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

Your Blog with an Eye on the Needed SEO (Right from the Start)

We all know that we need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) whether we are experts or not (or whether we want to be experts or not!). So, how do we start a new blog, equipped with the needed SEO foundations, without losing our head or losing our enjoyment of creating the blog?

Let’s discuss that!

A blog is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools you have at your disposal, but only if you know how to reach your target audience. Blogging is one of the quickest ways to increase your following and build your brand.

Even though there are millions of blogs online, it’s easy to make yours stand out even in the midst of the competition. In fact, even if you are like me and already have quite a few blogs online, that doesn’t mean that you cannot venture out and create yet another unique and brilliant blog!

We could probably sit down and list all of the fun aspects of the creation of that new blog, especially if it is one for which we feel passion. However, if no one is listening, it can get a bit lonely, eh? That is why it is so important to ensure that we are getting the word out, or more accurately, that we are drawing traffic to our blog, so that we have that audience.

By having that audience, it can help us to grow our passion even more and that will come out in the quality of the content that we produce on our blog. What is one of the most foundational aspects to growing that audience? It is ensuring that our blog is SEO optimized, right out of the starting gate.

Ok, have I really told you something that you don’t already know? After all, that is likely one of the reasons that you visit seochat.com, eh?

Ok, back to our topic… we can always “get the word out” at intermittent, strategic, and/or consistent intervals (preferably), but if we don’t start with a blog that has the basics, when it comes to SEO, we have a lot more work ahead of us. And, who wants to work when we can be producing content with all that brilliant passion, instead?

So, let’s get it started correctly, eh? In other words, it is easier to work “smart” than to work “hard,” right?

Getting Started… First Steps

Getting your blog up and running is much easier than one may think. In less than 30 minutes, you can have your blog up and running. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look and see how we can set up a blog in a few quick steps. Then, we will come back and talk a bit more about that SEO.

Choosing a Platform or Approach

Deciding where you want to create your blog is step one. If you are looking to save money, WordPress.com is an option. By far, it’s the largest blogging platform in the world, with an endless array of plugins and add-ons. You pretty much have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to designing your blog. There is also an option to host a WordPress installation in a self-hosted environment.

To Host or Not to Host (Also, To Register or Not to Register… a Domain)

Before we go any further, you need to decide whether you want to self-host or go with a free alternative. While there are pros and cons of both options, take note that with a free service, you won’t be able to have your own domain name.

If you are just blogging for fun, that’s okay, but for businesses trying to make a name for themselves, it is much better to go with a paid service where you can “own” your domain. (Technically, you are registering a domain name and leasing it, but many times people confuse that with ownership and it is called “owning” a domain, in slang terms.)

Along with SEO, this (“owning of the domain”) can increase website traffic by leaps and bounds. You see, having your own domain establishes your brand and your credibility. It helps to build trust in your business.

Design Your Blog

Designing the blog is where you get to choose your theme. Before jumping in with both feet, think about your business and what type of vibe you want people to get when visiting your blog. While creativity is key, you want to make sure whichever theme you choose goes hand in hand with your product and/or the service you will provide.

Even if the service is “only” the delivery of content (no shame in that!), it is still a service and the delivery of the product of your digital content. So, keep that in mind when deciding what you want your site to look like.

For an excellent in-depth discussion of these topics, visit this article on setting up your blog: “How to Start a Blog.” Then, come back here and we will continue our discussion on getting those SEO foundational blocks in place.

SEO is King

After you have set up your blog and brainstormed some ideas of what you want to blog about, it’s time to hone in on SEO. Remember, we are still putting together the framework for our search engine optimization foundation even as we build our blog (site), so this is just the right time to do it, remember?

Like we said earlier, SEO is what brings visitors to your blog. It is what keeps the conversation going. It is essential to your success as a blogger, as a publisher of digital content.

Due to the fact that every blog post you write actually becomes a web page, you need to make the most of the SEO opportunity. Write about keyword-rich topics that you would search for online if you were a consumer. SEO is far more than a few strategically placed words throughout your blog.

It is a matter of knowing which words to use, and when. It is also a case of knowing why these keywords and keyword phrases work so well (in drawing traffic). Now, use that knowledge!

The Successful Strategy and Use of Keywords

When used properly, keywords (and keyword phrases) should have the following characteristics:

  • They are only used a handful of times in your post. Overkill of keywords will only have your post flagged as spam by Google.
  • They flow naturally throughout the conversation of the blog post.
  • They are a combination of several words or a single word that directly relates to what you are blogging about in that post (or series of posts).

Continuing Your Success

In the world of online marketing, your focus needs to be on developing a relationship with your visitors. Proper and strategic use of SEO can get the traffic to the site, but you also need to ensure that you keep your audience combing back to the blog/site for more brilliant and entertaining digital content.

This is done through your effective relationship-building process and keeping the conversation going. That is why a well-written blog combined with strategically placed keywords, combined with that personality of YOU, will help build your online reputation and over time, increase traffic to your website. It is like a well-oiled circle. Then again, who oils circles?

4 Of the Most Destructive (And Common) Blogging Tips You’ve Ever Heard

Did you know that the majority of blogs become inactive within 100 days after creation?

I believe this is because the owners don’t realize what makes a blog successful. In fact, I had a client who believed it would be easy to make money on the Internet, and all she needed to do, was to quickly whip up a website. After four years of throwing money to freelancers to help her, she finally admitted defeat.

I’m not sure what happened to her, but I know of many people like her. I’ve also analyzed the content of a stack of small business websites, and the following fatal blogging tips are rampant.

Description: b2b-content-marketing-statistics-2015-10.png
Blogging is not easy, contrary to a common misconception.
Here you can see what most bloggers struggle with.
Image Credit: SocialMediaB2B

Don’t be amongst those blogs who close shop 100 days after starting because they didn’t know what blogging entailed. And please never listen to the "experts" who advise you to do these four things to get more blog traffic:

#1: Just add lots of content, often

When I first started dabbling in online marketing several years ago, I was told that in order to get traffic to my website, I would need to add content. Often.

Which is what I did.

But to my shame, the content was of no real value. I don’t know what I was thinking! Somehow, whoever it was who dispensed the "just add content" recipe to me, neglected to mention that it needed to add some kind of value for my readers.

It’s no wonder it never got shared or commented on, and my website’s bounce rate was high.

I see the same trend today, specifically with small businesses who go online. They add content – any content – to try get more traffic, not realizing that not only is their brand at stake, but so are their search rankings, because search engines look for quality, value-add content to match to user’s searches.

And trust me, search engines have algorithms in place to determine whether content is crap or not.

Brian Dean from Backlinko, expert blogger, says that, "Blogging today is 110% about quality…not quantity."

Just adding content – any content – will not get your blog more traffic, or result in more business.

#2: Stuff in keywords wherever you can

In days gone by, when search engines were still collecting themselves, website owners cottoned on to stuffing keywords in wherever they could. And then search engines got clever and wiped those websites far into the abyss of no return.

Yes, your blog needs keywords to rank higher in search engines and therefore get more traffic, but keywords need to be included in content in a natural way, making it easy for people to read.

My suggestion would be to use SEOChat’s free related keywords tool and then go on over to Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that have low competition, but high search volume.

Add a keyword naturally into:

  • The title of your post
  • The URL of the post
  • H1 header tags
  • In the first 100 words of your content
  • Sprinkled throughout your content, every 150 or so words
  • In the category of the post
  • In links to other authority sites
  • In image descriptions

When you stuff keywords in content, search engines will not promote your blog. And visitors will click away pronto.

#3: Hire cheap writers to churn out more content, fast

There is great demand on freelance writing websites like Upwork, but you get what you pay for, and since getting more blog traffic is not about churning out content just for the sake of content, when you hire cheap writers for your blog, you’re going to get not only badly written content, but it won’t be SEO optimized, or provide value to your readers.

All the top websites understand this, and pay about $266 or more for one blog post. When you consider that writers on sites like Upwork, charge from about $10 for a blog post, you can start to understand why the quality would be so poor.

So. Perhaps you pay $10 for someone to write you a blog post. But that post can actually damage your search engine ranking because of bounce rate (people come to your site, see crap content, and immediately leave). It will also damage your reputation, and most users will not convert. And so I ask you: why are you wasting money on bad writing? What is it benefiting you?

If you’re not a good writer, for goodness sake, hire a decent one who understands your target audience and optimizes the content, or just stop blogging.

And read Neil Patel’s step by step guide to creating a money-making blog. His advice is sound, and since he is the master of online marketing, he knows a thing or two on this subject.

By the way, while we’re on the subject of Neil Patel, when you check out his post, have a look at the quality of it, and how it’s all laid out. It’s popular because he only writes content that is helpful to his audience. Do your best to emulate the style he uses, but adapt it for your niche.

#4: Add stock photos to attract attention

Somewhere, you heard that images in blog posts attract attention. That would be right.

But. And it’s a very big "but": stock photos just don’t cut it anymore. They’re boring, fake and your readers can’t relate to them. It’s a psychological thing.

Description: lame-corporate-people.png
A cheesy, fake and ineffective stock image…what business people do you know who do this?!
Image Credit: WebMeUp

To do justice to your blog by attracting attention and leading to higher conversions, images need to:

  • Be of high quality.
  • If your blog centers around an online store, make sure your product images are clear and show enough detail and offer as many views as possible.
  • Images must be relevant to the content. They should support the text and not simply be added for the sake of adding an image.
  • Add image descriptions that titillate, because people’s eyes draw to images first. If the description creates curiosity, they are more likely to keep reading, and this is good for SEO, and conversions.
  • Be sure to compress images so that they don’t slow down your site.

Fatal advice summed up

If you’re going to blog, you may as well do it right. Unfortunately, doing it right means it’s going to take time.

But if you don’t do it right, you’ll lose business and opportunities.

To sum up, let’s reverse the four most common and destructive blogging tips:

  1. Add blogging content that rocks. Help people want to share it because it resonates with them.
  2. Use keywords naturally, and strategically.
  3. Hire writers who may charge more, but will get your blog better results.
  4. Add images that are relevant and support the point you’re trying to get across in your content.