Friday, July 13, 2018

How to Monetize a Blog: My Experience

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Joining the over 350 million other blogs in the world is an exciting experience for the first-timer, yet could also end up being disappointing if they're trying to make money from it.

While some bloggers do make enough money through their blogging efforts to make a living, most of us don't even come close. Let's talk about the challenges and possibilities of blogging by examining how to monetize a blog: my experience.

Types of Blogs

Among the hundreds of millions of blogs online, there are many different types of blogs to consider. Many blogs are monetized and professional, to the point where visitors can't even tell they're a blog. Really, they're simply a website where someone posts their writings, drawings, paintings, pictures, videos, audio, videos, affiliate posts, etc.

What is a blog then, if it's just a website with a unique domain? Blogs are websites where individuals or businesses can craft and publish their own posts. 

The design and functions of each blog will vary depending on the platform using and the person building it. Site building sites aren't blogs, but they allow users to build a blog within the actual website.

Unlike websites, true blogs don't have a homepage; the last post published is the default home page. Also, blogs can have more than one article on the page; when readers scroll down they'll find the latest posts published – the number of posts is chosen in the settings.

Here are some blog and site builder sites to choose from:

  • WordPress (.org and .com)
  • Blogger
  • Quora
  • Tumblr
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • Joomla
  • Medium
  • Ghost
  • Duda                                                               

LinkedIn and Facebook also provide platforms to blog, yet are limited with monetization capabilities.

Whatever platform is chosen, there are different types of blogs as well, such as:

  • News/Views blogs
  • Personal Journal blogs
  • Business blogs
  • Interest blogs 
  • Art blogs

A blog could be a mixture of these as well, yet most blogs should fit into these 5 types.

Types of Blog Monetization Methods

Although the sky is the limit when it comes to monetizing a blog, here are the main ways:

  • Adsense (PPC ads)
  • Amazon Associates (affiliate marketing)
  • eCommerce
  • Selling eBooks
  • Donations
  • Indirectly through shared links to other income sources
  • Selling music
  • Crowdfunding

There could be other methods, yet these should cover the majority of general methods available to monetize a blog.

How Much Money Can I Make Blogging?

For those just starting out or those looking for motivation for their on-going blogging efforts, you'll want to know how much can I make blogging? I mean really, without the BS from an affiliate marketing system or the promotional CTA of a site builder platform; just tell me How Much!?

Well, this is a hard question to answer, as it involves so many variables. Some people invest into a system and have the time to work full-time on their blogs, yet others start a blog in their spare time and work on it a couple hours a week. One blogger just starts a free blog about their personal life, while another starts a professional eCommerce website with a blog about their product, etc.

Suffice it to say, without a full-time, dedicated effort and the know-how to begin, bloggers shouldn't expect to make even $100/month after a year of building their blog. The challenges for most bloggers are finding the time to invest and having the knowledge to effectively build. I wouldn't even say money is a big hindrance, yet money does help initially get someone started faster and with more professionalism.

With that said, if a person were so inclined, they could make a living blogging; even from a subdomain platform with a free blog, a blogger could drive enough traffic to their blog to make a living. It all depends on the amount of traffic and the conversion rates for each monetizing tool.

The amount of traffic a blog gets depends on these variables:

  • Frequency of posting
  • Topics posted about
  • SEO practices
  • Size of social media channels
  • Value of posts to visitors
  • Longevity of blog

The variables determining the rate of clicks and conversions are:

  • Topic of blog
  • Theme of blog
  • Effectiveness of monetization layout
  • Types of monetization
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • UX/UI design
  • Type of blog

For instance, an opinion blog about society and politics will have a low conversion rate for Adsense ads, yet might be able to sell books related to the topic through Amazon Associate modules or their own eBooks, etc. The topic and type of blog make a big difference when it comes to attracting the type of people that engage with ads.

Affiliate text links and modules can be more effective if they're relevant to the blog and topic. This is what affiliate blogging is focused on, while others use affiliate blogging without actually blogging about the product or service – side panel widgets, etc.

Each blog needs a monetization strategy tailored to its unique subject matter, layout, purpose, etc. The main idea is to get a solid platform built and then work on getting the visitors. This is when the journey really begins – how much money a blog makes depends, ultimately, on the number of visitors they can attract and their ability to convert them.

How to Attract Visitors and Gain Traction

Seems easy to make money blogging right? All one has to do is build a solid monetized blog and then the visitors will begin coming in droves. Well, not so fast, this is the part about blogging that makes most bloggers give up and quit.

The best attitude to have is to appreciate any and all visitors to your blog. Blogging is a work in progress effort and only those with nowhere else to go usually survive. For the love of blogging, stick in there whether the money comes quickly or not, and you'll be glad you did. Hey, blogging is fun.

Just remember, if everyone could simply start a blog, take a crash course in monetizing it, and then make a full-time living, then the secret would be out and everyone would be blogging their brains out. The truth is, most blogs fail to ever make money.

The blogs that do make money attract tens of thousands to millions of visitors every month. The amount of money made per 1,000 impressions is called RPM (revenue per thousand impressions). Impressions are basically counted when an ad loads on the visitor's device, which means they're basically visitors who didn't bounce immediately.

There are many ways to attract visitors; each blogger will have their own marketing strategy. Here are some ways to attract visitors:

These are only some of the ways bloggers can use to gain traction and blow up their blogs with visitors. In my estimation, it takes 100k visitors or more each month for most bloggers to make a full-time living ($1,400/mo and up).

Much of the success bloggers have with marketing their blogs comes from their tech-savvy ability and their drive for money, or their lack thereof. 

Here's an analogy to explain different blogging strategies: when there's a line of people, those who fight tooth and nail to be in the front will seemingly prosper quicker and get more, yet those who patiently and humbly wait at the end of the line (without resentments) will eventually get there just the same, yet can feel good about how they did it.

In other words, in the process of attracting visitors to your blog, don't sell out and become a slave for some corporation or money itself. There's nothing wrong with making money, yet there needs to be a purpose beyond just making money with blogging. Maybe this manifests in an ethical eCommerce store or an opinionated sociological news blog; either way and with everything in-between, there needs to be a purpose beyond making money – in order to sustain long-term blogging efforts with joy.

Having a more enjoyable life is why we want to blog for a living anyway, right? The freedom of making a living blogging is an alluring goal to have; imagine not having to work for anyone else! Indeed, being able to work remotely and make a residual income doing what we love (blogging) would be great!

Even after blogging for nearly 5 years and only making a few bucks a month, I'm still working towards and believing my blogging efforts will one day make me a living.

I hope this blog post has helped you gain some ideas and strategies around monetizing your blogs. Just remember, there's no one right way to do it, so dig in and keep the ideas flowing and maybe one day they'll come to life. God bless in Jesus.