want to write about. But, since I began planning out my posts weeks and even months ahead of time, I have been able to be much more organized, more on topic, develop themes and series more fully, and keep myself less stressed out with last-minute deadlines (“oh no, what on earth am I going to write about for tomorrow morning!”). I also use Google calendar to organize my post schedule and it is just a tremendous help.

    Lots of good suggestions, Crystal! :)

    • says

      I should add, that even though the .com of my name was taken, it was just being held by a company, not being used as a site with the same name. So I knew that I didn’t have any real competition for my name, I simply needed to make the .org work and try to get my hands on the .com as quickly as I could.

      • says

        Yeah that’s a good point Stephanie. You definitely don’t want to start a blog with the EXACT name of a company that comes up first in google…i.e. don’t name your blog “empower media” (type that into google and you’ll see tons already using that)!

    • says

      I’m still working on having the “months ahead of time planning” done, but, I’m excited to at least be planning posts in detail four weeks out now. Maybe next year, I’ll get organized enough to plan out months in advance! :)

  3. says

    I started on one site and finally moved to Word Press myself. It is such an easy site to use. The most important tip I can give is to take a good blogging course. I took a free one (http://blogwritingcourse.com/learn_to_blog/did-you-just-say-a-free-blogging-course/) and then followed up with their main course. It has saved me sooo much time and trouble. I am still learning and improving my blog all the time.

    Joyfully,
    Jackie
    My Attempt at Blogging
    http://www.quaintscribbles.wordpress.com

  4. says

    I’m enjoying this series. My biggest advice as a blogger and an avid blog reader, is to be relatively consistent with how often you post. I don’t think that means you have to post every day, depending on your blog style and what it’s about. The first thing I look for on a new blog if I like what I’m reading is the date of the last post – if it’s from a long time ago I don’t subscribe to the blog. There are so, so many completely abandoned blogs out there.

    I have a blogging question. What’s the proper way to post a recipe you found on another blog? If I try a recipe that is posted on another blog, and my family loves it and I want to share it on my blog, should I:
    1) Retype the recipe in my own words with my own modifications and then link back to the original post saying that’s where I found it?
    2) E-mail the blog author asking if it’s okay for me to repost (in my own words) the recipe on my blog?
    3) Simply post my own pics, tell what my modifications I made to the recipe, and include the link back to original blog, but not really post the entire recipe?
    4) What if you found the recipe on somewhere like allrecipes.com or a physical cookbook? Do the same rules apply?

    I have several recipes I’d like to share on my blog, but I didn’t come up with them completely on my own. I’ve read several times saying you shouldn’t copy recipes from someone else’s blog (and I agree), but I’ve not seen specifics of what is okay.

    • says

      From what I understand, recipes aren’t copyrighted. As a courtesy, if you found it on another blog, I’d link there to acknowledge where you got it from. But you can totally share the recipe along with your own completely re-written directions on your own blog. Adding your picture, along with any changes/variations is always nice, though, so that you’re not just repeating something you could have just linked to.

  5. says

    Thanks so much everyone for all the tips!
    I started a blog 2 years ago, just to keep our relatives posted on our family (11 kiddos) and our fulltime RV travels. I have met so many neat people through the blog, and am becoming more interested in helping it become more of a ‘this is how we do it’ blog where curious families could come to find out if the lifestyle would work for them. I would love to learn to make money with it (have you priced fuel these days?LOL!).
    I started on blogger, and am not at all techy. HOW do I change to WordPress, or where would I find the info on how to accomplish it?

    Thanks for any direction you could give!

  6. says

    I wish I had joined blog hops and facebook hops earlier, as well as promoting on facebook. I could have had connections with other bloggers much earlier and that would have made blogging much easier. I did a lot of link ups early on, but those people tended to just look at the one post that I pointed to.

    I also wish that I had put multiple counters on from the very beginning. I chose statcounter about a month after I started, but the free version doesn’t give individual user counts. I added google analytics a couple of months ago, but wish I had used both from the very beginning.

    • TNK says

      Counters are interesting… and all of them are SOOOO wrong. I have my site hosted on a personal server. So I am actually able to see the traffic real time coming in and out of my site. You would be amazed at the number of visitors analytics and those other site meters miss. Its ALOT.

  7. Becky says

    Dumb question but when you mention to purchase all variations of the name; are you referring too .com, .org, .net, .info and so on or variations on the actual name? Thanks

  8. says

    Thank so much for this series! I’ve been blogging for a little over a year with blogger and the thought of switching to wordpress is overwhelming. Thinking I will just buy the domain name through blogger and keep it simple.

    Lack of experience at blogging keeps me from sharing a lot of tips, but as an avid blog *reader* I can testify that blog writers who are humble and real draw me back again and again. I especially like parenting and “mommy” blogs, blogs that encourage me in Biblical Womanhood and simple living. So bloggers who share their mistakes and can make me laugh or cry, are my favs :)

    A catchy name is also a plus. I am pleased with my blog name because it is original and identifies my convictions very succintly. However, after reading all these comments I am afraid it may be a bit long :)

    Thanks Again for all the help! Bambi

  9. says

    I have a tip, I hope it hasn’t been listed. If you have a blog set up you should allow readers to comment with a name and URL. A lot of blogs I read don’t allow me to post a comment unless I have certain accounts setup, like a google or WordPress username.

  10. Carmen says

    I’d like to clarify something in your post. It’s not that WordPress costs money – it’s free. What costs money is that instead of having a free site like Blogger host your site, you have to pay someone to host it for you. So instead of just going to one place (like Blogger) to have them do it all for you, you could potentially have three pieces for the setup: the domain name, the hosting site, and installing WordPress software.

    I personally don’t like GoDaddy because of the values they portray in their commercials. I use NameCheap.com to reserve my domain name ($8.88/yr). They also have web hosting, but I like to keep that separate in case I have problems with one company or the other, they go out of business, etc. It’s pretty easy to set up the domain so it points to the web hosting server – and any good, reputable company will help you with that initial setup.

  11. says

    Thanks for the great info. I have said it time and time again you are my inspiration!!! I am so excited to see the things to come for me. I submitted a great post for you. Its called “A Frugal Afternoon”