Do you have what it takes?
Do you seem to have that uncanny ability to offer sound advice to help other people with their problems or issues? Are you ready to share your advice with people online?
If you are interested in setting up your own advice column online, you could have a website built from scratch. A much easier and affordable option you could opt for, though, is a blog. Blogs have evolved over the last few years. What used to be only personal online journals has turned into complex and impressive ways to share information online.
Using a blog platform for your advice column is a smart choice, when comparing the cost to setting up a website that will have to be continuously updated and could potentially mean you having to rely on others to do so. Why go through the hassle?
Choose a blogging platform for your column.
The first decision you have to make is what kind of blogging platform you will choose to use for your advice column. (You could create a website using other methods, but a blog is the easiest choice, and the topic of this article.) Here's a look at the two most popular blogging platforms online.
Wordpress is a wildly popular blogging platform because it is feature-heavy and offers a much wider variety of options than many others. Wordpress offers a free version of their blogging platform at Wordpress.com. If you want to test it out, or maybe start your online column through their free setup on their website, this would be a good option. You will, of course, be limited to what you can do since you will be using their hosting for free. Installing Wordpress on your own domain is the best option.
Pros: Endless options for customization.
Cons: For complete customization of your online advice column blog, you will need to install Wordpress on your own domain name and purchase a hosting plan suitable for your needs.
Blogger is another highly popular blogging website online. Lots of people use Blogger because it is super easy to set up a blog and get started fairly quickly. Blogger offers a simpler form of blogging, with a few extra trimmings. Like Wordpress, Blogger can be remotely hosted on Blogger's website, or if you are an advanced user, you can go into the settings and host Blogger on your own website.
Pros: Extremely easy to set up, customize, and use; can be hosted on your own website, like Wordpress.
Cons: Not as many customization options as Wordpress.
Set up an email list.
The second step of creating your online advice column blog is to also create an email list. One of the biggest reasons for doing this is to capture your audience's attention with periodic email updates. You want to keep them reminded about your advice column. You can also use this email list as a means of collecting information about and questions from your readers. An email list is a great way of keeping in touch with your visitors and keep them coming back to your website for more.
Another reason for having an email list is because you will have a built-in, ready audience of people potentially interested in buying products from you. Think of how you could eventually expand your online advice column into more products like...
- action articles
- online classes
A quick Google of "autoresponder" or a similar term will net you a wealth of options for setting up your email list. Again, this is an expense, but one that will pay for itself in time. If you are serious about making your advice column a permanent online endeavor, it would be wise to do this.
Make sure you place a sign-up form on your blog once your email list is set up. Generally, a form at the top of each page is suggested. It is also wise to create a special page on your blog, where you can re-direct traffic to your sign-up form from other articles you might write elsewhere on the web. You want to make sure you give your visitors every possible opportunity to get on board. Make it simple, and you'll get a lot more sign-ups.
Write your column.
You have your advice column blog set up and ready to go. Your email list is in place and you have a sign-up box prominently displayed on your blog. Now it's time to get down to the heart of the matter and write your column. Here are some tips to help you.
An editorial calendar can save you a lot of hassle and headache. Although, if you want to fly by the seat of your pants and only write your advice column on questions as you receive them, that's fine, too. Be aware, though, that there may be some times when there are no questions, or they come at the last minute, creating a time-crunch for you.
Something else for you to consider is what type of advice you will be giving to your readers. Your advice column should not be an all-encompassing one, else you will have much less interest. Instead, determine a specific niche for which you will focus and give advice. Some ideas:
The ideas really are limitless, but you need to be sure that whatever niche you choose is one you are well-educated on and have a lot of experience in.
It isn't enough to be able to give advice. If you aren't writing your column on a regular basis, your readership will taper off because people will lose interest. You have to write on a schedule. Decide whether you will write a weekly, monthly, or even daily column. Just remember that once you set that commitment, it is important to keep it. So make sure it is realistic for you. If you are a slow writer, or like to include detailed research in your advice, it would probably not be realistic to say you will write a daily column. Consistency is key in building a large following.