Profitability is a moving target for blogs and has been since the first blog was published over two decades ago. In 2020, that target is no less mobile but is more achievable than most new bloggers think.
I’ve spent over 13 years making a significant portion of my living from writing blog posts, both for myself and for over a dozen clients. I’ve faced layoffs due to advertising revenue drops, seen hard pivots completely change the business model of a business overnight, and successfully turned over profitable blogs.
In this article, I’ll share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the years to help new bloggers find profitability in 2020.
Don’t Rely on Ad Services
Whether you’re publishing a blog or building a multimedia empire, ad revenue from Google AdSense, Facebook, and one of any number of ad networks relies on a number of factors to be perfectly aligned for you to receive revenue from a visitor.
- Adblockers must not prevent the ads from displaying.
- Advertisers need to buy ads with enough CPM to make it worthwhile.
- Your site’s content has to align with an advertiser’s targeting.
- The visitors should feel compelled to click the ad.
- It has to be the third Monday after a blue moon in October.
If there is one piece of advice you should take from this post, it’s this. Do not rely on ad networks to make your blog profitable. Whether you get 100 visitors per month or 1,000,000, these networks will disappoint you.
Treat Your Blog Like a Business
Your blog is a business. If you plan to make any money from it at all, it’s a bonified business and you should treat it like one.
Businesses don’t survive if they don’t have sales. They don’t survive if they don’t have a business plan. Come up with a set of goals and put in the work on the back end to make it work.
Part of the blog business is sales calls. Reach out to prospective sponsors and come up with a compelling sales pitch. Why is your blog better than the thousands of others? What can you offer the sponsor that an ad network can not?
There are plenty of ways sponsors can be featured on your blog. Here are just a few:
- Sponsored Posts: Posts written entirely for the purpose of promoting or educating the reader about the sponsor’s products and/or services.
- Sidebar Links: Much like what an ad network would provide, sidebar links could come in the form of text hotlinks, images, or video content.
- Promotional Deals: Coupon codes and other promotional deals shared by the blog’s team both in the blog and throughout social media.
- Sponsored Series: A series of blog posts, news articles, etc. made possible by the sponsorship (paying for airfare and tickets to a conference). Articles would mention the sponsorship somewhere on the page.
The bottom line is simple. You’re offering your blog as an avenue for sponsors to reach potential customers. Your sponsor benefits from knowing exactly where and how their ads will be presented, and you benefit from higher CPM or flat rates.
Expand Beyond the Written Word
Many sponsors want to do more than just have their ad displayed on a web page. They want to have their ad become an important part of the entire content package your brand offers.
By expanding into a YouTube channel, podcast, social media presence, and even additional blogs, you create more opportunities for sponsors to buy into what you have to offer.
Some sponsors won’t spend money unless they can spend a significant amount and reach audiences in as many places as possible. The more you do to make that possible, the more likely your company will make the big deals.
Think Outside the Box
This final piece of advice is going to sound like bullshit, but it isn’t. It can’t be overstated that successful blogs don’t follow a formula. There is no magic bullet. There is no paint-by-numbers approach to making money with a blog in 2020.
Some blogs find their financial success by fronting the funding needed to keep it online long enough to build a substantial audience and then sell the business to a larger media company.
Others use their blog to promote other products, making their profits not from the blog itself, but from an entirely different business model that benefits from the blog rather than relying on it for revenue.
Whatever your approach, it’s important to remember one absolute golden rule of any good blog: it should be fulfilling to the writer.
While no, passion does not inherently produce wealth, it does create an x-factor that separates the blogs that thrive from the ones that fizzle out.