When people ask me what I do, I always hesitate. I am a blogger but up until recently, I never said to anyone out loud — “I am a professional blogger.” It just didn’t seem adequate to tell them that I work from home as a blogger. Sometimes, people give you the look and trying to explain is harder than it sounds!
Lately though, I’ve come to realize that even though my writing stinks and my grammar is horrific, I really am a professional blogger. I make decent money and I enjoy networking with my peers. So when people ask me what I do now, I proudly state — “I am blogger, hear me roar!” Or something like that!
Then comes the question — how do you do it? Can I review products too? Can I make money blogging, like you? And, I want to help, I really do. But you see, I fell into this blogging thing four years ago.
In the beginning, I didn’t have a plan or a how-to-blog guide to follow. I just started blogging and discovering and somewhere along the way I ended up here. There is no cut and dry straight answer about “How to make a living at blogging.” At least not for me, I’m still working on that part! However, I do have a few basic blogging tips for the beginning review blogger that I’ve learned along the way!
How To Get A Blog
I really think that anyone can succeed as a blogger, it just takes time! Lots and LOTS of time. It also takes a small start up fee, if you wish to be successful and present yourself in a way that shows you mean business.
For me, that was making the switch to go self-hosted. To self-host your own blog, you will need to purchase a domain name which is around $10 or so, sometimes much lower if you catch a good sale. Then, you’ll need to purchase hosting which varies in price depending on who you host, how much space you need and how many months you purchase in advance.
Lastly, you’ll need a blogging platform. WordPress is by far my favorite, it’s easy to get started with and there are a ton of useful plugins to make your blogging life easier, not to mention fun! Domain names and Hosting issues are definitely not my area of expertise so in the beginning, I went the easy route and hired Kat from eDesign Pro to make sure my blog runs smoothly for my readers! Kat rocks and I love hosting my blog with her!
Of course, if you don’t want to pay for this service, Google is your friend. You can find a tutorial for pretty much anything and everything blog related on the web. Try searching terms such as “how to install WordPress.” The company you buy your hosting with may have good starter tutorials as well.
As for how to get started in review products and making some sort of revenue – you have to start small and that means adding content to your blog and gaining traffic.
How to Start Blogging & What the Heck to Blog About
- Just write, about anything. You have to start somewhere and since no one but your mom is going to be visiting your site at first, just write. If you’re worried about writing the perfect post every time, you’ll never get around to writing any at all, believe me. Sometimes you just have to write and not worry about what anyone else will think. Look at some of my earlier posts and you’ll see I was fairly dorky — who cares, just write!
- If you have kids or pets, then you have instant blog foder. Kids are funny and silly and do things that we love to share with anyone who will listen. When you blog about your kids, you don’t have to use names. Go ahead and give them some nicknames, if you liked to keep your privacy. Write about their antics, share recipes and photos, anything really.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures! Use your camera. People like large, pretty pictures in posts, myself included. If someone is drawn to your photos, they will likely come back to your blog to read more. Using photos and improving my picture taking is something I work on continuously! Make sure that you do watermark your photos to deter theft of your images. this can be done very easily with sites such as PicMonkey.com
- Start reviewing products that you already own and use. Lots of bloggers start out this way. Have a favorite book, movie, appliance, food item, name brand anything? Review it and then Tweet about it using the company Twitter ID.
- Networking & Comments. Visit other blogs like yours (or in your niche) and comment on them. Make sure to put your blog url in the comment form so the blog owner can visit you to return the favor. One way I like to network is by participating in weekly “memes” such as the Wordless Wednesday where you post a photo as a post. Then you visit a bunch of other blogs and comment on their photo, most will visit you in return. There are a LOT of memes out there for every subject so it can be a great way to get started in getting your blog out there.
- Get Social. Which leads me to the Social Media. You MUST have social media accounts to be a successful review blogger! So if you don’t have a Twitter, G+ or Pinterest, go get them! Once you do start your blog, you’ll also want to start a Facebook Fan page for it as well.
Okay, Now What?
Once you have some content and traffic on your blog, you can start applying to some of the Product Review Networks like Mom Central (they pay in product and Amazon gift cards), money making sites like Social Spark (sponsored posts) and ad networks like Ad Sense and Share-a-Sale.
You will definitely want to find yourself a community to get active in, for me that’s the MomDot forums. Without that forum, and all of the wonderful bloggers who are members, I would not be as successful as I am right now!
And straight up I’m going to tell you, it can take a good long while to make any sort of money out of blogging. I’ve been doing this since Dec. 2008 and September 2012 is when I actually started making any profit to speak of. Reviews are much easier to get into and a good way to build up content.
This is just scratching the surface and of course, just my own personal experience. Many bloggers have had success in a shorter time period. Blogging is a never ending learning experience!
I hope that you were able to make sense out of some of my rambling and I truly hope that it may have helped someone!
Here are a few more articles about how to start a review blog:
- 5 Things I would Tell You About Starting a Blog by The Little Kitchen
- How to Start a Product Review Blog by Moody Mama Says
- How To Get Into Review Blogging by MomDot.com
- How to Become a Product Reviewer by Makobi Scribe
- Blogging Basics by Mama Dweeb
Oh, and one last thing! Never EVER say “I get FREE stuff for my blog”. I used to do this until I realized that I was just degrading myself and my blog by belittling all of the work I was putting in to my reviews. Everything I get for my blog, I work for. Whether it’s a bottle of shampoo, a smartphone or a $500 check — I work my butt off making sure my posts are accurate, interesting and attractive. Blogging IS work!