From Hobby to Hustle: How to Turn a Blog Into a Thriving Business
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
In today’s connected digital landscape, this phrase couldn’t be more true. If you’re a blogger who loves to write and share personal stories, you may be surprised just how easily you can turn your passion project into a full-time income.
You don’t even need to sell your own products or services, either.
With the right strategies, you can create a thriving business simply by blogging about your hobbies or favorite topics. In this article, we’ll explore the most effective ways you can monetize your blog and share a proven step-by-step guide on how to maximize your income results.
Personal vs. Business Blog: What’s The Difference?
The first thing you have to understand to start making money from blogging is the difference between personal and business blogs.
A personal blog is one that features personal stories and experiences to inspire others. For instance, most blogs on Medium are blogs tied to a personal brand and based on one individual’s own experience.
A business blog has content around its product or service to improve visibility, get traffic, and maximize sales. You can see an example of that with BikePerfect – a business blog that shares content about the best mountain bikes and accessories their readers can buy.
If you have a personal blog and want to make money, you’ll need to shift it into a business blog.
How to Transform Your Personal Blog into a Business Blog
A personal blog can be your passion and hobby – but that’s not necessarily going to be the case if you’re looking to turn your blog into a profitable business. You need to start taking it seriously, create an actionable plan, and execute it effectively.
Here are a few steps you need to take to make this happen.
1: Adjust Your Website
You need to get your site to the next level and make it look more professional, and you want to be perceived as a high-quality business, not a sloppy blog.
To do that, here are a few actionable steps you can do right now.
- Add business information
- Keep consistent branding
- Create landing pages
- Make it mobile-friendly
- Maximize speed
The last two points are especially important – they have the biggest impact on your sales.
2: Work on Your Social Media
Provide your future customers with an opportunity to connect with you across all social media.
You should create professional profiles on the most common platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Every business has a strong social media presence – your blog should not be any different.
3: Define Your Target Audience
Be crystal clear on who your target audience is. You should have answers to all of the questions below.
- Who is your customer?
- What is the biggest desire of your customer?
- What is the biggest problem your customer faces?
The more personalized content you create, the higher the chance of sales.
Source: Startup Bonsai
And the only way to make this perfect is to know every little detail about your audience. Google Analytics is a gold mine for finding information about your audience. It will tell you their age, gender, and location – giving you insight into who is likely to be interested in your blog content.
Additionally, Google Analytics can provide psychographic information based on categories such as:
- Affinity Category: Different types of lifestyles
- In-Market Segment: People looking to purchase something (this is a great indicator of what types of products they would buy).
Take notes of your audience and create a customer persona. You may want to use other strategies to gather information about your audience such as:
- Surveying your audience
- Looking through their Twitter conversations
- Joining niche-specific Facebook groups
You can see an example below of how a target audience profile might look:
With this in mind, you’re now ready to craft tailored content to help your target audience.
4: Create a Content Marketing Funnel that Attracts Leads
Content marketing is a key pillar of any marketing strategy.
When done correctly it provides valuable information to visitors, builds trust, and warms up leads so they’re ready to buy. Every piece of content should aim to build authority, generate leads, and drive sales. Content marketing funnels help you visualize how to leverage content to attract visitors and guide them through their journey into paying customers.
A content marketing sales funnel consists of three phases:
- Top-of-funnel (TOFU) – Attract attention from prospective clients
- Middle-of-funnel (MOFU) – Generate leads
- Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) – Drive conversions
Performing proper keyword research to attract your target audience is vital. Keyword research helps you rank higher for popular search queries that people type into their search engines.
This helps to fuel your content calendar by giving you topics to write about. Using keyword tools such as WordStream, you can type in a keyword and the tool will spit out long-tail phrases and give you the monthly search volume for each phrase.
Assuming you rank on the first page, your site will likely receive most of that traffic.
When writing top-of-funnel content, be sure to keep self-promotion to a minimum. Your primary objective is to educate and build trust.
5: Pick a Monetization Strategy (or Multiple Ones!)
You need to find the right monetization strategies to make money from your blog. There is no single best strategy – you need to find the one that suits you and your business the most.
Here are the best monetization strategies for your blog.
Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is the most beginner-friendly way to monetize your blog. That’s because you don’t need to be an expert in your field, nor do you need any upfront costs. You recommend other people’s products and receive a commission.
All you need is three things to become an affiliate marketer:
- A niche
- A product to promote
- An audience
Assuming you already have a blog that is driving traffic, you’ll need to find products from trusted affiliate networks such as:
- Amazon Associates
- Rakuten Marketing
- eBay Partner Network
- CJ Affiliate
Of all of these affiliate networks, by far, the most popular and easiest to use is Amazon Associates. It’s the biggest online retailer in the world, with tens of thousands of products covering almost every conceivable niche market. This provides you with plenty of choice and the reassurance of having a trusted company behind you. After you pick your network, it’s time to implement affiliate marketing into your blog.
The easiest way to do that is by using AAWP – the best WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates. It has a huge range of easy to use features that will provide your customers with the best experience, including:
- Up-to-date information. Affiliate links can be created and customized easily, with prices and discounts refreshed automatically. You don’t have to take care of this!
- Flexible configuration. You have complete control over the way your affiliate links are displayed, and the way they work by using the built-in settings.
- Customizable design. Choose between different designs, add custom styles or create new templates in order to adapt the layout of your website and grab the attention of your visitors much more effectively than by using standard Amazon affiliate links.
For instance, you can create comparison tables to help customers see the most important features of each product.
Or you can show your customers bestsellers.
All of these will make it super-easy for your customers to buy and help you generate a lot of sales.
Sell Physical Products
Creating an e-commerce store alongside your blog is a great monetization strategy. For instance, someone who runs a cooking blog can monetize it by selling digital cookbooks, or even their unique set of kitchen tools.
You can then dropship those physical products by ordering them from a supplier like Aliexpress.
Eric Bandholz turned his beard grooming blog into a popular e-commerce store. He initially gave tips and advice on beard grooming before he began building his own grooming products.
Now he earns over $100k per month and has been featured on Shark Tank and New York Times.
Selling ebooks is one of the best ways to monetize your blog since your readers already like your written content.
And you don’t even need lots of traffic to make money with an ebook.
Take David Oudiette, who took his knowledge of building landing pages and turned it into a $39 ebook. Despite not having a lot of traffic on his blog, he generated $13,000 in revenue from the ebook alone.
Here’s how he did it:
- He gave free tips on Reddit and Quora and then pitched his book as a resource guide.
- He added his book on Product Hunt.
- He gave bloggers free tips on building landing pages and then pointed them to check his book.
- He cold-emailed businesses, giving them free feedback on their landing page. Then he replied with a link to his book.
Start a Coaching/Consulting Business
Coaches can charge a much higher fee than with other monetization methods since it requires your personal attention and time. Many coaches create 3 to 6 month programs designed to take someone from a beginner in a subject matter to a more competent level.
For instance, Nagina Abdullah makes over $100k annually from coaching and helping clients with their weight loss transformation. He did it with an email list of under 5,000 subscribers.
6: Scale Your Content
As a blogger, the content will be your main source of traffic. That means the more high-quality pieces of content you put out, the more traffic you’ll get, which leads to more customers.
First, you’ll want to streamline your workflows and writing processes. That means creating SOPs for keyword research, writing, and editing.
You may want to create a content calendar and use a project management system to stay on track.
Automation tools help you to assign new blogs to writers, send reminders, and view the status of projects. Here’s an example of a workflow that shows the different blog assignments, the assigned writer, the project manager, and the editor.
You can leverage this knowledge and scale your content by following these steps:
- Hire for needed positions. Look for writers, editors, and project managers in job boards, Facebook groups, and other niche-specific communities.
- Give your writers the tools they need. Provide outlines, writing guidelines, and even training material to help them write high-quality content that meets your standards.
- Edit, edit, edit. Leave comments and request edits, so you can help them learn how to write content for your brand.
7: Build an Email List and Bottom of Funnel Assets
The best way to capture leads is to build an email list.
This gives you direct communication with your leads, so you can send them personalized content and offers. Furthermore, it doesn’t cost you a penny to send out emails!
(And the return on investment is pretty crazy too.)
Collect leads by creating a lead magnet. This is a free asset you give to your audience in exchange for their email (usually in the middle of the content marketing funnel).
Here are some lead magnet ideas:
- Short ebook
- Free trial
- Free Consultation
- Free tool or template
- Case study
After you’ve built your lead magnet, you can now send emails.
Your goal is to send regular emails to nurture your leads and guide them to your offer. Ideally, you’d build an email autoresponder to analyze and predictably guide your new leads to conversion.
Here’s what a 7-day course launch email sequence might look like:
You’ll want to send value-packed emails with useful information about your readers’ pain points.
David Siteman Garland sends daily emails to warm leads up before he pitches his online course on how to run successful webinars.
Sometimes you’ll want to include another asset at the bottom of the funnel before converting it into a sale. Your bottom-of-funnel assets will depend on your offer. For instance, if you’re selling a course, it makes sense to offer a webinar that sells your course for you.
If you’re selling coaching, you’ll want to offer a free consultation call.
8: Test and Tweak Everything
After you’ve built out your entire funnel, you want to test and tweak everything. There’s a good chance your funnel might not work as expected on the first try, and that’s okay. The key is to track any relevant data and continue tweaking.
Here are the changes you’ll likely need to make at each phase of the funnel:
- Adjust your SEO. Find ways to optimize your on-page and off-page SEO to boost search rankings and attract more visitors.
- Adjust your workflows. Your writers might not produce quality content at first, so it’s your job to train them on it.
- Hiring process. Know how to hire the right people for your content production team.
- Landing pages and lead magnets: Test different landing pages and lead magnets.
- Email sequences. Test email copy and offers.
- Segmentation. Find the right segmentation to send offers to.
- Assets. Test the right assets that are best for conversion.
- Social proof. Add the right social proof to improve credibility.
- Sales. Improve your sales or copywriting skills to increase conversions.
There’s so much that goes into running a business. How you turn your blog into a business is very much determined by your goals.
For those who want to earn big bucks quickly you’ll have to build systems in place – just like any other business. That means managing all aspects of the business, such as marketing, product development, sales, customer service, etc.
Making money from your blog isn’t about slapping a product onto your website. It’s about identifying your audience’s pain points and providing them with a solution they’re looking for. There are many different monetization methods you can try.
If you are just a beginner, we highly recommend using affiliate marketing. It’s one of the easiest ways to start making money without any initial investment whatsoever.
AAWP can help you create the perfect affiliate marketing monetization strategy by providing you with customizable designs, complete control over your affiliate links, and dynamically maintained details on up-to-date prices and products. You can set it up in just a couple of minutes and turn your blog into a high-converting business.
Get AAWP and make your blog profitable right now. For a more in-depth look at how to use AAWP to supercharge your Amazon affiliate marketing business, read our blog post: The Ultimate Amazon Associates Affiliate Marketing Guide.
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