Flog your blog – for money
Your blog is your passion. It’s something you do either because you love writing, you love a particular subject matter, or both.
But here’s the cool thing: if your blog is popular there are some easy strategies to help monetize it. This article reveals some top ways to make money from your blog, and also gives you some tips about how to get traffic for your blog from professional blogger, Sarah Humphries.
Set an Objective
There are three key ways to monetize a blog.
- Lead Generation
Blogs are a great way to feed traffic to the main website they are part of. Google loves to point people to articles that answer common questions, so by answering common questions related to products or services they provide, websites gain traffic from Google that they can funnel to their main sales page with clever wording. By the way, do you need to buy any domains?
So, if you have a site that already sells, adding a blog can help boost your SEO, and if the links back to the main site are well-placed, you’ll earn sales through the blog.
- Basic Ads
You can also place advertisements from platforms like Google Adsense in your blog. Google Adsense ads use their intelligent, unfathomable algorithms to intuitively show people ads that are relevant to them. They offer basic code you can paste into your WordPress blog that will automatically pipe adverts in whatever space you have. It’s all very clever and effortless, and you can tailor the kind of ads your audience will be shown if you like.
Here is an example of an Adsense ad we use, but they will display in varying shapes and sizes.
These kinds of ads are unlikely to yield much revenue unless you have a particularly popular post with high traffic, and it’s not utilizing the blog for probably its biggest unique selling proposition (USP): specificity.
- Specific Affiliate Marketing
So, the third, and potentially more lucrative version of running basic display ads, is using your blog to market related products. This is known as affiliate marketing. Your affiliates are companies who agree to let you promote their products for a set commission rate if it leads to a sale.
The reason it works so well for blogs is that a finely-tuned blog answering a common question (an example might be ‘Top 10 things to look for in an Internet Service Provider (ISP)’) stand a greater chance of ranking in Google for that specific phrase than the product itself would. But people searching that phrase are probably interested in the product too, and so the symbiotic relationship between blogs and their related products is born.
Companies that are part of affiliate schemes know this, and want to convert those who land on such blogs into their customers.
Another example of affiliate marketing is selling complementary products. This is most relevant if you’re already utilizing option 1 — using your blog to boost your main site. In this instance, if you sell computer hardware, you might be a good fit to be an affiliate for a company selling computer desks and chairs.
This specificity increases the relevance of your blog to the products you’re linking to. It also allows you to intrinsically link content to the products you’re selling, because they will always be the same (unlike ever-changing display ads).
Finding Potential Affiliates
Your mind might have gone into overdrive about how to approach companies and get them on your site. Fear not — there are easy ways to do this. Sites like ClickBank and Affiliate Junction are hub sites where you’ll find thousands of potential affiliate partners.
Amazon’s affiliate program is the world’s most popular, and a good place to start out for beginners. It enables you to promote specific products easily, and with a catalog like Amazon’s (basically everything ever), that’s a good starting point to test the waters. Unlike other platforms, it’s also free. However, in Amazon’s own words:
‘We look for associates who are a value-add for Amazon customers – if you’re a passionate reviewer, stylist, content creator or curator who would like to refer your audience to products on Amazon, you may be the right fit.’
So it’s not a given that everyone will be accepted.
Whatever you test, it’s worth noting that you can try more than one company for different posts, and see what performs best. Perhaps, in your search, you’ll find a company you didn’t know about that you feel would be perfect for you to make some cash.
Another top tip is to research what your current demographics are on analytics software (age, gender, location, etc). They’re not always who you think, and this information could really help you decide which affiliate programs or products are right for you. You can check metrics to discover this.
There are easy ways to integrate affiliate programs into your site, especially if it’s built on WordPress. But most platforms offer code that’s easy to integrate into your existing site.
Content, Content, Content
Before you get carried away, you need a blog (or some specific posts) that are already valuable to someone else. As Amazon’s opening paragraph suggests, not all blogs are the right fit.
That said, any well-ranking post can be fine-tuned to link to a related affiliate product. Check what your top-performing posts are with analytics software, as you might be in a position to become an affiliate right away!
There are ways to achieve good content, ideal for ‘affiliate blogs’. They don’t need to be linguistic masterpieces as long as you’re creating content people want to consume.
People read for two primary reasons: to learn or to be entertained. Know which you are (perhaps a combination of the two), and then make sure all your content fits into this bracket. And if you’re planning new content, think about what product might work well in it when you start.
Of course, you could do it (as many do) the other way around and start off with a product, and review it. The Internet is awash with influencers unboxing products and reviewing them. So you could approach companies for freebies in exchange for solid reviews. You might make a backlink to your blog part of the negotiation, which would help with your site authority.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to write what you know, and in the style you are most comfortable with. Readers can sense sincerity and authority on a topic innately. If you need tips on how to approach interesting content, we have other blogs that can help you. Use novels to help you write more interesting content, or discover how to integrate your blog with your business.
There are a few tricks you can use to get your content ranking organically (so that people find it on search engines). See our in-depth blog about how to write for search engines for more tips and tricks.
Get Your Blog into The Community
The better your blog performs, the more potential affiliate revenue you can make.
Networking is the key to a successful blog. By talking to other blog (or website) owners, you can become part of a community. There are even groups for this kind of networking on Facebook. One of the biggest things you can do with other bloggers and site owners is to facilitate a conversation and cross-promotion with each other. Especially if they are doing a similar kind of thing to you, on a similar subject matter.
It’s “not what you know, it’s who you know” in the blogosphere. Although here, the ‘who’ is a backlink (a hyperlink from another site to yours). The domain and site authority of the link (how big and important the site is on the Internet) impacts the value of any given backlink (this is measurable through sites like Moz). The more good links you can get, the merrier because these are probably the single most important metric when it comes to getting a good ranking on Google.
Although, be aware of link spamming or getting backlinks from the wrong sorts of sites. Google marks down links that are ill-gotten. Good links that add value to a page will improve your Google ranking, which helps ensure your site is found by people searching — 93% of Internet sessions start with a search — and this makes a blog easier to monetize.
Facebook Groups and Social
Networking on Facebook and Twitter in groups for bloggers, or about blogs offers an immediate way to communicate with your audience or even others in the blogging community. You can end up on PR lists, and then businesses will contact you directly.
Creating a Facebook page for your blog is another great step to get followers and build social interactivity. Keeping your blog visible on a social platform that people visit regularly will help them remember you, and in turn, inspire new and repeat visits.
Interact With Other Blogs
Read and comment on other blogs — especially sponsored posts, as often other companies will see it and click back through to your blog, generating traffic from exactly the people you want to be looking at your stuff.
There is usually a community among bloggers of a certain type. Find yours, and use it to strike up partnerships with other bloggers, or even websites in general. By getting them to give a shout-out to your site within a blog (the backlinks we mentioned earlier), you’ll improve your site and domain authority.
A lot of companies will ask to see site traffic figures when deciding whether or not to work with you. Especially if offering you a fee.
By placing a lead capture element on your site, whether it’s a newsletter subscription, or simply a more casual ‘Register your interest’ spot you will build up a list of your most loyal customers. This is an invaluable resource, and easy to implement. This is a good way to capture potential customers who come to the blog via search, bringing the option to keep in contact with them through email. By virtue of it being there, it is adding the possibility of building up a customer database, so why not try it?
Plenty of plugins exist for lead capture within WordPress and they’re really easy to set up and adapt to your needs. They’re super-easy and efficient ways to unobtrusively lead capture.
Examples From the Pros
Let’s take a look at some successful blogs to see what they’re doing. Click the links to discover what you love about them.
In this example from Creative Bloq, a hugely popular blog specializing in art & design, we can see several things going on.
The first thing of note is the right-hand sidebar linking to related content at every given opportunity, utilizing the prime real-estate.
The two blogs featured here (one on fonts, and one on logo design), have nothing much to do with the (somewhat click-baity) topic of the blog. Both of these are much more geared towards sales, with clear Calls to Action (CTAs). So even though the blog itself isn’t massively geared towards sales, it is pushing through to other blogs that have more of a sales motive. By using a blog that is likely to have popular appeal to do this, they are increasing the chances that their more sales-oriented blogs will be found.
Next on the sidebar is the Lead Capture element we’ve talked about. A quick, efficient email-only box that gives them the most important information only.
All of this is without mentioning the click-bait headline, colorful visuals, and innovative ideas for an article that is more content-centric. So, despite this blog not being specifically to make money in itself (there are no specific calls to action), it is being utilized to its full potential with all the other real estate space. See the full post.
You can’t argue with one of the oldest and most influential blogs on the web, Kottke.org. This popular blog has popular topics spanning just about every subject and originated some influential blog practices, but opts for a more simplistic approach when it comes to layout.
The social buttons are in clear view, but the blogs themselves tend to be presented simplistically in one column, with big visuals at the top, and clearly spaced text. This particular example features a music video and limited text. See the full post.
In this example, we see a much more overt style of marketing in the right-hand sidebar which is simply titled ‘Good Deals’ and links to actual offers. Also, by nature, this is a product post, so there could well be money involved in the reviewing of this technology. At the very least, we’d wager a free pair of shoes!
As with most blog sites, we see prominently displayed social share buttons, and big visuals to sell the product before the more detailed review. See the full post.
For more ideas on how to monetize your blog, check out these ideas from Respona.
When in Doubt, Push Through
Nobody said making money from a blog is easy. Don’t forget, generating a loyal fan base through social media platforms could lead to organic traffic eventually. Where the traffic comes from is not important to companies who sell products through you — only that they make the sale.
Maybe the most important thing to remember is this: Making money from ads, reviews, or affiliates should always be secondary to your love of your site or blog. Income channels like these are never guaranteed when you’re starting out, and you can only start thinking about once you’ve spent time creating content, and getting traffic. Even then, how much you make may vary.
Think of it as a great added bonus for doing something you love anyway.
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