UPDATE: If you're struggling to bring your blog to the next level (or any level!) then I'd love to tell you how to work SMARTER and not HARDER. You're likely making it harder than it needs to be. Check out my FREE cheat sheet the First 10 steps to a Profitable Blog Checklist to make sure that you are on the right track!
One of the biggest questions I get from newbie bloggers is, “How do I turn my blog into a full-time income?” Mostly they're wondering if I'll spill my successful blogging “secrets.”
When you’re starting out, it’s hard to see the path from hobby blogging to turning your blog into a thriving, growing business. In fact, the prospect can seem downright intimidating and tough.
Well, I want you to let that line of thinking go! There's a clear and yes, even EASY path to turning your blog into a source of full-time income. The real successful blogging secret? There are no secrets!
Now, we’ve all heard tips and “tricks” to growing your email list overnight, advertising all kinds of products you’ve never tried and don’t believe in, and basically turning your blog into a spammy nightmare. These blogging “tactics” stink!
There’s no get-rich-quick scheme to successful blogging. You must do the work to get the results you want. There’s no fast work-around or “hack” to suddenly get your blog to explode overnight. Okay, that’s the bad news.
But the good news is this: Blogging is fun, easy and a viable way to earn a full-time income! No, there’s no magic wand to bring in six figures overnight BUT if you want it bad enough, you’ll do the work it takes to turn your blog into a successful blogging enterprise.
Blogging isn’t hard. In fact, blogging’s actually a lot of fun. You’ll share awesome information with your audience. You’ll connect with others. You’ll even make a difference in the world and in the lives of your readers if you share helpful, useful information. It’s a very rewarding career option and best of all, blogging allows you to set your own schedule, be your own boss and work from home.
If you want blogging success so bad you can practically taste it, I want you to tune out the noise and follow these steps. In my experience, this is the easiest path to earning a full-time income blogging.
1. Start Regularly Posting Consistent Content
If you want your blog to take off, the number one job you need to do is write great, interesting content and post it regularly. You don’t need to post ten times a week or spend hours each day writing, but you will need to post consistent, engaging content.
What does engaging content mean exactly? You want to determine who your reader is and speak directly to her. You want to craft interesting, well-written content that shows personality, authority or insight on a topic.
Think of your reader and the problems he or she might face. Brainstorm what information you can give him or her to help solve those problems. Sometimes blogs end up being all over the place, and while adding more content important (and I know you might find inspiration from all sorts of different places), it’s also important your blog stays on topic. If you write about fitness and exercise, it doesn’t make sense to start including movie reviews or political commentary.
Keep your posts consistent, both in topic and frequency. Posting a meaty, relevant and well-written post twice a month is far better than posting a bunch of crummy content every day. The internet is already full of enough noise and junk. Why contribute to the problem?
2. Get the Training Tools
If you want to become a successful blogger, you’re going to need training and tools. If you want your blog to become a source of full-time income for you, you need to treat blogging like a “real job.” You wouldn’t expect to walk in a classroom of students without a teaching degree or dispense medication without training to as a licensed pharmacist, right?
While you obviously don’t need a formal degree to blog, there are great blogging training resources out there to help you go from hobby to professional. Of all the blogging resources out there, the one I recommend time and time again is Elite Blog Academy. Why? Because it works, people!
If you want to get serious about blogging, but don’t know how to move from “something I do for fun” to “something I do for money” you need EBA. The course literally walks you through each-and-every step and teaches you how to apply what you’re learning right to your blog.
Elite Blog Academy isn't simply a webinar or an eBook or course where you get a bunch of material, stick the papers in a binder and hope the information somehow works its way into your brain. EBA is like blogging college with in-depth online instruction, hands-on resources and help along the way. You end up becoming part of a blogging community with plenty of assistance.
The right blog training class will give you the foundation you need to grow your blog. If you want to get serious about blogging, you need to invest in training. I don’t say it lightly. I know paying for a blogging class is a stretch especially if you’re starting out, but the right course will change your approach to blogging and give you every tool you need to become successful.
The biggest downfall of Elite Blog Academy though, is that it’s only available for five days of the year. Unless you have almost perfect timing, you’ll need to be on the waiting list to even have a chance to register.
3. Start with Pinterest
If you want to take your blog into the “full-time income” realm, I would suggest you start with building your audience on Pinterest.
Pinterest is a blogger’s dream. The visual sharing aspect drives traffic to your blog posts and helps you get information in front of more people. When you post to Facebook, you’re limited to reaching only the people who like your page and those who fall into the parameters of Facebook algorithms. You can pay to reach a wider audience, but paying for readers can get expensive. If you’re hoping to reach more audience members through organic likes and shares, Pinterest will work out much faster.
When someone searches for an article on DIY crochet widgets (or whatever you’re featuring on your blog) on Pinterest, they're connected right to your blog. Pinterest results are direct. On Facebook, they may more passively see your crochet widgets pop up in their newsfeed to pique their interest. They might click or share with a friend, but they also might never click to your site or even like your Facebook page.
Of course, you should still cross-post to Facebook (also Twitter and even Instagram) which will only help you reach more audience members. Setting up a regular social media strategy is a successful blogging secret that some bloggers don't know about! So, embrace all social media. Pinterest is typically the most blog-friendly social media format.
Start with building your Pinterest traffic. Craft visual and “pin friendly” posts and share them! You can download my Pinterest Strategy Guide to help you get started.
4. Diversify Your Traffic
A while ago, Pinterest changed their algorithm. Suddenly, bloggers everywhere lost TONS of traffic, seemingly overnight. No one could seem to get to the heart of the problem or “crack” the change and explain why traffic dropped off.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. These changes happened with Facebook, the changes happened with Twitter. Google is CONSTANTLY changing their methods to help people seek and find the answers they’re looking for. The tech industry is growing, changing and certainly uncertain.
This isn’t meant to give new bloggers anxiety or keep you up at night. I’m telling you this to underscore the importance of diversifying your traffic sources. You want to focus on driving traffic from user-to-content sources (like Pinterest and Google) as opposed to user-to-user (like Facebook). Facebook isn’t bad, of course. It’s simply a slower way to drive traffic. Focusing on user-to-content sources ensures your audience will find you and leave their “calling card” so you can stay in touch.
When it comes to driving traffic to your blog, you’ve probably heard the term SEO or “search engine optimization.” In the simplest terms, this is how Google (or Bing or whatever search engine) FINDS your blog. This is how your blog starts to come up in search results when someone’s looking for a topic you’ve blogged about. This is how you drive traffic to your site.
Here's the simplest way to “do” SEO if you don't understand it: Ensure each of your blog posts has ONE clear topic. Be sure every sentence in your post is about that topic. What problem are you solving that answers something your readers are searching for? Is it “how to make a DIY flower bed”? Is it “need a budgeting worksheet”? That search query is your focus keyword. If you're working in WordPress (which I totally recommend), install the Yoast plugin, fill in your focus keyword, and follow the instructions in the SEO box below each of your blog posts. While this isn't great SEO, it's much better than nothing, especially when you're first starting out.
That said, SEO is one of those areas that gets a bit technical and sticky as your blog grows. Like graphic design, if you understand the concept on your own, great! But if your eyes glaze over and you feel panicked when someone starts to talk about SEO, it’s a great area to outsource…but I wouldn't choose SEO as the FIRST area to outsource. Wait until your blog starts generating some income, then invest it back into your blog by finding help to optimize your blog for search. This will allow you to focus on writing your blog content, connecting with your audience and growing your brand.
5. Build Your Email List
Once you’ve started to drive traffic to your blog on Pinterest, take care you’re also working on building your email list. If you’ve built your blog in WordPress there are options like Leadpages to help you build your list.
You’ll want to offer a popup “opt-in” for visitors to your site. (You've seen these before.) This will allow visitors to add their email address to your list, so you can send them regular updates. As you collect these email addresses, your list becomes your target audience.
The greatest aspect about your email list is you KNOW they are readers of your blog. You KNOW they are interested in hearing from you, so you know if you send them regular updates to remind them about your blog they will come back and visit again.
Increasing your site visits is how you “drive traffic” to your site. Site visits are how you build an audience. Eventually as your site visits increase, you’ll start earning money from your blog. So, build your email list!
One word to the wise—don’t bombard your audience with emails. Once a week or so is usually plenty to keep them connected to you, but prevent them from feeling spammed or overloaded (and unsubscribing).
6. Develop Affiliate Relationships
Becoming an affiliate for brands, companies and other bloggers is how you share great ideas and products with your audience. Affiliate relationships are also a great way to turn a profit with your blog. If you want your blog to earn money, you need to become an affiliate. Not sure what affiliate marketing entails? Don't worry! Here's my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course that will teach you everything you need to know!
This is one of the hardest concepts to wrap your head around when you first become a blogger. If you’re looking for a good breakdown of the affiliate process, I’ve created a Core Affiliate Strategy Guide to help you get started.
People feel strange about the affiliate process sometimes. Like, including advertisers on your site seems typical and expected, but being an affiliate for a brand seems sort of…sales-y, right?
Only work for affiliates you’re experienced with and feel good about connecting to and promoting. Always stay honest with your audience. As a blogger, you MUST disclose if you are including affiliate information in your posts. You’ll often see a disclaimer on the top or bottom of most blogs. So you want to find and work with affiliates that work for you! I have a guide on Finding Affiliates That Work For You to help you cultivate relationships with affiliates that you really believe in.
Creating trust between you, your audience, AND your affiliates is a key to successful blogging. One truth my readers know is that I am ALWAYS honest, even brutally honest, when I review a product or service. My affiliates know this, too. I’ve built up trust with my audience, so I would never promote or say anything I don't believe in. Honesty is important when you work with affiliates. Uphold honesty to your partners, to your audience and yourself!
7. Brainstorm Products
If you’ve taken all the steps above you are well on your way to a full-time income blogging. However, offering a product gives you another revenue stream.
In fact, offering a pay-to-download eBook, pattern or printable is simply what’s called “passive income.” Basically, you create a product, and if people are interested when they visit your site or read your post, they’ll buy and download your product. You don’t need to aggressively sell the product or turn into an eBook/printable/pattern factory. You’ll simply access another vehicle to earn money.
If you’re interested in creating a product, there are great tools out there to help you successfully launch, promote and earn revenue from a simple product offering. Offering a product also gives you yet another “opt-in” option to capture audience members email addresses and add them to your mailing list.
Use posts you’ve written and package them together into a product or create a totally new and unique product. A product is a fun way to share a longer piece of content you’ve put together you might feel would get overlooked on your blog. With online products you usually want to inform, solve a problem or offer great value to your audience.
Offering a product is another great way to build your brand, increase your audience and diversify your offerings!
Once you’ve built relationships with partners and are earning affiliate income, I know you’re going to be tempted to run out and spend the money when it comes in the door. Instead, I want you to take what you earn and invest the money RIGHT BACK INTO YOUR BLOG.
Here’s the deal—when I started I didn’t take a single dime from my blog until I was earning over $1,000 per month. Of course, I could have used the money. I WANTED to use the money. But I knew my blog would only get better if I took the money I was earning and used to improve my blog.
The quickest way to a full-time income is to take your earnings and put them back into growing your blog until it hits your profit goal. Look at it as an investment in yourself. Take these successful blogging secrets and my 10 Steps to a Successful Blog Checklist, and you’ll be earning a full-time income before you know it!