Lets cover the bad news first. Blogs are a terrible way to make money. Honest, they’re awful. If you are able to monetize a blog so that it provides the majority of your income inside of three years, you’re ahead of the curve. Blogs can be excellent resources once they’re established but growing a blog to that point takes countless hours of hard work.
But you didn’t come here for a doom and gloom story, you’re looking for a strategy on how to actually make a successful blog.
Building a blog is pretty straightforward during the beginning phase. Until you’re pulling 10,000-25,000 monthly unique visitors, there is no reason to pursue any other strategy than the one outlined below. Forget optimization, social media, PPC, and everything else. Save yourself time and energy by focusing on what makes the biggest difference in the beginining: content.
And don’t expect to be able to make any money from your blog until you get through this phase. Your sole objective is to get beyond this as quickly as possible so you can focus on the good stuff.
Step 1: Produce 6 Months of Content
You need to do this before you even launch your blog. Go buy the domain you want and sit on it. Why is this so important? You’re going to get busy, really busy. And you’re going to need a content bank to draw from when deadlines get tight. When starting, you’ll want to publish one post a week so put together 24 posts.
Step 2: Build a List of 50 Leads in Your Space
If you build something online, people aren’t just going to show up. Google will start to give you a trickle of traffic as the months progress. But if you really want to make money off your blog, you’re going to have to get serious with your marketing. The easiest strategy for this is guest posting. Spend a day or two and find every other blogger who publishes posts on the same topic that you will. Make an excel spreadsheet with:
- Name of the blog
- Name of the blogger
You’ll need this list ready to go on day one.
Step 3: Launch and Publish
I recommend launching a blog on a self-hosted WordPress site. It’s really easy to use and is robust enough to handle whatever you develop in the future. For building a brand, there’s really no other legitimate option.
When you’ve got everything live, set a weekly publishing deadline for yourself. No matter what happens, you must publish a post by that deadline. Consistent posting is the most important variable to building a blog with decent traffic. With a bank of content ready to go, this won’t be a challenge. Ideally, alternate each week between using a post from your bank and writing new content. This should stretch that content bank out to a year while giving you room to breath.
Step 4: Build Relationships with Other Bloggers
From the list of leads you put together, spend time on the bloggers in your niche. Don’t just focus on the most popular sites, build relationships with people that are also just getting started. This is important for two reasons:
- New bloggers are very accessible. They’ll be very receptive to guest posting and building a long-term relationship with you. The more successful someone is, the harder it is to get noticed.
- You need to refine your pitch. Every pitch is terrible until it’s been practiced at least a dozen times. Accept it and get practicing on the little guys. When you start pitching the major players, you’ll be ready.
You’re goal is to publish two posts each week, one on your blog and one on somebody else’s. Don’t try to recycle content either, the guest posts have to be original content. Warm bloggers up by commenting on their blogs for several months before you pitch your guest post.
Step 5: Find a 50/50 Rhythm Between Posting and Guest Posting
Your main objective is to get into a publication rhythm where you’re posting on your site once a week and publishing on another blog once a week. This is going to be a lot of work. It’s also the most efficient path to blogdom success. If things get too crazy and you need to scale the tempo back a bit, drop the guest posting. Do not start slacking on your weekly posts, they’re critical to growing your traffic.
Remember the rules completely change once you get out of this initial phase and hit that 10,000-25,000 monthly unique visitor mark. That’s when you can start experimenting with monetization. If you play around with Adsense, affiliate links, Ebooks, etc before then, you are completely wasting your time.