This is how to make money from blogging

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One of the major concerns of many bloggers is how to monetize their blog. What are the steps to take and how do you value your content?

Sue has got all the answers!

You can create a plan to make money with your blog, even if you have never sold anything before.

The first step?

Listen To Your Readers

Your goal is for your readers to see you as a trusted friend and a valuable resource. Before you sell anything, you need to build a relationship first.

And the key to building that relationship? Focus on your reader’s needs.

When you can put yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to understand exactly what they want and how to deliver it to them.

Find Online Conversations

In order to really understand your readers’ problems, you need the hard data that they will actually provide to you themselves.

You need to listen to the conversations they have online.

The easiest way to learn about your audience’s thoughts and feelings is through:

  • Blog posts
  • Blog comments on other blogs
  • Forum postings
  • Social media sites
  • Amazon book reviews

Even better, you can ask for the specific data you need by directly asking your readers to take a few minutes to give you feedback.

Online surveys are easy to conduct these days, and there are free tools, like Survey Monkey which walk you through it step-by-step.

Understand Their Problems

So the key is to listen closely to understand their problems and desires. Selling isn’t about forcing a product down anybody’s throat.

In fact, you’ll be far more successful in the long run and make more sales if you take a completely different approach.

When you empathize with your audience, you can create a marketing message that resonates with them and shows that you’re a responsive blogger that listens and cares.

You can then offer the products and services that your readers are already actively seeking, rather than trying to convince them to buy products they never wanted in the first place.

Start by listening closely. See what your readers are thinking, feeling and saying while you cruise around the web this week.

Remember, it’s never too late to turn your blog into a business. 

 

 
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#WriterSpotlight – “I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.” Lord Josh

Josh Olanrewaju

Joshua Olanrewaju, also known as Lord Josh, is our Writer Spotlight on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub today. One thing we can tell you is that he has a lot of wisdom to dish out, especially on how he has intentionally grown his writing career. Enough talk, let’s get to the interview. 

Hello Joshua, kindly introduce yourself.

Hi, I am LordJosh. I write at www.lordjoshwrites.com. I enjoy writing fiction but I also do a lot of non-fiction writing. I am also a filmmaker.

When and why did you start writing?

It’s difficult to put a date to when I started writing. I’ll just say sometime in secondary school. I didn’t get serious with it though until 2013I was watching a TV show called Scandal at the time and I was loving the work the writers were doing. It was the moment I realized the effect a writer has on their audience. It inspired me to write fiction stories that will hold people spellbound and hooked.

I wrote the first story “Nicholas” and I loved it so much. I wrote the second and then the third and so on.

What do you love about writing?

I love how I can be in my room writing a story and I can influence what happens in the world – the world I create. I love that I can imagine characters and situations and have people care about, love or even hate these fictitious characters and situations.

Stories are a great escape for readers but they are much more so for the writer. I love that.

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You’ve authored books that are available for free download. Why did you make this decision?

I have four eBooks out and three of them are free. They are free because it is more important to me at this point that people read what I write than to make money from them.

Since you started your writing journey what efforts have you made to grow intentionally?

I read a lot about writing. I never presume to know everything. The internet is full of information on writing. Sometimes all you need to make your writing better is to learn something as simple as ‘story structure’.

I have been fortunate to attend physical classes where I have been taught writing too.

Most importantly, I have been writing a lot.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, you released ‘Valentine Letters we never sent’. What inspired you to compile these letters and which is your favourite?

Well, first of all, I had some of those letters. They weren’t valentine letters but they were letters I wrote but didn’t send. If I was never going to send the letters, why not publish them?

Eventually, I wrote some letters which were fictional (some were even from a girl’s perspective). I also got some awesome guys to send in their letters.

I can’t pick a favourite. The letters all had their own message. You can download it here.

Do you plan to make money from your skill and how?

I already make money from my skill. I sold one of my eBooks “Double Negative” last year. It is still available for sale on Okadabooks. I also do freelance SEO writing. It’s not as fun as fiction writing but it pays more right now.

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What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Nothing happens until you take a step. I could be a better writer than R.R. Martin but we’d never know if I never write.

If you could spend time with three writers, who would you pick?

J.K. Rowling. Ted Dekker. Tomi Adesina (because she’s bae).

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message but fear is holding them back?

This might be cliché but it’s true; do it afraid. Fear will not go away so you might as well just do it.

 

#WritingQuote – ‘Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.’

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“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Path 

Two words stand out for us in this quote, guts and imagination. Every writer who has guts and is willing to explore the imaginary would do great in this industry because one of the biggest problems plaguing writers is fear. It is so bad that we had to give a whole page of advice on why writers need to write what they think. 

Many critically acclaimed books and stories have questionable themes or discuss topics others would rather shy away from but if  the writers didn’t take that step someone else would have written about them. 

A writer has to have guts. There are times you may need to damn the consequences and write what your heart tells you, write what you can’t stop thinking about and be unapologetic about it.

Imagination is another thing no writer can do without.

Don’t be too tired to dream and when something is becoming usual, switch things up. Heck, that’s why you are a writer. You have the ability to switch things up. Use it. 

Lastly, never, ever doubt your ability to create something phenomenal. 

#WordOfTheDay – Learn what excoriate means

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Whoosh! The new words just don’t stop coming. Today, we have another word which, even though it looks difficult, is pretty simple. 

Excoriate means to remove part of the surface of (the skin). Have you used this word, in this context before? 

These words are similar in meaning to excoriate – rub away, rub off, rub raw, scrape, scratch, chafe, damage.

Here’s an example of how to use the word;

The discharge is acrid and excoriates the skin of the nose.

As vocabulary students, we however know that one word could mean more than one thing. Excoriate is one of those words. 

It could also mean to criticize (someone) severely.

Here’s another example;

He excoriated the government for censorship.

I don’t agree with excoriating the vice chancellor in public.

#PickOfTheWeek – Depth cannot be faked

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Hey Sparkle Writers! Today’s title for our #PickOfTheWeek segment is inspired by one of the posts for today. We fell in love with it instantly and couldn’t agree more. 

Let us know which pick resonates with you. 

farmto table (4).png This is our first pick of the week and we could not have said it any better. When you try to pretend to be something you are not it eventually shows and you’d realize that staying true to yourself would have been better, In whatever you do avoid being fake. 

Thank you Ikimi for this. 

farmto table (3) What does your pen do for you? To many writers and poets the pen is a powerful  tool that helps them create their own world 

farmto table (2)Akin Daves has a beautiful imagination. We love how he described our memories and our realities. Both are important, beautiful and should be treasured. 

  farmto table (1)This is a known fact but sometimes it is best to remind ourselves. You cannot successfully love others if you don’t love yourself. 

#GrammarSeries – Grammar mistakes you should avoid

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Grammar is truly an important part of our work as writers and the better we get with it, the better our writing will become. Although no one is perfect, it is important to keep improving. 

Grammar Girl wrote this awesome post on common grammar mistakes writers tend to make and we love it. Let us know what mistake you’d stop making from now on. 

Accidental repeats

You know that feeling of telling a friend a story and then realizing you’ve already shared it? It happens in writing, too. When you’re not paying close attention, you might repeat a phrase, a story, or a point without realizing it. One good way to catch these accidental repeats is by reading your content aloud; often your ears catch mistakes that your eyes don’t.

Empty adverbs. 

Let’s be honest. When you add “really” to a verb, what are you really adding? Is calling something “very” cold better than calling it frosty, frigid, or icy? The truth is, many common adverbs are empty. They add little or nothing to the meaning of a sentence and only clutter your copy. Cut them out.

Common misspellings. 

Most writers understand the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but it’s all too easy to accidentally type one when you mean the other, especially if your spell-check program doesn’t pick up the error. Be on guard for common misspellings such as these:

  • They’re/Their/There
  • Lose/Loose
  • It’s/Its
  • Weather/Whether

Here’s how to overcome ANY kind of writer’s block!

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Do you think we’d ever exhaust the writer’s block subject? We honestly do not think so. Today, we are highlighting writer’s block in all the forms and types you may have experienced it. This will help to demystify the entire problem and find practical solutions to it. 

Ready? Of course you are! 

Here are some of the things that cause the popular writer’s block and what to do. 

You’ve run out of ideas. 

There are times you experience writer’s block not because you are lazy or you’re not meant to be a writer. You just simply go blank and you are running empty on ideas. 

When this happens, what you need to do is research. Seek information and the writing will flow. 

Trust us. 

You simply need a break. 

If, for example, you have been on a writing marathon for days or let’s say hours, you may need to take a break. Take a walk, eat and drink something and maybe even nap for some hours. Once you do this, go back to your work and you’d see how different things would be.

Burn out. 

This one requires more than an hour of napping . You, your mind and your body need to go on a vacation. Now, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive but your creative juices will thank you for the time out.

It’s not fun anymore.

Sometimes we take the fun out of writing because we’re too hard on ourselves, or we become overly serious and stop writing altogether because our writing gets stale and feels too much like a hopeless chore to continue. If this sounds familiar, reflect on why you started writing and recapture your true, raw passion for writing.

Remember, however, that deadlines do not recognize writer’s block. If you have a close deadline you really just have to deliver! 

 

Here’s why you should guest blog

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Last week, we mentioned that managing a blog can be difficult. We know someone is wondering why we are tying to add to your work load by asking you to guest blog. 

It’s because you need it for your personal and corporate brand (if you have one) to grow.

Guest blogging is simple (well depending on how you look at it). It entails writing for another blog in your niche area. 

Want to know why it is pretty important? Keep reading.

You would increase your visibility 

Getting noticed, especially for a new website, is very difficult. Becoming a contributor to popular and highly revered websites and blogs in your niche will give you the visibility that you crave and you will get the chance to introduce yourself to a wider audience. Isn’t that amazing? 

Traffic on your own blog will increase 

Aside from getting your website in front of an established audience and potentially sending you referral traffic, you get a link back which is gold and impacts your SEO positively. Please note that guest blogging on websites with low-quality could negatively impact your website instead of helping you grow and increase your organic traffic. So choose wisely. 

You can establish yourself as an authority 

Every writer or blogger who means business must strive to become an authority in his or her niche, consistently blogging on other sites apart from yours will help increase your authority brag rights, if there’s something like that but you get what we mean. 

While the concept of guest blogging is easy enough, it’s definitely going to take some manual work and time to find results. This means going to Google, searching for sites that allow guest blogging, building relationships with those sites, and then creating high-quality content for each of those sites. All the best!

#WriterSpotlight – ‘If you’re serious about writing – as a life skill and not just “I wanna be popular” just write, and read and write some more.’ Atoke

Hey Sparkle Writers! Guess who we have on #WriterSpotlight today? It’s Atoke! If you have not heard about her before (where have you been really), be prepared to be blown away because this is by far one of the most refreshing interviews we have had in recent times. She talks about how she started her journey as a writer and hurdles she had while self publishing her book! 

Enjoy.

Hello Atoke. Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a Yoruba woman who thinks about everything that happens around her, and writes about those thoughts. I’m a TV dependent, and this is very important to the question of who I am; it’s crucial. I’m also a reader and a lover of words. I’m 4’11 and I say this everywhere, just in case if anyone erroneously thinks I’m 5ft tall.

Take us through your journey as a writer. How did you begin?

I started writing at my desk while I worked in a law firm in Lagos. Mostly, I complained about traffic (which is why I had the chance to write anyway). I wrote about how much I dreaded having to drive home from Lekki after a long ass day. So, the more I was frustrated by Lagos life (including okada riders who groped my ass) and my job at the time, the more I wrote. I blogged at the time at opal-topaz.blogspot.com and it was my safe space. “Here, There & Back” was my home to talk about what it meant to be a lawyer in Lagos, barely keeping it together mentally.

You had a weekly Column at BellaNaija for three years. Can you please tell us how that opportunity opened up for you and what impact it has had on your journey as a writer?

I work as Features Editor of BellaNaija and it is one of my core duties to create and curate content. So I had all sorts of things going on at the time: BN HotTopic, BN Our Stories Our Miracles, BN Making It, BN Prose… and I wrote all of these things hiding in the shadows – without my name on it. So, one day Uche Pedro called me into her office and she said, “When I hired you, you said you liked to write. You spoke so passionately about wanting to write using your voice.” I told her it was because I was terrified nobody would like what I had to say. I started, in spite of the fear and I made sure I remained consistent, even when it felt like I was running out of steam. It became a project I was determined to do…. Just to prove to myself that I could do it.

So to your question about whether it has impacted my journey as a writer, it’s a yes and a no. Yes, in terms of the fact that people know my writing because of the platform and I look at some old pieces and cringe at the framing of the narrative. Some of the writing is actually quite poor, if I look at it from my self-critiquing lens, today. No, because my journey as a writer has not really begun. So, we’ll see what the future holds.

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Congratulations on your recently published book, ‘An Awkward Guide To Being Nigerian’. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

I’d like to take credit for the inspiration for this book so badly, but once again this is Uche’s baby. She pushed and pushed and pushed. “Write it. Do it. Just do it.” So, eventually, I buckled and I did. Way to go, BossBae!

The book is a collection of essays that are quite profound. Which of the essays in the book resonates with you the most and why?

The Stare Factor – the one about disabilities in Nigeria because I talked to so many people about their thoughts on disability and the responses were quite heart-breaking. It’s not even something I really thought that deeply about until I got to Swansea and there was a paraplegic in my class and his stories were THE BOMB DIGGIDY! He had a helper who assisted him and that was his second Masters degree. I started thinking about the abled person’s privilege and how we don’t even public transportation to cater for people in wheel chairs, or people who are deaf/blind. Once I entered that rabbit hole, I absolutely had to write about it.

Why was it important for you to release this book at the point when you did?

Because it was on my to-do list for the whole of 2016 and adulting kept getting in the way. So , I was determined that 2017 must not end without that book coming out of my computer, and I achieved my goals.

For anyone who has never heard about the book, why should they get a copy and what pertinent questions does the book provide answers to?

They should get the book because I wrote it, dammit! Just kidding! Seriously though, you should buy AND read +234- An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian because it’s the book that tries to encapsulate issues that plague us as Nigerians –both at home and abroad. Also, I don’t just continue to drone on about our problems, because we all know what they are. I attempt to provide functional and practical solutions.

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Nigerian is a country with many tribes and cultures embedded within. How were you able to capture the diversity and uniqueness of being Nigerian in your book?

This was very difficult because I’m a number one ambassador of the fact that there’s no monolithic culture called “Nigerian.” There’s nothing like Nigerian language, or Nigerian culture stricto sensu; I think I addressed this in the chapter about identity, and how we identify. For instance, I identify primarily as Yoruba. It’s hard to capture the diversity and uniqueness at the same time. So how did I do it? Honestly, me sef I don’t know.

Since the book was released, what has the reception and the reviews been like?

So far so good. There’s been a lot of sentimental purchases, like “Oh Atoke wrote a book, I loved her column, let me buy her book.” Then they don’t read it immediately and I’m sitting here in my house like yepa, did they not give feedback because it sucked? So there’s that which I am grateful for because people are buying, but the real jig is I want people to read it, digest it, talk about it, and tell their circles to buy. Give it as gifts at parties, because hey, we love parties and if we want Nigeria to change for the better, we need our party goers to read my book.

Reviews so far have been good – again, I’m not sure if that’s because Atoke’s column was very successful or because they really liked the book. I’ll take the good notion; helps me sleep better at night. I have, however seen one negative review – and it’s been the only one. The person said they were tired of fake laughter and the book was over hyped.  I didn’t even know the book was hyped, I was here thinking gosh, I want people to read my book and hype it. So that was kinda good(ish)?

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Let’s talk about the process of writing the book and getting it published. What challenges did you face and how were you able to overcome them?

Plenty challenges oh! Do you have all day?

Okay, so I’m self published. Which is something I never ever wanted to be because I’m a snob and I always lowkey side eyed self-published writers. But when I spent the entire 2016 and 2017 writing to agents and publishers and collecting my Ls, I respected myself and entered on Google, “how to get your book published”

I had a LOT of help. Got my book designed by a sister-friend, Segun Akeredolu; got the book edited by Uche Okonkwo and Renette Igharo (because I wanted the best people who knew ME, understood my personality and my writing but also had the credentials under their belt).

Then, I went on fiverr.com to get a layout guy (Shout out to Abi Dare for telling me not to fret, the guys on Fiverr are good, just read the reviews). Then, when I didn’t understand the lingo for taxes and how to get it on Amazon, Yejide Kilanko (Amazing writer!!!!! Yes, include all those exclamation marks), she allayed my fears on the documentation I required to sort out Amazon. Then when I was worried about piracy and whether to print in Nigeria, she (Yejide) said,”Listen, you can’t avoid that if your book becomes wildly successful.” So, I calmed down and stopped being a diva, in that respect.

Finally, I printed in Nigeria because Arese Ugwu recommended Mr. Lekan in Somolu and the quality is great (even though I haven’t used my two eyes to see it)

It was very challenging but I’ve had a LOT of help and support. My family and friends, they’re the absolute best. Before I say “mo need…” they’ve actioned it.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block in your journey as a writer? If yes, please share some tips on how you were able to overcome it.

Writer’s block is standard. But if you have a deadline, I found that coffee and shutting out Twitter helps me push through. I’m a Twitter addict. God help me! So distracting but oh so sweet!

What’s the one thing you love most about being a writer?

Will it not sound one kain if I’m honest, bayi? The fact that when I say it at airports it gets people asking more questions. Always gets people asking more.

“Does it pay your rent?” is one of the most common ones, to which I respond, I strip to make up the balance. Since we all want to be asking about each other’s finances.

In your opinion, why is it important for people to write and share the message they have in their hearts?

Because shared experiences go a long way. It doesn’t even matter what form it takes, you just might stop someone who’s planning to go kill themselves. You can give someone hope. Optimism is such a big thing. It saves lives.

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What tips do you have for someone out there who wants to become a published author but does not yet have the financial capacity to do so?

Write, continue to write and put the body of work together.  Have it, and advertise snippets on your blog or Medium. Have a strong voice and actually have the skill to write. Writing is a skill, not a lot of people have it.  There’s so many badly written/published books. I don’t think money or financial capacity is the thing. I didn’t spend a dime to have my book published on Amazon. Have a body of work, as long as you have the Internet, do your research. Hone your craft. Mix with other writers, have them read your work. Read theirs as well. (Because some people will send 12 articles for you to review for them – as if you don’t have work that you were doing) If you’re a writer, serious about writing, hone your skills. Learn about the nuances of writing. Write on Medium, write on your blog. Write well (by this I mean properly). Look at Elnathan John (my writing hero), he wrote consistently on his blog, was very noisy on Twitter, had his own unique style… I can go on and on about how ElJo is Bae but you will chase me away.

My point is so many people say things like “I want to write, how do I start” errrr, just write. There’s a lot of free materials on the internet. When I started getting serious about writing, I went on Twitter and searched for Nigerian writers and followed every single one of them. Then I attended a creative writing workshop organized by Red Media (it was 5k, but I didn’t pay because when I got there. They just said oya sit down let’s teach you). I also met so many fantastic writers on Twitter – again it was a symbiotic relationship. I read and reviewed their work, they read and reviewed mine.  

So, yeah to answer your question… if you’re serious about writing – as a life skill and not just “I wanna be popular” (which doesn’t pay rent by the way… I know this) just write, and read and write some more.

 

#WritingQuote – There is no rule on how to write

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There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. Ernest Hemingway

This is sooo true! New writers often want to know what the rules of writing are; the do’s and don’ts and as much as we’d like to reel out a ‘writing constitution’ full of the ways and manners you should write, there really isn’t any. 

There are times you’d pick up your pen or open a Microsoft document and the words would come out effortlessly! If only those days could be a bit more frequent. Other times you could stare at your computer for hours and nothing comes; it is part of the process. It doesn’t make you less of a writer and doesn’t mean you don’t have a message. 

Every writer must know this and be ready to go all the way when these dry periods come. Instead of folding your hands at this period, write – write about the fact that you have nothing to write.

Just make sure you write because that’s what writers do!