Ever feel like it’s your turn to get online?
Have a lot of ideas in a specific field worth sharing with 100 people? Or maybe 1000?
A lot great things can happen when you start a blog. For me, it was the beginning of a budding career of meeting awesome people, travelling to new places, and creating a really fun online image for myself.
Here’s how I went from total newbie to recognized blogger. Hint: You can do it too!
Blogging a Career: Where I started
So I’m assuming you want to get into blogging. A blog, just so you know, is a website, which is also called a “site.” I’ll use all three terms interchangeably here.
The first step for me was really just sitting down and reading about where to blog.
I eventually chose Blogger because it was free, and I knew it allowed customization of HTML and CSS which I wanted (well, knew I should) learn.
I had done a lot of reading on what distinguishes a successful blog from any old webpage, and it boiled down to this: The greatest blogs add the most value to a community of people, and provide options for lots of engagement from the community members.
The word community was pretty key here.
So I started up a college advice community called Honest College. It was free to register, I had a buddy design the logo, and I wrote up a few college advice blog posts for my readers.
I think my first topics were writer’s block, what drinks to avoid drinking, and how to maximize your college visits. It’s quite funny when I think back.
Over the next couple months I recruited three friends to write guest posts. The posts were even better than mine, with lots of flare and sarcasm. Recruiting new writers is how this blog began to grow.
Growing the blog: Social media and promotions
With a couple new writers I could focus on some business ends of blogging.
The first step, in my mind, was building social proof. That just means getting some proof that the blog posts were likeable and shareable. I asked each of my guest writers to share through Facebook, and was amazed by the response.
It seemed at least a handful of people found our ideas original.
It was just the encouragement I needed.
I developed a schedule to write about twice a week, which worked well for me as I assimilated into a new city at the same time. This gave me time to focus on promotions. My roommate actually worked in online advertising, so I asked her where to begin.
She told me to install Adsense, which I did, to avoid Adwords at the moment, and to find some young companies who may be interested in my audience.
One obvious choice was Honest Tea. The name’s of our “companies” were just too similar and these guys seemed cool enough to get behind a blog.
The result was great, and inspired me find more blog sponsors at a larger scale.
Each email of acceptance from a new company felt like a million bucks, while in reality it usually only amounted to a box full of T-Shirts and free products.
Hey, I did get a laptop at one point.
Shifting roles: Blogger to editorial manager
A lot of “making it” as a blogger comes from knowing when to upgrade and shift roles.
With things clearly moving in the right direction, I decided to expand.
I posted an announcement saying my blog needed interns. To get the word out, I had a few Twitter friends tweet this to a few thousand followers, then sat back at the responses came in.
The first wave was awesome. I got 9 really nice interns and created an elaborate schedule that allowed them to write once every two weeks.
Part of the criteria was also sharing and interacting with posts the others were publishing. It was a great way to create even more social proof.
Given that my interns hailed from about 7 different campuses around the US, the amount of expansion the blog experienced was phenomenal.
It was an idea that changed my operation entirely. More comments came in, pageviews quadrupled, and the name “Honest College” became known across campuses. The next round of interns was equally as fun!
San Francisco and the next chapter of blogging
About 1.5 years into blogging I was invited on an all expenses paid blogging trip to San Francisco.
It was the next stage in my blogging. I had been managing writers, content, and sponsors from the comforts of my New York apartment but now it was time to get out there.
The trip was the result of a lot of writing I had done for Adobe and Sony, two offers that had sprung up after I made it known I was working on behalf of Honest Tea (networking!)
After a quick 4 hour plane ride, I found myself seated next to about 20 well-known bloggers watching the unveiling of the much anticipated Adobe CS6 at the illustrious Adobe headquarters.
The trip was a blast of fresh air, in the sense of warm weather but also for my career.
I networked until I could barely stand each day, getting emails, scheduling projects for the future, and bouncing ideas off bloggers much further along than me.
Most importantly, I learned about WordPress.
I had always thought WordPress was too tricky to learn, that I’d be on Blogger forever.
But a friend I made educated me on the wonders of WordPress. Plugins, themes, and a much more professional online business.
As I flew home from San Fran I planned to transfer the whole blog to a new, self-hosted platform, but didn’t know how much my blogging life would change.
My life on WordPress
I took about 3 days to fully transfer Honest College from Blogger to WordPress and it got hairy.
Posts were lost, images were jumbled, and things just looked way different.
After the transfer, it took about a month (!) for me to figure out a good design to go with.
I settled on Theme Junkie and built a new platform that I now think serves my college advice community much better than Blogger and all it’s limitations.
But moving to WordPress was more. I realized I was just at the tip of the blogging iceberg, and craved more.
So I sat back down learned. I learned everything I felt I could at WordPress and more. A couple months more and I was on a whole new level of blogging, discussing PHP code with renowned bloggers and guest posting on major sites.
It was around then I decided to begin DearBlogger.
And the rest was history….
No. Not exactly. But it was a new beginning. Dear Blogger quickly became a place for me to share what I had learned in blogging from the sense of networking, writing, search engine optimization, monetization, and of course, WordPress.
I longevity of this blog seemed infinite, and in many ways it is. Some of the finest blogs in the planet are fun on self-hosted WordPress and focus on well, blogging.
Very meta, huh?
Blogging about blogging is now something I look forward to doing every single day.
What’s up with me now?
So right now I work at Dear Blogger. It’s actually only 5 months old at the time I write this, maybe older when you’re reading but probably not by much.
I still do freelance with awesome companies to earn from blogging. Combine that with affiliate marketing and I’m doing okay.
Of course, the best part of blogging is you can always grow. I’m always looking to write for new networks, meet new audiences, and build my email club of insanely helpful, curious folks who actually teach me a lot from blogging.
And I still own Honest College 🙂
So can you do it too?
I’d love to hear from you if you plan to make blogging work as a career like I did? Are you already started? Did this story help you?
Post a quick comment and let me know. You can also connect with me on Google+.