By Mary Jaksch
Can you make money blogging?
The answer is: Yes!
But when you first start blogging, earning from a blog seems impossible.
But the good news is that you – yes, you who are reading this article – can make money blogging!
And I’m not talking a few dollars. I’m talking about earning a substantial income from your blog.
Read on to find out how to make money writing.
Some people think it’s simply about using different blog monetization methods, but if you really want to earn big from your blog, you need to change the strategy underlying your methods.
Obviously, I won’t be able to cover the whole shebang in this post, but I’ll give you some important pointers about a strategy that actually works.
But first, let me tell you about about my journey of blogging.
Here’s what happened…
When I first began blogging, I was like a blind person trying to find my way through an unfamiliar town.
I started with GoodlifeZEN.com and then added a blog for writers, WritetoDone.com. A few months in, the whole blogging thing looked like a disaster! Goodlife ZEN only had about 50 subscribers. WritetoDone was doing a bit better because Leo Babauta had originally started it. But I wasn’t earning a dime.
If you had asked me at that time whether it was possible to create a six-figure income from blogging, I would have laughed!
But I kept going.
I struggled, and studied, and worked hard.
Now I make a fix-figure income from blogging. And I’ve taught others to do the same. Like Carol Tice right here at Make a Living Writing, or Scott Dinsmore, or Jules Clancy, or Steve Aitchison (all of whom went through my training at A-List Blogging).
Let’s take a look at what works – and what doesn’t.
Which earning strategies really work?
1. The Field of Dreams Strategy
Remember the film Field of Dreams? The key idea behind the film was, “Build it, and they will come!”
Many new bloggers start a blog with the same strategy. They create it and then wait for readers to arrive. And then… nothing much happens.
The upside of the Field of Dreams strategy is that there is total creative freedom. But this strategy won’t make you any money.
The Field of Dreams strategy doesn’t work if you want to make money because the focus is on the blogger, not on the potential customer.
2. The Funnel Strategy
The following strategy guarantees results. I call it the Funnel Strategy. It turns the Field of Dreams strategy on its head.
With the Funnel Strategy, you focus on the end result, that is, on earning money with your blog. You may worry that this will limit your creativity. But this strategy simply means focusing your creative powers in a new way.
The funnel is set up so that each new or returning visitor to your blog takes a planned pathway, finally ending in a sale.
If you already have a blog, don’t worry – you can tweak your blog so that you end up with a funnel that works for growth and income.
If you’re planning to start a blog, setting it up correctly from the get go is crucial.
When you use the Funnel Strategy, you need to start by asking five questions:
1. What is my best niche?
2. What are the markets in my niche?
3. Which product would be a good fit?
4. How can my blog setup support the funnel?
5. What content will draw readers into the funnel?
As you can imagine, there is a lot to say about the Funnel Strategy.
Right now, though, let’s take a look at those first three questions.
What’s your best niche?
A niche is a group of people with common interests, needs, desires or problems. Your niche has to be wide enough to be able to create ongoing content, but it needs to be narrow enough so that readers are bound together by a common interest.
As you can see in the image below, there are three aspects you need to consider when defining your niche.
1. Your niche needs to benefit readers.
Your blog will only flourish if what you write about is also of benefit to others.
“Bloggers fail because they don’t connect with an audience. Many bloggers don’t understand that the blog should be about their reader instead of themselves. Then they’re baffled why their blog doesn’t take off.” – Carol Tice, MakeaLivingWriting.com
This doesn’t mean that you can’t write about your own experiences, but there needs to be something that benefits your readers.
2. You need to have expertise.
Each one of us has expertise. Each of us has much more knowledge and experience than we give ourselves credit for. In fact, the kind of knowledge and experience that we think ‘everyone knows about’ is often our hidden treasure, the special expertise people want to know about.
3. You need to be passionate about your niche.
It’s very hard to continue a blog if you’re not deeply interested in the topic. After all, you have to come up with topics to blog about, week after week!
Passion is contagious. If you are passionate, your readers will be inspired.
What are the markets in your niche?
Monetizing your blog means selling something on your blog. And to sell anything, you need a market.
A market is a group of people with certain interests, needs, desires or problems, that can be offered information or solutions, have the ability to pay, and are willing to give money in exchange for solutions.
A useful way to think about possible markets is to consider urgency.
Why urgency is critical
People are more willing to buy a product or a service if urgency is high, that is, if they need an immediate solution to a problem.
Imagine for a moment that your blog is about parenting. Here are some needs and wants of parents, divided into three categories: urgent need, strong desire, and interest.
How to communicate with difficult teenagers
How to get babies to sleep through the night
How to deal with truancy
How to teach your kid to read
Each of the topics above, from How to Communicate with Difficult Teenagers to How to Massage Your Baby, is a market within the niche of parenting.
What this means for blog monetizing
If you can identify markets within your niche that fall into one or more of the categories of urgency – urgent need, strong desire, or interest – you’ll have no difficulty monetizing your blog.
What products could you sell?
Every niche and sub-niche includes markets with urgent need or strong desire.
Let me give you an example.
Tracy, a young blogger, recently decided to start a health blog. Nothing much happened; her blog didn’t flourish.
Her blog niche — health — was simply too wide. After all, readers look for specific information that touches on whatever health problem they are seeking to overcome.
Finally, Tracy realized she had some knowledge and experience that could benefit others. She had struggled for years with acne, and found a way to rid herself of it.
At last she had found a niche with a market of people with urgent needs!
Her blog took off. She produced a series of e-books on topics related to acne, like using nutrition to clear skin, or how to become more confident. Tracy now earns a good living from her blog.
But how to create a product?
Actually, you don’t need to create a product to monetize your blog! Creating a product, launching it, and marketing it is a lot of work.
It’s much easier to work with affiliate products, especially when you’re starting to monetize your blog. Many affiliate products give you 50% commission.
A good product will already have all the tools you need to sell it, like a sales page that converts, and banners.
Your job is to find a product that fits your blog niche and, if possible, fills an urgent need, a strong desire, or at least satisfies an interest.
It’s easy to find affiliate products. You can find them on ClickBank and other affiliate networks.
I’m sure you’re getting a sense of how and why the Funnel Strategy works for monetizing a blog.
Do you have questions or thoughts about monetizing a blog? Please share in the comments below.
Mary Jaksch is the driving force behind A-List Blogging Masterclass (a program which has now ended.) Mary is also the Editor-in-Chief of Write to Done and Goodlife ZEN.