Are you a blogger who is trying to monetize your blog, but having a hard time doing so?
You started a blog, installed several plugins on your WordPress, read countless articles on how to generate content and even threw in a few bucks on Facebook ads.
Basically, you did everything you've read a blogger is supposed to do to make money from your blog, but all you are seeing is pennies with each passing day.
I feel for you, folks. All we can say to you today is, do not despair! You are not alone - most of the successful bloggers have been there (and some for quite some time). Ask anyone who is doing really well today, and most of them will tell you that times haven't been good and they've all made costly mistakes.
After failing to make money from my first few blogs (I remember fondly my first one, which was on Blogger where I quite unsuccessfully imitated the writing style of P.G. Wodehouse), I started doing some research to see what was I doing wrong. I did so many wrong things, it's even hard to remember all of them (I do remember all of the lessons I learned, though).
I also had the fortune to start working in Marketing, which honestly helped me gain a lot of experience when it came to writing content and subsequently monetizing it.
And since a lot of our readers maintain a blog, I decided to share my experience and guide you through some of the things that might be preventing you from making the bank.
Even if you write for a corporate blog, you can still find some useful info here, so grab a cup of coffee and let's dig into the wild world of blogging and some of the top reasons you might not be earning money from it.
1. You don't know your audience
Back to my blogger days, I had no idea what kind of readers were reading my blog. I just thought - well, it should be somebody who likes fun stories from my everyday life. Of course, most bloggers today segment in a much better manner than me, but still, their potential readers are usually only vaguely defined.
The main point here is this - you need to get to the right people. You may write the greatest blog posts in the world, but if you don't speak the language of your ideal customer or hit their actual interests and problems, your doomed.
In marketing exists a concept called "Buyer persona". As the name suggests, it's a semifictional representation of who your target customer is - in the case of blogs, target readers.
HubSpot, which is one of the biggest marketing automation providers in the world, sustains that buyer/user/marketing personas are crucial to get results from whatever marketing activities you're performing. I would highly recommend reading their article on buyer personas - they explain things in a very detailed manner, which is a real blessing for people who aren't marketing experts.
They also have a very cool tool for building personas which is free and easy to use.
Google Analytics will significantly help you to get some of the data you need about your audience. Visit their Audience section - you will find invaluable information there, such as your typical audience gender, age group, country, what devices they use, what country/region/city they come from etc.
Keep in mind that building a correct image of your target audience will require some time, so if you try and don't succeed at first, don't give up! It's a long process and one where the wrong steps are almost inevitable.
2. You don't know where to find your readers
This is usually something you define as you are thinking of your potential customer (or the buyer persona we mentioned). Knowing what kind of audience is visiting your blog can help where they hangout - otherwise, your carefully crafted, well-thought-out content won't even get to them.
Let's say you have a blog dedicated to mom entrepreneurs. If you know that your target reader is typically a women age 25-45 with interests in entrepreneurship, you can now look for places she'll hang out in order to reach her. So in our example with the mom's Entrepreneur, I would go for Facebook groups and try to find them by interest - like Small Business Moms or the Free Mama Movement.
Note: do not spam people with offers via personal messages! I guarantee you will get kicked out/banned faster than you with can imagine and the people you contact usually will get rather annoyed.
If your content (and producst) are more b2b oriented, you can check communities on LinkedIn. If it's for a specific country or an age group where a particular social network is stronger on the market, you can try to establish a presence there etc.
Finding out where your potential readers hand out can provide several benefits. Aside from networking, you can establish yourself as an authorative figure by giving efficient advices whenever possible. This is a top priority for everyone who is trying to promote their brand through themselves.
Also, it's an excellent opportunity to find out what problems bug your target audience and create content (and possibly solutions) to address that. That is actually a pretty valuable things, as you won't have to speculate or pay someone to provide you with this information.
3. Your content isn't hight-quality
I know this is number three in here, but believe me, it's your top priority. Generating content just to create content is not going to do it for your readers (and neither will for Google - it's not 2012).
I know it's kind of tacky to keep saying "content is the king" but if you think about it, there is a good reason for that. If my article here consisted only of generic advice such as "Write good content"and "Keep your customers engaged"without providing any practical information on how to do it, would you still be here?
The topic of writing good content is unfortunately quite vast and we can't go over it in a simple paragraph, but here are some basic, actionable tips that will help you level up your game:
- After researching who your target reader is and where they hang out, you need to know what their main pain points and interests are. A good way to do this is by using the tool Answer the public or simply type in Google a topic and see the Suggestions in the search field and the related queries at the bottom. So for example, if you have a blog about phone photography, you can search in a particular phone series and see what questions will pop up.
- Try to be as clear as possible and speak to a language that your customers will understand and appreciate. For example, if your article is oriented towards people who are at a beginner level (of whatever you're talking about) keep this in mind and don't overuse pro terminology or you'll risk making them feel inadequate. If, on the contrary, you're dealing with experienced people, don't dwell on basic stuff - you can, and probably will lose their interest, and subsequently, their visits.
- Use visual materials - most people are visual learners and absorb information better if it can be presented in a visual form - statistics, infographics etc. Also, images make reading easier by providing breaks and in general do create a more exciting and attractive experience.
Overall, the point here is - give some actual value to the person who took the time of their busy day and it's dedicating it to you and your blog.
4. You are not keeping your readers engaged
Having lot's of visitors is wonderful, but if you don't engage them enough, there is a chance that you won't manage to make money out of your blog, no matter of the monetization method you chose. After you bring them to your blogm you need to keep them in there too.
A basic practice is to have your comment section open. Though some people choose not to have one (like ourselves), it's generally a good idea to let people interact with you (and in the blogger community, this is something that still happens a lot).
They may decide to engage with you on one of your social media channels, but of course, then the revenue opportunities will also go to social media, as they are now exposed to their ads.
Asking open questions and creating slightly controversial content are a great way to attract engagement. You can also make a list or a how to guide and ask your readers to participate too with their own advice/piece of information.
Interactive elements, such as videos, animated carousels with other posts etc will also help shaping an attractive and engaging content. Depending on your industry
5. You're displaying too much advertisement
That's a big no no. Your readers are coming to your blog to get value out of it. Even the greatest of articles won't keep people on your blog if they get vexed with banners and popups everywhere.
Of course, you need to make money, so this doesn't mean you can't place advertisements, but keep them tasteful and uninterruptive.
Sidebars and Call-to-actions within articles are usually expected by most readers, and you should be ok with it. Right top corner banner is very typical as well as an ad position, and so are the footer banners.
Popups are also something common, but most marketing experts will advise you to wait a bit before you show them to your visitors - either by setting a time (e.g 60 sec after opening the page) or by following an action-based trigger (e.g. scroll down).
Also, while this type of marketing tool is usually used to collect emails, you can promote something special (say a holiday offer) just make sure that your offer is indeed valuable and worth the slight annoyment we all feel when we encounter a popup.
6. You're using collaborating with ineffective Ad Networks?
There's a trend of ad networks advertisement on blogs. Most of them pay in terms of 1000 impressions per page ( or so-called CPM), but you will also find payments pased on CPC, CPL, CPV etc (you can read more on these terms here, if you're unfamiliar).
There are different terms and conditions to get accepted on those networks, and some can be quite predatory or even full-blown scams. There are also those who simply don't provide the right ads for you or have a very pool material bank, or that can't filter the correct products for your niche. These are all pretty notable obstacles which can affect your earning potential.
If you monetize through ads, it's a good idea to research the network you are considering. Make a quick Google search and if you participate in any FB groups or forums dedicated to money-making with blogs, check them out there too. I found this excellent article by the marketing automation Gist, and also, if you are into affiliate marketing, check this other one which lists the best of the affiliate ad networks
7. Your blog niche isn't great for Money Making
Everybody will tell you that you should absolutely blog about things you're knowledgeable and passionate about. What you need to read between the lines, though is that the topic should also be something you can actually monetize. This means, there must be enough demand (in terms of traffic) for that particular niche and also, you need to consider HOW you will monetize the blog.
For example, if you're blogging about money-making and you offer an affiliate product (or your own) related to the field, it will likely be of a great value - say a typical price is around 1K. Even if you don't get tons of traffic, the product you sell will cost enough to let you earn a decent amount of money. If you blog about crafts though and your typical product sell for $30-$40 or you earn your money through ads, then a higher volume of traffic will be mandatory if you want to make a living out of your blog.
There are also niches which are simply less profitable because there are very few services/products available. Most bloggers monetize via more than one way, so it's a good idea to research what kind of products exists in the first place. If you see just one or two options, you may consider whether or not you should broaden your niche a bit.
Not having competition online is usually a sign there might not be demand for what you're thinking about. A quick Google search for competition and also a look at Google Trends tools is definitely in order.
It's worth mentioning though that there is also a marketing approach called Blue ocean, where the main point is to dive in unchartered waters - so there is some food for thoughts too.
8. Your blog niche isn't narrow enough
Broad topics are dangerous for several reasons. First of all, the competition is broader too; so instead of fighting for space with say, 100 sites, you will compete with thousands of them.
Secondly, you likely do not have the resources to compete against bigger broad sites, owned by large companies with a HUGE marketing budget. So, if you have a cooking blog, trying to appear for "online recipes" with 768 000 000 already existing results from Google is really a hard competition to win.
If you have a cooking blog for plant-based recipes with minimal ingredients though, the competition is much smaller (yet, there is a demand). By the way, that's an actual niche that the blogger Minimalist baker overtook and now is an incredibly popular recipe blog.
Thirdly, due to your limited resources, you will be able to produce only e certain amount of content. This means that for any topic you cover, you will have much less content.
Say, as we did, that you have a cooking blog and there is someone who came because they are searching for Holiday chocolate desert. If you have a generic cooking blog, you may have a couple of those, at most (unless of course, you started blogging in 2008 and you're more prolific than Stephen King).
But if you blog about Holiday meals or desserts, you will have a much wider range of recipes, therefore it's likely that your reader will stay longer on your blog. Moreover, if your recipes are nicely crafted, with yummy pictures and exciting recipes, this reader will also return and may even become a fan in time. This, in turn, will also help you earn more, as the conversion rate for whatever you're selling is directly correlated to visits, dwell time etc.
9. Your website design isn't user-friendly
You won't believe how much bad design decisions can affect your earnings. Marketing agnecy Sweor, which specializes in local businesses reported that according to their poll, 88% of visitors would not return after a bad website experience. While this is a bit sujective, there a re a few things that would be vaid for most blogs:
- Keep it minimal, whenever possible - people get easily distracted. If you want your visitor to do something specific, then by all means, go for it, but just as with advertising, keep it under control. This is especially true in the case of interative elements - a few of them can convert your reader, too many will simple lead him to click on the infamous X button.
- Be careful with the palette - as with content, choosing a good color palette is very complicated, so if you are not a designer, consider carefully what you do here. Most people get annoyed with badly combined colors, and this can also lead to people leaving your site. Also, as a general rule extremely bright colors are not to be used on large spaces (due to possible eye discomfort). You can keep your palette minimalistic with an accent color, or, you can use a tool where you can insert color, and it will provide you with suitable pallete like this or this.
- Choose carefully when it comes to typography - an unreadable font is truly a horrible user experience. An example of that is this type of font family which became extremely popular for women-oriented blogs:
I know, there are quite a few things to watch out. You don't have to go trhough them at once, just try to read trhough the material and see what potential problem resonates the most with your own project.
Remember, everything good takes time! Don't give up and keep trying, until you find a winning formula for yourself.