Expert Interview with Jennifer and Dan Baritchi on Building a Successful Blog for Mint

If you're looking for some extra side income, Dan and Jennifer Baritchi say blogging is an easy, straightforward option. But they'd advise you not to enter the blogging arena expecting the money to come rolling in right away.
Generating some extra cash is possible through blogging, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

"While the new blogger hopes to make money with his blog, the irony is the money made is a side effect of building a blog that is useful to others, and thus successful," the founders of BlogPress and Blog Success Journal say.

The Bartichis recently checked in with us to share their insight on launching a high-quality blog that has the potential to make money. Here's more on their business and their blogging best practices:

Tell us about Blog Success Journal ... when and why did you start your site?

We started our first blogs in 2007, and launched Blog Success Journal in 2008 to share with other new bloggers all the lessons learned the hard way while building, growing and promoting our own blogs.

More recently, Blog Success Journal has become part of BlogPress, a fully managed blog-hosting service with a simple mission: to help new bloggers hit the ground running with a simple yet powerful blogging platform, excellent training, video tutorials and real person support for all their blogging questions.

BlogPress is basically taking Blog Success Journal to the next logical level ... not just sharing lessons learned, but actually directly helping our readers do it for themselves.

How did you become a blogging expert?

The hard way: doing it. "Expert" is one of those interesting words ... one learns by researching, but truly understands by doing. No other method of learning is quite as effective as actually doing.

Why is blogging a great way to make some side income? How easy is it to make money from a blog?

Blogging is perhaps the easiest and least costly way to start what amounts to your own business.

And that's key, looking at this not as your little hobby blog, but more seriously, as a business. It's a shift in mindset that really helps to achieve results.

As for how easy it is to make money, that truly depends on many, many factors.

The biggest variable is how long it takes you to build your readership, which in turn depends on how much effort you put into building your blog, putting out great and consistent content, networking with other bloggers, etc.

Money is a direct result of all that, because revenue is directly related to number of readers. Although revenue per number of readers can vary drastically from blog to blog depending on how you choose to monetize, your specific niche, many external impacting factors, etc.

So starting a blog is by far easier than most other ways of starting a business, and making money from it really is a function of building your blog into a solid resource and growing your reader base.

What are the most straightforward ways to start earning money on a blog if you're just getting started?

Monetizing is simple; what matters is having the readership. There are quite a few simple ways to earn money from a blog today, far more than just a few years ago. These include Google AdSense, to affiliate marketing, ad networks, direct advertisers, and sponsored features and reviews.

But in the end, it's about building a successful blog. Just like with a print magazine, it's all about eyeballs, meaning engaged readers who find your publication useful. That's when you can effectively monetize your traffic. If you have no readers, then even the best-monetized blog in the world won't make any money.

What about some more advanced methods?

Sure, there are fancy technical tactics for making money with your blog, but honestly, the most advanced method from a strategy standpoint is staying with it.

Seriously, most new bloggers give up way too soon. There are gizmos and technologies that come and go, but what really matters is sticking with it and putting out great content on a regular basis. Like with most things in life, do it like you mean it. That's the bottom line.

All that said, like in other businesses, building long-term partnerships is very worthwhile. From affiliate relationships, to direct advertisers, to fellow bloggers. Start a few good, key relationships and build on them.

What are some blogging best practices that will help ensure you're growing your audience and maximizing the amount of money you're making?

Passion: Find a niche you love, that you're passionate about, and build on THAT. Don't chase the money. Follow your passion and the money will follow. Because you won't want to be writing an article on a topic you care nothing about late at night when you're determined to get it published. Passion flows through; your readers will feel it. And don't fear the competitive niches ... while there is more competition, there are also a lot more readers.

Consistency: Publish content at consistent intervals, and work toward building a comprehensive resource for the readers in your niche.

Quality: Don't publish junk. Publish the kind of solid content YOU would like to come across, meaning focus on solid, cornerstone content. Build a blog you personally can be proud of!

Promote: Choose a few social networks (say, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to focus on and build a presence there. Remember your focus is on YOUR blog, but you want to have a solid presence on those popular sites, especially the ones that best suit your niche. They help bring you readers as well as search engine traffic. Be where your readers are.

Email: Build an email list! Get set up with MailChimp, and offer your visitors some bonus or tips, etc., to get on your list. That's the difference between a one-time visit and a years-long relationship.

Networking: Connect with fellow bloggers in your niche, on Twitter, Facebook, comments on their blog, etc. Call it "coopetition"; there are many ways to help one another in win/win synergistic ways.

Video: This is not for everyone, but consider adding video segments to your blog. Either your own or even other related YouTube videos to supplement your content. Adds great engaging appeal to your blog. Your own videos will really help to frame you as a worthwhile expert in your niche.

What are the most common mistakes you see bloggers making?

Top mistakes are:

1. Not starting because of doubts or lingering questions.

Just Do It! One of my favorite quotes ... "Do or do not. There is no try"

2. Giving up too soon.

Stick with it! It's so sad seeing people with a great vision start a great blog, get it looking wonderful, putting out great content, then quitting two months later because they're not raking in the cash. Patience ... you're planting the seeds. Water and tend to them, and they will grow.

3. Unrealistic expectations

Some people expect blogging to be a magic money machine that instantly starts sending you cash with no work or effort on your part. Blogging may be perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective business to begin, but you have to treat it as a business. That means concerted, focused effort. As I like to say, "Do it like you mean it."

4. Going with a "free" blogging service.

As we all learn growing up, you generally get what you pay for. When something is provided "free," you're the product.

Free blogging services provide no guarantee that your blog will even still be there when you wake up tomorrow. We've seen blogs disappear overnight, with no recourse ... after all, you're not a customer, just a free user. Many show ads on your blog (it's free, right?) and prohibit making money with your blog, which defeats the purpose.

Your most valuable asset is your time. Don't waste your time and effort building someone else's content that they advertise on, and which may or may not be there when you wake up tomorrow.

Years ago we used to refer Blog Success Journal readers to old-school web hosts to install blogging software and get their blogs off the ground.

Then we built BlogPress, to give our readers what we wish we'd had when we started ... a solid and simple blogging platform, great training for new bloggers, and real person support for help with those new blogger questions.

5. Focusing too much on how your blog looks at first.

Yes, your blog should look appealing and professional. But what matters is YOUR CONTENT. Some new bloggers spend days, even weeks agonizing over the perfect layout of their blog homepage without writing a single post. Don't do that!!! Google wants to see your blog appear to the world, then make consistent posts. Just like your readers do. Start with a nice-looking theme, but focus on building your content! You'll have plenty of time to tweak the layout once there's something there that is worth making pretty.

What are some of your favorite blogging tools or resources?

We're biased, of course, but when a personal friend even considers starting a blog, I point them to the best resource for new bloggers, and that is BlogPress.

Once you have a platform, good new blogger training, and excellent support, you'll want to look for other add-on tools as well.

Google Analytics is great for letting you see growth and audience of your blog.

MailChimp is an excellent email marketing solution.

Hootsuite is a great tool to help you promote your blog posts to social networks, including great features like scheduling, etc.

CloudFlare is also a great service ... it's basically a proxy for your site, meaning it transparently sits in front of your blog to secure your site and make it faster.

Asana is an excellent project tracking too, easier to use than any others we've seen. Use it to plan out your blog build out, and to check of and track your progress as you get there.

What are some trends or innovations you think all bloggers should know about?

In a general sense, it's very easy to lose focus via the "shiny new ball" syndrome. Stay away from the shiny fads, focus on building your blog with great content and building your audience with consistent promotion of your blog. Certainly stay up to date with updating technology, use a great blog theme, etc. But remember it's a tool for you to use. Don't let it become a distraction.

Connect with BlogPress on Twitter and on the Blog Success Journal.