Sarah Arrow is the Queen of Blogging! Having started Birds-on-the-Blog just a few years ago, it’s turned into an award winning, highly ranked busy blog platform. Sarah’s agreed to share some of her expertise with you – learn and enjoy!
Every internet guru will tell you to monetise your blog, but few will tell you how. The reason for not telling you the “how” is so you can be sold a service or product later down the relationship. So here’s the deal; I’m going to tell you how to monetise your blog and if you think that you can do it, you can say thanks by sharing this post. Shall we shake on it?
Let’s get started then.
Determine who your ideal customer / read is.
No matter how much traffic your blog gets, if each post or page isn’t a love letter to your ideal customer (aka ideal reader) then your page will not convert the way you would like it to. If it converts at all. The love letter mentioned above has to talk directly to your ideal reader. The blog post has to demonstrate that you understand her wants, her needs, her deepest fears and most frequent dreams.
When your blog posts do this you may see an uptake in social sharing, and conversation taking place elsewhere. Slowly it will come and take place on your blog. Keep an eye on where most of your social activity comes from – this is where your ideal reader hangs out and targeted sharing in these locations will generate better results.
Have something to sell (and make it obvious).
Do you have a product to sell? Silly question? Sometimes you want to monetise your blog traffic but you have nothing to sell. It’s not the end of the world, you can use Adsense and other programs. But. You will make more money by selling your ideal customer a product to solve her problems than you will being paid pennies to sell her someone else’s product.
Of course, you can endorse and recommend products from other people that solve your ideal reader’s problem. This is known as being an affiliate for that product. The best affiliates try and use the product and then can advise their ideal customer if this products will resolve their burning issues. Reviews of these products work well and good, honest well balanced reviews convert far better than product reviews that are full of hype and not targeted correctly.
If you have built a rapport, and a community, selling a product just for the money and not trying it can back fire badly on you. Honesty in a product review or recommendation will build trust further. That’s far more valuable long term than an extra $10 dollars short term.
If you have brand with core values, only review and recommend products that sit in harmony with the brand. Don’t send conflicting messages.
Build your email list.
Yes, I know… this isn’t how you thought this post would be going is it? But stick with it, I’m sharing practical advice that actually works and earns money, not washy-washy it-worked-ten-years-ago-so-it-must-still-work- now advice. Back to email lists. Join AWeber, join MailChimp, get an email opt-in form and ask people to stay in touch with you.
Share your best information with your email list. Make these people your best friends. They are your ideal readers who have made a commitment to you. Honor that commitment and treat them well. For every email you send that asks something, send another email that gives something. If you send more gifts compared to asks you’ll start to get to know what gets your emails read and what doesn’t. This is valuable information. It’s priceless as it indicates what your readers are interested in and you can adapt this information accordingly.
Have a call to action.
Your blog posts need a call to action. Don’t think of it as selling, but guiding your reader what to do next. Your call to action doesn’t have to be in the post, it can be in the header (works well for service based businesses). The call to action can be in the sidebar. It can be almost anywhere you want it to be, just make sure you have one.
Monetise your existing blog posts.
Look over your stats. See what posts are getting the most traffic and add a call to action. That call to action might be to subscribe to your newsletter. It might be to pick up the phone and give you a call. Vary and test multiple calls to action on your existing highly traffick’d posts and see what works. If something converts well on one post, try it on another. See what your ideal reader likes and responds too. If you find you are generating the wrong kind of leads go back to point one – see who you are writing for.
If you find a certain post is getting a lot of traffic, see if there is an affiliate product you can associate with the post. If you write about insurance find an insurance broker with an affiliate scheme and see if that converts for you. If you are a shop, see if an upsell works for you. If you are a software developer see if a complete how-to guide works for you and your ideal reader.
At the very least, a high traffic post on your blog should ask the reader to subscribe to your blog and it’s newsletter if they like what they see.
Additional blog monetisation methods.
Above I mention Adsense. For some people Google Adsense is a great way to monetise their blog. It works best for niche blogs with hyper targeted content. If you are a business bloggger, you might not want to advertise a competing business. It is one of the easiest, fastest ways to monetise you blog, but it isn’t always the best way to monetise for you and your business.
- Banner ads
Determine what you are offering the ad buyer.
- Is it exposure?
- Is it click-throughs?
- Is the ad compatible with your site?
Some bloggers think that offering banner advertising in their header and their sidebar is a cool way to make lots of money. If you affiliate for products, that’s valuable real estate lost to a monthly fee paying advertiser. If you sell three affiliate products and earn £140 in commission, selling that space for £40 a month isn’t sound business practice.
If you sell your own products, make sure your products are advertised in the best converting ad positions unless your payout is higher for other products.
Remember to let people know that you are now accepting banner advertising on your site and let your email list know as well. Invite them to forward the email to people they know who may be interested in advertising with you.
Add a page spelling out what an advertiser can expect. They’ll want to know traffic, your reader demographics and how to get in touch with you.
- Directories and community boards / membership forum
If your blog serves a particular community or niche, then a directory might be a monetising opportunity for you. Again, if it is in direct competition with your main business, then you may choose not to do it.
Another option may be to have a community board or membership forum. Think twice before you jump onto this bandwagon. It takes time to grow and nurture a membership site. You will need to have a technical person on hand and you will need to stoke activity on a daily basis. This is hard work. Sure, it pays off but if you are not prepared to do the work you have two options; pay someone to do it or Joint Venture with someone and play to both your strengths.
Blog monetising is not easy, it takes persistence and it takes hard work but it can be done in almost every blog niche. Want to know more? Ask a question in the comments section.
Sarah Arrow is the managing editor of internationally renowned Birds on the Blog, twice listed by Forbes as one the top websites for women in the world. In her day job she blogs about very unsexy transportation issues in her role as communications director of a UK same day courier company. She’s also the co-author of Zero to Blogger.