You don’t become a professional blogger & earn money just like that. One has to make the effort…and this is the first in a series of posts that I will be writing on how one can become a professional blogger.

How do you become a professional blogger? The answer is as complex as the question.

We all start off as Hobby Bloggers, who blog for a hobby. And as luck would have it…when one is a hobby blogger, one blogs about dogs, bosses, family and everything else in between that nobody wants to read. A few comments here and there from friends and family keep us going…and eventually we start spreading the word. After months of blogging, your friends start spreading the word for you …and eventually Google (or the other search engines) take over and starts driving traffic.

When you start getting comments from complete strangers, you cross over from being a hobby blogger to being a part time blogger. This is the stage you are waiting to get back home and upload your thoughts and then get up the next day to check if you got any comments. At this stage, you can’t be blamed for giving your blog 50% of its page views…just trying to check if there are any new comments. Most of us continue to remain in this stage till the drive to write wanes and we take a short break, a long break…and then another short break…and the final long break….before the blog is forgotten.

Some overcome this stage and realize that they just might be able to become professional bloggers and make money. Earning by doing what you love is definitely a kick…if you have been there you probably know. If you haven’t been there yet…well, here is how you can become a professional blogger.

Get yourself a good topic to blog on

A good professional blogger writes on a topic that people want to read. Nobody wants to read about your random rants, especially if it is about that trip you made after four years, or the neighbour’s car that got scratched. Stick to a topic. While selecting the topic, ensure it is a niche area and has enough interest amongst the internet generation. But then, I wouldn’t decide to blog on ‘mobile phones’ just because the internet savvy are heavily into mobile phones. What if I lose interest mid way? I would recommend you select a topic that excites you. For me, it was ‘Humor’.

Ensure the topic you choose has enough people searching about it

A professional blogger makes money because many people land on his blog from search engines, and thus end up clicking on the ads. So, your blog topic should be carefully chosen. For example, when I have to buy a mobile I do my research on the internet. Same goes when I have to buy a car, when I have to start dieting, when I have to buy a camera, or when I have to research on a technology etc. If you are sure that you can write on a particular topic but don’t know if it is popularly searched on…try the Google Keyword Generator. Here is the url: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

This tool will show you the “average search volume” for any keyword that you enter…and its related keywords. Needless to say, higher the “average search volume” means higher the popularity for the keyword.

The ‘Advertiser Competition’ column tells you how intense the competition is for that particular keyword…if the advertiser competition is high, your blog articles will always show relevant advertisements and thus…you stand to gain more dollars.

Place Google Adsense on your blog

You might be a great blogger but till the time you place advertisements on your blog, you aren’t going to make any money. From my personal experience, I will go with Google Adsense. But unlike me, you should definitely try other advertising platforms…some of which are even rumored to pay better that Google Adsense. While placing ads on your blog, please do follow the suggestions provided by Google Heat maps, which actually tells you where your advertisements will get you the maximum click throughs and thus the maximum dollars. Reading the Google Heat Map is simple…advertisements best perform when placed in portions colored brightest. In the Google heat map below you will notice that the space above the Primary content (which actually will look like your top navigational bar) gets you the best yield. For more details on how you can exploit the Google Heat map, you might want to visit Google Adsense’s Heat Maps Tips Page

SEO your blog really well

All the writing & all the advertisement placements would be of no use if you don’t have readers coming in. Your regular readers won’t want to see the advertisements, and thus will develop a blind spot for the ad slots. Thus, if you want to make money….rely on traffic that comes in from search engines. Since they don’t know how your site is structured, they are most likely to click on the advertisements and help you earn. A good SEO-ed site gets more than 70-80% of its traffic from search engines. Ask some of the top guys like http://labnol.blogspot.com or http://problogger.net and they will give you a higher percentage…but that’s because they write their content for the search engines. After sustained blogging, and after placing the advertisements at the right place…the trick is to SEO your blog. To start with, read this article titled: The Blogger’s Guide to SEO. If your blog is on WordPress, a good plugin to download and install is the “All in One SEO Plugin”. For FAQs on the “All in One SEO Plugin”, Click Here.

Get yourself a Google Analytics Account

This is something that you can do even if you aren’t a professional blogger, but it helps a great deal for a professional blogger to have an Analytics account which tells you how well your blog is doing and where your traffic is coming from. While different bloggers (or web administrators) will give you different versions…according to me a Google Analytics account is pretty good for a professional blogger. Here is a screen shot of a typical Google Analytics dashboard (since it is a cricket site, you will see huge dips during non-cricketing days):

Will all of the above make me a professional blogger?

This is a nice question to ask. Especially since, I have forced you to read such a long article. Well, all of these will equip you to become a professional blogger…but you will have to become one, on your own. Just remember these three rules:

1) Blogging & earning takes its own sweet time. So don’t quit your job in the hope of making it big as a professional blogger
2) Blogging in PJs is nice….but blogging & earning requires a lot of hard work
3) Always better to take short cuts – get in touch with professional bloggers who have already been there & done that