"It's not enough to just know how to write well, but you have to write something that provides value to the reader," Bodnar says. "When they feel they are getting something out of it, they are going to keep coming back. What that 'something' is that keeps them coming back is going to differ by the person and type of blog. Some people visit a blog day after day for advice, recipes, celebrity gossip, or just to be inspired."
And some people visit a blog to learn more about real estate investment trusts. Brad Thomas is a textbook example of someone who has turned blogging into a viable profession, although it isn't his only income. He is a senior vice president at Bull Realty, a commercial real estate firm in Atlanta, who also works as a consultant. Still, his blog – the Intelligent REIT Investor (theintelligentreitinvestor.com) – has taken off.
In 2010, Thomas says, "I started basically writing and blogging just as a hobby. It was something I liked to do, and the real estate market wasn't very strong, so I just thought I'd write about it."
He quickly built up a following, with 10,000 to 20,000 page views a month. "I thought that was a lot back then," Thomas says. Now, three years later, he's seeing up to half a million page views per month.
Blogging may not be digging ditches, but it's mental work. It's also time-consuming. A lot of people ask Thomas if he sleeps at night, and he does, but he says there are many late nights where his energy is spent, but he'll "find a way to push that last sentence out."
Jill Smokler agrees, also noting that much of the work in blogging isn't blogging itself, but getting your name out there, which usually means writing on someone else's blog.
"In the mommy-blogging community, commenting is key," says Smokler, who is based in Baltimore and writes Scary Mommy (www.scarymommy.com). "Find blogs which you somehow connect with and comment on them. Click on the blogs belonging to the other people commenting and comment on them. Comment anywhere and everywhere you can, linking your URL. Are you sensing a theme?"
She knows of what she speaks. Smokler's blog helped her land two book deals. Her second book, "Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies)" just came out a few months ago. It looks easy, but it isn't, Smoker says: "Very few blogs strike gold with a crazy viral post. I'm still trying after five years."