Are you ready to start making money with your blog? You’re here, so let’s assume the answer is yes.
What does that mean? Well, monetization means sales. It also means your blog isn’t just a blog anymore; it’s a business. Moreover, one that will generate sales.
So let’s get this show on the road! Your kickoff strategy will need to encompass three things: 1) laying the foundation; 2) deciding what to sell; and 3) deciding how to sell it. In this article, we will provide a general overview of the first two. The third will be the discussed in the future post.
Laying the Foundation
At this stage, it is helpful to start thinking of your blog as a store. As the store’s owner, your success hinges on getting customers inside your store, keeping them in the store long enough to find something they need or want, encouraging and facilitating a sale, making them want to return. This is what I mean by establishing the foundation. Let’s walk through it and you will see what I mean.
- Get customers in the store = Drive traffic to your site. You need visitors to know you are there and visit your site. This happens predominantly through SEO.
- Keep them in the store long enough to find something they need or want = Minimize your bounce rate. Page rank will only get you so far. In other words, there’s not much point in getting visitors if they leave (bounce out) as soon as they get there. There are lots of strategies for minimizing bounce rate but you can start with the cornerstones: know your audience and provide them with valuable and meaningful content that is visually appealing, well-organized and easy to find.
- Convince them to buy = Provide information and calls to action
- Make customers want to return = Build a following, Building a following is essentially an extension of number 2. You need a following in order to grow your audience (customer base) and get repeat sales. Unlike site hits, followings cannot be bought. They are earned through trust-building and continually providing new, worthwhile, high-quality content.
Bottom line: A store cannot be profitable in the long run without doing all four these things, and neither can a blog.
Deciding What To Sell
As discussed before, making money with your blog (monetization) means making sales. Thus, one of the first things you need to decide is what you are going to sell. There are many, many different things you sell on your blog. Most fit into one of the following broad categories:
- Products and services (third party)
- Products and services (your own)
- The blog itself
We’ll put off talking about the final category (the blog itself) for the time being. For purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the other three categories so you can start thinking about which makes the most sense for your blog.
This category includes banner ads, sidebar ads, pop up window, paid directory listings, audio ads, video ads, and on and on. There is three main pricing model. The most common model for small- to medium-sized bloggers is Pay-Per-Click (PPC). With this model, the advertiser pays the blog owner each time someone clicks on the ad. Another model is Pay-Per-Mile (PPM). With PPM, the blogger is paid per 1,000 impressions (views) of the ad. Then there is a third model in which the advertiser pays a flat fee, set by the blogger, to basically rent advertising space on the blog. This type of arrangement is usually reserved for highly successful blogs with large followings. There is a lot of advertising that you consider like Adsense, Bidvertiser, Outbrain, Adblade, Popads, Revcontent, etc.
Products and/or Services (Third Party)
This category is commonly known as affiliate marketing. At its core, affiliate marketing is a form of advertising, but there are enough unique characteristics associated with it that it merits its own category.
Briefly, affiliate marketing involves placing clickable ads on a blog for products sold by an online retailer, such as Amazon or Wayfair. In this way, it is not much different than the PPC and PPM advertising models. It is dissimilar in that the blogger is paid per sale. In other words, the blogger is only paid by the advertiser if the blog visitor buys the item from the retailer after clicking the ad. For this reason, the pricing model is also known as PPA, price per acquisition.
The other main dissimilarity between PPC/PPM model and affiliate marketing is the degree to which the blogger is identified with the product being advertised. Successful affiliate marketers treat every product they promote as if it were their own. I
Products and Services (Your Own)
Some bloggers use their sites to promote and sell their own products and/or services. Do you have something to sell? Specialized templates, WordPress themes, software, books, crafts, art—the list is endless. However, the item in this category that is currently gaining the most steam, and therefore worth a little more to discuss, is expertise.
The market for on-demand, specialized knowledge represents a huge revenue opportunity. If you intend to sell expertise, your blog is where you will establish your credibility and authority on a particular topic. This is known as an authority blog.
One of the most common ways to commoditize expertise is through the sale of digital information products. If you have an authority blog, you are already providing valuable information in the form of free content. If it is something other people need or want, you can start selling premium-level content as an extension of your regular content. This can take the form of ebooks, infographics, tutorials, how-to-guides, cheat sheets, online courses, and so forth.
You can also provide memberships which give your customers special access to forums, premium content, coaching, webinars, and a variety of other things your audience needs and is willing to pay for.
Did any of the above sound easy? If so, I must not have explained it very well. The truth is that it takes time, determination, intelligence, and patience to build a successful blog. In other words, if you were expecting it to be as simple as buying search results and putting ads in your sidebar, you should consider an expectation reset. A blog is not a get-rich-quick scheme. However, you can make a good income if you put in the effort.