I remember exactly where I was when I saw his picture.
He was sitting at a computer, a mild-mannered dude who was a little older than me. Based on his story, he wasn't really much smarter than I was or more connected. The man was just somebody who had built himself into a success.
This unassuming individual was John Chow, and he was making more than $40,000 per month from his blog.
To this day, I'm still not sure how. Maybe he was honest, maybe he was scamming. Maybe it's somewhere in between, I don't know. But that was the day I realized that there were people who built audiences online - and made a living from them.
Now, that was probably 2007 or so when I discovered him. The world is far different than it was back then. I have no idea if John Chow is still making that kind of money or not. The competition is much fiercer 13 years later.
But that doesn't mean you can't make a living from your blog.
Is it easy? Of course not. However, it is doable.
Monetizing your blog is easily one of the most sought-after topics online. "How to monetize a blog" delivers more than 21.1 million results from Google.
Unfortunately, between shady affiliate products and other "trickery," too many people are trying to fast-track their monetization efforts, leading to frustration and burnout - and no money.
Today, I want to walk you through the basics of how to monetize your blog, and the key actions you need to take if you want to make it a reality.
It won't be fast. And it will take hard work. But if you focus your efforts on the right things, you can do it, too.
Let's start with these first 3 steps...
You need to crawl before you can walk.
Monetizing a blog isn't something that happens overnight. And if you ignore these key steps, you'll never build an income from your blog.
Start with these 3 things:
- Build a steady stream of traffic. You can do this any number of ways, from consistently posting on social media and driving that traffic to your site, or guest posting on related blogs with links back to your site. Focusing on SEO can deliver big traffic gains, too. No matter what your strategy, it needs to be consistent. Every day you work on your blog, you should be setting aside time to build your traffic. It doesn't matter if you have really high-converting ads, or a slam-dunk product to sell. If nobody sees it, it's not going to sell. Start with traffic.
- Grow your email list. It sounds antiquated at this point, but unless you own your email list, you don't have an engaged audience. That means getting them away from social media and onto your email list. Provide incentives and bonuses for signing up. Make it clear that you're going to offer a lot of extra value if your reader gives you their email address. Then follow through with that promise. Give-give-give until it's uncomfortable. That's the key to keeping your audience engaged. An engaged audience will be a paying audience.
- Set the expectations for yourself. You can't move onto monetization until you know what your goals are. If you know that you intend to sell a product, understand how much you have to sell that product for and how much of your audience will need to buy. The same is true of ad space or online courses or affiliate products. You need to know your metrics. Do the math early so that you can create the right goals.
Once you feel you're at a place where you're happy with your audience size and engagement, you can move forward.
Ideas for monetizing your blog
A few things to remember as you move to this phase.
First, only you know which method(s) are best for your particular blog. You might have strengths in video - and a course could really work well for you. Or you're a good salesperson, so being an affiliate makes sense.
Also, know that your whole audience isn't going to buy. Only a small percentage will. Some might also be turned off by your content if you sell too hard. Don't forget to keep creating value for your readers!
That said, there are endless ways to monetize your blog, including...
- Sell an ebook. If you're an author, you could self publish your novels. If you are an entrepreneur, you could teach the basics about your line of work. Ebooks are a great way to establish authority in your niche.
- Create an online course. Another popular method, and this is one that can scale very well. If your course can be sold at a premium price because the information is in high demand and you have a comprehensive solution, you might not need a large audience to make a significant income.
- Coaching and consulting. One-on-one consulting is big business. If you can establish great value for your services and overdeliver, coaching could be a slam dunk.
- Display advertising. It's the classic monetization play. But it can still work. The catch here is building up a big enough audience to attract advertisers. And more often, you'll get higher fees if you avoid ad networks.
- Affiliate marketing. Can be hit-or-miss, but works with a bigger audience. Some even make their living with the affiliate commissions they get from Amazon. To do this right, though, you need to sell things that you personally are using. Don't lie to your audience.
- Sponsored posts and reviews. If you have expertise in an area and have a sizable audience, don't be surprised if you start getting sponsored post offers. I built a very small blog ages ago around self improvement for men. Next thing you know, I was doing a review of a custom-made dress shirt that I was given for free. I wore that shirt for years, and increased the views on my blog.
- Take donations. This works with great engagement, and you can do this right out of the gate. Some people like to support their favorite blogs. And it can really work well with a huge audience. If you get 100,000 visitors to your blog a month, and you can get, say, 500 people to drop $5/month to support you, that's $2,500/month. Not too shabby.
- Start a podcast. Many are going this route. Build a podcast in conjunction with your blog and you could get advertising offers through that medium.
Remember one key thing about monetizing your blog
Don't betray your audience. Ever.
An audience needs to trust you. If you push a scammy product just because it pays a generous commission, you're going to lose.
Be true to your brand and your audience. Take your time to build both the right way, and these monetization strategies could pay off in the long run.