For my first year of blogging I read every book, article, and blog post I could find about the art of the weblog. I have found thousands of “guaranteed” methods to build content, drive traffic, and monetize my blog. Of these thousands, I have found a small handful that work for me.
1. Content Is Still King
Bill Gates first said it in 1996, and I find it even more true today. It is perfectly fine to monetize your blog, but people will not return to a site that is just a gigantic advertisement. People will find your blog by looking for useful information. If you have none, then why would they come?
2. Help Yourself By Helping Others
Becoming an indie author is only a matter of having a manuscript and a printer. Anyone with a story and a few dollars can get it done. There is no reason to pretend that our resources and connections are a huge secret. Any layman could use the internet to find the information you may consider a “trade secret”. So, why not compile all those resources on your blog, and get all that traffic for yourself?
Also, offer something to readers for free. A pdf download, a subscription to your useful newsletter, an e-copy of your title, or a bookmark are a good start. In exchange make sure you get their email address. When it comes time to promote your latest title, that mailing list will be invaluable. It will be a list of folks with whom you have already had a positive interaction, and will be more likely to read your emails.
Be sure not to spam your readers. Save the mass emails for important events. The more you send, the more likely you are to live in the spam folder.
3. Know Your Audience
The quickest way to fail at blogging is to write about topics no one cares about. Your blog is not your private Facebook account…. No one cares what you had for dinner, but they might like the recipe. No one cares about the new picture you painted, but they might watch a how-to-paint video. Regardless of what you blog about, stay on topic.
4. Engage Your Audience
A comment on your blog should be treated like the beginning of a conversation. Thank them for reading your post and input. Answer their questions, prove your point when necessary, and be willing to reach out to every single reader. This is how you build a relationship with your audience. If a good conversation about your article pops up on social media, then embed the post into your article.
5. Monetize Creatively
Anyone can create a Google Adsense account and slap some random ads on their blog. This works fine if you have a slew of traffic. However, you may find better opportunities from services you already use. For instance, most indie authors utilize Amazon as a distribution channel. So, if the author is an Amazon Affiliate, then they will earn their usual royalty plus a percentage for the click from their website.
Most of our printers (iUniverse, Create Space, LuLu, etc) offer affiliate programs with much higher earnings than Google. In addition to more money, you will also have better control of the ads that appear on your blog.
For more information about blogging, check out Building Your Platform (Part 2, Blogging)