All your hard work should be starting to work for you and whilst having thousands of visitors per month is really exciting, how do you utilise that traffic and start making a profit from your blog?
After a bit of a break from the series, here we are with the final instalment in our 5-part saga on how to start, grow, and profit from a business blog.
As with a lot of marketing activities, growing a blog takes time, dedication and some S.M.A.R.T goal planning. It's a long game but it will pay off in the end. But even the most successful blogs have to start generating some sort of income from the other end.
It's not all about the money of course, but there are usually bills to pay somewhere along the lines, even if its the hosting charges and support time that it takes to run a hugely popular blog, and every little helps.
So, here are five great ways to turn your business blog into an income stream for your business or to support the production of future blog work itself.
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a little like sponsorship: based on performance, you can effectively partner with one or more companies and advertise or otherwise promote their wares in return for a discount or percentage of each sale that the company you affiliate with goes on to make via your marketing efforts.
It's a good option for many as you, the blog owner, are in control of what you align with and how you advertise. More often than not, a lot of honest and helpful, genuine blogs will only promote products and services they use themselves.
We use HubSpot, for example, and shout about it all the time (psst - it really is ace!). We're happy to promote HubSpot's marketing platform because we use it ourselves and thoroughly understand the software.
A common pairing for technology companies with a popular blog might be a particular hosting platform, or cloud storage solution. For each visitor that takes out a hosting package, the tech company might receive 20% commission, which at high traffic volumes is an easy, hassle-free source of income for merely recommending something they'd recommend regardless!
2. Google Display Network
Formerly known as the Google Ads Network, Google have a range of products that form part of their AdWords service. One of these is called AdSense. Whereas the normal Google advertising paradigm is to set a budget and create an advert and pay per click of that advert to attract customers, the AdSense model flips it so that you get paid for displaying the adverts on your site.
Although adverts can put some people off, the AdSense model is a popular choice for many and you do have a lot of control over where the ads are positioned, the topics and types of content that are shown, and how obtrusive they are.
Remember, in this day and age of marketing, the inbound age, people want to be shown content and information that's relevant to them. By keeping the ads user-interest specific, Google (and you) can keep your visitors happy and the higher the number of people who click on the ads, the more income you generate.
3. Inbound marketing
Ahh inbound marketing, it really is the best way to identify and reach your ideal customers. By fully adopting the inbound methodology and making it the cornerstone of your sales and marketing activities (supported of course by other supplemental methods, such as business networking) then your blog, and content in general will start to drive your sales funnel by generating interest from your target audience.
Going beyond simple lead generation, you can turn your blog into the heart of your sales process, creating and nurturing warm leads and moving them along into valued customers.
We have a ton of information about inbound marketing both on our website and in our downloadable guide to inbound marketing which you can get today for the princely sum of FREE!
4. Generating leads
Arguably the simplest option of the group is a simple mechanism to generate leads. Blogging, as we've discussed in part 1 in the business blogging series, is a fantastic way to target your ideal customers via niche content that often isn't possible through a website alone.
Once you start to grow a following and your visitors per month is at a healthy volume then you can introduce simple calls to action, such as contact forms into the mix to drive visitors to call you, download your latest ebook, subscribe to a newsletter, or otherwise wave their hands in the air and show their interest in your services.
If you have an ecommerce website, for instance, you could write a series of articles discussing the pros and cons of a particular product and then show some of your recommended products for sale, or 'what other customers bought' lists to boost sales.
Whilst sponsorship is very closely aligned to affiliate marketing, it does have a key distinction in how you get paid. With affiliate marketing, you typically receive reward based on sales that the company you're promoting makes thanks to, or via you. With sponsorship, your existing performance and online profile is substantial enough for a company to offer you payment in exchange for you using and promoting their products and services, regardless of sales on their end; it's an exposure thing.
Because any long term marketing strategy should focus on building trust and respect in your brand, not just a quick buck, you should carefully consider any sponsorship offers and only really use and promote products and services that you're happy to use yourself.
By doing this, your audience are likely to be more assured by these products and perhaps use them themselves, thus feeding back into the sponsorship cycle and generating more profit for you in the long run.
For a great example of how affiliate marketing and sponsorship can work well and is used subtly, check out Chris Coyier's CSS Tricks website where he helps countless 1000's people with their web development, but also recommends and promotes a handful of key service providers, such as web hosting platforms.
Build your blog, choose your profit options carefully and enjoy the fruits of your labour
Starting and growing a blog takes hard work and dedication, but there are a lot of ways to make it work for you in the end and these are a popular five. Whichever route you take, remember to keep it honest and transparent and genuinely helpful and you'll keep growing your audience as well as your revenue streams.
Feel free to send us any questions or leave a comment below about what you'd like to see us cover and how you've got into business blogging yourself.
Other articles in the series
This is article 5 in a multi-part series of guides on business blogging. You can find the others in the series here:
- Part 1 - 5 reasons you should start a business blog
- Part 2 - How to start a blog in 3 easy steps
- Part 3 - 4 of the best blogging platforms for business
- Part 4 - Promote and grow your blog audience
- Part 5 - Making a profit from your blog