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The idea of working from home and being your own boss appeals to almost everyone. Yet, when it comes to finding work that lets you work independently, it can seem like an impossible dream. Unless you start a business, which may not be as liberating as it seems, you might think that you just won’t make a lot of money, or at least a salary that is similar to a regular “9 to 5” gig.
Fortunately, the Internet is there to prove you wrong. How? There is a viable career path that, when done properly, can set you up for a high return on your initial investment of time and money. In fact, it is a career path that could lead to multiple streams of income, all kinds of free goods or products, and perhaps even a bit of celebrity. As the title of this article already gave away the answer to “Just what is this seemingly magical career,” we can say that it is, of course, blogging.
And, yes, you can really blog as a full-blown career or as a lucrative “side gig”. The way it works is not just one uniform path, though, and as a blogger you can:
Let’s consider each of these options in a bit more depth to ensure you see how they may (or may not) fit into your goals.
Ask the experts and most might say that you don’t want to focus all of your attention and energy on the blog. As one professional blogger said, “Developing a successful blog has a lot to do with building relationships. That can include relationships with sponsors, affiliate partners, or simply other bloggers who will direct traffic to your blog. Be sure some of your time is spent on forums and other blogs (or whatever works for you) to build these relationships and your blog.”
And while that is entirely true, just consider what was written there. This blogger is saying that your work has to build up the blog, but it doesn’t say that you cannot just exclusively blog on your favorite or preferred topic.
Just look at the success stories of the highest paid fashion bloggers. They look at nothing but fashion and they use tools like Instagram to build an audience. They become so famous for their blogging that they can charge amazing sums for private ads or posts. Including one blogger who is paid up to $15k for a single post mentioning a brand or designer.
So, whether you are blogging as a hobby or as a profession, it can be all about your particular sphere. However, if you want to make that blog as lucrative as possible, you can do so by using the other tips.
There are two ways that blogs generate revenue from ads. They use PPC or CPM ads, or they sell private advertising space to sponsors and others.
PPC or pay per click ads are those sidebar and banner ads that are relevant to your readership, and it is usually Google AdSense that approaches a blog or makes those ads available to a blog. There is also the cost per 1k impressions ads, the CPM ads that pay you a set amount based on the number of unique views of your ads.
So, you can choose which one works best for you (getting paid when viewers click or getting paid for unique views) and start earning income that way. We also recommend you check out other options than Google, such as Infolinks or Media.net.
NOTE: Most of the ad sites mentioned also have referral programs. We don’t have enough time to go over this, potentially lucrative option, but when you can use referral links as a blogger, do so. Your job involves networking and if you recommend certain sites and services to fellow bloggers and publishers, it can lead to ongoing income.
You can also step outside of the advertising networks and use private ads. This would usually occur when an advertiser directly approaches you, or the reverse. You need to understand what your ad rates would be, and what space you are willing to sell. That might mean selling links, buttons or banners. You could wrap up ads nicely by simply crafting review or comparison blogs and embedding the ad in the text. Alternately, you can simply allow an advertiser to underwrite a single post or a series and insert text that lets readers know the series is sponsored by the advertiser.
NOTE: If you make a newsletter available for a site, it too can become a source of ad revenue. Sell spots in electronic newsletters as well as any content such as videos, vlogs or podcasts.
When you want to really blog as a career, you need to look at your affiliate marketing options. These two activities are made for one another. Affiliate marketing turns you into a “publisher” who gets a commission from every sale made by your “advertiser” or vendor if that sale comes via your link.
Affiliate marketing means you have unique links that identify any sale with a code assigned to you. Your advertiser then knows that it was your content that sent the buyer to the site and led to the sale. They reward you with a generous percentage of the sale. You can also just slap the affiliate link on your site in the form of an ad, and if the visitor clicks that link and makes a purchase, you get that same percentage.
The reason you may want to integrate affiliate marketing into the blogging is because it offers a tremendous range of opportunities. You never have to stick with a single vendor or advertiser and can create a lot of opportunity for yourself through affiliate programs such as the Amazon Affiliates that opens that company’s endless array of products to affiliate marketing.
NOTE: The way this works is simple – you write blogs that relate to, but don’t directly sell the products. Say you are a techie who loves to write about the latest gear for cars. You do a blog about GPS devices, rate the top five and make your affiliate link one of the highest rated, or even the best. You can also alert your social media followers about the blog, and drive sales and earnings.
Not only can you really blog as a career and use affiliate marketing, but you can go ahead and create all kinds of digital products of your own. While you can consistently advertise other company’s products or services via affiliate marketing, you can also make your own and sell them with blogs.
Perhaps you want to make a series of videos that offer tutorials or DIY steps. Maybe you are eager to write eBooks about your favorite topics, or you want to offer online courses and seminars. Maybe you created an app related to your industry. Whatever that digital product, you can go right ahead and sell it via your blog. Remember that it must be relevant to your readership or you destroy trust and risk losing fans and followers.
As one expert has said about this avenue, “A lot of bloggers make the mistake of assuming they are developing a product their readers need; listen to your readers first, and then create a digital product that will meet their needs.”
Another way to think about it is to consider your audiences’ “pain” and what you can do to solve it. Do they need an app to help them find their local XYZ supplier, store or outlet? Is there one? If not, make one!
Blogging shouldn’t be about the hard sell. Instead, your blog is going to attract readers because it has information, topics or data that is appealing, useful and interesting to them. Anything with “buy it now” embedded in the text is NOT going to attract a growing audience.
As an example, let’s say that your website features chalk paint and stencils. Your blogs would emphasize how-to, project ideas, interviews with artisans, and so on. The blogs would lure visitors to your site and they would be inspired by the content.
Keep in mind that your blog can have videos embedded in them, can feature podcasts and transcripts, and can use an array of infographics. The blog can also overlap with social media. So that chalk paint maker might have Pinterest board or Instagram with lots of ideas.
The goal is to make the visit to the content a sort of springboard to the website and/or sales page.
Though this might not work for all bloggers, there is always the option of using the blog as a monthly subscription. Your newsletter might also be the fee-based service, but you can also charge for access to your blog’s forums or specific pages. Remember though, for anyone to be willing to pay, the content you offer has to be very exclusive and not readily available. If someone can get the data for free with a little online digging, they are not likely to pay you for it. Build value into the fee-based content and your audience will appreciate it.
One of the most overlooked ways to really blog as a career and monetize your efforts is to use the blog as a main foundation for your professional credibility or expertise. As a simple example, the retired executive who writes about business turnaround or distressed business may quickly garner a large following of peers and others in the world of finance. That blog will be shared with many others, and soon, Google and the rest of the world will view that blogger as an expert and notable figure.
This can open the door to money making options such as giving a live seminar, selling consulting time, writing books, doing training days, and more. This is actually how a lot of the world’s most famous bloggers have made good on their efforts by doing real world gigs or even simply selling their branded and highly authoritative content.
If you are still unsure whether you can really blog as a career, just take a bit of time to do some brainstorming. What are the subjects of great interest to you? Does there seem to be any sort of gap in the content as you explore it on the Internet? Do you have a particular spin or take on that subject that might attract attention?
Take some time to look at the current lists of top blogs. For example, as of this writing, Google lists sites like Mashable, Lifehacker and Gizmodo at the top, but there are many others that clearly have just one to five people running the show. Look at the niches they cover. As an example, BudgetBytes and Overheard in New York are unusual blogs that take in a lot of readership and probably generate a lot of steady income to their makers.
Neither of the blogs is complex or overwhelming and might serve as good examples for anyone who wants to see if you can really blog as a career AND how to use most of the tips we covered here. As an example, BudgetBytes has an app, newsletter, popular social media channels, and a subtle way of advertising. There are supported blog posts and lots of monetizing that doesn’t look, feel or act as if that is what it is doing. You can take hints from top blogs and discover how to use their approaches to blog as a career starting today!
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