To Make Money Online From Blogging In Your Niche, Start Thinking Strategically. Look At The Areas of Earning Potential With The Eye Of A Professional CEO.
If a professional CEO were to look at the earning potential of your blog, would he see just what you see? Or would he see opportunity that you cannot see?
The secret to making a lot of money online from blogging is to see what “assets” your blogging creates for you that can then be sold. Let’s count such assets.
The space on your website in and around your blog is one such asset. The potential for paid content on your blog is another asset. The community you create by writing your blog is a third asset. The personal influence you create from your blog is a fourth asset. The authority to advice others is a fifth asset you create from your blog. And finally, when you’ve learned the ropes of blogging, you can even freelance as a high-priced blogger for others.
At Solohacks Academy, we believe, however, that you can make no money from your blog unless you have been blogging consistently over time in a focused niche, and built a solid archive of topnotch articles, and also built a great fan base of loyal readers and subscribers. Once you’ve got that, you can make money left, right and center.
1. When you should begin to earn off your blogging is as important as how
As you may have read in the introduction to this article, the most important thing to be able to monetize your blogging is to be regular and grow your archive of blog posts daily. You must have at least 300-500 good posts you have written, that rank well in Google. Plus, you have to capture as many loyal subscribers as you can into your mailing list. Aim for at least 1000 subscribers on a continual basis, even if some leave and some join all the time.
Here are three important things to remember about getting your blog ready for serious monetization:
The more blog posts you have the more traffic and the more subscribers
It all depends on how many high-quality blog posts you can write and publish, consistently. You have to set milestones for the total number of posts you have on your blog – 100, 200, 400, 1000, 5,000, and so on. But it’s not just the quantity of blog posts alone but the “eternal freshness” of your blog.
Writing 15 posts one month, nothing at all the next month, and then trying to publish 40 posts the next month is not really a smart way of doing things. A certain number of blog posts have to be created and published to a set time schedule – like, say, 3 posts per day x 5 times per week … or one post daily … or 10 posts per week … or whatever timetable you want to set and then follow without flaking.
Research clearly shows that as the number of posts on your site increases, and increases with a definite regularity in your publishing schedule, there is a kind of compounding effect on the traction of your blog.
When you have, say 200 posts and you have a certain traction level, you’ll find that when you hit 400 posts the traction is not just twice what it was before, it can be three, four or even ten times more – depending on your particular market, the quality of your content, and your audience interest level in your topic.
What your particular compounding number is will become evident as you continue writing. You will begin to see a definite pattern of traction and growth as you increase the content quantity on your site – and soon you will be able to say to yourself: “Okay, so if I make a minimum of “x” posts per week and keep that steady pace, I’ll double (or quadruple) my total posts in “y” weeks and I can expect my traffic numbers (or subscribers, engagement, or returns) to increase by “z” times for every 100 posts I add.”
There are some people who say “writing less is okay, in fact, it’s the smarter thing to do”. But if you double-check when that blogger started writing, and how many posts he has written till he got to the point of making money, you’ll see that he has invariably earned the ability to write less than before and still succeed. You’ve seen how hard bikers need to pedal initially for traction, but how less they need to pedal later when they’re already cruising, right?
People who pay you for your blog and its surrounding benefits count your viability in different ways
There are no standard ways people who pay you evaluate if your blog is worthwhile for them to advertise on or to encash on. Some look at your traffic stats, and some look specifically at your page views. Some look at your newsletter subscribers, while others look at a mix of blog-readers and social fans … and so on.
Either way, the deal you cut with different potential money-paying prospects will depend on the yardstick they use to measure the value they get, when you try to monetize your blog. So all in all, it’s healthy to aim for as big a reader-base as you can get with as many loyal subscribers as you can get. This increases the chances of good or reasonable brands wanting to do business with you.
Monetizing your blog is a slippery slope if the brands you keep company with have a poor rub-off on your brand
Till you’ve got past these milestones in your blogging, don’t attempt to monetize your blog because it will backfire on you. You’ll get poor quality monetization with paltry cents as income. Even the better affiliate products you want to market will gauge you as a sub-optimal site and refuse to let you become an affiliate. Plus, the erosion of your brand will be something you cannot recover from if you are seen in the wrong company of pathetic ads, or partners or influencers, or whatever else.
So promise yourself to put your head down and build that blog and your audience community to a healthy point. Be able to command great monetization opportunities. Set an audacious goal for the number of blog posts to write, and for your monthly traffic-acquisition and subscriber-acquisition rates. Hit the numbers, and then look up for opportunities to monetize your blog.
2. Making money from selling advertising space around your blog
Renting space on your website or blog – your real estate – in one way of making money. You rent space to advertisers who are enamored of the traffic coming to your blog, and want the visibility they too can get.
There are many ways to encourage advertising on your blog. Here are some of the ways that are tested and trusted:
- Run Google Ad Sense on your blog. Google pays you per click on its ad, but it pays low and its ads are often mismatched to the content on your site – which gives off a bad impression to your readers. So beware of this.
- Join an ad network to get their other members to advertise on your site, just as you too can advertise on their other member sites. VerizonMedia is one of the oldest networks, but there are many such new kids on the block too. Just Google “ad networks” to get hordes of possible networks.
- You can also advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, to channel social fans of your blog excerpts back to your blog.
In all advertising options, remember that you have to be clear where on your site people can advertise, what ad sizes you offer, and what your rules and prices are. Try to be as close to the standard ad sizes and rates as you can. People will then have ready ad material.
Here is a diagram you may find useful to know what standard ad sizes exist in most niches, with the popularity of each size shown in percentage terms:
Image courtesy: The Match2One Blog … (click on the image to see an enlarged version.)
Yaro Starak, the well-known influencer/blogger has a simple advertising cost formula to quote to those who want to advertise on his blog. Here it is:
Image courtesy: Yaro Starak
Also, specify your policy on animated or scrolling ads, because they will tend to overshadow your site.
One other thing to remember is that a lot of people nowadays set their browsers to activate ad and popup blockers. Most advertisers too know the perils of ad blockers. You both need to be on the same page regarding your workarounds.
Many sophisticated ad networks also have created intelligence-driven back-ends that sense the content of your articles around which to place their relevant and non-competitive ads. There is a lot of technology now at play in advertising, so get comfortable with it. Read up a lot about these competitive ad networks, as most of them explain their features and advantages very well on their websites.
3. Making money from selling paid content potential around your blog
After you’ve looked at ways to get advertising revenues from your blog, turn your attention to the content you can be paid to include on your blog. Here are three types that work to earn well for many bloggers:
A sponsored post is one where a big brand or marketer wants you to write an article on your site (that sounds like an article but subtly advertises the brand he sells). For instance, a maker of treadmills for exercise might like you to write an article on walking and fitness (if your niche is fitness). While the article itself may not overtly advertise the product, the picture shown with the article may show someone using his product – or the words “SPONSORED POST: COURTESY XYZ TREADMILLS” may appear in a visible banner above the post. (Note: Google now mandates that paid for Sponsored Posts must clearly carry a banner saying so.)
Here it’s not too different from a Sponsored Post, but you may overtly write an article reviewing a product, and include it on your blog, for which the manufacturer pays you. In a Paid Review you are allowed, for instance, to mention the product and its plus-points, but to sound authentic you should also include competitor comparisons and include some of its negatives as well. Authenticity is the key to such reviews. Even if the marketer of the product is paying you hand over fist, you cannot let your brand be seen as “flattering a product for the dollars it pays”. Use your analytical skills and credibility when writing such articles.
A lot of other bloggers may like to be interviewed by you, with the interviews published on your blog, so that they get exposure to your reading audiences. This is often a lucrative option for making money off your blog. Sometimes, you may also like to repurpose the interview into a podcast or a video additionally. With paid interviews, again, it’s okay to send your questions by email and get answers by email. Or you can record a phone or Zoom chat and transcribe it into an article. But, impartiality and authenticity are key. Make the interviewee look good, but do ask the kind of questions your readers want to hear about instead of only flattering the interviewee with leading questions.
COMPLETE NO-NO: Never sell backlinks from your blog
When your site is popular you’ll get lots of requests to allow paid-for backlinks to other blogger sites. Never go down this slippery slope. Google, if it gets to suspect, will instantly demote all your posts, and years of ranking and success will go down the drain. It is a “black-hat SEO” tactic that many people online nevertheless risk doing, simply because it seems so easy to pay someone popular for a few backlinks. But any brand that is conscious of itself will never stoop to these tactics. I’ve told you the issues. Now you have to take the call whether a few dollars for a backlink sold off your blog is worth losing your brand and its credibility over.
The same goes for paid-for guest posts (which are nothing but articles people offer to write for your blog, with their backlinks strewn across the article). Steer clear.
4. Making money from selling access to your community built by your blog
If you’ve built up a really healthy and loyal subscriber base for your emailing list, you can splendidly monetize this contact base. Many bloggers would pay an arm and a leg for access to your list of subscribers, because they know your emails reach the inboxes of these subscribers.
One thing you should never do, though. Never sell your mailing list to other bloggers, for that is like cheating your subscribers. They have allowed YOU to email them, but not others. Here are ways to monetize your community of fans, followers, and loyal subscribers
Do joint ventures with other bloggers:
What is a JV (or Joint Venture)? It is when you join with another blogger and you promote a product that benefits both of you as well as your subscribers. It’s like a WIN-WIN-WIN. For example, let’s say you write about healthy organic foods as your niche, and the other blogger is an erstwhile 5-star chef with special techniques for gourmet cooking. You both may decide to offer a special course (or ebook) to your subscribers that teaches 5-star cooking techniques for organic foods. Your subscribers would love the refreshing idea, and both you and the other blogger may benefit by sharing the proceeds of the sale of the course or book.
Offer the products of other bloggers to your subscribers on special deals:
In your newsletters, I would presume that your subscribers would love to get perks and deals that you can find for them in your niche. If you have another blogger wishing to promote his new book (for example), you could do an exclusive promotion to offer the book at a deal price to your subscribers, just so that they get familiar with the new blogger’s work. This is again a good way to get a “win” for everybody. Your subscribers get a price-discount, you have something fresh and new to offer to them exclusively before it hits the market, and the other blogger-author gets the first few high-quality captive audiences to sample his book. You could choose to get paid per book sold (as a percentage of the price). Or you could charge the blogger-author a lumpsum price for the whole promotion.
Openly promote the other blogger as a worthwhile resource for your readers:
A lot of very seasoned bloggers like to be seen as promoting other young bloggers to their readers. This reinforces their own brand as dominant in the industry, where they don’t see young new upcoming bloggers as competition. If you can take this tack of finding and promoting young talented bloggers to your subscribers – as “bloggers worth watching” – you can do your own brand a whole world of good. This is a ploy often used by top-rated bloggers like Jeff Bullas, where I have been on his mailing list and come to know of many new bloggers through his generous introductions. He obviously charges the new bloggers quite a pretty penny to give them the introduction to his platinum-standard mailing list. He also probably insists on rigorous evaluation of the new blogger to see if he is worthy of being promoted.
5. Making money from selling access to your influence built by your blog
The more you blog, the greater the domination of your niche becomes. This is a known, tested, and trusted fact. Hubspot has conducted several insightful surveys into how building your blog can build your brand to the level where traffic, conversions to subscribers, and money-making opportunities pour in.
Aside from the obvious gains in traffic and subscriber-base, more blogging – and more posting of blog excerpts to the social media – also gains you big-time in terms of fans and followers. You start becoming a small influencer, and then a bigger and bigger one, who can command great rates.
Who are influencers? They are bloggers with tightly knit, loyal subscribers communities. These communities so deeply trust the word of the blogger, that they follow all his advice and get swayed when he makes his preferences known to them. He is able to influence their mindsets, buying habits, and even instigate immediate buying. Now, what can influencers do to gain money, when they have built such influence?
Seal deals with big brands for influencer campaigns:
Big brands across the Internet are always looking for influencers who have medium-sized but tightly-bonded groups of followers who follow their every word. If their brands could use your audiences to buy their products, they’ll gladly pay you for your services as a subtle influencer. You have several brand-influencer matching agencies now with whom you can register. When a brand has a need for your kind of audiences, they’ll pay you a good fee to roll out a campaign they construct to sway your audiences towards their brands via social messaging and other content. The important thing is that your audiences must be a good fit for them, and you must be a reliable and genuinely powerful influencer of your followers.
Get very lucrative speaking opportunities:
Online events are hot. People love getting invites to them, or to be able to buy tickets to the big online seminars, webinars, conferences, bootcamps, and so on. Being a highly visible and powerful blogger in your niche opens you to receive several invitations to be a speaker at such events – especially if you have something impactful to say, and the event organizers see that your following of subscribers and social fans will be among the early ticket buyers. The money in speaking events is not to be sneezed at. It can be huge. Plus, the excellent rub-off on your brand from being among other greats who make up the speakers panel is invaluable.
Get paid to give interviews or sign book deals:
A blogger I know hit such a good trajectory with his blog that he found himself suddenly inundated with a lot of requests to feature in podcast interviews. Podcasts were just catching on as a big deal in content marketing across the Internet, and many young podcasters were looking for a set of “experts” they could invite (at a fee) to be their guest interviewees. Another blogger was toying with the idea of publishing a simple ebook based on one of his most popular blog posts, but he was surprised to get a deal from one of the biggest ebook publishers for a whole series based on the articles of his blog. It’s great when you get opportunities that come to you of their own – rather than you’re having to go after them.
6. Making money from selling access to your advice built around your blog
When you have a great blog, and also have lots of regular readers who love your writing, you will be tempted to encash on the goodwill you’ve built by starting to sell your knowledge and advice in various formats. Here are a few of the formats that lend themselves as natural extensions of your blogging. Maybe you were blogging for free earlier, but can now, perhaps, start charging for your “productized advice”:
Sell ebooks and online courses that encapsulate the most popular parts of your knowledge:
If you have written a lot of blog posts on or around a common topic, you could easily repurpose them in an ebook or an online course that you can sell. These products can allow people who’ve read your blog posts to formalize their knowledge, or take it further, by reading more from you or learning from your courses. Ebooks may not sell for much apiece but you could aim for volume sales through booksellers like Smashwords. Online courses retail for as much as $199 to even $999, depending on the topic and its popularity, and your brand value.
Sell memberships to a library full of various types of content based on your teachings:
While ebooks and courses are passive income earners – where you just create the product once and people buy it off your shelves without further intervention from you – there is another way to monetize your blog. Segregate some posts or content behind a paywall, where people have to pay to read these posts. If you build a big library of such exclusive content, you could even charge a monthly membership subscription and take your community-bonding further with a forum for your followers to congregate at, debate and discuss, and make mutual friends. In this model of earning, though, you won’t be earning passively or in a hands-off mode. You can charge more for people to interact with you personally.
Sell seats to group sessions you can host, like webinars, workshops, Q & A sessions or masterminds:
Another great way to encash on your blog would be to host periodic group sessions that your followers or subscribers might like to join. For example, you could host webinars to teach a topic extending out from your blog. Or you could host a workshop where you demonstrate a technique to people like a tutorial class. A third paid group-session model could be to invite people to send in their questions to you which you can answer via a group Q & A. A fourth model of paid-for group events could be “masterminds” – these are like brainstorming sessions when you invite people to debate and discuss and crack ideas together. For example, I attended a great mastermind recently on how solopreneurs could use Artificial Intelligence to speed up their work. It was immensely useful, I got to learn so many angles on the topic, and the group was lively and fun to mix with. It cost me $99 to attend, but I felt I got my money’s worth of ideas. One of the ideas I implemented helped me earn back the $99 I spent on the mastermind.
7. Making money from your skills acquired by building your own blog
Let’s come to the final stop. If you have been running a successful blog, there will be tons of blogpreneurs out there desperate to get you to blog for them. They may be well-meaning, clear-headed entrepreneurs, but writing may not be their forte. They may understand that blogging is “marketing-based writing to a target audience” but they may be less-than-skilled to be able to do it themselves. These days, small to large businesses pay anywhere between 4 cents a word to 100 dollars a word to get their blog posts written by other bloggers who write brilliantly and can gather subscribers for them.
In my early days of blogging, I had expected to find small clients who would buy my ebooks after reading my blog. Little did I know that a CEO of a huge international enterprise would approach me to write his “CEO blog” which he wanted to reflect his vision, mission, values, and goals for his business. I ended up ghostwriting his blog posts (just one a month) and earning top dollars for it, which then helped me subsidize my own website and blog.
So, don’t disdain the idea of “freelance blogging”, once you’ve learned how to do it well for your own site. Who the freelance assignment comes from, and what its value adds up to, may be much, much bigger than you ever dreamed of. Don’t think in cents per word. Think in hundreds of dollars per blog post.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “How To Make Money Online Without Investment For High Profit“.
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