Literally anyone with an internet connection and a few bucks can start a blog. But to actually make money, (or even get it seen by people) you will need to understand a few VERY BASIC strategies for a successful blog.
One of the most important things to understand is that while the basic blogging business model is generally similar across the board, the specific ways that one can go about creating a successful blog are many.
In fact, no two blogs operate EXACTLY the same way. What works for one blogger and their audience may not work for you.
Every blogger is different, and every audience is different. This is not a bad thing – it’s actually WONDERFUL. It means that if you try something and it fails, you can try something else. And if that thing fails – well, your options are still wide open.
Failing is no fun tho, and if you understand some basic strategies for a successful blog from the beginning, you will be far better positioned to not fail.
This list of blogging strategies is by no means exhaustive, but these are the strategies that I see many professionals using and many beginners missing altogether. These strategies for a successful blog are also not the ONLY way to have a successful blog. You can choose to do other things, and still see success.
1) Create a plan for success from the start
You can either go into a dark room and blindly start banging on the walls looking for a way out, or you can take a flashlight and have some clear idea of where you’re doing.
It seems like many bloggers are charging into the dark room at full steam. Their blogs are largely incoherent and they aren’t really sure what they are working towards (besides getting people to see their blogs and click their links).
Having a PLAN to follow, and knowing what the objectives for your blog are is KEY to seeing success quickly. Knowing what to do, and in what order to do it.
It seems to me there is so much written about getting set up and started (because that is where the hosting sales are made) but very little written about the path to follow – or where you are headed – after set up. Do you just write aimlessly?
I suggest you follow the guideline laid out in this free ebook The Secret Blueprint to Blogging Success.
2) Niche down at the right TIME (and that time is not at the start!)
The problem that I have always had with the niche down advice is that it is (or can be) very hard to get traffic when you start very niche – if you have no experience as a blogger.
We hear about bloggers who “niched down and it exploded their businesses” – and while that might be TRUE, they didn’t niche down until they already knew what they were doing and had some traction in the space they niched into.
So while “niche down” might be good advice, and it might be the thing that takes you from 1000$/month to 5000$/month – it’s not (imo) the ideal place to start. You have to wait until the right TIME to niche down.
Just start a LITTLE broad.
Because big broader topic posts will gain TRAFFIC, while tiny, niche specific posts will gain CONVERSIONS.
But traffic must come before conversions. It just must. You can not convert zero traffic.
For faster wins, write broader posts (casting a large net) and then funnel that traffic (once it is established) into a smaller niche area where you can work on conversions.
It’s like growing a Facebook group. Many people ask me how I grew my blogging Facebook group so quickly. Well, I already had an email list of a few thousand people before I started it. So then, when I opened the Facebook group, I just invited the email list.
An engaged group of 2000 people gains traction in the Facebook algorithm MUST faster than a group of 7 people.
It was easy for me to niche down into that space because I already had traction in the space.
You certainly CAN start writing the more narrow things right away, but unless your SEO is perfect, don’t expect a ton of traffic. (And I bet your SEO won’t be perfect until you have some experience with SEO.)
3) Paid content is a totally viable business model
If you are following your clearly defined plan (from strategy number 1) then you will know without a doubt what importance (or “job”) each piece of content you create has.
It WILL have a job – you won’t just be writing to fill a space on your editorial calendar.
When you know what your content has to DO, you will often find that you don’t even have to write it. This post from SmartBlogger is GOLD when it comes to understanding content strategy.
You can hire someone else to write it – and don’t feel bad about that. MANY MANY very successful bloggers buy their content. You can put your own name on it and pretend you wrote it – there are authors who sell content JUST for this purpose. It’s called ghost writing, and it is not “shady” or “cheating”.
Just be careful to buy high quality and unique content.
4) Paid traffic is a totally viable business model
There seems to be this idea that everything we achieve must be organic.
That is ridiculous.
People have been paying for ads for hundreds of years, and while organic traffic is nice, paid traffic IS a viable (and sustainable) business model. Just take the time to learn to do it – like anything else with blogging.
Sure – it’s POSSIBLE to do it all organically. (And it’s sort of fun too! I love my free traffic from pinterest. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way.)
Most of the very very successful bloggers you read about ARE paying for traffic. Promoted pins on pinterest, ads on Facebook etc. Those are paid traffic models.
When you reach a place where you can pay for traffic, if you want to do it, do it!
5) You must have a funnel (or at least an actively engaged audience) to make REAL money
It is, as far as I am concerned, pretty easy to take your blog itself from 0-$1000/month in ad income. It’s breaking that ad income ceiling that is hard. And this seems to something many bloggers are stuck about.
Stop thinking of your blog as the whole business. Your AUDIENCE – and what you are offering them – is the “business”. (Because that is where the money comes from!)
Sure, we talk about email lists and social media followings, but we don’t talk about how the point of the email list is not to write chatty emails to “stay in touch”, or even to drive traffic back to the blog.
The point of collecting emails is to get the readers of your blog into a funnel where you can sell them your products (or affiliate products) or services.
Start seeing your blog as just the starting point of the funnel in which your business works. The blog is just the door your customers walk through.
So leverage the traffic you are getting as best as you can. Don’t just let it collect ad money and be done with it. (Although, that is also a business model you can choose to use I guess. It’s just not the wisest one.)
Take your traffic OFF your blog, and have a plan for your traffic.