This is a sponsored post.

I get asked all the time how I make money from blogging, or how I turned my blog into a business. The answer is usually something like,”it is hard work.” And that is the truth. Not every blog starts out with the intent of being a business. This one didn’t. I have talked before about why I started blogging. It was not to make money. But at some point I realized that my blog was indeed turning into a business. And when that happens, things start to be handled a bit differently. Over the past few years I have been very blessed to have experiences that I never would have had otherwise, all because of this blog. And it is far from perfect. I have made many mistakes, I have missed many deadlines (because… life), but I have learned a lot along the way. It is a constant state of learning.

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People starting a blog now have an advantage. Those of us that have been in *since the beginning* have paved the way, gone through the headaches, learned the rules, and shared tons of info that helps new bloggers know how to do it right from the start. Below are 7 tips for bloggers wanting to turn their blogs into a business. This will definitely help you if you do not have a blog already and you are wondering how to get started. It can also help you if you realize that you want your current blog to be more than it is.

Make a List of What You Know (Hobbies, Business)

You have skills. You may have a job in accounting, you may be a wedding planner, you may work in human resources, or you may work in IT like I did. Sit and make a list of all of the skills that you feel that you have that you can easily talk about during a normal conversation. Include all of the things that you encounter from day to day. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can write about it consistently, you can use it to fuel your blog. Your everyday job can help you provide tips to others that may need that advice (resume tips, how to replace a hard drive, etc.). Useful “how to” posts do very well. One or more of the things on this list could be the basis for your blog. I started a tech blog because my life was technology. My life IS technology. I have worked in IT for over 20 years.

Define Your Niche

Once you have determined what you know, you can define your niche. Knowing what you will blog about is important. There are many niches out there. Technology, fashion, food, automotive, lifestyle, and humor are just a few. Lifestyle is a bit of a cheat. There you can blog about just about anything and it fits. Niche blogging is more targeted. This blog is probably over 90% tech. That means I cover all things technology related. Every now and then I throw in something else that shows I am still human. As started above, the important thing is to blog what you know. In other words, don’t start a tech blog (or switch your blog to tech) because you think you will get free tech stuff, it will show. Just about anyone can review a gadget by telling whether or not they like it, and listing the specs. However, can you answer your readers questions about the device? If you are at a blogging event and someone approaches you with a question, will you be able to answer? Be careful that whatever you decide to blog about, you actually know. Define your niche based on what will just flow from you without difficulty.

Define Your Personal Branding

Branding is so important! Having a strong brand is key is helping you stand out against the rest. Don’t trap yourself with your branding. Be sure that your blog name and branding are something that you are going to be happy with for a long, long time. Changing it later can be a pain in the butt. For example, I am LittleTechGirl everywhere that matters! Whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Periscope (I had to wrestle this one away from someone else!), Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat, or more you will find me @LittleTechGirl! The name fit me very well. I wanted something that even when I’m older I won’t mind keeping it. No matter how old I am I will still be little (short), and I live tech. Choose a name for your blog that not only defines your blog topic, but it also defines you. Once you decide on that purchase a domain.

Consider purchasing a .ME domain name. This is perfect for personal branding. It’s a great first step towards building your personal brand. Shy away from domains on free hosting sites. It does not say, “I’m serious about my blogging business”. Self-hosted is the way to go. Purchasing a .ME domain defines your brand and says that you take your blog seriously.

You should also grab that username on all social media accounts…. even the ones that you don’t think you will use right away. Trust me, you don’t want to have to go through getting your name away from someone else. I got lucky and encountered a fairly nice person when I asked for my Periscope name. It only took a little back and forth and my convincing her that I was LittleTechGirl everywhere else on the web.

Clean Up Your Online Reputation

The Internet has been around for a long time. Some of us may have been on other social media sites. We have Facebook pages, Twitter account, and social media on other sites. If you have been using these sites personally for a while you may want to do a cleanup. Depending on your blog topic, you may want to create separate accounts to use with your brand. Or, you may need to go back and delete posts that don’t quite look favorably on your new business image. See my post When is the Last Time that You Googled Yourself? for tips.

Take Steps Towards Being Unique

There are a lot of blogs out there. A LOT. You want to be unique. You want to make yourself stand out so that you can actually connect with brands down the road. What is it about your blog that makes it different from the next one that looks just like it? Defining a niche can help. Clearly defining your brand can help. Setting yourself up as an expert can help.

Create an Editorial Calendar

This is something that I’m horrible about, even though I know the importance of it. It’s on my list to get done. Setting up an editorial calendar is key. It can keep you on track with posting consistently, scheduling a series of posts, and keeping track of when sponsored posts are due.

And on a new blog this is a great way to get steady content going, raise your Alexa ranking, and get some steady readers. All of this will be important when you start connecting with brands.

Market Yourself

Getting readers is key in having a successful blog. Once your blog becomes established, depending on content you will get readers from web searches. However, this will not be many on a new blog. You want to market your blog everywhere that you can. Post links on your Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media. Email your friends and family and tell them about your new blog. Make business cards and pass then out when you meet new people or attend events.

Establish Brand Partnerships

I’ve been very lucky in that awesome brands have reached out to me over the years to work with them on reviews, blog posts, media trips, events, ambassador programs, and more. This is how a lot of bloggers connect with brands. However, you do not have to sit back and wait. If there is a brand that you love, contact them. Most brands have a media or PR email address on their website. You can also tweet the brand and ask for an address to contact.

Brands are the key to getting items for review, getting sponsored posts, and monetizing your blog.

This post could go on forever! The longer we blog, the more tips and tricks we learn from others. There is always more to learn. Once you have established your blog there are many other ways to monetize! But, consider this a crash course in getting started.

Have any specific questions? Just ask!

Disclosure: This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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