If you’re considering making the move from hobby blogger to professional. Here are a few areas of interest you’ll want to focus on.
Be Visually Appealing
In an age where attention spans are purportedly getting shorter and shorter your site will need to catch the attention of site visitors. You can have great content but if users find your site visually unstimulating or unappealing they probably won’t take the time to read it..
The two main elements that go into a visually appealing blog are site design, and post images.
Site Design: There are plenty of good looking blog themes available for free but if you want to be unique and stand out from the crowd, you will want to get a custom theme designed.
Post Images: People like pictures. There are multiple multi-million dollar photo sharing websites (and one $1 billion site) , online to prove it. When adding your written content you’ll want to accompany it with a nice looking photo or image to help draw in readers.
Have Good Content
Once you’ve lured in visitors with an attractive site you’ll want to keep them around with a site that has substance. Your site should have a targeted niche in order to attract readers who are passionate or highly interested in what you have to say, so that they’ll continue to return. Inevitably there will be mistakes along the way but triple check your post for errors before publishing.
Be concise but not too brief, your average blog post should be approximately between 400 and 600 words. You should also publish posts at least once a week so that readers have something new to come back to.
Have Your Own Domain & Hosting
Having your own domain is not only good for SEO purposes, it can also help inspire confidence and ensure people that you are who you say you are. How comfortable would you be doing business with someone whose site domain ended with blogger.com or email address ended with gmail or yahoo.com?
Having your own hosting also gives you more freedom to add code, scripts, and basically modify your site to your hearts content. The level of customization of freely hosted blogs on sites like wordpress.com and blogger.com are seriously limited in comparison to a site hosted on your own hosting space.
Optimize for Search
Search engines will more than likely be the number one way users arrive at your site so you’ll want to make sure your content ranks high in Google and other search engines. To do that you’ll want to consider things people may search for when writing your content and include those keywords in your title, paragraphs, headers, and meta description. If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, there are many plugins that can help you with your on-page SEO. For more information check out this post about basic html tags affecting SEO. In addition to on-page SEO you’ll also want to get links to your site. A great way to do this is by guest posting on blogs similar to your own, you’ll want to make sure the sites you guest post on have good rankings, so install the Moz seo tool bar as well as a Google Page Rank Checker on your browser. When contacting bloggers for guest posting opportunities be sure to let them know you’re a fellow blogger who’s trying to build up your own site. This may affect how willing they are to publish your post.
Optimize for Speed
If your site takes along time to load most people will definitely leave before it finishes loading. One way to help avoid this is to make sure you have a reputable web hosting provider, and to not buy the cheapest hosting available. A few basic things you can do in regards to your site are to not have lots of huge images or other media which take a long time to download, and don’t add lots of unnecessary widgets which in many cases not only slow your site down but make it look bad as well. If you have coding skills or know a good developer you should also try to implement Google’s Page Speed and Yahoo’s YSlow recommendations, you can test your site against both standards at http://gtmetrix.com/.
On todays web a social media presence is almost as important as being search engine friendly. You could say search and social are the dynamic duo of online marketing. You should have social media accounts on the major social networking sites. According to a post published by emarketer.com in May ‘13, the top 3 social networks world wide (excluding YouTube) are Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. You should have accounts on these sites and actively engage and interact with other users and not simply post links back to your content.
Place links or badges for your profiles on your blog so that visitors to your site who use these networks can easily follow you on them. Also add sharing buttons so that readers can share your content on social networks and hopefully bring in new readers.
Have A Media/Press Kit
Being a professional means you’re earning money. In order to do that you’ll have to market your blog to potential advertisers and let them know what you have to offer and how they can get in touch with you. Your media kit should include contact info, and site stats such as average unique visits and page views, which can be obtained by using a service such as Google Analytics. You may also want to include information such as social profiles, number of followers, and anything else that could persuade someone to advertise with you.