Blogging Success Story by Carol Tice

My Blogging Success Story by Carol Tice

How does a blog go from a sad, dusty thing nobody reads to a vehicle that provides a steady income? I have an opinion on that, as I traveled that road from 2008 to 2011. Starting from nothing — I barely knew what a blog was — I ended up with a Top 10 Blogs for Writers award and more than 12,000 monthly readers.

Looking back, I see seven key moves I made that helped vault my blog from obscurity to become a viable business. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Find out what your readers need to know. I wasn’t getting much of anywhere while I guessed at what readers wanted. Once I started taking polls and asking — and then delivering exactly that information — my audience started to grow.
  2. Be reliable. At first, I posted sporadically, maybe once or twice a month. In 2009, I got serious and starting posting twice a week religiously, on the same days of the week. And readers started to comment.
  3. Get celebrity friends. It’s true what they say about blogging — it’s like high school all over again. You need to hang out with the cool kids to get noticed by a bigger audience. For me, that first moment came in early 2010, when Copyblogger editor Jon Morrow saw one of my posts on Twitter and asked me to be a Copyblogger guest poster. Other assists came from Problogger’s Darren Rowse, who retweeted one of my posts and sent a huge new audience over, and Mary Jaksch of A-List Blogger Club, who suggested I enter the Top 10 Blogs contest. Never would have crossed my mind otherwise. I later did in-person networking events and met more top-level bloggers. Each relationship opens up new opportunities for guest posts and social-media exposure to new blog readers.
  4. Take chances. When opportunities arise, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. If I hadn’t sat down and sweated blood to make that first guest post good enough to be on Copyblogger, you wouldn’t be reading this now. If I were too shy to promote myself as a candidate for Top 10 Blogs, I would have missed a chance to double my audience. Grabbing these opportunities often involves stretching yourself as a writer as well as putting in some extra hours. You have to be willing to go those extra miles sometimes, to grow your blog.
  5. Make it easy and enticing to subscribe. I can’t believe how many blogs I see where there is no way to subscribe by email, or it’s hidden away at the bottom of a page. Without a list to market to, you are going nowhere. Facebook friends and Twitter followers are generally not a business model, as you don’t have a way to contact those people. At first my signup wasn’t very compelling — things picked up after I added a free report for subscribers.
  6. Design really matters. When I started out, I thought, “I’m a writer writing about the business of writing, for an audience of writers. It’s all about my beautiful, clever, helpful words here. How the site looks isn’t that vital.” Totally. Dead. Wrong. Every little design improvement I made, I saw my subscription rate go up.
  7. Learn to sell the right stuff, the right way. A few blogs make it work with Google Adsense ads slapped up everywhere, but I knew from the start that wouldn’t work for me. After some experimentation, I learned to create a Products I Love page (now expanded to a separate Useful Books tab as well). I developed a philosophy of selling that I stick to today — I only affiliate sell products I know my audience really needs, that I personally have used and can recommend. My readers send me thank-you notes about the products I’ve sold them, because they appreciate being steered to the best solutions for their problems. I’d never putting up random ads I don’t control that could be for inappropriate or poor-quality products. That destroys your audience’s trust and leads them away from your site to buy elsewhere. Instead, create some of your own products — I write ebooks, do paid webinars, and run the Writer’s Den to help other people become professional writers.

What has helped your blog succeed? Leave a comment and share your tips.

Carol Tice writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog and is the founder of the Freelance Writers Den, an online course and mentoring site which helps freelance writers succeed.

Freelance Writers Den is a membership site – for a small monthly fee you get access to courses and forums as well as individual help. Click here to find out more. 

Author: Annabel Candy

Please Share This:



{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Fogg March 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

Congratulations there Carol! Always love hearing about how people progress in their blogging journey!

You should write a post about sweating the good stuff! I’d read it!

Reply

Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing March 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Great idea, Steven — I’m always trying to out-achieve my biggest competitor…myself.

Reply

Annabel Candy March 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your blogging tips with us Carol. I’m so impressed with what you’ve done and what you’re doing to help other freelance writers improve their lot. Really looking forward to co-presenting the blogging webinars with you:)

Reply

barbara March 8, 2012 at 2:29 am

Really great advice Carol. I’m working on a new design myself at the moment and hope to have it up soon. After two years blogging I think 2012 is going to be a successful year.
Going to check out your blog now.
b

Reply

Dave Doolin March 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

I have to agree about design. I come from the very, very old school of web pages, where design mattered a whole lot less than content. That was a very small internet back then. Nowadays I’m taking design a lot more seriously. Seriously enough to consider not doing it myself…

Reply

Annabel Candy March 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Hi Dave, aha, that’s going to be interesting:)

Reply

Rachel March 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

I love the point about selling just ‘Products I Love’ – but how do you go about asking for a commission? I know there are established affiliate programs – but what if the products you love are not in these programs?

Thanks for a great article – it is always very ‘focusing’ to hear a few good pointers on how others’ find success.

Reply

Annabel Candy March 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Rachel,

I’ve never tried it but you could approach them directly:)

Reply

Sandra / Always Well Within March 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

You really illustrate the power of focus and commitment. These are useful insights. We would do well to study these again and again.

Reply

Annabel Candy March 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Hi Sandra, I agree. It’s a case of doing things repeatedly long-term to get those “instant” results:)

Reply

Susan Spira March 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Planning and reacting quickly are so important. These tips help me to stop tail chasing activities and focus on what I know my readers enjoy. If they enjoy, they follow, if they follow, they share. Focusing my work on content to build my new space. Your info is very helpful. Thanks

Reply

Thea | Write Change Grow March 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Hi Carol
Really enjoyed this post. I am a huge fan of your blog, have been reading it for a while now. Love the way you are so down to earth and honest while still being professional and full of knowledge. I hope you continue to do well and I look forward to reading more of your fabulous blog.
Cheers
Thea

Reply

Alyssa March 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

Hi Carol,

I literally just finished a webinar with Jon an hour ago and he mentioned you and your blog!

Reply

AbujaFood April 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Well Carol, blogging is not a days job and requires a lot of commitment from the onset but if you ask me, I’ll say so far blogging has been very rewarding, I have learnt quite a lot and made a little money by the side as well

Reply

Gabriel November 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I agree that blogging is a long term inmtnevest, those that are there for short term gain will fall by the wayside when they realise it takes time and hard work to build up your archives and readers. I would hate to think of how many blogs i have visited that have just died, no good bye or see you later just dumped.

Reply

Andi the Minion January 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Hi Carol, congrats on your success, I agree about the AdSense, I have avoided AdSense on our site as every man and his dog use it to try and make money and it shows, I believe people see sites littered with AdSense with cynical eyes these days.

It’s great to see you creating your own products, I believe this is the way forward for most bloggers, many don’t realise though exactly what skills they have and what they can actually offer to the world. It usually is a lot more than they think.

Reply

Sebastian Aiden Daniels May 10, 2013 at 2:10 am

Great tips Carol. I am a very new blogger and I have to work on the design for my blog. I need to figure out a better way to have a sign up for email subscription because I don’t know if the one for blogspot that they give you is actually working. I agree that you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to expand.

findingonespath.blogspot.com

Reply

Leave a Comment


Subscribe to Comments RSS

{ 5 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: