How to become a blogging success story part 1 – getting started

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This guest post was contributed by Brian Cormack Carr.

How to become a blogging success story part 1 - getting startedI first had the pleasure of coming across Nina’s How To Blog A Book after reading one of her tweets and surfing over to her website of the same name. It was a timely encounter – at the time, I was in the process of getting myself together to take the plunge into “actually writing a book”, instead of just “thinking about writing a book”.

I found the tips Nina had to share invaluable, and I incorporated several of them into the process of creating and self-publishing my first book, How To Find Your Vital Vocation: A Practical Guide To Discovering Your Career Purpose And Getting A Job You Love.

Here’s what I did, what I learned – and what I’ll do differently next time around!

1. Set Yourself A Challenging But Achievable Target

Nina’s book begins with some very useful information on how to decide your book topic and title. I was already some way there due to having already established my coaching niche, but I knew I needed something more to impel me to get moving.

I didn’t take the plunge by halves. I announced on my existing blog (and on Twitter, Facebook, and at every available social event and family gathering) that I was going to write and publish two books by the time I hit 40. At the time I made that promise, I was 39 years and 2 months old. The target was certainly challenging – but was it achievable? Well, I wrote and published my first book just four days short of my 40 th birthday – and I have the other one written out in draft form.

Not bad going, but something was lacking – a proper plan. I created a writing plan for my blogged book, which certainly pushed me to move from chapter to chaper and helped me to get my target word counts in, but I didn’t do exactly as Nina advises in How To Blog A Book and structure my plan in the form of a book proposal. Consequently, I had to do some of the thinking that plan would have helped with – like promotional tactics, resources required, author platform, and overall book structure – as I wrote the book. That distracted me from being able to consistently write and blog at the same time.

2. Build Your Author Platform With Your Own Website

Although I already had two websites in place – one for my coaching practice and one for my online career-coaching program – I found Nina’s advice on how to use a blog to post a developing book really invaluable. I repurposed the online coaching program site into a blog for the book.

I’ll be the first to admit that although this definitely gave me the book-writing kick-start I needed, my actual posting on the blog wasn’t as consistent as it could have been. I can put this down in part to having limited time (my coaching and writing are adjuncts to an already full-time career as a charity chief executive) I must also acknowledge that a lack of a coherent business plan hampered me here.

Even with my basic plan, I still covered more ground in a shorter time than I would have thought possible – so you can be sure that full plan will be in place for my next book!

3. Start Driving Traffic To Your Blog Before Your Book Is Finished…Or Even Started!

One of my favorite chapters in Nina’s book is called Driving Traffic (Readers) To Your Blog. It’s a chapter that would be of great use to any online entrepreneur whether or not they’re blogging a book. This chapter, which clearly sets out the most effective ways of letting the world know your blog is there and active, really helped me inject some life into my book-writing process. Although I didn’t blog as consistently as I’d have liked (or quite as much as advised) I was still able to blog enough to substantially grow my readership. Unique visits to my site grew by 200% during the process of blogging How To Find Your Vital Vocation. Social media growth was even more impressive, which brings me to the next point.

4. Get Sociable and Engage Others in Your Book Blogging Journey

It’s fitting that Nina and I first connected via social media. The process of blogging my book has been the single biggest boost to my online presence. At the time I started, I had around 400 Twitter followers (I now have substantially more than double that). I had a mailing list which had grown steadily to around 100 subscribers – that has more than quadrupled in size. And I hadn’t made any real inroads into Facebook as a book marketing tool, but the Facebook page for How To Find Your Vital Vocation now stands at over 1,000 fans!

How to become a blogging success story part 1 - getting startedThe Results?

I don’t see myself as being at the end of my book blogging journey but nor am I right at the beginning. Because I took Nina’s advice and built a platform through the process of blogging my book, I was pleasantly surprised by my initial results when releasing the book. I released the ebook of How To Find Your Vital Vocation on the 4 th of June, and by my 40 th birthday four days later, it had registered on the UK Kindle careers bestseller list. It even (briefly) outsold Donald Trump’s careers guide!

Not bad for a first timer, eh? I’ve learned a lot from the process of blogging my first book. I’ve also learned that nothing that Nina advises in How To Blog A Book is superfluous – it’s all there for a reason. My next target is to blog a book including all the techniques I missed out this first time around.

So watch out Donald – and thank you Nina!

About the Author

Brian Cormack Carr is a writer, certified career coach and chief executive of BVSC The How to become a blogging success story part 1 - getting startedCentre for Voluntary Action, one of the UK’s leading local charities. He trained in personnel management with Marks & Spencer PLC and gained an MA (Hons) in English Literature and Language from the University of Aberdeen. Brian has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of personal development and leadership, and has helped hundreds of clients, readers and workshop participants to find fulfilling work and a renewed sense of purpose.

Purchase How To Find Your Vital Vocation at Amazon or Smashwords.

Hero Brown launched her Muddy Stilettos website in 2011, after moving from London to rural Buckinghamshire and finding that reliable information on the best restaurants, walks, boutiques, hotels, day trips and events in her area was thin on the ground. Brown, formerly a magazine editor and journalist, has written for many national UK publications, so perhaps it’s no surprise that her fresh and witty take on the delights of Buckinghamshire has proved such a hit (I subscribe and I don’t even live there). What started as a project mainly for fun is now how she earns her living. Muddy Stilettos has 5,000 subscribers, 15,000 unique readers a month and 6,500 followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Muddy Stilettos may not be on the same scale as Forbes.com (yet) – but lots of us would like to profit from writing online about a topic we love. So: how do you turn your blog into a profitable enterprise?

How to become a blogging success story part 1 - getting started

Muddy Stiletto queen Hero Brown

Be your own brand

“I think of Muddy Stilettos as an online magazine. It’s well-researched, well-written and I’m constantly thinking about my readers. Lots of blogs by their nature are a kind of stream of consciousness – look at me, this is what I did, I’m thinking this today – but I come at it from more of an editorial angle. What will help my readers have a great day? What will they find interesting or funny? With successful blogs people buy into you as a person and the vision you have, and I’m always myself when I write, but I always have the reader in mind, and I think that makes a difference.”

Meet a need

“When I moved to Buckinghamshire, I needed to find out about things happening around me. Having recognised that need of my own, I then thought of all the other people migrating out of London. Like any good idea, Muddy Stilettos meets a need.”

Find your target audience

“I target a demographic that nobody else does out here. My readers are women, primarily 30-55, most have children, they are quite urbane, they have money, they want to go out and have a good time.”

Make sure your readers know they can rely on you

“The whole point of Muddy Stilettos is that you trust it to help you make the most of your free time. I visit everything myself – I never rely on press releases. Last year, Flawless and the English National Ballet did a mash-up that came into the area. I thought it was amazing and recommended it – and I was accosted in the school playground by someone saying they’d bought six tickets for the show. Those tickets were £50 each – someone had spent £300 on my recommendation so it’s really important that people can trust me. And if they trust me, they’ll trust my advertisers too, so I won’t have any advertisers I don’t think are good. I could earn more money from advertising if I was less fussy, but if I don’t keep that high quality bar, the whole reason for reading Muddy Stilettos disappears.”

“I’ve opened a Muddy Boutique and I also have a directory up and running – they provide different strands of income from the blog. It’s important to diversify rather than just relying on advertising – with the recession, people are thinking very hard about how to use their advertising budgets. I’m planning to franchise and extend into other counties over the next couple of years. I’ve become far more business-oriented than I ever thought I would be, because I’ve found something I love and I want to make it work. Muddy has also led to other opportunities. I do blogs and Tweets for other companies; for example, a Tweet calendar every month for a big lifestyle company, which is a different income stream that’s popped up.”

Be disciplined

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I work now. You have to post regularly: every day at 8.15am, a Muddy Stilettos post is in every subscriber’s inbox. It’s very rare that I have a day off. Blogging is bums on seats: you need to have the right numbers for people to advertise with you. If people find a newsletter in their inbox in the morning, even if only half of them click on it, you’ve got them on your site. I think that’s the difference between a professional blog and someone who blogs just because they enjoy it. I started Muddy Stilettos for fun, then thought ‘I really want to do this!’ and worked very hard to get to 10,000 uniques. At that point, I was competing with local magazines and newspapers, and then I went professional.”

Support your advertisers

“For the first six months, I didn’t think about supporting my advertisers, and I lost a couple in the early days because I just left them to it. This isn’t about writing advertorials, which I don’t do, but now I’m much more active in other ways. I go and see them, make sure I know what they’re doing, Tweet them. You have to add value. That was one of the reasons I started the directory. You don’t want so many advertisers that all your writing is supporting them, you want to go out and find new stuff, but a directory is a good way to support other businesses.”

Sort out your IT back-up

“I’m not massively technically adept. Posting is easy and that’s the important bit. Technically, the most important thing is to have someone good who you can call on and who won’t rip you off. For one project, a company wanted to charge me £60 to do a little gif, making a logo move a bit to catch the eye. I knew that quote was expensive so I called someone else up and got it done for £20. You don’t need to do that stuff yourself – but you learn how much things cost and who can do what you need.”

Like Hero Brown, global web entrepreneur Michael Bruno mentions the importance of trust in his Success Story

I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years. I began as a feature writer on the UK’s Independent on Sunday newspaper and set up as a freelance in 2000. Since then, I’ve…

I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years. I began as a feature writer on the UK’s Independent on Sunday newspaper and set up as a freelance in 2000. Since then, I’ve written for many of the UK’s national newspapers and magazines, from the Financial Times and the Guardian to Country Living and Cosmopolitan, and I’ve interviewed everyone from A-list celebrities, businesspeople, sportspeople and musicians to teachers and teenagers, farmers and fashion designers, cooks and criminals – plus many others. I’ve also recently been back to university to pick up a second degree in psychology, because the human mind fascinates me. Everyone has an interesting story to tell if it’s presented well and that’s what I like to do.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

A while back, I did a podcast interview with my good friend Pete from DoYouEvenBlog.com. It’s actually the third one that he and I have done together, and I always have a lot of fun talking to him.

He just released it on Christmas day, and I listened through it and realized that it has a tooooon of great information for anyone that is hoping to start a blog/podcast/youtube channel, or any online business for that matter.

It’s 100% unedited, fairly long, and I did accidentally cuss a few times (sorry…old habits die hard. ).

This podcast episode is SUPER laid back and is more like sitting in on a private conversation about growing a business than some kind of formal podcast interview.

Here’s what we talked about

  • What to do when you hit a wall with your business
  • Why money and site traffic is exactly the same
  • The private Millennial Money Man Facebook community
  • Why normal business owners would laugh at bloggers for their unrealistic expectations
  • The reason that bloggers have unrealistic expectations in the first place
  • The Make Money Marketing course
  • How to know if you suck (and need to pivot)
  • Three things that you need to have success with an online business

You can listen here:

or listen on \\ iTunes \\ Stitcher \\ Google Play \\ Overcast \\ Spotify

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December 27, 2017 Posted in: Blogging

About Millennial Money Man

Bobby Hoyt is a former band director who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in 18 months on his teaching salary and then left his job to run Millennial Money Man full-time. He helps other Millennials earn more through side hustles, save more through budgeting tools and apps, and pay off debt. He is a personal finance expert who has been seen on Forbes, Reuters, MarketWatch, CNBC, International Business Times, Business Insider, US News, Yahoo Finance, and many other personal finance and entrepreneurship media outlets.

Comments

Sean @ FrugalMoneyMan

# Dec 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for the insights!

Being brand new to the blogging world, I knew coming in that I would first have to work harder than everybody else. I read a great blog post recently about setting goals and how instead of setting outcome oriented goals, you should set action oriented goals. An example of this could be instead of setting a goal of wanting 500 viewers per day on your blog, you can make it more actionable by setting a goal of commenting on 10 different bloggers posts per day. That action of getting your name out there will then compound over time, eventually leading you closer to your outcome oriented goal.

I also like the point where you suggest you need to be straight and honest with yourself coming in if the purpose of your blog is to make money or not. Coming from a sports background, I can 100% relate to this because just as in sports, you need to set your bar at the beginning of the journey so you never lower it during the process stage.

Thanks for the share, and I wish you continued success!

Accidental FIRE

# Dec 27, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Great episode Bobby. I thought your comments about easily recognizing bloggers who are solely in it for the money versus those looking to build a ‘tribe’ were interesting. It is easily apparent when I see a blog to see which camp they’re in, although some may straddle both camps at times.

Something tells me the ones taking the easy-road are probably doing better, which is frustrating.

Millennial Money Man

# Dec 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm

I think initially they are doing better, but to me building an audience is much more enjoyable and very profitable as well!

Megan Nichole @ The LaziMILLENNIAL Movement

# Dec 29, 2017 at 10:04 am

Hey Bobby! Really enjoy listening to Pete’s podcast and was excited to see you featured again.

Especially loved the introspective conversation about how bloggers influence newbie or wanna-be bloggers’ expectations. I imagine it’s tough to balance being truthful and marketing effectively with tempering you audience’s expectations. For what it’s worth, I appreciate the big bloggers who don’t “sell their souls”! 🙂

Millennial Money Man

# Dec 29, 2017 at 10:09 am

It is tough – you want to make money, but you also want to do it the right way. Maybe I’m leaving money on the table, who knows? Still the right thing to do 🙂

Brad @ Fatherhood & Finance

# Jan 6, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Loved this podcast and your previous podcast with Pete. So much valuable information.

Thanks for sharing your insights and knowledge.

How to become a blogging success story part 1 - getting startedSometimes a blog can become a full-time job, as people like Holly Johnson or Steve Chou can attest. Or a personal website could get you nationally known, e.g., Chris Hardwick.

Today I’m going to talk about a guy whose personal blog turned into his dream job – a gig that was not running a blog.

As the Alaska Dispatch News headline puts it, “Anchorage man turns hobby into NBA front office job.”

Seth Partnow, 39, told the newspaper that his job “feels, to some degree, almost like a fantasy camp.”

Not bad for a guy who started blogging about basketball because he was a total stats nerd.

Partnow, who has degrees in economics and law, was working at his family’s educational consulting firm. Yet he was so passionate about the game of hoops that he spent 120 hours researching and writing an article about “rim protection and an examination of the Golden State Warriors’ rapid pace of play.”

That article, and others, got published on sports blogs. In 2013 he started his own blog but kept writing for other sports sites. And he started getting noticed, his work being referenced by national media covering the National Basketball Association.

The Milwaukee Bucks team hired him part-time as a consultant in May 2016. Four months later he was offered a full-time job as director of basketball research.

Partnow’s jump to hyperspace took about two and a years, from freelancing to blogging to getting hired by a pro team. And he loves, loves, loves his job.

“I still pinch myself walking into the building every day,” he says.

More than one way to blogging success

Maybe your niche isn’t sports. Perhaps you’d rather write about fashion, personal finance, parenthood, classic cars, or antique pickle forks. There’s a blog for every niche out there.

Thing is, there might also be paying work out there. Some of us make money as freelancers, or from teaching courses* or placing ads on our sites. (And some of us do all three.)

But as Partnow has shown, a blog can get you noticed in ways you can’t even imagine. That’s not the only reason to write, but it’s a good one.

Suppose your well-written and -researched posts about social media or frugality or fashion or those antique pickle forks were to get the attention of an organization or business that needed good writers. Suddenly you’d have the pleasant dilemma of “keep writing evenings and weekends and hope to make money at it some day” vs. “take this full-time job doing what I love to do.”

That happened to me way back in 2007, when MSN Money hired me to create its Smart Spending blog – based on some freelance pieces. I went from “hope I can finish this midlife university degree and pay off my divorce-related bills” to graduating magna cum laude and without a dime of debt.

Here’s wishing that this kind of dilemma shows up on your doorstep, and soon. In the meantime, keep doing what you do – and never stop working at what you do. Blogging success may or may not happen overnight, but improvement is an essential habit.