Successful bloggers know how to work it.
By that I mean that they know how to consistently churn out topnotch content, leverage social media in their favor, drive search engine traffic and score quality leads.
They also know how to make money.
If you’ve been blogging for a long time but have yet to see any profits, you might not know what you’re doing wrong.
Some bloggers might even question if it’s even possible to make money online.
True: turning a profit from your blog can be tricky, even if you are a great marketer and have tens of thousands of followers on social media.
But successful bloggers have not only figured out how to earn money with their blog, but also how to earn a living – and a robust one at that.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at how you can make money with your blog and find the success that you’re after.
We’ll look at a number of common strategies you can use, but also some unusual tactics you might not have thought about before.
Ready to make money? (Who isn’t?)
Then let’s start.
A Quick Overview
As we go through this post we’re going to focus on the following goals to help you earn money from your blog:
- Deciding what you can sell – so that you can make money
- Creating content that attracts people who will be interested in what you have to sell
- Capturing the emails of those who are attracted to your blog
- Selling to the people who have provided their email address
By laying out your goals, you now have an overview of what needs to be done – thereby providing you with a better understanding of how your blog is going to make money.
Each of the steps above are vital, if you want your blog to generate a return – so pay attention and don’t skip any steps.
Deciding how your blog is going to make money
While you can sell advertising on your blog, doing so can be tough and the returns might not be as high as you’d like.
Plus, if you’re selling advertising, it means that someone else has figured out a profitable way to use the traffic on your site.
After all, they can afford to buy it from you – right?
Because of this, it is often better to cut out the middle man and capitalize on the traffic that your blog receives in a way that will produce greater returns.
For most blogs, there are two things that you can generally sell – a physical product or an information/digital product.
Whatever you sell, you’ll need to make sure that it is something that the visitors to your blog want to buy.
If you’re looking to sell a physical product, take a look at your niche on Amazon and check out some of the high selling physical products found there.
If you want to sell a digital product, take a look at the Kindle section of Amazon and find out what books are selling well, within your niche.
You can also use sites, like Clickbank, to figure out what digital products are selling well within your niche.
In both cases, you’ll find that your conversions are going to be higher if you can get people onto your email list.
Therefore, once you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, your next goal is to figure out how you’re going to get people onto your email list.
You don’t need to overcomplicate this.
Create a giveaway that solves a pressing problem for your target audience. Then, offer it in exchange for an email address.
I’ve discussed how you can create a brilliant giveaway here.
Create a sidebar opt-in box and also create a popup that tells that people to enter their email to obtain the giveaway.
Later on in this post, we’ll cover how you can use ‘Content Upgrades,’ to also generate signups for your blog.
Create interesting content
No one is going to sign up to your email list and engage with your offers if you don’t have anyone visiting your site in the first place.
One of the best ways to get people visiting your site is by creating interesting content.
You don’t need to be a brilliant writer (though you should aim to become a better one over time) to create interesting content.
All that you need to do is find content within your niche that has succeeded before. You then need to create something similar, but better.
You can find such content by using Buzzsumo.
Let’s say that I’m creating a blog dedicated to ‘Keeping chickens.’
After typing ‘Keeping chickens,’ into Buzzsumo, I’m presented with a list of highly shared content that relates to this topic.
After a bit of scrolling, I find content ideas that seem to have done well within this niche. I have highlighted these ideas in the screenshot below.
All I need to do is take these existing pieces of content and then create something better.
So, what can I do, in order to make better pieces of content?
The first thing that I can do is to make the content more in-depth. Above, there’s an example of how a chicken owner can ‘keep their chicken water from freezing.’
I could take that piece of content and accompany each stage with a high quality image. I could also go into more detail, in terms of the steps that need to be taken.
Research has shown that colored visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
On top of that, content with relevant images receive 94% more views than content without images.
I could even consider using GIFs, which will make the content feel more engaging and possibly more entertaining, too. GIFs are also beloved on social media, thus increasing your possibility of shares.
On top of that, I could also provide a video at the end of the post that details the process a chicken owner needs to go through, if they want to stop the drinking water from freezing.
I could make the article easier to read, by providing easy to follow headers that break up the content.
I might even provide people with a free checklist that they can refer to when they’re not near a computer.
Providing content upgrades can be an incredibly effective way to generate signups for your blog, since you’re providing something tailored to what the visitor has just read.
Eventually, you’ll want to create content upgrades for each of your blog posts.
To begin with, however, create content upgrades for the top 5 blog posts on your site.
You’ll then be able to capture the bulk of the people who are reading your content.
Getting people to read your content
The next thing you’ll want to focus on is getting people to read your content – and that means getting people to visit your blog.
Remember: If no one is visiting your blog, you’ll get no opt-ins.
And, if you have no opt ins, you won’t be able to send any promotional emails!
There are many ways to get people to visit your blog. You don’t want to rely on just one method.
As soon as one traffic method is working, try and introduce another.
It might sound counterintuitive to diversify your focus, but you never know what is around the corner.
Your ad account might get shut down, or you might become the victim of a change in Google’s algorithm, for example.
Keep that in mind, as you continue to read.
The first traffic method you can try out is Guest Posting.
Guest posting can be a great way to drive targeted traffic to your blog.
6% of bloggers publish the majority of their content as guest posts. Such a method can be worth it, when you realize that guest posting can produce dividends for months to come.
Look at what happened to Will Blunt’s list, as a result of guest posting on Hubspot.
Some people don’t post content on their own blog until they’ve built a significant following as a result of guest posting.
If you’re going to follow a strategy like that, make sure that you have an opt-in form on your site.
That way, you can still capture leads, even if you’re posting on someone else’s site.
It might be a good idea to let people know that you have a content upgrade available, in the ‘Author’s box’ of your guest post.
If you want success with guest posting, you need to master two things.
- Finding opportunities
- Creating incredible content
Other than guest posting, you can also use PPC traffic to drive people to your site.
There has been an increase of 93%, in terms of bloggers who use an alternative promotion method to grow their blog.
For many, paid traffic is one of the methods used.
PPC traffic is a great way to instantly send visitors to your site.
But, if you have no experience with buying online advertising, you might end up losing a lot of money.
On top of that, it’s important that you have your funnel in place, before you start buying traffic – or else you won’t be able to make your money back.
Thankfully, most PPC platforms don’t have a minimum spend and you can use platforms like AdWords and Facebook without breaking the bank.
Try spending $5 a day on each one of those platforms.
If you’re on a tight budget, or if you’re a newbie – Facebook Ads might be the best place to start, since it allows for you to target your ads easily.
You’ll probably lose money to begin with – but consider that money well spent on your social media marketing plan.
After spending $100 or so, you’ll know more than enough about how to create engaging ads that are properly targeted.
Aside from using ads, you can also generate traffic by getting people to share your content.
Remember how we found proven content ideas using Buzzsumo?
Well, Buzzsumo also lets us know who shared those ‘proven,’ content ideas.
That’s helpful, because now we have a list of people who like this sort of content.
Now, all that we need to do is email them and let them know that we have a similar, but better piece of content that they’ll also enjoy.
Here’s the template that I’ve used in the past.
If all goes well, they’ll thank you for letting them know about this piece of content and they’ll then share the content for you.
This method takes a lot of work to begin with, but it can be a great way to get some traction, if you’re just starting out and you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Plus, if your content is actionable, and is capable of helping others, people won’t mind sharing it.
In fact, 94% of people share posts because they think it will help others.
How to keep your blog afloat in the long term
Once you begin to get some results with your blog, you’ll want to make a few changes here and there, so that you can experience even better results in the future and continue to earn money.
Sometimes, you’ll be forced to do this, as some tactics might stop working as well as they did before.
I experienced this with Infographics. In 2010, my inforgraphics drove 53,459 visitors and, in 2012, they drove 21,582 (on average).
That’s still decent – but it indicates a downward trend that needs to be accounted for.
So, what should you be doing, in the long term, in order to keep your blog engaging and profitable?
One thing that you can do is to open up your blog to guest posts.
This can be helpful, if you want to provide a different perspective for your readers.
If you want to encourage guest posts, you simply need to put up a notice that lets people know that you’re accepting guest posts.
You’ll also want to create a guideline for writers, so that they know your rules.
Another thing you can do is split test.
Split testing your blog layout, opt-in boxes and offers can lead to an increase in profit over time.
There are a ton of elements that you can split test on a blog.
Keep in mind that making drastic changes can sometimes bring surprising, but welcome results that would have been hard to attain with small, incremental changes.
You may also want to improve the sense of community that your blog creates.
You can do this by responding to people in the comments section, while also encouraging people to leave comments in the first place.
It might even be helpful if you create a Facebook Group for people who are readers of your blog.
Within this Facebook Group, people can ask you (and each other) questions.
And, with the recent release of Facebook Live, you can even host Q&A sessions with people who follow your blog.
As I said, successful bloggers know how to work it. But they also know how to work it with a sound strategy in place.
Part of that strategy is affiliate marketing. Far from anything new, affiliate marketing is a reliable way for bloggers to earn money. Check out Search Engine Journal’s summary of it here:
“Affiliate marketing is a way for a blogger or anyone involved in online marketing to make money by promoting products and services in exchange for a commission from the sales or leads they drive. This is usually accomplished when a merchant or web advertiser places a banner ad, button, or link onto a website site. The webmaster will be compensated when a visitor clicks on that link or makes a purchase through that link.”
If that’s a route you’re interested in taking, check out my step-by-step guide on affiliate marketing here.
In the meantime, consider the steps I’ve outlined here. It might help you take your blog from nothing to something–and remind you that you can make money online (and then some).
What have you experienced when it comes to starting and growing a blog to profitability? Are you part of an affiliate program, and, if so, what has your experience been? Let me know in the comments below.