It is the year 2008. You setup a blog based on one of your hobbies, let’s say exercising. You write quality content regularly and some nice pillar content.
You optimize your blog for search engines and build the content by regularly writing informative articles. People come to your site, read and savor the content and your traffic gradually increases.
Once you had some traffic coming in, making money was pretty easy. You could put some adsense ads on your website or, maybe sell some banner ad spaces on websites like buysellads.com. That’s it. You were a successful blogger making money with your blog.
This was true in the year 2008, when the rules were pretty liberal. In fact there were no rules at all. Dedicated blogger were making decent income from their blogs and were writing about how to make money with blogging.
After reading all of the above, you find all of it unreal, then you are in the year 2016.
The rules have changed. Blogging has changed. Google has changed and the readers who would very happily click on any ads that they saw on a website have also changed. Ad blockers are being installed and almost 70% of the times, your ads don’t show up.
And with all of this, is it really possible to make money with blogging?
Making Money with Blogging is a Myth
Driving traffic has become one of the most difficult thing to do. You need to spend hours on your strategy and in driving real traffic to your blogs. Now after all of this, if the visitors comes to your blogs, reads a few articles and clicks away, then the entire effort is wasted.
You could afford to do that in 2008, when driving traffic was not that difficult and you could drive a swarm of traffic in a matter of few days. You were okay with them browsing away even if they did not click on any of your ads or, they did not buy anything.
But with traffic acquisition becoming costly and the engagement levels on pretty much every website and social media channels dropping, it is just not affordable.
You need your blog visitor to take an action. You need them to buy something and make you some money. But the real question is how?
Making money with blogging seems to be just a myth in 2016.
Making Money with Your Blog – The Strategy
I still remember the initial days of blogging. John Chow was a big name in blogging and he was making a ton of money from his blog. His blog was a storehouse for advertisements. Every nook and corner on his website had an advertisement banner.
Add to it some of the other advertisement mediums like interstitial ads, in-text ads etc. and his blog was a complete horror for the visitor. I would usually spend a lot of time at his blog and during this stay, I would surely click on a few ads.
Whatever it was John Chow was making a lot of money.
Another such blogger was Jeremy Schoemaker. He too made all his money from advertisement, product endorsements and sponsorships. He too, was a successful blogger.
While every blogger relied heavily on advertisement and endorsements to make money, there was one blogger who did it the right way even in 2007. That was Yaro Starak, who was also my inspiration to start a blog.
Yaro had a backend product on blogging and membership sites, which was part of his sales funnel. And he was driving traffic to this product using his blog. So the blog acted as the frontend to his backend products, which was where he made the real money.
As things changed on the internet, pretty much every blogger who were big names suffered a setback. But all of them slowly adapted to the change and revised their entire monetization strategy.
They realized that blogging as a standalone product didn’t have a future. It cannot make you money on its own. You might be able to make some money promoting a few affiliate marketing products, but that was just not enough from a long term perspective. While this was a good monetization strategy, it still wasn’t a viable one. You would very rarely see a visitor coming back to your blog because you sent them to the merchant’s site, where their email address was captured. They would be marketed to by the merchant and all you got was a one-time income from the affiliate product.
How Do you Make Money with Your Blog?
With all of this, how do you really make money with your blog? Or, is it even possible to make money blogging?
Over the last couple of months I had spent a lot of time studying niche blogs to understand how they were making money. In fact one of the niches that I spent a lot of time on was the “food blogging” niche.
And the reason for this was obvious – My wife runs a blog in the food blogging niche and she had built it up to get some nice traffic. But we weren’t able to monetize it the way we wanted. We were running affiliate offers, adsense ads and some banner advertising on the blog. But that wasn’t enough and I had to find out better ways of monetizing the blog.
That’s when I started to follow some of the top blogs in this niche. Among them were “The Pinch of Yum” and “Minimalist Baker”. After following these for a few weeks, I realized that their primary source of income was a backend product that they were running, both of which had to do with a food blogging course. The Pinch of Yum made money from their ebooks, photography workshops and food photography guides as well but their primary product was “Food Blogger Pro”, which is a course that teaches food blogging.
Similarly Minimalist Baker had a backend product that primarily dealt with Food Photography. Their course was a food photography course and they were teaching food bloggers, the art of capturing good food photographs.
Can you Really Make Money Blogging
I spent a few months studying blogs in different niches – food niche, survival niche, pets niche etc. At the end of it all, I realized one thing. It is indeed possible to make money from your blog.
The only thing you need is a monetization plan and a funnel.
There was this nice article that I read on the Sumome Blog about sales funnels for blogs. Coincidentally it was case study, on a food blog. And this post, made it clear in as many words; the fact that you need a backend product to make money from your blog.
Over the last few years, most top bloggers in the internet marketing niche have also taken this route. Copyblogger has multiple backend products like Rainmaker, Studiopress etc., John Chow, Yaro Starak, Problogger and pretty much every blogger has a high converting backend product.
They are all using their blog as a frontend to find people who are interested in their backend products and then promote it to them.
If you review the two food blogs that I spoke about a little while earlier, you will realize another aspect – the backend products were not products that were created first, which was then promoted using the front end blog. Rather, these were products that were developed based on the interest shown by the audience that the blog was catering to.
And one another thing that you need in order to ensure that your backend product is getting the attention it deserves, is a high converting funnel. If you funnel fails to capture your readers and convert them into buyers, then this entire strategy of having a backend product fails.
This aspect of a sales funnel is something we can discuss in a future post.
Over to You Now
Are you still wondering as to how to monetize your blog?
You can make money with blogging in 2016 as well. The only difference in how it worked way back in 2007 and how it can work today, is in the monetization strategy. Blogging works really well if it can be used as a front end to a product that you want to promote at the backend.
It necessarily need not be a product that you created before you started your blog. It can be a product that you create, based on your blog audience’s interest. You can survey your audience and then use your expertise to create a product based on the response that you get. The only couple of things you need to keep in mind are –
- Your product needs to be a premium one, something that is not available on your blog. In fact it has to be an upgraded and advanced version of whatever you write on your blog.
- It has to address a problem that your blog audience has.
- It should build on the interest that your blog content has generated in your audience.
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