Boost your blogging income
If you’ve got a blog, and you update it fairly regularly, chances are you’ve fantasised about making money from it. Whether you imagine yourself junking the day job to blog full-time, or just fancy a little extra income – what’s not to like about the thought of making money doing what you love?
If you’re anything like the rest of us, however, your brilliant blogging future is probably still just a daydream. The thought of navigating the perilous seas of advertising options, design choices and social media strategies is enough to make the bravest heart quail - so we’ve asked Zoe Griffin, author of Get Rich Blogging, to be our guide.
Zoe makes a six-figure income from her fashion and lifestyle blog, which she built from scratch by carefully observing the world’s most respected and financially successful blogs. Her book is jam-packed with detailed advice on every aspect of blogging: from blog layout and branding, to dealing with digital agencies; from setting up Adwords and building chat facilities, to working with photos and video – Zoe’s got it covered. Here, she offers up ten tips to help you monetise your blog – or at the very least, make the prospect a little less bewildering.
10 Tips To Boost Your Blogging Income
Got a laptop and access to the internet? Then you could be sitting on a goldmine. Okay, so you might not be an Arianna Huffington (whose Huffington Post was sold for £160m) or a Martin Lewis (who sold MoneySavingExpert for £87 million) - but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their successes.
These super-bloggers, and others like them, have several traits in common; strategies or tactics which helped them to stand out in a crowded blogosphere. So if you want your traffic – and your bank balance - to grow, have a think about what you can learn from them. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Know your spot in the marketplace
To grow traffic, you need to be sure there are people out there who are interested in the subject you are covering. Most bloggers fail because they haven’t identified who their audience is before they start blogging.
When a shop opens, it does some market research to test the waters, so ask your friends and family to see if they would be interested in reading your blog long term. Reach out to other bloggers and ask for their advice. Listen to their feedback - and don’t start blogging until you are completely sure there is a gap in the market for you.
Once you’ve settled on a subject, look online to see how others are already covering it. How can you be more useful? How can you be unique?
Spend time on design
If a business is trying to attract customers, it needs to get its premises in order. Look at any successful blog – from Perez Hilton to Love Food, Love Drink - and you’ll see they’ve thought long and hard about design.
Clarity is key: make sure people can navigate the site and find the information they want quickly. Successful blogs are laid out so it’s easy to see which post is the newest. They have space for comments, and designated advertising areas, usually in the sidebars and header of the site – plus a contact us / about us section, so potential advertisers can easily get in touch.
Once you’ve achieved clarity, you can add the bells and whistles which make it more fun to read – but it’s worth knowing that your freedom to get creative will also depend on whether you use a platform like Blogger or Wordpress, or whether you self-host. Hosted platforms are like renting a house rather than buying: convenient, and with fewer responsibilities - but you can’t knock down the walls! Consider self-hosting if you like to be in control of how things look.
Write with your readers in mind - and create great headlines
Successful bloggers are always focused on their topic - once readers know what to expect from a blog, they’ll keep coming back. Every day, make a conscious decision to make your blog post as targeted and subject-relevant as possible, so your readers get excited about returning. And keep your flagship content - your very best stuff - clearly visible at the top of your blog.
Then, think Headlines. You may have a really useful and unique blog post, but if you hide it behind a dull headline then people simply won’t bother to read it. Use clever keywords so that your post will show up in search engine results (thus attracting new readers). And keep all headlines under 140 characters – the maximum number that search engines can display!
Build your brand
To stick in people’s minds, a blog needs to be instantly recognisable: it needs to have an identity.
All great brands, from Nike to Apple, have a distinctive logo - and the same is true with memorable blogs. Some logos are text-based, others have text and a small picture – but all are clear, simple and easy to reproduce on email signatures and Facebook pages. Remember, the more you spread your logo and name, the more it will stick in readers’ minds, and remind them to check out the blog.
A weekly newsletter is an excellent way of reminding people of your brand – there are lots of free e-newsletter service providers out there. When the name of your blog pops into people’s email inboxes each week, it reminds them your blog is out there, and tells them that it’s been updated with new info. Tease people by giving them a sentence of the story, and link back to your blog for the full post.
Get confident in SEO
Search Engine Optimisation sounds super scary, but it’s really about taking little steps to get your blog further up the Google rankings. Once you know what you’re blogging about, your topic becomes your key words. Using these key words in your blog headlines, and in the posts you write regularly helps with your SEO.
And remember, successful bloggers can work together rather than in competition: don’t be afraid to reach out to bloggers who cover similar subjects to you, or to popular brands in your field. Write a post about them, tell them about it and with a bit of luck they’ll link back to you: the more reputable and relevant sites which link to you, the higher your Google ranking will climb.
Get to know your readers: competitions and community interaction
If you know there are a lot of other blogs covering similar subjects to you it’s important to go the extra mile to make sure readers enjoy what they get from your blog, and keep them returning.
Everyone likes getting something for nothing, so competitions are a great way of getting readers excited. To encourage a sense of community, be sure to get readers to enter via your comments section, rather than by email.
Comments show advertisers that your readers are really engaging with your blog - the more successful a blogger, the more interaction they have. So whether it’s a competition post or not, be sure to be a good host in the comments section. People like to feel they are valued and their opinion matters, so ask them questions, and reply to theirs.
Advertising from day one
The more traffic you have, the more you will earn, but you may as well start from pennies and watch it grow to thousands of pounds… Here are three simple ways you can earn money from day one.
Banner/text/link-based ads take up space on the blog, and their dimensions depending depend on the blog’s design. They can earn money per click or per action. If you don’t have the time (or the cojones) to approach potential advertisers directly, think about signing up for Google AdSense, or a digital agency, who’ll match you with advertisers. They’ll take a 50% commission – but 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing!
Affiliate schemes are links in the text of a blog which drive people to the website of a product you recommend. If people buy the product, you get a percentage of the sale – and you can do this from your very first blog post.
Advertorials – if you’re willing to be paid for writing a post about a product, there are agencies which match relevant advertisers with bloggers. You’ll be paid a flat fee for writing the post, normally £50- £100.
Square up to direct sales
If you use Google AdWords or a digital ad agency, you’ll pay a hearty commission. So maximise the money you make from the advertising space on your blog by it selling it directly to advertisers.
The first step is to put together a package explaining how many readers you get; you can find this out with Google Analytics, a piece of free software that you build into your blog using a simple code.
Lots of successful blogs have media packs on their site somewhere, normally at the bottom of the homepage, which they are using to attract advertisers; have a look at how they did it for hints on content and layout. Then polish up your sales technique - Get Rich Blogging contains a 10 step sales manual to talk you through the process gently. With small steps, anyone can do it – honest!
Think laterally - other revenue streams
For most bloggers, direct sales will never be more than 50 per cent of their income, so think about other ways to earn money. Options include freelance blogging for brands or businesses, writing articles for newspapers and magazines about your topic, writing a book or an e-book, public speaking and collaborating with brands on merchandise or consultancy work. And of course, when your traffic is high enough you can sell the blog. Watch out Arianna Huffington!
For more tips, and very detailed explanation of exactly how to transform your blog from a readership of hundreds to hundreds of thousands, Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin is available at Amazon and in all good book shops.