Blogging has been around nearly as long as the Internet itself, and yet it remains a daily source of income for thousands, if not millions of people around the world. With so many competing voices at work, how do you stand out – and make money too?
Analyse the competition
Buzzsumo lets you see what other people in your field are writing. The aim here is not to emulate their content, but to better it by producing more incisive copy, better guides and better-researched posts.
Go above and beyond the call of duty
If blogging is a full-time career or passion project – one you hope to make money from – you’re going to need to invest a lot of time to give people a product they won’t find anywhere else.
Sometimes, going above and beyond the call of duty is the only way to make it work.
Is your competition filming how-to guides in their bedroom? Get out in the open air and hire a camera crew for the day. Are your peers producing 5-minute videos with no professional editing? Make yours legitimately better – and longer – and up the production budget.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Collaborations are a good way to outstrip most of the chasing pack, and Buzzsumo will help you to identify key players in your industry that you can work alongside to double your audience numbers and increase your impact.
Most important of all: be consistent. People who like your work and idly check back from time to time will want to find fresh content on your site each and every time. Inevitably that means cranking out new work daily, but if the blog is a project you’re passionate about, the sacrifice will be worth it.
So, the next question is: how do you make money from blogging? Here are some techniques we’d recommend.
Partner deals and kickbacks
Once you’ve built an audience and have the numbers to prove it, start looking at companies you regularly use or respect. Would they make sense appearing in one of your articles? Maybe it’s an advertising agency, a design firm, a delivery service.
Then, work out a deal with the company. Every new inquiry – and subsequent deal – they receive from a reader of your site (who clicked on the appropriate article) nets you a 10% kickback.
You’ll need to hammer out a method for proving it was your blog that set them on their way. Perhaps they can ask the customer, or add a form to their own site that says: “How did you find us?”
Building an email database
We would never advocate selling emails to the highest bidder, but having a database of real-world people on file is an advantageous step for your own marketing aims.
Experiment with the occasional newsletter pushing products you like. If you’ve got the gift of the gab, you’ll be able to convince the seller of this product(s) to sign a small retainer. Then, back up your talk with numbers: show them the X number of subscribers, X number of click-throughs, X number of readers. Mailchimp provides all these details free of charge, but if you’ve got more than 2,000 subscribers, you’ll need to cough up for the premium package.
And remember, for a newsletter to work, it also needs to be stuffed with the sort of quality content that your main blog generates.
In this day and age, ads are probably a last resort. The problem is that they look tacky and they very rarely represent the blog you’re building. We would suggest investigating advertising only if you can’t strike up a deal with other partners.
Accept free stuff
Gifts are a part of the blog game and you should readily accept them in lieu of payment. While money might be better, you’re building a rapport with the provider, getting stock you can show off or review, and hopefully saving yourself money down at the shops. Fashion bloggers notoriously receive perfumes and clothes daily, meaning they don’t need to fork out at the local shopping mall.
In the end, blogging is a craft, and like all crafts there are trend-setters. Find out how your biggest competitors are making it work and aim to outstrip them. And as we said, if you can’t beat ‘em, consider partnering them.