This is going to be one hell of a blog post.
Every “how to start a blog” guide on Google shows you how to set up a website.
This one ain’t about that. At all.
This guide is a complete tutorial on starting a blog that makes $100,000 per year. Six figures yearly!!
There are four main sections that you’ll need to master in order to create a successful blog:
- Before you launch your blog
I’m gonna break down each section in detail here.
Part 1: PRELANCH – What You Need To Do Before You Start Your Blog
A lot of people jump into blogging head first and find “their way” as they blog along.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach. Tons of big time bloggers started this way and are obviously killing it now.
However, a better approach is to do some homework in the beginning. Creating a solid foundation will save you a TON of time down the road. There will be less “figuring it out” as you blog along.
This step is like creating a blueprint for a house you are going to build. It’s this skeletal framework that your blog foundation will be built on. You are able to adjust pretty much anything about it down the road – but you will want a clear plan from the beginning.
Here are the 3 MAIN things to consider before you launch a blog:
- Pick a winning niche
- Develop your USP (unique selling proposition)
- Set up your blog
1. Picking a winning niche
The main topic your blog will be about is clearly important. You probably already have a few ideas of what you would like to blog about.
You want to do your best at clearly defining what your blog is before you start it.
This way, you can begin creating the right type of content immediately. You’ll also attract the right readers right away. And you will also start building your brand from the get-go.
Your brand is very important because people will learn to associate your blog with feelings of trust, likability, and authority – once you begin creating content that people need.
The end result of this is that people will want to buy what you sell or promote – simply because they trust and like you.
I have to say – you NEED to have the mindset of creating a blog that is better than 80-90% of other blogs in your niche.
I’ll level with you right here…
Blogging is COMPETITIVE.
You will NOT make meaningful amounts of money online if you half ass it.
There are so many other bloggers out there slugging it in the trenches day after day in hopes of making it rain. You need to also have this type of work ethic – but doing it smartly of course (which this blog post will help you with).
How to pick a niche
The first major step in picking a niche is to pick one! You don’t want to pick just ANY niche. You MUST pick a niche that has the potential to make money.
How do you pick a money making niche?
Ask yourself if people are spending money in this niche.
For example, people in the “organic living” niche spend money on essential oils, organic foods, yoga products, gardening products, and more.
People in the “space travel” niche spend money on….. hmm I don’t even know. I haven’t researched this niche, but I know it will be hard to make money because there are very few products to promote – if any at all.
Who buys space travel products – right?
Whether you choose a major topic that people clearly spend money on or not, you need to research your niche (for several reasons).
Niche research tells you:
- What products you can promote to make money
- How you can fit in and stand out
1) The first thing I do when I niche research is to figure out how I can make money. This is the MAIN reason why I will enter a new niche. If there is no money to be made (or very little), I take a hard pass.
2) Niche research will show you what products are out there to promote. It tells you what problems people have. You also get to see what existing websites are doing to make money and how they fit in. All this information will help you figure out how you can create your own blog in this space that stands out and adds value.
Where to niche research
Look at all the top dogs in your niche. This is my favorite way to get a handle of who are the big shots and what they are doing.
If you are thinking about blogging about photography for example, go on Google and search around for photography blogs. Make a list of all the big players. Then spend time going through their blogs. Read their content. Think about what they are doing that makes them awesome.
Just as important, pay attention to what they are selling and promoting. How are they doing it? Did they create their own products? Are they using an email list to promote products? What products are they promoting as affiliates?
I’ll level with you again: Creating a successful blog is NOT about inventing a new type of wheel. It’s 100% about following in the footsteps of what SUCCESSFUL people have already done – only doing it differently, and better if possible.
Niche research gives you tons of information about what successful people are doing. Again, this is an essential step because it tells you how YOU can fit in this likely super crowed niche.
Spend time reading their blog posts. What types of content are they writing? Read the comments. What are readers saying? Think about what problems these top blogs are solving. Can you help these readers solve these problems too?
Other places to niche research are forums, Facebook groups, Quora, Amazon reviews, Reddit, etc. Real people with real problems hang around these places and leave comments, questions, and reviews.
You want to get a clear idea of what people in your niche struggle with. Ultimately, you want to figure out if you can HELP these people.
Niche research can take just a day or two or it could take weeks. There’s no real right answer here.
But the MORE you understand who’s out there and what they are doing, the BETTER you will be equipped with how to brand yourself differently so you can step right in and stand out.
How to tell if you have a winning niche
A winning niche has these things:
- People are super passionate about the niche (passionate people spend lots of money)
- People have major problems that need to be solved (people with problems spend lots of money)
- A lot of people are interested in this niche (more people means more buyers)
- There are many products and services you can create or promote (means people need solutions)
If your niche research ticks all or a lot of the bullet points above, then it’s a niche you will probably want to enter.
Niches that are guaranteed to be lucrative
There are 3 main markets that about 90% of all money that exchanged hands online are made in. They are:
If you pick a niche within one of these major topics, you can 100% be sure people will need problems solved. In other words, people are buying things in these niches.
These niches are evergreen niches that are important to everyone today or 300 years later. And it doesn’t matter how broke people are or how bad the economy is… These topics are EVERGREEN – which means they will never stop being important.
But what about competition?
Competition is a good and bad thing. It’s bad because it means you have to fight through more bloggers/businesses to get noticed. It’s good because it’s the clearest indicator that there is money to be made – which is why so many people are in it.
So what should you do?
I would say this: Even if you only get 0.01% of the pie in a major market like the health industry – that’s still a FULL TIME INCOME from blogging.
Pick a niche you’re passionate about
Your niche is another word for your “blog topic”.
It’s what you will be talking about ALL THE TIME. I personally feel it’s super important to pick a topic you will enjoy talking about.
I’ve started blogs on weird (but lucrative) topics solely to make money. It was extremely grueling working in these niches.
I recommend picking a topic you love to talk about as long as it is a niche that has money making potential.
Basically, I want you to enjoy the process of blogging.
Taking your blog to a six figure income is a hell of an adventure – and it’s so much easier to do when you get excited about working on your blog.
How big or small should your niche be?
You may have heard the advice to “niche down” really small because it will be easier to become an expert in your field and stand out.
This is totally true.
But not the whole story…
First, let me give you an example of niching down:
- Health (market)
- Women’s Health (still huge, so still a market in my opinion)
- Women’s Weight Loss (BIG niche)
- Weight Loss For Middle Aged Women (niche getting smaller)
- Weight Loss Using The Paleo Diet For Middle Aged Women (even smaller and as small as I would go)
- Weight Loss Using The Paleo Diet For Middle Aged Women Suffering From Diabetes (Very niched down)
So, how big or small should you go?
This is actually a pretty hard question to answer. You’ll get various answers from blogging experts.
I would say the BIG question you want to ask yourself is what type of blog you want to be? If you plan to blog for a very long time – say 10 years or more – I would say pick a broader niche. This way you can talk about a lot of different subject matter and grow big over time.
However, niching down really small means you will be able to build a loyal audience more easily.
If I am a 40 something year old female who is suffering from diabetes and I think the paleo diet can help me, and I land on your blog paleodiabeticgal.com where you get incredibly in depth about beating diabetes with the paleo diet, you will instantly GRAB MY ATTENTION.
Provided that you supply me with amazingly useful content, there is NO WAY I will not be a loyal reader.
You can carve your own space in this niche and be the GO TO much more quickly than when you choose a broader niche. You can make six figures in this super niched down topic too.
What do I recommend? Start smaller (niched down). Leave yourself room to grow if it makes sense to do so down the road. Focus on your main topic first. And when you’ve pretty much exhausted it, move on to a closely (but different) related topic.
2. Developing your USP (unique selling proposition)
A USP is a fancy word for “what makes you different”.
I want to be clear on something: You NEED To be different that most bloggers in your niche. If you create a copycat blog that’s basically the same as an existing blogger who’s already well known and killing it in your niche – well why the hell would someone want to start reading your blog?
Which means you need to figure out how to be different.
YOU NEED TO STAND OUT.
In a crowded market like health and fitness, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers (maybe millions?) in this space.
If you’re thinking about entering a market like this, you’re probably thinking how the hell are you going to be “different” when there’s so much competition?!?!?!
Coming up with your USP
Your USP (unique selling proposition) is how you will stand out from the crowd.
(again, it’s “that thing” about you that makes you different).
Think real hard about how you can separate yourself from the competition…
Is there anything about you that is inherently DIFFERENT than your competitors? Do you have knowledge or experience that very few people – if any at all have?
Here are some examples of great USP’s:
- Personal nutrition coach to Lebron James
- Developed software for Apple Inc.
- Built your Instagram account to 5 million followers
- Travelled to every country in the world
- Lived in a rainforest by yourself for 10 years
If your USP is relevant to your niche, you want to USE IT.
It will be “that thing” that cuts right through the noise all the other bloggers are making. People will instantly gravitate to what you have to say.
Your USP “hooks” them in and demands their attention.
Lebron James is a hell of an athlete. Clearly he needs to eat well to perform the way he does. As an athlete myself, there are a gazillion websites out there feeding me nutrition and workout advice. Who do I trust? Who should I follow?
WELL, how about the guy who teaches a generational basketball player how to eat? YEA… that’s someone who should definitely know what he’s talking about – I mean, if he’s good enough for Lebron he’s good enough for me.
That’s how powerful a strong USP is.
But I’m just a regular not so fancy person and don’t have a USP. Am I screwed then?
No – definitely not.
Because you can create a USP if you don’t have one. You do this by using an angle.
Coming up with your angle
I talked about niche research earlier. Through your research, you should have identified what the major players are doing and HOW they are doing it.
This information is necessary to develop your angle.
Let’s use photography as an example:
Let’s say you decide to be a blog specifically about mirrorless photography. This is a great niche because it’s not so wide that it includes DSLR’s, point and shoots, mobile photography, among other topics…
And its not too narrow so there will be plenty of people interested in reading your blog.
You find all the top mirrorless websites out there and notice these blogs tend to focus on a specific brand of mirrorless photography – like Sony or Fuji.
It really looks like this is the way to go about building a blog in this space.
So should you just create ANOTHER blog about Sony mirrorless photography? If the niche isn’t so crowded – maybe it will work.
Chances are it’s crowded (I haven’t researched this niche btw). There could be a dozen top blogs about this topic (along with hundreds or thousands of smaller blogs).
Being another blog on the block isn’t likely going to cut it.
So you make your Sony mirrorless blog DIFFERENT in some way with an angle that makes you unique.
For example, you can be:
- The Sony mirrorless street photography blog
- The Sony mirrorless travel photography blog
- The Sony mirrorless foodie blog
- The Sony mirrorless gear blog
- The Sony mirrorless rumours blog
Now you have something UNIQUE about your blog that all the other blogs MAY cover somewhat – but not in the same detail you’ll be covering it.
This makes YOU stand out to people who are really interested in learning how to take better photos with their Sony cameras when they travel for example.
This person would rather read YOUR blog because you cover this specific topic DEEPLY – rather than other blogs who touch on travel photography “generally”.
For this blog, here are just some of the things you can talk about:
- The best Sony mirrorless cameras for traveling
- Best lenses for traveling around
- Accessories like backpacks, tripods, and filters for Sony cameras
- How to use your Sony camera
- Editing Sony raw files on the go quickly
- Upcoming products in the Sony mirrorless lineup
And so much more.
Remember, your blog is tailored towards the Sony mirrorless system with a focus on travel photography.
This is your angle. Your super power in the extremely competitive niche of photography.
Over time, your angle will become your USP.
You will be that “guy” (or girl) that’s the expert in Sony travel photography. People will start knowing you for that.
Your goal is to become the GO TO or one of the main GO TO’s in your specific niche. Always keep this in mind.
The next step is to begin creating content that GRABS ATTENTION and HOOKS people in.
Ultimately, great content is what will build loyal readership.
And oh yea, it makes people LOVE buying from you too.
You’ll learn about content creation in part 2.
One last thing about developing your niche…
I gotta say, a lot of people don’t do any of the above stuff and are succeeding wildly beyond their expectations.
They start a blog with no idea of what they’re doing – but they learn and persist through – which is the most important thing.
It’s ideal to get everything DOWN before you launch – but it ain’t a deal breaker if you don’t.
It’s more important that you START as best you can and then work your ass off.
3. Create your blog
You’ll need a domain name and hosting.
Choosing a domain name:
All the good domain names are taken. You’ll need to get creative when choosing a name.
Your name is very important because it’s your BRAND. It’s the most descriptive thing about your blog.
I like to choose domain names with 2 words only. The shorter it is the more memorable it is. And I like to include at least 1 word that describes my niche.
I also like to keep it somewhat broad because it leaves me room to talk about a lot of different topics in the niche while staying relevant to my domain name.
Here are a few examples I made up:
You probably have a great idea of what each blog is about just by looking at the name. That’s important in my opinion.
The other option is to simply create a domain name that has absolutely no meaning at all – but eventually it will have meaning because you will brand it over time.
Here are a few examples:
A word like Google, Samsung, and Adobe meant absolutely nothing at one point. But because these companies have branded their names, we know what they are now.
You can do the same with your blog (on a smaller scale of course).
Also, I don’t recommend creating a name that is too narrow.
For example, stoplowerbackpain.com is a very narrow domain name. While you may have every intention to create a blog solely on this topic, if you ever wanted to talk about digestive health or skincare, it doesn’t “fit” too well with your domain.
Only choose a narrow domain name if you’re certain this is the only topic you will blog about.
As a beginner blogger, you don’t need to spend much money on hosting.
It’s important to get hosting that’s fast enough and reliable enough. Basically any introductory shared hosting plan will give you this.
Hosting is easy to change down the road if you aren’t satisfied with what you have.
Your domain name cannot be changed. So really try and nail down your domain name correctly.
Take your time brainstorming the right domain name that represents what your brand and blog will be about.
Part 2: CONTENT – How To Write Amazing Content That Drives Sales
Let’s talk about writing content.
As a new blogger, your duties will be heavily focused on content creation. And beyond this, creating great content will be an on-going priority.
Content creation is a very time consuming task. So you want to do it right from the get go.
I would say 95% of blogs out there create bad content. These articles are thin on usefulness and aren’t overly helpful.
This can’t be you.
Great content usually takes a few hours to write at a minimum. Top bloggers can spend a few days to a week creating an exceptional piece of content.
Your measuring stick of how good your content needs to be will depend on what the top bloggers in your niche are doing. You need to be creating content on the same level or better.
For example, in the blogging niche that this blog competes in, it’s hella competitive…
Which is why I need to create epic blog posts like the one you’re reading now to be relevant in this space.
With that said….
Here are the 6 most important factors to consider when creating content:
- Start with the money
- Solve problems
- Create content with a purpose
- Create evergreen content
- Types of great content
- Be “you”
1. Start with the money
Here’s a game changing tip:
Pick a product you want to promote BEFORE you write a blog post.
In fact, try and choose products to promote before you even start your blog – or at least have a great idea of what you want to promote.
Most bloggers write content and then try to figure out how to make money from it down the road.
This is very backwards.
Starting with the money means you’ll be able to more seamlessly insert the product into your content in a way that flows smoother.
The main reason you want to do this is because it helps your conversions (makes you more money) – and prevents you from blogging about subject matter that can’t be monetized.
I blog about back pain and I want to promote a yoga for back pain ebook.
The yoga ebook teaches 5 main yoga moves that cures back pain.
In my blog post, I decide to write heavily about one of the yoga moves. I create nice pictures of me doing the yoga move and its close variations. I also detail how to do the move and how it helps back pain.
Then I tell my reader that this move is actually just 1 of 5 back pain relieving moves you can use too – and the rest are contained in this yoga ebook that I link to with my affiliate link.
Can you see how this blog post is structured in a way that related directly with the product?
This is just ONE way to create a blog post that ties the product in nicely. There are many other ways to do this.
The main point I want to get across here is this: Choose products you want to promote. Then create content based on promoting the product. You’ll make more sales.
2. Solve problems
The number one goal of your content is to solve a problem (or several problems).
I want to drill this into your head.
Every time you write a piece of content, you need to ask yourself what problem are you solving?
If you can’t answer this – don’t write it. It’s a waste of time.
People don’t read your blog for fun – unless you blog about cute cat pictures.
They read your blog to solve their problems. If your blog does not serve this purpose, it has NO PURPOSE.
So I’ll say it again.
Your blog needs to SOLVE PROBLEMS.
Always be digging for problems people in your niche have.
Forums, blog comments, Quora, Yahoo Answers, Facebook groups, and anywhere your target audience hangs out are excellent places to learn about their problems.
You need to be in these places too.
The better you get to know your target audience, the better content you can create that SOLVES THEIR PROBLEMS.
Remember: problem solving = making money.
3. Create content with a purpose
A lot of bloggers write content without thinking about its purpose.
I feel like they furiously create content because they’ve been told they need to constantly publish new stuff for their readers in order to stay relevant.
First of all, that’s half true.
But secondly, these bloggers are publishing stuff just to get stuff out.
There’s no real purpose behind it.
Don’t be that person.
Here’s what you need to do instead:
With every piece of content you create, think about the end goal of it…
Are you looking to sell a product directly in the blog post? Are you trying to capture an email address? Are you looking to create something your readers can use as a resource again and again?
Whatever it is, you want to tailor your piece of content specifically for that purpose.
Here’s an example:
You want to create an amazing resource for the purpose of attracting backlinks.
Backlinks is the MAIN purpose of this content.
You decide to write a long list post that includes as many bloggers as you can in it. When your blog post goes live, these bloggers will get a notification in their WordPress dashboard that someone linked to them.
Bloggers get exited when people link to them and will check out your post to see where the link came from.
In the end, hopefully some will link back to you – if not now then maybe in the future.
They should be happy to at least share your resource on social media.
You should also email each individual blogger you linked to letting them know you’ve linked to them – and ask if they would like to mention you on their blog or on social media.
Here’s an example of a blog post that does exactly what I just described: How To Save Money.
Notice it’s a resources that’s geared heavily towards getting noticed.
The amount of external links in the article is a little bit excessive. But done on purpose because the more links the more bloggers the article can reach – which is the entire purpose of the article.
As you blog along, always think about what your END GOAL is with this article.
Don’t write a single word unless you know.
I’ll give you another example 🙂
The purpose of the article you’re reading right now is to grab your email address.
This is my main goal.
To do that, I need to demonstrate my expertise in blogging. Hopefully I’m doing a good job.
I’ve decided that I want to create THE BEST resource on the internet about what it takes to build a six figure blog.
I’m trying to attract readers who are serious about blogging and need help making money with their blog (note: I’m solving a problem!)
By writing this incredibly in depth article about blogging, I hope I can show you I know my shit and that I can help you…
And when I ask for your email, you’ll happily want to give it to me 🙂
That’s the goal here.
That’s the PURPOSE of this article.
With that said, I think it’s a great time to ask you if you would like to join my mailing list:
—> Insert optin box here
LOL I don’t have one yet (but I will soon) – so if you’re reading this so sorry – even a guy like me fails at some things.
4. Create evergreen content
Evergreen content is content that is relevant today and will be relevant 10 years from now or 100 years from now.
As I mentioned earlier, content creation is an incredibly time consuming task.
To get the most out of your content, focus it on topics that can’t really be dated.
For example, a website like techradar publishes a new article on iPhone rumours almost every week. The one from last week is basically old news already.
This type of non evergreen content is not good for most bloggers.
When you are researching blog topics you want to write about – make a mental note about how evergreen the topic is.
The “greener” the better.
This blog post about blogging is pretty evergreen. Sure, I need to edit it as blogging practices change over time.
However, I’m confident blogging (or making money with a website) will be relevant 20+ years down the road – so it’s worth it for me to work really hard on it.
5. Types of popular content
I want to talk a bit about the types of blog posts you should be writing.
I find a lot of bloggers write the same style of blog posts no matter the subject matter.
That’s not optimal.
Certain blog post “archetypes” are better suited for certain topics.
Here are six popular content types you should use:
- List posts
- How to / Tutorials
- Informational content
- Ultimate guides
- Resources posts
Most blogs will benefit from writing a bunch of different types of content. So some list posts here, reviews there, throw in some how-to tutorials and then some straight up informational posts.
Here’s an explanation of these posts and what they’re good for:
1. List Post
A list post is a numbered post that highlights many topics about a subject.
- 50 Things to do in San Francisco
- 50 Best Hobbies That Make Money
- 10 Best Adsense Alternatives
- 109 Ways To Make Money
List posts are great because they provide a lot of information in one post – albeit usually not very in depth info.
Linking out to useful resources in list posts is something I recommend. Gives your readers a place to go for more info.
List posts are also great at attracting backlinks and getting shares on social media (more on this later).
2. How To / Tutorials
You should write as many of these types of blog posts as you can.
The main reason you want to do this is because it demonstrates your expertise.
The more of these types of content your readers consume from you, the more they know you can help them. And when you’re ready to sell a product or promote an affiliate product, they will be more likely to listen to your pitch.
This blog post is an example of a “how to” article.
3. Information Content
Informational content is focused on providing information about a certain subject.
- Health benefits of bananas
- Side effects of medical marijuana
- History of California
These types of blog posts don’t make you much money typically. The user usually isn’t looking for anything more than the information they’re searching for.
So why would you want to write these types of articles?
Well, these types of topics gets the MOST searches in Google.
They attract A LOT of traffic – which is never a bad thing.
You always want to make sure you are attracting relevant traffic, however some of these topics gets so much volume that by getting large volumes of visitors to your site, some of them will find something that interests them and stick around.
And many of these topics aren’t overly competitive to rank in Google for – which can mean easy traffic – another thing that’s never bad.
A ton of different people could be searching for health benefits of bananas.
A percentage of them will be people who want to lose weight and are wondering if bananas are healthy to eat on a diet.
Even if it’s only 5% of people who search for health benefits of bananas because they want to lose weight, that 5% could be A LOT of easy traffic if it’s an easy topic to rank in Google for.
Have you ever “discovered” a useful blog by searching for related topics on Google? Of course you have! So that’s why you’d want to write informational type topics.
4. Ultimate Guides
An ultimate guide is simply a “how to / tutorial” blog post on steroids.
These types of posts can take days or even weeks to create.
You want to create a few of these types of blog posts on your blog because they will become content that you will be known for.
For example, I am really trying to make this blog post the absolute best free resource on the internet about starting a successful blog.
It’s about 10,000 words long and full of useful information. Not every blog post I write will be this long and in depth.
But I’ve identified this topic as an important piece of content for my blog growth – so I want to create an ultimate guide for it.
For you, pick out a few topics in your niche that you’d really love to be popular and known for – then create an amazing resource for it.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a long blog post. It could be a free book, a series of videos, or a piece of software that solves a problem.
Whatever it is – make sure it’s really damn good. Really try and set out to make it BETTER than anything else out there right now.
Review posts are super useful to readers because they want know how other people have used and benefitted from the product/service.
Consumers are much smarter today. They do their homework before buying things.
If you’ve used a product or have experience with it, writing a review of it will be tremendously helpful for your audience.
Review posts also have insanely high conversions. People looking for a review of a product are ready to buy.
I’ve always like the term “they have their credit cards in their hand” 🙂
They just need confirmation that the product they’re buying is the right one.
6. Resource Posts
A resource post is a collection of “resources” in one centralized area for your readers to consume.
This “collection post” can save your readers a ton of time and will therefore be incredibly useful to them.
The content you curate can be about any subject matter – so long as it’s useful.
A great example is from BlogTyrant here: A Complete List Of Blog Sites.
It’s a curated list of all blog sites you can start a blog on. It’s done up with a premium touch. For anyone who is looking for website ideas to start a blog, there isn’t a better resource out there.
Clearly, Ramsay has spent a large amount of time on this resource and wants to rank #1 in Google for it 🙂
Summing Up Content Creations
If there’s only one thing you take away – make it this: Write content that solves problems.
Solving problems = making money.
Because people spend a lot of money to solve their problems.
That’s really the bottom line…. and it’s the main reason why you start a money making blog – to solve problems.
So now what….
Write great content, hit the publish button, and BAM! Traffic and sales rush in?
Writing great content is a prerequisite to creating a blog that demands attention. However, it’s really only maybe 1/4 of the battle.
Because hitting the publish button isn’t enough.
What you need to do now is promote your blog.
The next section (part 3) will be all about generating traffic to your content and blog.
Part 3: TRAFFIC – How To Get Visitors To Your Blog That Want To Buy Things
When I’m browsing around Facebook groups and forums related to blogging, there’s one struggle that comes up more than anything else….
Everybody wants to get more traffic to their website but don’t have to skill or know-how.
The struggle is real.
In my opinion, attracting traffic is the hardest part about blogging.
Not surprisingly, traffic is the most important aspect of blogging too.
Traffic is like blood in your body. It doesn’t matter how perfect everything else in your body is running. If you have no blood flowing through your body – well you’re dead.
Same with your blog.
No visitors to your blog means nobody to make a sale from – and it doesn’t matter if you have the best content in the world and have the best funnels in place to make sales.
Let’s talk about getting traffic.
There are two main sources to attract traffic:
- Social media
- Search Engines (SEO)
If you build a solid foundation of traffic from one or two social media networks, along with traffic from search engines, you will have enough traffic to make incredible amounts of money with your blog.
1. Social Media
The five most prominent social media networks are:
With other networks like LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Reddit following behind.
You may have heard that you need to be on all social media networks to get traffic from a ton of different sources….
…but that advice is flat out awful.
Building ONE social media account to a meaningful level is a lot of work already – on top of all your other duties related directly to your blog.
It can take a year or longer to build up a social media account that can influence on a scale that matters. People spend years building a single social media account and still don’t have enough presence on it.
To spread yourself across several social media accounts is a quick way to dilute your presence and not influence anywhere.
SO what should you do?
Pick ONE social media account and run with it.
Once you gain enough followers and have the level of presence you’re happy with on one social media account, you can then move on to a different one if you want.
Which social media account should you choose?
You want to choose the social media account where your target audience hangs out the most.
Every social media network will take a considerable amount of work to build. There isn’t really an “easy” social media network – though I feel Pinterest is the easiest network to get traffic from.
Your target audience will be on Facebook no matter what you blog about. Facebook is so large that you will never be able to reach everyone on it that is interested in your niche.
You can build an audience with a Facebook business page and a Facebook group.
Facebook groups are pretty money these days. Facebook seems to prefer showing group activity over Facebook page activity.
With a Facebook group, you will have a family of people who are all interested in the topic about your group. You can promote your products, services, or anything else whenever you please.
Facebook is also a great place to advertise your blog/business with paid advertising. This may be a little later down the road when you have your own products 🙂
Twitter is a network that is more focused on updates and current events – though a lot of people use it to share their blog posts and other evergreen material.
Personally, I don’t use Twitter. Not because it’s not good for my blog – but because as I mentioned earlier – you just can’t build a presence “everywhere”.
Almost every niche is relevant on Twitter. Twitter will be an especially good network for you if you blog about topics and events that come and go.
Pinterest is my favorite social media network. It’s just the absolute bombs. I get thousands of visitors from it daily.
The one thing I hear so often is that people look at Pinterest and don’t get it.
Here’s how it works:
Pinterest is actually a search engine rather than a social network like Facebook.
On Facebook, people are on there to lol around and creep on ex girlfriends. On Pinterest, people use it specifically to look for a solution to a problem.
In other words, Pinterest is like Google! (a search engine).
A user looking to bake muffins will go on Pinterest and type in something like “simple muffin recipes”. A ton of pins about muffin recipes will show up and the user can get the exact recipe on the blog where the pin came from.
The important part to understand here is that the user is LOOKING for a solution – which is NOT what users are doing on Facebook and Twitter.
I read a lot of blog posts about people making their first dollars in just a few months blogging. It’s almost always from Pinterest traffic. It’s not easy traffic – but it’s the easiest to get from a social network.
I would say you should be able to get a few hundred to over one thousand daily Pinterest visitors to your blog in about six months. For sure by a year – if you’re working hard at growing your Pinterest account of course.
Instagram is an amazing social media network that’s quite different than all the others.
It’s more of a network that lives and breathes by itself actually. That’s the best way to think of it.
You can build a presence on Instagram alone and make a full time income. In fact, a lot of people started on Instagram and then had to start a blog to supplement their Instagram account.
How does Instagram work for your blog?
If you have a blog topic that is visual in nature, you really want to be on Instagram.
Topics like travel, fitness, and beauty are especially popular on Instagram because of how visual they are.
You build your brand and influence on Instagram by posting photos doing what you do as you travel around, put on make up, and workout (or whatever it is you do). People that enjoy your content will follow you and start receiving your content on their home feed.
As your following grows, so does your influence. People on Instagram are HIGHLY engaged. More so than any other social network.
Brands know this. So they will want to work with you if you have a good follow that is engaged.
Here are some examples of making money on Instagram:
- A travel company will pay your flights and hotels in exchange for Instagram updates about their tour
- A energy drink company will pay you $2000 to post 3 photos of you holding their drink
- A car company will pay you $2500 to take action photos of their car and post it to your feed
Yes, companies and brands will pay you this much – and even more for posting photos to your feed.
The bigger your follower count and engagement metrics you have, the more money you can command.
So Instagram is sort of like a network to to build and make money on its own. You don’t even need a blog.
You can get traffic to your website from Instagram. For the most part though, I think it’s better to use Instagram as more of a separate entity.
You blog about fitness for 20 year olds. You will most likely be funneling readers from your blog to your Instagram account (easiest way to grow your account in the beginning).
On your Instagram account, you can reach out to brands and companies for partnership opportunities. Brands will also find you through Instagram when your presence is large enough.
From here, you can work out a partnership that lasts one time or is on-going with brands. Having a blog AND an Instagram account will help you command more money because your reach is larger.
I really really love Instagram. I feel like you need to be on there IF your niche is a good match.
Again, you can make a full time income JUST from Instagram alone – without a blog. So think of it as an extra revenue stream that isn’t coming directly from your blog.
Google+ never took off the way Google hoped it would.
To be honest, I don’t even know a single friend who uses it. Not that it doesn’t drive traffic to blog – but in my opinion – there are better more popular networks to focus on at first.
I’m not an expert here at all so I don’t have anything to add here. Sorry.
Social Networks Summary
I just want to reiterate a few key points:
- Pick one social media network to master. Stick with it because all networks takes time to learn and build
- Pinterest is the easiest network to get traffic from and a network I recommend if it makes sense for your niche
- Instagram is another network I highly recommend if it suits your niche
- Social networks are just one place to get traffic from.
I also recommend signing up for an account at ALL the main social media networks even though you don’t plan to use them. You want to secure your accounts. And you may end up using them someday.
2. Search Engine Traffic
Search engine traffic is the most valuable traffic you can get.
Naturally, it’s also the hardest traffic to get.
It’s valuable because people looking for information on search engines are ACTIVELY looking to solve a problem. As a blogger, you will be providing solutions to these problems through your content.
Search engine traffic is traffic from websites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use the word search engine and Google synonymously because they own 70% of all search engine traffic.
Why is Google traffic so hard to get?
There are only 10 spots on page 1 of Google. Being on page 2 is basically the same as being on page 100 – because searchers almost never look beyond page 1.
There can be thousands – even hundreds of thousands of websites competing to be on page 1. That’s a ton of competition – And that’s why Google traffic is so hard to get.
How do you get Google traffic?
There’s an entire industry devoted to ranking highly on Google.
It’s called SEO (search engine optimization).
SEO is every activity you do to rank as high as you can in Google.
SEO can be split into two main activities:
- On page SEO
- Off page SEO
On page SEO is everything you do on your website to optimize it for Google. The great thing about on page SEO is that the basics of it is really easy to learn. You can learn it in a day or two.
Off page SEO is the “fun” stuff because it’s everything you do outside of your blog to rank in Google – which are very varied.
You can sum up off page SEO in two words: “link building”.
The MOST important factor in ranking well in Google are backlinks pointed to your site.
Simply put: to rank high in Google, you need as many backlinks as you can get (and as many high quality links as you can get).
There are tons of ways to build backlinks. If you search “link building” on Google, brace yourself.
I really recommend picking out a few back linking techniques and mastering them instead of trying 15 different ways to get a link.
I wrote an in depth blog post about beginner SEO you can find here.
It takes time to rank in Google
SEO is a work now and get rewarded later type of gig.
It can take 6 months to 9 months before you even start seeing the first trickles of traffic from Google. It can take a year or even longer before you get rewarded with solid Google traffic – if you get it at all.
To be honest, MOST blog post you write won’t succeed in Google because of how competitive it is. You can spend more time building links to raise your rankings – but then you have less time to create content.
Keywords are the “key”
The foundation of every blog post you write needs to have a main keyword.
A keyword is a word or phrase that you want to show up in Google for when someone searches for that exact word or phrase.
For example, I wrote a blog post titled 50 Fun Things To Do In Portland Oregon.
My main keyword is “things to do in Portland” (a very competitive keyword btw).
I want to show up in the top 10 of Google if someone types in “things to do in Portland”.
(fyi, I won’t rank top 10 just by hitting the publish button for this keyword – I’ll need to build a healthy amount of links in order to do so).
Regardless, every single blog post I write will be optimized with a main keyword. It’s what YOU need to do as well with your blog – whether or not you plan to build links to it or not.
How do you find keywords?
By using a keyword research tool.
This tool will tell you what words people are using to search for stuff in Google as well as approximately how many people are searching for it.
The Google Keyword Planner is a free tool you can use – and there are paid tools that are better.
By using a keyword tool and then analyzing the competition for this keyword – combined with how many people are searching for this keyword and how commercial it is – you can then decide if its worth it or not to try and rank for this keyword.
3. Other Sources Of Traffic
Social networks and Google are two incredibly important places to get traffic from.
As I mentioned earlier, if you master one or two social networks and get that Google traffic, you are GOLD!
However, here are a few other good places to get traffic from as well:
- Quora – A place users ask questions and answer them. You can answer questions and drive readers to your blog at the same time
- Referral traffic – Referral traffic is traffic to your blog from websites that have linked to you. You can build these yourself by guest posting/link building or you can product awesome content that people want to link to naturally
Part 4: MONETIZATION – How To Make Money From Visitors
Here comes the most interesting part of blogging for most people… making money.
To be really honest, making money is simply a consequence of doing everything I’ve explained so far.
To recap: you create a unique blog and give readers high quality information that solves their problems. Readers will grow to like and trust you – give you massive authority in your niche. When you present a solution (product) to a problem they have – they will be very interested in buying the product from you.
Money in the bank baby.
Again, I want to reiterate that money is simply an inevitable result from adding value to your readers life. You can’t force people to buy things but you can certainly be a person who people want to buy from.
If you’ve ever read any article on “how to make money blogging”, you’ve for sure read something like this:
“There are so many ways to make money blogging”.
…And I think a lot of us bloggers who have gone full time have tried like 25 ways to monetize our websites… and eventually we realize that that’s a pretty stupid way to make money.
All I have to do is look at the top bloggers in any niche.
Chances are – they are making crazy amounts of money using just 1-3 monetization strategies.
You should too.
Especially as a beginner blogger.
Focus on 1-3 ways to make money with your blog. And get real DOWN AND DIRTY with it.
The 5 most common monetization strategies
Below are the most popular monetization strategies bloggers and businesses use.
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored Posts
- Product Creation
- Email Marketing
They’re popular because they work – And building expertise in just ONE of them can make you millions of dollars.
Again – you don’t need 25 ways.
I’m going to go through each one and explain the pro’s and con’s of each.
Advertisements are ads displayed on a website.
They’re usually blocks of content that appear in various highly visible locations on a website – like the sidebar.
Ads can also appear as pop-ups, on images, slide in, be a video that automatically plays, and more.
The purpose of an ad is to DISTRACT your reader away from your content.
You spent hours writing content. why the hell would you want that?
Well, because when these ads get clicked or get viewed, you make money.
In fact, just one ad click could pay you $1 – $3 if you are in a lucrative niche.
When you’re getting tens of thousands of visitors to your blog every single day – and just 1% of your visitors click on ads … that’s a full time income blogging.
(an average ad click for a travel blog I own is around $0.50 – $0.75 and I make around $13-$19 per 1000 visitors depending on the season). This is with a fully optimized blog made specifically for ad revenue.
You can see that just a few thousand visitors to my travel blog each day would mean a good chunk of extra income.
Advertisements are the most PASSIVE way to generate website income. They’re easy to set up – and you’re done after that (assuming you don’t optimize). People will see them and a certain percentage of visitors will click them.
The more visitors you get to your blog the more ad revenue you’ll make. It’s as simple as that.
The two main drawbacks of ads is that they distract your readers away from your content and ads are generally pretty ugly – which can degrade the look of your website.
Also, to make good money with ads, you need A LOT of traffic.
Most website’s make $5-$10 per 1000 page views. You’ll need around 10,000 page views per day to make $100. That’s a lot of page views and those visitors may be better monetized in another way.
The type of content most suited for ad revenue are informational type blog posts – like “the health benefits of bananas”.
Remember, most of these visitors aren’t looking to buy anything. They’re simply looking for info. Displaying ads on these pages is usually the best way to monetize this type of traffic.
All you have to do is look at massive websites like Forbes, Men’s Health and Huffington Post. These sites focus on providing “informational” type content – and it’s not surprising that they use ads as their main monetization strategy.
You’ll need to decide if ads are right for you.
You’ll see prominent bloggers in your niche use them and not use them. You’ll maybe want to experiment when you get to monetizing your website.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you promote another businesses product or service for a commission.
I love it so much because it goes hand in hand with blogging.
The business of blogging is the business of solving problems.
Affiliate products solve problems 🙂
Your readers will naturally need a product to fully or more easily solve a problem your blog post is about.
To many money with affiliate products, you want to remember this:
You want to give your readers useful information but not ALL the information. Because if you did, then they wouldn’t need to buy the product then would they.
Show them how a product/service can help them… and let them decide if they want to buy it or not.
You can show them one step of the process, do a tutorial of how you’re using the product, or highlight how each main benefit of the product will help your reader.
If you do a good job “pre-selling” the affiliate product – readers will understand how the product will help them and you will make their buying decision clearer.
There are affiliate products to promote in almost every niche.
You can find them on popular affiliate networks like Commission Junction and Amazon Associates. You can also go on Google and type in something like “fitness affiliate programs”.
Affiliate marketing is really about referring your readers to places where they can buy something that will help them with their lives.
What YOU need to do is WARM up your readers to the idea of buying the product / service… and then let the the product owner do the selling (which is their job – not yours).
I wrote a pretty in depth guide on affiliate marketing you can read here.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are content you publish on your blog that you are paid for.
It could be an article that you are given to publish on your blog as is or it could be an article you write yourself where you advertise the businesses product.
Businesses want sponsored posts for two main reasons:
- They want to expose their product / service to your audience
- They just want a backlink from your website and don’t if anyone sees the sponsored content
Companies will want to work with you when you have a blog that receives a lot of traffic and/or has a highly engaged audience.
And they also want to work with you when you have strong domain authority (DA) – which is a measure of how authoritative your blog is.
Sponsorships are a very lucrative business:
- A company could pay you $200 just for adding a link to an existing blog post
- A company could pay you $500 to write one blog post about their product / service
These figures are very reasonable – and are actually on the low side if you have an authoritative blog.
So how do you make money with sponsorships
Companies looking for sponsors can find your blog and reach out to you – or you can find companies and reach out to them.
In the beginning, you’ll be doing more of the reaching out.
With time – as you build a brand that is authoritative – your email is going to be littered with an endless supply of sponsorship opportunities.
Partnerships can be one time or on-going.
It’s a lot like how money is made on Instagram in fact.
When you get to this level, you pretty much get to decide how much money you want to make with sponsored content.
Every quality blogger rejects the majority of sponsorship opportunities that are thrown their way.
They’ve worked painstakingly hard to build a large loyal audience. There is no way in hell they’re going to slap low quality sponsored products in their audiences faces.
That’s a quick way to lose readers.
Sponsorships are not a monetization strategy for beginners
You need a med-largish audience and / or have high authority before you get good sponsorship opportunities.
You obviously won’t have this in the beginning – though you will likely find some opportunities find their way to you (which usually pays less than $100).
I like to think of sponsorships as icing on the cake.
I don’t build websites with sponsorships as a monetization strategy in mind. They are simply something that happens from building an amazing blog.
Sponsorships can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line each month.
Remember, you gotta build an audience of loyal readers first. Having an authoritative domain is virtually a guaranteed consequence of doing the former.
4. Product Creation
Product creation is when you create a product / service that solves a problem your readers have.
Product creation is NOT something you should do when you start your blog – unless you are extremely knowledgeable and already know what your future readers need.
Product creation takes a lot of research and learning about your target audience. And it usually takes a lot of time creating the product afterwards.
Again – not something you want to focus your time on in the beginning.
Most bloggers that have created their own products do so AFTER they’ve learned about what their audience actually needs.
Here are a few product ideas:
- ebooks (e.g. book on how to use essential oils)
- Online courses (e.g. Pinterest course, travel photography tutorial)
- Personal coaching (e.g. a dating coach)
- Physical products (e.g. hand made crafts)
- A community (e.g. a paid blogging mastermind group)
- Software (e.g. a link building tool)
Notice every item above requires you to be an expert on a topic – which again usually takes time (thus not for a beginner).
Product creation is the most lucrative way to make money online.
Yes, promoting affiliate products is awesome and easier – but eventually you may want to create your OWN products to sell to make more money.
You can also recruit affiliates to promote your product for you! Making you more money 🙂
There’s a point where your blog that’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars turns into a blog that makes millions of dollars.
This usually happens through product creation.
But that’s as far as I’m gonna talk about this. I’ve gotten pretty far from where we are right now. Just know where your blog could eventually end up.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is when you capture a readers email and then market products to them through email.
I want to be very very clear with one thing:
Email marketing will be the MOST IMPORTANT monetization strategy for your blog.
There are maybe just a few exceptions to this. But your email list is your most important asset bar none.
Why are emails so important?
You use emails PRIMARILY to build and strengthen relationships with your readers.
Your content is also responsible for this – but emails is a way to really fuse your relationship together.
People subscribed to your mailing list are your most important fans.
They like you enough that they want to hear from you whenever you have something to say. You want to do everything you can to take care of your email subscribers.
How do you make money with emails?
Let’s get a little technical here.
There are 2 main strategies bloggers and markets use to sell a ton of stuff through emails.
1. Put your readers through a sequence
When your reader subscribes to your email list, they will be automatically be sent a series of emails you’ve already pre-written.
These emails are highly targeted messages related to a problem your reader is interested in solving.
A visitor reads your blog post about traveling through Thailand. It’s great info! You promise to give your reader your 20 best travel tips for Thailand if they sign up to your mailing list. The reader gives you their email and you send them your 20 tips as promised.
Awesome! But here’s where MOST bloggers stop because they don’t know what else to do…
A smart email marketer will have this new subscriber go through a series of pre-written emails that pre-sell a book about Thailand travel.
For example, it could be an automated 3-day email sequence where the reader will receive one email a day. On the 3rd day, the reader is then presented with the Thailand book you wrote.
Not everyone who subscribed to your mailing list will buy the book. But let’s say 5% of people do. And you sell the book for $20. That means you’ll make $100 dollars per 100 email subscribers (on average).
So the more email subscribers you get – the more money you make.
BUT – just as important – you are also building your email list.
It means you can reach out to these people interested in traveling Thailand whenever you want.
You can promote additional travel related products, tell them about a new blog post you’ve written, or just to let them know how your travels are going.
You have an audience on demand – a highly engaged one that you fully OWN (compared to social media traffic that could be cut off at any time for whatever reason).
2. Send a one-off email
You can reach your email list at any time. You have access to an audience that wants to hear from you on demand – as I mentioned earlier.
This means you can promote a product to them any time you want.
You obviously want to do this tastefully – because hammering your list with irrelevant information will kill their attention and drive them to unsubscribe.
Here’s an example of a one-off email:
Your a personal finance blogger with a list of people interested in travel hacking. Let’s say the Chase Sapphire card just came out with a 80,000 bonus points sign up offer that is only good for the weekend.
Well, being the astute credit card expert you are – you email your list with this “one time” broadcast email letting them know about this special offer (that’s pretty amazing and probably not realistic ha!).
Readers who want to take advantage of this deal will gladly sign up for the credit card – using your affiliate link of course.
And let’s say every sign up makes you $80. Well.. imagine getting just 50 sign ups.
From sending one email.
That took you what… 10 minutes to write?
That’s how POWERFUL creating an email list can be.
You need to have one – no matter what niche you belong to.
Again – in order to create an email list where people are excited to open them and check out products you promote, you need to build a loyal audience – which means doing everything I’ve talked about in this blog post.
Building your brand and loyal audience is a combination of a lot tasks done right that synergistically work together.