How to Convert a Personal Blog into a Seven-Figure Online Business
Blogs are everywhere these days. Every business has a blog on their website, even if it’s not updated on a regular basis. Even a large percentage of individuals have blogs, where they write about random thoughts, often only being read by close friends and family members.
Everyone is blogging with the intention of making money online, but 99.9% of blogs will never make enough money to cover the hosting and maintenance. Luckily, I was one of the 00.1% that turned a blog into a business, and a sizeable one at that. I started SerpLogic as a marketing blog; an outlet that I could freely speak about what I called real-talk marketing.
I started to blog about the truth in the SEO industry. Some didn’t like it (Hi SEO gurus!) but a lot of people did. My traffic started to grow quickly, and each time I published a new blog post I would get inundated with emails from business owners wanting SEO services and marketing agencies wanting to resell my services. There was one problem: I had nothing to offer.
I had just sold my previous SEO agency and I was looking for my next move. Honestly, this blog started off just as a fun project. My intention was to leave the SEO industry and start an offline venture. As I continued to blog, I realized that there was a huge opportunity for an SEO agency that featured transparent link building services.
Business owners were craving it and SEO agencies needed it. It wasn’t something that I thought might work. I knew, without a doubt, that it would be a big business opportunity. I was receiving emails around the clock begging to hire me. The proof was right in front of me.
So, I decided to pivot, and SerpLogic became an agency. I started small, and began to scale very quickly. We were quickly handling link building strategies for some large companies, and providing the behind the scenes work for some of the largest search engine optimization firms in the world.
Turning a personal blog into a thriving business is very hard, but it is possible if you combine the right strategy with the right monetization. My blog spiraled into a seven-figure annual business. I feel that many people want to turn their passions into online businesses, but just don’t know how to go about it the correct way..
So I put together this post to guide those that want to take their blog to the next step.
Be niche specific and completely understand who your audience is.
This is where most blogs fail, and fail big time. If you aren’t focused on a single niche, you will lose your audience quickly, and it will be next to impossible to attract new loyal readers. One of the reasons I was successful is because I kept my blog focused on SEO and making money online.
I wrote all of my content with one person in mind: business owners that were sick and tired of being fed BS by so-called SEO gurus and professionals. These gurus would blog about how creating content is all you had to do, and that links would magically appear if the content was good enough. Sure, good content is key, but you need to promote it and have a very aggressive outreach campaign to attract a decent amount of links.
I was brutally honest in my blog posts and started to openly discuss buying links. These gurus were the biggest offenders, heavy and deep in the link selling and buying game, but they spread complete BS to their audience. They were not happy I was saying it like it was. But business owners loved the transparency.
I knew who my audience was, and I published content directed at them, and only them. Too many blogs start in one niche and then go completely off track. There are ways to go broad and still make it work, though. Let’s pretend you are very interested in electronics and you want to reviews everything from cell phones and computers to TVs and virtual reality devices. This is possible to do; you would just need to make it known that your blog was a tech electronics review website. The domain name and your site layout contributes to this. You want a name that explains what your blog is about, and navigation and a user experience that allows people to quickly find what they are looking for.
For example, not everyone that visits your blog wants to see VR reviews. They might be only looking for TV reviews, so make it very easy for them to locate and visit that section. When you combine a topic that you are both passionate and knowledgeable about, you have the foundation of a potentially successful blog. Knowing who your audience is will help you attract readers in the beginning. Remember, you will never convert to a business unless you have an audience (customers).
Set up initial monetization sources.
Building a blog into a successful business comes with some expenses, so in order to help with that, you will want to implement a couple of monetization strategies in the beginning. Aside from your yearly domain name renewal and monthly hosting costs you are going to need content, and a lot of it.
Most people start a blog on the side. Working a full time job and writing content daily might be a difficult task for many, so hiring a content writer is often the easiest solution to help build your blog’s audience in the beginning. Here are two very easy ways to help cover some of your expenses. While you might not get rich with them, you can make a decent amount of money.
This allows you to place ad units on your website, and Google Adsense will serve ads based on your website content and your visitors’ cookies. Each time an ad is clicked, you earn a piece of that revenue. Your niche used to play a heavy role in how much you would earn per click, but now with so many advertisers running retargeting campaigns, most ads that are displayed will be based on the previous websites your visitors have come from.
Try to place your ads in creative spots that don’t stick out and disrupt the user experience. Blend them in with your content and use the customization feature to make their colors match your website. The more native they look, the higher click-through rate you will experience.
This is a great way to earn money, because so many people shop on Amazon. When someone clicks your Amazon Associate advertisement or link, it drops a cookie. So, even if they don’t buy instantly, you still have a chance to earn a commission as long as they purchase within the window of the cookie that drops.
This is a great strategy for someone that is doing a blog based around a product or products that are found on Amazon, which covers almost every niche. Using the same example above, the electronics review blog, a link to each product on Amazon at the bottom of the review could generate a lot of extra money. In fact, there are blogs that make seven-figures a year just in Amazon affiliate money. While this is a way to bootstrap a blog’s growth for many, some blogs can convert into a successful business just through Amazon sales.
Set up ways to generate a list (these are your future customers).
The smartest thing I did was create an opt-in on my blog before I even published my first blog post. I was building a list from day one without even knowing what I would do with it. I just knew the value of an email list.
For a new blog, I would suggest putting an opt-in offer on your sidebar that every visitor will likely see, as well as one at the end of each blog post. You need to offer something of value. If they enjoyed reading your blog and your offer is enticing, you stand a very good chance at capturing their email address. To keep it simple, don’t even ask for a name. Just an email address is all you need.
Most online businesses launch with a product or service and then set out to find buyers. When you begin to accumulate a list of customers before you even have something to sell, it’s going to help you generate immediate sales and revenue when you do figure out what your main source of income will be through the blog.
It might take you several months before you even consider taking your blog from a side hobby to a full fledged business, so it’s important to keep your email list active. Send them little notes once a month with links to new blog posts or just a friendly hello. Not only will this help to drive them back to your blog, but it will keep them “warm,” which will help your open rate when it comes time to place offers in front of them.
I would avoid popups and exit offers in the beginning. Consumers typically associate those with e-commerce websites and blogs trying to sell something. Less intrusive opt-in offers will help you build a list of future customers that are really interested in what you have to say, which means they will be interested in what you have to sell down the line.
I was able to generate sales on the first day of converting my blog to an agency because of my email list. Without that I would have had to run paid ads and start from ground zero.
Find something to sell – a service or product.
In order to convert a blog to a viable online business, you need something to sell. This could be a service, a product you own, or an affiliate offer. Make sure your offer is something that has high demand and high margins that will allow you to scale and grow with no limitations. Let me explain each..
- Service: This could be anything from consulting to a specific service, like tax preparation or credit repair. You must be an expert and have the ability to perform the service if you expect people to pay money for your help.
I turned my blog into an SEO agency that performs various services for businesses as well as other marketing agencies. I had the knowledge, and people reading my blog saw this, which caused them to reach out and ask if I would help them or if they could hire me before I even had an offer out there.
- Product: There are so many ways to create your own product. You can source manufacturers overseas and make your own brand of almost any consumer product you can imagine. You can even take it a step further by creating your own affiliate offer, and having other blogs and websites sell your product for a commission. Health and beauty products are the easiest to scale. If you are in a small niche, a product might not be right for you. Keyword research will help you identify products with potential. If there are large monthly search volumes for a wide range of relevant keywords you have a potential winner.
- Affiliate Offer: This could be anything from selling through Amazon like explained above, or selling another brand’s product or service, or being compensated for generating email submits and lead forms. There are affiliate offers for almost every niche imaginable. The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to worry about inventory or order fulfillment. You are only responsible for driving traffic and eye balls to the offer.
Imagine if you had a blog in the financial niche, and you were monetizing it through credit card sign up offers, credit repair offers and personal loan offers. Let’s just pretend the average payout was $75 and your blog was attracting 20,000 visitors daily. At just a 3% conversion rate, you would generate $45,000 daily. That is nearly $16.5 million a year. This is just an example to show you how much money some successful blogs are generating.
Converting a personal blog into a successful business doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. When you build up a loyal reader base you have the one thing most businesses struggle with already: customers.
One of the reasons my agency has been so successful is because I had people lined up wanting my service before I even offered it. Most agencies start up with nothing and they have to spend money and time trying to stir up leads and then convert them into clients. I had people knocking my door down, and I can attribute that 100% to my blog.
Understand that it can take time. I published a lot of great content before I started to receive inquiries and interest. I didn’t happen overnight. This is why I suggest implementing some monetization strategies like Google AdSense and Amazon Associates in the beginning. It’s a way to generate a little money to cover the operational costs of your blog. Then, once you are ready to release your product or service you can pull back on them.
If you have any questions, please drop them below. If you have a successful blog, I’d love to hear how you are monetizing it. Please share below. I will try to respond to every comment as quickly as possible.