Running an amateur blog is no easy feat nor is it something to look down upon. You put a lot of time, energy and passion into each and every article you publish, growing your audience and creating buzz in your industry. However, you've outgrown traditional blogging and are now looking to take yours to the next level. You want your hobby to become a professional business? What do you do?
That's the subject of this post. From blogging platforms to marketing and monetization, we're going to go over a few key steps you should take to move away from the unprofessional and unprofitable nature amateur blogs tend to have. Let's get into it.
The problems with running an amateur blog
Free blogging platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and even Medium are great places to start if you're new to the world of blogging. They allow you to publish content and have your voice be heard without having to face the limitations of a monetary barrier. However, these types of blogs tend to come with a lot of baggage. It's usually not what you need to run a professional website.
They mostly revolve around a lack of monetization. It's difficult to monetize a blog that's not a “real website” or one that's running on someone else's platform. This can mean not being able to profit from advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships or even your own products.
You may also have a tougher time growing your email list on a free blogging platform that doesn't always integrate with email marketing services or tools. You'll also be limited in what you're able to do with your site's design, functionality and SEO. Let's jump into our list so we can get into specifics.
- Move away from free blogging platforms
- Get started with email marketing
- Start monetizing your blog
- Get started with social media marketing
- Enhance your site's SEO
- Upgrade to a premium WordPress theme
- Integrate other forms of content
- Include others from your industry
1. Move away from free blogging platforms
Free blogging platforms are great for an amateur blog, as stated before. However, they usually come with numerous limitations since they're designed to build blogs, not full-blown professional websites. Your first step should be to move away from these platforms as soon as possible.
A self-hosted WordPress site (WordPress.org, not WordPress.com) provides everything you need to build a beautiful website that has one of the strongest blogging tools integrated right into it. Here are a few articles we've published on WordPress hosting if you need help:
- WordPress hosting overview
- 5 Reasons for self hosting your WordPress blog
- Web hosting: Complete guide on how to find the best hosting for WordPress sites
- Top 10 things to look for when choosing a web host
2. Get started with email marketing
Email marketing and blogging go hand in hand. Content allows you to connect with a diverse range of people, most of whom aren't even members of your audience, yet. Email marketing provides a way for you to encourage them to come back.
It even gives you a way to generate “leads”, which are visitors (to your site) who have the potential to become customers. You spend a lot of time and maybe even money producing content and getting people to your website. Email marketing provides a way for you to cut back on your workload as it encourages a portion of your visitors to come back. Here are a few articles we've published on email marketing and leads to get you started:
- Build up more email subscribers on your WordPress site
- A beginner's guide to setting up a lead generation system
3. Start monetizing your blog
This is a great way to take your amateur blog to the next level. A blog without a profit is a hobby. Hobbies are something you do in your spare time. When your spare time gets eaten by work and life, your hobbies become abandoned. If you make your blog your living, you won't need to worry about abandoning it. Instead you can focus on monetizing your blog to gain an income from blogging.
There are several ways to monetize a blog, especially when you move to a self-hosted solution. You can recommend products you use in your niche and earn a bit when your readers purchase those products using your links. This is called affiliate marketing. You can also work with brands directly and have them pay you for talking about their brand or one of their products. This would be a sponsorship where you would publish sponsored posts on your blog.
You can also create your own products, including ebooks, courses and even physical products. Lastly, you can sell ad space on your site. You can do this directly with brands, which can incorporate affiliate marketing and sponsorships, or you can use an ad network, such as Google AdSense. Here are a few articles on monetizing your blog:
- How to monetize your WordPress site with sponsored posts
- Why WordPress is your best friend for affiliate marketing
- How to earn money placing ads on your WordPress site
- How to deal with ad blockers on your WordPress website
4. Get started with social media marketing
This is something you should have started doing a long time ago as you can get started with social media marketing no matter which blogging platform you're on. The trick is to find out which social media platforms your audience uses, and optimize them one by one.
For example, if you do a bit of research and discover your audience mainly uses Facebook, create a Facebook page for your website, and start there. Once you grow your following to a sustainable amount, start optimizing the next most popular social media platform in your niche. Here are a few articles we've published on the topic in the meantime:
- Complete guide to content curation for social media marketing
- WordPress plugins to automatically publish content on social media
- How to use hashtags on social media to expand your reach
- 5 Twitter WordPress plugins to keep yourself on top of social media
- How to implement social media feeds on your WordPress site
- 9 Creative Facebook ad strategies that increase targeted traffic
5. Enhance your site's SEO
Increasing the amount of traffic you receive from outside sources is an important step you need to take to move toward professionalism. This includes increasing the amount of traffic you receive from search engines, which will require enhancing your site's SEO.
This involves making sure your site performs well, making sure you're producing high-quality, valuable content, performing keyword research, creating a sitemap with Google Search Console and more. This is a fairly technical step to take. Here are a few links to help you get started:
- WordPress SEO plugins for better rankings in search engines
- SEO Tips for WordPress to optimize your website for search engines
- Understanding the basics of keyword research for beginners
6. Upgrade to a premium WordPress theme
Free WordPress themes are great, and there are a number of different high-quality free WordPress themes available these days. However, these types of WordPress themes usually come with their own set of limitations similar to the limitations in free blogging platforms.
These mainly include style and functionality limitations, but they may also include a lack of customer support. If you're in need of a quality, well-designed premium theme, check out what we have to offer. Have a look at the overview of premium themes from MH Themes.
7. Integrate other forms of content
If you're a blogger, you likely produce nothing but written content or at least a majority of written content. It's a powerful form of content to use, but all studies indicate an increased preference in visual content these days. This means you should consider incorporating things like infographics and videos in your workflow. You can even incorporate audio by starting a podcast.
8. Include others from your industry
This is a great way to increase the amount of reach your blog has in your industry. It's part of the “you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours” philosophy. Featuring varied opinions and content from other members and even experts from your niche in your blog is a wonderful way to increase traffic.
The types of content you can create here include posts written by guest bloggers, expert interviews and even expert round-up posts, which typically contain a small paragraph or simple quote from various experts in your niche in regards to a particular topic. An example of a suitable topic would be “Over 40 SEOs Share Their Keyword Research Strategies”.
Final thoughts on taking your amateur blog to the next level
Taking an amateur blog to the next level and into the world of professionalism and online business should not be taken lightly. A simple blog and a website built for online business are two separate things. To recap, here are the things you need to pay attention to the most:
- Design and functionality – This includes breaking away from the limitations of a free blogging platform. It also includes paying more attention to your site's design.
- Marketing – Email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing. You need to be on top of it all. This means starting an email list, optimizing your social media channels and optimizing your content for success.
- Monetization – Take your amateur blog to the next level by getting started with monetization. This includes affiliate marketing, sponsorships, advertisements and products.
- SEO – Work on increasing the amount of organic traffic you receive from search engines.
Do you have experience in going from an amateur blog to a professional publication or even reliable business? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!