You work hard blogging. It's only right that you want to monetize your website or blog. You’ve probably been googling ways to "monetize your website" and have come across lists of “50+ ways to make money blogging” full of affiliate sites and blogger networks that you don't have time to sign up for or figure out. Before you invest precious time and energy in doing that, you need to make sure that your website is building your personal brand(aka credibility and trust with your potential customers). If people don't trust you, they aren't buying from you. That I know for a fact.
Aside from 60% of my traffic coming from Google (which means that most of my customers are complete strangers), I used to build websites full-time and have designed my own sites for the last 6 years. I've built over 150 of them. I think it's safe to say I know a thing or two about building websites to sell. Let me tell you the biggest secret that I’ve uncovered: changing your design and layout consistently without changing the mechanics of your site is useless. Imagine taking your car to the mechanic and telling them that the engine doesn’t work. Instead of fixing whatever's wrong under the hood, they just give you a new paint job and send you on your way. That's exactly what you do every single time you focus on the visuals and not the value of your site. You're too worried about the aesthetics, and you're not worried about the functionality.
I get it. We are addicted to pretty thing thanks to the Internet, but what we fail to remember is that pretty does not mean profitable. A pretty boy doesn't automatically make a good boyfriend, just like a pretty website doesn't guarantee a good business. (I got bars for y’all tuh-day!) As a content creator, most people will land on your site for information, not with an intention to buy. It is your job to make them interested to buy and aware of your products and services. But before you get ahead of yourself, there are a few things you need to have in place in order to truly monetize your site and personal brand. These 5 areas are the areas that are most ignored and make the biggest impact in growing your brand.
Opt-in products are free e-books, worksheets, videos, classes, or checklists that you give away in exchange for an email address. I’ve said this before, but an email list is important because it’s the only customer database you have. If Instagram, Twitter, and other social channels just disappeared tomorrow, how would you market to your audience? You need to realize one thing: social networks aren’t permanent audiences. They are borrowed viewers. Remember all them friends you had on Myspace? Sconex? Shoot, even Facebook? They’re pointless now aren’t they? Social media is constantly changing, and it’s hard to keep up. Exhibit A: Instagram changed its algorithm and now your photos don’t get the same views as they once did. When changes like that happen, your thousands of followers can become obsolete. On the flip side, an email list grows with you and your brand, regardless of what happens with the volatile social media landscape. It will help you control your content, cadence and community. Get you one. An opt-in product, or lead magnet as others call it, is the fastest way to build your list with little effort.
@@Social networks aren’t permanent audiences. They are borrowed viewers. @@
As I share in the Hobby to Business guide, creating a lead magnet doesn’t have to be a super long complicated process. You don’t have to be a graphic design genius, and you don’t need to be a copywriter or an author. You can make a simple resource based on your area of expertise. One mistake I need you to avoid is having a resource that isn’t directly related to what you’re trying to sell. For example, if you’re a fitness coach and you sell workout plans and bootcamps, it doesn’t make any sense for you to create a guide on detoxing and cleansing. Instead, create a guide on the 5 mistakes that people make when exercising at the gym. It makes people aware of an issue, and you can position yourself as the necessary solution. That is why knowing your target audience’s needs and pain points is so key. Major key. Create resources that will pique the interest of your target audience and drive them to want to buy from you. (Make Yourself Marketable has multiple exercises to help you identify this, by the way.)
Now that you have this lovely opt-in, it needs to be highly visible on your site. In Hobby to Business, we cover everything from the email providers (Mailchimp is my personal favorite for beginners since it’s free.) to the free plugins that you will use to capture emails on pages and posts throughout your site. Three places that work very well are the footer, pop-ups and content upgrades within your blog posts. Capturing information in these highly-visible areas, will allow you to market to your audience beyond the time they are on your website. Capturing emails should be as much of a priority as getting readers and sales is. You can get all the traffic in the world, but if you don’t nurture them and stay top of mind, those thousands of views are going to waste. (More on this in the video below.)
@@With an email list, you control your content, cadence + community. Here’s why you need one:@@
Speaking of traffic, how are you getting people to your site in the first place? You have the lead magnet to attract people to your list, and your opt-in forms are on fleek throughout your site. The next thing you need is viral content to encourage sharing, keep people interested, and entice new visitors to your site. In order for the people to know you exist, they have to somehow become aware of all the amazing knowledge you have to offer online and offline. The trick to creating highly shareable content that is to create content for your readers - not for yourself. I’m going to keep it 1000 with you. We do not care about what you want to write about. We care about reading answers to our problems. You think I want to write about optimizing websites? Not really. I would much rather talk about Kim Kardashian’s 30 inch weave and Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement, but that’s not useful to my audience or my expertise at all. So here I am, writing this post on a Sunday night. **Kanye shrug**
Don't get stuck on content ideas. Pick a noun and a verb that relates to your area of expertise and plug them into the templates below. There are 536 titles to get you started.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling $7 mugs or $2,000 courses - people buy from people they know, like and trust. Once you attract people to your site, you want to build trust and show them that you know your stuff. In order to build that “know, like and trust factor”, you need to be authentic and accomplished. Now, before you panic, accomplished doesn’t mean a PhD, 65 certifications, and a gold medal. It means that it should be very apparent that you have successfully done what you are trying to do for others ( I went on a rant about this the other day and pissed some people off..) Bottom line: you need to be a product of your product.
Nothing is more annoying than going on somebody’s website, and there is no information about who they are. Like girl, you just wasted all of my time with the anonymous persona you have going on. There is no about page, no services page, no contact page and somehow you think that money is just going to fall out of the sky and into a bank account. You tried it. If you don’t tell me who you are, why I should trust you and how I can pay you, I cannot buy from you.
Too many times, we just overlook building authority. We want to build a business, but not the personal brand to support that business. Do you have a kickass about page? Does your headshot communicate your personality? Is your professional biography accomplishment-based or a rambling of previous jobs? Are you sharing content that’s relevant to the viewer, or are you sharing information interesting to you? An about page is the first place to begin communicating credibility. Humanize your brand and share who you are, but be sure to tell people why they should care. Make it clear how you can and will add value to their lives.
Blogging and business is a numbers game, but I’m not talking about traffic. Your Gogle Analytics should be visited on a monthly basis at a minimum in order to help you make decisions. Sadly, we fear the things we don’t understand. Get into your analytics and analyze your metrics. Focus on how are people finding you, so you can replicate that success. For example, I was featured in a xoNecole article a couple of months ago, and it’s been driving traffic to my site since. So what am I going to do? Start blogging and contributing articles to that site, because I know that the women that read xoNecole are also interested in me. Our brands have similarities and our audiences overlap.
In order to grow your audience, you need to put yourself in front of the right people. If I’m a personal branding expert, it does not make sense for me to go and contribute an article on ESPN. I need to be where my audience is and my metrics tell me that and so much more. Referral traffic helps you to understand where your audience is on the web and the places worth investing time and energy into.
These are just five areas that you will need to invest in when you want to take your blog and website to the next level. There are 30 days of action items in the Hobby to Business guide if you need more strategies and tools specifically to monetize your site. This is for you if you're tired of creating amazing content without being able to make any money from it. This is also for you if you're desperate to make some kind of income while working full-time, but your site just hasn’t been cutting it. This is also for you, if you’re just not interested in creating any product or service and just really want to be able to profit from the things that you like to do like write blog posts, make YouTube videos or post on social media. Get your social media together and get your website running like a well-oiled machine in 30 days with this guide.