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There are two ways that you can make money with a blog. One as a professional blogger, where running a successful stand-alone blog becomes your job, or you may earn from blogging more indirectly if they are an add-on to an existing website. Company websites for instance use blogs as a means to an SEO-end, whereby fresh content is continuously added to their site for SEO purposes and a better user experience.
But how do the professionals do it?
Image: The infamous blogger Zoella, at Zoella.co.uk
Money from pure blogging comes from a lot of skill in building an audience or ‘readership’ that come to enjoy, trust or rely on your content. They value your opinion or appreciate the format of your content and see you as an authoritative voice on the subject.
So here’s where it starts...
More often than not, a successful blog will be in a particular niche that is relatively underpopulated in terms of content on the internet. Yes, you can pretty much find content for almost anything on the internet, but you can only imagine the level of competition you’re going to find for relatively broad topics such as weddings and cookery. “Wedding blog” for instance yielded us 87 million results in Google (yes, we checked). So, unless you have a huge starting budget, celebrity endorsement or pre-existing “high authority” site, you’re going to struggle to appear in the search engines.
The content must be engaging – either useful, super interesting or utterly hilarious but more importantly, there must be a demand for it. You could write the most amazing article in the world but if no-one is searching for it, it’s not going to be found in search engines (assuming you don’t want to pay for all your traffic). True demand on the internet primarily means the volume people searching for your topic in search engines, meaning you need to do some keyword research and check-out Google Trends on a regular basis. Are there any notable frequently searched queries that you could answer?
This is by far the most challenging part and in many respects, happens naturally in correlation with the quality of your content. That’s because great content receives more shares across other websites and social media, this also improves search engine rankings as these are the signs of a quality website – which is exactly what Google algorithms are designed to seek out and deliver. Audiences can also be strategically grown with various digital marketing tactics, email campaigns, promotions and SEO, but the best tactics involve defining your reader and targeting the online spaces they already go to and build a reputation.
These will take time to become reliable and will need a lot of experimentation and refinement. The most successful bloggers tend to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket by creating multiple income streams.
Some monetization methods can be simply signed up for, such as affiliate and advertising programs. Others involve the addition of services, digital products or merchandise that you can provide.
See a run-through of each below.
Become an affiliate marketer by creating links to products on other websites. There are a surprising number of websites with affiliate programs that you can sign-up for. Amongst the biggest are Amazon, Etsy and eBay.
You can sign-up for ad networks such as Google’s AdSense, which allows other relevant sites to advertise on yours. You can also create your own opportunities for advertisers, such as newsletter features, sponsored posts, directories and competitions. You may even be approached about such opportunities as digital marketers seek out links from sites like yours.
If you have the time and resource and your content is proving to be popular, you could create premium versions for sale. For instance, an app to compliment your website, eBooks, tutorials, member newsletters and more. You could even branch out into services by offering expert advice and tuition, or going freelance and doing some copywriting or design for clients inspired by your work. Some big bloggers even host events and seminars.
You may have setup your blog to promote an existing business. Therefore, the content you create must be relevant, current and target search queries for the businesses’ target market. Perhaps there is some existing keyword research from the business site you can look at. If not, analyse the businesses’ website and perform some keyword and trends research before you start blogging. The idea here is drive conversions for the existing business, making your blog profitable in a less direct way, but as part of an SEO or content marketing strategy for the business website.
We hate to say “break the mould” but it’s your blog and your own ideas really do count. Only you know what you are passionate about and have the resource and capability to do. Some bloggers create their own types of membership for paid access to certain content, some take donations, sell blogs or build forums. Think about how else your blog can offer real value to the user and they could become your customer.
So, there you have it. Hopefully, we took some of the mystery out of blog monetization. Blogs really are large time-consuming projects which is why we strongly advise having realistic expectations when it comes to competition, demand and time. Ideally, your blog needs to be something you are passionate about or knowledgeable in, which means you could be naturally working on something you enjoy, rather than slogging away at something you are more likely to give-up on and quit.