How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro

Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.

Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.

If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.

Get Your Toolbox in Order

Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:

  • Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
  • Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
  • If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option

salesmate

Don’t Begin Right Away

This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.

The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.

Join AdSense

Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.

Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.

Use Affiliate Programs

Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.

The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.

You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.

Don’t forget that for both affiliate links and sponsored reviews you should use a proper disclaimer not to lose your readers’ trust and to be in-line with the US laws (and Google).

Optimize Your Search Ranking

You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income.

Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.

Open a Shop

Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.

Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.

Release an Ebook

Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.

Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.

Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.

Become a Speaker or Consultant

Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.

Offer Freelancing Services

Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.

Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.

Start a Class or Series

Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.

Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.

It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity

To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.

Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments

Color Theory in Display Advertising

Advertising online has been a tricky business for awhile. Unlike traditional advertising, which can be slow to adapt, the Internet is always changing and attempting to find more ways to attract its core audience. Sometimes the shifts in tone will be so extreme that you will be shocked that they actually worked.

It definitely isn’t your grandpa’s marketing.

Color has a unique plan in advertising. In fact, it may be one of the most important elements to it.

Color and The Human Brain

All species have a reaction to color. Red may signify danger, green food, others help enhance movement or let prey ward off predators. As human beings, we come from the same evolutionary perspective. We also react to color, but on a much deeper scale.

Humans will connect on an emotional level with color schemes. Which is why it is so important to find the right one when branding. Advertisements, logos, promotional content, and designs are all impacted by the colors we choose.

When you select the right colors to match the tone of your ad, you will be able to improve results.

Display Advertising Color Tools

1. Bannersnack

Bannersnack

Bannersnack is a comprehensive platform allowing you to design and monitor your display marketing creatives.

Not only will it let you create amazing banners but it will also allow you to manage your display advertising (Facebook, Adwords, etc) from one place.

You can create static, animated HTML5 and interactive banner ads using Bannersnack advanced visual editor.

2. Photocopa

Photocopa

This tool lets you generate color palette based on any picture you upload. This is a very useful tool when you want to match your banner to your logo or a social media branding:

3. Color Contrast Analyzer (Google Chrome)

Color Contrast Analyzer

This extension allows you to analyze color contrast on web pages. Unlike other color contrast analyzers, this one assesses text within images and reports how well your text overlay can be seen (especially to people with poor eyesight)

Using Color To Improve Your Brand Recognition

There are some colors that are immediately associated with a certain brand. Red and orange to match the clown mascot with McDonalds. Blue, orange and white for Walmart. Black, silver and gold for Chrysler. These are iconic.

In the case of your own brand, you may or may not reach those levels of recognition (every major corporation had to start somewhere). But you can at least lodge yourself into the brain of consumers by selecting the right colors for your brand.

Triggering Emotional Responses In Customers

Emotional Responses In Customers

Goal is important when choosing colors for ads. Of course you want conversions, so put that out of your head and assume it is a given. A better focus is triggering an emotional response that will make the customer want your product.

Your logo is going to be separate from this task. It will already feature on any banner ads, promotional materials, designs, commercials, etc., that you post on the web. And it doesn’t matter if it “clashes” with ad colors, because that will only make it stand out more.

That doesn’t mean you can’t match your ad and your logo. Just that it should be a secondary concern.

When choosing an ad, start by deciding what feeling to put off. Do you want your customers to think of your product as something that will put them at ease? That will pump them up? That will help them live a healthier lifestyle? That will make them more trendy? That will put them on the cutting edge? That will make them happy?

Try to think of two or three adjectives relevant to the focus of your ad. Then begin incorporating it into your advertising.

  1. Red – As the boldest of the colors, red is a great attention grabber. But it is also aggressive. While customers will take notice, they may not respond in the way you want them to. Different tones of red, making it brighter or darker, may blunt that in-your-face feeling, and make it a bit more moldable to your brand. Unless the idea of your ad is to be extreme, in which case a bright red can really get the job done.
  2. Green – Earthy and natural, green is a big promoter of health, wellness, wealth, and growth. It is perfect for any product or brand that centers itself around those concepts. Which is why it is the most commonly used color in natural supplements like vitamins and weight loss products. Anything that aims to promote forward motion and progress is perfect for green.
  3. Blue – The most calm and tranquil of all of the colors, medical centers are especially apt at using blue for their services. It elicits emotions of trust, peace and serenity, like floating on a gentle ocean, or looking up at a clear sky. When put with other mild shades, such as white, it is further softened. But paired with darker shades, like black, it can take on a harder edge. Tech companies that need to show their machines as dependable are often seen using blue in their ads.
  4. Yellow – Bright and bubbly, yellow is the happiest and most optimistic of all colors. That extends to its more passionate, playful cousin, orange. Both can give your advertisement a sense of importance and cheer that catches the customer’s attention, and makes them feel positive about the product.
  5. Purple – Regal and rich, purple is the color that best promotes luxury and suave-cool. It is also a color used to represent intelligence and wisdom, appealing to customers as a symbol of the power of the mind. It is a highly sophisticated tone.
  6. White and Black – Balance is an important part of advertising, and when using black and white you have to take care to strike that balance. In some instances both can be used to great effect, but too much of either can really damage your message. Think of both as enhancers, not straight themes. If you do need to do with a contrast, try grayscale instead. And make sure you are using it properly… these shades on their own, even in moderate gray, can come off as depressing to many customers.

Examples of Color In Advertising

Target

Target banner ads

Target uses bright red to advertise based around a theme. Being a bullseye in their logo, the harsh combo of red and white work to give it a bold look that works for the brand.

Home Depot

Home Depot banner ads

Home Depot goes with an orange advertising theme, and it works well. It speaks of work and progression and optimism. Something that many people feel when undertaking home projects.

Milka

Milka banner ads

Purple is the color used by chocolate company Milka. It signifies the rich of their food product, and shows them off as a luxury brand.

Do you have an example of how color was used successfully in advertising or branding? Let us know in the comments!

Why Data Will Boost Your Marketing Effectiveness

We develop blindness towards all sorts of advertising. When first introduced online, banner ads achieved a 50-90% CTR. Now the majority of people can’t stand them. Marketing effectiveness demands a change.

It’s not so much that various methods of marketing are inherently ineffective. It’s just that people get used to them, so marketers need to innovate. Data-driven marketing is one result of this ever-present need for change.

Why You Need to Have Data-Driven Marketing

The proliferation of information in our time might lead you to believe that companies are using data all the time in their marketing. However, they are not.

The Harvard Business Review reports that while infographics are now fairly standard, very few of them portray data that tells an original story. Marketers tend to use data for their own decision-making, but not for creating content that adds value to their customers.

That’s really too bad because the insight data offers can be quite interesting and even enriching. Solid, data-driven content gives your company credibility. If you have reliable facts backing up your opinions, people will see you as trustworthy. Another advantage is that your own knowledge will increase as you share information with other influencers.

Data can also have a lot of power simply from the fact that much content on the internet is mediocre. If your content has integrity—if it is original and accurate—it will stand out.

The companies that are best at marketing with data use it to appeal to people’s emotions. They present their data in format that is interesting to look at (hence the popularity of infographics), and ideally they put the information in the context of a story.

If-youre-a-brand-publisher-feat Quote source

For the Google Trends “Year in Search 2015,” Google did an amazing job at turning data into a compelling story. The company presented the top searches of the year through a brief video. The opening text says, “In 2015 the questions we asked revealed who we are.”

The video goes on to show the questions people searched, such as “how can i help the refugees” and “how can we overcome prejudice,” interspersing the questions with pertinent footage from the year. The video used data not only to tell the individual stories behind the searches but also to tie them together into a larger narrative of unity within diversity.

Data Dangers

Businesses run into trouble implementing data effectively for a number of reasons. First, there is simply an overwhelming amount of it. It can be difficult to know how to sort through and productively utilize all of a company’s accessible information.

Another potential pitfall is that sometimes those in charge incorrectly estimate the costs of gathering data. Sometimes information isn’t gathered correctly or analyzed thoroughly, and often there is poor or no communication across departments.

Silos are in fact a significant challenge to success, especially in larger companies. The larger a company grows, the greater the challenge to be unified and to communicate well about any goal. It’s also easy for businesses to lose sight of their goals if they are not relying on data for what their priorities should be and whether or not they are sidetracked from them.

It is critical to remember that data is not a solution in and of itself; it needs to be reliable. Kimberly Whitler of Forbes states, “If the data is bad—disorganized, incomplete, inconsistent, out of date—then the resulting decisions will be bad, too.” That’s why it’s important to have people at your company who understand how to find, analyze, and organize trustworthy data.

How to Leverage Data Effectively

As you seek to leverage data-driven content for your business, there are some specific principles you should keep in mind.

First, be strategic. Choose your data team carefully; it’s extremely valuable to have people from different departments and perspectives. Have a clear idea of your goals and KPIs so that you are mining your data with purpose.

Know the best channels to tap for the data you’re trying to attain. Is your audience primarily on Twitter? Then don’t waste time gathering information from Facebook or Instagram. Have good analytics models in place, as well as metrics with which to measure your results.

It should go without saying that your data should be as accurate as possible. Once you’ve collected enough information, use it to build customer personas that will lead to customer-focused content. Avoid silos by having cross-company goals, and evaluate and re-evaluate the data as you collect it.

Remember, data is most interesting and valuable to your customers when it is presented with visually appealing, quality content. Fortunately, quality content is exactly what Google is looking for and is one of the main ways you can get Google to index your site.

Neil Patel notes that having a blog is one important way to increase site traffic: “websites with blogs get an average of 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.”

Good content is interesting enough on its own, but having evidence to back up the content makes your position even more powerful. It’s also worth observing that Patel uses multiple infographics throughout his article, making use of their widespread appeal.

People Crave Insight into the World

People love to learn new information, especially if that information tells them something about who they are and is presented in a fresh way. Effective data-driven content will boost the power of your marketing because of its ability to make the truth interesting.

GrowMap
Gail Gardner is the Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap.com
GrowMap

Latest posts by GrowMap