The American dream used to involve working for a big company for 40 years so that you could afford a cute little house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and shiny cars in the driveway. But today everyone dreams about kicking back in a hammock on the beach with a laptop in one hand and a margarita in the other. Whether you’re going for the house or the hammock, a successful blog can get you there, and it doesn’t have to require decades of your life.

But it does require more than great blog posts.

Sure, your content is the most important aspect of blogging, but amazing content alone isn’t enough to propel you to five or six figures. There are bazillions of new blogs popping up every day, and if you want yours to get noticed, then you’ll need to do more than just write cool blog posts. Other than publishing great content, here are three more things you’ll need to do to earn a full-time income from blogging.

  1. Build a Real Business Around Your Blog

One huge mistake many bloggers make is that they don’t have a real plan for their business, so it’s no surprise that they struggle to make more than a few dollars per month. Do you have a real business or just a blog? Have you thought about that? If your only monetization strategy is to slap Google ads all over your blog, then you’re going to have a hard time making a living at this. To be a successful blogger, you need to treat your blog like a business and do more than just rely on AdSense to pay the bills.

Here are just a few monetization methods beside your basic advertising programs:

  • Affiliate programs and products
  • Paid reviews and sponsorships
  • Books and e-books
  • Freelance consulting and services
  • Coaching programs and video tutorials
  1. Get Serious About Blog Design

As a skilled writer and blogger, your words can make an impact, but few visitors will stick around long enough to read your words if your blog design is terrible. Blogs with solid visual design elements build greater trust with readers, and that trust can lead to more traffic, more subscribers and more conversions. That’s a fact.

The most popular platform for building a blog today is WordPress. This content management system (CMS) gives you total control over the design of your blog and lets you set up pages with ease. You have thousands of themes and plugins to choose from with tons of options, so that you can tweak every little thing on your blog.

But if using a CMS like WordPress seems too complicated, you can just use a simplified drag-and-drop website builder to create a professional website in minutes – and you don’t need any special tech skills or design experience to do it. There are some detailed reviews on that go over all the different pros and cons of the top-rated website builders to help you figure out which builder will be best for your blog.

  1. Multiply Your Marketing Efforts with Guest Blogging

Having a great blog with amazing content and powerful graphic design is essential for blogging success, but it’s still not enough. You need readers, and one of the best ways to get them is through guest blogging.

There are lots of great blogs out there in your niche or in related niches with audiences who would love your content too. Publishing guest posts on those blogs can funnel a lot of new readers to your own blog, but those links that you get pointing to your blog can be even better than the referral traffic. Links act as signals to search engines and tell them that your blog must be something special. The more links out there that point back to your blog the better, especially when the links are coming from popular sites with content that is relevant to your audience. Guest blogging can explode your traffic over time!

So as you can see, there’s a lot more to blogging success than just writing great blog posts. Professional design, creative monetization and consistent outreach are no substitute for great content, but there’s no way you’ll achieve that laptop lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of without them.