Happy Friday everyone. Today, I have a guest post from one of my blogger friends, Joseph Hogue. Joseph is an online entrepreneur that owns several sites such as Peer Finance 101 and My Work From Home Money. I’ve been following his story for a couple of years now. We met in person last year at Fincon. When he asked me about writing a guest post, I knew that it would be good. I know y’all will enjoy this one as he discusses how he doubled his monthly blogging income last year.
If you follow Jason’s income reports, it’s easy to see why we love being online entrepreneurs. It’s not always as easy as some sites make it sound but it still feels like building an online income is still in its early years and a great opportunity for anyone.
Blogging is one of the few jobs where you can realistically double your income every year for your first several years. What other job can someone get with no degree, no experience, and expect that kind of income growth?
After almost four years of blogging, I now make more than I ever did in a 9-to-5 job. I made just under $60,000 during my last year as an economist for the State of Iowa. After several income sources are accounted for, I made $86,770 last year on my blogs.
Sweeter still is the fact that last year’s income was almost exactly double what it was the year before.
Getting there was a balance between developing my two best traffic sources and diversifying my income across multiple sources. That may seem obvious but the details elude a lot of new bloggers. It’s something I had to learn the hard way, making less than $10,000 in my first year of blogging and almost giving up. There’s no ‘secret’ to being a successful blogger but understanding some key details will take you further than you ever dreamed possible.
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Don’t Overlook SEO
If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you should be familiar with the phrase search engine optimization (SEO). On-site SEO is crucial to ranking on the first page of search engine results:
- Your page must be mobile-friendly
- Don’t “keyword stuff”—quality is better than quantity
- Use H2 and H3 header tags to help Google understand what the content is about
- Engage with your reader in the comments section
Over half of my website visitors access my site from a mobile device. Take a minute to visit your blog from a smartphone. When you don’t enjoy the experience because your blog is too crowded, imagine how your visitor’s feel.
Off-site SEO is just as important and is one of the most neglected areas of blogging. This includes link-building with other sites, guest posting, and other strategies like creating infographics to make your content more linkable.
Off-site SEO is about getting links back to your site, those important markers that tell Google other bloggers trust you enough to give a thumbs up to your content. Besides quality content, it’s the most important factor in ranking your blog and getting more search traffic. SEO is key if you want to grow your monthly blogging income.
Build a Social Media Following
Search engines like Google might be your biggest method of generating traffic, but don’t overlook social media.
With more than two billion active users, Facebook is the largest social media platform on the planet. This means you can create a free group page to build a following that will visit your site to read your latest content. It costs nothing to follow your blog, and you can potentially earn affiliate and advertising revenue when they purchase a product you recommend.
Don’t forget to engage your Facebook fans, by responding to their comments, sharing your new and old posts, and even consider doing a Facebook Live video from time to time so your followers can hear your current thoughts and interact with you in real-time.
Facebook might be the most extensive social media network, but there are several others to choose from with entirely different audiences. To grow your brand, try building a profile on at least one other platform to see which one you have the most success with.
Don’t feel like you have to be on every social media platform though. Pick two or three and really engage with your followers. I like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Facebook is so pervasive that it’s almost obligatory. How much time do you spend there each day? Might as well be promoting your blog while you’re at it.
- Pinterest is my largest single source of social traffic and all I do is pin my own posts and share others. It’s a newer platform than the others so the ‘rules’ change often but you can quickly build solid monthly traffic.
- Twitter is easy with social media management tools where you can schedule tweets to go out multiple times each day. Spend a couple of hours a week to go through your feed, thanking followers and responding to messages.
Add Affiliate Links
The first two points were how I grew traffic by nearly 50% over the last year. That traffic helped me boost my income just by quantity but there were some other tweaks that really caused my monthly blogging income to jump.
What I like about affiliate links is that anybody can make money from them without having to sell anything. For every dollar you make from affiliate income, you don’t have to ship the product, schedule a consulting session, or field the customer service calls.
Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing to learn more about it!
You simply recommend a product to a potential customer, and you earn a small commission if they sign up for the service through your link.
Many bloggers don’t use affiliate links as much as they could and rely too much on advertising income. When you’re trying to monetize a small blog, a single affiliate link can make $100 per lead while a single advertisement click will only make a few pennies.
The trick to making more with affiliates is finding those two or three products that are hyper-targeted to your readers. That means they serve exactly the need your readers come to your blog to solve. I made commissions on 33 affiliates last year but just six of them accounted for 92% of my monthly blogging income.
Find those select affiliates that work best for you and spend your time doing reviews, comparisons, and working them into your content.
Never compromise trust to earn more per click. In the end, you can earn less as your visitors will simply visit another website they trust more to get the information they need.
I belong to several affiliate networks to get most of my affiliate links. Some companies also have an independent, in-house affiliate program that you can usually be approved for after filling out an application.
Affiliates are a great source of income but you’re always going to be worried that a great affiliate will drop their program. Diversifying your income means you need your own products. That’s why I self-publish books to sell on Amazon and other places online.
I published three new books last year for a total of ten published on Amazon, CreateSpace (paperback), and Audible.
As a blogger, you’ve probably already written the equivalent of at least one small book if you were to bundle all your content together. If there’s a topic or experience you can write a book about, now can be the perfect time to get your story out to those that need to hear it.
Publishing a book takes more effort than writing a single blog post, but the payoff can be exponentially higher. Some topics simply can’t be discussed in a single blog post, and at the end of the day, most of us bloggers write content with the intent to make money in the future.
I average almost $2,000 a month from self-publishing and do very little to promote the books after the launch. Amazon has millions of visitors a day, why not make money off it?
Start your blog today for $3.95 at Bluehost!
Build an Email List
Even though social media will continue to play a larger role in expanding your blog audience, email is still a very valuable tool for rewarding your most loyal followers. To entice first-time visitors to keep coming back for more, I offer a free eBook to all new subscribers.
This can be a book you self-published that is no longer a bestseller or it can be a resource guide that includes affiliate links to your favorite products. One of my giveaways contains tools that I personally used to get out of debt and improve my finances.
While your blog might not be financially-minded, you have your own tools that improve your quality of life. By sharing them with your audience, you can help your readers while earning a small income in the process.
Many bloggers’ email list is their primary source of affiliate commissions and product sales. If someone trusts you enough to give you their email and continuously reads your posts, they will likely take your word on a product or service. Don’t abuse that trust. Help them solve their problems and it’s a win-win for you both.
Own More Than One Website
If your blog doesn’t specialize in one specific topic, maybe you need to consider dividing your one blog into multiple blogs as I did. I have five blogs that specialize in five different niches that are related, but still unique enough to be different.
Yes, it’s a little more work because I have five websites to manage, but my pages rank higher in Google because of the specialization. With more opportunities to rank on page one of the search engines, I get more traffic.
More traffic, in turn, means more opportunities to build an email list, mention my self-published books, and earn revenue from advertising and affiliates.
Increasing your monthly blogging income is a combination of building traffic and monetizing it. The beauty is that you can do both at the same time. Don’t wait to make money while you build traffic but don’t neglect to develop some of your best traffic sources. Finding the right balance means you’ll be able to boost your income further than you dreamed possible.
What are you doing to increase your monthly blogging income?
Joseph Hogue worked as an equity analyst and an economist before realizing being rich is no substitute for being happy. He now runs five websites in the personal finance and crowdfunding niche, makes more money than he ever did at a 9-to-5 job, and loves building his work from home business.