Are you ready to take your blog to the next level? A lot of people start out blogging as a hobby and some people are happy for it to stay that way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re not one of those people and you’re ready to take your blog to the next level then stick with me, my friend.
In the early days I blogged as a hobby. It was a way of me sharing my stories and raising awareness of my fundraising for the Raising Hope Foundation. I loved it. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I didn’t even know that blogging could be more than just a hobby until a year or so after I started. I kept my old blog (you can check it out here if you’d like to!) but the more I learnt about blogging as a business and income method, the more I wanted to give it a go.
What I learnt really quickly is that, if you want to make a business out of your blog, there’s a lot more to it than just “giving it a go”! There’s a lot of hard work required. But it’s not impossible. Far from it.
So, if you’re ready to take you blog from beginner to pro, these tips can help you.
**This post contains affiliate links**
1. Set Goals, Plan and Schedule
When I started out blogging I used to post whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I had no goals and no editorial calendar. I loved the freedom, don’t get me wrong, but nobody read my blog other than my mum and a couple of friends. It didn’t bother me at all but then again, I wasn’t trying to make money off it.
If you want to take your blog to the next level, you need to set yourself some blogging goals. Giving yourself something to work towards will bring focus and intent to your blogging. The next step then is to plan.
Create an editorial calendar so you can be strategic with what you post and when. Stick to a regular posting schedule and time of day so that your readers know when to expect new content from you. If they know when it’s coming, they’ll be there waiting.
I’m a huge fan of excel when it comes to planning my blog post. You can access my blog post planner template below:
Schedule your social media updates, plan your newsletters out ahead of time…anything that you can plan and schedule should be planned and scheduled. If you want your blog to be your business, you need to treat it like one.
2. Treat Your Blog Like a Job
Given the last sentence in #1, it should be no surprise that #2 in this list is to treat your blog like a job/business. You might not be ready (or even want to) commit to blogging full-time right now but just because blogging is a side hustle doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat it like a real job.
If you’ve set yourself goals and deadlines, stick to them. It’s a lot easier said than done and it takes a lot of willpower but if you want to take your blog to the next level, it’s a must. Now, I’m not saying that you should push yourself beyond your limits and work 20 hours a day but don’t let your blog become low priority. Sure, being your own blog boss does mean that you can move deadlines for your friend’s birthday cocktails but it shouldn’t mean that you put everything else before it.
Set yourself “working hours”, have a dedicated working space and focus solely on your blog during those times. You’ll soon get into a routine and probably find that you’re much more productive that way too.
3. Upgrade Your Blog
Are you still using a free WordPress or Blogger site? If you’re serious about taking your blog to the next level, it’s time to upgrade. Although free sites are a fantastic way to get started on your blog, there are a lot of limitations that might be holding you back from taking the big leap.
If you want to use your blog as a source of income, you’ll want your blog to be self-hosted. You’ll have so much more freedom in terms of design and building your own brand. Being self-hosted gives you access to loads more plugins and also allows you to use Google Analytics (I’ll explain why this is helpful further down).
Now, I know that everyone is at their own point in their blogging journey and that everyone has a different budget for their blog but I cannot recommend purchasing a theme for your blog. Free themes are great when you’re starting out. They give you the option to play around with different looks for your blog
Some of my favourite paid for themes include:
Blog Lady by A Prettier Web
This beautiful, feminine theme is from A Prettier Web. It includes lots of brilliant features such as 1, 2 or 3 column layouts, customisable colours, custom bio box widget, announcement box and the ability to pick a unique banner image for every page.
Love & Sugar by Bites to Brand
This clean, simple and stylish theme is from Bite to Brand. It includes everything you need to create the perfect blog layout from fully customisable menus to beautifully matching fonts for titles and body text.
Tweak Me v 2 by Nose Graze
Of course, I’m going to add this to the list…it’s what I use for my blog. I love the fact that I now have control over every single element of my blog layout. I have can customise my theme colours so that any links I include automatically show up in my chosen theme colour, I can have a CTA bar at the top of my screen, I can choose from hundreds of fonts and save my preferences…the list goes on and on!
4. Organise Your Blog
Categorise your posts, make your site easy to navigate through and give recommendations. When your readers arrive at your site, make it super easy for them to find exactly what they want. And then give them some more! Link your old posts into your new ones; when your readers click through to other posts they’re on your site for longer (well duh!). This will do wonders for your Bounce Rate on Google Analytics.
It’s also really helpful to include a “more like this” section to your blog so when your readers reach the end of a post, they’re presented with lots of other relevant blog posts that they can move on to.
Schedule in time every couple of months or so to go through old posts, check broken links, add in Affiliate Links and link back to your other posts. General maintenance of your blog is underrated but keeping things organised and professional will help no end. Remember, if you want your blog to be a business, treat it like one and take care of it.
5. Get Social
Growing a strong and loyal following is hard work. One of the easiest ways to promote your work and gain new fans is through Social Media and networking. Blogging is all about collaboration.
Social Media “marketing” works in two ways. Firstly, it’s a great way for you to put yourself out there. Using avenues such as Twitter Chats, enables you to engage with your readers and fellow bloggers on a more personal level. And you know what? People love people. It sounds silly but if people feel like they know you and have a connection with you, they’re much more likely to stick around and visit your site time and time again.
The second way that Social Media can help you with your marketing strategy is that it enables your followers to share your content on your behalf. By adding social share buttons to your blog, you are enabling your readers to share anything and everything that they love on your blog with their own audience. The best part? It requires no extra effort from you. Bonus!
6. Build an Email List
Building an email list is a crucial step in taking your blog from hobby to business. It’s also one that bloggers often ignore as they don’t understand how having an email list can help them. Other than your blog itself, your emails are the only thing you have total control over; you need to take advantage of this.
The other huge advantage of emails is that they are personal and targeted. They go straight into the inbox of your reader (no getting lost in the ever moving Twitter feed) and they are receiving information on topics they have actively registered an interest in.
You can read a guest post I did for The She Approach about the importance of email lists here.
Once you have an email list, you can create a newsletter. Creating a newsletter is a great way for your loyal readers to feel as though they are part of an exclusive group. Make them feel special, and they’ll be sure to stick around.
7. Embrace Guest Blogging
Inviting guest bloggers to contribute to your blog is a great way to generate more content and bring in a new audience. If you choose serious guest bloggers to feature on your blog, you’re likely to gain a new influx of readers. Readers who are loyal to your guest blogger and who might not otherwise have found your site.
And what about you blogging for other people? Whilst it might seem like you are spending time creating great posts and then giving them away to someone else, you’ll soon see the fantastic results of new readers and, if you’ve done it properly, a new blogging friend for life.
Whether you decide to guest on someone else’s blog, invite guest posts on your blog or both, do not underestimate the power of collaboration or the support of the blogging community as a whole.
If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to Flourishing Freelancer, please check out our guidelines here.
8. Use Analytics
I recently posted about setting up Google Analytics and how to use your stats to benefit your blog. But, if you’re serious about taking your blog to the next level, you need to use analytics properly. Before you think about topics for your next post, write next month’s newsletter or write a new eBook, use your analytics to identify which posts have done well historically and which posts your readers seem less interested in.
Using your stats and analytics to identify your strengths and weaknesses will help you build a better and more well-rounded blog. The kind of blog that people come to, stick around for a while reading and then bookmark to keep up to date with.
I’ll say it again, if you want your blog to be a business and source of income, you have to treat it like one. And that includes tracking, analysing and constantly improving.
9. SEO, SEO, SEO
So this is a biggie! It’s huge. So big, in fact, that I don’t even know how to write about it in two tiny paragraphs. The key point is that you need to be thinking about SEO all. The. Time.
If you want your blog to be big, you need people to be able to find it. You need your post about increasing Twitter followers to show up in Google search results for “how to increase Twitter followers”. Basically, people need to know you exist before they know you exist. SEO is all about improving the visibility of your site in search engine results.
A successful SEO campaign will be based on the use of carefully selected and relevant keywords and phrases. I use to Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress to help me out with this. There are two elements to the plugin – one helps with keywords and phrases using a red, amber, green system and the other helps with “readability”.
Like I said, SEO is too wide a topic to cover properly in this post but it is something that you should be thinking about all the time if you want to take your blog to the next level.
10. Stay True to Yourself
Sounds kinda lovey-dovey and spiritual right? Yeah, I guess it is. But I mean it. No matter what strategy you decide to create and follow, always remember why you are doing this. You blog because you enjoy it. Writing about things that interest you is what you love. Don’t change that.
Keeping your content original is a huge part of having a successful blog and one way of ensuring that your content is original is by making it yours. There is no other you out there, make sure this is reflected in your blog.
Staying true to yourself also means that you’ll stay passionate about your blog and your niche. Both of which are essential for good quality, strong content that will draw in more readers.
Are you ready to take your blog to the next level now? Using these tips will help you get on your way. If you have any other tips for stepping up your blogging game, let me know in the comments below.
Subscribe to get our latest updates and exclusive access to the FF Resource Library
Wait, before you go...
...grab yourself a copy of the Ultimate Blogger Resource List (and boost your blog today!)