Wondering how to make money blogging? These are the exact steps that helped me go from making no money to a full-time income ($5000/month) with my blog and having the kind of lifestyle that I’ve always dreamt of.
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TIP 1: START WITH THE END IN MIND
Instead of obsessing and spending so much time figuring out exactly what your brand name should be, what your colors and fonts should look like, or what your theme should be all about, you should be thinking about how you are going to monetize your look. Now, I know that this is a question that a lot of people don’t even think about when they’re starting a blog until it’s too late. And by the time they figure it out, they might realize that they’ve done some things wrong.
This is the exact thing that happened to me when I first started my ex blog, which was supposed to be a hobby project. But once I realized I wanted to monetize it and see if there were ways to make money with it, I realized that I put myself in a corner and there wasn’t much to expand with this blog. As a result of this, I had to shut down the blog and start a brand new blog with the intent to monetize. If you want to go full-time with your blog, you must keep this in mind, right at the beginning. So when I started my new blog to make money from it, I had three different streams of revenue in mind.
- Affiliate marketing
- digital products, which I had read about, but I didn’t have a lot of experience in it.
How can your blog make money?
When you’re thinking about how your blog can make money, start with just breaking down the revenue goal that you have. For example, if you want to make $5,000, you can break it down into different revenue streams. So let’s say you make $1000 with ads, $1000 with affiliates, $2,000 with products, and $1000 with sponsorships. This will help you narrow down your focus on exactly which streams of income you want to focus on so that you can develop and scale your blog in the best way possible.
Once you figured out your income goals, whether that is $1000/month or $5,000/month, you can then figure out exactly what you need or how many people should be reading your blog to make that happen. Now, as you know, different income streams depend on different factors.
For example, ads, affiliates, as well as sponsorships, to a large extent, depend on the number of visitors that come to your log or the number of people that are reading your blog. This means that you will have to now reverse engineer. How many people need to visit your blog if you want to make $1000/month blogging just from ads. So let’s say your RPM or your revenue per thousand visitors is $20. This means you would need 50,000 visitors to your blog to make $1000 blogging with ads. You can do the same exercise for other revenue streams as well.
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TIP 2: FOCUS ON 1 STREAM OF INCOME AT A TIME
This is the reason why a lot of people don’t make money blogging. I’m reading this productivity book called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, which talks about how important it is to focus on just one main thing at a time, instead of trying to chase multiple things and landing none of them. This implies that instead of trying one source of income for a month and then another source of income for another month and then giving up after each of these months, you should just focus on building one source of income at a time.
Let’s say the next three to six months before you give up and start building another source of revenue, this is the same strategy that I applied when I started my IndianGirling blog, which is my lifestyle blog. I first started to monetize it with Google AdSense and then I moved to Mediavine. Once I was satisfied with how my ads are performing, I then added affiliate networks as well as digital products to the mix. But if I started to do all of these things at one time, I would have probably not made money from either of these income streams.
Which of these streams of income suit you?
The other advantage of figuring out one source of income at a time is that you’re able to eliminate the sources of income that don’t work for you. In my case, particularly since I was using a lot of affiliates in the travel and lifestyle space, I wasn’t making a lot of money from affiliate marketing. So what I did instead was that I just decided that I was going to focus on ads and digital products, which were going to be my travel eBooks, and just double down on them. I did not try monetizing with affiliate marketing, I would have never known if that source of income would work for me or not.
So while it’s important to have an overview of the different streams of income that you’re going to use to build your brand, it’s also important to figure out which of these streams of income suit you and your lifestyle, and then figure out which of them you want to continue to build upon the next step.
TIP 3: OUTSOURCE TO SCALE FAST
The massive game changer for your blog is to outsource and scale fast. Now, many people who don’t know blogging think that it is only about writing beautiful blog posts. As long as you do that right, you can make a lot of money, but they are not exactly right to make money blogging. You also need to master a bunch of other skills, such as
- Social media marketing
- Photo editing
- SEO, and tons of other things
What this means is that you as a standalone blogger will not be able to grow as fast as you want if you try to develop all these skills at the same time and try to grow everything on your own.
Which of the things on your to-do list?
The key thing to figure out here is which of the things on your to-do list can be outsourced to people that are not you. This means that anything that you don’t need to do specifically can be outsourced to virtual assistants, freelancers, or even contractors in your team. Some of the things that you can outsource include social media management, content creation, inbox management, and admin tasks.
Coming from a background of scaling tech startups, I know how important it is to not be your own bottleneck in your business. This is exactly the reason why I hired my first part-time content writer. As soon as my blog started to make $1000/month regularly, even though I was nowhere near close to making a full-time income from my blog, I still understood that my time was the most important thing in this operation.
So as long as I could continue to figure out how to create content regularly without exhausting myself, my blog would continue to grow. I got to focus on things that I really love doing, which are strategy, monetization, and product creation. My content writer could help me publish posts consistently on my blog. This helped me grow my blog from about 40 blog posts in a year to 135 blog posts in the next year, which also led to more traffic and more income.
The important thing to remember here is that if you want your blog to be your full-time income or even more into a big business, then you have to start thinking like a business owner, which means that you have to stop being the roadblock to your success and you have to start outsourcing, delegating and scaling with the right team.
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Thinking like a business owner
Now, one of the questions I get often is if I’m not making any money from my blog, then how can I hire someone? Well, that’s the wrong way to think about it, especially when you think about your blog as a business. If you want to have a business, you don’t start running a profit from day one and you don’t stop hiring employees just because you’re not making a profit from day one. So you got to figure out what is the most cost-effective and resourceful way to outsource the tasks that don’t need your input and grow your blog.
You could start by hiring an entry-level virtual assistant that is not going to cost a bomb, and then you can train and develop them further as your blog grows.
TIP 4: START BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST
This is the tip that I wish someone told me right at the beginning. Now here’s the thing, You don’t own your Instagram or Pinterest followers. You don’t own people who come to your website and never come again. The only thing that you own when you’re running a blog is your website and your email list.
An email list is crucial not just to have ownership over your community, but also to have a direct method of communication with the people who are most interested in your content, regardless of how many social media channels pop up. An email has been known to be the number one most effective way to advertise and convert your visitors into customers. The sooner you start building your email lists, the higher chance to be able to monetize your blog successfully.
A lot of bloggers when they start focusing on the vanity metrics of followers instead of focusing on the profitability of subscribers. Maybe right now you don’t have anything to say to your subscribers and you don’t have anything to send them out in large emails, however, maybe three to six months down the line, you can promote your blog posts to them. You can send out affiliate links in your email newsletter, as well as sell your own products and services directly to your audience.
Think about it! How many times have you gone to a website, check out a cool blog post, but you’ve never really returned to that blog ever again unless you were on their email list and they reached out to you in a form of an email newsletter later. This is the exact same strategy that you need to adopt when you’re on the other side of being a publisher as well.
One of the best ways to get started with email marketing is to just start with a free tool like MailChimp, which I believe is free up to 2000 subscribers. Of course, you don’t get all the bells and whistles when you have a free program, but you can definitely get a taste of email marketing and get started with a free tool. Once you’re ready, you can migrate your list over to a paid tool, or maybe you can even migrate to a paid plan within MailChimp.
Currently, I use Convertkit for my business because I find it to be the most user-friendly platform out there. However, if you’re just starting, you might not be willing to pay $30 or $50 a month just for email marketing. In that case, you can start with a MailChimp and then you can move on over to another tool.
What should I even offer?
Once you’re ready to migrate your list, a question that I get asked often is what should I even offer to my email list? Subscribers? What do I have to say? If you’re just starting out now when it comes to your lead magnet or your opt-in offer which is ideally something free that you give to your subscriber in exchange for their email address is to look at what would be the logical next step for your reader.
For example, if your blog post is about how to do yoga as a new mom, the next logical step would be to offer a lead magnet that talks about the best yoga poses for new moms, or maybe just a general daily routine yoga checklist which has a mass appeal with your audience. The key thing to remember here is that the lead magnet should be something that is appealing to a vast majority of your audience and is something that doesn’t require a lot of time to consume.
Because if you offer a hundred-page ebook, that’s probably going to be overwhelming, and not every one of your visitors is going to sign up to read that because let’s be realistic. How many hundred-page eBooks do you sign up to read entirely? You should also look at the lead magnet as something very easy to consume. So a checklist, a template, or a small ebook are perfect examples.
The great thing about blogging is that as your content evolves, you can also change your lead magnets and you can optimize them at any future point as well.
TIP 5: LAUNCH YOUR OWN PRODUCT
This is something that will take you from the small leagues to the big leagues really fast. I’m obviously biased towards the source of income because this is the exact stream of income that I’ve been focused on for the last year. But I honestly believe that this is the fastest and the most reliable way to grow your income in the long run.
Why? Because when it comes to making money from ads or affiliate marketing, there is a limit and a cap to how much money you can make especially as a new blogger depending on the traffic that you’re able to generate and how well you’re able to convert them. You will earn a certain amount of money through ads and affiliates, but you also need to share a large amount of the proportion with the final brand or the company that you work with.
When it comes to your own products, you can keep a hundred percent of the profit that you make from the product. And if you’re smart about creating a product, it will help you not only scale your income faster, but it will also help you build your expertise and your skillset on so many other things than just blogging.
When it comes to the idea of passive income and having a product that makes money while you sleep, one of the best ways to do that is by launching your own product. Or you can look at launching a physical product that is related to your brand.
For example, if you are a productivity blogger, you can think of creating a planner which is specific to your style or your method that you use to teach productivity. Or if you are a tech blogger, you can think of creating a review guide that might help your audience as well. There are so many different products that you can create and sell to your audience. And if it doesn’t work, you can always move on to the next product and see if that works with your audience.
What I love about this method is that it is 100% in your control. You have the freedom to create as many or as few of these products as you want, and they make money for you even while you’re sleeping. There is no better feeling in the world than taking two weeks off on a vacation. And then coming back to see that you still made sales and your business continued to grow even while you were not working. The best way for you to do that is to think about creating and launching your own products.
TIP 6: INVEST IN MENTORS
This applies not only to bloggers but to everyone in general. Now, whether it comes to books, courses, or investing in coaching, there are so many different ways that you can learn from people who have already done that and been there. The way I look at scaling and growth is that you can either put in a lot of time and effort into figuring out what is the right thing to do and then grow that way or you can invest your money in mentorship. Specifically in mentors who have been there and done that before to fast-track your success.
There is no right way to go about it. You can definitely take the longtime route, or you can take the short time with the quicker results route. Personally, I consider my time to be my biggest asset, which means that I absolutely hate wasting it. So if there is a way for me to learn a particular strategy or a system that has already worked for someone and apply to my own business, then I will be a hundred percent willing to go for that route. Now, how much money you invest in mentorship is totally up to you and your situation. Maybe you’re a student, or you’re still paying off debt and you can’t afford an expensive course, but I can bet that you can still start investing in eBooks or even books, and then work your way up there.
The very first thing that I invested in was a $10 ebook from a blogger, which literally opened my eyes to how people can make money blogging and introduced me to this world. But investing in mentorship is so much more than just the strategy and the system. Usually when you invest in a program, especially a course, and it comes with some kind of community, you can hold yourself accountable for that particular goal that you have. When you do it together, you are so much more motivated to actually reach that goal.
For example, when you go to the gym alone, you find it harder to motivate yourself, to go to the gym every single day than when you have a workout buddy that you look forward to meeting every session. Not only will you learn from your mentors’ experience and system, but you will also learn from the community, which is priceless.
A lot of people are really impatient when it comes to seeing the results of their investment. Now, when you invest in your education, you go to high school for so many years, and then you have your college degrees. Even after that, sometimes you’re unable to find a job. I don’t negatively mean this, but I’m just trying to say that sometimes the results of your investment don’t pay off the minute you invest in them. You also have to take action on those things that you have learned, implement the things that have been taught and then see for yourself what kind of results you can achieve.
So the way to look at it is that investing in mentors is not a magic pill or an overnight success formula that you can have, but instead, it is a system that can help you fast track your results while minimizing the risk and the problems that you face along the way, whether or not you’re willing to invest in learning also depends on your level of commitment.
How badly do you want to make your blog a full-time job or a full-time business? Personally, for me, I was pretty sure that I wanted to give it my all when it came to monetizing my blog. Because I knew that this could be the start of many other things.
For example, when I started my new business, which is Digital Empires, I actually bought a $2,000 program called the ‘Product Launch Formula’ by Jeff Walker who is someone that I admired for a long time. At the time of investing in this program, I had just been recently fired and lost my job. The logical person would probably not do such a thing, but for me, this was about fast-tracking my success and learning from the best in the field. So even though I didn’t make back my investment the very month, I still got to learn a proven system that works when it comes to creating and selling products online, which is something that I would have probably spent years doing and figuring out on my own.
Not only this, the community that I got to be a part of as being a part of this training program is truly incredible. The kind of things that you see in the community is so inspiring and really motivated me to create and launch my product in a short time, which is something that I probably wouldn’t have done without this program.
They say that you’re the average of the five people that you surround yourself with. If the people around you are also just as inspired and motivated as you to reach that common goal, chances are that you will succeed much faster than if you surround yourself with people who are not interested in what you’re doing and have no skin in the game.
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