Monetizing a blog is no easy task. Provided that, after a great deal of work, you manage to make some money thanks to your blog, hats off to you, my fellow blogger. It is very likely that you want to spend this money drinking Mojitos with friends (after all, you deserve it, don’t you?). Still, I would like to offer to resist this urge, by suggesting two ways your blog could really benefit from a little investment: Invest in your blog, and invest in yourself.
A. Invest in your blog.
As a blogger, you have mainly three goals: (1) generate qualified traffic to your blog, (2) convert these eyeballs into readers, and last (3) turn these readers into loyal ambassadors. It’s then only natural to invest towards the completion of these goals, so your blog can grow and generate more revenue.
Get qualified Traffic
You have probably heard of many methods to generate traffic to a website. Yet, little of these methods are applicable to growing your blog’s audience. Guest blogging could be a good way.
The concept is to write an article on a specific topic, to be published on someone else’s blog (preferably someone quite influential in your niche), in your name with your consent. It is a great way to build credibility on the blogosphere, and also to “seduce” the blog’s readers back to yours. Keep in mind that successful bloggers might demand to be paid to posts an article on their blog.
Convert Traffic into Readership
Conversion Rate Optimization is possibly the most mysterious area of growing a website, as this requires psychology and ergonomics knowledge, plus a scientific like rigor. Still, there is a lot you can do about conversion.
Even though it does not constitute a literal investment, the quality of your content is very important. Having catchy titles, appealing images, the appropriate tone or length, etc. is crucial to convert eyeballs into readers. Thankfully, it takes little marketing or technical knowledge to conduct a successful A/B test. Some CMS plugins will allow you to do so, or even Google analytics.
Yet, there are some elements you can invest on, for instance graphic design. Unless you have an extensive knowledge yourself, you either get a new blog theme (some of them you have to pay for), or hire a freelance graphic designer, if you have very specific requirements.
Make your Readership loyal
Once you managed to get people to visit your blog and to start reading, the war is not over yet. Readers need to come back for more to your blog on a regular basis, and ideally spread the word and drive more readers. Again, you have several options.
First, you could create a cycle of automated emails, so your readers who expressed their interest by giving away their email address, could be automatically notified for each new post. If you post very often, a weekly recap might be more suitable. Anyhow, it implies (1) setting up signup boxes at strategic places on your blog and (2) to route emails to your subscribers’ mailbox. Signup boxes can sometimes be setup via CMS plugins, and require a little IT skills for hire. Email routing seems fairly cheap, but your email budget can quickly get significant should you have thousands of subscribers to email weekly.
Then, you could get software to help you with your social presence. It will not only allow you to monitor what people say about you on social media, but also help you interact with your followership. A few different Software as a Service solutions exist, and the pricing works on a renewable monthly basis.
Last, you could create content products (ebooks, webinars, training videos, etc.), available to your faithful readers and via signup Landing Pages. This way, you would make your subscribers feel special (and they are) and offer a great incentive for readers unsure whether or not they should signup.
B. Invest in Yourself
Remember you are the #1 reason of your blog’s success. The quality of the content you are able to provide is primordial. Being passionate about your field of expertise, you probably keep up with your industry on a permanent basis, via other blogs, ebooks, etc. But sometimes, free resources might be not enough to fuel your top notch content on a daily basis. So here are a few tips (some of which might require a little money) so you can stay on top of your game, and keep your readers happy.
Buy (and read) loads of books. Many world-class experts publish books on a regular basis. Therefore, it remains a great way to educate yourself, and to stay up to date with your industry best practices. And for those of you who think reading a book in way too uncool, read it on your iPad, you goddamn hipster 😉
Attend to real life events. There are professional events in (possibly) every industry, no matter how much of a niche you think it is. It might be far away, it might be a pain in the neck to arrange transport and accommodation, but you must go. Why? Because it is the best opportunity there is to meet with people just like you, to discuss the state of the industry, etc. Plus, these event often offer conferences you might want to attend to, in order to perfect your knowledge.
Keep doing whatever it is you are doing. Keep reading other blogs, downloading ebooks or etrainings, attending webinars, etc. Set up a RSS reader so you can get all the information you need in one convenient place in real time. You are doing a great job, and you should keep doing that!
How to do that?
Heard of Google’s “20% Rule”? Well, I would suggest you make it your own. Try to save up systematically 20% of the revenue your blog generates, to allocate it to grow your blog and to grow yourself.
Considering your blog income might not be steady (due to market seasonality) a fraction is more suitable than a fixed sum of money. On the other hand, you will have to plan ahead (that conference in 6 months might be expensive) and think about your “blog improvement fund” in advance.