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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, is Blogging a Fairy Tale After All?


Today, I spoke at Marywood University about using social media to find a job. The topic is one that I’m passionate about, and it was cool to get my first speaking gig. Standing in front of these students who have their entire careers ahead of them made me reflect upon my own career as a freelance writer, which has really evolved into working as a blogger, both for myself and for other people. I started blogging in 2006, so it’s been over five years now.

And yes, the blogging lifestyle is still a fairy tale. All the time, things happen to me because I’m a blogger that make me want to pinch myself. I’ve met the most amazing people, had the most amazing opportunities, and seen the most amazing things, all because I’m a blogger. I’ve gotten to travel, try new products, and connect with people I never would have met without blogging. Blogging has been good to me.

But there’s a flip side. Every fairy tale has a dark part, the evil queen or the horrible curse or the crooked witch that lures you to her house with candy. Blogging is a fairy tale…but don’t make the mistake in thinking that it’s all about the happily ever after. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, there are a few challenges you need to be prepared to face.

It takes a while for Prince Charming to find you.

Prince Charming is a recurring character in most fairy tales, and let me tell ya – that man needs a freaking GPS. It takes the entire story for him to find and/or rescue the Princess. In blogging, “Prince Charming” is that elusive level of success where people, especially other bloggers in your industry, begin to recognize your name. Work hard, be patient, and most importantly, be persistent. You will get there if you do good work. Prince Charming just needs some time.

Without some sidekicks, you won’t get anywhere.

One of the biggest challenges as a new blogger is to find others who share your beliefs and want to get to know you. But it’s necessary. Find these people. Connect with them. Build a tribe together and help one another. Just like Snow White had the dwarves and Cinderella had her fairy god mother, you need people on your side to help you succeed. When you have people in your corner, becoming a successful blogger is much easier.

Evil is sometimes disguised as good.

Who knew an apple could be so dangerous? Who would ever think the a rose help the secret of a cursed beast? In a fairy tale, seemingly innocent items and people are often very evil – and the same thing is true in blogging. On any blog about blogging (including this one) you’ll read tons of advice about how to be a better blogger, but you need to question everything. Sometimes well-meaning people give horrible advice, but what is even more common is that the advice is great for some, but awful for you. Always question whether or not a piece of advice is right for your blog and your situation. Not everything applies to every person.

Lastly, the final point of advice is this: Happily ever after is rarely the end of the story. Lots of fairy tales have sequels or epilogues that tell you about how the perfect life of the princess and her prince wasn’t that great after all. Blogging is kind of like that. You can get your happily ever after, but things will never be perfect. It’s like a marriage – you have to constant work on it to stay on your a-game. Complacency has killed great blogs in the past, and you definitely don’t want to join that graveyard after all the hard work you put into building your blog.

How to Get Started Blogging for Yourself or Someone Else


The word blog was first used in 1999. When you stop and think about it, it’s still a fairly new concept. Sure, there are millions and millions of blogs in existence and it might seem like everyone you know has a blog. But believe it or not, not everyone does or even knows what one is.

Since I wrote a little about my blogging story and how I’ve turned it into a full time living, I’ve had countless people ask me through emails, social networks and in person how they can do what I do. Either they haven’t dove into the world of blogging yet and would like to, or they have one already and want to take it to the next level.

When you’ve never done something like starting a blog before, it can be extremely overwhelming. That’s why I’m getting back to the basics of blogging. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be covering everything you’ve ever wanted to know about blogging. From choosing a domain name and keyword research to coming up with post ideas and the biggest topic everyone wants to know about – monetization.

Today’s topic is for those of you starting from ground zero.

How to Get Started Blogging for Yourself

I’m going to steal Nike’s slogan for a second here and tell you to “Just Do It”. I’ve helped quite a few people with setting up their blogs. We’ve brainstormed domain name ideas together and then I took over the technical part of purchasing the domain name, installing WordPress, setting them up with a template design they like and making sure all the necessary plug-ins are installed.

After they’re good to go, I always get this question: “Now what?” and I give the same answer every time: “Start writing.”

Before you get overwhelmed with all the technical terms such as “domain name” and “installing WordPress”, let me give you some sources where you can skip that whole process and focus on the writing aspect.

Setting up a Blog Yourself

  • WordPress , Blogger or Tumblr – If you’ve never blogged before and you want to check it out, get some experience and just see what it’s like, I recommend setting up a free account on one of these blogging platforms. It’s an easy step by step process and it can get you some blogging experience under your belt.
  • Ask a Friend for Help – If you have a friend who is familiar with setting up blogs, ask for their help. They can either guide you through one of the free blogging platforms or set up your own domain name and personalized template.

Hiring Someone to Set up Your Blog

  • Pay for It – If you’re willing to invest a little bit of money, you can find someone on Fiverr.com who will set up a blog for you. My husband and I have used this service several times for jobs and have had a good experience. It’s only $5 to hire someone, plus around $10 for the purchase of a domain name.

Start Writing

Now that you have your blog set up, as I mentioned before, the best way to learn is by doing. No one knows about your blog right now. No one’s going to be reading it, so get in there and play around. Learn how to use all of the functions within your blogging platform, find your blogging voice and before you know it, you’ll be a blogging fool. (That’s what my friends call me.)

If you’re using a free blogging platform, you will eventually want to move your posts over to your own domain name. This shows companies (who you may work with in the future) and your readers that you are a professional and that blogging isn’t something you do just for fun, in your spare time. It shows this is a business and that’s important when it comes to making money blogging.

How to Get Started Blogging for Someone Else

Another question I get quite often is “How can I get hired to blog for someone?” I started blogging for a blog network in 2006. I had some experience with both blogging and website development, which helped me get hired. Blog networks aren’t what they used to be (stay tuned for a Where Are They Now? series covering this very topic) and it’s not easy to get hired to blog for a company. Here’s why.

You need experience. This is why it’s so important to “Just Do It” as I said above. If a company is going to hire you to blog for them, they want to see your past experience in the field. They’ll ask for writing samples, published articles and you need to have some to show them to even be considered for the job. I’ve been told before, when a blogging job has been posted, some people have received hundreds of submissions. You also have to realize you are going up against people who have years of blogging experience, degrees in journalism and a nice looking resume.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but I’m also not going to paint a picture of a rainbow and a pot of blogging gold at the bottom of it. The business of blogging is not something you can start making a living from right away, so please don’t quit your day job.

Now, after harping on the fact that you need blogging experience to get a blogging job, I do need to cushion the statement with the fact experience isn’t always 100% needed. For example, let’s say someone needs a writer for a very specific topic such as knitting. If you’ve never written a blog post in your life, but know how to knit and can teach others to knit, you have a leg up on the competition (obviously). If you can provide a well written writing sample and show your knowledge in the topic, you have a good chance of being hired.

Here are a few places to look for paid blogging and writing positions:

  • Problogger Job Board – I have personally used this site to get hired for freelance work in the past. As you can see, jobs are posted every week. People are searching for someone who will write about every subject you can imagine, from cats and gardening to marketing and using Photoshop.
  • Demand Studios – This company offers writing assignments for experienced, professional writers. They pay per article, around $15 to $25, depending on the length and topic.
  • About.com – In order to write for About.com, you have to go through quite the process. First, you have to apply and get accepted and then go through a two-part online orientation and evaluation program. During the program, you are going up against several others applying for the same topic. Just realize you will have to put in quite a bit of work and in the end, you can be told no.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs – Our very own Deb Ng started this site and sold it to Splashpress Media. When you visit, you’ll see a variety of available blogging and writing gigs, as well as writing tips and business help.

What’s Better: Blogging for Yourself or Someone Else?

This is another question I’ve received and it all depends on one thing: you. Some people are wired to work for themselves and some people are wired to work for someone else. There’s some of us who do both! I write for BlogWorld, SocialMoms and I own several of my own blogs. One thing is for certain, I never get bored.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about blogging for yourself or someone else. Do you have tips for the blogging newbie? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

How to Launch a New Blog in Five “Easy” Steps


Last week, I posted 23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Product Launching as part of our Brilliant Bloggers series. The information was overwhelming. Although I have launched a few low-cost products in the past, I learned a ton about putting together an awesome launch for my next product. Reason #1230981 my job rocks: I get to research topics that not only interest me, but help me immensely with my personal projects!

The post got me thinking about another type of launch, though – the blog launch. The vast majority of blogs launch softly, under the radar – the blog just suddenly appears online and slowly builds traffic over time. You can also turn your blog launch into more of an event, which helps you build traffic and awareness rather quickly. Either way, there are five main steps to launching a blog successfully:

Step 1: Purchase a great domain name and hosting package.

Arguably, the single most important decision you will make about any blog you launch is the domain name. Choosing a registration and hosting company is important, too, of course, but the actual URL of your blog matters from both a branding perspective and an SEO perspective. Here’s some advice on choosing the perfect domain name:

And here’s some advice about choosing a registration/hosting company:

Step 2: Build your social network and email list.

Yes, before you even start designing and blogging, you should start building your networks. Your social networks and email list will be helpful when you do actually launch, since you’ll already have people who are interested and want to help you promote it. I recommend focusing on two or three social networks at most, at least at first, because maintaining profiles everywhere can be a full time job. Twitter is my favorite, but others are also great.

Here’s some advice for building your social networks:

And some advice for building your email list:

Step 3: Design your blog.

You could have a really simple design or a really complex one. It starts with installing some kind of content management system – I like WordPress the best – and then adding a theme, finding plugins that makes sense for your blog, creating your sidebar (either manually or with widgets), and customizing the colors, fonts, etc. Check out these links for help with blog design:

Step 4: Fill your blog with content.

You don’t have a blog if you don’t have content. After your design is ready to go, it’s time to fill it with two types of content:

  1. Static Pages (About, Contact, etc.)
  2. Blog Posts

Most blog has written posts, but you can also use videos and podcasting if you want to take a different approach – or you could do a combination of all three. Here are a few posts that are helpful for writing better blog posts:

Step 5: Promote!

Hopefully, you’ve already been promoting your project as you were building your social networks and mailing list, but once you launch, it’s time to really promote your new blog. I like to have about 10 posts up on launch day, and then blog consistently so you build your archives. Here are some posts that talk about promoting your blog to get you started:

Okay, obviously the title of this post is a little tongue-in-cheek – blog launching is certainly not easy, no matter if you’re doing a soft launch or going full-force with a month-long launch party. The five steps themselves are rather simple, but within each step, you have lots of consider. My best piece of advice? Take some time to educate yourself, and then do what makes sense for your blog.

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