Today is Tax Day in the United States. Millions of people will be making a Cinderella-like dash to the post office, trying to get their tax returns postmarked before the clock strikes midnight. In honor of this most spectacular display of procrastination, I figured today would be a great day to talk about MAKING MONEY WITH YOUR BLOG.
- Planning is Pivotal
- Growing Your Reader Base
- Starting Small – PPC Ads
- Affiliate Marketing 101
- Private Ad Sales
- Review, Adjust, Expand
I know what you must be thinking…”its about f*%$in’ time! Your blog is about making money isn’t it?”. Well, yes it is. But it is also about helping other bloggers make money. So I am going to share with you my monetization plan for BuzzMyBlog.com. After reading this, hopefully you will understand why I have not focused too much on money so far. I am just coming out the planning phase – a crucial step for any blog that desires a revenue stream. If there is one thing that I can stress more than anything else, its patience. All the A-Listers have said it here – you can’t expect to make a lot of money overnight. But with the proper planning, it is possible to earn a nice supplemental income.
I was originally going to describe my entire plan in this single post. By the time I was done writing about Step 1, however, I realized that the post would become way too long. So I have decided to make this plan a multi-post series. There is just too much information to cover in one post. Today I will focus on Step 1 – Planning.
Before I continue, let me take a quick second and to point out one important thing. I realize that some of these steps might be obvious to you veterans out there. If so, then I humbly request that you help us newbies out and leave a comment with some advice or feedback. I am not claiming to be an expert at making money online (yet). I have spent the last 3 months learning much about the topic and have come up with this plan for my blog. I, myself, am only between steps 2 and 3 of my plan. I am sharing this plan in case it helps out anyone else who is just getting started. If you already have some experience in the areas I will be discussing, at this step or at any step along the way, please share it with us. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.
Step 1: Planning Is Pivotal
I cannot stress how important I believe this step to be. In order for your blog to be as successful as possible, it is important that you treat it like a small business (if its not already an actual business). The same rules of business apply to blogging. There is supply and demand (relevant content within your niche and readers with interest), there is competition from other bloggers, and there are incomes and expenses. No right-minded business would venture blindly into the marketplace without a solid Business Plan. Those that do often fail. The same is true of blogging. The consequences of failing may not be as catastrophic in blogging – you aren’t going to lose your house or anything. But if you don’t plan, it is easy to become frustrated, lose interest, and give up. Following a clear plan, on the other hand, can help keep you focused and in the game.
The low level of risk in blogging is what makes it an attractive source of supplemental income. In order to minimize whatever risk there is, it is important to set goals to keep you on target and focused on activities that help improve your blog and enable it to earn as much as possible. Sure, some blogs do make decent money just by “winging it”. And with time, yours could too. But having a solid monetization plan early on can help you get there faster. I guarantee you the big earners out there did a lot more than slap a few Google Ads on their blog. Do your research. Take a look at what other blogs in your niche are doing. See what works and what doesn’t and what you might be able to improve upon. Then form you plan of attack. What are your sources of income, what services will you use, how much are you willing to spend, etc? Finally, set your goals and track your progress.
Do Your Research
The first step in any business planning is Market Research. This is where you learn as much as you possibly can about your blog niche so you can determine where there are opportunities to make money. It is not necessary to do this ahead of time. Ideally, this type of research is an on going process. There will always be new things to learn and new ways to make money. However, early in your blog’s life cycle, you should be able to get a good grasp of your niche pretty quickly. Network with other bloggers and get to know who else is in your niche. See how they are making money. Hell…you can even ask them. One of the things that amazes me most about blogging is how willing bloggers are to help each other. Yes, there is competition for ad dollars out there. But there is plenty of money to go around. Bloggers realize that the positive exposure gained from helping another is much more valuable.
Form Your Strategy
I started my blog in the beginning of January and I had very little experience with blogging or making money. In no time, I had a good understanding of who was in my niche, how they made money, and what forms of revenue were available. Check out my Ask A Pro posts. You can see how I practically ask big name bloggers these questions directly! It is amazing what you can learn if you just ask. The research I did early in the life cycle of blog has helped me to develop this plan that I am sharing with you now. I have learned, for example, that Private Ads are the most lucrative form of income for my niche. However, it is very possible to supplement this income with affiliate marketing revenue and pay per click ads. I will discuss each of these topics in more detail in posts 3 to 5 of this series. Your niche might be a little different. If you focus on high tech gadgets, for example, you might be able to make the most money by referring sales leads. It is important to realize that each blog might have a slightly different strategy. If you do the appropriate research, you will be armed with the right information to develop your particular strategy.
Set Your Goals
Once you have your strategy, now comes the fun part! Time to play with the numbers and see how much money you can make. Setting goals is such an important part of the plan, but it is often overlooked. How else can you determine how well your plan is working if you don’t set metrics to measure yourself? Initially, your goals may not be monetary. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently between steps 2 and 3 of my plan. I have been primarily focused with growing my readership base up to this point. Therefore, my goals so far have been based on traffic, visitors, and regular readers. If you have seen my Progress Reports, you may have noticed my traffic levels have been increasing. This is part of my plan. (You also may have noticed their ridiculous titles – I try to make them fun). Starting with my next progress report, you will begin to see some revenue goals. Four months should be enough time to start earning some money, no matter how little it is.
Track Your Progress
With your strategy formed, and your goals in place, its time to execute your plan. While doing so, its important to track your progress. How well are you doing compared to the goals you have set? If something is working well, do more of it. If something is not working, taking it back to the drawing board, adjust your plan and try something else. If this was an easy process, everyone would be doing it (yeah…it does seem that everyone is doing it. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it well). Part of the planning phase is testing out your strategies and making any tweaks where they are needed. In order to know if you are doing well, you need to compare your actual results with the goals you set in your plan. Starting with my next Progress Report, I am going to be showing an Income vs. Expense Report (just like a real business). This report will help me track my progress and show if I am meeting the goals I have set for my blog.
No one said Making Money with your blog was going to be easy. It take patience, practice, and hard work. If you take the time to come up with an organized plan, however, your chances for success will be greatly improved. Stay tuned for my next post in this series where I discuss how growing my readership base is an important component to my monetization plan.
And for those of you who haven’t finished your taxes….enough procrastinating! Get to moving! Maybe next year your only income will be from your blog?