One question that I've been asked by a lot of beginner bloggers in the recent past has always been, how can I earn money from my blog?
While I've answered this question in a number of ways, depending on the situation of the person who was asking, I've finally decided to do this complete guide on how to make money with a blog for beginners as a reference resource for any other person who will want to learn about this subject.
Some of the top questions I've heard over and over again are: how do bloggers make money from blogging? How do beginner blogs make money? What types of blogs make the most money? And, can I really make money blogging?
While there may be no problem with these questions however, a careful look will reveal that the focus of these people is nothing but the amount of money that you can make from blogging.
Of course, that’s not a bad thing. There are hundreds and thousands that are presently making 6 – 7 figures with their blogs. People like John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, Michelle Schroeder, Melyssa Griffin, and so many others.
But, focusing ONLY on the money will lead you on the wrong path. This is where many miss it.
For example, in a recent blogging statistics by BlogTyrant.com, it was revealed that out of 350 bloggers surveyed 69.4% reported earning zero income from their blogs and 59.3% reported ever starting a blog and abandoning it at some point.
That's frustrating, right?
The good thing is that the most successful bloggers today don’t focus on making money blogging, they build sustainable blogging businesses.
You're Not Just a Blogger – A Blog is Not a Business!
I’ve written variously on this topic. Please do yourself some good by reading these posts:
There are some powerful nuggets of wisdom that you wouldn't want to miss!
If you've been online for some time now you'll agree with me that in the last few years blogging has changed from what it used to be when “make money blogging” was still in its infancy.
Back then blogging was not different from keeping an online diary. Many didn't think of it with the commercial intent that we do today. People simply wrote about their personal thoughts, activities and sometimes, their favorite recipes.
Also, social networks weren’t as popular as they are today. But as the World Wide Web continued to evolve and people realized that sharing on social networks like Facebook and Instagram is much easier than writing a long blog post, many transitioned sharing their personal stories to the social networks.
The result is that blogging is now more of a commercial venture than it used to be. Nearly every business now has a blog. It doesn't matter whether it's a one-person or a Fortune 500 business; every one now blogs!
Not only has the blogging landscape changed, the competition has also become rife. The last time I did a search I discovered that there are currently over 440 million blogs out there. Besides, since the beginning of 2014 tens of thousands of new blogs are being started every day.
Think about that and consider the fact that back in 2005 there were only about 64 million websites (with just a small portion being blogs). But then the number of blogs rose to about 173 million in 2011 and now we are talking about over 440 million blogs.
Can you just imagine what it's like out there?
Your guess is mine!
Unfortunately, many newbie bloggers, mislead by articles and blog posts written some 5, 6, or 7 years ago (which in internet years is decades), take on the toga of “Blogger” without taking into cognizance the realities of the day. The result is that many discover too late that they've not only wasted their precious time but also their meager resources.
For your own good please quit blogging and build a business!
And, that's what this guide is all about – helping you build a flourishing online business with your blog.
How to Make Money through Blogging
There are a number of ways you can start making money with a blog. The classic make money blogging advice goes something like this:
Set up a wordpress blog
Go on the content creation hamster (Content is KING!)
Follow and connect with others in your niche on social media
Comment on similar blogs, and
Monetize your blog traffic with paid ads and Google Adsense.
Now, this is actually a faulty blogging business model. The 6 – 7 figure income bloggers never grew their blogging businesses to that income level following this classic “make money blogging” blueprint.
To understand the blogging business model you need to understand the CORE function of a blog.
Just take a critical look around today. Why is it that every business now has a blog?
Why do you think companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, Starbucks, and American Express invest time and resources on creating blog posts?
The answer is: Marketing!
Businesses invest in blogging because a blog is principally a marketing machine. It's important that you understand this.
So, when you hear some people ask questions like, “what types of blogs make the most money?” or, “how do beginner blogs make money?” it’s clear that they have a wrong understanding of the core function of a blog.
This is because,blogs don’t make money. Businesses do!
Whether online or offline businesses make money by gaining customers. And they do this by selling them something.
However, to sell them something, they will need to gain their attention first. And that’s the purpose of the blog – to generate leads.
So, the blogging business model is all about building a list of prospects and turning them into paying customers!
This is how to really use a blog to make money. It's the tried and tested business system that's based on true business principles of all ages.
Alright, let's now step through the blogging business model.
Steps on How to Make Money Blogging
Step 1: Define Your Blog’s Purpose
It was Mark Twain who said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”
For me that's truly profound. And I'd say, “The most important day in your life as a blogger is the day you find out why you are blogging and pursue it with all your passion!”
So, do you want to build a blogging business? First, find out your WHY!
Who's your ideal blog reader? Who do you want to target with your content and offers?
Defining your target audience right from the start will help you avoid wasting your precious time in activities that does not add any positive returns to your business. So, with your blog's purpose in mind decide who your idea customer will be.
Truth is, no matter the amount of traffic you drive to your blog or the number of followers and friends you acquire on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. if you have not defined your blog’s target audience all your efforts will amount to nothing.
Never delude yourself by the huge growth in your social media following. The truth is social media is great for driving traffic to your blog but those who will help you meet your purpose are those who are interested in your offers.
This is your target market. Ignore this and you will simply waste your time chasing the wrong crowd.
I can tell you this from my personal experience. Time past, this blog was averaging 50 comments per post. The irony was that this “highly engaged community” of fellow bloggers hardly clicked on any ad – not even Google Adsense on the blog – at least as a show of support!
Pick the wrong audience and you can be sure of frustration along the way. You really don't want that.
Step 3: Define Your Product/Service
It was Robert Kiyosaki who said that except you're the Central Bank or the government’s designated minting company, you don’t make money because…
Money is earned!
And, I've said this earlier, blogs don’t make money; businesses do!
Businesses make money by solving a problem for people or by filling a need. They do this by selling product(s) or service(s) that provide a specific outcome or transformation for their customers.
And so, to make money with your blog you need to have a system of earning that money. You need a product or service that your target audience is ready to exchange for their money.
Basically, what this means is that you need a market that's large enough and a product that fulfills a need of that market.
From research, between 43% and 75% of businesses fail because they wrongly assume that people are interested in their product/service. And so, in defining your product/service you must avoid falling into this trap. You should research your target audience to pinpoint their pain areas and then offer products/services that will heal those pains.
Step 4: Architect Your Sales Funnel
We’ve mentioned earlier that the main purpose of a blog is for generating leads and converting those leads into paying customers.
… The system that helps you do this is the sales funnel.
The sales funnel is the “money-making machine” behind every one of the 6- to 7-figure blog businesses you see out there. It's something that you hardly hear of among the “average” bloggers. Most of the typical make money blogging tips your read might mention list building but beyond that nothing is said about a sales funnel!
What's a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a series of steps designed to guide visitors toward a buying decision. The steps are composed of marketing assets that do the work of selling, like landing pages and email.
NOTE: Your sales funnel works behind the scenes to make sales for your business.
Unfortunately, most bloggers mainly focus on creating content and then chase after blog readers, comments, followers and shares on social media. This is because they are unaware of the power of the sales funnel!
A sales funnel can help you grow your business, from capturing leads to making the first sale and then turning that into repeat sales. The best part is that it can do all of these automatically, once you've set it up!
Your sales funnel over time will include 4 basic levels of offer. These 4 levels are:
(i) Your free offer – This is the exploratory phase and it's where people are first introduced to your brand. The purpose is to turn “browsers” into interested leads. It's obviously one of the most important components of the sales funnel. It separates those who are simply curious from those who are truly interested. It's your “hand raising offer”!
(ii) The front-end offer – This is designed mainly for customer acquisition. The main purpose is to turn a lead into a customer. There's a huge different between these two. A person who only opted into your list to get a freebie is worlds apart from the one who has bought something from you.
(iii) The Core offer – This is your main product which delivers the transformation that your business is centered around. Your core offer could be a training course, a service, consulting, etc.
(iv) High-end offer – Some more expensive offer that increases the overall customer value. Popular options include coaching, done-for-you service, etc.
Do note that a sales funnel is also a good way of achieving product/market fit because over time, your business will offer different products to your prospects when the time is right for them.
How to Create a Sales Funnel
There are countless ways you can do this. However, here's a proven simple strategy:
(i) Offer potential customers a lead magnet
This is a free, value-based incentive that encourages people to join your email list. It could be anything from free videos, tutorials, Ebooks or special reports.
To maximize conversion, you’ll want to offer something irresistible and that instantly attracts attention.
There are a number of ways to get your free offer. You can do it yourself or get your hands on dozens of pre-made lead magnet packages. These packages come with everything you need – high-quality reports, responsive squeeze pages and even autoresponder follow-ups that will help you connect with your subscribers.
One of the places you can get pre-made lead magnet packages is….
(ii) Set up a lead-capture page
With your lead magnet ready you will need to set up a lead-capture page. The focus of this page is on capturing the lead via an opt-in form that adds the subscriber to your mailing list.
One of the best tools in the market right for making great lead capture pages is OptimizePress. With this tool you can easily create your own lead capture pages without any problem. Check it out here.
You'll also need an autoresponder to capture and manage your mailing list. I suggest you check out GetResponse.com.
As I've mentioned above, the purpose of the lead magnet is to turn your blog traffic into leads. It's important that you get this right because the more people that enter your funnel, the more money you'll make.
It's worth emphasizing that your sales funnel is the money making machine of your blogging business. It's important therefore that you get it right.
You can get high quality, done for you Sales Funnels that converts at Funnels Now.
Step 5: Your Unique Brand Positioning
One of the top-most questions you must answer in order to thrive in the marketplace is “Why You?” Why would your potential customer choose you instead of the competition?
If you take the time to check out the 6 – 7 figure income business bloggers you will discover that they are doing so NOT by being “just another blog!” These top earners have built their brand over time and they have become the go-to experts in their niche.
You cannot do anything less and expect great results!
This is where you need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Your USP is simply a statement of what makes you and your offers different from the competition. Its primary purpose is to influence your potential customer's perception of your business – why they should care about you and your service/product and not the competition.
Put another way, a USP is why a customer should care about your Brand.
Your USP should clearly define the value you offer and the problem you solve. It should articulate a specific benefit that makes you stand out from the competition.
In order to define your USP you'll need to consider carefully:
(i) Your target audience – Who is your ideal customer? Check step #2 again and be as specific as possible.
Don’t be afraid to exclude people. For example, this blog is targeted at digital entrepreneurs and entrepreneur bloggers. This is why you hardly see “make money blogging tips” and similar posts on the blog. My focus is more on entrepreneurship and building businesses!
(ii) The problem you solve – Ideally, your product/service solves a specific problem for your ideal customer. Think of the pain you're eliminating. How is your customer better off after working with you or buying your product versus the alternatives?
(iii) Your uniqueness – This is what meaningfully sets you apart from other businesses that are similar to yours. As I've mentioned earlier you can differentiate yourself in thousands of ways: service, experience, technique, etc.
Focus on those things that make a tangible difference to your audience.
A great USP comes from a deep understanding of who your customers are, what they want, what they value, and what motivates them. It should also cause your prospects to crave your product or service.
You’ll likely have a different USP for each product or service you offer.
Step 6: Drive the Right Traffic
Traffic is the life-blood of every online business. Of course, that's nothing new. However, there are a few things you must note when it comes to driving traffic as a business and not as a “blogger”.
First, you must understand that it is not about quantity but quality! You should identify the traffic sources that are right for your purpose and concentrate most of your efforts in those areas.
From my own experience I have discovered that the most reliable way to get traffic to your business blog is to buy it. You could buy traffic from Google, Facebook or even solo mailings.
Now, if you're concerned with paying for traffic you shouldn't because your sales funnel allows you to spend money on traffic without going broke. Simply learn the simple tricks of setting up a sales funnel and implement one for your business and you can be sure of recouping your investment in no time at all!
If you'd rather go for free traffic sources then I'll recommend search engine optimization (SEO). But you must understand that this is really not free as you'd be paying with your time – and time is money!
Conversely, I have also discovered that the worst traffic source for blogs is traffic from blog comments. Comment traffic has only one value for your blog: SOCIAL PROOF!
If you aim to sell advertising space on your blog, the comment section of your blog could be an advantage. But beyond this depending on traffic from comments is a very quick way to go into extinction!
So, in driving traffic to your funnel choose wisely where to concentrate your efforts!
Pitfalls to Avoid When Making Money Blogging
As you transition your blog into a full-fledged business online it is important that you note some of the common pitfalls that online entrepreneurs face all the time. Being aware of these real issues will help you greatly in your quest for success.
The following list is only a small fraction of what you should look out for. I have only included these out of the many pitfalls believing that these will greatly help you.
1. Not having a plan
A lot of average bloggers only focus on how to make money blogging and never care about making a plan. This is one reason why many of them struggle without any tangible results.
As a business you need a business plan.
Of course, you don’t need a formal twenty-something page business plan. Those big-format business plans have grown obsolete! What you need is a simple document that lays out who your customers are, what you are selling and what people are willing to pay for your product or service. In addition, work out how much cash you’ve got and how long it will last.
RECOMMENDED: The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan
2. Giving away too much and not getting back
This is the bane of many bloggers. They are used to giving and giving without asking in return. You don't build a business only by giving.
Of course, to establish your credibility in the marketplace you're expected to offer something for free. However, your giving should be carried out with your business objectives in mind – turning a conversion into long-term customer relationship. This is the purpose of your sales funnel.
So, don't give away the farm. Instead give strategically – offer something useful and intangible in exchange for a customer’s contact info so you can promote more of your offers to them in due time.
3. Spreading yourself thin on social media
Social media marketing is good for marketing and building your brand. But, without the right strategy in place it could become a time waster.
While the primary purpose of social media is for connecting and socializing, as a business you're on social media with a different motive.
It's important therefore that you clearly define who your target audience is and then choose one or two of the main social media networks where you know your audience congregates and then make a plan of marketing to them.
4. Ignoring your customers
The customer, they say, is always right! And as you must have known by now your business exist to serve the customer. Unfortunately, our human nature usually works against us as we are mostly focused on ourselves.
Not only that, as bloggers we’ve been counseled to do what we LOVE if we want to make money blogging. The result is that we go about our blog business with the mindset of succeeding simply by doing what we KNOW and LOVE!
Unfortunately, that’s only half the truth. Success in business is NOT about what you know or love but about what the market wants. The problem your business solves for your target market should be the problem that your market counts as important enough.
But how do you know this?
By listening to your customers. They have the answers you seek. Ignoring them is detrimental to your success. That's why the customer is always right!
I'm sure you've seen those ads that promise success working one hour a week and in your pajamas, right? The truth is, if you build your expectations on those promises you'll only end up with frustration.
Building a successful business, whether it's online or offline, takes massive effort. While there are tech tools that will help you automate most of the operations never expect your success timeline to be measured in weeks or months because there's nothing like overnight success.
So, you must ask yourself from the beginning if building your blog business will still be worth it if it takes years to get there!
6. Business model jumping and niche hopping
This is related to #5 above. A lot of newbie entrepreneurs, because of wrong expectations, are easily moved to abandon their business or change strategies because they see someone else making money in another niche or market.
Instead of focusing on what is working for others find your focus and then stick with it until you make it work. Jumping from one business to another and from niche to niche makes nonsense of your efforts. However, simple, repeatable, and consistent action steps towards your goal will eventually get you there.
If your intention is to make money blogging then this is the proven path you must take. The blogosphere is evolving and you need evolve with it. It doesn’t matter your experience level if you’ll carefully follow these steps you’ll have your blog business up and running in no time.
Remember, it's not about focusing on some isolated money making methods. It's about implementing sustainable and automated online systems that keep pulling in new leads and turning those leads into customers that make you money day in, day out.
If your blog is already up and running it's important that you start treating it as a business by building into it this automated business system. However, if you're still thinking of starting your blog then you're in luck. Read this post carefully again and take action right away.
Your Turn: Now I'll love to hear from you. Do you already have a blog or you're just thinking of starting one?
Is there any part of this post you'd want more info on?
Feel free to share your thoughts in your comments below.
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