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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Writing Top-Notch Content

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If you missed it, be sure to read: 5 Necessary Traits of Successful Bloggers (Part 1) and 5 Ways to Set Up Your Blog for Success (Part 2).

1. Be You

One of the greatest hindrances to successful blogging is trying to be someone else. You are not someone else. You will never be someone else. You are you!

You are unique and one-of-a-kind. You have amazing gifts and talents that many people don’t. You have a perspective on life that no one else in the whole wide world does, because no one else is you. Learn from other bloggers, but figure out who you are and be you.

2. Be Confident

It’s easy to become discouraged and to feel completely inadequate when you see other bloggers who seem to have more creativity, a cuter blog, a more-frequently-updated blog, more traffic, more comments, more Facebook followers and on and on it goes. You can spend so much time worrying about not measuring up that you completely lose sight of what you have to offer as a blogger.

As I used to tell a dear friend of mine who often felt incompetent as a blogger (and who has now gone on to create a wildly successful blog), “Don’t be mouse-y!” Any time spent sitting and sulking about your lack of ability or worrying about what people will think of you is time that is wasted.

3. Be Engaging

Interact with your readers and respond to their comments and emails as much as you can. Ask your readers for their advice and input and listen to what they have to say. Your readers want to know that you value them. And you should, because without them, you’d have no audience to write for!

Don’t be afraid to try new things — even if they fail. Don’t always post the same things in the same way. Throw in some off-topic posts, photos or videos every now and then. Occasional surprises and unexpected posts will help keep things exciting.

4. Be Real

Readers aren’t looking for perfectionism, they are looking for real-ness. We all make mistakes and we all have our areas we struggle with. Don’t try to pretend that you have all your ducks in an alphabetized row.

Be honest, be open and be vulnerable (when appropriate). People will connect with authenticity but they will run from hypocrisy.

5. Be a Perfectionist

This might seem to fly in the face of being real, but I’m not talking about being perfect as a person, but about being thorough and detailed as a blogger. Frequent typos and blatant grammar errors are irritating.

Sloppiness will never get you far. Always proof your posts at least twice before publishing them. Constantly seek to improve as a writer. Read books and blogs written by good writers. Critique your writing and ask others to do the same.

Please, please, please do not use massive paragraphs without paragraph breaks. This is one of the easiest ways to turn people off from reading your blog. Blog paragraphs should be no more than a few lines long so that people can read them easily on a computer screen.

Three more don’ts: Don’t center the text. Don’t use exclamation points, all caps or ellipses excessively. Don’t use multiple fonts.

Use paragraph headings or points in articles that are longer than a few paragraphs. Include graphics and/or photos on most posts. And did I mention how important it is to proof-read your posts before hitting publish? 🙂

Bonus Point: Be Careful

If you share something in a public forum like your blog, you can never completely take it back. Always assume everyone in the whole world may read what you write.

Don’t use names, photos or other identifying information without thinking carefully about the potential ramifications. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

What about you? What are your best suggestions for creating top-notch content?

Next week we’ll talk about five ways to increase your blog’s readership.

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  • Kelly Battles says:

    I must say, this is a great post! I hope a lot of bloggers read this. I’m amazed at how many do not proofread their posts. It’s normal to have a typo every now and then, but the more I blog surf, the more appalled I am at the content and quality! This is the main reason why you are the #1 blogger I follow……thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Couldn’t agree more….I try to re-read every single post. Grammer/spelling errors are a pet peeve…..:)

    • Heather says:

      I don’t think that it is just a lack of proofreading. I am afraid that a lot of people simply never learned (or don’t remember) the basic rules of grammar, syntax, and sentence structure. Some blogs are riddled with errors; too many to be simple typos or carelessness. Most of us (myself included) could use a refresher course in grammar. There are books at the library for self-study. Or have a friend who is a good writer honestly critique a post. If there are too many problems, and you are serious about being a good blogger, it could be worthwhile to take a refresher course at a local community college.

      • Michele says:

        I agree that many people never learned proper grammar. I often see people write something like, “She gave it to my husband and I.” It should be “She gave it to my husband and me.” “Me” is the object of the preposition “to.” An easy way to remember this is drop out the word “husband” and read it aloud. You would not say, “She gave it to I.” You would say, “She gave it to me.” Therefore, it’s also, “She gave it to my husband and me.” Another big error I see a lot is “I feel badly for him.” It should be “I feel bad for him.” An easy test of this is to substitute the word “sad.” If you feel sad for him then you feel bad for him. You wouldn’t say, “I feel sadly for him.” Other common mixups are loose and lose and advice and advise. Having said that, I know my grammar is not perfect, and I definitely have typos in my posts. These are just common ones I notice, even on some of the bigger blogs.

        • Crystal says:

          Or using “which” instead of “that” — something I am trying to break myself of!

          • Krysten says:

            When my hubby was writing his Master’s thesis, I looked up the rules for “which” and “that” in my grammar books. While “that” was the slightly preferred word, “which” isn’t incorrect. It’s more of a personal preference which word you you want to use. To me, “which” seems a bit more formal than “that.”

            • Crystal says:

              My book editor would disagree with you. There are only specific times to use “which” and I use it at all the wrong times. 🙂

              From the research I’ve done, she’s right. Now to just fix my years of incorrect usage!

    • Emily says:

      I agree. Another one I read a lot is “should of” when it should read “should have”. It actually makes me want to stop reading whatever it is I’m reading.

  • One big tip is to get the video out early! I think that we can all agree that we love seeing Crystal here at MSM on videos — and probably would’ve eaten it up like crazy all that much sooner! With time, you’ll see that videos can not only be a great way to convey content to your readers (who love seeing a more personal side of you) but they can also be a FAST way to post quality content.

    Like with everything, too much of a good thing can be bad — so don’t go for ALL videos — but do sprinkle them in heartily!

    • Kathryn says:

      Just out of curiosity, what’s the general level of agreement with this statement? I never watch videos online because transcripts or subtitles are very rarely available, and they are therefore inaccessible to me, so a blogger who uses a lot of video is a blogger I don’t read. Also, I can’t imagine any video having even 1/100th the appeal of a well-written post, but I don’t know what the rest of you think.

      • Sarah says:

        Kathryn, are they inaccessible to you because of deafness? I would think that any blog post with video that discourages one who is deaf would at the same time be encouraging to one who is blind (being able to hear the real voice of the words they have been “reading” through e-voices). The general assumption is that 99% of a blog’s readers will not have the natural limitations of deafness or blindness. And loyal readers do enjoy seeing/hearing the blogger they have been following! If, however, there is a blog that you really like, there’s no harm in asking if the main points of a video’s content is available in another post… or even asking the blogger or the readers for an outline or transcript. (I do have a friend who is profoundly deaf, and I have been happy to do a little transcription for him when I can!)

      • Lori says:

        Just thought I’d toss in there that even though I can, I don’t watch videos either, Kathryn. I can read speedily, skimming most of what I read, and flip through web pages too quickly that videos only slow me down! I know a lot of bloggers who do video and are successful with them, but there is also a lot of readers who don’t mind reading. So it goes to the first point: Be You! We can carry on successfully without video, if writing is more our thing.

      • Andrea says:

        I also do not watch videos and would prefer to read posts.

      • Betsy says:

        I very rarely watch the videos – I’d much rather read the information!

      • Roxanne says:

        I never watch videos either.

        They are WAY less efficient than blog posts. I can get the gist of a blog post in seconds, but videos take about a minute to load, and then the person in the video uses WAY more words to communicate what would have been a 1 paragraph blog posts.

        • jennifer says:

          I’m glad that I’m not the only one who chooses to skip videos on a blog post.
          For whatever reason, my internet connection doesn’t like videos at all-it just buffers, plays a few seconds, buffers, etc. I can read a lot quicker than my computer can buffer.

      • Heather says:

        Don’t like videos, and rarely watch them. I’m a fast reader, and a good skimmer. With a written post I can just read what I need to. With a video, I’m stuck listening to the whole thing. Plus, the kids come rushing over to see what exciting thing they are missing . . . .

        • I am the same way – I am both a fast reader, and have fast internet, but I’m usually multi-tasking or with my family when I’m reading blogs, so being able to just read a post is better for me. However, I will say that I enjoyed watching a video or two here, because I’ve followed this blog for so long, and it was fun put a face with the name. So, I guess videos have their place, but I like the written posts better too!

      • JSW says:

        I REALLY do not understand the love people have for video blogs. The only video blog I like is Tim Gunn from Project Runway, but that’s mostly because I watched it like a TV show for entertainment, not a blog for information.

        It’s very easy to get the general idea of a blog post with a quick skim, and I can decide whether I want to take the time to actually read the whole thing.

        In addition, I can read a lot faster than someone can talk. With a video, if I later forget a bit of information or need a quick reminder about something, I would have to re-load and re-listen rather than just quickly glance at the specific info I need.

        With a video, I also have to deal with hooking up speakers or making sure I don’t bother other people in the room with me.

        I also have to disagree with the idea that a video is faster way to post content! It requires getting dressed and “pretty,” practicing what to say and how to say it, finding a good spot with good light -which means taping at a specific time of day rather than whenever I feel like it or “on the road,” taping the thing, and finally uploading and dealing with the hassles that come with video and computers. It’s way faster for me to type!

        • jess says:

          I wish I could watch video blogs. We have dial-up so videos simply will not load. I know what many of you are thinking- and yes, there are still some people who use dial-up!

  • Sonja says:

    I don’t know about blogging tips. I think these are good life tips!!! Especially about the mousey part and not wasting time worrying what people think or what talents you don’t have. Thank you for so succinctly sharing your talents with us. You are a wonderful inspiration in many ways.

  • Kaidi says:

    I loved it. After you said be a perfectionist and mentioned grammar… you happened to have one rare typo just before you mentioned that. I have never seen typos here before. =) Was that on purpose?

  • Heather says:

    There’s no “r” on respond and an extra “l” at the end of alphabetized. 😉

    • Crystal says:

      Rats! I *knew* I would have typos in a post where I talked about not having them!

      I should have also mentioned “Don’t edit a post after you’ve proofed it twice.” Or, go back and proof it twice again after the final edit!

      • Heather says:

        You’re always so nice that I felt bad even saying anything! I added the smiley face so I didn’t seem like I was just out to pick on you 🙂

  • Mel says:

    Confidence is something I was sorely lacking when I first started, and even now I’ll have nagging doubts arise….but I think blogging, over time, has really helped to boost my confidence as I’ve networked, met other bloggers in real life, and really tried to soak up as much education as possible. It’s the same with videos. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead on video, but now I want to learn all I can, and the more videos I make, the more confident I become….you’re so right. It’s a waste to worry what so-and-so is doing….it’s up to each of us to take blogging by the horns and, as Randy Jackson would say, “Slay it.” LOL

    • Crystal says:

      I’m just diving into the world of videos this year after saying “I can’t” for so long. I finally realized that I was choosing to stay stuck instead of jumping out and facing my fears. And truthfully, I’m starting to really enjoy video blogging — at least a little! 🙂

      • Karin says:

        I haven’t done too many videos but there are so many interesting presentation formats out there. I try to post a few very simple “new” embedded items while I continue to learn a new blogging tool.

        Then I can add the fancy factor once I know what I’m doing, and how to make it the best for my blog.

        Thanks again for the ideas Crystal.

  • May I ask why we should not center? I center all the time?? 🙂 thanks!! ~ Deb @ Frugal Living and Having Fun.

    Thank you for the article.. It was very helpful.

    • Crystal says:

      In my opinion (others may disagree!), it’s not professional and it’s hard on the eyes. To me, it makes it look like a poem, not a blog post. 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Crystal. I will put that into action! I appreciate your input and fast response. ~ Deb

        • says:

          I’m afraid I center my text too. I’ll try changing it and see if anyone notices ; )

          I was born and raised in England so my writing is filled with English slang although I have Americanized through my family.

        • Shannon says:

          I tend to write like it was a casual conversation. I agree that grammar is important, but I also think you have to be able to relate to a reader. I read some blog posts that are cold, like a grammar book, rather than a personal story.

          I would agree that exclamation points, stars, ~~, centering, color changes are all rather annoying and distracting from the point of the post. I actually will not read a blog if there are a ton of exclamation points and centering.

  • Great post and information. We are all human so occasionally errors will happen. Good point about adding a variety of posts…I’ve been thinking about doing the video posts as well just haven’t bit the bullet on that one yet. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great tips! I too am guilty of pushing the “publish” button just a little too quickly sometimes. I tend to proofread once, publish, then proofread again and edit after it’s been published. Certainly not the most “professional” way to go about things!

    I’m also guilty of using WAY too many exclamation marks as well as ellipses, mostly because I think (incorrectly, I’m sure) that it makes it “sound” more like a conversation. 🙂 Good to know on the centering.

    Thanks again for the tips!

  • Thank you so much for this series. As a new blogger I find it very helpful. I’m looking forward to next week.

  • Amy G says:

    This came at just te right time. Its time fore to decide whether or not to persue blogging.

    I have a facebook page with 125 fans, (though I haven’t realy pushed or recruited at all), but things are getting a little hectic and I don’t post as much as I used to. I am a lot more serious about couponing now, I have a 1 year old and I’m working part-time – so time is hard to come by. I started thinking “whats the point?” I wasn’t earning money on it so it was just a hobby.

    This post has inspired me to look into it further. After all I DO enjoy blogging, I just really didn’t know HOW to get started. Thanks!

  • Liz says:

    My husband does a lot of report writing for work. When he started the job, it was not his strongest suit. One recommendation I gave him (which I think would work great for bloggers too) is to read what you’ve written out loud. I think a lot of times our brains “auto-correct” something we have written, because we know what we meant to write. When you read it out loud, you’re more likely to stumble on the mistakes, or notice when you’ve automatically made the correction. Just a suggestion if you struggle with proofreading your own work.

    Thanks for this series of posts! I’m really enjoying it.

    • Kaidi says:

      The “auto-correct” part is so true. Seeing this: C/-\T, most of us would automatically say that it spells “cat”. Well, does it? =) I admit, it doesn’t look the way it should for this example but, nevertheless, it’s true =)

    • Janet says:

      I use to pay attention very closely when the children were little because if you tell them how to do something, they will do exactly what you say!
      Not what you think you have said.

      So in that regard too is writing.

      Although for blogging purposes I see nothing wrong with posted typos or even mistakes. Would the world rather that Crystal share her thoughts or have everything perfect.
      Frankly, I rather see that everyone is human and makes an error every now and then.
      It makes it easier to believe what they have to say.
      If someone takes an I am perfect attitude and I know everything do you really want to keep reading them?
      Crystal owns her mistakes in life and in blogging.
      Being young you might as well own your mistakes your going to make a ton more before we pass this life and meet our maker.
      Plus, not sure God cares that much about us being perfect.
      I think God feels we should all be our best whatever that is for each of us at any given moment.
      Sometimes our best frankly is not that great. But it is the best we have to offer.

  • Peaches says:

    “Peaches” the beekeeper here. I didn’t know that you wrote something besides money saving stuff. This is a good one for me as I have a blog on Honey Bee related subjects. Thanks for the input on grammar and punctuations. I sometimes wait and sleep before proof reading before I post. It sometimes helps me to catch mistakes and also gives me an idea on how to make a statement clearer by changing something.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Mindy says:

    Thanks so much for posting this series! I am enjoying it so much.

  • Kristin says:

    I just wrote an article about my favorite blogs, and one of the first things I mentioned was that my favorite bloggers are REAL people. That stands out to me as one of the most important points. Of course, MSM got a mention in the post! Now I’m hoping that it lives up to the standards you’ve listed. Maybe I should go back and check.

  • Thanks for the great tips, Crystal! Now, do you want to do a series on blogging with a new baby and two toddlers/preschoolers?…that would be fabulous info for me to have soon! 😉

    Seriously, I’m looking forward to next week’s post!

  • Thanks for a great post! I’m off to read the others in this series. 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree more about keeping it real! There are so many sites that offer formula posts and as a reader, you just quit caring.

    I usually post about academic lessons, activities, and ideas but on occasion throw in something I did on the weekend just to share a bit of my life. Often, it is easier to overlook those little errors we all make when you know a real person is posting.

  • Elle says:

    I’ve been wanting to have videos for a long time on my blog, but it is hard when I have little ones running around making noise. I try to do it while they are sleeping at night, but then I am way too tired. Any suggestions?

    • Krysten says:

      Do they have a naptime or quiet time during the day? Or maybe they could have a park playdate with Daddy each week on his day off so you could do it. If you have a tripod, or even just a table where you could set the camera it would work.
      If you do it by yourself without someone holding the camera, you might want to experiment with a few quick clips first before doing a long video blog to make sure that you’re centered and that the lighting and sound are good.

      • Elle says:

        Thanks for your suggestion. I will try it, my twins normally don’t nap at the same time, but I will definitely try to make it happen.

  • I love all the points in this post. I am a former Language Arts teacher, so grammar mistakes jump at me off the page. I think it’s super important to proofread many times before publishing. You don’t want readers to be distracted by small grammar mistakes in your content.

    Also, I think it’s good to get in the habit of writing your posts in lists or bullet points as opposed to paragraphs all the time.

    Third, try to keep content focused on the “mission” of your blog. On my site, I rarely post deals or coupons…I think MSM has that covered in a fabulous way. I try to focus on parenting, organizing, time management, and recipes. Keeping your content focused on your “niche” is important.

  • Angi says:

    Thanks for the tips, Crystal!

    One thing I’ve been trying to decide on lately is how to respond to comments. My blog is small and I feel like I can respond to each one at this point. But I’d also like to send an email to those that comment with that response just in case they don’t come back and see that I responded. My blog is hosted by blogger and I can’t figure out how to do this.

    On time I left a comment on a blog and an automated message was sent to me via email that said something like “Thanks for visiting XYZ. I appreciate your comments. If you asked a question I will answer it in the comment section.” I kind of liked that.

    What is your and your readers opinion on the emails?

    • Crystal says:

      Good question. I’m on WordPress and have it set up to automatically email commentors responses to their comments. I’m not sure how to do that on Blogger, though. Anyone know if it’s possible?

      • Larissa says:

        I have a personal blog on Blogger, and I don’t think there’s a way to auto send an email telling people that you’ll respond to them in the comments section. I did however see a field called “Comment Form Message” (it’s under Settings, Comments), and it seems like you could put that message there – so when people were about to comment, they would see your message notifying them to check back for your response.

        On a personal note, as an avid blog reader and commenter, I don’t know if I would WANT to get an email every time I commented on a blog (I’d have a pretty full inbox!). Plus, I think it’s pretty much web/blog standard that people know comments are answered in the comments section. Just my two cents!

        (Thanks for the post Crystal, loved it!)

  • Kasey says:

    I think that it’s important to do more showing than telling on a blog. For my blog, I often show crafty projects and I always try to show photos of the whole process, not just the finished product. I think that gives people confidence that they can do it themselves. I also think it helps break up the text and helps keep the reader interested in the post. 🙂

  • I love this series seeing as how I just starting a new blog a couple of months ago. Thank you for taking the time to do this series.

    Some things I have learned:

    1. It is wise (at least for me) to get my 1st draft written at least 1 week in advance. I can then go back a couple days later to edit with a “fresh” view. Plus, I’m not writing at the last minute in a big hurry to get a post up.

    2. Be careful with “strikethroughs”. I like to keep things “real” by using them but don’t overuse them. I had a friend email me after I used a strikethrough to let me know that she could see my “edit” and that I might not want my readers to see my correction. I thought it was funny (she’s not much of a blog reader), but it reminded me to be on top of things and try to do my best to make things very clear to all readers.

    • Crystal says:

      I wish I were organized enough to have drafts written a week in advance. I’m doing good to have the posts all outlined 5-7 days before they run!

      Too funny on the strikethrough story. I love them on other blogs, but rarely use them myself.

  • A good friend gave me all of these tips just the other day! 😛 I do like how separating paragraphs and making headers look! I use exclamation points too much, I just get very excited. I think you really have to have a passion for what you blog about, to help you get through the tough times. I always have a tab open to Grammar Girl when I am blogging.

    • Crystal says:


      You’re doing a great job with separating paragraphs and headers. And I use lots of exclamation points, too. Most of the time, I try to go back and edit half of them out! 🙂

      I need to spend more time on Grammar Girl; it’s an area I still have lots of room for improvement in.

  • Thank you for this post! I’m just getting started, but GREAT PICTURES ARE A MUST! Or just any pictures are a must! When I see a blog entry of just all words, it doesn’t capture my attention and I want to move on. Thanks for this series and I look forward to reading more!

  • On an unrelated note, will you be posting a giveaway link up soon? I have a fun giveaway I am looking forward to sharing with your readers. Thanks!

  • Blogging is one area in which I’m grateful for being a little OCD 🙂 Here are some tips I have learned…

    I love lists, and my readers seem to have an easier time with outlines and lists rather than paragraphs.

    I try to have all my posts written–or at least in draft mode–a week in advance. This way, I’m able to post thoughtful things, instead of spur-of-the-moment things.

    I always include a picture with my posts. It keeps readers interested.

    One thing that turns me off as a blog READER, is when I stumble across a blog that is covered with ads. I mean, completely covered. Be careful about where you place ads, and be careful with adsense, as it can easily take over your entire blog, and distract your readers.

    One last tip I have is to have a focus for your blog, but not be so limited that you limit your readers or your posts. I write about saving money, cooking, and living life full of joy. I think they are all related, but if I were to narrow down to only one, I would have a harder time coming up with post ideas.

  • Thanks so much Crystal! I’ve been looking forward to this series since you included it on your preview for this year (at least, I think that’s where I first spotted it). I’m learning a lot from each one and will put them into practice ASAP. Unfortunately, I started blogging feet first and I’m learning along the way. This is a hugely invaluable resource. The comments are so refreshing to read as well as informative.

    Perhaps this can be your next book project 😀

    Thanks for everything you do!

  • Jamie says:

    I loved this and am going to link to it on my blog! Thanks 🙂


  • As a former English teacher, I’m certainly in agreement with all the comments regarding grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. It frightens me when I read blogs written by people who homeschool, and they themselves can’t write properly. (This is nothing against homeschooling, as I’m considering doing it myself. Just expressing my concern when bad writers are teaching others to write.)

    However, I think point #1 sums it all up best. One of my biggest peeves is when a blogger tries to imitate the writing style of another blogger. There’s one blog in particular that currently comes to mind. When she writes her more spiritual posts, she attempts to sound like another very popular (and published) Christian writer. In my opinion, it falls flat every time because it’s a poor facsimile of someone else’s style, and she just can’t pull it off. But when she writes with her own voice, it’s generally pretty good. People do notice attempts at imitation.

  • Angie says:

    I have a couple of personal (not-monitized) blogs just for friends and family that I stopped and started so many times. I tell myself I cannot even begin to monitize a blog until I become disciplined enough to follow-through.

    I noticed most of your posts have pictures and that is something I’ve noted in the event I ever monitize a blog.

    While it’s obvious some of your pictures from your shopping trips you took yourself and some probably come from sponsors, do you use right-managed images for the rest? How much do they cost and where do you get them? Thanks.

  • jess says:

    I’m working on jumping into the word of blogging and appreciate all of these tips. Thanks Crystal and other readers! I can’t wait for next weeks post.

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