Advertising is easy to start, making it a popular income stream for many bloggers. However, it’s not nearly as lucrative as it once was and it requires a lot of traffic to be truly profitable. Also, it runs the risk of frustrating your readers (ever been on a site only to be assaulted by the ads?) and making your site look cheap and unsophisticated. Therefore, it’s not a top recommendation of mine.
If your niche doesn’t allow you to promote or build premium products (anything over around $100 per unit) then think about getting a solid mix of offerings and building it up over time. I remember Darren Rowse saying that initially Amazon Associates was a really small source of income but over the years it has really started to add up. Think eBooks, affiliates, consulting, books, etc. and you’re starting to build an income stream.
Our friend Bobby realized that soon after he started his blog. His site wasn’t making any money at the time, so he needed to find another way to bring in some cash. That’s when he started reaching out to other businesses offering his services doing the things he’d learned from blogging (Facebook ads, writing online content, social media strategy, etc.).
Premium content can mean any type of content you charge for - an ebook, whitepaper, downloadable guide, etc. But what I'm referring to here is pay-gated content. Basically you just put some awesome content up behind a paywall, which means visitors pay to access it. You can get your own paywall set up in 10 minutes or less using a plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro.
Brainstorm keywords for each blog post. Keywords are the important words that relate to the topic of your blog, and specifically the new subtopic you cover each time you post. Choosing relevant keywords that people search for frequently will increase the visibility of your blog, attract more readers, and show them advertisements they are likely to click.
If you’ve spent a lot of time writing that week and just need a break from working on a post, it may be a productive way to spend an hour or two but I personally think your time could be better spent elsewhere. (This isn’t to say that you can’t find success utilizing this method, I just don’t see many/any people doing it and reporting back that it’s really helped them).
Lets say, for example, that you refurbish and resell used smartphones out of your home. You could use a blog to attract visitors to your website where you list your current phones for sale. Your blog might cover topics about DIY refurbishing. On one level, it seems counterintuitive because you want people to buy your phones, but it also helps you build a brand and gain recognition. Social media guru Jay Baer explains the concept on Copyblogger:
The time you invest to make any significant amount of money is the same amount of time it takes to build a course or other offerings. If you want to make good money with ads (in the thousands), then you need to get 100s of thousands or millions of pageviews a month. This takes time and in that time you could just as easily build up your mailing list, create an infoproduct and make thousands whenever you want.
Digital products are another awesome way to make money with your blog. Rather than selling someone else’s product or service, you’re creating something of your own and selling it directly to your tribe. There are many options to choose from when it comes to digital products, but we’re going to look at what we’ve seen and consider to be the top three.
As always, a fantastic post Jon. Have just shared on G+ with the comment that you are simply the best at what you do. I love your style, and the practical advice is invaluable. I was particularly interested in your downplay of using twitter, FB etc to hope to grow your blog, but what you said makes total sense. As someone who is building an author’s platform prior to publication, I’d been hesitant to sell products, but no more. Thanks so much for your inspiration.
Jon Morrow is the gold standard in this arena, and this post encapsulates that. He consulted with me at the launch of my blog, and these 20 principles feel like evolutions of that great advice. My numbers are nowhere near his (frankly, my subscriber list seems fixed lately), but my experience validates the core of what’s here: it’s all about consulting, leading to products (in my case, a bit of the other way around, via a book that arose from my website/blog). If you can afford Jon (I can’t), go for it… provided you truly are an “expert” in a given field, one that other people will pay to listen to. If you can’t, or aren’t (at least yet), just read everything he’s written, here and elsewhere.