Making Money From Your Blog: Producing The Right Content
A blog is nothing without great content. You can spend all the time you like configuring social media, adding advertising, and sharing your content. But if that content isn’t great, you won’t get an audience.
So far in this series about blogging, we’ve identified the importance of having a niche and looked at configuring your blog and getting it ready to go. Now I’m going to move on to what I think is the most important aspect of any successful blog – its content.
- Why content is so important
- Producing content that pulls in an audience
- The best content for maximizing revenue from your blog
- Managing and scheduling content production
I’ll refer to the real life blogs I introduced in the first part of this series, and look at how their content works.
So let’s start with the basics – why is content so crucial, anyway?
Read the other posts in this series about making money with your WordPress blog:
- Want to Make Money From Your WordPress Blog? You Need a Niche
- Making Money From Your Blog: Site Configuration and Preparation
- Making Money From Your Blog: Producing The Right Content
- Making Money From Your Blog: Engaging With Your Audience
- Making Money From Your Blog: Seeing the Money Roll In
Why Content is So Important
There was a time when quality content wasn’t all that important when it came to developing and running a website. Creating lots of pages with plenty of internal links, peppering them with keywords and getting your links out there as much as you possibly could was what would get you up the search engine rankings. And once people were on your site, they didn’t expect to read much. A couple of paragraphs per page would do the job – after all, no-one had the patience to read great tracts of text, did they?
But all that has changed.
People are used to reading online. They have devices designed to make the experience easier and more pleasant (tablets are a prime example, but handheld mobile devices are used for a lot of reading too), and have moved away from reading physical formats to reading from a screen.
This means your blog has to do more than just attract people – once they’re there, it has to have content which will make them hang around.
And if your blog is going to really take off you need a loyal audience, one that will keep coming back for more, will share your content and tell their friends about you.
To turn that audience from a loyal following to one that makes you money, you need to build trust. This will make people more likely to promote your site to their friends, to click on advertising links and (importantly) to read sponsored content and take notice of affiliated links and recommendations on your blog.
The Young House Love blog has spent years building up a dedicated following of interior designers, DIYers and renovators (and would-be versions of all those), and has gained a lot of trust. Unlike traditional media, it doesn’t do this by double checking its facts, but by being authentic.
Many bloggers say that authenticity differentiates them from traditional media and is essential to building a following. Give your blog an authentic, consistent voice, and produce content that’s true to who you are. Big brands pay millions to try to capture this, but they don’t hold a candle to bloggers.
Note: I’ll look at how you can maintain authenticity while making money in a later post.
And not only will quality content help you keep people on your site and gain a loyal audience, it will help you capture that audience in the first place. Google’s algorithms are no longer focused on urls, backlinks and so forth – now the focus is on content. And it’s not on stuffing your content with keywords either. Google actually responds better to content that doesn’t contain the keyword(s) being searched for again and again but instead contains linked words. The kind of words that someone who really understood the topic and could write about it in depth (and at length) would use.
So, in case you’re not convinced, content is essential:
- It will help you rise up the search engine rankings.
- It will encourage people to spend longer on your blog once they’re there.
- It will maximize the chances of people coming back again.
- It will be more likely to be shared by your readers, growing your blog’s reach.
- It will increase your readers’ trust in your blog, which improves your revenue earning potential.
I hope I’ve convinced you!
Creating Content For Your Audience
When you’re planning and creating blog content you’ll be more effective if you have your audience in mind.
This applies whatever content type you’re producing – written blog posts, video clips, galleries of images, podcasts or a mix of these.
If you understand your audience and can produce content that meets that audience’s needs, then you’ll gain a loyal following that keeps on coming back. If you’re lucky you’ll even create a community.
The most successful blogs know their audience well. The ConservativeHome site, for example, knows exactly who its audience is and caters to it. It doesn’t try to stray into unfamiliar territory or attempt political impartiality. It’s a blog written by conservatives, for conservatives, and by being thoroughly grounded in that audience it can produce content that makes its audience feel comfortable by not challenging their views too much.
Mainstream news outlets could never do this – they have to display balance, after all – but a niche political blog can gain a following by producing content that appeals to its audience in a way larger news outlets can’t.
Understanding your audience isn’t just about content, but also about pitching and tone. An audience of teenagers will want something quite different from an audience of businesspeople, even if the topic of your blog is the same. If you’re producing a fashion blog, for example, the way you write and the media you incorporate will differ depending on the type of fashion you’re focusing on – fast, cheap fashion aimed at teenagers or designer brands aimed at the older and more affluent.
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Some audiences will respond better to different types of language and also to different media – video, images, audio etc. Take the time to research your audience and immerse yourself in it, to know the competition and to identify what your audience will respond to.
Tom McFarlin’s blog is aimed at developers and would-be developers. So it’s comfortable using technical jargon and terminology that a newcomer to WordPress would be unfamiliar with.
In the example above, the post references MAMP and MySQL – two terms a WordPress beginner would flee from. But Tom’s blog isn’t aimed at those people, and he doesn’t have to spend time explaining technical terminology for his audience, as he knows they already understand it.
The #lifewithboys blog understands its audience too, as its writers are a part of it. While its content is very different, it knows how to use tone to effectively create a niche for itself (this isn’t a parenting blog that takes itself too seriously) and to keep followers coming back.
The site uses its Facebook page to keep its audience entertained, posting funny quotes, pictures and stories that are quick to read and easy to share, which grows its audience,
After all, if you can make frazzled parents laugh, then you’ll have added a little bit of light to their day, and that’s something they’ll want to share with their friends.
Using Content to Maximize Revenue
Now we arrive at the holy grail of content: how can you create content that will help you make as much money as possible from your site?
The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think, and it certainly isn’t what a traditional salesperson or marketer might have told you a few years ago.
In short, your blog should not be pushy.
Building a successful blog is all about loyalty, authenticity, and trust. If you start throwing sales messages into your content from day one, then you won’t even come close to building those.
If your blog supports a business, and your monetization plan is to bring in customers, then it can be hard to resist this. You will need to include some promotion and internal linking to your products and services. But keep things subtle. Aim for a balance of 20% promotional content and 80% that’s about providing information and building trust.
This sounds like hard work and a waste of time. After all, if 80% of your content isn’t designed to bring in customers, then what’s the point? But what you’ll find is that over time, it’s that content that actually wins you more customers, and in particular more loyal customers and followers who will share your content with their friends and grow your potential customer base.
The Cooking on a Bootstrap website is a good example. On it, you can buy Jack Monroe’s books. And while there is a link to a page where you can do this in the main navigation bar, there’s no banner shooting ‘BUY MY BOOKS!’ at you.
Instead, you’re encouraged to browse the site, try out some recipes, and keep coming back for more. Over time you’ll learn to trust the site and to make more and more use of it. You’ll share recipes with your friends, and you’ll tweet about them or post them to Facebook. And eventually, you’ll buy a book. I bought one of Jack Monroe’s books after trying out a few recipes on the website, and to be honest I’m still more likely to go to the site than to look in the book, as I know it’s constantly updated. But if the site had been pushing books at me from the first time I visited it, it would have put me off.
So, hold your breath and resist the temptation to be pushy with sales and marketing.
Another aspect of creating content that will make money over the long term (and this is a long game) is to build a loyal following. Which means developing trust and authenticity. If your readers come to trust you, you’ll be like a friend to them. Someone whose opinion they rely on. So if you then recommend a product, or even develop your own, they’ll be far more likely to buy it.
Managing Content Production
So – you’ve identified your niche, researched your audience, developed your voice and decided upon what you’re going to add to your blog and the media you’ll use.
The next thing is to start creating content.
The great thing about WordPress is that it makes it easy for you to create and schedule content whenever you’re able to. But before you start doing that, you’ll need a plan. I recommend reading my post on managing a successful WordPress blog before you start posting.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a robust content scheduling plan that you can use to start publishing to your blog.
Great Content is Essential to the Success of Your Blog
Hopefully, now you’ve read this post, you agree with me that your blog will only be successful if it includes great content.
Once you’ve spent time considering what sort of content you should be adding to your blog, you might decide that you won’t actually be able to do it. You may not have enough content ideas, or you might not feel confident producing the right kind of content for your audience. If this is the case, you have two options: you can go back to the drawing board and try a different niche. Or you can take some time to learn about content production, maybe practicing on a smaller version of your blog that you don’t intend to grow a large audience for.
But if you have a robust content plan in place and you’re confident you can keep producing content aimed at your audience, now and in the future, that’s great. Time to get blogging!