I have been a blogger for the last five years. But something changed this year. I went from being a hobbyist blogger to a full fledged entrepreneur Blogger.
For the past six months, my blog has been making me money through various means (I will talk about it in detail later). But do you know how I feel? I feel just like a mom feels when her kid bring her first paycheck home. She knows that now the kid can take care of herself. What a fulfillment ! 😀
Blog is like a farmland
Blog are like a farmland. Some farmlands are barren, and some are fertile. But every farmland carries a potential. The blogosphere is no different. Some blogs yields value. Others can seem like a barren piece of digital wasteland. But all blog carries a great potential if given the right attention. Every blog can be turned into a money-making enterprise, without compromising with the virtues of the blogger.
Should you monetize your blog ?
The conversation regarding blog monetization often wanders into a philosophical debate. I have my blogger friends who prefer to keep a low profile. For them blog is not all about making money. It’s a medium. It’s a voice. They always tell me that the value doesn’t have to be pecuniary. One must look beyond the greed, and create value for others in charitable terms. I respect their opinion, but at the same time, beg to differ.
The Sustainability Factor
Charity and prosperity are like Ying and Yang. You cannot have one without the other. Delivering value and earning money can be achieved simultaneously without one hurting the other. And by having a right mix of pecuniary and charitable intentions, you can create a blog that is sustainable. A blog that not only pays for itself, but also generates surplus value. It opens growth prospects. It multiples the magnitude of value you can deliver through the medium. And it magnifies your voice
The Digital Ecosystem
Sustainability is a very important term in 21st century, and the entire digital ecosystem survives on its principles. Whenever you use a free digital service, like searching on Google or blogging on free version of the WordPress, you are using resources. What seems free to you is very costly to the service providers.
Think about it in terms of electricity consumed at the data centers, the semiconductors used to store the endless amount of ‘free’ bits (i.e., your blog posts), not to mention the salaries that need to paid to all the employees that support the digital infrastructure through their hard work.
How is this all possible?
It is possible because the companies that offer these free services rely on revenue generated through channels like advertising. Manufacturers need a way to sell their products, and internet helps in facilitating the process. If there is no money made on the blogs, it will be very unsustainable for the blogosphere to survive. And yes, there will be no free blogs (or google for that matter) to achieve our charitable ends.
How do I make money through blogs ?
I make money through three different channels:
- Affiliate Marketing
There is synergy here. When you decide to make money blogging, you are more than a blogger. You are an entrepreneur. And for every entrepreneur, efficiency is the key to success.
The Monetization Method
My primary effort is to make people click on my affiliate links, and complete a purchase. That’s where the real money is.
But what about displaying ads ?
Well for me that’s a backup. Remember, efficiency is the key to success, and we need to make the most out of our web traffic. If someone doesn’t buy from my affiliate link, I would still want them to interact with my blog in such that way that I earn money. There’s a chance they will click the ads that is served on the web pages. Every time someone clicks on the ads, I make money.
But what if they don’t click on your ads ?
Well, that’s where CPM ads come into picture. To create the maximum efficiency, I compliment CPC ads with CPM ads so that I can make money even if the person just visits my website and views my content. Of course, I don’t make a lot from CPM ads, because you need a lot of traffic to generate a significant revenue, but hey, at least something is better than nothing. Even if it generates enough money to pay for my blog’s business plan every year, it’s not bad, right? Remember we are talking about synergy and sustainability here.
But there is a catch
But there is a catch here. You have to create the right type of content to ensure that this synergy plays out. It is very important to attract the right kind of audience to your blog if you want to make money.
The importance of understanding user intent
Understanding your readers intent is the key to creating content that converts into money.
Let’s say you want to buy an underwear. A very predictable thing that you will do is to seek out an outlet that sells underwear. The process of seeking out can be offline (you go to a physical mall) or online (you visit the eCommerce App and type underwear in the search bar). In simple terms, you have an “intent” in your mind when you visit the undergarment store, weather it is online or offline. The intent is to purchase an underwear.
The intent of your readers
What is the intent of a reader that visits your blog? To determine the intent of your readers, ask yourself this question: How did the reader find the content on your blog?
Let’s say you wrote a blog post on “Best underwear for men” and shared it on your Facebook page. Your friends on Facebook visits your blog, and each of them has different intent. Maybe one of you reader is your girlfriend. She clearly doesn’t want to buy men’s underwear (unless she wants to gift you one). Maybe she just wants to read your blog.
Similarly, a lot of friends on Facebook would just visit your blog to see what you are up to. They do not have the intent to buy an underwear through your affiliate links, no matter how nice of a guy you are. If a million people visit your blog that talks about buying men’s underwear, but none of them have the intent to buy men’s underwear, you will likely not make money. Not through affiliate marketing for sure. Not through CPC ads too. It’s possible to influence them to buy underwear by following the principles of sales – converting prospects into leads, nurturing them, and driving them down through the sales funnel. But it is not so easy. A much better option is to attract targeted traffic that is already at the bottom stage of the sales funnel. Traffic with an ‘intent‘ that aligns with the content of your blog. Such kind of traffic convert into money with greater efficiency and less effort.
How not to sell underwear?
If you are watching a movie at a cinema hall with your girlfriend, would you find it odd if a hawker comes to you during interval with a box full of underwear to sell? Well, I would find it odd. Who sells underwear to moviegoers during intervals ! It would feel less odd if the hawker tried to sell popcorn instead.
Similarly, if someone visits your blog out of curiosity, and without any purchase intent for the product you are trying to sell, your ads and affiliate links can feel quite odd to the visitor. It’s like selling underwear to moviegoers during intervals.
How do you attract readers with the right intent?
There are two main ways I use to attract visitors with the right intent to my blog.
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
The below acquisition pie chart from my google analytics account shows the distribution of my traffic from various sources in past 90 days.
Out of all the sources, the most conversions happen through organic and paid channels. The reason is simple – It is easy to sell “underwear” to people who searches “buy underwear online”, than to people who came to your blog to check out what you are up to lately. While the later are also valuable readers, (and there is a way to monetize their presence as well), but that’s not where most of my revenue comes from. By aiming for organic search traffic and creating efficient paid traffic campaigns, you can target readers with the right intent.
Blog monetization toolkit
Now that you understand the importance of “visitor intent” in maximizing conversions and clicks, let me share with you a tool kit that you can use to monetize your blog.
You will need:
- Amazon Associates Account (or any similar affiliate program)
- Google Adsense Account (To generate Ad Revenue through clicks generated on the ads)
- Google AdWords Account (To create paid campaigns for selling products (either affiliate or your own products)
- WordPress Business Plan
The Importance of Having a WordPress Premium Plan
Getting a WordPress Business Plan is the first step towards blog monetization.
A WordPress Business plan allows you to display AdSense ads, insert HTML codes and use plugins. Without those features, you will not be able to make money.
The Virtual Real Estate
Investing in blog is like buying a commercial virtual real estate. It gives you a place to sell your affiliate products. And also a place to rent out to the advertisers and receive revenue. Having a bunch of affiliate links with no place to host them is like being that guy with a bag full of underwear who approach movie goes during intervals with an underwear sales pitch.
I hope this blog helped you in understanding the importance of blog monetization. Because you have been a very patient reader and displayed a great willingness to learn, here is a special WordPress offer for you. If you purchase through this link, I will earn a commission. But the good part is that you too will earn free credits, so it’s a win win. Very few affiliate links have such perks. 😀
Referral Link: https://wordpress.com/refer-a-friend/XQ763X0SbP70zGV6qz8L/
Good luck with your blog monetization. 🙂