Many Bloggers are looking to monetize.
I mean, seriously, what could be better? Monetize my Blog? Getting paid to do something I love? Nothing better! When I began blogging I had no idea that I could make money, I wrote for the love of writing.
(This post does include some affiliate links, but only for products I use myself and love. Check them out and see if they can help you reach your goals too!)
But then life threw a few curve balls my way. I got sick and had a stroke, at 45 years old. Working outside the home became impossible, I tried, but my health degraded severely each time. I needed to find another way. Reading posts written by other bloggers, who had made money from their blogs, opened my mind to new possibilities.
I know I’m not the only person who chooses not work outside the home. Many people want to stay home to raise their children, take care of elderly parents, or to become full time homemakers. They are out there, people just like me, looking to make money from their online efforts.
Edited on 1/19/2016 This is not a post for new bloggers only. I’ve been blogging for 5+ years and I’m just grasping a lot of this. Most blogs I visit haven’t accomplished these things. Monetizing isn’t something that only new bloggers do, sometimes blogs evolve from a hobby into a monetized venture. Even if you’ve already added Adsense or written a few sponsored posts your blog and community may benefit if you work on these 5 things.
But before you monetize your site there are several things you need to do first.
In order to make money from your blog your site needs to be ready for the traffic. No matter how good you are at writing, if your site is turning people away your efforts to monetize are going to fail. There are many ways to earn money from your blog, but you need a highly engaged community and/or massive pageviews. Putting time, effort and creativity into your site can bring you both an engaged following and return readers. Below are five things you need to work on before monetizing in order to optimize your efforts.
Look at how brands sell through advertising. Their ads are beautiful, campaigns that work are done professionally and they are visually appealing. Take clues from this!
Make sure your theme is modern and clean. I purchased a new theme. Yeah, I know, I was telling you how to make money, not spend money. But there are some things that you just gotta do. Having a current theme with a lot of white space has become a must. To compete in today’s blogging world you must come to terms with “looks are everything”, or at least, almost everything.
Examine the blogs you love, what do these sites have in common? Are they colorful? Bright? Easy to read? Do they have a lot of white space, an area here or there to rest your eyes before urging you on to the next cool thing? Is there a clear navigation menu? A font that is clear and large enough that you can enjoyably read it?
You might write the most prophetic blog post ever, but if I visit your site and your theme is disorganized, has a colored background, flashing lights, music… I’m never going to discover what a great writer you are, I will have clicked away before getting to the post. Not good for your efforts to monetize.
I did a lot of reading/research before I decided on a theme. I felt I owed it to myself and my blog to go big or go home. Genesis was the clear winner. Great framework, SEO and mobile friendly , many child themes to choose from, easy to navigate, clean coding for a faster site. You can find out more at Genesis themes at Studio Press and here’s some pointers from Kristie Hill, one of my favorite blogging gurus, Why I Love The Genesis Framework.
Having a clean, fast, SEO friendly site will help in your efforts to monetize. If Genesis is not in your current budget there are free or almost free wordpress sites out there, search Etsy and Creative Commons, choose one that fits all your requirements and build from there.
Make sure you’re choosing a great host for your site. When I began blogging I used Blogspot to create my site. It helped me get used to blogging, hone my writing and decide if blogging was for me. After a few years on the site I realized that I wanted to branch out and grow. I purchased my domain name, found a theme, and searched for someone to help me pull it all together. I had no idea how to manage each step, I didn’t even know I needed a Web Host. I’ve learned a lot in the last 6 years!
HostGator ended up being the home for View From In Here. My tent is still pitched in HostGator land and I’m a happy camper. In the last few years I have totally wrecked my site, multiple times, HostGator Customer Service has spent hours (seriously) on the phone walking me through the process of restoring what I broke. At no extra charge. WIN!
I should be sending those representatives boxes of bonbons, we talked for hours, they walked me step by step through the process. They were so helpful that I vowed to name my next child “Rebecca” or “Justin”. Perhaps I omitted the fact that I’m too old for this to realistically happen, my baby factory is closed. But I have been so happy with the service I have received. I recommend HostGator highly!
Once the new theme was in place I reassessed my blog. Deciding which topics I wanted to focus on. I used my categories to help me choose a tagline for the blog, to make the site more cohesive. When people land on the blog I want them to know what I’m all about. To know what they can expect to find within the posts and pages, why they should hang out at View From In Here.
I took a hard look at all the posts I had written. Were they cohesive? Did they all work towards the same goal or fit into a theme? Once I decided on a tagline; Live Life Better; Physically, Mentally, Emotionally & Aesthetically, I was able to look at all my posts with a discerning eye.
Hundreds of my posts did not fit into the direction I chose. And although it was difficult to do, I knew that if I wanted to be successful, the posts that didn’t fit needed to be removed. I ended up deleting more than 150 posts. Kind of heartbreaking, but I needed to be ruthless if I wanted to make my site appealing. (You can place the posts in a draft file if you like, perhaps you can rework them to reflect the new theme/look of your site.)
Next I went through my categories and tags, reducing the haphazard subjects and streamlining the rest to fit the blog. This makes it easier for me to stay on track with the new theme, it’s more enjoyable for readers, and easier for them to find what they are looking for.
Read this post, YOU MUST ANSWER THESE CRUCIAL QUESTIONS BEFORE CREATING YOUR BLOG’S EDITORIAL CALENDAR, for a bit more in depth instruction on creating a cohesive blog. It may seem a bit scary, but mapping out your site’s direction will help keep you focused, readers interested and keep them coming back for more.
Now that the new theme was up and running and I had ruthlessly cut posts to fit in with the new tone of the blog, streamlined the categories and tags, I knew I needed to update all the images on the blog. WHAT?? All the images! This was a daunting proposition, but it needed to be done. At this point I was thankful that I had removed more than 150 posts, at least I wouldn’t have to edit the photos in those posts. LOL
Assessing the images on the blog, I realized that they weren’t up to the standard of the sites I visited most frequently. My images did not have a uniform size, they didn’t stretch horizontally across the full length of my theme, and many of the photos were of poor quality. Nor did they reflect my personal brand.
But the biggest issue; I had unknowingly used images that I did not have the legal right to use. As a new blogger I had ignorantly found my images through Google, unaware that this was considered stealing. Immediately I removed all the “found” images from the blog, and wrote My Photos Disappeared, hoping to lead others from making the same mistake.
Changing all your images is a huge task, I created a streamlined process making it quicker and easier. It took a few weeks, but working a bit each day I replaced all of the images. As I edited the new photos I labeled them correctly aiding View From In Here’s SEO.
If you would like to use my streamlined process, making this task quick and easy, there is a in-depth tutorial in the VIP Lounge. Access the Lounge by subscribing to View From In Here. There are many tips/tricks/tutorials in The Lounge that are not shared on the blog.
PicMonkey is my photo editor of choice. Get a free trial of the PicMonkey Royale Membership and check it out. The Royale Membership is not necessary to use the editor, but I love the extra features available through membership. PicMonkey makes creating blog images simple and fun. Honest! LOL Remember, I just redid a bajillion photos! I think that qualifies me to tout the benefits of PicMonkey!
“Write what you know ” is the way to blogging success. And it’s true, for the most part. If you love “underwater basket weaving” and it’s the focus of your blog, make sure you’re really passionate. You’ve chosen a very narrow niche and you have to wonder if many people will be visiting your blog daily, or even weekly?
In step Two we created a theme, or niche, for your site. In this step I want you to sit back and envision who your ideal reader is. Who are you trying to reach? Are your posts geared towards that audience?
I made a list of my categories and subcategories and tried to envision who would be interested in the topics I chose. I found that this would help me to stay on track as I wrote new posts.
Next I utilized my Google Analytics, and I was a bit surprised by what the statistics revealed about my audience. People of all ages read View From In Here, from 18-65+, but 18-24 year olds top all other ages. My readers are mostly female, but only by a narrow margin; 59.7%.
The View From In Here is also accessed by readers on every continent, and more than 1,500 cities throughout the world. The United States visits the site the most often, followed by The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Russia-rounding out the Top Five. New York City logs in the most and my own city of Fort Wayne is down the list, at 61.
All this information helps me to hone in on my tagline, I am able to create a reader in my head and write to them personally. Not only does this help me to create posts that get read, it leads me in the direction readers want me to go. WIN-WIN!
You can find all this information in your own Google Analytics account, on the left side look under “audience” play around, you might be surprised by what you find. I was. It helps me to refine my content. Make sure you’re checking this information often; weekly or monthly to keep up with your audiences interests.
There are several Google Analytics tips in the VIP Lounge, what to look for, how to find your site’s top days and times, and one thing you need to do immediately to help your efforts toward monetization. It’s free to join, subscribe to the blog below!
Choosing to Monetize your blog is a big step.
Working on these 5 points will help get your blog ready. Next week I’ll share 5 more tips, things I’ve done, or that I’m working on currently. Blogging can be the tool used to make money from home, let’s make sure we’re in the best position to benefit when the time comes!
As always I am working along with you, I’m not a gazillionaire, unless I just won the Powerball Jackpot, I’m working to monetize my blogging efforts too. These are the things that are working for me!
Once you rework your site to reflect the best possible online image of you, then you can choose affiliates and write sponsored posts that truly fit in with who you are and benefit your readers as well as your bank account!
Hope to see you in The VIP Lounge!