When I tell people that they can make thousands of dollars a month by blogging, they typically respond in one of two ways; complete disbelief or curiosity.
But the truth is, your blog can be a lucrative business.
I built a quarter million dollar consulting business in two years as an independent and have worked with brands ranging from Fortune 500 companies to some of the fastest growing start-ups in tech.
I’m not telling you this to make myself look good. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that you can monetize your blog and you can start generating revenue immediately.
Do I have your attention now? Great.
Let’s get down to the specifics.
With so many blogs competing for traffic, how can you monetize your blog?
I’ve done it, as countless others have, and today I’ll share with you what I’ve learned from chatting with entrepreneurs around the world and advice that I wish I had in the early days.
Let’s get started.
Use Your Blog To Raise Awareness Of Your Services
Without wasting any time, here’s my advice to anyone just starting out:
Use your blog to raise awareness of a service you offer and from there, expand into products.
When I started, for example, I began blogging about digital marketing, start-ups and the hustle. In doing this I was able to grow a loyal following of marketers, PR professionals, tech start-ups, entrepreneurs and internet enthusiasts. Clients from my 9 to 5, prospects, professors and students all paid attention and followed along to hear my thoughts and perspective.
Soon, I was being contracted for speaking engagements to present at conferences all over the world and sought after for marketing advice. As mentioned earlier, last year alone, I generated more than $250,000. I point directly to my blog as being a key driver of leads and the contracts that made that revenue figure a reality.
Like selling a product, you need to market your services.
Your blog is a great way to do that, which is why you should have a section on your blog specific to the services you offer. Whether you’re a life coach, fitness instructor, nutritionist, marketer, scientist or pet lover – you should have sections on your site that show people what you can do for them.
Give Away Value For Free Before Making The Sale
You’re an expert, an entrepreneur and a teacher.
Your blog is a free asset you give your fans and customers. The real money comes from the value you provide through your knowledge and skill.
When you first begin blogging, you should focus 75% trying to get your content in front of a large audience 25% of your time creating the content.
Because when you begin you have yet to build a stable and loyal audience. Tactics like guest blogging allows you to feature your content and share your expertise on someone else’s website, siphoning their readership for your own purposes. If the content is good, these readers are likely to subscribe to your blog, follow you on social media and subscribe.
This is the most cost-effective way to grow you subscribers and build a prospect pool.
These free guest blog posts have helped generate revenue in the form of my services but also through my products. As Kenny Kline highlights for Tech.co, there are many benefits of giving away content for free.
Whether it’s revenue for my first ebook, Stand Out: The Content Guide for Entrepreneurs or the various products sold and offered through Hustle and Grind, the early efforts of giving away value for free has resulted in me having the ability to build a diverse stream of income sources.
You can’t sell what no one is buying
Monetizing your blog takes a lot of work, just like starting your own business. Any monetization tactics that we talk about won’t be useful unless you’ve first put in the work to grow your audience.
There are many approaches you can take; promote your blog on social, advertise on Facebook, write compelling content, and optimize your content for search. But there is one tactic that is superior to all the rest.
Below is a look at the growth rate for the Hustle & Grind newsletter:
We’ve been focused on increasing subscribers on a regular basis and while the results have fluctuated over the last few months – this focus has helped us drive more product sales and traffic back to our site.
Building a hefty email list is more important than anything. It’s the most accurate prediction of how much revenue you’ll generate.
For example, say you make about $15 per subscriber per month. While this dollar figure isn’t huge, it’s not the most important metric. The most important metric is in your ability to predict how many subscribers you need to achieve key goals.
Here’s a generic breakdown: If you strive for $1 per subscriber per month in sales, 1,000 subscribers should result in at least $1,000 per month in sales, and so on. To make money blogging, a hefty subscription list can be the starting point for a very lucrative business.
Why subscribers matter?
Even if you have 10,000 visitors to your site each month, you’re lucky if 1% of them will buy. It’s not just about visitors. You need to look at how many people are actually seeing your offer and optimize your site for those who see but do not buy.
Your offer should be visible. It should be attractive, irresistible, and at a price point that you know will attract the type of customers you want. Notice I didn’t say affordable price? That’s because your price differs depending on your industry, audience and target market. As you build your subscription list, focus on creating a list that is optimized for the audience who will buy for the right price. Nurture your list on a regular to build trust and demonstrate value by constantly going above and beyond their expectations by delivering superior value.
That’s why subscribers are key; they see your offer delivered directly to them in a consistent and personal way. They’ve already expressed interest in your product by virtue of their subscription, now it’s up to you to present the offer in a way they can’t resist.
But even still, if 1% of them buy your product, that’s still only generating a small piece of the potential income that you could be earning.
The real money is in the upsell and the downsell.
DREAM: Distribution Rules Everything Around Me
Even with a strong email list, you still need promote your product and generate traffic.
A great way to do this is by creating create content that sells. To do this successfully, you need to write content that is worth clicking.
Create captivating headlines built on insights around the needs and motivations of your audience. Great headlines create intrigue, grab your attention, and address solutions to relevant pain points. They promise new knowledge and excite.
Create content that adds value such as how-to guides, e-books and helpful infographics that your reader’s can use to solve their own problems. Tap into their interests and needs and respond to it in long-form blog posts that deliver solutions and hacks to improve their lives.
Finally, deliver your content on a silver platter. Personalized content distribution is key to getting the conversion rates you’ve been dreaming about. Creating a personalized experience for your readers and customers significantly improves customer engagement and satisfaction. On top of that, it has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Promoting your products on social media can help you tell a strong brand story and build your customer base. It’s also a great way to boost customer testimonials that generate new customers and acquire customer-generated content (this is the power of customer advocacy marketing).
Here’s a deck on the power of distribution that every blog owner should see:
But Ross, what about Ads?
Finally, you’re probably wondering about ads.
“But Ross, isn’t selling ad space on your blog a sure way to bring in cash?”
Yes and no.
The thing about ads is the advertiser needs to make money too.
When it comes to selling ads on your blog, I share the same view as Neil Patel, “Ads are typically the worst way you can monetize your traffic.” In his awesome post titled, How to Generate $1,000,000 from Your Blog, he says this:
“Don’t get me wrong—you can still make money by placing ads on your blog, but it isn’t the best way to generate income. From what I have seen in the B2B niche, if you have 100,000 visitors a month, you’ll be lucky to generate $5,000 a month in ad revenue. In the B2C niche, if you have over 1,000,000 visitors a month, you will be lucky to generate $20,000 a month in income. If you really want to hit 6 figures a month in income, you have to sell your own product or service.”
Personally, I’m not a fan of this approach, but many people are happy selling ad space on their blog and so the short answer is; to each their own. If it works for you, then by all means, do it.
But, IMO, selling ads on the blog is passive income. You generate 5-10 times as much revenue using that ad space to sell your own products and services or by promoting an affiliate product.
That brings me another great approach: Affiliate marketing and affiliate tracking.
With this approach you simply direct your readers to another product or service in exchange for a commission on the sale (or insert specific CTA).
When you create quality content your readers begin to trust you and turn to you as the authority on a given subject/industry. This creates an appealing and lucrative space for other brands to promote their product.
You see this a lot with fashion and DIY bloggers who wear, create or use affiliate products, promote them to their readers and gain a commission of the sale.
Creating an affiliate sales funnel for your blog can offer substantial commissions and an awesome opportunity to attach your brand to other great products.
For more on how to drive sales with affiliate marketing, check out Chapter 9 of Neil Patel’s Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing.
You can make money blogging, but it takes hustle, flexibility and endurance. You need to be willing to try a variety of tactics and pivot quickly as the landscape changes and as your customers’ needs change.
Start by selling your services before expanding into products. Invest in your email list and maximize your income potential with strategic pricing formulas. Focus on creating content that sells and distributing it in a personalized way through email marketing and a variety of other hacks.
Finally, avoid selling advertising on your blog but explore affiliate-marketing programs that align with your products and services and appeal to your customers and readers.
Most of all, have fun with it and go make it rain.