Can blogs really earn you money?
There must be a million and one articles online telling you how to make money from your blog. The truth is, that many of those advocate writing a blog and selling advertising from it, and in today’s world where there’s a wealth of free articles online, that’s getting harder and harder to do.
My name is Viki Carpenter and I run Gloss Media, a marketing company based near Helston. Among other things, we get paid to write blogs for clients. But what perhaps sets us apart is that I started my own blog right at the start of the business and today that blog has over 15,000 followers, with a reach of up to 600,000 and it is a profitable business. The blog is called Dog Friendly Cornwall and today it is also published as a print magazine.
In short, we have created our own money-making blog. The purpose of this article isn’t to brag about that, but to share some of the ways that we made this happen in the hope that you can do the same for yourself.
Step One: Leave your ego at the door
A good blog isn’t about beautifully composed prose, although of course it helps, and blogs certainly shouldn’t be about the writer, although it helps to establish your credentials. In today’s world, anything you offer up online has to be useful, inspiring or entertaining for your particular audience.
Step Two: Don’t sell
People don’t like to be sold to — at least not overtly. If you must sell, give something back in return for the attention your reader has generously given to you, for example, useful information or a beautiful picture gallery to inspire them.
Step Three: Get the headline and image right
It’s worth taking more time on these bits than the rest of the entire article. Choose a poor, blurry image, or a boring one, or an uninspiring headline and you could be the next William Shakespeare, but no-one will ever click through to find out. There’s an article here with more detail about how to craft a headline (and some awful examples) and click here for some great tips on finding (or even making) the right images for your blogs.
Step Four: Prepare for tumbleweed
When you start writing your blog — unless you already have a membership or following, you’ll probably be writing to an audience of one — yourself, and perhaps a few close friends and family. These early stages are disheartening and you can end up giving up after a few weeks when the world doesn’t fall at your feet. In order to get any kind of loyal audience, you have to keep on going. When I started Dog Friendly Cornwall, I had about five followers for the first few months but I kept going, because I knew I was building a resource that would be useful for dog lovers.
Step Five: Weave your web
If you only ever publish your blog on your website you won’t find new followers. Sharing it out on social media platforms and writing blogs for other sites (like this one, if you’re a Cornwall Partnership Member) will help you to reach new audiences. There are a number of clever ways you can get everything published to all your social media platforms with the press of one ‘Publish’ button.
Step Five: Keep going, but have a plan
Once you’ve got into the swing of your blog, it’s important to keep going. This is what makes a difference between success and failure for many people. The other deciding factor is thinking about how you will make money. I decided early on that selling advertising on my blog was only ever going to bring in a small revenue, and I would probably ruin my site to boot. Instead, I was inspired by my readers who asked me to create a map of all the best dog friendly places in Cornwall that I had written about in my blog. So, I did some basic market research and created a directory and website that my customer base had already told me they wanted.
Here are just a few other ways (apart from the traditional advertising path) you could monetize your blog:
- Set yourself up as an expert in your field and get paid speaking engagements or teaching opportunities.
- Use your blog following to create a customer base for things they would like to buy online and sell things. (We sell our magazines and beach guides, for example).
- Join affiliate schemes such as Affiliate Windows and get commission from anyone who books with your affiliate partners online within a certain time frame of visiting your blog.
- Offer one-to-one consultations in your area of expertise and advertise the service on your blog.
- Run competitions with commercial partners and get paid for the data capture.
- Collate your blogs into an e-book and sell it online.
There are a few other ways and this article by Neil Patel goes into them in more detail.
Step Six: Be prepared to change your plan
Being a bit flexible and listening to the market is really helpful, but if your content is good, your audience enjoys and shares it and you are persistent and consistent, there are many ways you can earn money or even build a successful business based on your blog. Good luck, and please do get in touch if you have a blog you would like to write for Cornish Partnerships, we’re happy to share…