When you think of blogging, what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s a mom blogger providing helpful content to her peers. Or a fitness blogger writing about exercises and sharing training videos. Or a lifestyle influencer creating clothing and makeup tutorials.
You may not think of it as a multi-million dollar enterprise.
What if I told you that blogging is still one of the best paths to online wealth and it’s possible to create a multi-million dollar blog in 2021 and beyond.
Would you think that the market is too saturated? That it’s not possible anymore due to increased competition?
Well I’m here to tell you that creating a highly-profitable blog is still possible. However, competition is stronger, SEO is constantly evolving, and what worked in 2010 may not work in 2020.
You need to up your game. I’m here to tell you how.
It currently gets over 500,000 monthly visitors and makes over $85,000 per month between affiliate marketing and ad revenue.
To achieve these results, I created a new approach that focused less on writing and more on scaling my blog’s systems like a real business.
In this post, I’m going to cover how you can use some of my strategies to create a profitable (and valuable) blog, as content sites are one of my favorite types of online businesses to buy and sell.
Let’s get started.
Don’t Blog Like It’s 2010 – Because it’s Not
One of the reasons many new bloggers struggle to find success is that they’re taught the kind of blogging that worked years ago.
But unfortunately, most of the blogging advice you’ll find today is outdated and written to rank on search engines, not to provide the right tactics.
Common advice from blogging experts will tell you to “write about your passions” and “stay consistent” so that you can “push through failure to succeed.”
They won’t tell you that growing a profitable blog has almost nothing to do with writing and everything to do with scaling backlink acquisition.
They won’t tell you that choosing your blog’s niche based on your passions is often a recipe for disaster, leading you to endlessly churn out content without a monetization strategy.
And they will fail to tell you about writing for search intent, manipulating Google’s AI based on semantic keywords, or formatting blog posts for featured snippets.
Ultimately, this advice is hard to find because most expert bloggers that should provide this type of content started their blogs at least 5-10 years ago and are enjoying the fruits of their labor. They don’t need to challenge their assumptions because they are still ranking and making money.
Well, if you’re looking to launch a blog today, you need tactics from 2020, not something written in 2010 and updated a few times over the years.
Ultimately, I can sum up everything you need to know about blogging today on in one word:
Since most of us start blogging businesses while working full-time, you need to develop systems to scale your blog like a startup, not like a writer.
You need to learn how to start a blog like a business from day one so that you have a real chance of taking it on full-time and leaving your day job.
With some of the tactics outlined below, I grew my blog to over $80k/month in under two years, quit my job, traveled the world, and took it on full-time.
Here are some things to consider if you’d like to do the same.
Treat Your Blog Like A Startup
First, bloggers need to choose their blog’s niche based on monetization potential over anything else.
Find a Niche with Monetization Opportunities
Finding a niche is one of the first essential steps when starting a blog. Unfortunately, many are still doing it wrong – they pick a niche based on their passions and interests.
But here’s the hard truth – passion doesn’t pay the bills.
Choose a niche the same way you’d pick an eCommerce product to sell – do your market research. For a blogger, this means studying the market and basing your niche selection on four key business factors:
- Audience Revenue Potential
- Affiliate Marketing Potential
- Professional Leverage
- Keyword Research
Remember, your blog is a business, and all decisions must be made like an entrepreneur; especially finding the right niche.
First, when researching a niche to blog about, you need to look for affiliate marketing potential. While ads can be a good form of monetization, it is affiliate marketing that brings in the most revenue. To conduct your analysis, first perform keyword research and look for keywords that have the words “best” in them.
Here are some examples:
- Technology: best laptops of 2020
- Food: best Traeger grill accessories
- SaaS: best email marketing software
- Finance: best small business loans
- Fashion: best summer dresses on Amazon
“Best” keywords have commercial intent and are searched by people looking for in-depth reviews and comparisons. Aim for “best” keywords with good monthly search volume (over 1,000) and low keyword difficulty scores. Then create list posts and add different products with affiliate links.
If you’re unsure if a specific keyword or product category has affiliate programs, simply do a Google search for “Brand + affiliate program” to see if it exists. You can also search inside of an affiliate network or look at competing articles to find appended affiliate links.
Before starting your blog, niche selection is crucial. You shouldn’t always pick a niche based on your passions, but on business factors and revenue potential. In many ways, money drives passion more than passion drives money.
Leverage Your Professional Experience
Many people start their blogs with the aim of ditching their 9-5, but never consider leveraging their professional experience for their blog’s benefit.
That’s a huge mistake.
Having a professional network can be vital for building Domain Authority (DA) by publishing guest posts and obtaining early visibility.
Let’s use myself as an example. I used a lot of SaaS products during my time as a digital marketing leader.
When I launched my blog, I leveraged that experience and created reviews in the SaaS space.
Not only did this make content creation easier, but it also helped me leverage my experience to position myself as an authority in my chosen niche. You simply can’t fake authority.
I also was able to easily obtain a number of high quality backlinks because of my professional credentials as the head of digital marketing for a large tech startup.
It’s important to use your professional leverage when starting your blog.
For example, if you’re a legal professional, it’s gonna be a lot easier starting a law blog than a crossfit blog. Use any professional connections and leverage that you have.
Scaling Your Blog to 500k Monthly Visitors
Once, you’ve decided on your niche and written your first 3-5 blog posts, it’s time to scale.
Scaling a blog’s traffic quickly is a matter of implementing the right growth strategies.
And this has almost nothing to do with consistently churning out tons of content.
So what does it take to scale your blog efficiently?
Create a Content Strategy that Works
Before you start writing your first blog post, have a content strategy in place. This is a blueprint that will ensure that every piece of content you create pushes you towards your goal.
To create a content strategy that works, you must consider the following:
- Keyword research. To create content your audience will find, you must know the keywords your target audience uses in their Google search queries.
- Competitor research. Understanding what works for your competitors and what doesn’t is essential to helping you map out your content strategy. It’s also a great way of finding content gaps in your niche.
- Understand user intent. User intent is an indicator of your audience’s pain points and the problems you can help them solve. It also enables you to focus on keywords that have a monetary value.
- A content calendar. With the above intel in hand, create topics around subjects your readers are most passionate about and when to publish them. For this, I personally use tools such as Monday.com to create a visual content calendar and plan my content in advance.
- A ghostwriter. Are you going to write all of the content yourself or outsource it? You can save a lot of time if you outsource first drafts to a content writer. That way, you just have to edit and publish content so you can focus on building your blog like a business.
With a content strategy in place, you can now start writing and publishing your blog posts.
This will require high quality writing skills, either by yourself or a ghostwriter, and a good stack of tools at your arsenal, like Ahrefs, MarketMuse, LSIGraph, or SEMrush.
Along with a tool to map out your content calendar, you will most likely need a grammar or plagiarism checker tool like Grammarly, and Google Drive and Docs.
Scale Your Processes, Not Your Writing
To scale your blog’s traffic and revenue, you need to scale and outsource your processes.
When I started my blog, I was working 50 hours a week at my full-time job. That meant I had limited time to work on my blog as a side hustle.
And the only way I could successfully scale was to give up the notion that I could do everything myself.
I devised some scaling systems with three goals in mind:
- Obtain backlinks to build my blog’s Domain Authority (DA).
- Accelerate my organic traffic growth.
- Monetize my site within 3-6 months.
To do that, I treated my blog like a business from day one:
- I hired a freelance assistant to help with link building and guest blogging.
- I hired a few developer and designer friends to improve the design and UX of my blog.
- I stopped focusing on writing a bunch of content myself and focused on building links.
There were no goals tied to producing massive amounts of content. That’s because the purpose of a blog is not to random articles, but to generate revenue. To do this, every piece of content you create must be strategic and monetizable.
Build Relationships that Help Increase Your Brand Authority and DA
It’s impossible to grow a successful blog without building relationships with other bloggers and influencers in your niche.
Building relationships with other bloggers is the easiest way to earn backlinks to your blog posts and drive organic SEO growth.
Not to mention, it also helps you drive traffic to your blog.
The reason building relationships is important is that they help you succeed with:
Building links to your blog is no longer as easy as it was a couple of years ago. That’s because the competition to get backlinks has become extremely high.
And yet backlinks are vital to your blog’s success as they’re one of the most important factors search engines use to rank websites.
That’s why building relationships with other bloggers is important. It makes your outreach campaigns much easier. Besides, when other bloggers know that you’re out to add value to their content, they become generous with their links.
Another link building opportunity that comes from building good relationships is that of participating in expert roundup posts. This is where a blogger creates content and includes tips or opinions from others in the same niche. Below is an example of one I participated in on effective ways of acquiring blog traffic.
Guest posting simply means creating content with the purpose of publishing it on a blog other than your own. Though simple, this strategy is very effective and can help you:
- Build your brand authority
- Drive relevant traffic to your site
- Build quality backlinks
- Increase your blog’s DA
To prove the value of guest posting as a powerful way of scaling a blog’s DA and traffic, I carried out an experiment in January of 2019. I published eight high DA guest posts in 15 days, and the results were quite eye-opening.
Here’s a snapshot of the results:
- 32 new referring domains
- 247 new backlinks built
- 268 new organic keywords ranked in the top 100
- A whopping 372% increase in organic traffic
- Domain Authority increased by 12
- Alexa Rank improved by 600,000
I continued posting guest posts throughout 2019 and published a total of 80 articles on other blogs. That was just one part of my link building strategy that has helped me drive my blog to 500k monthly visitors, grow my email list to over 30k subscribers, and helped generate over $80K in monthly revenue.
How to Make Money with a Blog in Under 6 Months
Most people think monetizing a blog takes years.
Well, that’s not always the case.
If there’s one thing I learned about blogging it’s that you can monetize a blog right from its inception.
To make money with a blog from day one, you must be strategic and plan your revenue streams based on your blog’s age and traffic.
For example, here’s the simplified version of my formula, broken down into fours stages:
- 1-90 days: High-end consulting (0-1,000 monthly site visitors)
- 90-180 days: Affiliate marketing (1,000-2,500 monthly site visitors)
- 180-365 days: Create your first online course (5,000+ monthly site visitors)
- 365 days and beyond: Join an ad network (10,000+ monthly site visitors)
It’s a simple formula that proves you need a high-priced offering from day one:
Low Traffic * High Price = High Traffic * Low Price
For example, with professional experience, you can start offering high-end consulting from day one.
If you have the experience, and you’ve used it successfully in the corporate world, use it to boost your blog’s success.
With consulting, you don’t need a ton of blog traffic – just a lead generation page with a form and a high-priced service.
It’s a number’s game.
Landing 2-3 high-value clients will bring in more money than trying to add affiliate links and ads to a blog with little traffic.
To monetize a blog with consulting, all that you need are a few blog posts, a consulting page, some email outreach, and a tool to create your contracts and invoices.
With these in place, you can design a pretty basic sales funnel to help you get your first client. Here’s how the funnel can look:
- A visitor reads and enjoys your high-quality blog content.
- They opt-in for your email list (thanks to your brilliant offer).
- You add a lower-priced offer around $50-200 to build trust (this is optional).
- Nurture your leads with an automated email welcome series that tells a story and leads your prospect to set a meeting with you.
- Lastly, your ideal client sets an appointment with you, leading to you seal the deal for a high-end consulting offer.
Of course, this is not the only way to make money from a blog, but it’s an early strategy for low traffic sites that is usually glossed over.
Other revenue streams include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Display ads
- Sponsored content
- Running online courses
- Selling digital products
- Selling physical products/dropshipping
- Offering services
Once you build some initial blog income with consulting and coaching, funnel that money into more content and link building efforts to accelerate your path to passive income.
By month six, you can expect an increase in traffic and a good opportunity to add some affiliate links and monetize your blog posts.
Then look into creating an online course and joining an ad network to place display ads on your site.
Ultimately, you need to use the right monetization strategy at the right age and traffic level so that you spend your time in the most effective ways.
Growing a blog from zero into a thriving, million-dollar business is possible. However, you need to avoid common blogging advice about writing and update your tactics for 2020.
All you need to do is apply the above principles and put in the required amount of work. And if you’re reading this post and don’t know exactly where to start, check out my article on how to start a blog like a business.