7 ways to make your blog successful

Want to turn your passion for blogging into something more? Read on for advice from successful bloggers who have managed to turn their hobby into cold, hard cash

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Love your content

Your primary motive for blogging should not be financial, Aimee Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites warns. "The competition is tough and it's hard to make money." (As of January 2012, there were more than 181 million blogs, with some 84,000 new ones appearing every day.) If you want yours to stand out from the crowd, you have to start by being crazy about your subject matter-whether crafts, high-tech or cooking-and you should probably enjoy engaging others online. Once you have a decent product, following these tips can help you achieve success in the blogosphere.

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1. Just do it!

"It's free to open an account and start a blog," says blogger Andrea Tomkins of A Peak Inside the FishBowl. Programs such as WordPress.com and Blogger.com make it easy.

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2. Be yourself

"People will keep coming back because they see you in your website," says Elan Morgan, who created her own blog called Schmutizie. "If you're trying to be somebody else or if you're hiding parts of yourself, you're going to ring a little hollow."

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3. Post consistently

Wimbush-Bourque posts twice a week and has an additional contributor post once a week. "There's no cut-and-dried rule about how much to post," she says. "But when you're starting out, be consistent. Don't post three times one week and then not again for a month. Any readers you have early on will fade away." One post a week is a good start, she advises.

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4. Track your stats

If you're considering taking paid advertising, you will have to provide readership numbers. There are numerous free services you can install on your site that tell you everything from the total number of visitors, to how many pages people look at, and how long they stay. Popular traffic counters include StatCounter, Google Analytics and Alexa.

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5. Suss out a logical ad base

If your blog focuses on local activities, you might want to approach local advertisers, advises Tomkins. She sells a package deal to businesses that includes a welcome post and a contest giveaway once per ad term. Bloggers writing for a niche market, on the other hand, might approach specialized businesses that want to target their audience. "You'll see an ad on my site for Tattler, which makes reusable canning lids," says Wimbush-Bourque. "It's a small company out of the States, but it's a good fit because I write about canning my own food."

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6. Promote yourself

Simple Bites' Facebook page has nearly 6,000 fans and every time Wimbush-Bourque writes a new blog entry, she posts it to her fan page to remind people to look at her blog. "Most people are on Facebook every day, but they might not be going to my website every day," she says. "It's a very effective tool." She also uses Twitter to carry on a dialogue with readers and generate enthusiasm about upcoming posts (e.g., "Just bought a load of fresh root vegetables-look for a soup recipe soon!").

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7. Push yourself to the next level

The first time Morgan was invited to speak about blogging at a conference, "I actually had to sit on my hands the whole time, I was shaking so hard." But she has learned to enjoy talking to others about her passion and she also feels it raises the profile of her blog and, hence, her business. "Be brave," she advises. "Fear is just a sign that you're doing something exciting."

**Want to read more about these women and the blogs they've had success with? Check out "How four female bloggers turned their passion into cash."

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