I received an email from a friend of mine with an extremely unique point of view on the world. I’ve been encouraging him to get a blog for awhile. All through our college days, he collected followers to the point where people joked he should start his own religion. A born blogger! He asked me some tough questions about blogging.
(1)I noticed you have advertisements on your site but they are for non-tacky items. Can you select what kind of ads go on your site?
The ads that I have on jenniferheller.com are for services or products that I actually use. I’m signed up as an affiliate and should someone make a purchase, I make a commission. I have made $0. So, yes, I chose them, and made the effort to add them to my site.
Sites in general do not come with ads. You add the ads. There are lots of ways to add ads, such as Google Adsense and Amazon.com ads. With Google Adsense you don’t get to choose the ads–Google picks ads that are relevant to your content.
Amazon.com also offers ads, including this creepy automatic ad that showcases products the viewer of your site has recently viewed on Amazon.com. You’re paid a commission if someone makes a purchase from clicking that link. You can also hand pick the products you advertise on your blog, but that takes more time.
You can also link to products in the content of your posts (I do that sometimes) in hopes that someone will click through and buy it. The commission on products on Amazon.com is 10-20%.
In general, if you’re looking to monetize, you should think about offering some sort of service, such as a course in how to do something. Charge a fee for access to webinars, or provide mentoring services.
Either way, you’re going to need to get your site traffic up really high to make money off of your blog. I’ve heard that 55,000 is the magic number.
(2)I’ve picked out some really cool domain names for a blog that are unclaimed but is that necessary? Should I just use something as easy as blogspot?
Lots of people use blogspot or a wordpress.com address. I prefer domain names because they look more professional, and I think people take you more seriously. But they cost $10 a year and then you have to pay for hosting for your website. If you do blogspot or wordpress.com, they are hosting your site and it’s free (but subject to fees in the future…) and you don’t have as much control over your site.
Your blog needs to stand out. A domain name helps you stand out, and great content is indispensible.
One way to get the leg up on your competition is to have a creative and unique design. We create awesome and unique designs at Artsy Geek Designs that are search engine optimized and set up for your needs as a blogger. We include tutorials to keep you going too.
One of my pet peeves is when people have a domain name that they are actively using, but insist on sticking with their email@example.com email address instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is literally thirty seconds of work once to use an email address at your domain name instead of your gmail account, and you can run it through your gmail so there’s absolutely no change to your workflow. It’s a severe oversight that I believe really detracts from your professionalism.
(3)I’m not sure what questions I should be asking and what decisions I should be making.
What are they?
You mentioned that you are considering starting multiple blogs. I would recommend NOT doing that right away.
I spend about an hour on every blog entry. I used to have a Van Gogh My Pet blog too, but found that having to deal with both of those was just plain overwhelming. I was also going to do a web design/marketing blog separately at Artsy Geek Designs, and am so thankful that I decided not to. Having just one blog and the goal to update it every day is quite enough for me.
I would strongly recommend starting there and adding on another blog when you’re quite sure you have room in your life. You wouldn’t want your wife/significant other/pet to get jealous!
They also say that you should have at least three blog entries written before you launch the blog. I would say even more — like five. When we launched Lushes in Love we had about twelve, but we wanted to do it that way.
I also recommend having three blog entries unpublished but ready to go for those days when you are too swamped with other things or just downright don’t feel like writing.
It must be noted that you don’t have to write everyday. Some people operate great blogs and update once a week or so. Other blogs have many authors that publish all day every day. It really depends on your goals and availability.