How to make Money from Blog (75+ New Ways 2019)
This blog explains the 75+ New Ways to make Money from Blog in 2019. And also explains how to rank higher in Google Indexing by creating great content and keywords.
Once you’ve got a nice writing habit, you’ve got to figure out what it is people want to read. You can do this by being obsessed with helping your audience, being personal, bleeding on the first line, and sticking to what has worked in the past.
There are three main platforms for blogging: Medium, Squarespace, and WordPress. Building your email list is a huge part of your blogging success. Learn from my mistakes and start building your list early on.
You can rank easily on google by creating great content that includes keywords your audience is searching for and that your competitors are not doing the best job of writing about. Guest blogging is an amazing way to grow your email list and get in front of large audiences.
There are several ways to monetize your blog: video courses, affiliate sales, ads, and self-publishing. There’s no better time to start your blog. It’s a fun and rewarding journey, and I want that for you. This book is filled with plenty of information that will send you on your way to having a successful blog. So get going!
Set your priorities and accept the consequences
What’s most important to you? What are you willing to make sacrifices for?
For me, it’s been personal freedom. Having control over my time and my thoughts take priority. In order to achieve that, I was willing to sacrifice conformity to the traditional career path, television, and more.
Keep in mind that what’s important to me may be different to you or anyone else; there is no “one size fits all”. And that’s actually been one of my biggest challenges.
I’ve gone down a different path from everyone else. I haven’t done what anyone expected, and it’s been hard. I’ve only realized this recently that it’s caused me a lot of stress. It’s not always easy.
Information marketing is not a traditional startup or small business category, and it certainly does not lead to a traditional career. It’s a nonconformist path. Most people don’t even understand what I do.
Start early and battle through
When I was just getting started, I had read a lot of blog posts about making thousands of dollars per month in automated income. “This should be easy,” I thought.
If I just put in a little work and followed the step-by-step processes, I’d be rich. Sometimes I wish I could be that naive again, just for the optimism that it brings.
This was far from the truth. Not only did it take hard work, but it took a measure of patience.
I had started blogging while I still had a full-time job. Several months went by and I didn’t see any progress. It had been over a year before I started seeing consistent traffic to my blog and significant amounts of money.
Now, I’ll admit. When I was just getting started, I’d read a line like that and think, “Ah, it’s okay. One year isn’t that long.” But it is.
Take a moment right now and think about what you were doing one year ago. Think about blogging once a week fifty times and barely seeing any results.
Picture yourself spending three hours writing a post, another hour editing it, and another hour marketing it. The next day you wake up with single digit view and zero comments. Now imagine this happening over and over again for an entire year.
When your mind is on the final result, it’s easy to overlook the time that it will take to get there. I’m telling you, It’s longer than you may realize.
Over time it got easier, but only because I stuck with it. I stopped worrying about the end result and pushed through. I wrote a blog post after blog post and developed a passion for writing. It became fun. It was like a game.
I checked my computer every day, which rendered the same results. Few, if any, views on my blog posts. It took months for me to see consistent traffic. But eventually, views and comments started to trickle in.
It became easier for me after pushing through. If I hadn't had fun with it and persisted, I would have never gotten the results I wanted.
All the content you will ever create is a valuable asset. The links you build will incrementally increase your traffic. This will be covered in depth later on in this book. For now, you need to get started as soon as possible.
So many people are held back from starting, either by constantly wanting to learn more, fear of failure, or fear of nonconformity. Once you do start, don’t let the million little hurdles along the way let you quit. Don’t worry about the end result and when it’s going to come. Instead, start writing and see if you enjoy it.
Keep it simple and learn by doing
In this day and age, there’s so much fluff out there about how to make money online and how to build a passive income business. It can get extremely overwhelming: affiliate marketing, e-mail autoresponders, Google Ads, SEO, retargeting, blah blah blah.
There’s a lot. But, don’t worry too much about the advanced stuff. Don’t learn everything under the sun. It can overwhelm you and you don’t need to know everything.
The most essential things you need to do are create a digital product that provides value to people and finds a channel for acquiring customers. You can forget about just about anything that doesn’t contribute to one of those two things.
The rest is just distractions. So, at some point, you need to stop learning and start doing. You’re going to learn a lot along the way anyway.
I’ve made a crazy amount of mistakes along the way, but mistakes are inevitable. And when you make mistakes, you learn. The harsh reality is that even if you execute perfectly, it won’t always work out.
I’ve spent hours and hours on posts that barely got any views. Other times, a post that I spent 20 minutes on blows up. Learn as you go. Get stuff out there and see what works. You can read about new concepts and ideas all you want, but by not doing anything, you get nowhere.
How To Become a Writing Machine
Hitting Publish & Accountability
Writing is a core competency of any successful blogger. I sell my writing as ebooks. I then write blog posts to market the ebooks. I formed the habit of writing by forcing myself to hit publish when I was just getting started, even when I went through slumps.
Even if I wasn’t proud of it, I hit publish. Even if I felt like the post was confusing, I still hit publish. Too tired to write a conclusion? I hit publish anyway.
Writing simply requires opening your laptop and moving your fingers. I’ve done it a million times before for everything from sending emails to searching on Google.
The physical acts of so many healthy, productive habits are so, so easy, but we build them up into these monumental leaps in our head. Writing is one of them. I had been trying to start and maintain a writing habit for about two years.
The tyranny all came to an end when I tried this one simple strategy. A strategy that I had heard about a million times before but didn’t bother to try…
I got an accountability partner to call me every day to make sure I publish something. Accountability works because it adds social pressure to otherwise self-directed work. This can be especially valuable to who don’t have partners or a boss to report to every day.
Accountability partners help each other implement and maintain their commitments and desired habits by tracking each other’s progress.
When I sit on my couch deciding whether to write, thinking about the irrational fear over putting my butt in the chair, opening my laptop, and moving my fingers, I think about having to tell my accountability partner that I failed. It’s a lot easier to let yourself down than it is to let someone else down.
To find an accountability partner, you could try asking friends who are into personal development or posting in relevant Facebook groups. I met my partner through an entrepreneurship group we’re both members of.
We try to call each other every day since we’re both working on daily habits. Just for a quick five-minute check-in. If we’re not able to connect by phone, we just share our output via Facebook messenger. I definitely recommend daily check-ins, and via phone, if you can.
Accountability partners can be extremely helpful, and I’m probably not the first person to tell you that. So give it a try and see if it helps you make those habits stick like it has for me. It can especially be useful when you’re starting a big venture like a blog, so I highly suggest it.
Finding Time To Write
It’s not always easy to make time to write. For me, this is how I get it done. I wake up at 6 am. I do some light stretching and breathing. I write down 10 ideas. Then I write.
I don’t always publish these articles on my site, or even share them with my email subscribers. Sometimes I put them on Medium, Quora, etc. I want to maintain the quality of my site so that my subscribers would only get my best.
The point of publishing every day is to get in the habit of writing, see what gets a reaction, and build up a war chest of content.
I was a horrible writer when I first started. I’m still not the best writer. I’m probably about average at best. I had hired editors to help turn my chicken scratch into something more engaging. But, my writing has gotten better and can only continue improving.
The best way to learn how to write is to read and write to yourself. Find someone you can model. For me, I like to model my writing styles off of James Altucher and Neil Patel. James writes extremely personal stories and publishes almost every day. He’s also not afraid of being controversial. Neil posts highly detailed educational posts.
I highly suggest finding some writers to base your style off of. Read their stuff, get used to their voice and style, then, start writing. It’s okay if you’re not good right now. Like I mentioned before, learn by doing. You will get better.
The Truth About Finding Time To Write
Making blogging a priority means I had to trim a lot of the fat from my life. I had to get rid of what I can live without, in order to pursue what I want.
“How do you find time to write? How do you find time to do anything in your life?”
If you’re not willing to cut out even a few extras from your life, you won’t be able to make writing the priority it needs to be. So...do the work!
How To Get Better At Writing
In 2014, I read a popular book about writing. It was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Once I start a book, I feel obligated to finish it, so I’ve almost finished every single book that I’ve ever started, which makes it all the more of a surprise that I couldn’t finish this book.
In this new paradigm called “The Internet”, content marketing and blogging is proving to be more effective than traditional advertising methods, and copywriting is replacing sales and business development divisions, thus making writing an indispensable skill to have.
To be successful as a writer, you have to write well (surprise, surprise!). It would seem that hitting the publish button every day would lead to lower quality writing, which would be counter-productive to your goal of being a successful writer.
However, hitting the publish button every day has been one of the most effective ways for me to improve the quality of my writing. The secret to great writing is not going to student debt inducing college or reading some narcissistic and overly stylistic book about writing, it’s simply reading and writing.
Learn by practicing. “Doing” is one of the best ways to learn anything. That has been my experience, not just with writing, but with startups and standup comedy alike. And if you’re wondering, there is no footage of my one and only stand up comedy show ever. Yes, it was that bad...
Studying and modeling the greats has been the next most effective way for me to become a better writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and standup comedian. At the end of the day, while I’m not the best writer in the world, I’m better than I was a year ago.
Hell, I’m better than I was last week. I was horrendous when I started, but what helped me the most has been writing. That’s why I’m hitting the publish button every day...
Reading has also helped me to become a better writer. Why? Because I’m exposed to new words, new styles, and new descriptions. By reading on sites such as Medium, Quora, and my favorite blogs, I’m able to gain inspiration and new methods, some of which I use in my own writing. Plus, it gives me new ideas for my own stuff.
Great musicians and songwriters listen to music, so if you want to be a writer, you should start reading. You’re already reading this book, so you’re off to a good start!
Getting Over Writer’s Block
Have you ever watched a movie where the villain says something like “You can run, but you can’t hide” and wonder what the hell that means?
Well, it applies to writer’s block, because you can’t hide from it. You can’t really run from it either, the best thing you can do it learn how to overcome it. Experiencing the writer’s block used to drive me crazy.
As a blogger and self-published author, writing is my lifeblood. I always have several blog posts and books in the draft and more ideas in the pipeline.
However, often times my biggest trouble is simply putting my butt in the chair, my fingers on the keys, and replacing the blank page and blinking cursor with my thoughts.
Since later 2014, I’ve been somewhat of a content creating the machine. I was cranking out a book about once every month and a half. I even wrote a book about how to Write a Book in 10 days that I wrote in just (you guessed it!) 10 days. But, I wasn’t always like this.
When I started blogging, I struggled just to write a single post. I would procrastinate and make up any excuse NOT to blog.
My solution? I forced myself to write something every day. This is my best strategy for overcoming procrastination. Set yourself a schedule and just do it.
I started doing this the day I decided to take my blog seriously, and it’ll continue to be that way until my fingers can’t move anymore. Every day, I’ll write about whatever my mind is most fixated on.
It could be an interesting conversation I had, something I’ve learned recently, a strategy or tactic I’ve been using, or an opinion I have about a current event.
Whenever I go a few days without writing, it gets harder and harder to do. It reminds me that I need to go back to writing every day. Writing is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy.
When I was publishing a blog post every day, some of my posts were just a couple of sentences long. The goal was not to attract a huge audience; it was simply to get myself into the habit of generating ideas and removing any filters that prevented me from publishing.
The goal is not to boost SEO or get a million email subscribers, it’s simply to hit the publish button every day. I continued doing this until I could trust myself to create awesome content on a weekly basis. If you’ve always wanted to start blogging, I would recommend forcing yourself to write and publish something every day. That’s what worked for me.
Starting a blog from scratch is like starting a new exercise regimen: you need to build up the muscle, ability, flexibility, etc. in order to get yourself in writing shape. From there, the main focus goes to maintaining your results.
After I got in the habit of publishing something every day, I started writing longer and more valuable posts. I no longer needed to force myself to write every day because I could trust myself to publish a valuable post once per week.
Whenever I feel writer’s block creeping up on me, I always go back to basics and force myself to hit the publish button. Though there are definitely days I don’t want to.
I can’t even count how many days there have been when I was sure that the post was horrible, lacked clarity, and needed more work, but I hit publish anyway.
These were posts that I wouldn’t send to my email list, or promote them all over the interwebs - but I just hit the publish button. Once it was posted, it’s out there. No turning back. Time to focus on the next post.
Don’t write for everyone
A famous book called “Guest Blogging Master Class” that I don’t think a lot of people will read. There are a few books on guest blogging on Amazon and they are really not doing well. It’s not a very marketable topic.
Guest blogging is not a topic that ranks high on Amazon - it isn’t sensationalized, nor does the topic tend to reach the “best seller” list on the site. But I published a book about it anyway.
This particular blog was not written for the mass populace, but to help a select group of people.
Many people get caught up trying to write for everybody. Try as you might, you can never make everyone happy or interested in any endeavor you embark on - better to give the most value you can for a few than to give next to nothing for the many.
Don’t let yourself make excuses for not writing about a topic. “Someone else has already written about this.” “I’m not an expert.”
These are symptoms of a larger problem of trying to write for everyone. Don’t think too much, because overthinking only takes time away from writing. The Internet is a big place and there are a helluva lot of people out there.
Try to write to everyone and you risk writing for no one.
Another great strategy is just to pretend like you are writing to one person. Pretend as if you are answering a question you received from someone or a mistake you see a lot of people making. Then, just write as if you are sending an email to a good friend who is extremely interested in the topic.
Be clear, precise, but add personality to it. Remember that you are helping them, so don’t hold back. Writing for a lot of people can be scary, but when you write for one person, it makes it easier. Most people will read your posts all alone anyways, so it should read like a personal message.
How to Triple Your Writing Speed Using Transcription
I know it may be hard to think about now, but a year or two from now, your blog may be so successful that it'll make sense for you to hire writers. Though I would not recommend outsourcing your writing from the start.
This is especially so if your core offering is your writing. You want to be able to understand what good writing is so you don’t settle for anything less from your freelance writers.
A cheaper but still convenient tip is to use transcription. There are many instances where you can benefit from writing more content. Many people have great book and blog post ideas but can’t seem to start getting their thoughts on the page.
They can talk about the topics for hours on end, but when they go to turn thoughts into words, it all seems to disappear. They can’t get it on the page..
I’m regularly in the same boat. Fortunately, I have found a great antidote: transcription.
Some things are easier to rant about verbally than they are to write. Most people can't write as fast as they think so it can be hard to keep up.
For recording software, I use Audacity if I’m on my computer, or the Voice Memos app on my iPhone if I’m on the go. The mobile app allows me to capture thoughts while I’m out and about and away from my computer, and record it while I’m walking to the subway.
Other times I’d be extremely excited and I’d get an idea, but I didn’t have time to sit down and write about it because I was on the way to meeting a client.
So, I’d spend five or ten minutes talking to myself on my phone. Did I feel like a crazy person? A little bit, but it was the only way to get the ideas out while they were fresh in my mind.
I tried dictation software before, but it was more trouble than it’s worth. I tried
Dragon dictation software, but it wasn’t accurate and required too much editing. Sometimes the stuff it spat back at me was confusing and hard to follow. After I’ve recorded everything I want to cover, I send it to my virtual assistant to transcribe.
I would then send the transcription to my editor, along with some guidance, to turn it into a functional blog post. A few things would need to be rephrased to read better in the written word.
The final step is to proofread and do final edits
...And boom I have a blog post, without all the tyranny of forcing myself to write. I recommend this strategy if you’re having trouble getting started or finding the time to write, or for topics that are more personal or story oriented.
If your recording comes out disorganized or incoherent, you can reorganize and edit after the fact, which is easier than the initial leap of getting words on the page. Or you can hire an editor. However, I’ve found my transcriptions come out well because it sounds more conversational, which is a style that I found works well for me.
Doing transcriptions also helps me become a better communicator. I’m more careful with my word choice, and I make sure not to be repetitive. It helps me write like I talk and then talk like I write, which is a good thing.
If you’re a pro at ranting, you can turn recordings into a podcast and get even more leverage. Even these can take up only ten minutes of your time. It’s not necessarily easy to excuse yourself from a lunch meeting to go outside and record yourself. But, if you really want to make it work, you need to make it a priority and find the time to do these things.
Sure, there are tons of people talking about the best strategies to start a blog and monetize it, but that’s not all you need to build a profitable blog. The hardest part is simply getting started. If you can’t get started and stick with it, then you’ll never make money or achieve your goals.
When it comes to creating content, your strategies will evolve and improve over time. It’s okay if you’re not a strong writer early on. The best way to get better is by practicing. Also, building a habit of writing is just as important. You’re never going to find the time for writing, you need to make time for it.
If you’ve got the money to know what good writing looks like, you can hire freelancers to write for you. Or, you can use transcription as a way to write more if you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and type.
How To Create Content That People Want To Read
When I first got over writer’s block, I was spending a lot of time creating what I thought was valuable content. I was promoting my writing and at best, only getting a hundred visitors to my blog for each post. No one cared about what I was writing.
What was I doing wrong? I realized my content wasn’t valuable. I enjoyed blogging, but, contrary to the articles and books I had read, I wasn’t getting any emails or comments. I felt like no one cared about what I had to say.
I was writing valuable content and promoting each article, but received only a hundred visitors per post. I only had free time on nights and weekends and I didn't want to waste it doing so much extra work when it provided meager results I didn't have the time to take my posts from being good to great.
Despite my Google Analytics showing little signs of hope, I was determined not to quit.
What I noticed though, was that I wasn't the only one out there blogging - there was a lot of competition. If I was going to compete, I had to figure out how to come up with consistently amazing content. Once I did, I started seeing the results that made looking at my Google Analytics a little less depressing. Here's what I'm doing now…
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Bleed on the First Line
Now more than ever, we, as consumers, have short attention spans. Mobile technology and increasingly efficient computers have made us driven to find the next article, video, or item to give that would give us gratification.
What people choose to read largely depends on having an enticing headline (hence the rise of the clickbait titles) and an even better introduction that inspires the reader to keep reading.
The important truth is that, in order to get any attention online, we need to tell them why they should give us any time. And do this immediately, lest they divert their attention to someone else.
How is this done? I've noticed that many writers tend to make their first line a shocker.
I don't know about you, but this caught my attention. How many fathers would openly admit to throwing aside responsibility?
Furthermore, how many kids could be convinced to watch the same adult television show for 8 straight hours? I had to find out, which is to say, I kept reading. How did I capture your attention at the beginning of this piece?
I told you a little bit of my own story to let you know that I've been where you are. Hopefully, me baring all to you was enough to get you hooked enough to read on.
Other than a great intro, there's more to it when it comes to what compels us to keep reading. I've talked before about how my blog posts used to be boring.
They were informative and provided the reader with value, but they were a drag to read. Dry and not enjoyable. As I became more involved with blogging and content marketing, I became inspired by writers like James Altucher and Mark Manson.
How are they able to hook their readers into being so invested in a piece? I found that the best way to do this is to tell stories.
The facts become commoditized. Your personal stories can never be commoditized.
In order to bring your reader value through your post, you want to give them something they aren't getting with just with the information, and that's authenticity. This can be easily done by bringing your memories and experiences from similar instances into the post.
Altucher uses his writing as an opportunity not only to provide his writers with valuable advice but to tell them something from his own life, which intimately connects him with his readers and illustrates his learnings.
In "Don't Forget to Do This When You Deliver Value," Altucher uses an entire post to tell a funny story about how his intentions were misinterpreted. While he intended to give a man's children advice on how to play chess, he approached the situation all wrong. Even though he’s a chess master, the man didn’t know that, so the man just saw him as a weird creepy guy.
He tried to help him, but it ended up being an incredibly awkward situation for everyone. In the post, he leaves his reader with the mental note- always ensure to establish your authority from the get-go.
I try to do this with each of my books and blog posts too, always making sure to relate what I'm teaching the reader to my own experience. Authenticity is so scarce in our society, which means readers really appreciate it when they find it in a piece... specifically from experience which allows you to show that you are just like them and know what you’re talking about.
What's important when it comes to a great blog post is providing value to your readers. Hook them in by creating an entertaining story, but make sure they get something useful out of it too. Don't just entertain; educate. If you don't provide real value, readers may feel they are getting a raw deal.
Get obsessed with helping your audience
Providing value is essential to any business. If you’re not providing value, then why would anyone pay you money?
Use customer development tactics to figure out what your audience’s problems are. Validate the demand for your ideas and get feedback on your content. Go big. Be more specific, more transparent, and more authentic. This will all develop naturally as you produce more content and get into the swing of it.
Tell stories. Humans are naturally drawn to stories. Don’t be afraid to share your personal experience and provide some takeaways from real life experiences.
Providing value to people is crucial to success in any business – passive income, software, service, or otherwise. The best way to provide value is to understand what your audience is looking for, and then become obsessed with helping them find it. I learned this the hard way, after spending hours and hours on a video course on a topic that people had little demand for.
A format like a Boss
Just because you're writing a lengthy blog post which delivers value to your audience, doesn't mean you have to serve up a big steaming block of words. Use different elements to break up your blog post to give the reader's eyes a break and their brain the time to absorb the information they're reading.
One great way to do this is with pictures. Images are particularly helpful if they contain relevant data like graphs or tables. It's not just because typewriters make me nostalgic or I have a soft spot for cute animals with big ears.
Another element to use to break up your blog post is subheadings. These act as signposts, helping to break down the article and making it less intimidating for the reader. This way, when a reader approaches a blog post, they see several short sections waiting to be read, rather than one big block of nonnavigable text.
Finally, it's always a great idea to put key ideas throughout your post in bold. Not only does this help ensure that those who are just skimming your blog still retain the intended value of the post, but it also helps to bring together your key takeaways. The Most Important Blogging Metric You Aren’t
I wish I could just use boring titles like “Blogging Advice” or “Cool Blogging Metrics.” However, there are two harsh realities that anyone who’s done a lot of content marketing probably already knows...
First, blogging is getting more competitive every day. Readers have a variety of choices of where to focus their attention, but most of it is dry and unoriginal.
Second, most people make decisions based on emotions rather than facts. While you, as a blogger, are probably quite intelligent and rational, the reality is, most people are not. But the point of this is that clicks are not the most important blogging metric. In fact, the metric that this post is about is the antithesis of measuring traffic.
As strategic and analytical thinkers, bloggers like to track anything and everything. But one of the most informative metrics of all is one of the easiest to track. The most important blogging metric that you probably aren’t tracking is:
How many emails you get from readers.
You’ve probably heard of metrics like “open rate” and “click-through rate”. But how many emails do you get back when you send those emails or publish your blog posts?
Here’s an even better metric: how many people take time out of their day to email you, even when you didn’t send them an email (the same one that was sent to thousands of other people), let alone ask them to reply?
You might be thinking, “how is getting more emails going to help me get more traffic? I just reached inbox zero and more emails are the last thing I need.”
Well, think about it this way…
Google, a large traffic source for many online businesses, ranks things that are valuable. And they are getting better at it every day.
Google is not going to start tracking how many emails you get. If you are getting emails, it is a sign you are providing value to someone, and if you are providing value, it’s Google’s job to provide it to searchers.
Someone who invests time in writing you an unprompted email, even a short one, indicates that they believe you are worth the time to respond - and time is far from a meager investment. When a reader is invested, you have a greater chance of earning money!
Thinking beyond SEO, people buy from people they know, like, and trust. If they were so moved that they wrote you an email…it’s probably an indication that you have engaged your reader and provided value...and that’s an indication that you are going to be making some money!
The bottom line is this: as blogging gets more competitive, I keep trying harder to provide massive value to my readers. People care most about products and services that they are passionate about; most of the time this involves items that benefit them.
So, when people feel the need to write long, thoughtful emails to me, I know I’m on the right track. Sometimes the best way to get emails from people is by niching down. Remember, if you try to write for everybody, you may end up writing for nobody.
So you know how to get started and how to form the habit of writing, but where should you be blogging? One of the most important questions I get asked from beginner bloggers is, “Where do I start?
Truthfully, there are thousands of places you can be blogging. But, for simplicity, I’m going to cover the three easiest and most popular platforms to publish on. Those are Medium, WordPress, and Squarespace.
If you’re trying to get your content seen but you don’t want to build a new website on your own, then Medium is your new best friend.
What is Medium?
Medium is categorized as many things: a publisher, a blogging platform, a crowdsourced magazine, and a content management system. It’s a site dedicated to writers and readers. It has a huge audience, and all you need to do is sign up for a free account.
Why Use Medium?
Medium enables you to reach a new audience without building a site yourself. And there’s nothing stopping you. It’s free and anyone can publish a post.
In particular, Medium’s audience enjoys long-form, personal content. If you want to write personal stories, then it’s a great place to publish your work. It’s a lot like guest blogging, except you don’t need to pitch it to anyone. You can publish it in a matter of seconds.
People on Medium enjoy long-form, personal content. If this is your demographic, and the type of content you produce, you should be publishing there. Now, using Medium to blog has many benefits.
Wordpress is a popular place for a website and/or a blog. It’s great for SEO and other tools that are more advanced and complicated than simply hitting publish. It has a lot of features, but it’s not exactly easy to set up a site on your own.
You’ll have to invest some money into hosting, a web domain, and a theme (though there are many themes available for free). It doesn’t require coding skills, but it isn’t as easy to use as Squarespace or Medium.
Compared to Squarespace, Wordpress requires a little more knowledge to make your site look pretty, but you also have access to thousands of plugins which simplify the job for you.
If you’ve ever been on a website and noticed a pop-up ad, that’s a plugin. I also use a plugin that automatically tweets three of my blog posts a day. It’s pretty cool.
But sometimes you may have issues with them and it’s difficult and expensive to deal with WordPress support staff. I’ve used WordPress on my blog and I am extremely happy with it. It’s great, customizable, and also not too difficult to use.
As of September 2015, there are over 1.8 million websites powered by Squarespace. And it’s only growing.
Squarespace is known for its user-friendly design platform. You can build an entire site on Squarespace without doing any coding. While this is nice and simple, it comes with some short sides.
While it’s easier to customize a lot of the layouts and functionalities, if you find that you want something unique and intricate, it will involve some coding and third-party software.
It simple to use, just like iMovie, Instagram, or other use friendly apps. But, since it’s so user-friendly, it has its limitations. If you want something that it doesn’t offer, it’s very difficult to get.
How to Build Your Email List
This has been the biggest mistake I’ve made, so take notes here. And make sure to get this in place before you start driving traffic to your blog, or even attempt to monetize it.
Without an email list, you end up working hard for traffic but losing the potential benefit. Think about how many websites you’ve landed on in the week. Too many to remember, right? If you write one post that goes viral, even if it gets a million shares, no one is going to remember you the following week.
Prior to capturing email addresses, the lifetime value of one of my visitors was pretty low. They come to my site, maybe they buy a book or two, and then never again do they give me money, or come back to my site, and never again am I able to provide them significant value.
Generating traffic without email marketing is like filling a leaky bucket with water. You have no control over who stays in and who leaves for good. Not exactly a great business model.
Acquiring email subscribers means that you can continue the engagement. Once you have their email addresses, you can maintain a relationship over time. You can continue to provide value, and you have a ready and engaged audience to promote your products to. Building an email list takes time, so you need to be patient. It’s not easy, and you’ll need to plan out your sales funnel.
At times it may even take away from a paid product and mean less money in the short run. But, assuming you are smart enough to provide upsells to your audience, having an email list will increase the average customer’s lifetime value, and make it worth it in the long run.
It sounds silly, but having an email list is more valuable in the long term than making a few bucks in the short term. I didn’t realize this until two years after I started blogging!
How To Get Free Traffic From Google
There are two ways I use keyword research. First, to determine what kind of content people have demand for. Second, to determine how I can optimize a post that I have validated demand for through other means.
Here’s an example of the latter.
Once, I wrote a post about how to find freelance writers to solve a problem for myself, a client, and a few others. I wanted to make sure the post had the best opportunity to show up on Google when someone is searching for content to solve this problem.
To increase my chances of obtaining traffic from search engines, I incorporated the words and phrases that people are searching for (into my title, content, headings, etc., wherever possible) while balancing quality.
The first thing to do was to determine what people are actually searching for.
I started by simply brainstorming a list of words and phrases that someone might use if they were looking for articles on how to find freelance writers. Here were the highest volume terms that were relevant:
I was surprised the related search terms are relatively low volume, particularly given the interest I had interpreted through informal customer development. It was also surprising how high the bids are/how competitive they are.
Therefore, I did not expect this post to gain much traffic through Google because there is relatively low search volume and there is extremely high competition, so the traffic is likely to be gained by the sites paying for ads, as well as high PageRank sites.
If you search “hire freelance writers” on Google you will see ads (from large/ well-funded companies), followed by a couple of high page ranking sites, and then some relevant blog posts.
I like targeting "long-tail" keywords, words/phrases with low search volume because they're usually easier to increase my site ranking. But, given the competition, this case would be an exception.
Now, SEO is not my only strategy for acquiring traffic. I also acquire traffic through social, guest blogging, and my email list. Therefore, I aim to create extremely high-value content that solves a problem and delivers value to an audience, even if only a small audience. Quality can make accidental viewers into followers.
So, while I probably wouldn’t have written this post if my only goal was to get traffic through Google, it could also increase my chances of being found on Google. Thus, I chose "hire freelance writers" as the target keyword and incorporated it in the title and where appropriate in the text.
This is how I back into SEO. I do not sacrifice content quality for SEO, nor do I use keyword research as my only strategy for determining what to write about. But I do optimize each post I write as gaining site traffic does not supersede the quality of work I put out.
Reach Massive Audiences by Guest Blogging
I once thought that if I just wrote great content, people would somehow find my site and return on their own accord to read some more of my work on a regular basis. The truth was harsh: no one cared about me. No one knew about me - even if they did, there was no way to ensure they would care about me.
Other sites were getting millions of views. They had been at it for years, building up their email list, social following, and search ranking.
Should I just quit this whole blogging thing? How can I compete with these monsters? If I listened to my Google Analytics account I would have.
A thought dawned on me: what if I stopped seeing them as my competitors? A large number of my target audience was already reading these blogs. If I can get myself onto those sites, I’d be presented to my ideal readers. I wouldn’t have to battle with the “big names” for their attention if I was working alongside them.
Enter: Guest Blogging, during which I basically get free advertising. The bigger names did all of the heavy liftings in promoting and gaining viewers. All I had to do was send emails.
Guest blogging is a mutually beneficial partnership where you write engaging blog articles and relevant websites whom you’ve approached (or vice versa if you’re lucky) publish them.
The sites get high-quality content - which has the long-term benefit, in terms of SEO - and you receive traffic through the articles linking back to your site.
Getting attention on the Internet today is harder than ever. It is a virtual democracy, where everyone gets a chance to be seen...if you can fight your way to the foreground. Guest blogging is a wonderful shortcut to getting traffic, email subscribers, and increasing one’s search ranking.
Since my early days, which I have dubbed “the dark days,” I’ve been published dozens of times on a variety of sites. My email list and PageRank rose, thanks to the backlinks, and now when I listen to my Google Analytics it sings a new tune: to keep pressing onward.
There’s more than just blogging
If you want to make money off of your blog then you’ll have to do more than simply publish blog posts. When you write in order to reach an audience and provide value, then you will get some sort of compensation in return.
Or, maybe you want to write to connect with some heavy hitters and build up a more professional network. Either way, blogging isn’t the only platform you should use for your content.
If you are writing in hopes of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, then this section doesn’t apply to you. If you are writing for business purposes, then here are a few quick things to keep in mind.
You can test all these channels before committing a significant amount of resources to anyone. Try a few pieces of content first, see if they get results, then consider doubling down. You can decide where to publish based on what your skills are. For example, if you’re good on camera, YouTube might be a good channel for you.
If you are not so good at speaking on camera, but you’re a good designer, Slideshare might be for you. Find the channel where you have a competitive advantage and can really stand out from your competition.
Find your competitive advantage
I suck on camera and I hate video editing. I enjoy writing and am slowly getting better at it. My YouTube videos barely get any views and I’m seeing better results through my books than my video courses.
So, test what channels and formats are going to work for you. Go where your audience is. Go where there’s not too much competition, and where your skills are. If you love talking, then don’t force yourself to write.
If you want to market your blog, and/or if blogging is not working for you, then it’s a good idea to find another platform that fit your skill set and preference.
I tried self-hosting some books and courses but simply didn’t have a large enough email list or trusted brand to get the traffic and conversions I wanted. However, there’s a lot of opportunity in tapping into content networks with large user bases. This is similar to guest blogging as discussed above, just with other platforms.
While platforms like Amazon and Udemy take a commission and require you to sell your products for a lower price then you might on your own site, they help with the two hardest parts of almost any business: traffic and conversions.
The hardest part about information marketing is not creating the book or video course, it’s getting customers. And platforms like Amazon and Udemy, with their large networks of users and trusted brand, help with just that.
If you want to make money in any business, you need to be solving people’s problems. It’s hard to do that solely through a blog, but there are many other platforms out there that will help.
Create really valuable and personal content, then find a channel for getting traffic to it, such as guest blogging, or a platform like Amazon, or Udemy. There’s no better way to find out what works for you other than getting out there and giving it a try.
How to Make Your First $1k
Now that you’ve figured out your audience's pain points, built up a base of content and started building your email list, making your first dollar is just a step away. But that first step can seem harder than it really is.
The easiest way you can make money by doing anything is to provide value to people.
The two hardest parts of providing value to people are to figure out what’s of value to them and to get their attention.
Fortunately, if you’ve followed along so far, you’ve done both of those.
You have an audience, now you just need to sell them something.
What do you sell them? Well, you sell them what’s of value to them, of course. And you’ve already figured that out too!
There are a number of products and services you could offer to your audience in exchange for money.
Here’s a brief overview of some ways you can monetize your blog:
Affiliate links: Selling other people's’ products and getting a % of the sale
Ads: Pay per click ads or selling ad space on your site
Sponsored posts: If your blog is big enough, companies will pay you to write about their product and advertise it
Video courses: teach something to your audience and sell it on Udemy or on your site
Coaching: charge customers for group or personal sessions
I have made money through my blog in several different ways generating multiple income sources - but the one that’s been the most fruitful has been self-publishing books on Amazon. So that’s what I’m going to cover in this blog.
Why Self-Publish on Amazon?
Amazon has millions and millions of active shoppers, with their credit card information already stored, and the ability to buy with just one click. Self-publishing on Amazon is like putting an infinite number of your books in the center of the world’s largest bookstore.
It costs very little time and zero dollars to self-publish on Amazon. It’s incredibly easy to do.
The Internet makes it less necessary to have a high-priced broker like a publisher. If a publisher needs you then you don’t need a publisher, and if you need a publisher then the publisher doesn’t need you.
You already know plenty about internet marketing and can do it yourself. Once you’ve built your audience and mailing list by blogging and engaging on social media, then you won’t need a publisher because you will already have an audience. Therefore, you can keep 70% of the revenue instead of giving away 70% of the revenue!
The three hardest parts of writing are (1) figuring out what to write, (2) getting your thoughts into words, and (3) getting your words into a comprehensible form.
We’ve already discussed how to come up with content, and when it comes to writing a book, it’s really not all that different. You already have the content, you just need to take a few blog posts and edit it into a book format.
Overcoming Blogging Obstacles and Self-Limiting Beliefs
Below are a list of the most common fears and objections I hear people expressing about blogging and what I’ve experienced myself. First I will state the fear, and then I will provide my tips and advice for overcoming it.
Shyness: “I’m afraid to share my thoughts with the world.”
When I first started blogging, I would get a huge adrenaline rush every time I was about to hit publish. I would start second-guessing myself or be concerned about what the reaction from readers might be.
Anyone in the world could read my post! After I hit publish I would check back frequently for comments and to see what people were saying about it on social media.
After publishing more blog posts, the anxiety turned more towards excitement. I would be excited about my ideas to reach people and for the opportunities, it might present for myself.
Many writers, including me when I was first getting started, experience shyness over sharing their thoughts with the entire world. This was especially true when I was sharing my opinions or emotions. Don’t worry if you feel this way at first, you will start to get over it as your confidence grows.
My advice for overcoming the fear of vulnerability:
1. Start small. Try tweeting or posting a status update on Facebook or LinkedIn. You’ll notice your hands won’t get cut off. It will reduce your anxiety for future shares and help you start sharing more and more.
2. No one actually cares what you write. Most people won’t even notice if you don’t share it with them. If you write under a pen name, they most certainly won’t notice. People are always more concerned with their own self-images, and probably think a lot less about you than you think.
3. If anyone thinks less of me for self-publishing, I think less of them. If someone won’t hire me or work with me, I wouldn't want to work with them. It would clearly be a bad fit.
“I don’t have anything unique to write about.”
I hear from people all the time who think they don’t have anything unique to say. Well, it’s probably true that some people live extremely boring lives, but I would guess that if you’re reading this that you’re at least in the 60th percentile of interesting people and have something that you could write about.
My advice for overcoming the fear of not being unique:
You don’t have to be unique. In fact, competition can be a good thing. If competing books are doing well, it shows there is a demand for books on the topic. You don’t have to “beat” your competition to benefit from self-publishing.
Maybe a potential client finds you and then sees that you wrote a book and that helps boost their perception of you and leads to a sale.
In addition, many people will read multiple books on the same topic. Books are not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can benefit a little or you can benefit a lot, but it’s not binary.
We all have something to share. Share your stories and opinions. Those are always unique. Write a book while researching or learning about something you’re interested in. Or, if you have to, outsource the writing.
Fear of Failure: “What if no one buys my book?”
What if no one likes it? What if the book fails? What if all the time I put into my book is wasted? What will I tell my friends, family, and colleagues?
My advice for overcoming the fear of failure:
There’s always a risk of failure, but you can’t succeed if you don’t try. Accept that failure is a possibility, but don’t let it cripple you. If it was a guaranteed easy success, everyone would do it. Your ability to tolerate failure will enable you to seize opportunities that others scare away from.
Imposter’s Syndrome: “I’m not an ‘expert.’”
Many people think they need to be an “expert” in order to write a book on the topic. They think that they need to have years of experience and be one of the world’s best in the field. That may have been true during the old publishing era, but it’s certainly not true now.
My advice for overcoming expertise insecurity:
1. Part of the beauty of self-publishing is that you don’t need to be an expert at all. Anyone can do it! Self-publishing has lowered barriers. To get a publishing deal you have to be an “expert,” but anyone can, has, and will self-publish. Self-publishing is the new blogging.
2. As a “non-expert,” you can relate better to your audience. You may have more relation to the challenges your audience is likely to be experiencing, the questions they may have, and/or the way they might be thinking about them.
3. There must be some small component of the topic that you’re the best at. Expert is a relative term. I wrote a book on conducting customer development interviews, rather than about Lean Startup as a whole. This book is about how to start a blog and make money, rather than how to make a million dollars self-publishing.
Perfectionism: “It needs to be 110% perfect.”
Perfectionism holds many people back from publishing their book or even finishing a blog. Of course, your book should be valuable to readers, and as good as you can possibly make it, but it doesn’t need to be more than 100% perfect.
My advice for overcoming perfectionism:
1. Spending a year on something without knowing if people actually want it is insanely risky. Getting feedback as fast as possible gives you more time to iterate or spend time on other opportunities.
2. If the book is truly solving a need and delivering valuable information, readers probably won’t mind a few small typos. It does look unprofessional, but it wouldn’t completely deplete the value of your book.
3. It’s so easy to edit on Amazon. You just upload a book file and it takes about 12 hours to go live. You don’t even need to stop selling the existing version. If you realize you made a mistake, you can always edit it after you publish. You can even take the book down if it’s really that bad.
The Perfect Time to Make the Leap
I could fail at any time. Sales may stop. All my clients may end our projects. I have no idea if my business will succeed or fall flat.
I like to think I’m in control and know what’s going on, but the reality is, everything could collapse tomorrow. I have no idea if I will achieve my goals, ending up rich and successful.
I have no clue if I will fail, leaving me broke and desperate. People often ask me how to tell if it’s the right time to make the leap, quit their job, and work on their blog or new business full-time…
I started blogging while I was working full-time. I wrote on nights and weekends. Then I self-published a book on Amazon and a video course on Udemy.
I also took on some consulting projects to help with cash flow. I committed to hustling and learning as I go. On almost any career path, there is no certainty, but those who work hard and take risks are the ones that get "lucky."
The Time To Start
At some point, you have to put down the books, podcast, and blog posts, and start doing. It feels productive to learn. And there is so much information out there, you could do it all day every day for the rest of your life.
I’ve been there all too many times. I go to Quora and end up coming out of some rabbit hole three hours later forgetting why I was there in the first place. Learning is important and valuable. But time spent consuming is the time that could be spent building instead. To stop learning and start doing is against our biology and social conditioning.
Your biology doesn’t want you to do it because doing is riskier than learning and in the past taking risks could lead you to be banished from the tribe which would make it hard to survive.
But we no longer live in a tribal society. If you fail you will not be eaten by wolves.
The biggest example of too much learning and not enough doing is based on a belief that is deeply embedded and widely spread in our culture. In college, people spend four years, or more, and up to a quarter of a million dollars (or more) learning, before applying the skills and knowledge to the real world in a significant way.
Instead of spending more time learning...
Spend time doing. Work on a project. I wanted to learn how to hire freelance writers so I hired a freelance writer to write an article about hiring freelance writers. Meta, right?
Start a Medium account and write your first blog post. When you do learn…
Have a specific goal in mind. A specific question you want to be answered. Then either ask an expert you know, find the question on Quora, or search Google. Stop once you have your question answered and start doing. This advice to stop learning and start doing is coming from someone who creates content on a daily basis and makes a living doing so.
Where’s Your Blog?
You know how to type. You know how to use a word processor. You know how to manage your time, whether you believe it or not. You’ve done it for your job and your other interests and responsibilities haven’t you?
It’s incredibly easy to get a website up and running.
You probably even know enough about marketing and promotion.
If not, there are many blog posts to browse, YouTube videos and Kindle books out there, you can pretty much learn anything you need at the click of a mouse for little or no cost. But don’t just browse, look for specific information for specific problems as you run into them. And then get back to work.
You know about all the benefits of blogging. You have stuff you want to say:
funny stories, lessons learned, and insights gained.. So, it’s not the physical act of blogging that is holding you back. It’s not reaching out to get a guest post on a big site. It’s not the tactics. What is it then? Your mindset.
Instead of identifying your limiting beliefs, you keep learning more tactics.
Given the benefits, that the physical act is easy, and that you have the knowledge or can obtain it easily…acknowledge your irrationality, then make the best decision. You know what that decision is.