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How Design Impacts Blog Readership

How Design Impacts Blog Readership / problogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Damion Wasylow.

You have things to say, ideas to spread and concepts to share. That’s why you’re a blogger.

But, if you’re like most bloggers, you’re much better with words than visuals. As a result, many bloggers’ sites are poorly designed or rely on simple templates. Your content may bring people to your blog, but poor design and usability can seriously limit your readership.

First Impressions are Everything

Studies show that new visitors develop an opinion of your website within 50 milliseconds. That’s 0.05 seconds. In that time, they make judgments about credibility, professionalism and quality of information – all without ever reading a single word you wrote. If the first impression isn’t positive, they’ll almost certainly bounce away, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever return.

It’s human nature. Picture a restaurant with a rusty door, broken sign and trash in the parking lot. The food could be incredible, but you’ll likely never venture inside to see the menu.

Get Real Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to honestly review your own site’s design. You’re biased, and so are your friends and family. After all, they don’t want to hurt your feelings and your dad probably isn’t your target audience. So, turn to a third party.

UserTesting.com is an excellent resource for gauging user experience. I often use UserTesting.com’s Peek Tests to gather initial feedback. Peek allows you to watch and listen to five-minute videos of real people encountering your site for the first time.

Testers answer three questions:

1) What is your first impression of this site?

2) What is the first thing you want to do on this site?

3) What stood out to you and what frustrated you about this site?

While this feedback isn’t comprehensive, it should at least offer some insight into whether your site’s design is on the right track or completely off-target.

Design Changes to Consider

You don’t have to be the world’s most talented web designer to create a visually impressive site that retains users. You simply have to understand the core elements of design and how they work together.

Color – Your color palette should be simple, consistent and reflect the overall tone of your content. Too many colors can be overwhelming, and the wrong colors can confuse your audience. Use standard color theory to select a palette that matches your blog’s personality.

Images – Users embrace photos and illustrations as a way to quickly get the gist of a story without investing too much effort. Effective images therefore leverage white space, contrast, color, interruption and other techniques to intrigue and draw the reader in. Images may not be worth 1000 words, but a recent study by Blog Pros showed that the 100 highest-ranking blogs on the Internet use at least 1 image for every 350 words.

Shapes – Chunky, square design elements evoke dramatically different feelings than free-flowing organic shapes. Circles are soft and inclusive, while angles can help carry a reader down the page. Partitioning content within shapes is a valuable way to help users segment information into digestible sections.

Typography – Typeface, font size, leading, kerning and placement all play significant roles in affecting user experience. Great typography conveys emotion, while also allowing users to focus on your message instead of struggling to interpret the structure of the letters before them. Note: never use Comic Sans or Papyrus.

Highlight Your Call-to-Action

You created your blog for a purpose, presumably beyond simply having individual visitors read your articles. Perhaps you want them to share your writings with others, purchase your product or service or download your e-book. Whatever the goal, design your site to highlight that call-to-action (CTA).

Use color, contrast, whitespace and size to make your CTA standout from the rest of the page. But keep it classy. Nothing undermines credibility faster than a flashing rainbow starburst. Here are some great examples of web pages with effective CTA designs.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

Mobile traffic accounts for nearly 60% of all web traffic, so you’re missing out on a lot of readers if your site isn’t designed to accommodate mobile visitors. And, really, even more if you count on social or email sources. When a mobile user lands on a site that offers a standard desktop design, they are far more likely to bounce away.

Ideally, your blog should be responsive, meaning that elements restack to match mobile screen dimensions when the site identifies a visitor on a mobile device. This makes your content easier to read and navigate on mobile screens.

Google recently announced that mobile-friendliness will be an increasingly important ranking factor. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, there’s a good chance it will dramatically drop in search engine results.

The importance of blog design cannot be overstated. Take the time now to improve your site’s aesthetics and usability. You’ll attract more visitors, keep them engaged and drive them to actions that match your goals.

Damion Wasylow writes for University of Florida’s Web Design and Online Communication master’s degree program. He has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design for publications, agencies and non-profits.

3 Content Tweaks to Increase Your Blog Traffic without Spending a Penny

Simple content tweaks to drive traffic to your blog (and they don't cost a thing!) / problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Jawad Khan.

Who doesn’t like more traffic?

Not matter how many monthly blog visitors you have, you still want more. Because more traffic means more opportunities to build relationships, generate leads, close deals and make money.

However, the problem with most of the conventional traffic generation advice is that it’s either too expensive or it’s just simply outdated, ineffective and useless.

Writing high quality content, guest blogging and blogger outreach are all great tips for a long-term traffic strategy. But what if you need something to create an immediate impact?

In this post, I’ll share three changes you can make to your existing and future blog content, without spending tons of money, to immediately start getting more traffic from search engines and social media websites.

Use Relevant Long-tail Keywords

You must’ve seen bloggers who aggressively advocate the concept of “writing for humans” not search engines. I’m all for it, but so is Google.

Over the last few years Google has been making regular changes to its algorithms all aimed at making its search results more natural and user friendly. SEO is not what it once used to be. You can’t stuff your articles and blog posts with keywords, create unnatural backlinks and expect to rank higher in search results.

Things have changed.

So, in a way, writing for humans and writing for search engines are similar concepts now (if not the same). To rank higher in search results you need to write for humans.

But there’s a twist.

You still need to use smart tactics, which are in line with Google’s recommendations, to beat the competition for the first page.

So when you write your next bog post, focus as much on long-tail keywords as the high competition head keywords. To make this work effectively, go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and select Search Queries (under Search Traffic).

Note: You first need to configure Google Analytics for your blog, and integrate it with Google Webmaster Tools.

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You’ll find the list of keywords that are sending you traffic, along with your average ranking for each keyword. Copy a keyword from this list, from example “freelance blogging”, and search for it on Google.

When I did this for my own blog, I was nowhere near the first page of Google on this keyword since it’s so competitive. It has a lot of traffic and competition. But if you scroll down to the related search area, you’ll see several long-tail keywords.

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These are the long-tail keywords that Google finds relevant to the keyword “freelance blogging”. And here’s your opportunity, since these keywords are not as competitive as the main keyword, but are closely related to it.

Copy these long-tail keywords and use them, in a natural way, throughout the body content of your post. Try using different variations of these keywords as well. This will improve your rankings not only on the long-tail keywords but also on the main keyword, since Google considers all of them closely linked with each other.

Neil Patel shared his case study where he was able to increase his monthly search engine traffic by 50,000 using this technique.

You can apply this on your archive content as well. Just pick up your main keyword, and use the related long-tail keywords throughout your content in a natural way.

Create Longer and More In-Depth Blog Content

Another way to attract much more traffic to your blog content, and generate more social shares, is to write longer, in-depth and epic content. I know these have become buzzwords, but let me quantify this for you so that it’s easier to understand.

Research after research confirms that search engines love longer content. Kevan Lee discussed the ideal content length in this truly epic post on the Buffer blog. Neil Patel has also discussed the ideal length of blog posts in detail on his blog.

There’s clear consensus that posts longer than 2000 words rank much higher than say 1200-1500 word posts. And this study by SerpIQ provides further proof of this fact.

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Longer posts also tend to get much more social shares which suggests that readers also prefer more in-depth blog posts.

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All this means that you need to make your blog posts more in-depth and valuable. So the next time you’re writing a 1000-1200 word blog post, try expanding it by using more examples, stats, references and studies. Make it as comprehensive and as detailed as possible.

But don’t add words just for the sake of it. Make sure every word in your post provides value to the readers. I personally use forums and platforms like Quora and MyBlogU when I need more in-depth knowledge on a topic. MyBlogU is particularly useful since it’s a dedicated platform for bloggers and content marketers where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas, seek advice and even hire freelancers to help with content creation.

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Intelligently Promote and Amplify Existing Blog Content

It’s easy to focus too much on creating new blog posts for traffic generation, while completely ignoring the existing content on your blog. Every piece of content on your blog, no matter how old, is an asset and can be used to bring more traffic and boost conversions.

There are several ways you can do that.

  • Promote Archive Content on Social Media

You need to aggressively promote your older content on social media to attract regular traffic. You can use social media management tools like Oktopost to schedule weekly or monthly social updates. I particularly like the Evergreen Post Tweeter plugin that automatically Tweets your archive content on a set criteria.

  • Optimize Conversion Routes

Visitors come to your website from numerous different routes. But certain routes have higher conversion rates as compared to others. You can use TrenDemon to identify the most profitable and high conversion routes to your website. After identifying these high conversion routes, TrenDemon brings more of your traffic onto these routes using personalized content recommendations and calls to action.

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This not only boosts conversions on your website, but also helps you identify the top performing content, the ideal length and the best platforms where you can promote your content for more traffic.

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  • Link Back to Your Older Content Using Natural Anchors

To leverage your older content, you need to regularly link back to it in your new blog posts. With the new Google algorithm changes, however, you need to be careful while choosing the anchor text on your internal and external backlinks. Don’t use keyword based anchors. Instead, go for natural anchor text like, Click Here, Read This, Read More. You can also use longer phrases for linking back to your content.

Every blog needs regular and high converting traffic to survive and grow. But you don’t always need to create something new or spend extra money to get traffic. You can boost your traffic numbers, and conversion rates, by making the right changes to your SEO, back linking and content promotion strategies.

I’ve discussed three techniques that I’ve personally found very effective. But I’d love to hear how you attract more traffic to your blog. See you in the comments.

Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blogWriting My Destiny, Twitter, and Google+.

Five Essential Steps to Removing a Google Manual Penalty

This is a guest contribution from Nick Chowdrey.

Google takes webspam very seriously. The search giant currently sends over 400,000 messages a month to webmasters, warning them that their site performance could be at risk due to a manual Google penalty.

But what exactly are these manual penalties, and what can you do should you receive one of these notifications?

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

Number of manual penalties issued per month. Via Google.com.

Google’s webspam team is split into two divisions: algorithmic and manual. The algorithmic team focus on improving Google’s automatic algorithm modifiers, such as Panda, which deals with spammy content and Penguin, which deals with artificial backlinks.

The manual team consists of Google analysts over multiple countries who sift through domains looking for blackhat SEO practices – specifically, buying links that pass PageRank and participating in link building schemes, including excessive link exchanges between sites, and the use of automatic link building software.

If the team finds that your domain is in breach of Google’s webmaster guidelines, you may receive one of two penalties – either a partial manual penalty that affects the ranking of only certain pages on your site, or a full manual penalty, that affects the rank of your entire site.

You might be notified of a manual penalty through your Google webmaster tools. The message will look something like this:

Five essential steps to removing a Google manual penalty

Be careful, because this process is manual, you won’t necessarily get a notification. Thankfully, there are some free tools that you can use to check your SEO visibility, which can help you work it out for yourself.

So, what can you do should you receive this notification?

Here’s a five step guide to removing a manual penalty.

1. Link discovery

The first step in legitimising your links is to get a full picture of all the links that currently point to your domain. From this you can determine which links are good and bad, and take steps to removing the bad ones.

Google want to see that you’ve put in as much effort as possible to legitimize your link profile. If you don’t identify as many bad links as possible then everything you subsequently do to remove the penalty will be jeopardised.

There are many tools to choose from for discovering links. You can use Google’s own Webmaster tools, or third party tools like Majestic SEO or Cognitive SEO. It’s important to use more than one tool, as no single service is able to provide a complete backlink profile at this time.

2. Link classification

This is the process of assessing links to see if they’re either natural, suspicious or unnatural. All natural links can be kept, unnatural ones deleted and suspicious ones changed to no-follow links, so that they don’t pass PageRank.

This process must be done manually, but you can use link classification tools to automatically grade your links. This being said, Google will expect you to do a thorough job, so assessing each link manually is recommended.

You should keep the following in mind when classifying your links:

  • Links from spammy directories are almost always unnatural
  • Links from article farms that exist for link building purposes are usually unnatural
  • Consider removing links from sites that are irrelevant to your business sector
  • Links created in blog-rolls or footers are suspicious and should assessed
  • Exact-match links – e.g. where the link text is your company name – are also suspicious
  • Ensure any links acquired through paid means are ‘no-follow’

3. Manual link amendment

The next step is to get those bad links removed and your suspicious links changed to ‘no-follow’. The only way to do this is through a process of manual outreach – that means getting in touch with all the webmasters where you have unnatural or suspicious links and getting them to change or remove them for you.

It’s important to keep a record of every site that you’ve contacted, including which part of the outreach process you’ve reached. This is because webmasters from certain sites that have been known for hosting bad links may be overwhelmed with demands, so you may need to contact them several times.

Also make sure that any changes you’ve requested actually take place – don’t just take the webmaster’s word for it.

4. Submitting a disavow request

You might not be able to change or remove some links, for various reasons. Perhaps because you can’t get in touch with the webmaster in question, or perhaps because the site is now defunct.

Luckily, you can use Google’s disavow tool, which lets you mark links that you’d like Google to ignore when assessing all your site’s backlinks. Simply add all the links you want disavowed to a .txt file and upload it via your webmaster tools.

You might want to consider including the whole domain rather than individual pages for sites that you know have engaged in very black hat link building tactics, as this will disavow all links from that domain.

Here’s how your text file should be laid out:

#The following sites have been classed as spammy or low quality links, web directory links and article directory links.

#Links List Can be Found At the following addresss: https://drive.google.com/file/example

#Some domains have not been contacted, as there was no obvious way to reach the webmaster.

domain:<domainurl>

domain:<domainurl>

# website links that need to be disavowed due to websites not being indexed (sign of penalty) or are of low quality.

<pagelink>

<pagelink>

5. Submit a reconsideration request

This is the part where you suck up to Google and beg them to reconsider their penalty. It’s your opportunity to provide extra notes for when your case is reviewed.

You should include what you’ve done to clean up your act, highlighting the fact that you’ve stopped further black hat link building, and also providing any helpful supportive data to demonstrate your point.

See this video by Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, on how to submit a successful request.

You can submit your request via your Webmaster tools. Don’t expect an immediate response – the Webspam team will have to manually check your site, which can take between 3-6 weeks. You may not be successful first time, so if at first you don’t succeed, go back to step one and try again!

Nick Chowdrey is a staff and freelance writer specialising in marketing and technology. He currently works in content marketing at Jellyfish, a UK digital marketing agency. Follow Nick on Twitter @nickchef88.

Easy Ways for Bloggers to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic

Confused about keywords? We break it down to help you get started. Easy Ways for Bloggers to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic / Problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Nick Rojas.

The world of web promotion and search engine optimization has never been a consistent one.

Constantly changing Google results algorithms compete with tricky marketers in what is essentially an arms race, with each side trying to gain a lasting advantage against the other. However, though the tools change constantly, the battleground stays the same.

We’re talking about keyword research. Every time a Google update levels the playing field again, it comes back to this: if you create high quality content that people read, you will gain prominence in Google results. And the best way to do this is with keyword research. We’ve got some great tips to help you make sure your blog has its keyword game in top form. Read on!

Make a list of the most important topics that you cover on your blog

One good way to conceptualize the idea of a keyword is to think backwards. What kind of people are you trying to attract? What is your ideal reader looking for?

Go back through your blog entries and mentally sort them into vague lists. If you use tags or categories, this can help a lot as well. Basically, you want to create large “content buckets” that you can fit most of your posts into.

Transform those content buckets into keyword lists

Once you’ve assembled some buckets that most of your posts fit into, you can identify keywords to fill those out. These are phrases that you’d like to rank highly on the search engine results page.

An example might be a blog about maternity fashion that provides some affiliate referral links to clothing stores where readers can buy the recommended clothes. This hypothetical maternity wear blog would want to rank highly on searches like “clothes to wear during pregnancy”, “maternity fashion”, and other searches like this.

This isn’t a be all, end all list of the keywords you’ll be using, but rather just to clear your mind of all the obvious ones.

Get a good mix of short tail and long tail keywords

Some keywords are easier (and cheaper) to rank on than others. The cheap, easy ones are long tail, and are associated with much less traffic than the short tail keywords, which are particularly popular and frequently searched. The web has tons of tools for all kinds of things, from business name generators to tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which is great for this sort of thing.

Use tools to get a great keyword spread

Other great tools for this are Topsy and Buzzsumo. Topsy helps you uncover the confusing and convoluted work of social media keywords. Topsy is essentially the Google Trends of social media, allowing you to page through the recent history of keywords on social media to identify trends in that medium.

Buzzsumo helps you make sure that your keyword list is as comprehensive as that of your competitors. It helps you analyze their sites directly, helping you to spot when a new trend in your industry or field is coming up and letting you stay on top of it.

Keywords: always relevant

No matter how many Google updates happen, it seems likely that keywords will remain just as relevant as they have always been. It’s how people actually think and actually search for things, so barring any major sea changes in how people interact with their computers, keywords are likely to be an extremely important way to organize search and rankings. It pays to stay on top of your keywords!

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at [email protected].

7 Digital Marketing Skills Every Professional Needs

Digital Marketing Skills 1

 

This is a guest contribution from Brian Burt.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

That popular bit of wisdom has a timeless ring of truth to it, but we may want to update it for the internet age.

“Whatever you are, be a digital marketer” might be more apt in this era, when nearly everything that matters happens online.

The new reality is that in order to be marketable in any field, you need to sharpen your digital marketing chops. Whether you’re an administrative assistant or a CEO, you can be a better version if you have a basic foundation in web marketing.

7 Digital Marketing Skills You Need to Succeed

1. The Online Hustle

If there’s one thing that internet marketers are masterful at, it’s the online hustle. And by that I mean, the ability to jump online, identify key influencers or companies, figure out how to contact them and then be persistent as hell about getting what you want. This skillset is critical in everything from finding a job to getting guest blogs to nabbing new clients.

Every professional today needs to be a digital ninja, adept at tracking down opportunities online and coming up with creative ways to turn those opportunities into reality. Maybe that means Tweeting at the hiring manager of your dream job or doing some light online stalking of a new business partner you want to impress. Regardless of your goal, you’d do well to learn how to become an expert at leveraging the web to get what you want. 

2. E-Relationships

In the digital age, your first point of contact with anyone new is almost always done online. So it’s absolutely crucial that you hone your interpersonal e-mailing skills. You might be thinking, “Uh, I’m pretty sure I know how to e-mail,” but just because you can type and press send doesn’t mean you’re doing a bang-up job at using e-communication to your advantage.

When it comes to forming and maintaining excellent professional relationships online, it’s all about finesse. Digital marketers are pros at becoming BFFs with people they’ve never even met in person. Sometimes that means making a cheesy joke about the weather or asking an authentic question about the recipient’s life, but the point is to go the extra step to turn your faceless e-mail address into a real, living, breathing human with whom people want to work.

3. Social Media Savvy 

The only person who can acceptably say things like, “Oh, I just don’t get social media” is your grandmother…and even she’s probably posting funny pictures on Facebook. Social media know-how may have once been a bonus, but it decidedly necessary by now.

Regardless of the field you’re in, you should have a polished LinkedIn profile at a minimum, but you should also have a decent working knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. Anything less makes you come across as a bit of a dinosaur in the professional world. This is especially true if, like many, you’re working in the start-up world, where every employee is a jack of many trades and should be ready to take the helm of the company’s Twitter account or Pinterest boards if asked to do so.

4. Finger on the Pulse 

In the digital marketing field, it’s essential to keep up with trending topics, modifications to the Google search algorithm and new social media policies, just to mention a few things. As the game is always changing, it’s stay current or perish. And while things might not move at such a breakneck pace in other industries, keeping abreast of news and trends in your niche is pretty much always a surefire way to get ahead.

5. Data Matters

Internet marketers are not just about crafting cool messages and viral social media posts. Hard data is actually where the rubber hits the road, because no amount of hard work or clever words matter unless they’re having an impact on the goal of increasing exposure and opportunity. All professionals would do well to become more data-oriented if they want to be more successful. After all, the work only works if it has your intended result.

6. SEO 101

It’s not really necessary for all of us to be SEO experts. But as internet users and professionals, we should all have a basic grasp on how websites earn a high ranking position in Google searches. Here are a few key understandings:

  • How to spot an ad versus an organic result in search results.
  • The fact that websites that are in the top organic results of Google searches are there because they’ve established themselves as a legitimate and reliable, over time.
  • Google punishes websites that use cheap shortcuts to try to rank quickly.
  • The more reputable websites that link to a website, the higher its ranking.
  • The more people share links to a site on social media, the better it does in rankings.
  • New businesses need to work hard to establish themselves online – no one will find your new website if you don’t put in serious work to build a presence.
  • For content to boost SEO, it needs to use popular search key terms naturally.
  • One easy and reliable way to climb the rankings is to consistently add original content to your site in the form of blog posts. 

7. In Your Audience’s Shoes 

The digital marketer’s perennial question is: Who is my audience? In this world, that may be the customer or the potential client. Even if that’s not true for your field, you have an audience. When you tweak your resume or put together a presentation for colleagues or just write a new blog, you’ll improve your work in a serious way if you make every move with your audience in mind. Marketers know that their opinion is sort of irrelevant in the sense that they can be over the moon about a new idea, but if it won’t resonate with the audience, it’s worthless.

As the internet becomes an increasingly dominant part of business, all professionals have a duty to become proficient in basic digital marketing skills.

And when you add this skillset to your already impressive qualifications in your field, you become a double threat and infinitely more valuable to current and future employers.

Brian Burt is a digital marketing pro who’s been in the field for more than a decade. As the founder of WebRev Marketing & Design in Chicago, he’s constantly learning about and experimenting with new strategies that help businesses improve their online presence. In his rare spare time, Brian also enjoys fixing up vintage cars and guest blogging on a variety of business and marketing sites. Check out www.webRevmarketing.com for more.

6 Steps to Make Your Nonprofit’s Blog a Must-Read Web Destination

1-Nonprofit_Blog_org_imageThis is a guest contribution from Eric Rardin.

Managing a nonprofit is already more than a full-time job. Often, when operating on shoestring budgets to make a dent in large-scale, intractable problems like poverty or human rights, writing up a few hundred words for a blog post can seem like the least important of the myriad to-dos.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! For your supporters, your organization’s blog is a window into your world. It showcases what matters to you, how you’re achieving your mission, and provides insight into the type of organization you are or want to be. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a critical marketing tool to spread knowledge of your work and the issues you prioritize to millions of potential supporters.

Yet, too often, nonprofit blogs look like an afterthought, with infrequent posts, poor editing and lack of a unified voice. Rather than give up and let your blog collect digital dust, try a few of these strategies to make sure your blog reaches its full potential:

Define your objective up front

The first step is to determine what you want your blog to do. Is it a place to showcase your research, field projects, and other activities? Are you hoping to use it as a platform to raise the profile of your issues and experts more broadly in the media world? Both? Answering these questions can help you figure out exactly what your blog looks like.

Organizations that rely on gifts may want to show donors what their money has bought, or encourage passive supporters to become active funders. In that case, readers may be your existing audience and the tone may be convivial and community-oriented. The Alameda County Food Bank in California uses its blog to highlight community action and features volunteers and recipients, nurturing both the community of volunteers and the organization’s place within the community.

Groups working on under-the-radar issues or developing large coalitions may strike a more journalistic tone aimed at non-supporters and the general public. The UN Foundation’s blog educates readers about their programs and features on-the-ground stories that connect readers with people benefitting from their work.

Harness your staff’s creativity

Think for a second about Buzzfeed. While quizzes like What Flightless Bird Are You? and listicles like 17 More Smells ’90s Girls Will Never Forget may not seem that important to your work, there’s actually a lot you can learn from them. Buzzfeed is the most notorious purveyor of a new style of online content geared toward catching people’s attention and providing information in easily digestible snippets. The lesson here is about creativity: while a painstakingly edited executive summary may be the right way to start a report, long paragraphs and lots of jargon may not be the best way to reach a blog audience.

Think about how you can best tell your story. It may be that a short video clip, a photo slideshow, or listicle conveys the information better than a traditional article. The most successful blogs—both for-profit and non-profit—have a personality and aren’t afraid to try something new.

Write something you’d like to read. Not every post will work, but they all provide a chance to learn about what works for your audience, your brand, and your mission.

Incorporate blogging into people’s jobs

Your staff, from assistants and temps to program managers and executives, is doing a lot of great work to further your mission. But part of making their work as meaningful as possible is sharing their success stories, issue briefs, and opinions. While the communications team may manage the blog day to day, relying on just a few people to provide content can be limiting. Having multiple voices sharing their real expertise adds excitement to your blog.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s staff blog Switchboard does a great job of integrating the organization’s diverse work portfolio by letting employees tell their own stories about their challenges and successes. There may be some push back at first, but developing a smooth editorial process and providing guidance about writing subjects and style can actually make blogging fun for employees.

Recruit guest bloggers (and their guest audiences)

Blogs are a critical part of outreach and a great tool for connecting with other organizations and reaching out to new people. Guest bloggers can offer a fresh perspective on issues that your organization covers. It’s easy to see how publications benefit from high-profile writers that bring an audience with their name. But even featuring local folks (perhaps the beneficiaries of your work) and relaying their experience in their own voice can add depth and engage your supporters. You can also use these relationships to cultivate dialogues among practitioners and develop on- and offline relationships.

Develop a promotional strategy

The worst-case scenario for a nonprofit is to devote time and energy to a blog post that no one reads. The internet is a big and complex place, so you can’t just rely on Google Search to direct folks to your page. Integrating your blog into your other points of outreach can drive readership. Your blog is a trove of great content for your official social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees to tap into their own networks. Blog authors should want to share their work on their personal accounts, especially your employees who’ve created a strong online presence around their professional work.

Beyond social media, you have a lot of other ways to push your content out. Make sure to feature your blog on your own website and link heavily within it. That means not only links to the blog as a whole from around your site, but also connecting posts together to give readers a chance to delve deeper within an issue and learn more. New posts are also ripe for inclusion in your newsletters to engage your existing supporters. And don’t forget to practice good SEO, so that when people are searching key terms, your post has a better chance of showing up in the results.

Don’t forget fundraising

Behind every successful and influential organization is a team of people finding the money to fund great work. While your blog shouldn’t only be a vehicle to support the development team (after all, who wants to read 5 posts in a row asking for money?), every post is a good opportunity to turn a casual observer or activist into a donor. Consider building a donation button into your blog’s layout to take advantage of reader’s excitement about your organization and desire to contribute to the change you’re making every day.

Eric Rardin is the Vice President of Business Development at Care2 and the ThePetitionSite, where he advises on donor lead acquisition and multichannel conversion strategies. He has helped nonprofits in over 100 countries, including here in the U.S..Eric has an MBA from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University, an MA in government and international studies from the University of South Carolina and a BS in political science from the University of Wyoming.

The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

60+ Ways to make money on or with your blog  problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Paul Back.

You think about it all the time – how great it would be to make money from your blog.

Yet, with monetization, things can get a little confusing. There are just so many different options.
Making money from your blog is not something that happens by accident.

It takes forethought, planning, and a winning strategy.

Once you understand all of the possible ways to monetize your blog, it’s much easier to devise the right plan.

Succeeding at Monetizing Your Blog

The First Step is Understanding Your Options

There are almost limitless possibilities for a blogger like you to earn money online, but most of these fall into a small number of distinct categories.

This post is designed to show your options so that you can go on to make the right monetization decisions.

Without having a clear idea of what’s possible, you simply can’t make a solid choice.

Your destination is a blog that makes you money – you need to choose some routes that will get you there.

Let’s face it – blogging is hard work, so don’t make it even harder by failing to create a clear path to reaching your goals. You’ll end up investing time and energy on something that just won’t work for you.

When analysing your options, think about your end goal – do you want a more passive way to earn? Perhaps you want to offer a service? Maybe you just want to create and sell your own products? Not sure yet?

Whatever it is – we have it on the menu.

The Full Menu

I scoured the Internet for months trying to find the most diverse and proven ways to make money from blogs.

I’ve talked to every contact I have, conducted research, done free and paid courses and classes, read real books and e-books, watched videos, attended webinars, and have tried a lot of these strategies myself – if it’s not on the list, it probably doesn’t exist or just doesn’t work.

So don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!

Look through the list, and find your best options — or just see what’s available. Use it as a guideline for your blog monetization plans.

Display Advertising

Ads are great, but they can be tricky.

They can deliver staggering revenues, but for most people, they make very little. If you want success with ads, you must consider traffic, audience, and context.

Generally speaking, the traffic numbers of most blogs don’t have the volume to make a real dent with display advertising, and once you have the traffic, there are usually better ways to monetize.

Of course there are exceptions to the rules – so aim to understand your niche and audience before deciding if ads are right for you.

Overview

  • Pros: Easy to set up, offers passive income (set-and-forget), requires no special skills, works on most audiences, and works from day one.
  • Cons: Usually results in relatively small profits, requires a lot of traffic, turns off some audiences, makes your blog look less attractive, and is usually not the main revenue maker for a blog.
  • Best When: You have a lot of traffic, you have other sources of revenue, and you’re waiting to develop your own products for sale or quickly monetize without much effort.

You have many ad networks to choose from. Google AdSense is the most popular, but look into Media.net (Yahoo/Bing) and Clicksor. These ad networks are contextual – they automatically display ads based on your page’s content.

After you choose an ad network, there’re many different ad models you can use – each one has its benefits.

Here are the best options:

Display Advertising Options:

PPM

Get paid whenever a visitor lands on a page displaying the ad, as its “seen” — it doesn’t matter if the ad is clicked or not.

  • Pros: Visitors don’t have to click on your ads to make money.
  • Cons: Needs even more traffic than other ad types and usually pays less.
  • Best When: This is great for high-traffic blogs that have little audience interaction – news-type blogs for example.

PPC

Get paid when someone clicks on the ads displayed on your blog. (Prices depend on niche — more competitive = more money.)

  • Pros: Standard advertising model — it is the best bang for your buck.
  • Cons: You want advertisers with relevance to your blog to increase ad clicks.
  • Best When: In high competition niches that are relevant to your blog.

Banner Ads

Banner ads are placed in sidebars, headers, and individual posts. These can be PPC or PPM.

  • Pros: Common and effective form of advertising.
  • Cons: Can ruin the look of a blog depending on which ads are displayed.
  • Best When: You have control over which banners display.

RSS Ads

Appear in the RSS feed of a blog.

  • Pros: A great way to make money from your RSS feed.
  • Cons: With the decline of RSS feeds, these have become less popular; that doesn’t necessarily make them bad.
  • Best When: You have a large RSS list.

In-text Ads

These are ads that are embedded within your written text. When a reader clicks on them, it displays the corresponding ad.

  • Pros: They look like links, so there is no need for banner ads.
  • Cons: Distracting. People may find it annoying. Makes your blog worse from a usability perspective.
  • Best When: You don’t use other forms of advertising.

Mobile Advertising

If you have a mobile app or want to advertise via mobile channels. See: ADMob, Millennial Media, and Adfonic. There were 7.1 billion mobile devices connected to the net in 2014 – mobile and app advertising is set to take advantage of this in a big way.

  • Pros: Take advantage of a growing sector, less competition in the app sector, majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • Cons: Situational – you need to have an app or want to advertise in apps.
  • Best When: You have an app, and you want to capitalise on the growing number of mobile devices or when your audience largely uses mobile to view your content.

Advertising widgets

Use widgets such as AdSanity to help you manage and customise ads on your blog.

  • Pros: Detailed advertising information, makes your ads more profitable and customizable (e.g., display ads with higher revenue). Works with single or multiple ads.
  • Cons: Cost of entry, needs more effort on your part.
  • Best When: You already use ads with some success and want to increase their profitability.

Bulletin/job board

Create a bulletin or job board and let others advertise on it for a fee.

  • Pro: Easy to set up and can drive huge amounts of relevant traffic to your blog, which amplifies other monetisation avenues and turns your blog into a “hub” in your niche.
  • Cons: Usually this is not a primary source of income; your blog has to be sufficiently popular.
  • Best When: Your blog is seen as a hub in your space when you already have a lot of traffic and when combined with other revenue streams, e.g., Problogger Job Board.

Audio ads on your podcasts

If you have a podcast, use audio ads similar to a commercial radio station and promote people’s products, services and get paid — e.g., use networks like this, and this.

  • Pros: A great way to earn money from your podcasts.
  • Cons: You must have a regular audience for your podcast to have any real effect.
  • Best When: You have a large and consistent podcast audience.

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is advertising material in the context of a blog post (should be disclosed). Its effectiveness is determined by audience size and relevance. A good example of how sponsored content works is mashable.com. They regularly use content from big companies and get huge brand visibility in exchange for money.

  • Pros: Good way to earn money. Most people would have no issue with sponsored content, if you label it as such.
  • Cons: Would turn some people off and would only work well in some niches (depending on sponsored content opportunities and how well they match your blog).
  • Best When: You have a large reach and you are in a niche with good sponsored content opportunities.

Ads on your videos (for other’s products or your own)

Use your videos as platforms for advertising. Use the YouTube advertising program, or create an agreement with a sponsor, and mention them or display their logo in your videos.

  • Pros: Make money from the content you create, easier to get noticed than blog banner ads, relatively unexplored area for most bloggers, and can go viral.
  • Cons: Only applies to video content. Traffic needed. May need relationships with businesses.
  • Best When: You are a successful video content creator.

Directly sell ad space on your blog

Sell ad space to other bloggers or businesses without going through a middle man (ad networks).

  • Pros: No middleman, total control over what ads you want to display, more profit, and you can choose ad designs that complement your blog.
  • Cons: Fewer ads to choose from and harder to arrange than AdWords (or equivalent).
  • Best When: You share an audience with a blogger or business that’s interested in advertising on your site.

Sell, Sell, Sell – Blog Stores

Sometimes, the best way to make money off your blog is to treat it like a sales platform.

The biggest problem for most online businesses is they lack traffic volume and a repeat audience. As a blogger, that’s your bread and butter.

Bloggers get so hung up on providing free content that they forget they are allowed to sell to their audiences. If you provide real value with your content and offer something relevant, your audience would love to buy from you.

Here are the best ways:

Create blog merchandise:

Sell shirts, caps, or just about any merchandise from your blog.

  • Pros: A fun idea which under the right conditions will make a great income; check out Cafepress and Merchify for ideas.
  • Cons: Situational — some brands just don’t make for good merchandise.
  • Best When: You have an active, engaged community and a cool social brand. E.g., it’s perfect for health blogs.

Auctions/eBay store

You can create a simple eBay store for your blog. It’s easy and a quick way to start earning an income. Alternatively, you can auction items to your audience without eBay.

  • Pros: Easy and cheap to set up.
  • Cons: Not suitable for every blog, people might take you less seriously depending on niche, and probably not a steady income.
  • Best When: You are in a creative category such as DIY or in a niche that has many physical products associated with it.

Start an ecommerce store

Sell items directly from your blog with no third party involvement.

  • Pros: This is a great way to monetize a blog; a varied inventory can create fantastic revenue.
  • Cons: Need products to sell. Not all niches can be successful – or at least not without thinking outside the box. Check out Lynne Knowlton’s selection of products.
  • Best When: You have many things to sell or have a blog for business purposes.

Reviews and Sponsorships

As a blogger, your biggest asset is your audience.

They give you authority and influence. And when influential people speak – others listen.

This makes bloggers like you perfect for product reviews and sponsorships. These strategies have been around for a long time – and for good reason; they work.

You can use the power your audience gives you to earn a living, without violating your audience’s trust or using any sleazy tactics.

Here are the best ways:

Paid reviews

Paid reviews are where an advertiser pays the blogger for a review of their product or service. Bloggers should let the audience know when a post is paid for; in some countries it’s required by law (including the U.S.). You can use PayPerPost, com or make your own arrangements.

  • Pros: You get paid to review products and services in your niche. It’s easy and requires little effort.
  • Cons: Not every niche and blog has the opportunity to review a product. This method is a short-term monetization strategy.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with a lot of reach and an audience that is understanding.

Receive gifts for reviewing products

Getting paid in the form of products or services can be another source of revenue.

  • Pros: An easy way to get rewarded. You can set up a page on your blog to let people know you do reviews, or you can email people directly if you are interested.
  • Cons: Most people would prefer cash payments.
  • Best When: You have a large audience that values your opinion.

Get sponsored by a company

Leverage your audience and influence to get sponsored by a company that will pay you in cash or gifts to promote them.

  • Pros: Can be lucrative, and you don’t have to do your own development or branding.
  • Cons: Usually you need to have a popular blog.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog and you outreach to companies that you have an interest in working with.

Become a brand ambassador

If you love a particular brand, you can try to become a brand ambassador. You promote a company and get paid in commissions, free gifts, or cash.

  • Pros: A great way to earn and promote your favourite companies.
  • Cons: You need to have a company you strongly believe in that fits your image, you need a large following, and your reputation is in another’s hands.
  • Best When: There is a company that lives up to your expectations of quality, service, and ideals — and is beneficial to your audience.

Passive Income

Every blogger has fantasized about making a fully passive income at some stage.

And affiliate marketing is the best way of doing that. But even with passive income, you still have to do some work.

Well, initially at least.

But get it right and your life will change in a big way. So kick back, relax, and watch that money come rolling in.

Here are the best ways:

Join an Affiliate Program

Becoming an affiliate is the perfect way to make money selling products or services without having to invest time in creating them yourself.

  • Pros: Great source of potential revenue, no need to develop your own products.
  • Cons: Turn your audience away if you promote the wrong type of product, lose audience to competitors, lose audience if you overdo it, and not as much money as making your own products.
  • Best When: You have a large devoted audience, you want to make extra money to an already successful blog, or you want to “test drive” an idea before committing your own time and money.

Affiliate links in posts

You create “evergreen” content with links to affiliate products – this is not promoting another blogger’s products via email advertising. For an example of affiliate links in posts, check out Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School. The difference is subtle, but some audiences simply do not want to hear about other people’s products in your email messages.

  • Pros: Earns money while providing value to your audience. Perfect for monetizing your current content.
  • Cons: Takes some effort to set up; very few people could make a full living off affiliate links in posts.
  • Best When: You create incredible list articles with affiliate links and you have a large audience.

Webhosting referral affiliates: (Bluehost, Godaddy, Hostgator)

Promote a service you trust and use on your blog to earn commissions.

  • Pros: It’s easy, no special skills are needed, and anyone can do it. All website owners need hosting.
  • Cons: Like other affiliate links, this usually won’t be enough to make a full living, and needs lots of traffic.
  • Best When: Using hosting companies that you trust and use with your blog. Your audience has or intends to have a website, e.g., blogging, social media, and business niches.

Affiliate sales from social media (Instagram and Pinterest)

If you have a large presence on Instagram or Pinterest, you can promote affiliate products using RewardStyle or ETSY. This is a great way to use your blog in conjunction with social media, and earn money – perfect for visual merchandise, i.e., fashion or design blogging.

  • Pros: A fantastic way to leverage your social media presence.
  • Cons: You need to have a large following to be accepted.
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger that focuses on visual content.

Create an affiliate program for your own products

This is a way to get extra reach and revenue from one of your own products.

  • Pros: Increase profits for no extra work, and a great way to make extra sales and get exposure.
  • Cons: Not as profitable as tapping into the market without a middleman.
  • Best When: You have an expensive product to sell and have relationships with influencers in your niche.

Directly sell other bloggers’ products and get commissions

Like affiliate marketing, you’re selling other people’s products, but unlike traditional affiliate marketing, the commission is determined directly between you and the other party.

  • Pros: High commissions and relevant to your audience. Good way to build goodwill and relationships with other bigger players in your niche.
  • Cons: You need strong connections to other bloggers – which means you are already established. Has potential to lose your readers to your competition.
  • Best When: You already have a medium to large email list and have good relationships with other bloggers/businesses/gurus. 

Be a Leader

As a blogger, you’re naturally a coach and mentor to your audience.

You love what you do, and you wouldn’t change a thing. So, why not get paid for it?

Everybody wants your help, but it’s not possible to help everyone. You need to prioritize and still find the time to create quality content.

When you charge for your services, you can focus on your work, provide quality advice, and spend

your time more wisely.

Here are the best ways: 

Consulting

Consulting is about using your expertise to provide specific problem-solving or troubleshooting – such as providing marketing advice or strategy. E.g., Neil Patel. Consulting usually requires you to have a specific skillset.

  • Pros: Usually more lucrative than coaching and builds your credibility faster. Great as a primary or secondary revenue stream.
  • Cons: Requires a high level of authority and credibility in your niche when compared to coaching, therefore not the best option for total beginners. It’s also time intensive.
  • Best When: Your intervention can have quick and measurable results (changing marketing strategy, providing SEO audits etc.), usually “service” based.

Coaching

You offer expertise to help your clients resolve a problem – coaching is similar to consulting, but there is more emphasis on providing support, encouragement, motivation, and guidance. With coaching, there is less emphasis on having a specific skillset or qualification in general and more emphasis on support and feedback.

  • Pros: Provides a consistent flat rate and a reliable income, and you also learn more about your audience.
  • Cons: It is a time-heavy process that slows the growth of your blog and requires a certain amount of authority.
  • Best When: There is a longer-term issue or problem that requires more than one or two sessions to resolve — e.g., lifestyle change, personal development.

Group coaching programs

Like advanced consulting for a whole group of clients through a predefined curriculum. You provide lessons, exercises, feedback, and mentoring.

  • Pros: You learn new skills and get rapid feedback about what your customers want – while being paid.
  • Cons: A lot of time is taken in running and preparing these courses. You need some level of experience.
  • Best When: You have already had success with one-on-one coaching and are looking to take on more students at once — e.g., Selena Soo.

Get Paid for Superior Content

It’s your job to create incredible content for your audience.

You spend countless hours researching, writing, creating and editing. But some content is just too valuable, too time intensive and too in-depth to be given away for free.

If you didn’t charge for it – it would be impossible to keep your standards that high.

This is a natural progression for any blogger, and it’s a fantastic way to earn money.

Here are the best ways:

Private interview series

You interview experts in your field on a number of important topics and charge a fee for accessing this material — e.g., Yaro Starak from EJ.

  • Pros: These are cheap to set up, easy to scale, and are incredible relationship-building opportunities.
  • Cons: The experts have to be well known authorities in your space for people to consider it valuable enough to pay for. The interviews must provide real value. You need to be fairly well connected.
  • Best When: You are well connected in your niche as well as have other products (with higher prices) for sale.

Develop and sell your own self-paced courses

Self-paced courses are teaching resources that a user goes through at their own pace; usually it’s a combination of text, video, audio, and live calls.

  • Pros: One of the best ways for bloggers to make sustainable, high-level profits. Courses like this build your credibility and can be your sole revenue stream.
  • Cons: Time and effort intensive to put together, and you need a lot of experience in your field (to create worthy learning resources).
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger who’s ready to step up to the challenge – this separates the casual bloggers from the big boys. E.g., Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging

Create a video course

Video courses are similar to self-paced courses, but they focus heavily on in-depth “over the shoulder” type videos. These are perfect for instructing complex tasks that users need to view multiple times to follow.

  • Pros: Same as a self-paced course.
  • Cons: Video courses take a lot of time to set up, may require special video and editing software, and high production value is a must, due to repeated viewing.
  • Best When: You are in a technical niche like link building / SEO. E.g., Brian Dean.

E-books

E-books are a great place to start monetizing.

  • Pros: Low up-front and overhead costs, no ongoing cost or customer support, easy to create, and you gain credibility and widen your audience.
  • Cons: Relatively low profit per sale, and requires high volume to make money.
  • Best when: You have other forms of revenue, and you are looking to expand your authority. E.g., Enchanting Marketing.

Membership Site

Create regular private content that users pay to view.

  • Pros: A great way to get consistent money (this works by charging a relatively small, recurring monthly fee).
  • Cons: You need to produce regular high-quality content that’s worth paying for.
  • Best When: You have a ton of high-quality topics to discuss, and you’re invested in creating high-quality content consistently for the long term.

Private forum

A great way to reach out to hundreds or thousands of clients at once.

  • Pros: Like private membership content but usually more time intensive. The quality is usually lower than that of premium courses.
  • Cons: It takes a lot of time and energy to set up, and the level of service is usually not as high as a self-paced course.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience and you are willing to spend time each day to review threads and post in forums, or when you have other “power users” that will aid you in the forums.

Leverage Your Blogging Skills

As a blogger, you develop a particular skill set.

This skill set is extremely valuable in the real world. But most bloggers take it for granted – some don’t realize how sought after these skills can be.

But if you’re smart, you can use these skills to your advantage.

Here are the best ways:

Paid guest posts

There’re blogs and business sites that pay you to guest post. Do this regularly and the money starts to add up. Check out some great resources for paid guest posting: here, here and here.

  • Pros: Great way to polish your writing and get paid for it.
  • Cons: Too time intensive to make a lot of money.
  • Best When: You want to earn some money while polishing your writing skills.

Ghost-writing for other bloggers or sites

Earn money by offering ghost-writing services for other blogs or businesses. This is similar to guest posting, but you’re not credited for the work, and you’ll usually get paid more per post.

  • Pros: Fantastic way to boost revenue and build relationships.
  • Cons: Time consuming, and a lot of bloggers may find it unsatisfying in the long run.
  • Best When: You are in the freelancing / blogging / writing niche, which means you can charge a lot more and build a reputation with popular bloggers and businesses.

Use your blog as a platform for a higher-paying job

Use your blog as a launching pad for a much higher-paying career in the real world. Make yourself an authority in the niche your ideal job fits into, and use it as leverage in your workplace or the job market. You can also launch your own freelance career as a blogger, writer, or coach.

  • Pros: Gives the security of a “real” job. A lot of people prefer more traditional and structured ways to earn money.
  • Cons: Ultimately, you are bound by the job market.
  • Best When: Your passion lies within a particular business sector or you are self-employed.

Write sales letters

Writing a sales letter is similar to a sales page for a business, but it’s longer, more detailed, more difficult, and requires a high level of copywriting and marketing skills.

  • Pros: Direct marketing is a particular skill that can earn you much more money compared to traditional copywriting.
  • Cons: It’s an acquired skill, and not everyone is capable of doing it well.
  • Best When: You’re a blogger in the marketing/copywriting niche with a few years of experience.

Publish a book

Write and publish a physical book. Many bloggers have become bestselling authors; some even have a few books under their belts.

  • Pros: Books are an incredible authority booster, and you receive huge acclaim and open up other opportunities. Not only do you make money from book sales, but you also can increase your rates on all your other offerings.
  • Cons: For this to have any real chance, you need a fairly large and devoted audience.
  • Best When: You’re a gifted writer, and you run a popular blog. E.g., Seth Godin.

Write web copy for businesses/blogs 

A great way to use your copywriting skills is to write sales copy for websites. Copywriting for company websites and sales pages is a sought after skill, and can be hugely rewarding. 

  • Pros: Get paid a lot more than just writing articles.
  • Cons: Providing a service like this usually only applies if you are in the blogging, social media, or marketing niches.
  • Best When: You are in the right niche and have some degree of authority and/or marketing experience.

Form a partnership (with another blogger, online business, or physical business)

Enter a mutual business relationship with another blogger, business, or physical business, and get paid to do so.

  • Pros: Access to revenue or skillsets that you otherwise wouldn’t have. With a mutual partnership, you have the option to split up work, access to products you normally would not have, and the freedom to focus on doing what you’re best at.
  • Cons: Not receiving full profits.
  • Best When: Your blog is related to an industry with business opportunities, and you are well connected.

The Power of Events

You’re probably pretty social.

You love talking with your audience, you love networking with other bloggers, and you love to share what’s on your mind – and the best way to share ideas is to share with a receptive group.

And creating an event is an excellent way to teach, raise your profile, and get paid.

Here are the best ways: 

Organize an event (in real life)

Step out from behind your keyboard, and organize a real-life event. Take the lead and earn money from real-life events — like Copyblogger, Problogger, or NerdFitness (check out this awesome fit camp) — if you have readers that are in proximity to you or are willing to travel. Most people put more value in a face-to-face interaction and are willing to pay for the experience. Events will bond you with readers, and are mutually beneficial.

  • Pros: You can make great money and strong bonds with readers.
  • Cons: It can be difficult logistically and may not work in some niches; usually you would need to be well known and respected.
  • Best When: You have a strong bond with your audience, and you can organise an event worth paying for.

Paid speaking gigs

Use your blog as a platform to launch a speaking career.

  • Pros: Branch out from your blog for a well-paid and rewarding speaking career.
  • Cons: The suitability of this depends on your authority, niche, and comfort with public speaking.
  • Best When: You’re passionate and imagine yourself “blogging” in front of a large, live audience. E.g., Neil Patel (above) or Adam Franklin.

Host a branded Twitter party

Bloggers have more authority on social media than most businesses or online users. If your blog gives you clout on Twitter, approach a business or company to host a branded Twitter party and get paid for your efforts.

  • Pros: Leverage your large Twitter following and get paid to promote.
  • Cons: A Twitter party is audience specific and brand specific. This strategy requires your audience’s “permission” and participation, and it would put some people off.
  • Best When: You know your audience likes the brand/product being promoted, and you have a large Twitter following.

Live workshops

You can hold a webinar online, or a real-life local event, which requires payment to attend. E.g., Jon Morrow’s live workshops for his Guest Blogging program.

  • Pros: A cool way to teach and engage an audience which is very rewarding and provides you with a good income. Similar to group coaching but with a higher price bracket.
  • Cons: You would need to organize well and have a high level of service and value for this to work.
  • Best When: You have had some practice with webinar software and consulting.

Get the Crowd On Your Side

Rally the troops and form an army.

With the power of the crowd on your side, you can achieve incredible things.

Harnessing the power of crowdfunding has never been easier; there is money to be made, projects to complete, and lives to change.

If you have the will, and the right people behind you, there’s a way.

Here are the best ways:

Create a crowdfunding page

If you have a specific goal or mission for your blog, create a crowdfunding page, and source funds from your audience.

  • Pros: Get paid for having a vision and the initiative to start something your audience appreciates.
  • Cons: Ideally, you need a mission people can get behind, and this method usually doesn’t provide reoccurring income.
  • Best When: You have a vision, goal, or mission that inspires people to take action — you may be helping others (like Pat Flynn did), have a special project you want to work on, or be developing a product your fans want ( with an epic $50 million dollars from crowdfunding – check out their blog here).

Enroll in the Beacon network

Get donations for your creative work.

  • Pros: An innovative way to get paid for your work.
  • Cons: Not yet a proven way, and it’s mostly for creative work.
  • Best When: You have a blog in the creative space, and you want to try something different.

Get fan funding with Patreon

Get donations for your creative work – this is like crowd funding but for a sequence of smaller projects.

  1. Pros: A great way to make money for content in the creative space. A unique way to build a bond with your fans.
  2. Cons: It’s not mainstream, and your audience would need to adopt the Patreon system.
  3. Best When: You create creative projects, and your audience is open to new ideas. E.g., Cliff Ravenscraft uses Patreon for his podcasts.

Get your audience on Flattr

An interesting platform for you to share your creative content and get paid for each “like” from any Flattr user. 

  • Pros: In theory, it’s a great way to get paid for your creative work.
  • Cons: You have to convince your audience to use the Flattr system.
  • Best When: A large part of your audience uses Flattr.

Get tips on Tiptheweb

Encourage your readers to use a tipping service to get paid for your creative work.

  • Pros: You get rewarded for your outstanding work on a per case basis.
  • Cons: This is in the beta stage, meaning you most likely won’t get enough people tipping to make a solid income.
  • Best When: You consistently create great content, and your audience members are early adopters that benefit from your work.

Let your audience show gratitude on Gratipay: Similar to tipping but provides a reoccurring weekly donation for doing good work.

  • Pros: You have a better chance to make regular income than tipping since you get weekly payments.
  • Cons: Might have a harder time convincing your audience to commit to reoccurring weekly payments.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience, you create great content, and you do not advertise or sell any other products.

Just ask for donations (PayPal)

A bit of an old-school way to make money blogging. Just put up a donations page, and ask your readers to donate, either for a specific one-off purpose (e.g., buying a new microphone) or just in general. This can work well, depending on your audience. E.g., Scooby’s Fitness Network.

  • Pros: One of the easiest ways to make money from your blog.
  • Cons: Not a dependable income and as most people will not donate.
  • Best When: Your readers feel in debt to you and your great work, especially when you don’t push any products on them. 

Get Technical

Sometimes it’s necessary to get technical.

Creating a unique product for your audience takes a lot of resources, planning, and work. If you have the know-how and the will to make it happen, you can achieve great things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying that if you do it right, it’s going to be worth it.

Here are the best ways:

Develop and sell your own physical products

Much like selling your own programs, but this product is physical. 

  • Pros: A physical product lends you credibility and makes you seem more serious than your competitors. Physical products are often easier to market.
  • Cons: Costs are higher due to producing prototypes. Higher risk strategy when compared to non-physical products or courses due to upfront costs.
  • Best When: You are in a niche that allows for physical products. E.g., no meat athletes gear.

Sell your blog/site template or theme

Sell your custom designed blog theme or template.

  • Pros: A great way to make money if you have a unique theme that people like.
  • Cons: Not every theme and template would apply; most wouldn’t.
  • Best When: You have your own custom theme that your readers ask you about regularly.

Develop and sell your own software:

This is specific to your industry; your programs could be web-based programs, software, or systems that you directly sell to your audience.

  • Pros: The best option for high revenues, and it can be your sole revenue stream. Specifically designed with your audience in mind, which makes it much easier to sell.
  • Cons: An advanced method, it takes a lot of time and money to set up. It’s crucial to have experience (or an experienced team) in development and to really know your audience before you attempt to create these programs.
  • Best When: You have an already popular blog, in the right niche, with a proven track record in sales, and you have money to invest in hiring experts to help you. For example, AppSumo, created by Noah Kagan who runs his own blog at OkDork, or KISSmetrics.

Create a mobile app

Create a mobile app related to your audience, use it as a way to sell something, or leverage it for promotion, advertising, and brand awareness opportunities.

  • Pros: A unique approach, and unlike other app developers, you already have an established audience. Use your blog as a platform to distribute your app, build awareness, and create cross-promotional opportunities.
  • Cons: Technically challenging, and you need to have a good idea of what people want.
  • Best When: You have experience in development, you know your audience well and understand what they need. The level of complexity varies, but you would need a developer if you do not have the skills. Here is a non-tech example.

Try Something Different – Break the Mould

Sometimes, the best way to make a living from your blog is to try something new.

That’s the beauty of it; there really isn’t a limit to what you can do.

If you have the courage to try something different, you may get the rewards you’ve always wanted.

Try something unconventional, innovative, cutting edge – or even downright crazy!

If you have the vision, passion, and drive, no one is going to stop you.

Now go get ’em tiger!

Here are the best ways:

Treat it like a business, and look for an angel investor

If you’re looking to turn your blog into a profitable business, search for investors to back you financially and strategically. Look to Mashable and BuzzFeed for examples.

  • Pros: Secure funding to invest in your blog and the security of knowing successful business people are backing you.
  • Cons: It’s less like a traditional blog and more like a business, which requires a regimented and profit-driven approach.
  • Best When: You have a vision, and you want to build a business around that.

Use a paywall

Paywalls are commonly associated with news websites, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for a blog.

  • Pros: Proven in other industries to make money with your content. A great opportunity to make it work for blogging. Great with in-depth content or more news-type blogs.
  • Cons: Will put a lot of people off.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with exclusive

Try an “out there” idea

Check out Lynne’s awesome treehouse. She thought outside the box and made money from it. You may not have a treehouse, but you have skills, services, opportunities, or physical products that a portion of your audience will be interested in. 

  • Pros: Unique to the individual; almost everyone has something special they can offer.
  • Cons: You have to look hard to create opportunities.
  • Best When: You identify your unique offer, and you have the courage to try it out.

Sell your blog

Sick of your blog? Sell it. Get paid for your effort; look how Ramsay Taplin and Yaro Starak sold theirs.

  • Pros: Get rewarded for all your hard work with none of the pressure.
  • Cons: It’s usually only one payment unless you have a licensing contract, which can be complicated to arrange. Your blog needs to hold a business value to be eligible for sale.
  • Works Best: When you have a successful blog that you want to get rid of.

Here’s a Toast to Your Success

You have choices to make.

Choose the right ones for you and your blog – and you’ll be rewarded.

Hundreds of thousands of people make money from their blogs; some even make enough to quit their day jobs.

Stop wondering what it would be like – join them.

In reality, it’s no harder than what you do as your job every day.

But without blind luck, the only way to get there is understanding your options, choosing some strategies, and working toward your goal.

Targeted action is the difference between success and failure.

There is a lot riding on your decisions.

But don’t use that as an excuse to take no action.

The only decision you’ll regret is the one you don’t make at all.

Right now, action is vital.

Even if it means you make mistakes.

You can adapt and change later – just start now.

You have your options laid out in front of you – make your choices, and work at them.

It’s time to make a move.

Are you ready?

 

Paul Back will help you grow your blog, increase your traffic, and teach you to make money online. If you’re serious about blogging, then head on over and get your free guide to The 3 Most Effective Blog Monetization Methods and start earning a good living from your blog, quickly and without frustration.

 

Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip.

Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.

Every now and then, I’m pulled aside at a family gathering or am emailed by someone who wants to know if it’s possible to make money blogging.

Some of the common questions include:

  • How do you make money online?
  • How does AdSense work?
  • Should I attend this “make money online” course?

The answer is an absolute yes. You can make money blogging.

While not in the six figures, Matthew Woodward, for example, made approximately $20,000 in December of 2014. That’s a pretty nice paycheck for blogging.

Even a simple idea like Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York, where people submit posts of things they’ve heard somewhere in New York, earns about $9,000 a month from private advertising revenue, such as banner ads placed on the site.

Personally, I have been making money online since 2004. I quit my day job as a rubber dam engineer in 2006, and never looked back.

So, again, the answer is: Yes, you can start a blog easily and make some money.

There are a lot of different online business opportunities, too.

The only question left is: Do you have the writing quality and blogging know-how to get it done? It’s not something easy, but I promise you it’s worth it.

5 ways of making money from your blog without having your own product

When you think of making money from a blog, you might think about Google ads, but there are a few different ways you can make money from your blog:

  • AdSense – People make hundreds of thousands from Google AdSense ads. AdSense makes up about one-third of Google’s revenue. Pay is good, but you will need to play by Google’s rules. There are reports where Google AdSensers get bumped out of the program without warning.
  • Affiliate marketing – This is simply a way to sell related items without the cost of developing a unique product. This is mainly how I make my living online, so this is a viable way to earn money from your blog.
  • Banner ads – Another way to make money from your blog is to sell banner ads on third party sites such as BuySellAds.com. My experience is that this is fairly low pay, but better than nothing. All the different areas of your income can pool together to make a difference in your overall blog earnings.
  • Selling ads directly on your blog – You can earn good money by selling banner ads directly on your blog. However, your blog must first have a good amount of traffic to attract the higher paying advertisers. At first, it might be better to focus on building that traffic and then you can more easily attract the big players.
  • Product reviewer – This might not pay you monetarily, other than the amount you’re earning from blogging, but it can help you try out the newest products in your niche. Merchants send you their products for trial, and you write an honest review. WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty, for example, does this and wrote some great tips on how to become a product reviewer. The key to becoming a product reviewer is that you need to be an influencer in your niche. Personally I get free hosting accounts to test at WHSR so I can write a review on it.

3 key factors: What makes my blog work and why yours doesn’t?

1. You need to be in a profitable niche!

One of the first things you want to think about is your niche and whether it is profitable. Some experts advise being a big fish in a small pond, but I think the exact opposite. You should try the big pond because that is where the money is.

While your great Aunt Mary’s unique recycled dress quilts might be amazing, not that many people are as interested in reading about them as about quilting in general. Don’t limit your topic too much.

When I first got started, I created a site selling inflatable boats online. Can you imagine how many people might buy inflatable boats online? That’s right, not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. Having that said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

So, how do you find a profitable niche? Personally, I use SpyFu to check out what advertisers are spending on a niche that I think I might like to tackle. If advertisers, or merchants, are spending big money on that industry, then it means there is money to be made.

spyfu-cpc

There must be a reason why these people can afford $8 – $17/click on these keywords.

If you do not have a SpyFu membership, you can simply do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. Are there any advertisers in the search results? If so, then there may be money in this niche.

Use Google keyword planner to guesstimate the average price of a click in your industry – with that you can predict roughly how much you can earn per Google AdSense click. The higher the pay per click, the more potential there is to earn.

Login to CJ.com and search merchants – use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

cj-adv

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

2. Are you getting sufficient targeted traffic?

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the targeted traffic possibilities for a given niche. To be able to make decent money, your blog must have sufficient targeted traffic possibilities. This is where your SEO and social media marketing (SMM) kick in.

When people search for info relevant to your niche topic, they become your target audience. The more people who search for that topic, the bigger your potential audience.

Also, if someone follows your competitors on Facebook, those people are your targeted audience. If you are thinking about jumping into a niche and you see that your closest competitor has a couple million page likes on Facebook, then that is a good sign that there is a big target audience.

More targeted traffics = more money

However, to win the attention of this target audience, you have to gain skills in both SEO and SMM. It is simple math. The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you’ll make.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are selling a web hosting service as an affiliate and the average conversion rate is 3%. On average, every 100 visitors that you refer to the web hosting provider, you’ll manage to get three sales. If you manage to refer 200 visitors, then theoretically there will be six sales down the road.

We want all tails keywords

longshorttail Image credit: Bytelaunch

You’ll want to be sure that you figure for both primary and secondary (short-tail and long-tail) keywords to get the best idea of overall traffic possibilities.

Owen Powis, the CEO of Wordtracker, advises that:

“A clear, well-organized site structure helps Google find your content and makes the navigation of your site easier for your customers.”

Being aware of the different target keywords (both primary and secondary) and the advertising basics aimed at those keywords will make your blog more successful.

3. Are you building a List?

You’ve probably heard multiple gurus saying that building an email list is of ultimate importance when driving traffic to your site. If you want to make money blogging, you’ll want to capture your site visitor’s emails and send them emails that will drive them to visit your site over and over again.

If you need help with building and making money out of your email list, here is a very handy guide written Marya Jan on Problogger.net.

Why is an email list so important? An email list is your greatest asset online because those signed up are trusted leads who have visited your blog. Your email subscribers already trust you and your authority on this topic.

If you were going to buy something online, you would probably look at products based on the recommendation of someone you trust. If you wanted to buy a guide to read, you would first look at guides written by or recommended by someone you trust.

If you were following Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) new venture WP Super Stars from the beginning, you should note of is that he started collecting email subscribers ahead of time. That’s right -You can start collecting subscribers before you even have a blog. Reach out to family, friends and acquaintances to get started.

Bottom Line – You can do this!

When it comes to making money from blogging, you have to be creative and keep an eye out for new opportunities and changes in how search engine algorithms and advertising work. However, with a bit of foresight sprinkled with hard work and consistency, you too can make a living from blogging.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)!

 This is a guest contribution from Daryl Rothman.

calendar-checklist-list-3243

The truth is out there.

At least, we hope so.

How-to lists are all the rage in the burgeoning blogging world. And many are good, but there is an absolute deluge. The list of lists is growing.

Who has it right? How do you choose? What lists you should rely on?

Simple. None.

Before you loose the slings and arrows of recrimination upon me, hear me out. I didn’t say you shouldn’t read any how-to lists. There are some great ones. Read away! I am saying you need to stop relying upon them. Here’s why.

  • We are so inundated with lists it is easy to get overwhelmed. You are busy. You have important things to do—including writing, especially writing—and you don’t have unlimited time to be navigating your way through the vast sea of offerings. Have you ever been excited about an idea and set about researching related pieces, only to find there were so many that it was impossible to know where to begin or how to prioritize? Did you feel the motivation slowly ebbing away? The ability to strategically focus—in our writing and in our research—is critical, and if you get overwhelmed it is easy to succumb to exasperation and become paralyzed into inaction.
  • “Expert” advice may not in fact be just that. Again, a caveat: questioning one’s expertise is not to suggest they are unmeriting of admiration and respect. But you must be judicious, and proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. What are this writer’s credentials? Has she presented certain things as fact which are, in fact, opinion? Are there other perspectives she’s neglected? “Expert” advice can be that shimmering mirage in the desert, but danger lurks just beneath: in our anxious quest to be enlightened, to find that quick fix, the holy grail of literary wisdom, we all too often sublimate and diminish our own power and expertise. Be wary of “gurus,” particularly self-appointed ones. Look past the accolades and glitz and learn to be persuaded by—well, persuasion.
  • Most lists are by their nature prescriptive and one-size fits all. And, inevitably, too good to be true. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles beneath the earth’s mantle, and even after they finally breach the surface only a little bit shows—we have to dig to get at the rest. So too with your best literary gems. Lists are inherently dismissive of the myriad and often subtle dynamics and variables unique to each writer. The gurus know we’re busy, and not only crave answers, but prefer them in bite-sized morsels which are easily digestible and immediately applicable. You are jolted with a surge of motivation, and it may even last for a few days, sometimes longer. But then what? Unless the list happened to be the best way lists can motivate you eternally, the magic ultimately begins to fade. And no wonder– little in life is that simple or easy—nothing meaningful or enduring, anyway. Your writing, I hope we agree, is meaningful. And we want it to endure.

So What Now?

Well, I would be negating every point I’ve just raised above if I tell you precisely what. But I do have some suggestions which have been helpful to me and which I believe —if you contemplate and tailor them within the context of your unique goals and experiences—will be useful for you too.

Determine why you may rely upon lists.

Are you short on time? Out of ideas? Struggling to get organized and get started? These are common challenges and it is normal to seek easy answers.

As I’ve said all along, there are good resources out there, including some terrific lists, but once you understand the reasons behind your reliance, you will be better able to address them in more enduring ways.

Seek information which focuses on you, which helps you find your own voice. This WTD article, while admittedly a list, does just that. It is a great example of deferring to your own wisdom, which is in the end, the best kind of advice.

Just the Facts…

Learn to find valuable, credible, reliable information which aligns with your needs and your goals. I am a writer and an early childhood advocate, and in the latter arena, the term “evidence-based practice” is bandied about quite a bit. Evidenced-based, not, “opinion-based.”

There is nothing wrong with reading and enjoying opinion pieces, but if you are reading something with an expectation of expertise and actionable information, you must be judicious. Take a moment to read the author bio and credentials, and evaluate critically that which is being presented.

Embrace your inner expert.

Learn how to build your own cadre of reliable information. Or, as I sometimes call it, “getting your nerd on”.

I do it (it’s really not a big leap for me), and it can be emboldening and fun. Rather than seeking that Holy Grail which contains all the answers for which you’ve thirsted, recognize that “truth” is not conferred upon us through the waving of that wand, and that a good deal of effort is required.

We are lifelong learners, and truth is never quite ours, but we move closest to it when we recognize it is a matter of the journey itself, which can sometimes be a bit of a grind. Writing, reading, networking, researching. But there is a fair bit of magic and community along the way. Keep notes as you go. Seek and consider a diversity of ideas and approaches. Commune with other literary spirits.

Consider the challenges for which you seek counsel and jot down how you would answer if someone else queried these things of you. I’ll bet you have some pretty good thoughts. A simple reminder that the best and most enduring ideas reside within you.

You are an expert in your own right. Embracing that, and sharing it with others, can be very rewarding.

So what do you think? Have I just committed anti-list sacrilege? Please comment and list a few thoughts. 

Daryl Rothman’s debut novel is being published by Booktrope in 2015. He has written for a variety of esteemed publications and his short story “Devil and the Blue Ghosts” won Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s prestigious New Writer’s Award Contest. Daryl is on Twitter, Linked In and Google + and he’d love you to drop in for a visit at his website. Daryl is not sure why he is speaking of himself in 3rd-person. And, like George, he likes his chicken spicy.