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Prioritization is in order and in some cases just simply fine tuning your goals and what you expect.
Hosting and Your Own Domain
There are quite a few limitations if you are using a free blog hosting service like Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr to host your blog. You are limited in the amount of monetization options available to you and you are even further limited if you are not using a dedicated domain but you are still using a subdomain like “yourblog.wordpress.com” which most advertisers won’t even consider.
You should take some time and look for the best hosting you can find for the money and make sure you purchase a domain name to go along with it. I recently learned there is value in purchasing a domain name several years up front and it can provide SEO benefit. So if you can afford to buy a domain for 3 years or more ahead of time, I would do it.
This sets you up for both increasing your traffic and income potential but you must start with your own domain name and a hosting provider is also recommended due to the flexibility in what you can implement as far as plugins, monetization methods…etc.
Also, another way to make some extra money may be to consider reseller hosting where you purchase a hosting plan and you can sell out domains to customers on the same plan you already own. This can be a way to augment site income by offering out hosting packages on your account and I have seen many bloggers give away hosting plans or sell them as packages that they offer in their blogs.
Find out what is doing well on your site and tailor or structure your content to align with what is resonating well with search engines and readers. If you originally wanted to be a broad personal blog but find a few specific niche articles are taking all the traffic you may want to focus and specialize your blog a little bit. Pick a few key categories and focus on improving and adding new articles in those specific categories. This is where leveraging Google Analytics, Alexa, and other tools come in. I add focused content to my sites all the time to help bring in specific target audiences.
Social Media Promotions
It is nearly impossible to run a blog without backing it up with several social media profiles which all need their own time and investment to grow and expand. Gone are the days where a blog doesn’t need a Twitter, Facebook and Google+ presence. You need to be social and you need to have people get to know your site and writing persona. Be active, answer questions, be helpful and most of all promote others as often as you promote yourself. This will help build relationships and show you aren’t all about the “sell”. Use Twitter Search, Twellow and other tools to find bloggers and companies in your niche and engage with them. Leverage Facebook fanpages and join other pages and groups related to what you write about as well. My motto is Be Active, Be Friendly and Be Professional in all social media communications.
Adjust Your Priorities
Sometimes we set goals way higher than we can reasonably reach and when we fail to meet those goals we become demoralized. Instead research your goals to see if they are reasonable and if you feel they appear to be out of reach for the time frame you are looking for, break them up into smaller subsets. If you were attempting to reach 100,000 pageviews per month in 6 months for example, instead focus on reaching your first 5 or 10,000 pageviews per month and make sure you can keep it up for a few months in a row.
If you are looking to make 1,000 per month from blogging related activities break it into smaller amounts and decide which plans and methods of earning you will investigate. Try PPC ads 1 month and affiliate advertising the next, tweak AdSense locations, banners and such to try and improve performance. Consider possibly a new theme or design for your site if it isn’t grabbing the attention or as functional as you need it to be.
Never Give Up
Like most jobs blogging is a learn as you go hobby and it isn’t just “writing articles”, in fact writing articles is the least amount of work a blogger actually does when it comes to trying to bring in traffic, promote, monetize and establish relationships with readers. Keep approaching your goals with optimism and refine where you need to. Sometimes you have to completely alter what you write about or how you approach things to reach success, sometimes all it takes is one breakthrough article to get a surge in traffic too.
One thing I know from the three years of blogging is that you have more options available to you if you have a blog on a web hosting provider that is not free. There are too many limitations, even with WordPress.com offering their own AdSense like PPC ads I would take the time and invest a little bit into your own dedicated web hosting account and domain name if you are using a free blog right now.