If you consider yourself a burgeoning entrepreneur, you have probably wondered more than once how to make money blogging. The idea just seems so seamless, elegant, even easy. You write a post and catapult it into the wide world through social media. Your innumerable readers devour it, sharing, liking, commenting. Money magically keeps flowing in while you’re soaking your feet into the Bahamas white sand, with your laptop and cocktails reposing on the towel.
Except it doesn’t really work that way. Or at least, not anymore.
I’m not saying it isn’t possible, mind you. But it’s definitely not easy. Right now, there are over 600 million blogs in the world. That’s a fierce competition if I ever saw one, and it’s not getting any milder as time goes by. Of course, not all of them are commercial blogs. Not all of them belong to your niche either. But all of them do their best to rank high on search engines and gobble up their portion of the global consumer pie.
So, in order to make a decent living out of blogging, you will have to work hard. Knowing the rules is one thing, but you should also feel how and when to break them. Even that perfect mix of skills, hard work and gut feeling may not suffice to make you rich. But at least, it will allow you to quit that dull day job and live off of your passion.
This blog post will recommend four ultimate tips to kick start your project with WordPress, the #1 blogging platform in the world. (If you’ve never made a WordPress site before, hop on to this article to get an idea of what you need to do.)
1. Niches Are Good. Micro Niches Are Better
Unless you’re only doing this for fun, you’d better choose a niche.
But what is a niche? It is basically a pool of mutually related topics from which you will pull out inspiration on the day-to-day basis. For example, pets are a niche. If it happens to be something you like and relate to, it might as well be the niche of your choice, right?
BUT there is a catch here. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about pets as a niche, it’s a field heavily saturated with content. It would be insanely difficult to rank on search engines with more of the same content. Heck, even if what you have to say on the subject is very original and unique, you’re in for some difficult times.
To find a perfect niche, it’s better to choose a micro niche. A peculiar cat or dog breed, for example.
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But even that may not be enough. What if cat lovers are often searching for Sphynx cat but are mainly after information and fun facts? It’s nice to satisfy someone’s curiosity, but mere readers won’t pay your bills. Customers will, so they are what you’re after. So, let’s see what we’ll get when we look up this keyword in Ahrefs.
So, US users tend to search the “Sphynx cat” keyword a lot, and the median Cost-Per-Click (CPC) isn’t very high. It means you will have to pay $0.50 every time someone clicks through your ad.
What about cat food? Take a look for yourself:
This keyword is a bit more difficult to rank for. And a lot less people look it up, but the CPC is a lot higher! You will have to allocate way more cash for your advertising budget if you choose cat food as your micro niche. And that’s only natural – the cat food industry is huge, and many players are competing there. So, your main task is to locate that sweet spot where there’s not much competition, but there are still enough people ready to spend money.
Make sure to also use Google Trends to identify how your potential micro niche has performed over time. Even if it’s currently very popular, it may grow less relevant with time. Also, they have a handy option of comparing various topics. Take a look at this, for example.
It tells us that more people are looking up “dog food” than “cat food”. Not a cat person anymore, eh?
2. Google Is Your Reader Too
Much as you adore your topic, always keep in mind that Google is your reader – I dare even say, your most prominent reader. That means you have to make friends with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Why exactly is this important?
Because ranking high on search engines is pretty much the only way you can reach your audience. Buyers of cat food usually search for it on Facebook. Instead, they are likely to look up the first page or two of the search results on Google and make their purchase there. If you’re eternally stuck in between the 135th and 323rd pages, no bread and butter from your site!
That doesn’t go to say that you should write like a bot and stuff your articles with keywords just because Google likes keywords. Search engine algorithms are getting more intelligent every day and they will slash your ranking if you’re trying to trick them.
Luckily, there are handy tools such as Yoast plugin that will help you optimize your articles for readability, keywords, slugs, and other SEO must-haves.
Let’s see an example of what this handy little tool does. No section of an article should exceed 300 words. But that doesn’t mean I have to count my words manually as I write this section. Yoast will always remind me that I need to separate my text block with a subheading, and that’s what I will do right away. (Not just because of Yoast though. It’s a natural break, since I am making a slight shift to another subject.)
But what about social media and other communication channels, e.g. forums? You should complement your SEO game with social. But if social media is your main focus, you will likely end up with your auntie and grandma as your most loyal audience on Facebook. You know, the ones that never fail to like a post yet never spend a single coin on what it offers.
Think of social media as a frosting on your SEO cake. A strong positioning in search engines will be your most profitable asset. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other channels should only serve as boosters, to send positive social signals and create some kind of buzz around your brand, if possible.
Provided that you’ve chosen your niche wisely and started building a solid positioning on search engines, it’s time to start making money. It isn’t very realistic to expect a proper money rain, but it should suffice to finally make it worth your while.
There are a thousand ways and one to monetize your blog, but the crucial ones will usually involve:
- Affiliate marketing (earning via commission per every purchase)
- Google AdSense for ads
- Email marketing (building mailing lists, selling and upselling to your customers)
Why is Google AdSense the last on this short list? Because it won’t make you much money at the beginning. And not just because of ad blockers. If you’re only just beginning to grow your visitor base, AdSense won’t bring you much more than a meagre $20 or $30 per month.
That leaves us with affiliate and email marketing, the former being easier and less time consuming than the latter. If you choose Amazon Affiliate Program as your primary source of income, you may hope to receive anywhere from 1% to 10% of every purchase made through your links. Other affiliate programs have better fee rates, but they are typically less popular with customers.
We’ve covered these methods in an in-depth post about making money with WordPress.
4. Brand Yourself and Start Selling Big
So far, we considered ways of monetizing your blog by pinching a penny or two off of every purchase or advertisement.
But let’s admit it: most of these activities are dirt cheap in terms of what you can earn. Once you grow enough, it’s time to get super serious and level up the game.That’s where email marketing comes into the game. It requires much work, but is very profitable in the long run, as it aims at making meaningful, lasting connections with your most loyal visitors.
Once you manage to build a huge and loyal audience, you will have positioned your website high in search engines – and yourself as an absolute, badass expert on your topic.
True, you won’t be able to achieve this in less than a couple of years, if not more. But if you manage to do it, you will finally get the chance to hit that Bahama beach you’ve dreamed about for ages.
There are no exact prescriptions as to what exactly you would be able to sell. It really depends on your area of expertise. However, there is one technical and logistic requirement – to build a huge, carefully segmented mailing list of people enthusiastic enough that they are willing to pay for more of whatever it is you’re offering.
Here’s Some Food for Thought – A Few Ideas on What to Sell
- Premium content on a membership or subscription website. In the era of unlimited free online content that is ours for the taking, it can sound counterintuitive that many people are actually willing to pay for top-notch content. Nevertheless, it’s true – that is, if you have such content. Take a look at some of the most successful membership sites out there.
- Sell your services. If you’ve become a true writing wizard, you could put up a separate landing page on your blog for those who would hire you as a freelance writer. Your blog would then turn into a proper portfolio, showing people what you got. Another option is to position yourself as an influencer, which could bring you all kinds of gigs – speaking, writing sponsored posts or reviews, 1-on-1 consultations.
- Sell your products such as courses or ebooks. It will take a lot of grinding to create these products, but the beauty of it is that you can sell them to hundreds of new users over and over, generating you some sweet, passive income. Naturally, you would have to update your course from time to time – but that’s nothing compared to the effort of making something entirely new.
- Sell your own site – or multiple sites. If you built your WordPress website from scratch and turned it into a real money-making machine, you could sell it for tens of thousands of dollars. What you aren’t selling with it is your name and experience. It’s the real capital that you can invest in a new enterprise, with much lower stakes and sky-rocketing return on investment.
Time and again, we are reaching the conclusion that there is no magic formula for acquiring wealth in no time. These tips on making money blogging via WordPress are no different. They are a mere piece of guidance on possible directions you could take, and nothing more. The rest is up to you. If you aren’t willing to commit at least a few years of your life to serious work, you don’t stand a chance at succeeding.
But it’s also completely fine if you aren’t ready for such a feat. If all you need is a small supplementary income, you can always resort to cheap and easy activities such as taking online surveys. Scroll up to the top of this post and check out the top five survey sites!