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
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.
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.
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
Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.
Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.
With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.
Diversity of Content is Key
If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.
How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”
Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To
In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.
Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.
Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.
Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.
Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power
Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.
This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.
Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content
Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.
In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.
There are five primary reasons we share content:
- To bring value and entertainment to our friends
- To define ourselves to our friends
- To grow and nourish our relationships
- To feel more involved in the world
- To support a cause
Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).
But Balance Is Key
Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.
Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.
According to RuthAnn Wiesner, "if content is king, then Instagram is its own castle". As to why Instagram matters that much for business, here is a list of reasons compiled by Socialbakers:
- 300million monthly active users (MAU)
- 75million daily active users (DAU)
- Top 25 Instagram brand profiles receive 110 times more engagement than on Twitter
- Over 1Billion Likes Daily
- 3,600 new photos shared every minute everyday
Instagram Insights for Business
The visual platform itself is proving to be a good marketing tool for marketers and brands alike. As of August 2016, Instagram announced its release of Stories, aiming to take a swipe at Snapchat´s successful video messaging tool. In short, a platform that features plenty of opportunities for small and medium-sized business and just about any brand looking for a return on investment for their efforts.
Getting Your "Insta" Stories for Your Business
To get it up and running you need an "insta" business account. You can create one from scratch or upgrade your personal one. To upgrade, click the turn wheel icon in the upper right section of your profile and hit "switch". Warning: personal accounts can’t benefit from Stories at the moment.
Benefits of Insta Stories
Is there anything else besides the fresh social marketing perspective? You bet!
Stories allows your business account to be easily discovered by followers and non-followers. You also get access to Analytics, which gives a better insight to what works and what converts across your visual strategy.
Insta Tips and Tricks
It’s all about creating engagement and a sense of community with your followers. To do that, you need to transform your Instagram business channel into a visual storyteller. Here is what you can consider:
- Show personality
- Less is more: keep it 80% non-business and just 20% products/services
- Have call to action elements
- Follow back and engage
- Comment on other users’ photos
- Tag customers for contests and celebrations
- Use hashtags
- Say thank you
- Don’t over-abuse the Direct Messaging options J
The Greatness of Community
Additionally, photograph events and capture video with customers interacting with your products and services. Do not forget call to action elements such as life hacks, product reviews or suggestions for upcoming product launches, promotions and giveaways. Implicate your community members!
Getting Help from the Popular Kids
Follow back, engage and comment with #influencers of Instagram. Tagging users is a great conversation starter, however don’t overuse it.
There is no limit now for using hashtags, but don’t overdo it either, as it sends out the wrong message. Alas, keep the hashtags relevant. Don’t use only the hashtags that get massive clicks, but also the ones that get less, but more targeted traffic.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram Photos
Instagram is all about the "instant" visual: image, video and now story. How you choose to tell your story is more relevant than you think. This blog post from Yotpo showcases the uniqueness of "insta" stories:
- Instagram photos convert better than other types of visual content
- Instagram pics also convert because customer trust photos from previous customers
- Using Instagram has a positive effect on increasing e-comm conversion and engagement
- Instagram photos can be used in marketing materials
- Using Instagram photos allows you to repurpose valuable content, integrate user-generated content
Additional Practices and Curation Tools
To get a grasp of how existing businesses are succeeding, first check the Business Instagram page. Proceed by giving a chance to either of these curation tools to help you filter through stories, or to create better, more appealing stories for your insta business.
This is an Android and iOS photo-editing mobile app with high quality filters, with a free download button. You can use this part social network and photo editing platform to really set yourself apart from the rest.
Available on both iOS and Android OS, this is more than just your average photo editing mobile app. You can fine-tune photos by applying effects with a brush instead of filtering the entire image. Extra: save groups of filters as a template after the initial use, and reuse them Shakira style, "whenever, wherever".
This is an in-house Instagram goody, which allows you to create 1-second videos with no audio. Essentially super short GIFS that loop back and forth. Vinederful, in a way.
Before You Go…
Bottom line: Instagram is more than just a photo-editing & social sharing tool, proving that businesses can convert and strategize through the power of visual. One perfect example of insta success is National Geographic. Thanks to a large network of photographers their images never fail to tell a great story.
Not sure about your own Instagram marketing strategy? This infographic illustrates elements you can integrate for higher success rate.