I met up with a friend recently who is a very successful blogger. However this person is not entirely happy with the money they make from their site. Rave reviews, big links, great media attention, huge RSS following, tons of social media attention, but their income is not on par with the rest of the blogger’s success.
Aside – I love meeting up with bloggers. Very invigorating, motivating, great conversation and it’s so much fun to talk about the business end of blogging for hours on end. Must do this more often.
We chatted about ways for her to make more money from the blog and although I can’t claim any real expertise in that field – I certainly have a lot of ideas. Please note that I’ve added some suggestions which don’t apply to my friend’s blog.
Some of my suggestions are things I’ve covered on this blog and others were more specific to this one blog, but might apply to your blog as well.
Don’t be an image or regular reader slave
One problem that a lot of bloggers have is that they will blog in a certain style and then are afraid to change that style because they don’t want to lose their regular readers or the respect of other bloggers or journalists. There is nothing wrong with this thinking and I’ve certainly had these thoughts as well, but we have to keep in mind the following:
- Regular readers are not paying customers*. It doesn’t matter how much love passes between you and your loyal following, the amount of money passing from them to you is indirectly proportional to the amount of that love. In other words – you don’t make money from regular readers. Don’t be a slave to your regular readers. If you need to change things to make money, make the changes.
- Journalists get paid by an employer. A journalist who works for a newspaper gets paid a salary or per piece – either way, they don’t have to worry so much about how much money an article will make. Bloggers operate under a different compensation scheme where they do have to worry about how much money a post will make and therefore shouldn’t compare themselves to journalists. Bloggers aren’t better or worse than journalists, we play a different game than they do. Just because journalists don’t write affiliate posts doesn’t mean they have more integrity – it means they get paid in different ways.
*This is true in financial blogging. However, it might not be true in your blogging topic.
How do you make money now?
Take a look at how you make money now. Whether it’s from CPM ads, Adsense, affiliates – make sure you know which posts are generating the money. Can you determine any kinds of trends? In my case (financial blog), I tend to get more search engine traffic and make more money on posts that are very financial in nature and tend to be somewhat specific with useful information.
If you write about topics that are too general (ie spend less than you earn), there is too much competition in the search engines. Writing about how you transferred your ABC investment account to a new bank is far more specific and is more likely to get search traffic. Providing useful information helps – is your topic just you whining about a bad interaction you had with a phone rep (useless) or are you providing a definitive solution for someone with a similar issue that you had (useful).
If you can get a sense of what kind of posts make money and which ones don’t – then the way to make more money is….wait for it….do more of the money making posts and less of the other kind. Obvious conclusion I know – the key is to spend the time to figure out which posts make the money and understand why.
How do your more succe$$ful colleagues make money?
Take a look at your friend’s blog who make more money than you. What are they doing different? Are they writing on online diary about what they had for breakfast and how depressed they are because of debt? Or are they providing well-researched useful content?
How can I make money from this post?
It’s easy to write about topics that interest you. That’s fun and makes for a great hobby (more on this later). However, if you are trying to build a business, one factor you should be thinking about when choosing your topics is how will they make money. Will it do well with Adsense (or whatever your main advertising method is)? Are there affiliate opportunities? Does it tie in with a paid product that you offer?
Become an expert
I remember Jesse Mecham from YNAB saying last year in Denver that the people who do well with affiliates are ones that really get into the product, become an expert and write a lot about it. This applies to pretty much every topic. If you write a fluff piece that takes 30 minutes to write, I’m willing to bet there is no useful information (other than obvious generalities) in that post and it won’t make any money at all. However, if you spend a lot of time getting more knowledgeable on that topic – then you can write several articles on more specific aspects that are probably more unique and have a much better chance of making money.
Articles that require research take more time, but generally make more money. Would you rather spend 10 hours writing 15 articles that make a total of $5 per month? Or spend 10 hours writing two very useful articles which make a total of $20 per month? What’s that? Your regular readers expect N posts per week? To hell with them – if they aren’t willing to pay a subscription fee, then they will take whatever content you choose to give them. It’s your business – run it the best way you see fit.
Try to monetize existing search engine traffic with a paid product
Your best opportunity for making money is from search engine traffic. If you have a post that gets good search traffic and makes good advertising dollars, then you are probably set. But can you make more? What if you have a post or series of posts that get a lot of search traffic, but the advertising money isn’t that great?
In my friend’s case, she has a series of posts on one topic which gets a lot of search traffic. The Adsense money is decent, but there is likely untapped earning potential in those posts.
Basically the series is a bunch of ‘how to’ posts which also include templates and spreadsheets which can downloaded for free.
Don’t give away files
My first suggestion is to stop giving away the free templates and spreadsheets. They don’t help with search traffic, so just start charging. Companies like Paypal, e-Junkie can handle this sort of thing. You have absolutely nothing to lose by charging for file downloads.
Create a e-book
Think about creating an e-book which will cover all the posts in the series as well as include the template/spreadsheet files. This shouldn’t be all that hard to do, since the main material is already done. Put up some graphics and test some prices and see what happens. Again, not much to lose especially if you don’t spend a ton of time on this project.
Don’t worry about the number of pages or word count – it’s an e-book built for one specific topic and as long as it covers the subject material adaquately, then it will be useful.
See if there is any demand
On my site, I have a lot of posts about RESPs and ended up writing a book on this topic. It’s a decent seller, but I would like to explore more ways to make money. I created a small ebook on how to deal with RESP withdrawals which is a very important topic, but it doesn’t sell because most people who make withdrawals from RESPs have no idea that they need help. As much as I want to help those people (and make $$), I can’t connect with someone who isn’t looking for help.
Most people who are looking for RESP help want to set up an account. What I need to do is create an e-book which will just cover that topic.
Create a course
Depending on the topic, an online course might be appropriate. For example, Steve from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com created an online course on how to set up an e-commerce store. He knew there was a demand for this course, because a lot of people would ask him for help on this very topic.
A full-blown course would likely take a lot of time to build. My suggestion is to just create a series of mini-courses. For example if you are setting up a course in ‘how to invest for dummies’, one topic might cover choosing a discount brokerage. Maybe create a course on just that topic which will include a video, text, spreadsheet? and charge an appropriate amount. In the end you might have 12 different “sections” for this course which will take a long time to create, but if you break it down into small segments it will be easier. Plus you can guage the market for this offering. If there are no bites on the mini-courses, that isn’t a good sign for your idea.
Test your ideas
You can build a field and see if they will come. Or you can just tell people you built a field and count how many people ask for directions. If you have a post(s) which would be a good platform to sell a product – test out some ads on those posts and see if anyone clicks. Send them to a page which explains that the product isn’t ready, but enter an email and you’ll let them know when it is. If nobody clicks on your ad, then something needs to change. It’s a lot easier to rewrite or even kill a book/course that hasn’t been created yet.
Look for indirect money opportunities in posts
If you have a hard time writing posts to make money, then try adding money opportunities to new or existing posts. For example you might write a post about something which probably won’t make any money for you. How about mentioning that you paid for XYZ experience with your ABC credit card and link to an affiliate page? Yes, it’s still an ad, but it’s not so intrusive.
Don’t like promoting credit cards? How about talking about the one(s) you have in your wallet and why you choose them? The reality is that most people have credit cards and providing good information on the best cards is doing your readers a favour. Anyone who complains should be duly ignored.
Write about your own experience with products/services related to your blog topic. Nobody can criticize you for that.
Look at the SERPs
If you have a post that ranks high for certain keywords – type those words into Google and see what your link looks like. Are the title and description what you want? What do your competitors links look like? Are they doing anything special?
Are you running a business or a hobby?
[This topic didn’t come up in our conversation, but it’s something I think about a lot when blogging.]
I really enjoy writing and one thing I try to ask myself when it comes time to pick a post topic is “Am I writing this post to make money or am I writing it for my enjoyment?”. If you are trying to make money from your blog, obviously you have to be willing and able to write posts that will make money.
Writing a post that will make money means you are working on building your business. Writing a post that you know won’t make money means you are working on your hobby.
It’s up to you you how much of your blog time you want to spend building the business or working on your hobby, but it’s important to differentiate the two. Personally, I like to do both.
Here is a list of articles on this site on How to make more money blogging.