Today’s topic is courtesy of Kevin Clanton of Driving Traffic. Have you ever wondered how to monetize your blog? Well, don’t! A blog serves many purposes, but making loadsamoney from it really should not be one of them.
Kevin’s article explains more, and provides some ideas on what you should be doing…
How do I monetize my blog? You don’t.
So you have decided to make some extra money online. You followed the steps and got your domain, hosting, CMS, theme, social media, and the list goes on and on. You finally start blogging; only to find out, the money isn’t cascading in. What’s going on here? You’ve been told that millionaires are made everyday online. You were told, “If you build it, they will come”. You have followed all the steps you knew of, and the money just isn’t coming. Don’t fret; every part-time (and full-time) entrepreneur has been there.
Spending your part time blogging isn’t the novel idea it once was. After investing your free time reading, learning, building, and writing, it can be frustrating to not see the results and is easy to get discouraged. The good news is, by attempting to take control of your financial future, you are taking strides to do something most people will never do. If you have made it this far and haven’t seen a dollar yet, I urge you to stick with it. While making boatloads of cash online isn’t as easy as some would lead you to believe, when you do find some success, it makes all of the time and effort all well worth it.
Take a critical look at where you are. It is no easy task to be objective when looking at a passion project, but this is an essential part of finding success in your endeavors. Take an outsider’s look at your subject matter, how you write about it, and make an honest assessment. If an outsider looked at your blog what would they say is the biggest issue?
Are you in the right niche, or in a niche at all? This might be the most important thing to consider. If you are in a highly competitive niche, you aren’t doing yourself any favors for someone who is starting out. By picking the correct niche you can save yourself a lot of trouble by having fewer competitors.
Is your site getting traffic? If you are hoping to generate your income from advertising and you do not have a staggering amount of traffic to your site, you need to reconsider your plan of action. There are not many (single) blogs out there that can generate a living wage from advertising revenue alone. So, stop barking up that tree if you are in this position.
This assessment can go on forever, from site design to mobile or social media strategy. I don’t want to you to get hung up here. Unless you are questioning your niche and don’t have traffic, you are ok. If those two things are an issue, you should probably go back to the drawing board and decide on a new domain or direction. Otherwise, if traffic is your only issue, join the club. What you can do in the short term is attempt to stand out from the crowd by producing what you consider being incredibly good content. Be a little more daring, opinionated, or possibly controversial (What do you want to say, but aren’t).
The last short term traffic bump can come from watching the trends. What are other people in your niche talking about? Use tools like blog aggregators (Technorati & alltop), and google alerts. Google alerts are essential for content creators; it is the easiest way to keep your ear to the ground for your topics, without burning your whole day trolling the web. When news is made in your niche, you need to give your two cents, or at least curate someone who is.
Another big pitfall to look out for is focus. My biggest problem starting out was the distribution of my effort. I tended to spend all my free time working 10 different projects. I would spread myself so thin, that none of my projects were up to a standard that I was happy with. Consolidate your efforts. If it comes down to it, pick the project that you have the most fun working on and run with it. Let the others suffer in the mean time. Chances are that if you enjoy it, it will show in the finished product.
Keep in mind the 80/20 rule. I learned this trick from Ryan Deiss, and have seen a consistent trend of successful people who use it. For those of you who are not familiar, it is the concept where you should be spending 80% of your time on what is actually making the bulk of your money. The remaining 20% goes to the other projects. Often 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your revenue; by identifying that 20% you can save yourself a lot of headaches. There is a lot more to the theory, and I am not really doing it justice here, so look it up if you have never heard it.
So, here’s the deal, simply having a blog isn’t going to be your main source of income. You have start thinking about revenue generation. There are a number of ways to achieve that. You can build an authority site, you can focus on lead generation and build a list, but today we are going to talk about products. The most effective way to monetize your blog is to start promoting products; an even more effective way is to promote your own products. This is arguably the most efficient way of generating passive income if done correctly. For many this can be a daunting task. But, it really isn’t as hard as it sounds.
The first step is deciding whether you will be dealing with physical or digital products. There is a separate path for physical products, so today I am just going to focus on digital products. For the part-time entrepreneur I think selling/creating/marketing digital products will be “lower hanging fruit” than physical products. If there is interest, I can write an article on physical goods and drop shipping.
Next is becoming familiar with the products in your space. Get an account with an affiliate platform (clickbank, commission junction, JVZOO, WarriorPlus). Take a look at the marketplace and sort the products for your niche by popularity or gravity. Go through the products to see what is out there, and what seems to be doing well. Make notes of products you like, are interested in, and what their rating/popularity/gravity is (you will use this later).
After having a grasp of what is out there, you can identify “holes” & needs for your niche. Start making plans for potential products. Try and dream something up that is feasible with a unique selling point, something that will set it apart from other products in your space. What would provide real benefit or value to someone with your interests? What would you buy? What do you know that others don’t? What problem do people in your niche experience often? Carl White just wrote an excellent article on how he fulfills the needs of different niches by utilizing facebook and linkedin groups (How to beat the big dogs at affiliate marketing contests).
What I would suggest if you are just starting out is a special report of some kind. You are obviously already familiar with writing, and most likely already have a good grasp on your subject matter.
Find a popular report like this in the market place that is selling well, and buy it. While reading through, make notes of structure, length, format, and the kinds of information covered. You can use this report as a guide when outlining your own product. Something to keep in mind is that on these affiliate-based platforms, the market is typically flooded with “me-too” products. You will need to distance yourself from the collection of similar products on the subject you are writing about. So, if there are already 5 reports out there on the subject you were thinking about and you don’t have anything that drastically sets yours apart from them, you should move on to the next idea.
After you have decided on a product and outlined it, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work writing (or building). In the mean time while you develop your product, you can implement other ways of generating revenue like affiliate sales and/or lead generation (list building).
Get the notes you made earlier on products you like in your niche, and their popularity. There are a few things to think about here. If the gravity is really high on the product this is an indication that this product will provide some stiff competition when you attempt to promote it. Do some research on what/who you are competing with. If all of your choices have a lot of competition, you might need to go a little lower on the gravity results and pick something a little less popular.
Once you have decided on a few products you would like to promote. You can start building a plan of action. The easiest way to promote an affiliate offer is adding a banner image to your site linked to your affiliate link. These are often placed in your sidebar in a “text/html widget”. I would also suggest writing a review article on some of the features or sections of the product that you really liked. While you might want to frame this as a product review, keep in mind that you are ultimately writing sales copy. Copy writing is an art form, and can take a lifetime to master. A good short guide to the structure of a sales letter can be found here written by Perry Belcher.
Be sure to read my article on my clickbank youtube hack. If you do decide to create a video sniper, be sure to post the video on your site to take full advantage of the traffic you are already getting.
Promoting your product
Once your product is complete, you need to make a marketing plan. The nuances of marketing your product go far beyond what I can cover in this short article but, I will do my best to concisely cover the basics.
You will want to “prime the pump”. This entails dropping hints, and building as much buzz for the product as you can. You can do this with preview posts, social media blasts, and guest posting about the product.
Do your best to write a sales letter or hire someone to write your sales letter, following the outline I linked to above. Hopefully, you have promoted a few affiliate products by now and you have developed a “feel” for what works for your readers and what doesn’t. I would suggest making a dedicated page for your sales letter on your blog and not only making a blog post about it. Make sure your home page is featuring the product in some way (above the fold of the page), whether that is a featured post, banner, or block of content in the side bar. Call in whatever favors you can for promotion via email drops, banners, etc.
Promoting a product can (and will) be an ongoing endeavor, of optimizing, tweaking, rewriting, testing, and tracking. The brevity of this post has been a challenge as each paragraph of this article could be expanded into its own book. Hopefully I was able to illustrate the big picture of monetizing your blog.
Becoming a full time entrepreneur can be a colossal challenge, but with adequate planning and a clear vision you can set yourself up for success. Don’t make a half effort and then give up when you aren’t driving a Bentley a week later. These things can take time and dedication and more than just a blog. As I said earlier in this article, there are countless methods to get you to your goal, and today I covered one. One thing is for certain, stopping after you get your blog built is a mistake.
About Kevin Clanton
Kevin Clanton is part of the new generation of Internet marketers, originally starting his career as a programmer obsessed with all things information / technology. Online Marketing has quickly become his primary focus; where he is able to leverage his background in development to implement his dreams & ideas in order to quickly produce data on their effectiveness. Google Kevin has an intense drive to be as well rounded as possible in his business pursuits. He isn’t satisfied until he has a firm understanding of all aspects of a given business strategy.
Thanks, Kevin. Hope this helped you – much food for thought, eh?
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