8. Starting and Monetizing Your Blog
If you explore the top careers in the recent years, you will probably see blogging as one of the most desirable jobs. Even though there is a common belief that bloggers are only writers or journalists, who publish their work online independently, starting your own blog requires other skills apart from writing.
A thing or two about blogging
Blogging started out as a form of published work, primarily articles, during the late 1990s. People who couldn’t or didn’t want their work to be published offline could use this form of publishing. The most significant advantage (apart from complete independence) is the fact that this kind of publishing enabled everyone to reach the global audience.
Over the years, blogging has been adopted as a business strategy for promotion and the way to reach online users.
Even today, anyone can start a blog, and you can literally set everything up within minutes. The main things you will need include:
- Blog name
- Blogging platform
- Hosting (Optional, you will only need it if you use self-managed platform)
These are only the essentials, but you can also have other things like a logo, plugins, blogging community, social media profiles, etc. To find out more about blogging essentials, and how to start a blog in the first place (the whole process explained from choosing a platform to publishing the first post), check another course offered at emarketinginstitute.org.
Even though starting is easy, this does not mean that everyone will be successful with blogging. There are thousands and millions of blogs out there that have never made a dime, and probably never will. Also, some blogs allow earning money indirectly.
If you are in the process of considering blogging as your way to make money online, the first thing you will need to think about is writing. So, you need content on your blog. This content is usually in the form of written articles. Images can also be added to enhance the visual aspect of the written material. Also, there is that video format of a blog, called a vlog, where the content is presented in the form of a video.
Your first step is to think about this content and try to answer a couple of very practical questions to develop an idea or a plan on how you want to eventually earn from your content.
- What kind of content will you publish?
- Who will create content? You, contractors, ghost authors, etc.
- Who is your target group? Who are you writing for?
- Why do you want this content? What do you hope to achieve?
- How often do you want to publish new content?
- What is the purpose of your content? How do you wish to monetize it? (You will see a couple of ideas later on, but if you already have ideas of your own, write them down.)
The next step is considering things beyond writing. You have to be aware that there is so much more to blogging than writing. It is essential to know at least the basics of online marketing to be able to optimize and manage your blog with success.
Start with optimization
Explore the topic of SEO to find out how your content looks like to the online users, and how the search engines see it. You will also discover why pleasing both is a must if you want to get any traffic. Some of the concepts included in the process of optimization of a blog and blog content are:
- Keyword research
- Title optimization
- Page speed optimization
- Image optimization
- Link building
Online promotion of your blog
Online promotion includes multiple methods of promoting your blog content enabling it to reach your target group successfully. There are free ways to promote content (for example to your social media followers or email subscribers), and there are paid options which include search engine advertising, social media advertising, etc.
The main purpose of any of these campaigns is for it to help you achieve your goals. You should not promote a blog post only to get more visits to this page without having a purpose. But if you are promoting a blog post which has a lead magnet to generate leads, this might be a campaign worth investing in.
How to earn money from blogging
Establishing your presence online is the first step. It all starts with your blog, and this is something you must never forget. Some people tend to get carried away with monetization and focus on this aspect, but if you want to have a blog that brings money, you have to have a successful blog. And no money will come if you do not invest a lot of time, dedication, and often money into your blog.
In most cases, these strategies will be heavily influenced by your blog performance. If you have a lot of traffic, you are going to maximize the results obtained from the monetization. And to maximize the traffic, you need to have an outstanding blog, one which deserves trust and provides value.
You also have to understand that there are direct and indirect ways to earn money from your blog.
Monetizing your blog
Let us focus on direct ways to earn from your blog first. Some of these might be suitable for your blog, some might not, and you can also use multiple strategies if you can make them all work for you
The idea with this approach is to have visual ads on your blog, usually shared in the header, sidebar or footer of your blog pages. The more exposure these banners get, the more profitable they will be as they will attract your blog readers. When you work with a company which you will promote on your blog, you offer your own pricing and promotion terms, or you agree upon terms regarding the promotion tracking and price.
The easiest way for you is to go for fixed pricing. This means that you will set up a fixed price of how much your blog space is worth and the company that is interested in the promotion will need to pay this price for the banner to appear. The price is usually set for annual promotion, but any time interval is acceptable, as long as the price reflects the period during which the promotion will be active.
The second option is to track clicks. In this case, the company you are promoting will be paying you based on clicks. Occasionally, if you have a lot of traffic, this might be even more cost effective than selling space for a fixed price. But it requires more management regarding tracking clicks and calculating payment, usually monthly.
AdSense is a dynamic form of advertising displayed on your blog. Unlike having one static banner, the AdSense program enhances the dynamic ads, which are determined by a complex algorithm.
A common way through which the displayed ads are selected is remarketing. This is the situation when the ads are optimized based on the search history of the online users. For example, if the user has searched for HootSuite software, but no purchase has been made, and you have a blog about social media, the ad featuring HootSuite platform might appear if the company uses such method of advertising. So it remarkets to the users who already have some interest in their product.
To start using AdSense, you will need to join the online program provided by Google. Once you sign up and you are approved, you will set up the display ad space on your blog. You will also fill in your account, so the software learns how to display the most relevant ads to your visitors. For example, if you have a women fashion blog, you might not want to feature ads that promote men’s fashion.
Earning income through this form of advertising is completely passive. Once you set up everything, all you need to do is to promote your blog and the AdSense program does everything for you. The main drawback is that the income generated through this form of advertising is not that considerable. You will have to have thousands of visitors to see some profit. Even so, it is a strategy you worth exploring as a way to monetize your blog.
This kind of blog monetization strategy offers a lot of flexibility and opportunity to work with numerous different brands. It includes creating a piece of content, usually a blog article, where you will mention the particular brand. Based on your agreement with the company you are promoting, you can be paid a fixed price for this job, you can track clicks, or you can even track sales (especially if you are promoting a particular product).
It is important to stay consistent with your blog style and still maintain credibility with your audience even if you are promoting a business. Avoid promoting useless, irrelevant or fundamentally bad products or services, because this will damage your reputation and you will lose your audience.
With sponsored reviews or posts, you need to balance things. You want to tell nice things about the product to encourage people to buy it. On the other hand, you want to think about the relationship which you have with your audience. Have in mind that you do have a certain level of credibility and respect, which you want to maintain. Avoid sounding too salesy and using premade product description. Instead, keep your regular voice and style, so that this can still be recognizable and relatable to your target group, even if you are promoting something.
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing. It is a strategy that is based on tracking the performance and enabling you to earn income this way. The method has a lot in common with previously mentioned types of advertising where the clicks on link are necessary to track conversions.
You will find out more about Affiliate Marketing in a separate chapter.
Selling your own product(s)
Besides promoting stuff others are selling, you could start selling your own products. These can be:
- Products you create
- Products someone makes for you
- Products that you buy and resell
At this point, you can see a merge of blogging with selling, as two ways of earning money online. Here is how they perfectly complement each other. You might be successful in blogging, but you cannot charge for the visits, right? So, through your content, you start promoting your products. People who trust your opinion and your reputation will be more likely to become your customers than if you have no credibility in the online world. On the other hand, when setting up your online store, you will soon discover that getting traffic will be the greatest obstacle to overcome. This is where blogging kicks in as a platform enabling you to establish a connection with the online users and increase the chances of selling online.
What you need to have in mind here is to choose the product(s) that is relevant to your target group. As a blog owner, you have a certain following on social networks, email subscribers, regular readers, etc. Instead of looking for new customers, come up with the product your customers will need and use. Your audience is one of the most significant assets you can have at this point because those are the people most likely to buy from you.
Selling your services
Finally, besides selling your blog space or products, you could promote your services with your blog. This is especially a good strategy if you are an expert on the topic. When you start a blog, you will choose a niche, which is usually something you are interested in or something you know a lot about.
As an expert, you can do a lot of services from your niche. You can do consulting, advising, you can do freelance jobs (such as translating, managing marketing campaign, etc.). Besides gaining credibility among your audience, your blog will also enjoy a reputation in the industry you work in. This is how you can promote what you do through the blog.
Like with selling products, it is advisable that your blog content would be targeted at the users who are interested in your services, to ensure maximum exposure.
Indirectly making money from blogging
While selling and promoting are considered a direct type of making money, blogging enables this indirect profit that can be obtained. Here is the thing.
Blogging enables you to specialize in a specific niche, to become a respected voice in the industry and build your reputation. This reputation of yours is something you could make money from. Just like you are using your reputation to feature affiliate links or sponsored stories, your reputation can bring other perks such as:
- Travels and/or accommodation
- Attendance at the conferences
- Getting paid to hold a speech or participate in an event
- Getting deals and paid contracts
- Opportunities to work with brands
The list certainly does not end here, but these are some of the most common ways to make money from blogging. In these situations, you would be cashing in on your reputation and your influence, which is how we get to the following chapter where you will find out more about how to become an influencer and how to monetize it.