People who can make a living from blogging are often content with their careers. You’re doing something you love (something that may have started as a hobby), and you’re getting paid to do it. Of course, in order to reach that point, you need to view your blog as more than just a private journal. You need an entrepreneurial mindset if you want your blog to really build a following and open the door to the possibility of monetization. You need to view your blog as a business. You can still love writing about topics you enjoy or posting pictures of the places you visit, but you need to be a good business-person as well as a good blogger (if you want to get paid to blog, that is). Here’s some advice that should help you to start treating your blog like a business.

Utilize search engines.

First of all, you need to utilize search engines. If you want your blog to become a successful business then it needs readers, and sites such as Google or Bing are the best places to attract those followers. People usually discover blogs by searching for a topic and finding an article that interests them whilst browsing through search result pages. So fantastic content is the key to your success. You need relevant keywords, post titles that are gripping, and even responsive design. Your blog needs to look good on all manner of devices. Growing numbers of people use the internet on their mobiles and tablets rather than their laptops, so your blog shouldn’t just be designed to look good on a screen with 1366 x 768 resolution.

Of course, there are more ways to utilize search engines than simply creating great content on your website. There’s so much competition between businesses to rank well on search result pages that it’s still hard to show up at the top of the first page even if your content is impressive. You can, however, pay to use tools such as Google Ads to ensure your blog is one of the top results when people search for things related to your topic (or topics) of interest. You might even want to learn how javascript can automate Google Ads if you want to manage a big advertising campaign more easily. That’s a good route to take if your blog is already getting a lot of traffic. Whatever method you adopt, the point is that search engines are the tools you need to utilize if you want your blog to reach a wider audience.

Post regular content.

Part of your business plan needs to include an intended posting schedule for your blog. When you’re blogging for a hobby, you can post as frequently or infrequently as you like. But it’s a different story when you’re running your blog like a business. You wouldn’t get any other company releasing a product and taking a break for a few weeks. Your output needs to be continuous. You need to post regular content if you want your blog to gain any sort of traction. It’s about increasing your online presence but also keeping readers engaged. If you only post once a month then many readers might not stick around. But if you post every day then they might be tempted to return the following day to see what other intriguing things you have to say.

Monetize your blog.

A key part of turning your blog into a business is making a profit from it. By building up a following, you’re creating a known brand, but that’s only the first step. A following isn’t enough to make money in itself – you’re not charging people to read your blog (people aren’t going to pay for that kind of content when there’s a sea of free information online). You need to find other ways to monetize your blog. Luckily, a big following is often enough to draw the attention of businesses who might want to pay you to sponsor or review their products on your blog. But you can make money through things such as PPC adverts on your website if you don’t have the following to attract the attention of big brands.

Reward your long-term followers.

It might sound a little “corporate” to say this, but your followers are like your customers in many ways. And many businesses keep their customers keen by rewarding them for sticking around with vouchers, discount codes, and so on. You should take the same approach with your readers. Incentivize them to keep reading your blog by giving away gifts and prizes for doing so. Many YouTubers, for example, keep their subscribers watching their videos by doing prize giveaways at the end of every video. You could do the same sort of thing. You could even make things more interesting by offering to give away a prize to the person who shares your latest blog post with the smartest caption on social media. That’s a great way to stimulate word-of-mouth marketing on different social networks.

You could even sell branded merchandise for your blog and give away some of it for free. If your followers love the free hat or pen you give them then they might feel incentivized to part with some of their money for the T-shirts you’re selling, for example. And even if they don’t end up buying anything as a result of the freebie you’ve given them, people always like free things. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and they’ll be more likely to stick around (much in the same way as a customer would feel valued by a business if they were gifted a voucher as a form of gratitude). When your readers stick around, that means you’ve built a solid following. As a result, you stand a better chance of consistently getting sponsorship deals from businesses who like your stats (or simply making money from the adverts you display on your website).

Hire writers.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the most successful blogs post content regularly. That’s the key to maintaining relevance on the internet. There’s a constant influx of new information from every direction, so the only way for your blog to be heard over the endless noise is to produce a constant stream of engaging content. But that’s a lot of work for one person. As an entrepreneur, you need to take the initiative. Turn your blog into a real business and hire some people to help you out. You can still write posts yourself, but you might want to get some guest writers to help you fill out your blog with content on the days that you can’t post. These days, many blogs do that. They’re taking a similar approach to professional newspapers or magazines. And that’s what readers want – they want a lot of content to consume.

*This a contributed post.