There are more than 600 million blogs in the world today.
A good number of them were started with a dream of making it to the big leagues of TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Mashable.
A lot of your success as a blogger can be attributed to hard work and good timing. Launching a tech blog today can be incredibly harder than it was when TC launched.
While there are new emerging industries today (like crypto, AI and self-driving) that you could capitalize on, blogging as a category is much more competitive today than it ever was. Chances are there are a number of industry insiders who are already blogging on these topics. If you are not an insider, becoming a successful blogger can get much more difficult.
Having said that, you do not need millions of pageviews to turn your blog into a real business. In this article, we will discuss strategies that can help even a small time blogger turn their hobby into a profitable entrepreneurial venture.
Understand Your Traffic
The first step in turning your blog into a real business is identifying the target group. These are some questions that you need to answer
- What is your blog’s demographics (age, location, gender, industry, etc.)
- Where do these users come from (Google search, your email newsletter, referrals,etc.)
- How loyal are your readers – track repeat visitors on your analytics.
You will have a much better idea on your future course with answers to these questions. If your audience is all tied to a specific industry (like healthcare, banking, marketing, etc.), then your business should cater to this industry category.
However, if you do not find specific demographic patterns, start checking the source of your traffic and repeat visits. You may, for instance, notice that all readers come from a handful of different websites that have linked to you. Now, this is an unsustainable traffic source since there is no guarantee that this site will continue to send you traffic.
Again, if you notice a big chunk of visitors come from Google, dig deeper to check the pages they visit. Are all these different visitors coming to just a handful of different pages? It’s likely that this traffic source is unreliable too since any change in Google’s algorithm could impact your traffic.
Repeat visits give a good idea of your website’s stickiness. A high percentage of repeat visits is an indicator that your visitors like your website and may also trust in what you offer.
Based on your observations, rank your site on a scale of 1 to 10 on the following parameters
- How sustainable is your traffic?
- How targeted is your traffic to any specific industry or demographic?
- How much do visitors trust your personal or blog brand?
Now proceed to the next step.
Find A Monetizable Channel
Once you have a good idea about what your traffic is about, it is time to discuss a monetizable channel. There are plenty of paths to choose from.
The first, and the most obvious path, to take is to sign up as a publisher. Adsense continues to be one of the most popular advertising networks to monetize as a publisher. But in addition to this, you may also explore ad networks that are specific to your industry.
If you run a design or development related blog, you may check out ads served by BSA (BuySellAds) or Carbon.
If you publish an entertainment blog, there are ad networks like Gum Gum and Crave that are a good fit.
If your pageview count does not run in the millions (or even thousands), then the advertising is not really a viable monetization channel.
There are two popular alternatives – you may either sell a product or a service. A blogger who writes about graphic design could offer graphic designing as a consulting service.
Alternatively, they could partner with a platform that caters to a designing audience and sell this platform. Platforms like Placeit have attractive commissions to bloggers who can sell their designs.
Of course, the margins are lower when you sell a product owned by another company. You could also consider building your own product that can be sold to your target group.
Sometimes, there could be multiple viable monetization channels for your business. In such instances, it is a good idea to perform a cost-benefit analysis of these different options.
There are however a few things to take into account. Firstly, while your blog offers a general direction to your business offering, your clientele need not necessarily have to be from within the existing visitor-base.
This means that you may have to invest in producing marketing assets or advertising to acquire new users. In addition to this, regardless of what your offering is, you may have to invest in creating landing pages that convert, setting up and managing Google My Business updates, and so on. You may need to hire an agency for such things and all of this is going to cost you money.
Measure your profitability against these expenses to find the right monetization opportunity.
Focus On KPIs That Matter
When you run an unmonetized blog, all that you care about is the pageview count and somehow more pageviews always mean success.
However, when you turn this blog into a monetizable business, pageviews do not matter anymore. What matters is the revenues you generate and the sustainability of these revenues.
Figuring the right monetization channel takes care of the former. A successful business is one that has a predictable revenue stream, and for this reason, you need to work out a sustainability model.
Early on in this article, I had written about rating the sustainability of your traffic on a scale of 1-10. One way to improve this metric is by building an email list. With an email list, you can nurture prospects into customers, as well as find an audience for each of your product launches.
You may also work out marketing strategies that bring sustainable traffic. You may barter your service with other businesses who will, in turn, send traffic to your website. For instance, if you run an accounting blog and now offer accounting services to small business clients, you may consider offering accounting services to small business blogs in exchange for an ad spot on their homepage.
Once you identify these sustainable traffic acquisition models, establish them as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and track their growth on a monthly basis. As your KPI improves, so does your traffic and revenues.
A business cannot be run like a hobby. In business, you need to set targets and identify sustainable and scalable opportunities. The strategies mentioned here in this article will provide hobbyist bloggers a guide to transform their assets into a monetizable business.