I’ve never been more excited to write an article, than I am writing this ultimate guide on how to turn a blog into a business! Why am I so excited to write about this topic? For starters, it’s what my entire Monetization Method course is based on. I noticed that every blogging course online was dedicated to getting traffic, niche strategies like how to use Pinterest, and never about how to effectively monetize your traffic.
I accept that not every blogger wants to turn their blog into a business. For many it is just a hobby, and if it pays for the morning coffee then that is what they consider a success.
But for many others, they’d like to at least make a bit of money that will improve their lifestyle a bit – say $1,000 a month. There is nothing wrong with that at all! Making an extra $1,000 a month while you also have a day job means you get some nice dinners and a extra holiday each year. Awesome!
However, for a aspirational few, they want to reach for the stars, and create enough income to blog full-time, and that’s what this article is about.
There are a whole list of things you need to understand to successfully know how to turn a blog into a business, so we’re are going to treat this article like a baking recipe! Get all the ingredients, then you are good to go!
Note: If your blog is already established and you want to skim read this article, head to the first topic on monetization below and start from there.
A Solid Foundation
It’s never a good idea to build your asset on someone elses property. This applies in scenarios, not just building a blog:
- Building a house on someone else’s land is risky, because they could increase the lease you pay for the land, or kick you off.
- Building an online community on a platform you don’t own, such as a Facebook Group, can be risky because Facebook could change the rules or shut down your group at any time.
- Building a website on a domain name you don’t own is super high risk. The owner could increase your lease on it (yes, leasing domain names is a thing) or decide to sell it to someone else.
So when it comes to building a blog as a business, start by building a really good foundation that you fully own. To me, this means I am building on a host I choose, a domain name I own, on a CMS that I have installed. Everyone prefers different platforms, but when I go through these three steps, this is what I choose:
The benefit of building your own foundation is that you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to any platform, other than your hosting provider, and even cheap hosts can be as little as $3 per month (WPEngine is closer to $40 if I recall correctly).
Those aren’t affiliate links and I get nothing from recommending them.
A Nice Domain Name
I can hear you all yelling now “What the hell does NICE mean?!”. You’ve got a point, it’s not a very descriptive title is it.
What I mean is that it:
- It doesn’t have some weird extension. If you can get a .com choose that.
- There isn’t unnecessary numbers or dashes, unless they are few and part of the branding.
- The main site isn’t build on a sub-domain of another site, or the platform you are choosing to use.
- It isn’t exceptionally long. MonetizationMethod.com at 18 characters was getting to about the limits of what I was willing to buy.
A Deep Understanding of Blog Monetization
I always recommend new bloggers get a deep understanding how to monetize a blog, if they really want to know how to turn a blog into a business.
All to often people will not think outside the box, and they’ll start their blog with the belief that they need to huge amounts of traffic, and then slap some banner ads on.
This is a terrible train of thought for a few reasons, and I encourage you to throw such beliefs in the bin now!
Firstly, getting tens of thousands of visitors each month isn’t easy, and it can take new bloggers months or years to get there, if they ever do. This means the blog you start today might begin to pay for your coffee this time next year. That’s a wasted twelve months. You could have been monetizing and earning sooner if only you didn’t solely rely on a method that requires huge traffic volumes.
Secondly, if you make your first dollar in 12 months time, there is a good chance you’ll lose motivation and give up, just before the magic happens and your site begins to take off.
Start to learn about other methods of monetizing your blog, and get an income from 3 or 4 different methods. If you study these 3 or 4 methods top to bottom, and become and expert in them, then you can start to build (or tweak) your blog to take full advantage of these monetization methods. Here are a few to consider, with a little food for thought next to each one:
- Sponsored posts: These are a popular little earner for new bloggers, and can be a quick and easy source of income. Once you learn how to attract sponsored posts to your website, you can easily post one or more per week, assuming you are also posting other quality content.
- Sponsored links: Adding a link to an existing article take 5 minutes, and you can make anywhere from $50 to $500 (or more if your site is well known) per link. Just be sure to do it the right way and not break any of Google’s rules in terms of buying/selling links.
- Affiliate links: Again, spend some time to study affiliate links or you’ll fall into the same trap as low paying display banners. That is, you’ll get paid tiny commissions on cheap products, and struggle to get any more than some extra play money each week to spend at the local café. Do it right by approaching high paying affiliates where you can make at least $50 per sale. Hint: Many software tools fall into this category.
- Digital products: If you attract traffic that want’s to learn something, or wants to know something without having to wade through hundreds of other low quality information sources, then you can charge for access to it. The secret here is that what you are providing needs to be exceptional or you’ll struggle to sell it, or have a high number of refunds. With the Monetization Method course I spent over 10 years learning everything I do about blog monetization (doing it for both myself and owners of other websites), and two years writing down my knowledge in the evenings, before making the content accessible online. I truly believe it is the single best resource for people wanting to know how to turn a blog into a business, and back that up with a money back guarantee, no questions asked. I also sell digital products in the interior design niche, with sales most days, and haven’t done a refund in over 10 months now. Make your product provide exceptional value, and you’ll do well.
- Ad networks: This is what everyone immediately thinks when they first think of blog monetization, and I hate that fact. Unless you have huge amounts of traffic, I promise there is better ways to monetize it. For starters, consider selling display ads directly to the brands you know in your industry. This takes out the middle man and immediately increases your earnings by at least 50%.
Understanding the role of different traffic sources is absolutely critical in knowing how to turn a blog into a business.
Some blogs attract traffic that isn’t in the buying mindset. They don’t have a problem that they want solved, and they aren’t looking for a solution to anything. Sometimes they visitors just want to be entertained, or find a quick answer to something they are curious about.
Worldometers is an example. This site tracks all sorts of data around the world, and has recently because super popular as a source of information on the current pandemic we are all in the midst of. I visit the website every day or two, look at the data for 60 seconds, then close it down. Worldometers makes their money from display banners, which I’ve mentioned I don’t like, but they work well for this website because they are getting millions of visitors per month. Worldometers is limited however, as they can’t do sponsored posts (they have no articles at all), are unlikely to be able to find someone to sponsor their website, have little hope of selling any digital products related to the pandemic, and won’t have success with affiliate links because people aren’t going their to buy something.
Now compare that to this blog you are reading right now. Let me open the kimono, so to speak!
You’ve likely come to my website because you want to know how to turn a blog into a business. Let’s look at the ways I could turn your visit into some dollars in my back pocket:
- Banners Ads: If I ad banner ads to this page, I’ve done the same amount of monetization that Worldometers has. I could stop here, and leave this as my sole source of monetization, but I haven’t.
- Affiliate Links: You are here to learn, and I am writing an in-depth guide to teach you. Throughout this guide, I’ve recommended a few other companies you should check out (remember I mentioned WPEngine and Namecheap a little earlier?). If I wanted to, I could turn those links into affiliate links, and I’d make a commission from all the people who read this guide, and choose to use the same companies I use. If I really wanted to monetize this blog post with affiliate links I’d also recommend other companies such as Active Campaign, Mailchimp, or Shopify.
- Digital Products: Every day dozens of people find this blog post, and decide to sign up for the 7 day free trail of my Monetization Method course. Most of the people who start a trial, go on to buy lifetime access to all my knowledge, resources, and lessons on the topic of blog monetization.
- Blog Sponsors: When
See the difference? Worldometers will have trouble to monetize with anything other than banner ads. Other websites with low intent traffic will also have trouble with anything other than banner ads, such as sites about jokes, the weather, and lyrics.
Whereas this blog can be monetized in at least 4 different ways. Thinking back to one of the first blogs I consulted on back in 2011, I had them up and running with:
- Ad networks
- Banner ads, sold direct to brands
- Sponsored sections
- Sponsored posts
- Sponsored reviews
- Sponsored competitions
- Gear directories
- Accommodation directories
- Sponsored newsletter
- Sponsored editorial within the newsletter
- Affiliate links
- Solus emails
Create a Slick Media kit
No blogger serious about making an income from their blog skips the task of creating a slick media kit.
I don’t think I need to dive deep into what you should include in your media kit on this page, as I have another post which covers that in-depth: Media kit templates.
The bottom line is this:
- If you don’t want to make much money from your blog, you can skip creating a media kit.
- If you want to make a bit of money from your blog, spend a day creating a media kit and publish it on your website.
- If your goal is to turn a blog into a business, then create an exceptional media kit that will blow the socks of potential advertisers, and keep it updated each and every year.
Your media kit will be available from you “Advertise with Us” page on your blog, which is usually found in the footer links. When you start reaching out to potential partners, you’ll be attaching your media kit to all your emails.
Since it is often the advertisers first impression with your blog, it pays to make it nicely designed! Find a nice template, and add some of your own photography to make it look professional (or alternatively source high res images from Unsplash, Pexels, or Deposit Photos).
Improve the look of your blog
This section could have been included in the “Foundation” section about, but it really deserves it’s own section.
No brand is going to want to associate themselves with an ugly blog, unless it is in keeping with the brands own image.
Improving the look and feel of your blog will go a long was to attracting and retaining readers, affiliates, and sponsors.
These days there is really no excuse for having an ugly blog. Websites such as Themeforest.com sell blog themes for WordPress sites for as little as $27. Etsy also has options available.
When it comes to buying a blog theme, it really is a case of “do it once, do it right”. You’ll spend a lot of time customizing the theme to be exactly how you want it, so changing it after 6 months can be a headache. Spend a few days minimum choosing the theme which best suits your purpose.
Below is an example from the first page of Google once I search for ‘travel blog’. I was hesitnant to use a real example for a blog which would struggle to attract brands for collaboration, but thought it was in the best interests of this article.
Let me be clear however, the owner of this website might not want to know how to turn a blog into a business. They might find this article and think “I don’t want to create a media kit, get sponsors, or monetize my travel journal!”. If that’s the case, good for them!
Set Goals, and Hit Them!
I’m a big fan of setting goals, and tracking them weekly (if if you’re like me, refreshing them every couple of hours).
Most bloggers will start the blog, then celebrate their first $3.50 commission. Bugger that.
Start with the one goal that matters in any business: revenue. How much revenue do you want your blog to make in the next 12 months?
Then work backwards based on the ways you have decided to monetize your blog, to decide your traffic goals.
Then strive to hit those traffic goals, and the revenue goals should be a good side effect.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say I want to earn $20,000 in the next twelve months.
- If I put banner ads on my website, I can estimate that I’d need about 10 million impressions over the next 12 months to hit this goal. My formula for that was an average CPM of $2, multiplied by 10,000,000 is $20,000 revenue. To put it bluntly, that amount of traffic isn’t going to happen in your first year.
- If I sold digital products, say a $27 ebook to my visitors, I would need about 741 sales. Assuming about 2% of my visitors by the eBook, I’d need about 40,000 visitors over the 12 months. That’s much more achievable.
See the difference between how much traffic you need to hit your goals? Add into the mix some affilaite links, brand partnerships, a monetized email list, and you might only need 20,000 visitors to achieve your goals.
One site I became involved in last year gets about 12,000 visitors per year, and it does over $30,000 per year in revenue.
The learning here is that you don’t need to strive for hundreds of thousands, or millions, of visitors to run your blog like a business.
Conclusion: How to turn a blog into a business…
So whats the secret in regards to knowing how to turn a blog into a business? The secret is that you need to treat it like a business, set goals, and find multiple sources in revenue from your traffic. Understand this, and you already have a good head start on everyone else trying to make a living from blogging.
Here’s what we just covered:
- Build a solid foundation
- Buy a nice domain name
- Develop a deep understanding of blog monetization
- Understand your traffic sources
- Create a slick media kit
- Set goals, and hit them!
If you want to get a head start on all of this, be sure to try our Monetization Method course. It’ll save you so much pain and frustration from doing things the wrong way, as so many do. I’ve been monetizing traffic for over ten years, and have spilled it all out into the pages of this course which you can devour in under a week.