Making a profit as a blogger is 100% doable. I’ve been making a living out of blogging and affiliate marketing since 2004.
Even though things have changed a lot in the last 12 years, it is still possible to start and run a profitable blog. The competition is steeper and bloggers have to multitask in many ways they didn’t before.
For example, when the heyday of blogging first took hold, one could simply write posts, pay attention to keywords, do a few cross-promotions and easily attract new readers. Today, there is a lot more competition and social media has come into the mix in ways we didn’t expect a decade ago.
Google also has become pretty harsh with web marketers and SEO experts. They constantly change algorithms and make it harder for the little guy to make a dent in the search engine results. More often than not, Google basically labels SEOs as villains.
However, there is still plenty of room to run a successful blog. You simply have to find new and smarter ways to reach readers and become profitable.
Doubt you can still make a living at blogging? In May 2016, Harsh Agrawal made over $28,000 blogging and Pat Flynn earned over $150,000 online. One of the key things that Flynn and Harsh do is to have multiple revenue streams. They are both not reliant on only one stream, but utilizes everything from book sales and direct advertising to affiliate earnings to podcast sponsorships.
So, how can you repeat my success and that of people like Pat Flynn and Harsh Agrawal?
First – you need to be in a profitable niche
You can’t just randomly choose a niche and assume you’ll make money at it. You need to choose a topic you can monetize easily.
Yes, having passion for the topic you’re writing about is important – hey, you’ll be blogging about that topic for years – but it’s equally important that there is money flowing into that niche.
- Use Google Adwords to see how many advertisers there in your niche and the average click rate for different keywords.
- Use Spyfu to check how much advertisers are spending in your selected industry – the more the better.
- Login to an affiliate network like CJ.com and search for relevant merchants – check if their Network Earnings (the green bar) are good.
If the potential profits look promising, proceed. If not, brainstorm other niches you’d be interested in writing about.
Real life examples –
Advertisers are paying $5.30 per click for the keyword “Self Publishing”. Can you create a blog that goes around this topic? Advertisers are paying $8.72 per click for the keyword “Photography Courses”. In other words, at $8.72/click or $1,570 daily cost (estimated ad spending in overall), advertisers are still breaking even or making a profit out from these searches.
BUT, before you think about making profit…
So, now you’ve selected a niche that you think you can make a profit from. Wait! Don’t think about money as your first goal.
Yes, it is pretty easy to earn a few extra bucks via AdSense or by selling advertising space (once you have the traffic to justify doing so), you can’t make a living from blogging simply because you have a blog and a bit of traffic.
To be a successful blogger for long term, you need to be so useful that you solve people’s problems in real life. If you don’t have this skill, you must develop it. The usefulness of your blog is the basis of your long-term success. Offer information no one else is offering. Answer questions your target audience has. Be the absolute expert in your area.
Your blog content and marketing strategy mean nothing if you are not solving people needs or a problem in people’s life.
- Pat Flynn, in our example, has valuable experience in starting various businesses and earning a passive income – people want to learn from his experience. They want to repeat what he has done. Earning $150K in a single month is impressive and others want to achieve that as well.
- Lindsay of Pinch of Yum writes food posts with beautiful photos and delicious details that help people cook better. Lindsay brings expertise in how to cook unique dishes, such as garlic basil chicken with tomato butter sauce.
- Jon Loomer made himself the go-to source for Facebook marketing advice.
The point of all this is that before you jump in and start another for-profit blog, take the time to figure out if you can actually help people and how.
What value can you personally add to that niche?
Next – Finding targeted traffic
In order for your blog to make a profit, it must have sufficient and targeted traffic. This is where you get to use digital marketing strategies such as social media, content marketing and SEO.
Your target audience is the people who are looking for the information relevant to your niche.
So, if your blog is about cooking such as Lindsay’s at Pinch of Yum, your target audience is people looking for how-to cook articles and recipes like the ones you have to offer. Your target audience is also the people who like and retweet a social media post on Twitter. These people obviously already love what you have to offer.
Getting the attention of this target demographic, however, is no easy task. You have to be good at both SEO and SMM. You will want to put in the work to develop your skills in these areas. The more targeted your traffic to your blog is, the more money you will make off those site visitors.
Revenue = Targeted Traffic x Conversion Rate
I’ll give you an example to explain how it works:
- A blogger sells a product via an affiliate link.
- The average conversion rate is 3%.
- On average, three out of every 100 visitors that you refer to the WP theme provider make a purchase.
- If you refer 200 visitors, then, theoretically, you’ll have six affiliate sales.
Of course, the actual way this all works is a bit more complicated, but you get the idea. It is a numbers game. You have to have the numbers to make the profits.
Where to find targeted traffic?
That’s all fine and well, you might be thinking, but how on earth does one find “targeted” traffic. It is actually much easier than you might think.
Below are some quick ideas.
- Facebook – This is the largest social media networks out there with 1.65 billion active users on the giant. Facebook Advertisements are a good way to reach out to your target audience. Facebook allows you to very specifically target the type of user you want to target and you can use their built-in analytics to track how well your ad is performing.
- Twitter – Most Twitter users are highly active. Tweet once and when people retweet, you’ll reach their audiences as well. Of course, you can’t control who tweets what, but you can control your message. Twitter also offers advertising options.
- Google – It’s still a smart strategy to try to rank high in Google’s search engines. Searchers who are looking for keywords related to your niche are like “warm contacts” who are interested in your topic. While not all will translate into highly targeted traffic, some will.
- Pinterest – 90+% are female users, which means if your niche is something women are primarily interested in, you need to promote heavily on this social media site. Pins rely heavily on the visual element so you need truly stunning images to promote on this site.
- Email – Building your email list allows you to reach out to those initial visitors over and over, turning them into repeat visitors and fans. One of your biggest conversion goals should be your mailing list.
- Other Relevant Blogs – Attract other bloggers’ traffic via smart commenting, advertisements, guest posting, and taking part in crowd-sourcing posts.
Quick Actionable Traffic Tips
1. Facebook Ads
When it comes to utilizing Facebook ads, there are some key things you’ll want to keep in mind. The last thing you want is to spend money on ads that aren’t successful.
FaceBook tips #1: Scale up while you can
Remember: Profit = Revenue – Cost
If you can generate more profit via advertisement – by all means scale it up.
Facebook Advertisement offers a quick and easy way to gain traffic. You can target audience with certain interests, digital activities, demographic, with certain type of life events, or living in a specific location.
When advertising on Facebook – make sure that the cost does not exceed your revenue – so you can remain profitable in your ad campaign. You can track conversion using Facebook Pixels.
Try out different types of ads. Facebook gives you the option of choosing the purpose of your ad. Do you simply want viewers to click through to your site? Do you want to convert them into email subscribers? Whatever your goal, Facebook will help you make sure your ad is targeted enough to achieve it.
Facebook tip #2: Always promote benefits, not your product
Before you even create a newsfeed ad, you need to think through how you will present your product or service to your target audience. Offer your content or product as a solution to a targeted group of audience. What problem does this solve? Think how people can benefits from your ads.
Facebook tips #3: Boost on photo posts
A study by Wishpond found that photo posts on Facebook get about 120% more engagement than the average post without a photo.
Photo albums actually get 180% more engagement. So, it would appear that the more photos used, the better, assuming they are high-quality photos that complement your topic. You should make use of your photos/photo album.
One idea to take advantage of these startling statistics is to turn your photo album into a graphic article.
For example, I recently created an album filled with images from presentation slides (see image on your right). I briefly elaborated on each topic a bit more within the photos and added some relevant links. So far, the album has reached over 140,000 people. There have been 8,000 clicks and 950+ page likes. These are pretty good results for a $120 boost and an addition 30 minutes of work on my part in transferring slides into images and adding a bit more detail.
Blog commenting is perhaps the most overlooked method to build blog traffic. That’s mainly because most people suck at it (myself included). It reminds me of how most people suck at making a good, meaningful conversation with strangers. However, both are a skill you can learn.
No, I am not talking about dropping your link nor spamming the blog owners with a ‘nice post, thank you’ comment.
That just doesn’t work. People are onto that type of spammy behavior and they don’t like it. In fact, it makes you look a bit lazy as a blog owner.
On the other hand, a great comment makes the blog owner and the readers want to learn more about you. And that’s exactly what you want to achieve when you are commenting on others’ blogs. Do you want someone to come to your blog and leave a ‘nice post’ comment and then their link? Probably not, so don’t do it to others.
Think of it this way… Give people who read your comment a reason to learn more about you. Be knowledgeable and interesting. Share info that will help them.
Then, they will be much more likely to click on the link to your blog to learn more. Learn the art of writing meaningful comments.
If you are planning to use this tactic to grow your blog, here are two golden rules to follow:
- Always write great comment. If you don’t have something meaningful to add, don’t leave comment. A “thank you, great post” comment is not going to get you anywhere
- Only drop your link when it’s appropriate. Don’t spam – this will only backfire and earn you enemies instead of fans.
Don’t just put your blog URL in the website column – link it to your post that’s relevant to the original post.
3. Improving your on-page SEO
Better search rankings = more traffic and revenue.
It really is as simple as that.
While research and improving off-page factors such as obtaining links naturally are important; the on-page SEO is something not to be taken lightly.
And when I talk about on-page SEO, I mean more than simple tweaks on the headlines and title tags. Google is onto keyword stuffing, using keywords in headlines, and all those other tricks that used to work in the past. SEO today is so much more than those things. We need to understand, or more accurately, to guesstimate how Google works in modern days.
Over the year there are a number of rumors on how Google might change their algorithm and add weight to user experience as search engine ranking factors. Some of the rumors were proven true by experiments.
For example, according to Rand Fishkin experiments – we now know that CTR does affect site rankings. Knowing this gives us one simply way to improve a site’s search engine ranking. Simply improve CTR at the search result page level.
Steps to Improve CTR
- Go to Google Search Console (previously G Webmaster Tools)
- Go Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Generate a list of 100 queries with CTR & Position data
- Export the data, open the file in Excel
- Compare each page’s CTR with the average value of your top 100 queries
- Look at pages with low CTR and fine tune on-page factors (such as title tag and description).
Wrap up –
Creating a profitable blog takes a lot of time, hard work, and forethought into the strategy you’ll use.
Creating targeted traffic is a must, which you can accomplish in a variety of ways.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, because Google’s algorithms are constantly changing and what works with one audience or on one social media site might not work with another. The good news is that you can still make a profit from your blog as proved by many bloggers who unselfishly shared their income report online. You just have to be open to adapting your current methods.
I would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below. And, do share this article on your favorite social networking sites.