As it becomes easier and easier to build a business online, there has never been a better time to ask about how to make money with a blog.
In fact, blogging is possibly the simplest and most inexpensive method to get started on the internet.
Not exactly sure what blogging is all about?
A blog, in its purest sense, is basically an online journal.
It’s a space to document, archive and comment on literally anything you desire, to share your passions and exchange ideas.
The power of a blog is that it allows a two-way conversation with each and every post; like this article for example, and you can leave a comment in the box below; think it’s a stinker, ditto.
It’s through these interactions that we are then able to foster a relationship with our audience… and relationships are good for business.
But why is this important?
Well, when all’s said and done, there are two factors that will determine your success when it comes to making money with a blog.
That’s because to make money with a blog, it’s traditionally a numbers game.
You provide great content first and then maybe pick up a few dollars later as your readers click on ads, buy through affiliate links for products you recommend or purchase products of your own.
But these things take time, unless of course, you can generate a big enough audience in which case they can accumulate into more substantial chunks of cash and many do precisely that, every single day. The principle is simple and it works.
So how do you go about building your audience?
Well, on Day 1 your blog is going to be empty and you’ll need a certain level of discipline to populate your site with interesting content. But that’s ok, just take it day by day and start writing. Your efforts will compound over time.
Every article you write is a little piece of virtual real estate, and slowly but surely, as you post more content, the value of your estate will grow in size. You’re priming the pump so to speak. Keep going, don’t give up, you might not see the water rising yet but it is, and if you’re consistent, the water (and here you can read ‘leads’ and ‘profits’) will come gushing out and you’ll be glad you did not quit.
Now, If your blog is a journal in the traditional sense, then generating content is going to be simple enough, but if you really want to accelerate your potential, follow this simple principle utilised by those who know how to make money with a blog.
Blog on purpose & write articles that people are searching for
This might seem obvious, but just because something’s common sense, it doesn’t always follow that it’s common practice.
Think of search engines like a highway. Now imagine you’re cruising down that highway and your fuel gauge pings. We’ve all been there, you’re low on fuel and now you’re actively seeking out somewhere to buy gas. You pass a few junctions but there’s nothing signposted and as the miles clock by, your need grows a little more urgent.
Then suddenly, you see what you’ve been looking for. A sign showing a station 10 miles up ahead. You pull in, fill the tank, even if it is a bit overpriced, you might even grab a few snacks whilst you’re in there.
Now statistically speaking, you know there were probably great local services down each and every one of those junctions you passed earlier….. but the sad truth is, because they weren’t signposted off the highway, they’re as good as invisible as few will ever take the time to head off the beaten track to seek them out.
Now, imagine how it would transform the finances of those local businesses if, instead of hoping for someone to take a wrong turn, they put up a big neon sign just next to the junction so that everyone looking for petrol saw it. Do you think that would be good for business?
So how does this relate to the question of how to make money with a blog?
Well, you can do exactly that with every single article you post online and you start by doing some keyword research.
This can be done using free services such as Google Adwords’ Keyword tool. These simple online tools will give you an idea of how many searches are being conducted for your topic. Better yet, they can tell you exactly what phrases people are typing into their search bar.
We’ll get into the intricacies of this in another post, but understand that certain keywords may achieve huge volumes of traffic but in reality make up just 30% of all daily searches. The other 70% are comprised of millions of unique ‘longtail’ phrases which are easier to cater to.
For example, let’s say you owned an online skate shop.
You might think it was better to rank for the keyword “skateboards” as it gets 60+ thousand searches each month, but it would be fair to say that most searching for this loose term are probably just browsing and could in all reality be looking for a multitude of things, including ‘videos of cats on a skateboard’.
On the other hand, someone searching for the more specific longtail phrase “Discount Santa Cruz Skateboards” is more likely in a buying mindset and would, therefore, be a better person to get your message in front of.
In your niche, there will be hundreds of phrases like this and each could be worth a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand visits to your site. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Do your research
Find out what people are looking for and give it to them.
Blog on purpose.
Don’t leave it to chance.
In any business, online or off, there is an exchange of value that takes place whenever we do a deal or execute a transaction.
"All Money Earned Ethically Is A Byproduct Of Value Creation"
That exchange may be monetary or it might be quid pro quo, but the result is the same – you offer a product or service and in return, you receive something commensurate to the customer’s perceived valuation of your offering, and therein lies the difference between success and failure. Did you get it?
With any product or service, there is a ‘cost’ value and a ‘perceived’ value. The important point is that whatever the customer’s perception of value is, that is their reality.
When I was growing up, I remember my dad using an expression that perfectly summed up the issue with this value / price disparity.
"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing"
Whenever we bought anything new, there would always be someone who would somewhat spoil the moment and ask ‘oh yeah and how much was that?’
I’m not sure if it’s a fundamentally British thing, but personally, I find it a bit indelicate discussing money anyway (we’ll leave that for another day), however when I bought a sportscar some years ago and was faced with the ‘and how much was that?’ query, I’d often frustrate my inquisitor and reply, ‘well, can you really put a price on happiness?’. Flippancy aside, however, there was also a lot of truth in this response, because we never really pay for something based on the basic cost of its nuts and bolts, we pay for the results it gives us or how that purchase makes us feel – whether that be empowered, protected, reassured or so on.
Once you have a great value product or service, the second biggest mistake then is not to communicate that value to the marketplace.
By not communicating the value through the use of effective and compelling marketing, you’ll be aware that what you have is valuable, but your prospects and customers won’t know, understand or interpret the value that you’re offering them.
The point is this:
Money will only come to you once you create value – not just in the creation of your offering – but also in the creation of compelling communications.
In short, and I must thank Joe Polish for this distilled wisdom, there are three things you need in order to sell something…
1. You need a product or service that delivers everything you say it will. Crappy products and services do not a happy long-term relationship make.
Ask yourself, how can I re-engineer my product or service so that it OVER delivers on what I promise? This is the best way to create return customers.
2. You need a marketing message that really communicates the value of your offering but more importantly the results it can produce for your customer. Remember ‘Features tell, benefits sell’.
The best marketing message is one that enters the conversation already happening in the mind of your ideal customer. Understanding your prospect’s motivations is the first step towards creating a message that will motivate them to want to buy your products and services.
3. The third and final thing you need is a means of delivering your message. Think of all the different ways this can be achieved, for example, Social media, postcards, blogging, pay-per-click, email… get creative and spread the word.
Grab a sheet of paper and think about the methods of communication that could most effectively reach your ideal customer. The more methods you can use to reach your prospects and customers, the better.
Also, remember that you can use these exact same systems to deliver more value – and get more sales – from EXISTING customers. Don’t restrict a marketing method to new customers only. They can, and should, be used to deliver more value to your current clients as well.
If you spend enough time focusing not just on delivering great products and services, but also communicating the value of those products or services, and getting them in the hands of other people… then a certain momentum will kick in where people will start referring and telling other people about you.
The money will come once you create the value.
And the more value you create in the world, the greater the potential rewards.
I’d love to hear what you are doing, right now, to become a value creator.
Leave a comment below and let’s connect.
If I had to isolate the most crucial quality that makes the difference between success and failure, it would be a person’s ability to take action.
Action is the very key to success and business survival.
Yet oftentimes we think we’re taking action, when all we’re really doing is thinking about doing stuff.
Know me well and you’ll know that I am out-and-out addicted to courses and books.
If left alone for 5 minutes in town, you’re guaranteed to find me scouring the library shelves, charity shops and book stores in an effort to satisfy my craving for self-improvement and business books. It’s become an expensive pastime but I’m certain there are worse habits.
That said, whilst I have undoubtedly picked up plenty of tactics and ideas from all this reading and learning, their value would be squandered if I chose not to implement any of it.
Contrary to the old saying, it’s not knowledge that’s power, its the daily and consistent implementation of that knowledge, and the cumulative effect that this creates over time.
The reality is, whilst we always hear about overnight successes, most ‘overnight success’ has been hard won after months and years of effort.
Take Jeff Walker. Founder and CEO of Internet Alchemy Inc, Jeff is responsible for creating a business which has generated over $400 million in sales but he too started out, just like you and me.
In an interview last year for Forbes.com he said
“It’s about baby steps and moving towards your goal. First having the guts to even have that goal and then steadily moving towards it. I sent my first email out to 19 email addresses and I just kept on grinding it out. Then I started getting one new subscriber a day and then three new ones a day. So I just kept on taking those baby steps. I think a big part of it is the ability to delay gratification — being willing to put in the work now, knowing it’s not going to pay off for three months or six months or two years”
Some people may groan at the lack of romance and adventure in these words, but personally, I find them encouraging.
The fact that the ‘secret’ to success is so straightforward should actually get us all excited, because it is so attainable.
But if it’s so attainable, why do so many fail to achieve their ambitions?
In short, most people put things off. It’s not that we’re lazy per se, life just gets in the way.
But Imagine if I offered you a deal.
Imagine I told you that in 1 years time you could have the life of your dreams. That 365 day from now, you could be financially-free, pay your bills without stressing, drive any car you want and take your family on the best holidays…
You’d be interested, right?
There’s just one catch.
In order to qualify, I want you to invest an hour of your own time, every day, unpaid, for a whole year.
Would you do it?
I already know my answer.
I don’t know where you are in your life right now, but don’t put off your dreams because you’re waiting for conditions to be perfect or because of unrealistic expectations about how quickly things should happen.
Taking immediate action demands courage and determination, but success will follow if you are persistent.
As long as you’re moving forward, little by little, the effort will compound.
Read enough books on financial planning and you’ll soon see a recurring topic – Budgeting
By listing all of your expenses and limiting spending, they say, you can have enough left over to clear your debts and grow rich. On the face of it this is sound advice, after all, no matter high you boost your income, you won’t get rich unless you spend less than you make – and expenses, left unchecked, have a funny way of growing to match (or exceed) the available supply of money.
"It is the money we save, not the money we make, that determines our wealth"
The problem with budgeting however, is that you end up paying everyone else first – the phone bill, the rent, the credits cards and so forth. Before you know it, there’s too much month left at the end of the money and you’re beating yourself up, promising to do better next month.
If there is one universal truth you can count on, it’s that there’ll ALWAYS be unexpected bills to pay. Lets face it, things are always going to be dropping off your car, schools will continue to plan trips for your kids that you can ill afford and your insurance will always come up for renewal when it seems like you only just paid for last years policy. The fact is, budgeting for expenses and saving with the leftovers does not work.
But here’s something that does.
Pay Yourself First.
Every time you get paid or come into some money, put a fixed percentage of it into a savings account right away, and forget about it. The important distinction is that you put this money away BEFORE you pay any of your bills.
Think of yourself as CEO of a company. As CEO of You.Inc it’s your first responsibility to turn a healthy profit and to become financially secure. Think of this money that you’re putting into this savings account as your profit, everything else you spend after that, on bills and taxes, are the expenses of your company. Only the portion set aside in savings is really yours, but once it’s there let it grow and don’t be tempted to dip in. Be strict.
Isn’t this just a way of fooling yourself? Well, some might see it that way and if you have the discipline to save what’s leftover then try it your way… maybe some months you’ll succeed, chances are however, you wont. By paying yourself first though, you are guaranteed to increase your net worth every month.
Here is a powerful technique to reinforce your wealth building mindset and put this method into action…
First, Take a sheet of paper and tally up the value of everything you have (Assets) and everything you owe (Liabilities). Deduct your assets from your liabilities to determine your net worth.
Next, promise to increase your net worth EVERY month. This is a simple promise but one few people make. Most people promise to make more money, but making more money and HAVING more money are very different things.
Finally, repeat this process and recalculate your net worth on a monthly basis. Once a year is simply not enough.
Counting your money may seem unseemly, and you certainly shouldn’t turn into a miser over this, but it will be a healthy reminder of the progress you’re making and boost your determination.
So, if you’re not doing this right now, try it.
You’ll be amazed at how fast your personal profit account grows
For a number of years, if you had asked me what I thought I needed in order to improve my business, I would likely have responded ‘more customers’. With hindsight, I recognise this was only addressing a symptom rather than tackling the cause of sluggish growth, and that to build an organisation of scale and potential I had to create a shift in the way I thought about the client / provider relationship.
I now understand that what I really wanted, was not more clients, it was actually a better, more profitable business and that when I started to really drill down into the data, it became abundantly clear that some of our existing customers, specifically those who were taking up a huge proportion of time and resources, were not actually very profitable. This despite representing a sizeable proportion of company revenue.
Understandably, these types of customers were strangling the business and the situation would certainly not have improved by getting more of the same to show up. It was at this point that we realised that not all customers are created equal.
Fortunately, we’re now lucky enough to work with some of the best players in our industry, and in return, we strive daily to enhance our services so that we can deliver even greater value in the future. But this cycle of continuous improvement couldn’t exist without the support of an enlightened customer, one who understands the difference between getting good value as opposed to dragooning their providers into a profitless and exploitative enterprise. But it wasn’t always this way.
An example of when things are not working…
A couple of years ago, we worked with a customer who made up over half of our business. Our company would send personnel all over Europe, funding salaries, flights, hotels and subsistence, regularly racking up sizeable 5 figure bills, only to be left waiting 4 months or more for payment.
Eventually, after trying to nudge and cajole this customer to improve their account, we had to bring matters to a head. During a fairly uncomfortable call, we let them know that whilst they were an important part of our business we were not willing to be an unauthorised overdraft and if they were unable to improve the situation we would need to part ways. Whilst this was obviously a difficult path to take, it was also incredibly freeing, as it suddenly released valuable resources and allowed us to pursue new business, straighten out cash flow and reduce the stress of worrying about whether we’d get paid or not.
What was most remarkable was that our business became stronger, we began choosing our customers more carefully and surrounding ourselves with like-minded businesses that understood and appreciated the value of good partnerships.
Understanding and tuning your business around this concept will give you the greatest positive impact on the quality of your customer relationships and in turn, lead to a more profitable partnership for both you and the client.
Truth is, you probably already have a feeling about this one but, if in doubt, the way to identify the difference is look at the dynamic in your relationship. When you work with an ‘A-grade’ client, it is as a partner. You’ll be appreciated as the expert you should be and one that your client has hired to walk along side him or her towards a common goal.
If on the other hand, your customer simply wants a function fulfilled in order to tick a box you will forever struggle to sell them on the added value that you provide. These are not the type of clients you want.
In short, if your customers do not perceive you as a professional partner, it’s time to get new clients.
Unless there’s a change in the procurement hot seat or you can effectively communicate the shortcomings of building a business around lowest tenders, you will only ever be perceived as little more than a “vendor” and when you’re a vendor, there are basically only three questions clients are interested in: Are you basically competent? How cheap? How fast?
This leaves little room or appreciation for the fact that your business perhaps offers so much more than your cheaper counterparts in terms of quality / reliability / support and the myriad other ways your service can enhance the partnership by going the extra mile.
Take these four steps and improvements will follow.
If you’ve had an experience of a bad or toxic customer, I’d love to hear what happened and how you dealt with it.
Do you agree with the points above?
Get in touch and leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.