There are two types of bloggers in the world. There are those who blog because they want to inform people of something. These people want to tell their life story, keep their family up to date, bemoan their issues or weigh in on the state of the world. Then there are the people who blog to make a profit. These people sometimes represent businesses, and sometimes they’re selling their content, their services or their information. It’s the latter group who are most filled with ambition and drive to succeed, and it’s that group who will most want to make money from their blog. How do you, as a member of that second group, monetize your site?
The first and most obvious way to monetize your site is to set up advertising. The simplest and most effective advertising platform is Google AdWords, which is easy enough to set up and get running. You are free, however, to join any ad network you desire. Be aware that textual links, like what Google provides, are cleaner and more effective than sidebar banner ads and other such graphical victims of adblockers.
Ads on your site depend on a wide range of factors. For the most part, however, they will scale in value as your traffic increases. Additionally, if you have more pages, you have more opportunities for ads to be seen, which can increase payout in volume alone. Some niches have better payouts than others, depending on the keyword, as well. Success with an AdWords-style program is going to involve a lot of testing and ROI calculations. Many large blogs don’t bother; instead, they use other, more guaranteed methods to bring in cash.
Signing up for one of the many affiliate marketing programs is a bit more reliable than running simple advertising. With affiliate marketing, you often get to choose what you’re advertising. Some affiliate networks offer payouts for impressions, some restrict payment to clicks or conversions only. Take, for example, the Amazon Affiliates program. With AA, you are free to choose and promote specific items. When a user buys that item through your link, you earn a commission. Amazon is sale-based, meaning you get nothing for your impressions or clicks, only for conversions.
Affiliate networks benefit most from traffic, particularly interested traffic. Payments for impressions, when they exist, are generally small. Actual sales are where the real money is. This means you need to find an affiliate program that sells products in the same niche you’re writing about, or you need to create blogs that focus on products based on the network you choose. Both are valid options; which you choose depends on your outlook on blogging.
Bloggers are, by definition, talented writers. Many bloggers use their established blogs as large advertisements for the quality of their work. Essentially, they are online portfolios showcases the opinions and talents of the blogger themselves. This allows you, as a blogger, to set up a “hire me” page with your contact information. You’re free to include as much or as little additional information as you desire. You can include your rates, or make them negotiable. You can include limitations on the subjects you’ll consider, or you can take each case on an individual basis. The choice is yours.
Some bloggers may not want to sell their services, and that is perfectly understandable. When you blog for the passion of the craft, or you blog with another purpose in mind, it’s easy to decide not to “sell out” in such a way. It’s also often the case that, in the rush to produce a constant stream of content for your own blog, you just don’t have time to sell your services to external sites. Selling posts is not for everyone, and that’s okay.
Of course, if you’re managing a blog for a business, the primary goal of that blog is going to be directing users in the general vicinity of the product purchase page. There are a thousand ways to do this, to encourage readers to convert. Here are some general tips:
The goal of the blog is to gather users into a community and get them to put their trust in your business. Once they trust your blog to give them valuable information and help them solve their problems, they’ll trust you to sell them a product. If your product is satisfactory, they can even become a walking testimonial to further build brand trust.
It’s growing increasingly easy to design an app to fit a need. The hard part is to find that need in the first place. With your blog, you have worked to gather an audience and you have given that audience valuable content that solves problems for them. With a blog that has been established for a while, you will begin to see trends in the problems your users have.
Analyze the problems you see in your users and develop an app to solve that problem. Even if it’s a simple, minor quality of life enhancement, you can sell it for $1 on the app stores and make quite a profit if it does what it says it does and solves a problem. Depending on your niche, you may be able to build a whole stable of various apps. Alternatively, building one robust, supported app may be the better alternative.
A blog is all about providing quality content to your users. However, you are still able to profit from that content, even if you’ve posted it freely before. The trick is to use your content to impress users with its depth and value. Once they’re hooked, compile your most popular content into an e-book.
Now, you don’t want to just copy and paste your popular posts and try to sell them as a PDF, that’s going to earn you no favors. You need to expand upon them and add value. Essentially, consider individual blog posts as outlines for longer, more detailed e-books. Have a popular top 10 list? That’s a 10-chapter e-book waiting to happen.
It stands to reason that if you’re trying to make money from your blog, you need to make that blog as valuable and as popular as possible. In today’s world of content marketing, the only real way to do that is to produce the best content you possibly can. Stick to your niche and dig deep, finding value by getting into the meat where other bloggers just scratch the surface. Look at what your competitors are doing and strive to do everything two steps better.
The corollary to creating great content is the requirement that such content is seen by as many people as possible. You need to build as large an audience of interested people as you can. Share on social media sites, network with other bloggers and encourage users to link to your content whenever possible. If only a fraction of your readers care to share or comment, and only a fraction of them care to convert into paying users, you need to increase the initial pool as much as possible.
It’s not difficult to monetize a blog; it’s difficult to make more than a few dollars a month. With work, analysis and time, however, you too can make a living from your blog.