How to Turn Your Blog into a Profitable Brand
We have in the past 10 years been helping individuals and businesses build their websites. Some of the websites we built in the past have become great successes. From the most simple days of basic HTML and static websites, to the now advanced days of content management systems(CMS) mobile usage and social media, it’s all about adapting with the times and providing value to an audience.
WordPress has changed a lot of things and made the process of creating an online content-focused business or brand a whole lot easier. Since there are no technical skills required, and being that the software is free, everyone may soon have a blog. However, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you are going to find success.
Quite often we receive emails from our clients and users asking why they aren’t making money with their blogs.
To answer all of these questions and more, today we are covering some of the most effective and important ways to actually turn a blog into a real brand and business.
1. Building Your Blog, Brand and Business from the Ground Up
Before you get started with a website or blog of your own, you need to know why you are doing this in the first place. For this article, we are focusing on creating a blog to make money.
In most cases, a blog should be very niche specific, provide a need or information to an audience, and also have some form of monetization as well. Getting a ton of traffic to your site is great, but without a clear focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (for monetization) in place… it’s just another blog taking up space on the already saturated internet.
While there are many ways to make money with a website or blog, many of them are by sending visitors to another site or making a quick commission or sale for someone else. This is fine, but turning your blog into a brand and respectable source for information is better.
Focus on Brand Identity
To invest in your online business and brand, you should have a professional logo design and a way to resonate with your audience even after they leave your site. This doesn’t mean you are going to need to spend a lot of time and money.
Thanks to online design tools like Tailor Brands, it’s easy for anyone to create a professional looking logo, without the need to hire an expensive design agency or go through hundreds of freelancers to find the best design work.
Once you have a brand identity and image in place, you can build a great first impression and brand following online. This means posting the image not just on your site and blog, but also within all your social media profiles and email signatures if possible. Keep in mind that these same best practices can be used by freelancers and sole entrepreneurs as well.
The long term value in your logo branding and online following can greatly influence the amount your site can charge for reviews, content contributions, display traffic, and affiliate marketing campaigns, and as well as how much you might be able to charge for consulting or related services.
If you don’t think a professional logo identity and brand makes a big difference, go see how much it costs to buy banner ad places on a site like ESPN, versus that of another high-traffic sports blog that no one has really heard of. This is also why someone might pay more for a pair of Nike shoes or a Starbucks cup of coffee — it’s all about the brand association!
2. SEO: Focus on Long Tail Value
SEO has changed significantly. This is always going to be an argued debate, but we can clearly see that more people are moving away from desktop usage and focusing more on mobile usage, social media, and online video to get their information.
There will likely always be a place for searching websites and content online, but it likely won’t be through the traditional Google search and SEO methods that we are familiar with today.
However, even with this in mind, the value in long-tail keywords is still extremely effective and profitable. When someone searches for something very specific on Google, they are likely ready to take action and buy something. The deciding factor in what site is going to get the sale is who is ranking at the top of Google for these terms.
So what does this mean? In short, stop focusing on creating a lot of content, and instead focus on bigger, better, and longer content.
At the same time, keep an eye on the latest case studies and trends from other top SEO blogs, as these are the sites that are often already ranking well and know what it takes to move up on Google with all of these latest algorithm and user changes in motion.
Not only will this allow you to get more focused with your content and who your target audience is, but it will also help with the content promotion and your link building process as well. Keep a close eye on your competition and research not only what keywords and search phrases they are ranking for, but also the different types of content and length they are publishing as well.
3. Target Your Best Audience through Social Media
Everyone talks about social media and the massive two-billion plus users across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. However, not many are actually mastering the art of social media and converting these followers into customers and visits on their site.
At the same time, every social platform is different in the way not just content needs to be created, but also how you can reach and promote to such audiences as well.
For example, simply by continually using any of the top hashtags on Instagram, you can instantly improve your impressions and exposure to millions of new users. The tricky thing about Instagram is that you aren’t going to be allowed to link back to your site, but it’s amazing for visual content creation, branding, and building a following.
More often than not, if you take the time to examine your competition and see where most of their traffic is coming from, it’s usually from one social platform over a wide spread across all of them. With this in mind, it’s important to know not only which social network is best for attracting your target audience, but also which methods (visual, text content, paid ads) will work best as well.
4. Manual Outreach is Still King in the World of Blogging
There are many ways to get manual outreach working for your blog and brand. Whether your outreach is for an infographic, broken link building, or guest blogging… it’s all about the tone and conversation you start with. Here are some of the most notable and effective ways to start using manual outreach and promotion to grow your blog, brand or online business:
- Sending out emails to other websites and seeing if they would like to cross-promote your content on social media, through mailings, or even mentions in articles. These emails should be more personable and not an obvious template.
- Guest blogging still works extremely well, but it should only be focused on legitimate websites that have traffic and are relevant to your niche. Contributing to other websites and blogs is great for link building, but also for reaching new audiences and growing your brand.
- Broken link building is a huge opportunity, but again… this can be very time consuming (and rewarding). Analyze other sites within your niche, find where their broken links are, and then reach out through email and see if they will replace their broken link with a working one to your site.
Depending on how you approach each of these methods, your personal outreach and research methods might vary. The good news is that many of these processes can be outsourced to freelancers who will do all of the manual work for you, or if you want to work on this yourself, be sure to consider your options with SEO analysis tools and software automation.
No matter what route you go, the more ‘realistic’ your outreach and content emails look, the better they are going to work. At the same time, don’t just ask for backlinks, promotions, and favors — try to offer something in return.
5. Treat Your Blog Like a Business, Not a Content Distribution Center
Last but not least, it’s time to talk about blogging as a whole and why there are now more than 300 million blogs in the world today… yet only a very few get traffic and make money with their sites.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king’. While this may be true in theory, it’s actually misleading many would-be bloggers and entrepreneurs in their journey to online profitable. Gary Vaynerchuk also makes a good point, in saying “Content is King, but Context is God!”
Content is great, but there is simply way too much of it. With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, I think we have a pretty good amount of content already out there. However, anything that can be improved, and anything we can use more of, is great content!
If you want to rank at the top of Google, be a trusted resource for information online – and also get free quality backlinks, mentions, and references everyday – you need to be creating better content than what is already out there. As mentioned earlier, people are less interested in text content, and now they want visuals and online video more than anything.
To make all of this work for you and your brand, keep the following in mind.
- Create less content, but better and more resourceful content.
- Longer content performs better in Google. Stay above 2,000-words in each post.
- Go after the longtail keyword and cover every topic in full detail.
- Have an exact form of monetization in place, and calls to action in each article.
With all of these elements and factors in play, your blog is no longer just a blog. It’s a traffic generating revenue lead magnet that is also providing value to an audience in the process.
Your Blog Is Your Business
“Blogging” has a lot of different meanings depending on who you ask. Blogging as a way to create content and build your own online platform. Others look at it as a way to get started with a website and having their own voice online.
In short, blogging can be anything you want.
However, if you want blogging to be a business — you need to have a business model!
Now you understand how to turn your brand into a successful business. But how do you get started with your blog in the first place. In the section below, we take a close look at five steps that can guide you through creating a successful blog.
Getting Started with a Successful Blog - A Simple Guide to a Business Plan for Your Blog
With more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, there are more than enough resources and guides on there on how to start a website or blog. The problem with the majority of these, is that they are either outdated, self-fulfilling and just trying to make money off a lead, or they simply don’t provide the value their audience is looking for.
Let’s get started!
1. Analyze Your Potential Niche and All Big Competitors
First things first: Plan out why you are launching a new website or blog, how it’s going to provide value to your audience, and also how it will make money.
These are all key metrics that you should know before getting started, as it will make the whole creation and promotion process a lot easier. To accomplish this, you need to analyze the competition and see what’s already working, how you can make it better, and discover who is the right audience.
To get started, ask yourself the following:
- Why am I creating a blog in the first place?
- How can I serve better value than the competition?
- What are the best long tail keywords to rank for?
- What is the best way to monetize my content?
Once you have answers to these questions, you can then start scanning through Google and searching for your competition and seeing what they are doing. You can also use tools like Google Trends, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Ubersuggest and other SEO analysis tools to give you an idea of where your blog and business idea should be headed.
2. Pick a Great Domain Name and Set Up Your Web Hosting
The domain name for your blog is important. Not just from a branding and SEO aspect, but also because you are going to be stuck with it for the life of your site. With that being said, take the time to research a good domain name and don’t just pick the first one that is available.
To get started, run a simple domain search and see what’s available. Anything simple and generic is going to be taken, but here are a few tips to help you out along the way.
- Stick with .com, .net, or .org — no one likes the other variations.
- Stay away from numbers and dashes in your domain name.
- Register your personal name if it’s available, even if just for future use.
- Make sure your domain is easy to spell and remember.
If you keep coming up at a loss for what domain name to register, you can also perform a Google search to look for domain name generators and domain expiration services.
You may even decide to purchase a domain from its current owner. A decent com/net/org domain name could run up to a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars, but if it’s perfect for your business or blog idea, then it might very well be worth the initial investment.
When it comes to web hosting, don’t spend too long trying to understand how the complex world of web hosting works. Something as simple as a shared hosting plan with Todhost is more than fine. Should your site grow in size and need more features or server power, you can upgrade to a better plan at anytime.
3. Go Live with 3 to 7 Initial Articles on Your Site
“Content is king,” or so they say.
However, you need to remember that there are now more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today — all of which are creating new content and flooding the search results. This means more competition, and increased time, money and effort spent on ranking.
With this in mind, focus on only creating 3 to 7 different articles for your site when going live. These should be “pillar” content articles that are at least 2,000 words long and have real value. Also be sure that they are full of nice stats, authority references, data sheets or charts, and anything else you can include to make them look great.
If you are really willing to put the work in, I would recommend adding a nice video, infographic, or any other custom designs you can add in.
Remember, these should be relevant to whatever the purpose of your blog, brand, or business is, so you can reference them as a reliable source time and time again. We’ll get to the importance of all of this in the next section.
4. Start Promoting Your Content to the Masses
This is actually going to be the most important part of this whole process—and the potential deciding factor in the eventual success of your blog. Most people think it’s the content creation that will make your site, but it’s actually the promotion.
It’s best to go live with your site when you have around 3-7 articles live. Just make sure these are really great articles that you can reference to time and time again.
Some of the most effective methods include:
- Guest blogging on other relevant websites and blogs
- Using social profiles and platforms to grow backlinks
- Starting a podcast and interviewing other experts
- Creating custom infographics and submitting to directories
- Analyzing competitor sites and creating better content
- 404 broken link building and outreach to sites
As you can see, each of these methods are very unique, but also free. More than anything else, they will simply take your time and effort.
5. Further Explore Your Industry and Monetization Options
Jump forward a few weeks or months, and you should have everything above in place. Your site will likely also have some nice organic and social media traffic flowing to your site. With the focus on promoting just a handful of articles on your site, these should be creeping up in the search results daily as well.
Now it’s time to take a look at everything you have in place, and how to make it even better.
Beyond exploring different topics and reference guides you can create for your site, you should also be exploring new media mentions and link building options as well.
Monetization is also a big focus now as well. With traffic flowing through your site, you can start testing different call to actions, affiliate offers, sales copy, and how your audience is reacting to your content.
To truly master the art of making money online with a website or blog, you need to put in the time to split test and find new improvements and opportunities daily. This is something that will take place during the life of your site.
3 Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Blog monetization is something that many site owners, content creators, and bloggers will spend a lot of time on. However, only a few will actually master the art of generating enough traffic to their site in order to make some serious money with it.
At the same time, before even thinking about site monetization, you must know who your target audience is, how to create the best content possible, and have an ultimate call to action in place.
These focus points will vary heavily based on the type of content you are creating, and the audience you are going after—but the monetization methods and the process still work the same.
Below we highlight some of the best ways to make money with content on your website or blog.
1. Lead Generation and Online Webinars
No matter when you are going to start the monetization process, lead generation is something you should always be working on—but it ultimately comes down to the quality of content you are offering, and the perceived value by the end user.
Here’s an effective and simple way to get started.
- First, you need to have a mailing list. Most of us already have one of these in place. If you don’t already, set one up today.
- Second, have an offer to give away in exchange for a user submitting their email and joining your list. This can be as simple as a free PDF or access to a private section of your site.
- Third, have an autoresponder and solid call to action in place.
This simple three-step process works wonders.
2. Affiliate Marketing with Focused Offers
Affiliate marketing is still one of the best and most effective ways to make money online. The concept is simple: Refer traffic to another website, and earn a commission on any leads or sales that are generated.
Affiliate marketing works so well, because there is no inventory to hold, and nearly every website and brand has some form of commission based marketing in effect
There are also affiliate networks like Shareasale, Commission Junction, and Rakuten Linkshare that make it free and easy to join their platform and then gain access to hundreds of individual affiliate programs.
3. Google Adsense and Native Advertising
Google Adsense is the king of online monetization of websites and remains a big one when it comes to monetizing the content on your site.
When it comes to making money with Google Adsense, you either understand it or you don’t. The reason why Google Adsense is one of the most used and recommended methods for making money online is that it’s simple to use, and Google does all of the work for you. All you, as the site owner, have to do is join their program, and then place a line of code on your site.
If it’s so easy, you might ask, then why is it so hard to make money with it? This all comes down to how Google Adsense is being used. The best way to make money with Adsense is to blend Adsense ads into your site and content, so they don’t look like ads.
That is, don’t place banner ads in your sidebar or at the top of the page. Instead, have your ads actually shown within the content on your site. This is how you grab the attention of the audience, and put Google’s ad targeting to work.
Also consider looking at native advertising and content recommendations. Site owners all around the world are making some great money by running ads through platforms like RevContent, OutBrain and many others.
The key takeaway here is to understand your audience and the end call to action.