This article is written by David Cahill. David is the founder of FinanceSuperhero, a personal finance site devoted to helping readers Take Back Control of Life and Money. He and his wife paid off $18,000 of student loan debt in only 54 days and love helping others win with money.
There are over 100 million blogs worldwide—most of them started as a hobby. When I first launched my personal finance site, FinanceSuperhero, in 2016, I had no idea that it would become a profitable blog after just one year. In fact, I had no idea how bloggers even made money when I started, let alone how a blog could possibly generate six or even seven figures per year. Today, just over a year later, I am building my business and aiming to replace my current teacher salary.
To be honest, transforming my blog from hobby to business has been challenging and discouraging at times. Blogging for profit requires dedication, patience, and resilience. It’s not easy, but at the same time, it doesn’t require insider secrets or rare skill.
The sad truth is that most new bloggers give up way too early and never see their blogs earn significant profit; some even quit right before their big break.
Even so, each new breakthrough in blogging is a reminder that perseverance pays off. Writing to entertain and help readers solve problems—and earn money at the same time—is a great privilege.
Five Proven Strategies to Develop a Profitable Blog
Whether you’re a new blogger, a seasoned blogger looking for some encouragement, or considering starting your own blog, I want you to know that it is totally possible for you to develop a profitable blog of your own. If I can do it, you can, too!
The five strategies that follow are proven techniques to generate an income-producing blog. I’ve learned them through trial and error, studying other blogs, and testing them myself.
Simply put: if you do the work, they will work.
Be Open About Who You Are
My first mistake when launching my blog was writing anonymously. Money is a vulnerable subject, and I honestly had doubts about whether anyone would care what a teacher/realtor had to say about personal finance.
Once I started to open up about my identity, financial situations, mistakes and triumphs, my readership grew significantly. Readers became much more interested in my story and advice once they were given the opportunity to see that I was a real person with real struggles.
I can’t stress this enough: if you’re serious about developing a profitable blog, you need to put yourself out there and be 100% open and honest with your readers. If you’re dishonest, readers will wonder what you have to hide. They are looking to you for help, and you absolutely must earn and keep their trust.
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Get to Know Your Audience and Give Them What They Need
Of course, building relationships with your readers is a two-way street. They need to know and trust you, but you need to understand them, as well.
Think about your readers for a moment. What are their needs? Biggest fears? Current struggles? It becomes much easier to provide valuable content that will keep readers coming back for more if you can answer these questions for yourself and help your readers solve their problems.
If the answers to the questions above aren’t obvious, dive into your Google Analytics and see which posts and topics drive the majority of your traffic. And don’t be afraid to ask your readers what they need! Most bloggers aren’t going to ask them, so they will probably be surprised and impressed.
Build Your Email List From the Start
It has been said that most new visitors will decide if they are interested in your blog in the first 5-10 seconds. In that time, they are looking for clues about the value your blog can provide them. Depending upon how they arrived at your blog (Pinterest, anyone?), they may not even realize that they are on your site!
One of the biggest mistakes that hold bloggers back from developing a profitable blog is failing to convert new, interested visitors into regular readers. The best way to grow your readership is through your email list.
If you’re just starting out, there are plenty of free or inexpensive WordPress plugins, services, and tutorials to help you with the technical aspects of building your list. The best way to rapidly increase your list is by offering a valuable free incentive, like the Money Values Toolkit available on my site (pictured below), to gain your readers’ attention.
Having an engaged list of subscribers is one of the biggest keys to turning your hobby blog into a profitable business—don’t overlook this step! Even if your site is hacked and goes down for several weeks, you’ll still be able to communicate with your readership by email and continue earning money.
Focus on a Core Group of Affiliate Products
Affiliate marketing—the process of earning commission by promoting other people’s products—is a core component of developing a profitable blog in most niches. Successfully navigating this aspect of blogging is crucial in determining whether your blog remains a hobby or generates profit.
One of the most common mistakes bloggers make—and I have done it myself—is trying to promote too many products or the wrong products to their readers. I have learned that it is much more effective to focus on a small group of products and services that specifically address the needs and problems of my readers. Once I realized my mistake, my affiliate income started to grow and has continued to grow every month.
Build Your Own Product
If you’re steadily building your email list and improving your affiliate marketing strategy, the next step to building a profitable blog is building your own product.
I get it—creating a product to sell sounds intimidating. It might even be outside your comfort zone. After all, promoting others’ products and services is far different than selling something you have developed. I am still working to become more comfortable in this area while I currently develop my first product and plan its launch.
But the truth is that you know your readers better than anyone, and you are uniquely positioned to help them in ways that others can’t match. If you’ve earned their trust and have demonstrated that you can provide solutions to their problems and make their lives better, many of them will knock down doors to buy your product.
Still don’t believe that your own product is a key to growing a profitable blog? Check out these examples:
- Michelle earned $54,000 last month alone from sales of her affiliate marketing course
- Caroline earned nearly $1,700 in one month from sales of two products
Sure, developing a product is time intensive and incredibly hard work. I’m not disputing that. But if are willing to put in the work up front, the future passive income will be instrumental in helping you maintain a profitable blog.
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When it comes to building a profitable blog, Pat Flynn said it best: we don’t trade time for money. The best part about generating a profitable blog is that the work you do now will allow you to reap the benefits both now and later.
I can’t think of a better and more rewarding way to Break the One Percent.
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