how to make money blogging

How to Make Money Blogging

Posted on Posted in Blogging

Do you want to know how to make money blogging so you can live the way they do, working remotely and pretty much whenever you want?

Of course you do. But how?

It’s totally possible. And it’s not as hard as you think. Just like the winners of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, you need a strategy to ensure your blog’s success.

Here’s the thing. In order to make your blog a money-making machine, two things need to happen:

  1. Your need to have an audience that cares.
  2. Your need to offer something your audience wants. Or one you can convince them they want.
  3. Your need to be able to capture value (there’s not much money to be made when everything is free).

When you learn to dominate niche markets, and offer valuable products to those markets, you can start earning money out the wazoo.

Here’s what we’ll talk about in this post:

  1. How to find a lucrative niche market
  2. How to dominate that market
  3. Specific ways to monetize your blog
  4. How to avoid the biggest mistake in product development

How To Find A Niche Market

Niche marketing is about concentrating all your marketing efforts on a small, specific, and well-defined segment of the population. 

Be a big fish in a small pond, not the other way around. Your blog will never get any traction if you try to be everything for everyone.

When choosing a niche, you can go one of two routes:

  1. Find a niche that already exists (but has low competition) and introduce those consumers to your product or idea.
  2. Create a niche by focusing on a group of consumers who aren’t already being targeted or helped by another business’ product or service.

You know exactly what group of people will love your product or service, right? So focus solely on that group of people.

This will mean a few things:

You’ll spend less money. You will spend less money because you’re marketing to a smaller demographic, so your returns will be higher and more consistent.  Returns on investment for content marketing are much more secure when the focus is on a small niche group.

You’ll make more money. Because you are focused on a demographic that most definitely needs the product or service you have, you will make sales right off the bat. This will give you proof of concept and let you refine your idea/unique insights.

All the money you’re saving and earning by focusing on a super small niche market will fund your transition into bigger, better, and more competitive markets.

Also, starting out on a small scale first allows you to figure out what all the pieces to the machine are (getting traffic, setting up email capture, setting up analytics, learning how to sell, etc.), and gives you a working knowledge of those strategies as you start to figure them out.

Example: you wouldn’t send your eleven-year-old kid off to an Ivy League school the minute he finished sixth grade, would you? Heck no. He would flounder like a little guppy in the ocean.

He has to go through middle school and high school in order to get a solid foundation to really nail college. Starting out in a small niche market and working your way up is the same thing. Start small but mighty, then work your way up to big and mighty.

So how do you pick a niche market?

Here are three questions to ask yourself when evaluating a potential niche:

1.  Is the niche actually a market, or is it a “fantasy niche” that doesn’t really exist?

Peter Thiel (author of the book “Zero to One” which I highly recommend reading!) explains fantasy niches like this:

If you go to Silicon Valley with this amazing restaurant idea for British cuisine, thinking you will dominate the niche because no other restaurant serves British food, you better slow your freaking roll.

You are ready to start this restaurant based totally on the assumption that people in Silicon Valley have a great desire for fish and chips, and are not able to get any.

But it could be that the reason there are no British restaurants in Silicon Valley is because no one wants fish and chips, thus the British cuisine niche is actually nonexistent.

If the demand does not exist, neither does the niche market.

2. Is the niche underserved? 

If a problem or desire is common for a large number of people, then it’s probably been covered pretty well already.

If a problem or desire is unique and relevant only to small number of people, there is a much higher chance it hasn’t been solved or addressed in a satisfactory way, or at all.

Look for underserved niche markets, and become their hero. You can create and capture the majority of the market by crafting an excellent, highly personalized solution to a unique problem.

3. Is the niche actually profitable?

Some underserved niches are that way for a reason…those people won’t pay for anything. If the people in a niche have deep pockets, your business will do better than in a niche that is stingy or poor.

Make sure that a niche market is willing and able to spend money before you spend a bunch of time and energy catering your marketing strategy to them.

How To Dominate Your Niche Market

If you want your company to grow, the fastest way to get there is by using a strategy similar to a military campaign.

Think about it this way: once you dominate one niche market, you can learn and get better and then move on to dominate the next niche and grow your company more.

Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, two of the founders of PayPal, applied that campaign strategy when they launched PayPal in 1999.

The PayPal marketing strategy focused solely on eBay Powerseller until it dominated that market, then branched out to other markets one by one.

Eventually, this strategy did so well for them eBay wanted to buy their company for 1.5 billion dollars. Talk about a sweet deal, right?

That’s why it’s important to establish your position as a leader. And you do that by starting small and working your way up.

When you enter a niche market, you are positioning your company as a leader in your industry by approaching a group of people ready to trust your product or service.

A content marketing strategy focused on being “for everyone” immediately makes your company a small fish flopping around the ocean.

Don’t do that.

Maintain the perception of leadership by moving strategically, one niche market at a time. Stick with a market until it is dominated and saturated (50-60% + market share).

Trying to insert your content marketing across too many niche markets at once can broaden your image too much-–putting you right back into that “for everyone” danger zone.

When you’re building an audience, it’s important to have Sticky and Shareable Content.

In order to get people talking about your brand, you need to create content that people will remember, and content they will want to share.

We call that Sticky, Shareable Content.

  • Sticky Content

When you create sticky content, your brand will become the first thing that pops into a person’s head when they think about a certain industry.

Like Cheerios. Or Kleenex.

 Content needs to meet these criteria to get ultimate sticking power:

  • Focused on a great niche.
  • Provides valuable information that solves a specific and immediate problem.
  • Readable (i.e.: interesting, easy to follow, not lame).
  • Comes from a credible source or authority.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin crafting sticky content:

How high is your bounce rate? (Bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your site and click away after only seeing one page.)

What percentage of people become regular readers after exploring your site?

If your bounce rate is low and your tribe of readers is growing, you’re doing it right!

  • Easy and Quick Sharing

In order for a sticky idea to travel, it has to be easily shareable.

Practically speaking, that means having a big button at the end of your post that makes it way easy to share your content across social media.

The less time it takes a person to do something, the more likely they are to do it. Think about how easy it is to text or email someone a YouTube video of a goat singing a Taylor Swift song.

And YouTube videos go viral all the dang time. Hello, 11-year-old Justin Bieber. This cycle of seeing and sharing is called Viral Cycle Time. That’s a super fancy way of figuring out how long it takes for your content to be shared, and then shared again.

Here’s a graphic of what Viral Cycle Time looks like:

If your content is sticky and sharable, it will travel fast and blow up the Internet.

Monetizing Your Blog: Seven Methods To Make People Give You Money

  1. Membership Sites
  2. Consulting
  3. Digital Products
  4. Reselling/Repackaging Physical Products
  5. Affiliate Products & Services
  6. JV Partnerships
  7. Åds

1: Create a membership site

Membership sites are sites separate from your public blog than can only be accessed by paying members of your tribe.

Your public blog has a lot of information about the “what” of your niche. Your membership site should have a lot more of the “how”. That’s what makes it valuable to your readers.

For a monthly fee, members can get access to all kinds of exclusive content from you. That content can be things like:

Interviews with other leaders in your niche

These interviews can work one of two ways. Either chat with another niche leader and do a write-up of the interview, or post a video of the interview for your members to watch.

Live Q&A webinars

Think of it like a group consulting session. Your members can ask you real-time questions and get answers right away, which will generate cool and helpful conversation for all involved.

GoToWebinar is a great resource for setting up webinars.

Videos

Make a video or series of videos on a certain topic. It’s a great way to cover a lot of information in a more fun and chill way than a giant blog post, and your members will enjoy getting to see, ya know, your face.

Monthly (or quarterly) workshops on a specific topic

Every so often, offer a super comprehensive workshop on your membership site.

Pro-tip: you can advertise for these workshops on your public blog. As in, “Hey, on such-and-such date I’m offering an exclusive workshop. Want to be a part of it? Sign up for my membership site here!”

A members-only forum

Forums are freaking awesome for everyone involved. In a forum, your members have the opportunity to talk about ideas, opinions, and questions, and they can benefit from what they all know. You can drop in from time to time with a little diamond of wisdom, and you can invite other niche leaders to answer questions or share an opinion as well.

Example: after an interview or webinar, the person you were interviewing can offer to spend some time on the forum answering questions from your members.

2: Consulting

Consulting is a totally different beast than the other options we’re covering here. While the other options covered are product-oriented, consulting is a service.

If you’ve established yourself as an authority of a specific topic, you can gather a pretty steady stream of consulting clients.

Consulting can have huge margins (we’re talking $40-$50 an hour), but will be a total headache unless you know what you’re doing.

Here are two simple steps for setting yourself up for consulting:

1.  Put together a good-looking product page with high quality copy.

2.  Casually mention in your blog content that you offer consulting.

Since your content is already focused on delivering massive value to your niche, the people who read your content will perk up and pay close attention if you tell them, “Hey, are you benefitting from this? Well, I’ll personally connect with you and share even more…”

Pro-tip: Don’t think you have to hold back the good stuff in your blog content so you have something leftover for your consulting clients. They want to know about your experience of implementation, which is way more valuable than understanding your methods conceptually.

3: Digital Products

Information Products & EBooks
As a blogger, you’re an expert in your field and already have a knack for creating compelling content.

This can be an extremely effective way to monetize your tribe without having to sell them on your credibility.

Software Products
Software production is not for everyone, but if it interests you it is a viable option for monetizing your blog. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model where applications are hosted by the vendor or service provider (that’s you!) and given to customers over the Internet.

SaaS products are a great long-term business. Keyword: long-term. Both the learning curve and the pay-off are going to take a while, making it a riskier venture than something like rebranding a product or promoting an affiliate.

Even if you’re new to coding, it’s very possible to create a simple and highly targeted product for the right group of people and kill the SaaS game.

The key to a successful SaaS product is to pick a really, really specific group of people on the Internet with a really, really specific (and real) problem. Then, create a super simple tool to solve the problem.

Don’t know how to code? You’ve got two options. First, you can learn how to code. Codecademy.com is a great resource for beginner coders. Second, you can pay someone to do it for you.

If the software is useful, your people will buy it.

4: Resell/repackage a physical product

This method works best when you can have big margins and find something incredibly unique and closely tied to your blog’s content.

Here’s how reselling works, in three easy steps:

1.     Find a preexisting product that fits with your brand. This can be anything from supplements and health products, to fashion products, to t-shirts. Anything goes, as long as you can think of a way to make it unique to your brand.

2.    Repackage that product with a custom element. For example:

  • Relabeling supplements or health products
  • Designing t-shirts
  • Branding fashion products

3.   Let someone else handle the physical distribution of the product. Dropshipping allows      you to be totally hands-off and only worry about selling the product.

Fiverr is a great resource for finding and customizing products to sell, and they handle production and shipping, too!

Let it be known, repackaging/reselling is probably not your best option because the margins won’t be great and there are tons of potential headaches, but it is worth exploring if the idea interests you or you have, like, the world’s best idea for a poster or t-shirt.

5: Affiliate Products & Services

Affiliate products is a big go-to for blogs. Here’s how it works:

Take a proven product from a high-credibility company that already has a solid market and recommend that product within your blog’s content. This can be casually mentioning the product in passing, writing reviews for it, writing comparisons and making a recommendation, etc.

This is great because you can get everything set up and rolling within an afternoon.

Pro-tip: Make sure you only recommend high quality products that won’t cost you goodwill with your readers. If you recommend a product that stinks, you will start to lose your tribe’s trust and that is the absolute worst thing for you and your blog.

Not sure how to find an affiliate? Here are some links that will help you get started!

o   This post form mThink.com is an awesome resource for finding affiliate networks.

o   Bluehost.com has a great affiliate program that pays you to drive people sign up for their services.

6: JV Partnerships

Joint-venture (JV) partnerships are essentially the same as affiliate products, but with a twist.

Instead of reaching out to a generic affiliate program, you’re reaching out to a specific person whose brand isn’t all that much bigger than yours and arranging a deal to promote their product to your readers (for a very high percentage of the income).

There are two benefits to your new partner, here: One, you can offer an insanely high-converting number of leads for their product. Two, they will get access to your email list, which can have long-term value for them as you build new relationships and potential sales leads.

Here’s the thing, though. You’ve gotta have a decent number of engaged readers for this to work. Otherwise you have nothing to offer.

I can’t emphasize that enough.

The value of an engaged readership that trusts you is huge.

If you have a loyal tribe of followers that totally trust you, you become an invaluable asset to a potential JV partner because they’re not just getting you, they’re getting you plus a ton of people who listen to everything you say.

7: Ads

Ads are not the best way in the world to monetize your blog, but they are an option so they’re worth a mention. To make it super simple, use a program like Google AdSense.

AdSense is Google’s content-targeted advertising program. Once you enable the program, Google will check out your site and post relevant ads automatically.

You start earning money once enough people click through an ad link. The nice thing about this is Google handles all the details in a no-fuss way that leaves you free to run your blog.

The Huge Mistake You Don’t Want To Make

When you’re building a business, what you really don’t want to do is do (or make) something nobody wants. That is a surefire way to straight up lose money.

The Mistake? Overcommitting to something before you know it works.

That’s why it’s important to test your new products and ideas along the way, so you don’t end up investing a ton of money in creating something that won’t sell.

Scenario #1

Here we have a blossoming entrepreneur who is very excited about a new idea or product. Much time, energy and money has been invested in this big new thing.

Excitedly, the blossoming entrepreneur presents the idea to an audience, only to find out the audience doesn’t care about the idea, or need it.

There is no market for this thing that took all that time, energy and money to create.

Freaking bummer, right?

Scenario #2

In this case, we see a blossoming entrepreneur come up with an idea, then ask an audience what they actually think of it. Turns out the audience isn’t all that excited and the new idea isn’t what they need.

So, our blossoming entrepreneur goes back to drawing board, makes some changes, and presents the idea again.

Eureka! The new idea is more in line with what the audience wants and needs, which means there is definitely a market for this new product or idea.

Now our blossoming entrepreneur can confidently invest more time and money into the idea, to make it everything it can be.

If you need to tweak your idea or change your niche, you want to find out before you’ve invested months of your time and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

Test each assumption about your blog or a new product or idea as often and as cheaply as possible. That way, you always know where your company stands and exactly what you need to change in order to keep growing.

So…Now That You Have an Idea of How to Make Money Blogging, What Will You Do?

You now know how to find a solid niche market, and what it takes to dominate that market quickly and effectively. Remember, be a big fish in a little pond. Don’t be a guppy in the Pacific.

You know of seven practical ways to monetize your blog immediately. Remember, physical products have small margins and ads are annoying. Promoting affiliates and offering educational services are the best ways to help your audience and make money.

And you know how to avoid the biggest mistake in product development. Remember, start small and make sure people want what you’re offering.

Now get out there and make your millions!

If you liked this article on how to make money blogging and want to see more posts, check these out:

Why BlogHow to Write a Blog Post, Blog Design Tips, and How to Market a Blog.