8 Secrets From High-Earning Bloggers to Turn Your Blog Into a Goldmine
Has anyone ever told you that you can’t make money from a blog?
You’ve probably heard this pretty often, maybe even from yourself. A lot of people seem to think it’s a myth that blogging can bring in real income – even though it’s 2016 and thousands of people are doing just that. It’s totally possible to make serious money, even enough to live on, from a blog.In fact, some blogs bring in incredible revenue. Pat Flynn’s blog Smartpassiveincome.com earned $115,041.12 in only one month this summer. It’s an extreme example, sure, but it shows there’s no reason you can’t cut a profit from your own blog.The thing is, no matter how good your content is, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t know how to monetize.
There are no guarantees of overnight success, but if you understand the in’s and out’s of online marketing you’ll be enjoying the results in no time.Here I’m sharing the top secrets from high-earning bloggers that will help you turn your blog into a steady stream of revenue.
Make a business plan for your blog
If you treat your blog like a hobby, it will stay a hobby.If you treat it like a business, you’re going places.Every profitable business needs an effective business plan and your blog is no exception.First, be clear on your mission: what do you want to achieve and what resource do you need? Think about your vision, and about your audience. Lay down your objectives. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Big picture stuff.Then look at your branding. Your blog name should be short, memorable and unique. It should represent the main idea of your blog. And make sure your URL is easy to pronounce out loud.
If people have to struggle with a bunch of hyphens and numbers, you’re going to lose a lot of word of mouth traffic.When you write, remember that you’re providing a service for your readers. They come to you for specific information, so give them what they want, not what you feel like talking about.Finally, do a financial plan, analyzing your budget, costs, current earnings, and potential revenue.
AdSense and alternatives
Many bloggers look at Google AdSense like some sort of miracle. Yes, contextual advertising is a staple for most websites, and AdSense can be a great help.The advantages of AdSense are that it’s flexible and easy to use. It’s compatible with most websites and you only need one account for all of your pages. Over time, it can generate a steady income for webmasters who use it well.The drawbacks? It’s very easy to get banned from AdSense. Maybe Google thinks there’s a fraud on your site (that could happen because one of your competitors – or a well-meaning friend – clicks too many times on your ads) or suspects your site of violating their content regulations (no gambling or adult content, etc.). Whether or not your site actually has anything to do with this, your account might be shut down overnight.These problems are very common.
It almost seems to me like most bloggers have been banned from AdSense at one time or another.Although you can customize the appearance of ads to fit your blog, you can’t fully control what ads and links appear on your page. This might result in a jarring experience for your readersEarnings on AdSense also aren’t consistent for most users. It takes a long time for revenue to get rolling and small mistakes can cost you big. Plus, AdSense ads open in the same window, not another tab, so every time a reader clicks it means a higher bounce rate.It’s no surprise that many of us are looking for alternatives. Fortunately, there are some great ones out there.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money online. It’s quick, cheap and can bring in huge profits. Many long-time professional bloggers and online marketers swear by it. What is it exactly, you might ask, and if it’s so great, why aren’t I doing it already? Basically, you review a product related to your niche, refer viewers to the company’s website and when those people buy the product, you get a commission. (What that commission varies widely by company.)This is usually done through an affiliate program offered by the company. You just sign up and get a unique tracking link to use every time you link to the product – that’s how the company knows which customers were referred by you.
You can find companies through affiliate marketplaces like ShareASale, CJ or Clickbank. Or, you can find new products by reading blogs in your niche and seeing what they’re recommending. By the way, try the products yourself before you recommend them! Nothing ruins your credibility like pushing a dud on your readers. If you can write an honest, personal review, your readers will appreciate the information and are more likely to check out the product. Success in affiliate advertising is not easy. It takes patience, persistence, and the business savvy to know which products are most relevant to your viewers. However, once it’s set up you can continue to earn revenue even from old pages on your blog.
Ad service providers and affiliate programs will always take a big cut out of your revenue. Why not cut out the middleman? Finding advertisers yourself isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Get started by adding a media kit: a page that gives all the information potential advertisers will want if they’re considering your blog. This includes details like blog traffic, social media followers, top posts, sponsorship options, and previous clients. Many blog readers work in marketing and advertising, so if you have a media kit there’s a good chance you’ll soon be contacted by advertisers without you lifting a finger. Go to forums or other niche sites to see how other bloggers in your field are finding advertisers.
You can always post on social media that you’re looking and see who responds, or just Google your main keywords, find some businesses that your readers will be interested in and contact them. Keeping it really simple, if you already have an ad from a service provider that’s performing very well, just contact the company and work directly through them! You already know your readers are interested in their product. With direct advertising, you don’t just remove the trouble of 3rd-party advertisers: you can make sure all the ads that appear to your viewers are relevant and meaningful.
Upgrade your content with an awesome e-book
Haven’t you always dreamed of writing your own book? Now’s your chance! If you’ve had a blog for a while you probably already have enough content for an e-book. It’s just a matter of bringing it all together in a single text. The book format, as opposed to individual blog posts, gives you the opportunity to really dig into your subject. You can offer your readers a depth of information that simply wouldn’t work on a blog. Writing an e-book can help your blog itself. By going through old work and developing your key ideas, the process allows you to integrate your blog and strengthen your core message. The book has to be really great: it represents your blog as a whole and you as an authority in your field.
Readers will forgive a lousy blog post or two, but a disappointing book – especially if they’ve paid for it – will really put people off. Go the extra mile with it, provide the detailed content and analysis that your readers are (hopefully) looking for after they read your posts. Once you have the text, you can go in a couple of directions. If you want to expand your email list, offer the book or at least a few chapters for free to every subscriber. You can also sell it through your blog or on Amazon. Usually, the e-book is most effective as a free extra to gain loyal followers and build your reputation. Having an impressive e-book establishes you as an expert and lends authority to the rest of your blog. For these reasons and the boost to your passive income, I highly recommend you give it a shot.
Put your ads where people click
Sometimes the answers are so simple, we look right past them. Layout and ad placement have a huge influence on how much readers click. It’s not just about making your page look good but placing your ads where the viewer’s attention naturally goes. In general, the best places are:
- Sidebar banner
- Right above or below a blog post title
- At the end of your post
- Between sections of the post
Of course, every website is different. That’s why it’s essential that you check out your blog’s heatmap to learn where exactly your viewers click the most. (Don’t know how to do this? Use Crazy Egg to create visuals of how viewers read, use and leave your blog.)
Sponsored posts and reviews
Sponsored posts and reviews will bring you quick cash, though you might find yourself treading on the sensitive ground with them. Sponsored posts are when you incorporate a product naturally into your post. You might talk about the product in general or something associated with it. Of course, it has to be something which is highly relevant, and if it sounds too much like advertising you’ll lose your readers. Sponsored reviews are when a company pays you to write a review of their product on your site. Even though they’re paying you, it’s important, to be honest with this. Test the product and make a comprehensive list of its strengths and weaknesses.
Write an unbiased review – and be clear with the company beforehand that this is what you’ll be doing. Remember, no company’s sponsorship is worth your readers’ trust! Keep it real and keep it fresh, as much fun for them as a normal post. Your media kit (you went and made one already, right?) is the best way to connect with businesses that are interested in sponsoring posts and reviews.
Put your eggs in different baskets
What catches one viewer’s eye will be completely ignored by another. Diversify your ads, instead of just relying on one type. Most high-earning blogs contain a mix of pay-per-click and pay-per-impression advertisements. Use a mix of banner ads, video ads and other formats to cover all your bases. It’s important to keep tabs on your ads. Check regularly to see which ones are performing well and which are just sitting there, annoying your readers.A/B testing, comparing two different versions of your page, will give you real, quantifiable answers. Programs like Unbounce, VWO or even Google Analytics can do it for you. To go into more detail about individual elements, run a multivariate test with a tool like Optimizely.
The bottom line
When it comes down to it, there isn’t one great strategy earning money from your blog. There are many strategies, and success is a matter of finding the right combination. The most important thing is that your marketing fits your blog, relates to your readers and connects you in your niche. And once you find something that works, don’t just rest on your laurels. The real secret from high-earning professional bloggers is to always keep growing, adapting and moving forward.