How To Create A Successful Blog

May 30, 2013   24 Comments

Snack Girl has been asked many times about how to create a successful blog. Today, she will lift the curtain.

How To Create A Successful Blog

Some of you may not care, but a few of my readers want to know how to do this thing that I do that pays me money. I am sure that there are many different routes to success in this business but mine has been slow and steady - not unlike the turtle in that fable. Or was it a tortoise? Whatever! The point is that I am slow.

1. How do you start a blog?

My website has been designed and built by my business partner and husband. But, many have started with Wordpress and a book like “Wordpress for Dummies” (see below). You will need to buy a domain name and make one of the biggest decisions of your blogging career - what should you call yourself? I went from Snack Snoop to Snack Girl - so don’t be afraid to change it if it doesn’t work out.

The domain name should have the most important words of your site in it. “Snack” is my important word.

2. How do you get an audience?

One of the nice things about blogging is that you are publishing without anyone telling you what you can or cannot say. A website is a media business and you own it from the beginning. But, you have to say something compelling and it has to be quality.

The best websites are ones that come from someone’s heart - they truly love the topic and their enthusiasm is infectious. You start with your friends and family, get their feedback, and then you approach other bloggers to help you get the word out by sharing your site. This is how I started.

Also, I read Copy Blogger to get ideas on how to promote my site and Seth Godin for marketing advice. There is all this “blah blah blah" about social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but if your site isn’t quality then you are just wasting your time with these tools. Yes, they are helpful, but people (word of mouth) is the BEST for growing any business.

3. How do I make money?

Ahhh, yes. The dough question. It is not easy to make money doing this. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. I started Snack Girl in 2009 and only in 2012 was I beginning to make a living at it and I do it FULL TIME. So I put in 3 years without getting paid, which I could afford to do because my partner supported me.

Most small business is like this. It takes a while to start a business and you cannot hope to have a return until you have put in many, many hours.

The good news is that there is a potential audience of 315 million people here in the United States and the sky is the limit. I am here, every day, trying to grow this thing (please share it if you haven’t) and it is very rewarding to be providing a free service to many who love it.

I get paid from basically two sources. Google pays me for the advertising you see. I make $2-$3 per 1,000 pageviews on this site. So, if today 100 people visit and they click around 3 times - that means there are 300 pageviews and I made about $1.

In addition, I have an affiliate relationship with and if you buy the book below, I make a small percentage of the purchase price (I am not able to disclose the amount). Google and Amazon provide the bulk of my revenue, but sometimes I will do a sponsored post. It is labelled clearly as sponsored and is even a different color to indicate it has been paid for (you might have seen a couple). I haven’t done very many because I can’t find products I like.

4. Should you do this?

If you really love to communicate and you have something you are burning to say, by all means, start a blog. Good things can happen from it (even if it isn’t making money). Don’t wait for a magazine or a publisher to tell you that you can write or shoot photographs - just start and see what happens. I believe in throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks rather than analyzing the blank out of everything.

I will try to answer the questions in the comment section below, but I cannot answer all the questions that I get on this topic in my inbox. I wish I had the time but I have to keep growing this blog to pay the bills!

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 24 )

Hi Lisa. Just wanted to say that I have been enjoying your blog. This post topic was a bit of a surprise, but your candor on the subject is refreshing. I'm a new blogger and hear people call blogging "passive" income. Nothing passive about it from my perspective! Thanks for the post!

I am hoping in a couple years that I can blog full time. It is hard I work full time 40+ hours a week, and I blog everyday! It's crazy, but I love it!!

What do you do all day full time that grows the website? I love the output so whatever it is you do, keep doing it!!!

Thanks for this post. As a newer blogger, I'm always trying to gobble up advice! I started my blog because I wanted to share my personal discovery that it's about health not how skinny you are!

Thanks for this post! It seems to me that blogging is a great way to take a chance at doing something you love without the risk if losing a lot if money like in starting a brick and mortar store. I understand that it takes a lot of time, but if you enjoy it, then its not really time wasted! I've been toying with the idea of starting my own blog and I appreciate your advice - especially since yours is the only one that I read regularly.

Thanks Snack-Girl. Very interesting!

What great advice on blogging Lisa. Starting a business like Java Raiz and not having any experience in blogging has been somewhat of a nightmare. You 've given some great ideas on how and what to blog. Thank you.

I love your blogs and this article regarding how to blog was very useful. I am the owner of a gym for women and nutrition is very important, so I love your materials. Also, you have a lovely and engaging writing style. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for your daily posts! I enjoy reading them daily. Keep them coming, love all your snacks and helpful ideas!

Totally agree, Lisa.

The only thing I would add is to start a blog because you are passionate about, NOT to make money. That's the surest way to fail.

We won't all end up like the Pioneer Woman - with several sucessful cookbooks and our show on the Food Network! ;) Do it because you love it and you really want too; then, if you don't make money, it's all good - you still did something enjoyable for yourself. If you do make a little money, it's just a bonus.

Thanks Lisa, I do my blog because I love it and have crazy burning ideas. But now I will be buying your amazon links to give you the credit you deserve...starting with wordpress for dummies..because as much as i think ive mastered wordpress sometimes i feel like a complete moron! Keep up the good work :)

@Rachel - I spend 20% of my time creating and writing new content (recipe creation takes a lot of time) and 80% of my time promoting that content. I approach other websites with my material and ask them to feature it. Most of my time has been spent marketing the site. I hope this is helpful!

Hi Lisa--thanks for this excellent and interesting post! I always enjoy reading your stuff, since you clearly put a lot of effort into your research and writing.

I'm in the process of getting blog/webpage going, and I'll be using it to share fitness information--my goal isn't to make money from it, but to share what I'm excited about--and hopefully boost my business in the process. My question is about your marketing--when you say you "approach" other websites, does that mean you just got in touch with similar sites you like and asked them to share your site with their readers? Is there a right/wrong way to do this? Thanks!

Great article Lisa, haven't been on here in a few days....miss your emails when I'm not online :) love all your articles, recipes,etc. and I repeat or forward them to my daughter and sisters and other friends that I think will like them...I agree with the others, keep up the good work.....

Thanks for this post! I was wondering what a reasonable writing/promoting ration was and WOW, I had no idea promotion took so much time.

I would really enjoy more posts on food blogging (if you have time!) Also, I really like your daily emails - do you use a service for this or is it some kind of customization? It's one of the nicest daily emails I've seen:)

Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for this post. My husband created my blog and it was and remains a work-in-progress. I really enjoyed reading this as our journeys have a lot in common. I wish you the very best. PS...we follow each other on Twitter and I love your posts. Thanks,

Question: Is your site powered by wordpress or blogspot/google? I have a blogspot but google won't let me have ad-sense because I am "not thier type of site"... although my site is remarkably similar in content to yours. I tried wordpress but could never actually find the site I created. I would love to be able to sell some of the books I quote and promote as an amazon affiliate so where do you suggest I move my service to?

Snack girl, just wanted to say I'm so glad I found your site. One of the best.

Thanks Snack Girl! You're an inspiration. I just finished a training on writing for the iPad and it seems like there are so many opportunities for people in electronic publishing especially for someone as market savy as you. I only just got here a few weeks ago so please pardon my ignorance if you are already eBook publishing. Seems to me you're a prime candidate to do it.

@Jenn - When I was smaller, I used to approach other blogs by offering to feature them on my page and asking them to feature me - trade posts. If the blogger is open to it - it can be great for both sites.

@Jonni - my site is built from the ground up - no platforms - sorry I can't help out.

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