Posted: Tue 21st Jul 2020
In this Lunch and Learn, management consultant and blogger Mary Agbesanwa talks about diversifying your income and monetising a blog.
Mary runs A Millennial's Diary, a Medium blog about careers and personal development, which attracts around 5,000 views a month.
Why should you try to monetise a blog?
If you like writing and creating content about a subject, then it makes sense to try and monetise your blog. It also gives you the chance to diversify your income, which Mary points out is increasingly important.
"One income stream isn't enough, because it leaves you susceptible to economic shocks - look at 2020. By diversifying your income, you become more protected," she said.
People are often deterred from starting blogs because there are so many bloggers already posting. However, Mary explains that anyone can make money from content creation because the startup costs are low and customers are always looking for new content.
"If someone reads my blog, it doesn't mean they won't read yours. They can easily read both. Someone else's wins won't take anything away from you. I'm really bullish about the knowledge economy because a lot of people are really interested in it."
How can you create content that stands out?
Start with a why
Think about why you're creating a blog. Be clear on your niche and the persona you're speaking to. Mary tries to really understand her audience and provide content they didn't even realise they needed.
Showcase your learnings publicly
A big blogging trend is to take people on your journey with you, so don't let the fact your business is small or you haven't made many sales hold you back.
"People don't just want to learn about you when your product's in the supermarkets. Share your challenges and journey. It's something Deliciously Ella has done well. Think about how you can showcase your learnings publicly and contribute to literature about the entrepreneurial ecosystem," Mary said.
Vary your writing
Adding variety to your posts will keep things interesting. This could include photos, videos, audio clips, interviews with people on your team or even a write up of your to-do list.
Consume great content
If you want to create great content, you need to consume great content. Read other blogs to get to know blogging trends and what people look for.
"Most people spend 37 seconds reading a blog - they scan for the key information. You need to write in a way that someone can skim read. If you have big chunks of text and no CTAs [call to actions], it won't be very user friendly," Mary explained.
Analyse your performance
If you want to be able to monetise your blog, you need to know what works and what doesn't. Look at the data and performance of your blog regularly to find out which posts perform well.
Mary recommends trying to maintain a consistent style and tone of voice for your blog.
"As you grow, you might change your blogging voice or start adding loads of affiliate links. But people are usually attracted to you if you keep your tone the same."
What are the main methods of monetisation?
It's hard to know what will work before you try it, so Mary recommends dabbling in a few methods before you decide what to focus on.
1. Affiliate links
If you mention products or services in your blog, you can create affiliate links. This means you get commission if someone clicks on a link from your blog and makes a purchase. Mary gives the example of a fitness blog which might have affiliate health products like protein supplements.
"Affiliate links can become an automated stream of passive income. But they have to be closely affiliated with what you're writing about and people have to trust you to click on that link," she said.
There are usually options to put adverts on your website, but a lot of them are Pay Per Click. Mary warns that advertising income can be quite marginal unless you're getting around 10,000 visitors a day.
3. Sell your blogging skills
You can make the most of your own skills and earn money through paid freelance blogging. A lot of companies want to have their own blog but don't have the capability or capacity to maintain one.
4. Build a personal brand and secure public speaking gigs
If you want to use your blog as a way of brand building, think about the topics your customers or people in your industry will want to read about.
"This is the main way I've monetised my blog. You have to know your customer and write interesting content. Think about what areas you want to be the go-to person for. It's a great way to share your voice and really become known for something," Mary said.
5. Sponsorships and partnerships
Businesses will pay for blogging content and an association with your personal brand. Remember to label any sponsored posts and make sure you work with relevant brands that you have an affiliation with.
6. Sell your own products or services
Think about ways to use your blog as part of your marketing funnel. How can you drive readers towards the products or services you're selling? Mary recommends taking people behind the scenes of your business. For example, if you sell paintings, talk about your inspiration or where you source your materials.
7. Building and growing a community
Engage your audience and showcase what you do by holding virtual conferences or meetups. If you build a loyal following, you can monetise your community through email marketing or sell your own products directly to them.
What blogging tools would you recommend?
Mary has a list of recommended websites and apps:
Unsplash has free, high quality stock photos
Google Trends shows you what people are searching for, so you can find popular topics in certain sectors or locations
Skillshare is a way to showcase your blog writing skills
Medium is the blogging platform that Mary uses
Grammarly is great for catching any spelling or grammatical errors in your posts
Teachable has useful online courses on blogging
Undraw has free illustrations that you can download