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Mailbag: How to Successfully Blog

Carol Tice

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How to Successfully BlogNow that we’re getting settled into our new home at Make a Living Writing, it’s time to open the mailbag and answer a reader question.

Maureen recently wrote me with this introduction and a question about blogging:

I worked for years in book publishing, [for] 2 literary agents, then finding books to adapt into screenplays and teleplays.  I had a health catastrophe which has been straightened out in the past two years, thank goodness.  Before that health crisis occurred, I had already decided that I wanted to be the writer.  So I am an apt pupil to anyone who is a good writer, and able to support him/herself through this.

I’m outlining a book which will be less of a memoir and more of a cautionary tale to other people who suffered the same health problem, and don’t feel I’ll have any problems with that.  Also, drafting two screenplays.

My question for you is how does one successfully blog?

I’ll take a stab at this even though I’m not entirely sure what Maureen means. If you’re asking how blog format is different from writing articles, I think it is distinctly different — more casual, shorter and ideally offering links to readers that allow them to read more on other sites if they’re interested.

Don’t know if you saw this post I did on whether blogging is for you – maybe useful in thinking about blogging success.

Or maybe you’re wondering how to physically get your own Web site where you can blog? There are lots of sites that can help you with that — just discovered this one recently, which is free:  Yola.

If you’re asking how you earn money by having a personal blog, I would recommend you check out Leo Babauta’s great free ebook on how he got 100,000 subscribers for his very lucrative blog, Zen Habits. Essentially there are only a few ways to make money off your blog — affiliate marketing, selling ad space for an up-front fee on your site, selling information products, and using the visibility to get other writing jobs.

For me, I feel like I am successfully blogging. I hope I’m a success in that I’m providing useful information to my community. As far as earning from it, I’m just launching my monetizing strategies. So I’ll have to see how it goes.

Also, what’s your definition of success — You have 100,000 subscribers? You make $100K a year with it? You get a major publishing-house book deal? You simply manage to post two blogs a week? You get a lot of comments? You get linked to a lot? You get to polish your writing and develop your style? You get article assignments from $1-a-word magazines?

Everyone defines success differently. Also, what’s your blog about? Different blog topics monetize in different ways.

I haven’t made a dime directly from my blog at this moment but consider it a huge success in building a community of writers who’re interested in earning more from their work. That has been my immediate goal, and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made on it.

It’s helped me get great-paying jobs blogging for companies. The exposure has been great, I’ve met wonderful new writing friends some of whom will help me promote my ebook in future, and it has helped me learn a lot about how to write impactfully in this new format.

It also led to the great opportunity I got recently to be a regular blogger for the WM Freelance Writing Connection, exposing me to a whole new audience.

I’m getting 300-400 visitors a day, or was before the move, which I’m very happy about for just starting this blog in ’09. I’m hoping to explore ways to earn from my blog that help my community and don’t annoy them…count on all of you to let me know how I’m doing.

Maureen — write back and let us know if you start a blog, and if so how it goes.

Readers — how do you define blogging success? And how is your quest for blogging success going? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think it takes to successfully blog.

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