Blogs to riches: How to turn your passion into your career

Picture your favourite activity. Do you love to cook? Have a passion for travel? Or maybe you’re a die-hard movie or theatre buff? We all have a passion but for most of us, they’re the things we only get to enjoy in between work hours. But what if you could turn your passion into your career?  

In the past this would have required a lot of capital and even more guts and determination, just to get your business idea off the ground. Now, thanks to the trailblazing WordPress and AdSense advertising platforms, launched in the early 2000s, almost anyone can easily and inexpensively build a community around something they’re passionate about.

The boom has been so significant in the past decade that recent statistics from WordPress show users now produce about 54.2 million new posts and 52.3 million new comments each month – that’s just on one platform alone!

It is a saturated market and there will be a lot of detractors who say, “You’ll never make a living out of this.” Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re not. It all comes down to how much you want it and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into making your passion your job.

So, with so many amazing creative blogs out there already, how do you make yours stand out? How do you get people returning for more? And how do you increase visitor numbers to build a loyal following, and ultimately make an income?

Here are our top tips to help turn your passion into a successful blog:

1. Getting started

Choosing a blogging platform is your first step. There are myriad free options out there now, but the most popular are sites like WordPress and Tumblr. Most blog sites also offer free design themes so you can customise your own page, and if you're not sure how to use them, you can find plenty of online tutorials on YouTube or on the sites themselves, to get you started.

2. Write about what you love

The reason successful blogs work is because bloggers put so much passion behind it. Write about something that sparks joy in you, or something that you’re knowledgeable on or good at.  If you don’t, not only will it show in your writing but you’re also likely to lose interest very quickly.

So find a topic you are comfortable with and only write about that. For example, if you're an interior design aficionado talk about the industry, emerging trends and other designers you love. And if you're a photographer, you could write about people in the industry you admire, review exhibitions you’ve been to, or even blog about your own projects with your followers.

3. Find a niche

When choosing a creative topic to blog about, try and find a niche. Even if you’re writing about what you love, you’re not going to get the cut-through if everyone else is talking about the same thing. Try to think outside the box and find a new way of presenting your ideas.

If you make your blog about something very specific, you'll please both the search engines and other consumers. For example, one of the wealthiest bloggers in the market, Michael Arrington has become extremely successful through his blog, TechCrunch, which is purely about technology news.  Find your own niche and go for it! Just remember to stay on topic.

4. Sell yourself

Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, that includes building a blog following. You won't get anywhere if you just set up a webpage and hope that people will come. You have to actively market your blog. This can be done in a number of ways: by commenting on other popular websites and blogs that target your niche audience, joining forums with other bloggers, setting up and actively using an Instagram page or Twitter account to drive traffic, or even enlisting the help of a digital PR agency.

Other things to consider are fixing any broken links and making use of the search engine optimisation (SEO) by writing about trending topics on other websites, and making sure your blog and social media accounts do not operate in silos. Consider hooking your accounts up to your blog's RSS feed to update your followers with your latest posts.

5. Keep it regular

Once you’ve grabbed audience attention, you need to maintain it. This means keeping your content to a regular schedule. Ideally, you need to be blogging every single day – especially if SEO is one of your key priorities, but if this isn’t realistic then keep your blog updated with at least two articles a week. And if you do have to take a break, make sure to use scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite on your blog so you can post articles automatically and keep your followers satisfied.

6. Embrace the Instablog

Humans are visual creatures, and in a fast-paced information overloaded digital age, telling your story with pictures has become more important than ever before. In fact, marketers have become so interested in the vast, growing and highly engaged community that is Instagram, that some bloggers are making upwards of $1,000 a post on the photo-sharing social media site.

Instagram is an amazing tool for bloggers to develop their brand and share content with followers they would otherwise be hard-pressed to find. If you’re making and selling products on your blog such as food, clothes or homewares, consider posting high quality images to your Instagram account. Likewise, if your blog provides a service, share photos of your satisfied customers engaging in these experiences or even better, ask them to post or share from their own accounts.

7. Tap into the data mine

It’s important to keep track of how people are finding your blog and engaging with your content. This will allow you to continually improve your offering to better address your readers' needs, as well as pinpoint those external sources that are drawing people in and use them to your advantage. Good starting points are Google Analytics or your blog’s own analytics tool. Otherwise, if you invest in online advertising, this should give you an indication on the return on investment (ROI) from each post.

8. Bring home the bacon

Income streams from blogging are just like the investment market – they ebb and flow. The key to making a profit as a blogger is to have multiple streams of income. Every little bit counts.

The five main streams for bloggers are Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Digital ProductsPhysical Products, and Services, more detail on each and how to implement them can be found here.

And always keep in mind…

There will be up weeks and down weeks. There will be negative comments, and there will be supportive communities that promote and champion your work.  Above all, keep in mind the reason you started your blog and remember that the most important metric throughout the whole process is a simple one – does it make you happy? If so, that’s success. 

 

Important information: The content of this publication are the opinions of the writer and is intended as general information only which does not take into account the personal investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. It is dated March 2016, is given in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be accurate as at this date, which may be subject to change. It should not be considered to be a comprehensive statement on any matter and should not be relied on as such. Neither Zurich Australia Limited ABN 92 000 010 195 AFSL 232510, nor Zurich Investment Management Limited ABN 56 063 278 400 AFSL 232511 of 5 Blue Street North Sydney NSW 2060, nor any of its related entities, employees or directors (Zurich) give any warranty of reliability or accuracy nor accept any responsibility arising in any way including by reason of negligence for errors and omissions. Zurich recommends investors seek advice from appropriately qualified financial advisers. Zurich and its related entities receive remuneration such as fees, charges and premiums for the financial products which they issue. Details of these payments can be found in the relevant fund Product Disclosure Statement. No part of this document may be reproduced without prior written permission from Zurich. CLYH-011177-2016