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7 Tips for Profitable Niche Blogging

Guest post by Deb Ng from Freelance Writing Gigs.

While going over my stats last summer, I learned something important: If I stopped blogging each day, I would still earn enough each month from my content to draw a salary and pay the bloggers who write for my network. I’m no longer breaking even and I can tell you, after almost five years of trying to make this blog work out, the rewards go far beyond that of money. Success is a great motivator.

I would like to tell those who don’t feel niche bloggers can’t earn decent advertising revenue, they couldn’t be more wrong.

“Make money online” bloggers are always pimping affiliate links. Niche bloggers can’t necessarily do this. Our readers don’t want to receive pitches every day. Moreover, not all niche blog readers are buyers. For example, selling high end products via a frugal living blog probably isn’t the best idea. The same with my freelance writing blog; one thing I learned over the years is that writers don’t open their wallets for the next big thing. If they’re buying products through an affiliate link, it has to provide tremendous value. When I have sold it’s with conferences, books, ebooks, courses and other teaching products. The bulk of my income doesn’t come from affiliate links, however. They come from private ad sales and Adsense.

So, niche bloggers, here is my advice to you:

  1. Traffic and community come first: To truly earn money through advertising revenue on a niche blog, you have to build trust within your community. Sure, you can place ads on your blog from the very beginning, but they probably won’t earn. Don’t focus on monetization right off the bat. Take the time to build traffic and community. Establish trust among your readers. Once you have an active community and regular traffic with a pattern you can rely on, then you can deal with traffic.
  2. Know your readers: Before you sell anything, you have to know your market. Tech blogs and “make money online” blogs can enjoy a more diverse income stream because their readers will respond to a variety of products and services. Not so much with nichier topics. Knowing your community’s habits is essential to monetizing narrow niches. For example, my community is made up of clickers, not buyers. As mentioned above, when they do buy, they choose items that teach. They don’t invest in gadgets but they will invest in materials to help them further their careers.  I learned what they like by playing with the various revenue streams and also by conducting polls and reading every single one of their comments and emails.
  3. It won’t happen overnight: Don’t be frustrated if you don’t begin earning as soon as you place ads. It doesn’t happen overnight. Your community wants to trust you – and your advertisers.  Give each ad some time to earn, but if you don’t see any response at all after a month or two, explore other advertising possibilities.
  4. Good content continues to earn over time: Timeless or “evergreen” content has the ability to earn for a lifetime. Try posting advice that will be relevant five years from now. In addition to current news and events, discuss topics that will always appeal to web searchers.
  5. Find other forms of passive income: Advertising isn’t the only way you can earn through your blog. As Darren has proved here, you can also sell ebooks, courses, work books, webinars and even a membership forum.
  6. Don’t wait for advertisers to find you: For me, private ad sales are the most lucrative. Other than Adsense, my highest payers are advertisers who didn’t come from a particular advertising agency. I found many of them on my own. Advertisers won’t reach out to you if they don’t know about you. If you have enough traffic coming in, create a press kit. List stats such as bounce rate, pageviews, traffic and more. Market your blog much in the same way traditional media market to their advertisers. See if you can convince potential advertisers to come on board.
  7. Don’t rest on your laurels: OK, so you have a few ads. I can tell you now, it won’t last. You can’t expect every advertiser to stick with you for years. They come, advertise for a while, and go on their merry way after sales start to lag a bit. Always be on the lookout for new sponsors and advertising opportunities to ensure there are no dry periods.

Many niche blogs are difficult to monetize, but they don’t have to be. If you study your community and traffic patterns, you can find some profitable solutions. You might have to think outside the box or sell your own stuff, but once your blog hits, the sales will soar.

Are you monetizing your blog now? What methods are using and how is it working out for you?

Deb Ng is a freelance writer, professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs. Follow Deb on Twitter @debng.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Valentina says:

    Deb,

    Thank you for the post. As with Joe T I would love to have more details on #6. This gives us some concrete stats to work up to as a starter. To Joe’s comment I would like to add that it would be nice to know how much to start your fees at, for what kind of ads (size etc.) and incremental increases.

  2. Ade Adenekan says:

    Kudos to you for this very worthwhile effort from which a lot of bloggers would benefit. I would also like you to share with your teeming fans the best way of driving much traffic to their blogs since this is the bedrock of any money making device on blogging.

  3. Suhasini says:

    This is gonna help us a lot and rightly said , you have to know your readers and build a community accordingly.

  4. This are some really great tips. I was just talking to a friend about the advantages of niche blogging over spontaneous blogging. Both have their own pros and cons but in the loyal followers department, niche blogging wins. Thanks for posting this.

    Amy Cameron
    BuildMySiteforFree.com

  5. Denise says:

    I agree esp with the content and ads matching when it comes to niche topic sites. All too often sites don’t pay enough attention to what their ad networks are running and they lose money because of it.

  6. Wannabe says:

    1. Traffic and community come first:

    That is the biggest secret of them all … traffic, overtime everyone can generate traffic. But, I am trying to find out if there is a fast way to generate huge amounts of traffic .. for free of course :-) … I own a blog for less then a month and I have tried several things, some were good .. others bad .. and some things I have done were on the limit of ethics… but hey I am discovering here :-)

    I am all ears if you have constructive techniques how to generate traffic… free of charge

    Wannabe
    http://www.wannabemillionaire.com

  7. That’s right,,,the more people will like your content, the more they would come again and again,,,and I do agree with you on writing advices or guides,,,it really attract visitors daily,,,

    Ahmed,
    http://abudhabizoom.blogspot.com

  8. christopher says:

    so… persistence, motivation, focus and long term goals… I completely agree.

  9. Sarah says:

    Good advice. I’ll keep it in mind for my own blog! Thanks =)

  10. Jordan says:

    Excellent post Darren!

    I have just created a new blog and this was so helpful!

    Jordan,
    http://sportstweets.blogspot.com/

  11. David says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and will continue to read it an just wanted to say thanks for providing so much valuable content and information. That to me is the best way to earn new customers, so you got me to bookmark you.
    David

  12. Janice Clark says:

    Exactly what i was looking for to enhance my Blog and gather more readers, thank you very much for this info that you shared.

  13. T20 Cricket says:

    A real informative blog like this is a very cool helping source for a needy information seeker like me! Thanks a lot..

  14. This is the most relevant post for me. I’m a niche blogger, and as I get to know my audience, I’m learning about what they want. My focus is pets, and at first it was broad. Now, it’s more about animal welfare and pet care.

  15. Rhonda says:

    Terrific advice! Our site is fairly new and I have found to be true that the money isn’t coming in from adsense right away. Our blog is very niche with outstanding content, but it still takes a lot of work to get the traffic. Best plan is to work toward building the traffic first, worry about the money and advertising later! It is tedious and sometimes frustrating, but is the foundation and must be done!

  16. Brad says:

    Great post. I found it very helpful. I agree the key is developing traffice to one’s site. I am focusing on that right now. I have an affiliate link on my site and a couple of Adsense ads. I have made a tiny amount of money from the affiliate links and nothing from Adsense. I think the key is to develop traffic. I am trying to post more often with the hope this will attract traffic and with the increase in traffic there will be na increase in click on ads and affiliate links. It is a long process that I’m hoping will be worth it eventually. Thanks for sharing your insight with us.

  17. Tony says:

    Great post as usual here on problogger, I just have one question. Why does my reader change everyday? I don’t get many as it is, but it goes from one or two back to zero. Does this mean my readers stop looking at my blog? Most blogs their readers stay the same, like yours Darren of course yours goes up:) Any help would be appericated. TY

  18. KEB says:

    This new blogger has a question: I monetized my blog after I did 3 entries with Adsense. I’ve since found out this is highly unusual – usually they want far more entries. Anyway, not sure if my niche will catch on. Would it be better to stop the Adsense advertising while I have almost no readers, then restart it if it catches on? I am worried now that Adsense might get rid of me and later I’ll want to use them.

  19. Those pitches do get old. You know you’re not really getting the juicy stuff. Thanks for the read.

  20. ashok says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I’m thinking of monetizing – I really want to put a “donation” button on the blog and skip the ads, but I also realize ads are a way for my readership to give when they don’t have money to spare. The biggest thing I took from this post is the 5 year wait for success (if I’m reading this correctly). Looks like I have to learn to be more patient myself.

  21. CHS says:

    great info, Deb. I also suggest that bloggers join discussion boards / forums to promote themselves in their niche. there are boards for ever subject, get involved! you’ll also learn more on the topic and become a better authority

  22. Lawrence says:

    Try Quantcast (www.quantcast.com) to measure and organize the world’s audiences in real-time so advertisers can buy, sell and connect with those that matter most.

    It helps the bloggers and web masters to attract higher ad rates and increase ad-based revenue by showcasing the highest-performing segments of their audience.

  23. Harris says:

    This is true “Don’t wait for advertisers to find you”. We must provide the stats of our website in a jpeg file to the advertisers and we can find the advertisers in forums, community websites. All the points are good but this one is one of the best points.

  24. Deb Ng says:

    KEB – It’s a matter of preference. However, if no one is visiting your blog they’re not going to click on your ads. It’s better to bring them in with the design and content and once you have a rocking community you can bring on the ads.

    @ashok – It didn’t totally take five years, my blog began earning after the first year or so, it didn’t begin earning big until 2009 when I began putting in a full time effort.

  25. KelseyVic says:

    Excellent, straightforward article! I’m still a newbie blogger, currently in the beginning stages of building traffic and community and evergreen content. I’m also working on an ebook of my own. The sales pages of affiliate products in my niche that I’ve found seem too “spammy” for my taste. I’m not sure if that’s what it takes to sell products in this niche or what. Feedback? [then again, maybe I'm just being too picky or snobbish… :-) ]

    I enjoy that your post helps me sort of benchmark where I am in this process. Thanks, Deb!

    P.S.
    I had to rewrite and resubmit this because it wouldn’t publish from my iphone for some reason. Is this a common problem to iphones, does anyone know?

  26. From my experience, I think most of the bloggers think that making money online is a easy and fast way to make money. But after couple months of trying, they just give up.

    So, I think the third point “It won’t happen overnight” is very important to keep in mind.

  27. Great post here.

    A couple points:

    - Approaching private advertisers is key! This is such an overlooked practice by smaller bloggers, but it really work.

    - Having a good press kit is important. Let’s see another post on this!

    Claire at Saving Money Plan

  28. Hi Deb,

    Not that I want to jump on here to toot our own horn…really…but depending on if you feel that your readers could benefit from the ads that you serve (because you obviously know your community better than anyone else) there are ad companies out there that will serve advertisement that do serve the niche community – and only serve ads that will directly relate to the content you push. OK this is *slightly* self-serving, I admit, but we definitely do just that. Plus as opposed to traditional “adsense” type methods, we serve product placements that are completely customizable by you (if you want that much control) but are completely contextual.

    Ultimately, it’s up to you the blogger to decide if monetization is right for you and your community, but I do want to say that there are companies out there that understand your dilemma and the need for context and relevance, in addition to value-add.

    Best,
    Marie P.
    http://www.affinityclick.com

  29. The more narrow your niche the better off you probably are these days. Too many people in the market for the big ticket subjects.

  30. Tony Arko says:

    Great advice is always good to read. Thank you. One thing I have found that makes getting the the right traffic from the beginning is doing a lot of keyword research and competition analysis in preparation for finding the best url.

  31. This is a very informative post. I am still learning how this things work and your post is a big help. Thank you for sharing this one.

  32. Niche blogging is great but it is mostly seasonal unless it is a niche like Internet marketing, or business. They are always got good readers.

  33. Iliana says:

    I am in my third month of blogging and I haven’t make a dime from it yet. I don’t get disseminated thought. Today I saw that until now I have 7 unique visitors from google organic traffic and I felt like I want to give a party or something. If I can have 7 visitors I can have 7000 right?

    I just need to be patient.

  34. Mike says:

    I just started a webmasters blog (click on my name to access it) and I noticed something interesting. Since the blog is only two weeks old its not getting a lot of traffic… yet, but the percentage of visitors clicking my ads is amazing… anywhere from 10-50% a day! I think if you want to make money on a blog content is king. Focus first on making great content, and then worry about profits. Great article!

  35. Phil, you are absolutely correct, it shows that you’re an authority on the subject. I admire someone that takes the pride you have and with your projecton of information. oSo when i actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized blogs like this one. I have it bookmarked and will be back. Thanks.

  36. Amy Cameron says:

    “Traffic and community come first” This is absolutely true. A lot of bloggers just publish all sorts of non-sense without really thinking of what they’re visitors look for. This, in turn, creates a high percentage of bounce rate, which is not good at all.

    Amy Cameron
    BuildMySiteforFree.com

  37. Brad says:

    What do people think is an acceptable bounce rate?

  38. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some kind of research about that. We got a fine book on that matter from our neighborhood library and also most books where not as influensive as your information. I am incredibly glad to see such information that I was searching for a long time.This created very glad Smile

  39. Make Blog says:

    I have an ebook site that dont have any ads on it but performs quite good, i will try to stay like that for some months till i have a good number of visits to put adsense on it. Anyway i dont think that having ads or not affect the rankings of the site, since i have other site that has ads right from the beginning and was indexed by the search engines in days. As you said the key is to gain readers with good content.