With increasing awareness in Nigeria of the possibility of making money online, more and more Nigerians are joining the bandwagon of blogging and other Online business models. Now, online business in Nigeria—especially blogging—is becoming competitive. And if you really want to have a profitable blog at all, you need to devise proven means of standing out in the Nigerian blogosphere. While this might sound like something that requires a big budget, it actually does not.

Starting a profitable blog in Nigeria might not necessarily cost you anything, but you will need to invest a lot of time and effort—that’s the price you have to pay for not wanting to spend a dime! Here are five cost-cutting tips for starting a successful and profitable blog without spending anything money:

5 Cost-cutting Ways to Start a Profitable Blog

1. Learn everything you need to know

Since you are planning not to spend money on your blog from the start, then you must be ready to do everything yourself. Now, there’s no room for excuses like, “I don’t know how to use blogger,” or questions like, “How can I promote my new blog for free?”

My friend, you have to learn how to handle everything—from setting up your blog to promoting it, and from the basic to the technical. How? You can achieve this by taking your time to learn how to handle these things yourself. The Internet abounds with free resources that will help you understand anything you need to know.

How much time you will spend in the learning phase depends on how much you already knew. If you were already familiar with some or most of the procedures you will be handling as a blogger, then you will have much less to read than someone who’s a complete newbie.

2. Plan, plan, and plan

One of the reasons why most Nigerian blogs end up nowhere is lack of planning. As with a business, starting a blog that will become profitable requires adequate planning. You need to figure out what your blog will stand for. You need to find out what who your readers are and what kind of information exactly do they want and greatly appreciate.

You need to come up with an editorial calendar detailing how you will schedule your posts. And you need to plan how you will promote your blog to spread word of it. Implementing what you have learned (as recommended earlier) starts with the planning stage. You need to take your time with this stage, too, because you cannot afford to get things wrong.

3. Choose a low competition niche

While there are already thousands of Nigerian blogs in the blogosphere, they are all clogged up in a few niches—notorious among which is the entertainment and celebrity gist niche. Starting a blog that will stand out and attract attention in a niche with too much competition will require lots of effort and money. And since you are not planning to spend a kobo, then you have to go for a niche with low competition, but huge demand.

Examples include the travel niche (how to travel out of Nigeria), the weight loss niche, and so on. You will find only few–or even no–Nigerian blogs on these topics, yet the demand for them in Nigeria is huge. Opting for a high competition niche when you are on a zero budget will only get your blog “lost in the crowd.” No one will see it, and you will soon abandon it—like many others have done.

4. Start with a free platform

While having your blog on a self-hosted platform is strongly recommended for many reasons, it is not a must. And if you are planning to start blogging with zero Naira, you can stay put with a free blogging platform (like Blogger, WordPress.com, or Typepad) since self-hosting your blog requires purchasing a hosting plan.

Even if you will run your blog on a free platform, it is highly recommended that you buy a domain name—it costs just $10 per year. But if you still can’t afford to pay a dime, then you are free to settle with the default .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com domain name you get from the free platform you are using.

5. Adopt free promotion strategies

No doubt, you have to promote your blog if you want people to be aware of it. If you think visitors will start coming to your blog by osmosis after publishing some posts, you might have to wait for months to years for that to happen.

So, to attract attention to your blog, you need to promote it. This doesn’t have to cost money, as there are many strategies you can adopt that come at no cost. These include guest posting, forum marketing, and social media promotions.

How to Build a Strong Online Brand for Your Blog and Yourself

Your online brand is what comes first to people’s minds when they come across your name or that of your blog anywhere on the internet. In other words, your brand is the impression that people have about you and your blog. With a good online brand, you will be widely trusted by visitors to your blog, your followers on social media, and potential buyers of the products and services you sell online.

Your brand also helps you stand out from the rest even in the face of stiff competition. The most interesting aspect of an online brand is that you can transmit it over a wide range of avenues. For example, if you have built a trusted brand with a blog for many years, it becomes easier for you to start and quickly grow another blog because of the good impression you have established with your first blog.

So, having a brand gives you that recall value in the online marketplace, and that ensures you never have to start any new venture from scratch. Enough said about the importance of building a strong online brand for your blog and yourself. Now, let’s discuss how to achieve that. If you are looking to create an impressive online identity, here are five tips that will be helpful:

a. Be unique

People are always looking for fresh ideas. New ideas are what make the internet interesting: new post ideas, new arguments, new questions, new opinions, new products, and so on. This is the same reason why even established brands constantly introduce new ideas.

You will quickly achieve your dream of building a strong brand for your blog and yourself if you are known for something new and unique. Let your unique personality flow through your posts. And always think of new blog post ideas that people are likely to be interested in.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to introduce new ideas all the time. All you need to remain interestingly different is to always add a unique touch to whatever you do. Approach your blog post topics from a unique angle. Garnish your posts with unique and awesome pictures. Brainstorm for unique ideas for your social media updates. And you will be unique in a way that will love and admire.

b. Offer value

What else could be more effective for brand building than offering value to people? If you publish high quality, authentic information that answer people’s burning questions and solve their problems, how can they forget your blog? If you publish posts that are both educative and entertaining, how will you not create a lasting good impression on people’s minds?

In addition to offering valuable content, always be willing to help people. There are times when readers will ask questions in your post comment section. Always answer such questions promptly. Also, there are times when your readers will send you email with various requests. Always try to be of help as much you can.

c. Be transparent

People appreciate and trust individuals who are transparent in all their dealings. What else do you want people to describe you with if not words like “transparent” and “trustworthy?” You sure cannot be perfect, and your readers already know that. So, always feel free to admit this and reveal your own flaws, especially if that will offer some benefits to your readers.

Contrary to what many people think, telling others about your mistakes so that they can learn from them is a smart way to build trust. If you try to portray yourself as an infallible guy who never goes wrong, you will have to try hard to cover many of your weaknesses and mistakes, and people will find out sooner or later. You already know the end result of that.

d. Blow your own trumpet

Sometimes, people are just too impressed with you that they don’t know what to call you. They feel caught up in a web of multiple descriptions like “an awesome blogger,” “a difference maker,” “an expert in so-and-so topic,” “a thought leader,” and so on.

Because a brand is always consistent, you must teach people what exactly you want them to have in their minds about you. Granted, you can be many things to people, but your brand can only accommodate just one or two of those descriptions. So, you have to call yourself what you want people to call you.

e. Don’t forget the visuals

While the logo, theme, and slogan of your blog might not be as instrumental to building a strong online brand as most people think, you shouldn’t downplay them. Have a professionally designed logo that truly reflects what you want people to remember you for. Choose a theme that perfectly suits your brand. And brainstorm for a perfect slogan that “says it all.”

Using a Free Domain Name vs. Personalized Domain: Which is the Best for Branding?

If you are starting a blog with the aim of making full-time living from it in the long term, then you really need to take every aspect of it seriously from the start. The ultimate goal of most bloggers is to make five to six-figures monthly from their blogs, yet many are leaving out too many necessary steps towards achieving that goal.

No doubt, you need a blogging platform to run your blog on, and you can choose between free platforms (like Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress.com) and self-hosted platforms (such as WordPress.org).

While it’s generally recommended that you start off on self-hosted platforms, this is not a must. If you have no problems with the limited features and crazy terms and conditions that come with the free platforms, then you can use them, and you’d be fine.

But there’s another very important aspect of a blog that many don’t take seriously: the domain name. Only few—if any at all—of your readers or visitors would be interested in whether you are running your blog on a free or self-hosted platform. But most will be interested in your domain name because they need to know and memorize it, so they can locate your blog another time. In essence, your domain name is your blog’s identity.

As with your blogging platform, you have two options when it comes to choosing a domain name: you can either adopt the free URL offered by free blogging platforms or register your own personalized domain name. In case you don’t know the difference between both types of domain names, here’s an explanation:

A free domain name usually includes the name of the blogging platform as an extension (for example, yourblog.wordpress.com, yourblog.blogspot.com, etc). A personalized domain name, on the other hand, contains no such extension (for example, yourblog.com, yourblog.net, etc)

A free domain name, as the name implies, comes at no cost; but registering a personalized domain name costs around $10 per year, as charged by most domain name registrars. Now, the big question is: should you stick with a free domain name if you are using a free blogging platform or go for a personalized domain? The following comparison between both options will give you a good—and convincing—answer to that question.

I. Firstly, a personalized domain name is much easier to remember than a free domain name, since a personalized domain name contains no extensions. So, your readers and visitors will easily remember yourblog.com, but they will find it harder to remember something like yourblog.typepad.com or yourblog.blogspot.com.

Moreover, most people tend to conclude that your domain name ends with a .com. If you are using a free domain name, some of your regular readers will miss your blog’s URL if they erroneously leave out the .blogspot or .wordpress extension. But you can simply prevent this by registering a personalized domain.

II. Secondly, a personalized domain helps you come across as serious and professional. Many internet users are prejudiced against free domain names, and this explains why blogs with such domains are taken less seriously. This prejudice is justified by the fact that most of the abandoned blogs that litter the blogosphere carry free domain names (most people use free domain blogs for “testing” purposes).

In addition, by registering a personalized domain name, your SEO efforts will be to your own advantage in the long term. Even if you switch blogging platforms, you can always export your content and maintain your old link structure. In that case, you won’t have any problems with search engines.

But if you are using a personalized domain, your SEO efforts are credited to the free platform you are blogging on, not your blog. So, even if you personalize your domain later on, you won’t be able to transfer your SEO efforts from the free domain to your personalized domain, and search engines will assume you just started afresh.

Moreover, using a free domain name shuts you out of many opportunities available online. Some affiliate programs don’t allow members to promote their offers using blogs with free domain names. Some ad networks don’t accept blogs without personalized domain names. In short, you will miss out on many opportunities if you stick with a free domain name.

Conclusion

Purchasing a personalized domain is much better than sticking with a free domain, due to the reasons explained above. And going by the fact that personalized domains cost just $10 per year, you really have no excuses for sticking holding on to a free domain name.

Ajaero Tony Martins