Okay. You’ve got questions.
And I’ve probably got some answers.
You could catch me at one of the Meetups I frequent, or maybe find me at a conference or workshop, but let’s be practical.
Most days, I’m at home, working from my laptop and hanging out with Buford.
So, instead of emailing me and waiting weeks for a response – and it does take weeks since I don’t answer emails often – check the FAQs on this page first.
To make it easier to find the answers you want, these FAQs are divided into 3 categories.
Getting Started includes questions that are commonly asked during the first year of blogging, including the time before actually starting your blog.
The Money section covers – you guessed it – money questions. If you’re wondering about monetization, budgeting for your blog, or freelancing rates, check this section.
Kitty Questions deal primarily with getting in touch with Kitty for the most common requests.
If you don’t see your question in any of these 3 sections, you might try searching the blog to see if there’s a post covering that subject. Use the search box in the upper right-hand corner.
And if, after all that, you still haven’t found your answer…
Just remember what I said about taking a long time to respond to emails. I meant that.
Q: I’m serious about starting a blog-based business, but I have no idea where to start. What should I do?
A: [expand]First of all, congratulations on your decision! The first thing you should do when preparing to start any business venture, including a blog from which you intend to profit, is to write a business plan. This website offers training to help you write your business plan [coming soon] but you can also use this free resource from the Small Business Association to get started. A business plan isn’t written in a day, either – really dig into the research and get started on a good foundation.
Q: Can I really be a career blogger? How does that work?
A: [expand]Yes, you can be a career blogger, but only if you’re willing to keep your expectations realistic and put in a lot of work to build a good foundation. Professional bloggers make income from a lot of different sources, and your strategy will be unique to you. If you want to go pro in the blogging space, you can opt for a mostly freelance career and make a living by blogging for other people, or you can start a blog-based business to make money from your own website. You can use a combination of the two, but as both are rather time-consuming, your focus should be primarily one or the other.
The advantage of freelancing is that you can make money relatively quickly if you’re good at getting clients. The downside is that your income is limited by the number of clients you keep, the amount of work you can do for them, and the rates you can command.
Making money from your own website has a much higher income potential, but also a much more advanced skillset. It takes a long time (usually at least 1 full year) to make any real profit from your website, and monetization strategy can be tricky.
My Freelancing Horror Story[/expand]
Q: What should I blog about?
A: [expand]There are a lot of blogs out there, and a lot of blog topics. This is one of those questions with no definitive answer, but I can give you some guidelines to point you in the right direction.
If this is a blog for profit, you’ll refine your topic quite a bit when you do the market testing in your business plan. In order to make money, there needs to be an audience. If your blog is a hobby or not for profit, then the topic doesn’t matter nearly as much because you don’t need people to read it.
Let’s assume you’re blogging for profit. Your topic should be something you know a lot about or enjoy learning about, because you’re going to be thinking about it a lot. Sometimes, your passions make for great blog material, but be careful not to go too broad. A good blog is about a specific, clear, easily understood topic or idea that can be identified after reading no more than 2 blog posts. If someone has to read 5 or 6 posts to understand your central theme, you’ve gone too broad and you’re going to lose readership.
Luckily, during your first 6 months of blogging, you’re going to suck at it and nobody’s reading your stuff anyway, so you have some time to experiment and refine your topic.
Blogging About Yourself[/expand]
Q: How do I get traffic to come to my website?
A: [expand]This question has a lot of answers, but we’ll try to keep it simple for now. Traffic can be divided into 2 basic categories: organic (free), and paid. Organic traffic comes from people finding your blog posts from social media shares, clicking on search engine results, coming directly to your website, and other ‘lucky’ types of traffic. Paid traffic comes from ads, pay-per-click results on sites like Google, promoted social media posts, etc. Since most of you are probably looking for organic traffic, let’s talk about that.
SEO, search engine optimization, is a technique that makes your website easier to find in Google. There are tons of myths about SEO, such as “I’ll pay this guy to SEO my site and I’m done.” Good SEO is a habit, a skill built over time, and you can’t just outsource it once and expect good results forever. If you want to start learning about SEO, the guys at NeonBrand are incredible and they offer several fantastic services if you want to outsource some of the work.
The next best way to get traffic on your website is by going out there and being a human. Network. Talk to people. Book speaking engagements. Offer in-person workshops through Meetup. Running a website business is exactly the same as running a physical business, so don’t expect you’re just going to put up a website, share a link on Facebook, and rake in the money. It takes a long time and a consistent smart effort to build an audience, and if you’re not in it for the long haul, you should probably keep your job.
Q: How long does it take to start making money?
A: [expand]Depending on your monetization strategy and your skill level, the answer to this question could be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Here’s what you really need to know: building an audience takes a long time. Building your credibility takes a long time. Building any business correctly takes a long time. As a general rule, freelancing is the fastest way to start making money, but you probably won’t make any consistent income for at least 6 months, probably longer. I’ve never seen anyone make a living wage earlier than 6 months, and I’ve never seen anyone make a living wage consistently before they’d been at it for a full year. Be prepared to spend a long time learning, growing, and building your foundation.
Q: I’ve never blogged before, but I’m a good writer and I want to start a freelance blogging career. How do I get my first freelance clients?
A: [expand]Start by creating your own blog so that you have a portfolio and can show writing samples to your potential clients. If you’re going to sell your blogging skills, you should actually have blogging skills. You can start with a free blog on WordPress.com (I’m a WP fan so I can’t recommend any of the other platforms from personal experience) and center your posts around a single topic you want to eventually get paid to write about. You might consider writing about something you’d like to get for free – if you start a book blog, for example, lots of authors will be willing to give you free books.
In addition to your main blog, you can use LinkedIn’s blogging tool to write posts on an alternate subject, such as lessons learned in your former career. Those posts will probably not have as wide a readership as your main blog, but they can attract clients and you can use them as alternative writing samples to prove you can write about multiple topics.
When I started freelancing, I made the mistake of including too many topics on my personal blog, which turned off readers and confused potential clients. I thought I should have a variety of post topics to prove my flexibility, but it actually hurt my business, so learn from my mistake and choose one topic only.
Surviving Self Employment[/expand]
Q: I’m really passionate about food, self development, pets, and high-end sports cars. How do I organize all of that into one blog?
A: [expand]If your blog is just a hobby and it doesn’t matter who reads it, go for it. Write anything you want, any time you want, and don’t worry about attracting readers…because you probably won’t.
If you’re planning to blog for profit, you’ll need to write a blog that people want to read. No blog is ever going to appeal to everybody, and if you try to talk about lots of things to attract the most possible people, you’re only going to repel most people instead. It’s better to write about 1 thing that a few people are passionate about (yourself included) than it is to write about a bunch of things for which your audience might or might not have some mild interest.
So You Want to Start a Blog[/expand]
Q: Okay, be honest. Is blogging success really a matter of skill? How much does luck have to do with it?
A: [expand]Here’s the thing about luck: it definitely plays a part in all success, but you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky. There’s loads of luck out there in the world. If you never start a blog, you can never get that lucky break where the right person shares your post and suddenly millions of people know who you are.
The skill part is non-negotiable, and you have control over that, so get started on building your skills right away. You can’t really force luck, even if you can help it along by putting yourself in its way, so don’t worry too much about how luck is going to affect your success. If you keep blogging regularly, keep networking with people, and keep pushing your own boundaries, you will have a few lucky breaks.[/expand]
Q: How do I use social media for marketing and promotion?
A: [expand]It might help if you stop thinking of social media as something new and different. It’s just media. Advertising on social media is exactly the same as advertising on any other form of media. Sure, the platforms all have different rules, and people are in a different mindset on Twitter than they are on Facebook…but step 1 of any successful marketing campaign is to know your audience. Every good marketing campaign starts with research and planning, so it’s ridiculous to think that Facebook is going to be your magic bullet where you put up a post and your business skyrockets.
Make sure your business has a page or presence on social media sites where your community can reach you. It should be separate from your personal stuff (I recommend not having personal accounts at all if you can help it) and it must be completely branded. Personal opinions do not belong on your business page. Brand opinions do.
If you really want to market on social media, use the paid marketing options. Just like every other kind of media and marketing plan, it takes thought, effort, and long-term execution to see success, so set aside a reasonable budget for the return you want to get and do your homework. Hire someone if you know absolutely nothing about marketing (hire a marketer, not a “social media expert”) or take the time to learn copywriting.
Q: How do I know if my blog is good?
A: [expand]If you’ve been blogging for 6 months or less, it’s not. Sorry if that sounds mean. It’s true.
It can be difficult to accurately judge your own work, especially when you’re new in the blogging world, so here’s my recommendation: read a lot of blogs. Read good blogs. Read blogs that you can hardly wait a week for the new content to come out because you’ve already gone through all of their archives and devoured the old posts. The more great blogs you read, the more you’ll get an idea of the style and content that appeals to you (and probably to people like you) and your writing will get better. After a while, you’ll be confident that your own blog is up to par, and you’ll start getting unsolicited comments from readers, social media followers, and friends who are finally starting to read your stuff.
Emotional Impact is Everything[/expand]
Q: I own a business and I’ve been told that blogging is THE marketing strategy nowadays. How important is it, really, to have a blog for my business?
A: [expand]If you’re going to start a blog just because it sounds good, and you’re not really planning to put time, money, and/or effort into the venture, then blogging as a marketing strategy is pointless. That’s like taking out an ad in the paper but asking your 8-year-old nephew to write it for you because you’re too busy to do it properly. Unless you take it seriously, you’re not going to get results.
That being said, blogs now are like websites in the late 90s. Everyone seems to have one, and some companies are finally catching on and doing them right. Those companies are reaping huge benefits, and you could be, too. In a few years, if you don’t have a blog, you’re going to look as out of touch as people who still have landline phones and AOL email addresses.
Blogs are the hub of a media strategy, and your other media outlets are the spokes. Your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, print ads, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. all point back to your blog, because your blog gives people a reason to keep coming back to your website. It becomes one of their homes on the web, and when you become part of someone’s browsing routine, you’re in one heck of a good position.
Q: How do bloggers make money?
A: [expand]There are quite a few ways bloggers make an income, and those of us who blog as our full-time profession nearly always make money from multiple sources. In a nutshell, money is made by selling things – either your own products/services or someone else’s through affiliate links – ‘renting’ your traffic’s attention by allowing other people to advertise on your site, or freelancing, which is really just selling your service. Those three basic methods can take a lot of different forms, such as selling memberships or publishing e-books, but whenever money is changing hands, it always boils down to sales somewhere along the line. That’s what the economy is all about, right?
If you’re planning on starting a blog for profit, do yourself a favor and write a business plan first. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about blog monetization out there, and a couple of Google searches isn’t enough to stake your career on.
Passive Income Rules[/expand]
Q: How much money can I really make as a pro blogger?
A: [expand]Basically as much as you want, but you’ll have to plan accordingly.
Professional blogging is the same as any other business. If you were to start a pool supply store, you might make just enough money to get by, or you might expand and sell franchises to become a multimillionaire. In both cases, it’s the same business, but the method is vastly different.
You can make a significant income as a professional blogger, but you’re not going to do it just by blogging about funny cat videos and putting Google Adsense on your site. As long as you’re making money by advertising other people’s businesses to your audience, you’re going to make a tiny percentage of their money.
Before you get too excited about getting rich off of your blog, write a business plan and fully test your concept. Building your credibility, your audience, and your product takes a long time, so be prepared for a long-term commitment and don’t stop at 1 strategy. Training is available on this site if you’re serious about launching a blog-based business. [Coming soon.]
Why Your Business Needs a Blog[/expand]
Q: I’ve just started freelancing and everyone wants me to name my rates. What should I charge?
A: [expand]What are you worth? Freelancer rates vary drastically depending on the type of work, the desired outcome, and the individual freelancer. When I first started freelancing, I was making between $25 and $50 per blog post I wrote for a client. Now, I make from $100 to $500 per blog post if I choose to take a client, and my fees are rarely in the low end of that range.
To determine a fair rate, there are 3 questions you should answer:
If the job is going to take a long time, your rate should be higher – but if the job itself is just filler content, where the client is not going to get any kind of monetary return from publishing your work, they’re not going to pay a premium for it. Not every client is created equal, either. Business owners or employees who don’t understand marketing, and who have no idea how to effectively employ a content marketing strategy, are a nightmare to work with and will rarely pay you what you’re worth. It’s up to you to judge the value of your work and charge accordingly, and remember that a bad client is never worth the money.
My Freelancing Horror Story[/expand]
Q: Are you making money blogging just by teaching people how to make money blogging? Isn’t that a little shady?
A: [expand]I totally get what you’re saying. It’s kind of like those business gurus who have never run a successful business until they started teaching about running a successful business, right?
Here’s the thing: this blog didn’t start out as a teaching blog. I grew up working in my family’s business, and I’ve always had some kind of side hustle to make money. When I started blogging in late 2013, KittyLusby.com was a book blog. I moved into freelancing in early 2014 and quickly made that a full-time career.
After helping businesses in a variety of industries use blogs as powerful marketing and branding tools, I started getting invitations to speak and teach at blogging, networking, and business training events. My blog started getting lots of traffic from people who heard me speak and Googled me looking for more advice…only, they weren’t finding blogging advice. They were finding book recommendations.
In Spring of 2016, I rebranded KittyLusby.com and started providing content that people were actually looking for, and the more time I’ve focused on teaching, the more I’ve realized that there’s a TON of misinformation out there. People are getting shady advice, and some ‘marketers’ are ripping people off by promising you’re going to get rich if only you’ll market their products for them…and that’s not cool. The blogging industry is incredible, and if more people have access to honest, practical information, it’s only going to get better.
I keep speaking, training, and offering information on KittyLusby.com because I want more people to succeed. See, I’m out to change the world. I believe that the more people take responsibility for their own livelihoods, the more responsible and proactive the world’s citizenship will be. I envision a world full of people who don’t depend on employers or governments to survive, who make decisions based on their own priorities instead of their bosses’, and who have to do good because their livelihood depends on them running an honorable business instead of participating in backstabbing corporate politics. It’s one hell of a dream, but in my own small way, I’m helping edge us towards that kind of economy, and that’s really cool.[/expand]
Q: What sort of obstacles will I face when I start my own blog-based business?
A: [expand]The short answer is this: I don’t know.
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Use your advantages and capitalize on your strengths, but don’t expect anything to be easy.
I can’t tell you exactly the challenges you’ll face, but I can share some of the more common obstacles and adversities so that you can, at least mentally, prepare yourself.
In any business venture, you’re going to face negativity from the people around you. Especially on the internet, it’s easy for friends and strangers alike to criticize, insult, and belittle you and your endeavors. Dealing with negative feedback is an important skill.
One of the hardest things to accept is that your friends, who you think will support you and want you to succeed, usually do more to hold you back than to support you. Don’t expect your friends and family to cheer you on – as soon as you start gaining notoriety and success, lots of the people closest to you will turn nasty, and some of them will be downright brutal.
Success is also going to take longer than you think, and it’s going to require you to do things that are scary or uncomfortable. Learn to talk to strangers. Get over your fear of public speaking. Take some sales training. This isn’t going to be smooth sailing the whole time.
You might also run into regulatory changes in your industry, tax issues, customer complaints, lawsuits, and sudden drastic changes in the way people use the internet. This industry changes fast, and you’ll either learn to change with it or get left behind.
Q: What the heck is copywriting and how does it relate to blogging?
A: [expand]In it’s simplest form, copywriting is any writing that is designed to inspire some kind of action, usually a sale. The text itself is called “copy” – thus the term copywriting. Junk mail, online dating profiles, and website product descriptions are all copy…though they’re not always good copy.
For most bloggers, your content is designed to produce some kind of result, too. Thus, your blog posts are copy. You’re probably not selling things directly in your blog posts, though some people try to, but you do want people to read more of your stuff, sign up for your email list, or take your online training. Learning how to write great copy will relate exactly to writing great blog posts, and if you’re freelancing, you’ll be able to charge much more for your work.
How To Nail Conversational Style[/expand]
Q: I’ve been blogging consistently and following all of your advice for a few months now, and my traffic still sucks. I haven’t made any money and nobody shares my posts on social media. WTF?!
A: [expand]If you’ve been following all of my advice, you’ll no doubt recall that all new bloggers suck for at least 6 months, and it usually takes a full year of consistent, smart effort to get real traction on your blog. Blogging is a skill, and just like learning a musical instrument or a new language, it takes time to get proficient. Then, it takes even more time to get good. Mastery takes even longer. I played violin for 8 years and got pretty good, but never fully mastered the skill. Don’t expect blogging to be different.
Self Employment Survival Guide[/expand]
Q: How much does it cost to hire a professional blogger?
A: [expand]That depends on what you want to get out of your blog. If you just want to post filler content, don’t have clear brand standards, and you’re not expecting much of a monetary return on your blog content, you can find bloggers through job boards (or even Craigslist) for as little as $15-$20 per post.
Great bloggers cost more. Expertise has a price.
Average content usually costs about $50 per post, and you can reasonably expect that content to be entertaining and have some search engine optimization done, but for $50, you’re rarely going to get out-of-this-world posts.
If you need bloggers with specific industry expertise, marketing experience, stellar SEO habits, and the ability to establish you as an industry leader or increase your marketing conversions, expect to pay at least $150 per post. Bloggers at this level also usually have some other complementary skills or knowledge, such as social media marketing experience or mad copywriting skills. They might make branding suggestions, run your social accounts, write landing pages for you, or spearhead direct mail campaigns to mirror your blog strategy.
Blogging is marketing. Budget accordingly.
Why Your Business Needs a Blog[/expand]
Q: How much should I spend advertising and sending traffic to my website? Is paid traffic really necessary?
A: [expand]Every investment in your blog should be measured. Paid traffic can be tricky, so let’s look at a few different scenarios.
The easiest situation to rule out first is this: if you don’t have any clear, measurable way to make money from your website traffic, then don’t pay to send people to your site. You won’t gain anything by buying traffic.
Let’s assume that you are monetizing your website, then. There’s a definite advantage to boosted traffic numbers, but not all traffic is created equal. You might have lots of visitors, but if none of those clicks are converting to sales, what’s the point?
Here’s how you determine whether paid traffic is worth the money:
Add only one traffic source at a time. Keep track of how much you’ve spent AND how much you’ve made in profit as a result of that spending. The actual number of visitors doesn’t matter. If you make more than you spend and you’re confident that the return is worth the investment, keep paying for that traffic. If you spend more than you make, stop paying for the traffic. Lather, rinse, and repeat with a new traffic source.
Of course, that’s a fairly simplified formula, since you might decide to tweak your advertising, website copy, or ad targeting before you drop a source, but use your judgement to decide whether it’s worth it. StumbleUpon is notorious for sending huge traffic numbers to a website, and also for that traffic to have abysmal conversions and huge bounce rates, so if you find that you’re spending money there and getting 0 return, just drop it.
Q: Will you speak at my conference, event, or chamber of commerce meeting?
A: [expand]Probably. Send me a message here with the date, time, and details, and we’ll discuss it.[/expand]
Q: Will you write a guest post for my blog?
A: [expand]It’s a possibility, but that depends on my schedule, what you’re looking for, and what kind of blog you have. Use this contact form to get in touch, and make sure you give me specific information. I’ll want a link to your blog, some background about you and your company, and specifically what you want me to write about.[/expand]
Q: Can I guest post on your blog?
A: [expand]If you’ve got something to say that can really benefit KittyLusby.com readers, I definitely want to know about it. Send me your pitch here, and make sure you give me enough information about you and your idea that I can say ‘yes.’ Incomplete information is an automatic ‘no.’ Also, keep in mind that I don’t buy content for this blog, so I’m not looking for freelancers. If you want to guest post here, it’s an unpaid gig, so if you want to sell your work, you should probably browse something like the ProBlogger job board for potential clients instead.[/expand]
Q: Will you be my mentor?
A: [expand]I’ll be your virtual mentor through this blog, definitely! There’s lots of free content and advice here already to get you started, and you can probably find me at a conference, meetup, or workshop if you’re looking for a more hands-on experience.
One-on-one mentorship isn’t something I offer right now. It’s nothing personal. I’m just not a consultant.[/expand]
Q: I’m really interested in what you do. Can I buy you a coffee and pick your brain?
A: [expand]The short answer is: no.
Sorry, guys. I get this exact request a few times a week at the very least, and here’s the thing – I offer tons of free education already, and if you want me to meet you for coffee so that you can get more free education, that’s a lot of time taken away from running my business. It’s just not practical.
If you have a specific question that you’ve already tried to answer on your own, and you’re willing to wait a few weeks for me to get back to you, go ahead and send me a message. I might respond with a link to a blog post that answers that question, or I might refer you to someone else who knows the answer, but I’ll attempt to get you pointed in the right direction once I finally get around to reading your email.
If you’re just looking to soak up some general knowledge, but you’re not quite sure what questions to ask, start reading blog posts and go from there. If you’re planning on launching your own blog-based business and you want help building the foundation, there’s an online training course for that. [Coming soon.] Take advantage of any one of the resources I already offer, and I’ll think of you while I drink my coffee tomorrow morning.[/expand]
Q: I looked at this FAQ page and I still have questions. How can I get answers?
A: [expand]The blog is stuffed with answers, so you can try searching for keywords related to your question there. Finding a related blog post is much faster than emailing me. You can also ask follow-up questions in the comments of posts, and I’ll reply publicly…and probably faster than I’d answer your email.
If you’ve checked these FAQ, searched in the blog, and you still don’t have the answers you’re looking for, send me a message here. I’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction.[/expand]