No matter how popular your blog is, it won’t make money if you don’t monetize it. And even a well-designed and monetized blog can’t make money if you don’t know how to promote it. Too many recent posts on this topic have failed to point out that what works for the rich and famous is unlikely to work for your small business.
When Neil Patel writes about how to create a blog and mentions that his site earns over $1 million dollars a year, I hope people realize that even when he did this with a brand-new blog, he is still the well-respected, world-famous Neil Patel. I’d like to see some stats on how well a brand-new site launch would do if his name weren’t on it and couldn’t spend four figures a month promoting it.
Definitely read Neil’s post and others to get information on how to monetize and promote your blog, but be clear on what will work for your business versus what only works if you are already famous or have very deep pockets to buy traffic.
First Define Your Goals
Before you set your goals and choose how to monetize and promote your blog, first rein in any unreasonable expectations.
Even the major business sites are using Outbrain and Taboola ads that feature click-bait titles and titillating photos to make money. But does your business want half-clothed people in ads on your site? I suspect not. Be clear on what the purpose of your business blog is; it is likely that having it earn a million dollars from ads is not it.
Your business blog may not generate an income separate from your business, and that is fine. Its purpose may be to capture leads or encourage sales; it may be to provide support to existing clients. Making money by getting clicks on racy photos may be far from your goal, so don’t expect to turn your blog into PerezHilton.com.
Methods of Monetizing
The major blogs primarily earn income through various types of advertising and sponsored content. Neil Patel’s site generates leads for his marketing programs and high-dollar consulting services.
Mom blogs primarily sell no-followed, sponsored posts to big brands that may pay them $500 to $1,000+ per post. They may also sell products they create such as webinars, training courses, e-books, and membership sites.
Small business blogs are typically monetized by adding links to what they sell and lead generation forms. Unlike the huge blogs that sell ads, it is not advisable for most businesses to put outgoing ads on their blogs or sites. You don’t want to be sending your potential buyers off your site—you want to keep them around to purchase what you sell.
If your blog isn’t monetized, it doesn’t matter how well known, famous, or successful it is. The amount of traffic it gets will not generate any income for you. This is the number one thing bloggers fail to understand: You can’t make money if you aren’t selling anything.
How to Drive Free Traffic to Your Blog
1. Organic SEO. If you want to get free traffic from search engines, keyword research is a must. Identify what searches you want to eventually rank your site for and make sure you have one page or post optimized for each phrase. Do this before you start driving traffic in other ways.
2. Email marketing. Make sure you are capturing visitors’ email addresses from day one. This is especially true if you are buying paid traffic or investing time or money in social media management. Why keep paying for the same visitors over and over if you can get them on a mailing list and pull them back to your site for free?
3. Social media marketing. The list of social networks available to drive traffic to your content continues to grow. Choosing the best one(s) for your business depends on your target audience. A B2B business might do best on LinkedIn while an e-commerce site might focus on Facebook first and then Pinterest. Twitter is widely used by journalists and influencers, so if you want to reach them, get an account there.
Do not neglect the newer major options, especially if your audience is younger. Both Snapchat and Instagram are the perfect fit for some brands. Even if you are not personally interested, don’t let your business miss out on huge opportunities.
Because blog content is promoted through social media, possibly paid search, and email lists, and attracts links that improve organic rankings, the content you produce will affect all of these factors.
4. Influencer marketing. Thanks to Twitter, influencers are easy to find. But did you know that influencers have their own platforms for asking other influencers to share their content? Business owners can use these platforms, too. The two most popular among my collaborators are Viral Content Buzz and JustRetweet. By sharing content for others, you earn credits you can use to ask influencers to share for you.
5. Offer free webinars, e-books, white papers, case studies, and videos. B2B businesses, in particular, use various creative offerings to attract leads they can then nurture. These are commonly offered free in exchange for at least a first name and email address. Look into using marketing automation to improve your lead nurturing capabilities.
Consider Paid Traffic
Only pay for traffic after you have your email marketing and lead capture systems in place and optimized for conversions. Focus on targeting your specific audience. The most popular sources are:
- Google AdWords
- Facebook ads and content promotion
- LinkedIn ads (These are typically more expensive than Facebook, but higher converting. Test your ads on Facebook first and then use the winners here.)
Other social networks including Pinterest and Twitter also offer ads. Do not start spending unless you study strategy and how-to, or can hire competent managers. It is very easy to waste a ton of money if you don’t have experience and a very specific strategic plan in place before you start.
Blog Promotion Guides
There are many posts, e-books, and webinars available that teach various methods of promoting your content. Some are free and others are more comprehensive premium offers. When you search for resources, be sure to check when they were last updated as online marketing changes quickly.