How to monetise your blog: "My blog finances my son's college education"

Blogger Sue Jordan gives her top ten tips for monetising your blog

As a blogger, the question I’m asked more than any other is ‘Can you actually make money blogging?’ The simple answer is yes and I know this because I am currently guiding my two sons through college using just the finances raised through and because of my blog. As a single mam, just 5 years ago, I was living pay-day to pay-day. My ability to live off my blog is the true measure of personal success to me.

Monetising does not legitimise you as a blogger, no more than blogging as a hobby does. Money is not a dirty word so never feel ashamed to say you want more. If you, like me, have the kind of selfish children that insist on being fed every day then you learn very quickly to quieten your inner monologue; to feel the fear and do it anyway.

My ethos is and always has been ‘A rising tide raises all boats’. I go out of my way daily to help others achieve their own success with their blogs.

Has my career or my blog suffered as a result? Absolutely not. Not only has my blog thrived but my personal CherrySue brand has too. The only greater satisfaction than relying solely on your creative talents to improve your life exponentially is helping others to do just that too. So how do I do it? 

My Top Ten Tips:

Build It & They Will Come: 

Once you have your blog up and running, check your analytics regularly & concentrate on the platform your audience responds best to. Allow your voice to be heard and your content to be shared.

Use your passion: 

Whether your passion is about hoarding lipsticks or herding goats; speak with that passion, unapologetically. Write with authority & aim to help others with every post. That’s what brings, not only one time google hits, but builds an engaged audience.

Consistency is Key: 

Whether your publishing schedule is daily, weekly or monthly, return traffic and engagement only comes when your audience know what to expect from you.

Schedule 90% of What You Do: 

Chances are you’re building your blog and your audience, while juggling a home, family and a full time job. You’re not the only one. Scheduling programmes such as Buffer, Hoote Suite and Facebook scheduler will allow you to create content and schedule posts at the weekend. That way your content is regularly updated throughout the day and you can catch up with mentions and messages once home in the evening.

Utilise Google Adsense & Affiliate Networks: 

Google Adsense is the easiest revenue stream to set up, though depending on your traffic may be your slowest revenue source. Healthy traffic is essential to make Adsense worth your while. Tailor ads to your blog, aesthetically and by way of content. Your audience’s experience should always be paramount.

Affiliate marketing works by placing links to products that can be bought. Affiliate Networks such as Skimlinks, Reward Style & Affiliate Window pair brands with bloggers. Linking to specific brands determines the percentage of each sale made through your blog that you will earn. 

Sponsored Posts: 

Sponsored posts should always be relevant to your audience. If brands aren’t contacting you, contact them. Sell yourself & your service. What can you do for them? Why do you want to do it? Pitch & be paid for your opinion.

Agencies may mail you to offer to write content that your audience ‘NEEDS’ to see, or an earth shattering infographic that literally nobody cares about; including the artist that created it. These offers will always entail a ‘do follow’ link to whichever product or service they’re shilling. While not illegal it is against Google’s T&Cs and will very likely result in hefty penalties from Google. The minimal amount that these agencies pay is never worth the risk, Google will no longer recognise your blog as one of authority so you drop off the search engines.

Media Kit: 

As a rule exposure is not enough payment for work. If a brand contacts you, you already have the exposure they want. Set up a Media Kit to send with pitches and in reply to brand contacts.

Include:

  • Your blog ethos – what do you do and why?
  • Site views, Unique & Returning
  • Google Analytics breakdown of demographics
  • Social Media Follower Counts
  • Past posts
  • Successful collaborations
  • What service you’re willing to provide for the rate asked

Find Freelance Work: 

Use your Media Kit pitch for freelance gigs. Offer to guest post on large sites with your target audience, this is the only occasion in which I’d bend the working for exposure rule. If you can successfully win over the audience of a huge social media account then you can harness that momentum to catapult yourself forward again.

Pitch to magazines and radio shows, using your blog as your area of expertise. Media outlets are always searching for quality content so offer yours up. Feel the fear and do it anyway, that’s when the real magic happens.

To save time on searching for paid gigs, set up Google Alerts for ‘Writers Wanted’ or ‘Hiring Writers’. You will be notified daily of opportunities so you can pick and choose which to pitch.

Literally Use Your Voice:

Use your communication skills and your blog as a springboard to bigger things. Talk at networking events and conferences. Use these platforms to share your experience & your skills because people relate to people, not personas. Offer consultancy to Bloggers & PRs, again, putting yourself forward as the expert will open all manner of doors that you will never have access to, should you doubt your voice. Throughout every venture, remember that your main aim is to add value for your audience. It’s really not about you, per se, it’s about who you’re helping and how you do that. 

Integrity is Everything!: 

Whether building your brand or sharing sponsored content, integrity is key.

Blogs have grown exponentially because readers became disillusioned with print media & hidden advertisements. That entire industry is now feeling  intense pressure as a result of this digital search for honesty. How many magazines now have a digital arm?

The ASAI have shown themselves to be ineffectual in the area of transparency & disclaiming sponsorship, despite tougher guidelines being introduced recently. Ethically and morally though, you are responsible for safeguarding your reputation. This includes registering for VAT or for Self-Assessment should you be a PAYE worker.

Use your voice with honesty & integrity and it will pay dividends in every sense of the word.

It’s called Social Media. Be Social! 

It sounds simple but make sure people know how to engage with you. Add social buttons to your blog, your blog address to each of your bios and a dedicated ‘Contact’ page on your site itself. Check your mentions regularly and respond to those that engage with you. Please and thank you are still magic words too. Show gratitude to everyone you work with, manners cost absolutely nothing but speak volumes about you and can be what distinguishes you from the blogger who simply doesn’t make the time to say thank you.