How to Monetize Your Blog
Monetizing your blog is not as hard or easy as you may think. Truthfully, it can go either way and that all depends on how much work you put into it. It’s not something you can expect to succeed with two hours of work on a weekend, but also not an avenue that requires 12-hour workdays.
As we mentioned in this How to Start Your Own Blog series, it requires consistency and a bit of gumption. Many people have dreams of starting a blog and travelling the world whilst doing so. Definitely a feasible notion, but are you willing to put in the work to make it happen?
That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself. From our side as HOSTAFRICA, we can show you what you need to do to monetize your blog successfully.
If you’re just starting out with your blogging journey, take a look at the previous posts in this series. It’ll help round out your blogging knowledge so your content and approach are fuller and more encompassing to your audience and niche.
- Part 1: How to Set Up Your WordPress Blog in 5 Steps
- Part 2: How to Create Awesome Content For Your Blog
- Part 3: How to Rank Higher on Google: Blog SEO
Create a following and grow your traffic
Creating a following is imperative when embarking on the road to monetization of your blog.
After all, how will you make any money if the stray visitor lands on your site to see tumbleweeds blowing through the posts?
You need to garner enough authority for your website and brand to show people what you’re offering or endorsing brings them real value. This means actually creating content that resonates with people and marketing it well. We go into more detail in Part 2 of this series where we show you how to create awesome content for your blog.
Again, the process requires a bit of a grind at first with regular maintenance as time goes on. Don’t expect 1,000 visitors per day after your first five posts. More importantly, don’t give up after two weeks of no traffic.
Rank high on Google
A part of driving traffic to your website includes ranking well on Google. That means using the appropriate keywords that are mostly uncompetitive but also have a good search volume.
Finding these keywords requires a bit of research and is better done using a keyword tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs. If you’re looking for a budget friendly option, give Google’s Keyword Planner a go. It’s a free tool that comes with a Google Ads account.
Let’s say you’re selling an imported brand of coffee. Trying to rank for a general term like “best coffee” won’t do you any favours. Your website doesn’t have half as much of a kick as the coffee you sell. You’re better of ranking for a keyword with less competition. The goal is rank for “best coffee” eventually, but that could be months or years down the line.
The point of adding keywords to your blog posts is to show Google that your content is relevant and answers the users’ questions. Quite simply, if you’re talking about your A-class coffee, be sure to answer any questions that people may have in and around your stellar brew.
Google loves in-depth content. The more of it you have the higher your pages (and website) will rank, and the more traffic you’ll get. For more of the deets on keywords and ranking, check out Part 3 of this series where we talk about blog SEO and how to rank on Google.
Use social media
What better way to direct traffic to your website than the local (online) watering hole, social media? Social media allows you to interact with people and potential clients when they’re relaxed.
Imagine getting home after a long day, sitting on your couch, and as soon as you sigh a breath of relief, a wild marketer appears shoving kitchen supplies down your proverbial throat.
Even if they’re the best kitchen appliances you’ve seen with the cheapest prices, you’d kick them out without a second thought because:
- Nobody wants to be marketed towards in that way, especially after a long day
- You probably prefer doing your own research when choosing to buy things like appliances
- How did they even get in your house?
Fortunately, social media can do some good work in helping you monetize your blog because it doesn’t intrude in that way at all. With social media you can:
- Showcase your product, service, or blog while people are relaxed and engaged
- Offer them the option to do their own research on your coffee by linking to some well-written content
- Be in their house without worrying about going to jail.
The main idea is that you connect with people on a level they are at, and social media makes that possible. Don’t speak to people but have conversations with them about your product or blog. People love connecting with other people or seeing a face for a specific brand.
Think about it, are you more likely to give money to a building that posts like a robot or the local brewery who asks you how your day was?
Be sure to interact with people during the times they are available. Posting at 11pm will get your post buried by the next day’s early posters, while posting too early removes everyone travelling to work (which will be most people).
You need to test out different times and see what posts get the most engagement. From there, look to schedule around that time using scheduling platform like Hootsuite.
Write stellar content
This cannot be overstated enough, as the entire premise of driving traffic and monetizing your blog relies on writing stellar content.
Again, we’ve covered this before and highly recommend you take a look at our guide on how to do so in Part 2 of this series. There are millions of blogs on the internet, so you have to make sure yours offers some special content.
In summary, you want to answer the user’s questions and provide them with the necessary information surrounding the topic. Running with our imported coffee and related blog, your blogposts (on any topic you write about) should leave the user as satisfied as your best cuppa. Well, maybe not that satisfied.
Go into as much detail as possible, from where the beans were grown and picked, to how many beans are in a regular tin of coffee, and then to the nutritional benefits of a single cup. If you have more than enough to talk about for any one topic then create multiple blog posts. People, like Google, loves content, and you’ll find they can be quite insatiable at times.
Your aim with writing awesome content should always be to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. So, you’re not just going to be selling the best coffee in your town, you need to know why your imported beans are the best, and then explain that to people.
As a simple thought experiment, who are you going to trust more when asking about the weather; the local meteorologist or your friend who licks his finger and uses it as antenna to determine the windspeed?
How to monetize your blog
Now that you have an idea of how to attract and drive traffic towards your blog, you can implement some of the tactics below that will best suit you so you can start making money from your blog.
Right off the bat this is one of the more popular routes to take when trying to monetize your blog.
Let’s start by eliminating the myth that you need to be an expert at a particular subject or activity to create a course. Yes, being an expert can certainly help, but what you really need is to know more than the people you are teaching.
Naturally, it does need to be by some margin, or you won’t offer anything of worth, but you don’t need a master’s degree to create a course.
Being able to convey your knowledge in a way that can easily be assimilated also plays a big role.
Have you ever met someone who is exceptional at their craft but for all their brilliance cannot explain in simple terms why something works a specific way? That is the place you don’t want to be. People want to be spoken to at their level and given practical advice and directions to their problems. Leave all the technical jargon for an in-depth course or blog post.
If you’re a pretty good barista and always get asked to make coffee or tea for family members and friends, think about your process and where people go wrong compared to you. From there you can address each pain point and help them eliminate their problem so creating a cuppa becomes their craft as much as it became yours.
For example, take a look at the graph below showing the different prices of coffees in different cities.
Johannesburg does not have an issue with the cost of coffee, so addressing price as a pain point makes no sense in the city. But perhaps accessibility is an issue so figuring out a delivery system would be an avenue you could follow.
If you aren’t sure what struggles people have within your niche, send a simple survey to figure out what problems they encounter most. You can also interact with people via social media and forums. It’s not uncommon for people to try and ask their peers to provide them with answers. You can be sure if one person is having a problem, there’re probably more like them who have not spoken up.
Some things to think about when creating a course:
- What skill or activity gets you the most compliments from family and friends?
- People always come to you for advice on something. What is it?
- What’s something everyone around you seems to find hard but looks like nothing special to you?
- What skill or activity do you know you can perform better than most people?
Naturally, you would want to tie this into your blog’s niche. A course on gardening would be pretty unusual for a coffee blog, but if you can tie it into being able to grow your own coffee beans you could tap into uncharted territory in your niche.
2. Affiliate marketing
Another common method that bloggers use to monetize their blog is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is essentially posting and sharing content about a specific brand via your blog or social media.
So instead of plugging your product, you plug someone else’s. You can of course, still do both, but only affiliate marketers get commission between the two. If someone buys your product that’s just a sale, which is naturally much better. You would not, however, be reading this blog if your products or services were flying off your blog’s shelf.
Depending on how you arrange your affiliation with a product or brand, you could earn between 10 and 50 percent commission, which would add up pretty quickly if you sold it well.
Think about it. You’re already marketing for companies through your social media or blog whenever you mention them. Had a great day on the track in your Nike trainers and posted about it online? You basically marketed your track shoes for them. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to turn that into an affiliate program.
For our coffee blog, you could plug products like espresso machines, coffee pressers, and custom mugs.
All you have to do is reach out to the companies within your niche and build a partnership with them. The downside to this type of monetization is that does require some traffic, but don’t let that sway you from getting started.
This method of monetization requires a bit of expertise in your niche as well as something tangible with real value. People expect personalized help and attention with a consultancy session so be sure to tailor what you’re offering to their needs as much as possible.
One of the perks of consultancy is that it can work with a relatively low amount of traffic, making it ideal for the early blogging days. The technique for making money from your blog through consultancy is to create the right kind of traffic. So, a niche blog would be perfect if you plan to use this method.
As an example, think about one of your favourite hobbies. Perhaps you’re a gamer and spend a pretty penny on some spanking new gaming equipment. People outside of your niche might consider this a waste of money, but it’s totally worth it to you, because it’s a passion and within your niche.
Consultancy works the same way. You should not be creating or marketing your course to passers-by, but to people directly within your niche.
Start by creating an email subscriber list and presenting your subscribers with a tool or video that has practical value. Tell a story and connect on their level so you can build some rapport with your audience. Finally, once you’ve shown your expertise and relatability, allow them to book a session with you.
4. Freelance blogger
This method of blog monetization plays right into your hand as you’re already a blogger. Might as well use your expertise and skill to bring home the bacon (for yourself and other businesses). Many companies are looking for writers who can do their content marketing for them on an ad hoc basis.
Especially with the move to remote work since Covid, freelancing is becoming an increasingly popular alternative.
Your writing prowess and quirky style may just well be exactly what they need to give their products or services that bit of spunk.
Technically, this is not monetizing your own blog, but rather using your blog as leverage to showcase your writing skills and quick wit.
In the case of freelance blogging, think of your posts as your portfolio. This means you only want to post the highest quality blogposts; leave the fluff on your lint roller.
Remember, there are thousands of other freelance bloggers out there, so you’ll need to stand out from the swarm by having something that makes you special. We’re not talking about that one time you were team leader for your family hike either.
Knowing your CMS platforms through and through, some SEO, and social media skills can make you a valuable player in the freelance game.
Keep broadening your skillset when it comes to your craft and businesses will line up to have you write for them. And they’ll pay you a pretty penny too!
Start by frequenting popular blogs within your niche and becoming active in the comment section. Don’t plug yourself just yet. All you want to do is establish yourself as a presence within the community. This means keeping your reply natural and encouraging civil discussion where possible.
From there approach businesses in your niche as a start, showing them the incredible content you have on your own blog. Throw in some razzle dazzle and enamour them with your writing as that first whiff of coffee enamours all of us early in the morning.
Check out this incredible infographic by Thimble on freelancing.
While you may not have direct skills in any of the popular fields, doing some research and becoming a knowledge haven via your website can land you many opportunities in fields you would otherwise not venture.
Avoid these blog monetization traps
We’ve laid the most popular options for you to follow in your road to making money on your blog, but there are also some pitfalls to avoid. If you’re already established, ensuring you’re not falling for these will take your blog monetization to the next level. However, if you’re just starting out these problems could stop you from making money altogether.
1. Not playing to the strengths of your blog
This may sound straight forward, but you want to utilize the avenues in which your blog excels. If you mention using a specific coffee blender, and people ask where to find it you can make an educated assumption that affiliate programs will be the right way for you to go.
If people are always asking similar questions in the comment section of your blog posts, set some time aside to create a course that answers all these problems.
If you would prefer consultancy instead of a course, that could work as well, as long as you play to your strengths (that goes for you and your blog).
2. You need a huge following to have a successful blog
We’ve nothing concrete to back this claim from a personal sense, but we imagine this is a myth people tell themselves to stop themselves from putting it all out there.
To live is it risk it all. Why should it be any different when writing your blog? Even if you only have 20 visitors a day, implement your monetization strategy early. Instead of thinking that you aren’t reaching enough people, think of it as you are bringing value to your 20 readers. That’s something those 20 people didn’t have before and is nothing at which to scoff.
If your numbers are low, you probably won’t make as much using AdSense revenue, but think of this as an opportunity to tailor something really special for your 20 visitors.
3. You can’t make money because all your content is free
As we mentioned earlier in this post, think of your blogs content as your portfolio for your avenue of monetization.
Your readers and subscribers have an enjoyable experience seeing what new and interesting ways you can bring to the art of being a coffee guru.
Plus, the way you describe that first sip combined with the swirling aroma allows them to enjoy your creativity vicariously. They know you offer them something special that they can smell, but just not taste.
That’s where your blog monetization strategy come into play. Your free content should serve as an inviting aroma for which your monetization strategy finally satiates.
So, if you’re telling people all these different brews to make how amazing they taste for three months straight, they’ll be clamouring for the chance to finally taste it themselves.
This can be through direct sales or courses showing them how to create the brew themselves.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.Ernest Hemingway
With that said getting started and keeping it going is the only way to make it happen.
So, you’re fired up and ready to turn you blog into a monetization machine (or is that the coffee you finished a while ago?) Either way, you know where you want your blog to go. Just be sure you actually take it there and not daydream about it!