Making money online is not a mysterious, magical process. All it requires is doing the right things in the right order. But what are those things?
There are 4 phases to making money as a blogger:
- Reaching out
Parts of these steps overlap with each other, but let’s go through them one by one:
Step 1: UNDERSTANDING Your Place in the Blogosphere
The biggest mistake most bloggers and writers make when they are first starting is focusing on themselves and what they want to say.
Of course, you want to be a blogger because you have a burning desire to share your thoughts and words.
But you have more than one idea in your head that would likely make a good blog, several other ideas that would make a terrible blog, and sometimes the one idea that you think is MOST promising may not ACTUALLY be the most promising.
So how do you know?
How do you find out what niche you belong in, topics you should write about, audience you should reach out to?
That’s what the UNDERSTANDING phase is all about.
First, let’s start from the top online niches. Since the internet was invented a few decades ago, the most profitable online niches have become well-established and developed. You MIGHT be able to discover a lucrative niche no one else has tapped into, but that’s extremely unlikely.
Instead, your blog idea must fall in one of these 10 to have a hope of succeeding. The 10 niches are:
- The Arts
- Personal Development
- Personal Finance
- Fitness & Food
There are other niches of course, but these tend to be the biggest. (For a downloadable guide to the 10 niches, click here)
Once you have chosen your niche, start looking at the top blogs in that niche. Use a site like feedly.com to create a list of about 20 blogs and look at their most popular posts. What kind of topics do they write about? What do their readers respond best to?
You can also look at Amazon’s book categories. Besides being one of the largest online retailers in the world, Amazon is also a powerful search engine and market research tool.
Simply go on Amazon and look for the top books in your niche and then check out what categories they fall under.
If the category has 7-10,000 results, it’s worth considering.
Finally, check out other media that address your niche, such as podcasts and YouTube videos. Subscribe to a few channels and podcasts and listen to them during your commute.
As you listen, read through the comments on the top posts on the top influencers’ blogs, and scan the comments in the review section under best-selling Amazon books in your niche, make note of patterns and topic ideas that come up.
Based on your research, make a list of niches that you are interested in and have the motivation to stick with for a long time.
Until you have this step firmly completed, don’t move on to the others. The key to creating a successful online writing venture is to make sure you lay the foundation correctly from the beginning!
Step 2: CREATING Content
Once you have a solid idea about what topics are doing well online, and what your potential readership wants to know, you can start creating content.
First, though, you’ll need to set up your own home on the internet: your website.
Then, you’ll want to create a way for readers to connect with you. The best way to do this is to start a mailing list and invite people to join it by offering a special gift for subscribers.
If you haven’t done this before, a great mailing platform for beginning bloggers is MailerLite, which offers lifetime free access to all of its resources for lists of up to 1,000 subscribers.
Simply go to the MailerLite site and sign up for your free account, using your new email address which you’ve created with your site hosting company, based on your new domain.
Then take no more than 3-5 hours to design a brief but valuable gift (such as a checklist, case study, cheat sheet, how-to guide, or other helpful resource related to your site topic).
Once that is finished, use your gift to create a landing page with your mailing platform so that anyone who lands on your page will be able to input their email, and receive your gift. This is how you will build up your audience and readership, the most important component to making an income online.
You should also include the gift in a popup on your website so that no matter who visits your site, and which page they visit, they will have the opportunity to join your mailing list!
Now, it’s time to populate your site by writing 3-5 high quality posts for your blog.
Here’s the kicker:
DON’T start by writing what you want to write. Instead, use the research you did earlier to discover your niche to write what readers want to read and influencers want to share.
And don’t write too many posts just yet, not until you know that your existing articles are working, which means you’ll want to go through the next few steps in this road map before returning to this stage.
You want to write posts that will bring in traffic, which means you’ll want to look at the questions and problems that most often appear in the comments and reviews sections of popular blogs and Amazon books, find the most common, pressing issues, and address those with your posts.
Even better: find leaders in your niche who share other people’s works now and then through their social media, and write an article targeted specifically at them so you can ask them to share it with their audience.
If you do a good job of researching and writing a truly helpful article, and they do share it, you could greatly increase your credibility and traffic to your blog.
Step 3: REACHING OUT to Influencers
Now we come to the most important traffic building strategies.
The most successful bloggers don’t become that way on accident: they had help along the way from other bloggers, namely leaders and influencers.
But how do you get the attention of influencers?
You can start with guest blogging, that is, writing for free for other people’s blogs.
Guest blogging allows site hosts to rest a bit from content production, and gives you a chance to get your ideas in front of a larger, established audience.
To begin guest blogging, research top online publications that allow guest writers (see how active top blogs’ comment sections are, and whether or not posts are written by different writers who are NOT on the sites’ official team).
Then follow any posted guidelines they have, or look for the site’s content editor and pitch 3 headlines of your best ideas, after doing enough research to make sure that you are pitching ideas that match the site’s purpose.
Another method is to write targeted posts that feature influencers or serve their audience better than other writers do, and then reach out to them to ask for shares.
Before doing that, however, make sure you deeply familiarize yourself with each influencer you are interested in connecting with. Follow them on social media, sign up to their email lists, look for ways to help them.
That way, when you request shares, it won’t come from out of the blue.
You’ll be able to phrase your request in a way that shows influencers you know them and their audience, and that you care. That will make it all the more likely that they WILL share your content with their audience.
Another thing you can do, if you’re feeling bold, is ask to interview your favorite influencers.
Not only can you use an interview as content on your site, and ask your interviewee to link to it, you can also start building a warm relationship with leaders in your niche, which is necessary if you want to go far in writing (and in life).
Step 4: CONVERTING Readers Into Customers
Now we come to the final step: turning your writing into wealth! If you’ve done everything you were supposed to, you should have a significant number of readers on your mailing list (at minimum 500-1,000) and you’re ready to start earning an income from it!
But first things first.
Making money online is not just about writing well and making friends. It’s also about studying marketing. To begin doing this, see the recommended books in the sidebar and visit the Library for more.
Now, before you start creating and selling products and services, you’ll want to put in another round of market research.
This time, survey your own list and ask them what they are struggling with. Don’t ask them what kind of products they want, rather, ask what their biggest struggles are. And then YOU come up with a solution (if people knew the solutions to their problems, they wouldn’t have those problems in the first place, after all).
Once you have this information, you can consider whether you want to monetize your list by using affiliate marketing (selling other people’s products/services at a commission), creating your own product or service, or offering coaching over the phone to teach people how to achieve the outcome they want.
Remember: the key is not to focus on the product itself, but on the RESULT your readers want to achieve.
If you get this right, you will be able to avoid the biggest mistake many beginners make when they begin monetizing their writing. But this process may take several iterations. You probably won’t strike the perfect monetization method in the beginning, but with continual learning and modification of your strategy, you will find your way in time!
How to Put This All Into Practice
That, in a nutshell, is how to turn your blogging into bucks, even if you are a beginner.
But the key is not just to read all of this information and do nothing about it. Instead, come up with a system, a schedule for completing the steps in order.
You want to have alternating days/weeks/months of work and rest to avoid burnout and to make sure you get done what you need to get done.
For example, it helps to have both focus days and fluff days. During focus days, you work on a large multi-hour project. During fluff days, you answer emails and take care of the other necessary but smaller miscellaneous tasks.
As for the four phases, below are suggested schedules to get you through each one in a timely manner:
While you are working through the Understanding Phase,
- Spend 30-60 minutes per day perusing blogs and Amazon books in your niche
- During commutes or whenever you have a spare moment: listen to audio content such as podcasts
In the Creating Phase,
- Take a day to set up your website with your own hosting company, download WordPress, and sign up for your email marketing account
- And spend no more than 5 hours creating your first gift to invite people to join your mailing list, and create a landing page using your email marketing service
- Take 2-3 weeks to write your first 3 posts, using best-practice writing strategies
- Then take some time off to focus on the next two phases. When they are complete, return to this phase and write more posts, approximately one per month.
During the Reaching Out Phase,
- 30 min/day: Continue to research top blogs and read the comments, making notes about the most pressing topics and questions
- Spend 1 hour per day researching, pitching, and writing guest posts and/or articles featuring your target influencers.
- When the posts are ready, send out requests for shares to your chosen influencers.
In the last phase of Converting, when you have at least 500-1,000 subscribers:
- Send out a quick email to your list, asking readers what problems they are struggling with the most
- Look into affiliate marketing, product creation, and coaching and decide which strategy you want to consider first
- Coaching is often the most straightforward method to begin with. Offer to help your readers solve a pressing problem with a 30-minute or hour-long coaching call and set up a simple sales page and payment processor (Paypal is the most common). While you help your clients with their issue, you are simultaneously understanding more about the problem you want to help all your readers solve.
The Bottom Line
Make sure that you write all of these steps in your calendar. Don’t forget a step or phase, or the entire process won’t work.
And that would be a huge pity.
You have a lot to offer the world: your ideas, your experiences, your words.
Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say. And it’s up to you to make sure that you do the work to reach them.
So get out your calendar and begin. Right now. Don’t wait for weeks, months, or years to go by. The sooner you start, the sooner you will see results.
For your own sake, and the sake of your future readers, get going! You can do this 🙂
A Final Note
If you want more details and personal guidance on how to execute each of these steps, check out the Successful Writer course. This course dives deep into how to write great posts, reach out to influencers properly, and make money from your writing: