Making a living online is the dream, right? You get to be your own boss, set your own rules and there is no cap to how successful you might be. The sky is the limit.
With that said, there are just about a million different ways to make money online and a million different people trying to convince you that their way is the best way.
YouTubers, course creators and bloggers (oh my!) are all vying for that top spot. Call it biased (stats don’t lie, y’all!), but we think online courses are the best way to generate income online. However, that doesn’t mean you should kick your blog to the curb.
While blogging isn’t the most effective way to make money online it is a great way to grow your audience and market your online course. That's why I'll share the best tips to not only grow your blog audience, but how to then convert that audience into paying students.
Why You Should Blog
We’ve established that blogs aren't the best way to make money online, but that doesn’t mean that they are useless. Blogs can help you gain influence, grow your audience and find students for your online course.
Blogging keeps you involved in your business and ensures that you’re constantly learning and staying on top of your niche. This helps in establishing yourself as an authority and creating future courses.
If you don't already have a blog, you can learn how to create a blog here and if you do already have a blog, great! The benefits to running your blog are endless, but here are a few of the greatest perks:
Blogs help you establish yourself as an authority
Blogs are one of the top ways to establish yourself as an authority on any given subject. If you blog in a narrow niche you can quickly become one of the top names in your area by consistently providing value.
Not only will your audience see you as an authority, but search engines will, too. If you have a well maintained blog that you update regularly your pages will begin to show up on Google.
Blogs help build SEO
Building off my last point, blogs help you rank well within search engines. If you’re selling an online course about vegetable gardening, there’s a slim chance that a stand alone sales page will rank on Google on it’s own.
BUT! If you’re consistently blogging about vegetable gardening and organically linking to your sales page in the blog posts then you’ll begin to gain backlinks and increase the chances of your sales page showing up.
Search engine optimization is all about consistently creating valuable content with targeted keywords, and no matter how top-notch your sales page is, if you’re in a saturated niche there is going to be too much competition to rank on Google's front page without a blog.
Helps build a community
Email lists and social media help build community around you and each individual audience member, but if you’ve got open comments on your blog then your readers can build community with each other.
Encourage comments and discussions in the copy of your blog posts, and before you know it your audience will not only be engaging with you, but they’ll be engaging with each other, too.
This community will have people coming back to your blog, sharing your posts and inviting their audience to check you out.
Blogs are great landing pages
Your blog is a central location where you can direct people. No matter if people find you on social media, on another blog or out in the real world, it’s super easy to give out your URL and send someone to a blog.
If your site is well organized it will be easy for your audience to find what they are looking for. The top navigation bar on your blog should direct to your top offerings, for example: Blog Posts, Courses, Coaching, About Me, and Contact Me.
Melyssa Griffin’s navigation bar is a great example.
Blogs are shareable
Because the content on your blog isn’t gated, it’s easy to share. If you write high-quality and actionable posts your audience will be likely to share your posts with their followers, helping you passively see growth.
The more people who are sharing your blog post, the quicker you'll grow, so it's even better if you make sharing your posts easy on your audience.
Blogs aren’t the best ways to make money, but you can make a bit of passive income through your site. Adding in ads or affiliate links can help you make enough money each month to offset hosting costs and maybe invest in a premium plug-in or two.
Blogs are a great creative outlet
Aside from everything else, blogs are a great creative outlet. If you’ve got a lot to say but not a lot of people willing to listen to your ramble on about your inner musings, blogs can help you get those thoughts out to an audience that will be eager to hear what you’ve got to say.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog
Unfortunately blogging isn’t an “if you build it they will come” type deal. Instead you need to be purposeful and strategic about driving traffic to your blog.
This means writing with intention and creating a consistent presence on social media.
Luckily, a lot of this can be done passively and you can set up systems once that will work for you for months to come.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a long game, but it’s well worth it. SEO is how Google and other search engines will find your blog and decide where to rank it within it’s pages.
Unfortunately, you won’t see results instantaneously, but by implementing a strategic and consistent social media strategy you can build a lot of “Google juice.” This will serve you in the long run as you slowly (but surely!) rise through the Google ranks and see your referral traffic soar.
- Choose a niche: There is a lot of debate in the blogging world when it comes to the age old question “to niche, or not to niche?” personally I am team niche all the way if you’re blogging as a business model.
Having a set niche helps you establish your expertise in one area and gives you plenty of opportunity to add links to related posts within your blog.
If you’re writing consistently only about vegetable gardening, Google will think that you know what you’re talking about and rank you higher for vegetable gardening inquiries.
On the other hand, if you’re blogging about vegetable gardening, and your puppy Milo, and your visit to the Wisconsin Dells, and whatever else piques your interest, Google will have no clue what the purpose of your blog is or how to rank you.
- Use Keywords: Keywords are the words or phrases you want to rank for on Google. For example, when I wanted to rank for the phrase “Instagram Themes” I wrote a post all about creating an Instagram theme and used that phrase throughout wherever I could fit it in naturally.
It’s important to use the keywords organically, though. If you “keyword stuff” that will actually hurt your Google ranking and your blog’s standing as a whole.
- Post consistently: This is where a lot of bloggers struggle. Blogging consistently isn’t easy by any means, but it goes a long way in gaining favor with Google’s powers that be.
You don’t have to post every single day, but if you can manage once or twice a week you will see a boost in SEO. Search engines reward websites that are consistently posting quality content.
With that said, be sure that you’re not sacrificing quality for quantity. You’re better off posting one really stellar post each week than publishing two posts that are just OK.
- Write long form content: Writing posts that are at least 1000 words in length will give your SEO a welcomed boost. In a sea of blogs that are posting 300 word posts once a week, writing long form content is a great way to stand out.
Writing long blog posts not only gives you the opportunity to pack a ton of value into your content, but long posts also give you the space to add more keywords without “keyword stuffing” or coming across as inauthentic.
Marketing Experiments actually ran a test comparing the conversion rates of long form content to shorter pieces and found that long form content came out on top each time.
- Use SEO by Yoast: If you’re on a WordPress you should utilize the SEO by Yoast plug-in. It’s free and super valuable. After you write your post you put in the keyword you’re trying to rank for and Yoast will tell you what changes (if any!) you should make.
If you’re not on WordPress, don’t despair! Yoast makes SEO easier, but you can still have a great SEO strategy without it. In fact, Moz has a great post walking you through the nitty gritty of SEO.
- Use Google Adwords: If you’re not sure what keywords to use Google Adwords can help. Creating an account is a bit intimidating because it asks for a credit card number, but so long as you never activate an account you won’t be charged.Google Adwords shows you what people are searching for and how high the competition is for each search term. You’ll want to strike the sweet spot of using terms that have a good number of people searching, but not so much competition that you’ll never rank.
If you want to dive more into this, we have a great tutorial on how to perform on-page SEO.
Social media is a blogger’s best friend. This is where you really get to put yourself out there and start attracting readers.
Being active on social media will help build a community around your blog and your business while driving more people to your website.
Different niches will excel on different platforms, but most people find that these four classics are a great place to start:
When it comes to driving traffic most bloggers will agree that Pinterest is king. I’ve seen bloggers go from getting a few hundred page views a month to nearly a hundred thousand a month all thanks to Pinterest.
Pinterest is great because you can pin a picture from your blog once and the Pinterest community takes it from there. Every time someone repins something from your blog that person’s entire audience is now exposed to your content.If you’re looking to save time and grow your Pinterest account passively, sign up for BoardBooster.
BoardBooster gives you the power to either schedule or loop your pins.
Personally, I find the scheduling tool to be a bit tedious because you still have to take a lot of time to pin regardless, but the looping tool is pure gold.
Once you’ve got one hundred or so pins on each board you can set BoardBooster up to loop your pins that are already on your board. This is great because it keeps your old pins relevant and is completely passive.Once you’ve got BoardBooster set up you only have to pin your new content and go in every once and a while to add fresh content to your boards. You can check out a more in-depth Pinterest strategy here.
Instagram is a great way to grow your following quickly. By posting consistently and utilizing targeted hashtags you can reach your target audience with minimal effort.
If you’re using Instagram for your blog and business make sure your content is catered towards your niche. If you’re talking about vegetable gardening you can post pretty produce pics along with veggie recipes, garden decor, and quote images with gardening tips.
Whereas if you’re a fashion account you’ll want to skip the lunch pictures and instead post OOTD’s, detail shots, and accessorizing tips.
Your audience will begin to know you for the content you share, and everything you post will serve to either strengthen or weaken your brand.
If you’ve got your niche down and are already posting great pictures consistently, consider stepping your game up by creating an Instagram theme or researching targeted hashtags to use in your post.
It’s hard to automate Instagram because they don’t allow direct schedulers, but with a service like Later you can set up your schedule once a month and they will send push notifications to your phone so all you have to do is open the picture and paste your caption.
Twitter was (and let’s be honest, still largely is) an enigma to me. It's the one social media I simply couldn’t get my head around.
And while I don’t necessarily understand it, I have learned how to use it to grow my blog and influence on the platform.
Twitter is a great place to really engage with your audience and other bloggers and build a strong network.
Instead of constantly tweeting self-promo links, consider using your Twitter to post content (yours and others’) relevant to your audience. This could be links to articles, quotes, graphics, pictures, and video links.
If you’re only tweeting links to your blog posts people won’t want to follow you, but if you're being interesting and engaging you'll amass an audience quickly.
Plus, if you want to automate your Twitter, that’s easy, too. You can use a program like Edgar or HootSuite to schedule out tweets so you don’t have to think about them. Here at Teachable, we use Edgar, but for my personal blogs I use Hootsuite’s free plan.
If you want to share a picture, quote, and link to another person’s post every day you can get those scheduled a month in advance and then not have to think about it again.
You can also use Twitter Chats to grow your following and drive traffic to your blog. Whether you’re hosting your own or taking part in somebody else’s they are a great way to network with other bloggers and make connections.
For a lot of bloggers, Facebook is an afterthought. Something they are on because they have to be if they want to work with brands, but they aren’t consistent with. Honestly, I’m guilty of this.
BUT! There is a lot to be said for a solid Facebook strategy and when I actually put time into using Facebook to promote my biz I see results.
There are two different ways you can use Facebook for your blog and business, and both come with their share of pros and cons.
1. Creating a Facebook Page for your blog
Facebook pages act as another Facebook account where people “like” your page (similar to adding a person’s account as a friend) and they’ll see updates from you in their timeline when you post.
On your Facebook page you should be updating anywhere from 1-6 times a day to make sure people are seeing your content.
When you post a new blog post you should share it to your Facebook page, but also make sure to share other people’s content too. I share my friends’ posts, funny viral videos that are relevant to my audience, and behind the scenes pictures.The downside to using a Facebook page is the dreaded algorithm. If you’re a blogger, you already know all about this. But Facebook uses an algorithm to try and get page owners to pay to boost a post.
What this means is that everything you share is only going to be seen by a small fraction of your audience unless you pay to boost the post or it gets a lot of engagement.
The way to beat this is to create an engagement group with friends.
Find four or five other bloggers in your niche, friend them on Facebook and create a group chat where you alert each other when you post a new blog post to Facebook. The idea is you’ll all engage with each other’s post boosting the reach.
2. Create a Facebook group for your community
I find that this option is superior if executed correctly. Instead of creating a page for your blog, you’d create a group for your community.
Rather than having people like your page they can join your group which will serve as a community. You can have daily threads where people can drop links to their latest posts or ask for help from other members in the group.
Bloggers like Melyssa Griffin and Caitlin Bacher have done a great job building active and thriving communities through their Facebook groups, and in the process they’ve gained followers and fans who trust and respect them.Facebook pages are less about driving traffic to your blog and more about establishing yourself as an authority in the space which will in turn spark people to check your blog out because they like and respect you as a person.
The downside to Facebook communities is that they can take a lot of time and energy to maintain.
To combat that you can either schedule updates or hire a VA to act as a community manager.
If you use a scheduler you can automate the posting of your daily threads to save you time.
If you hire a community manager you will no longer have to moderate the group or delete spammy users or posts.
Plus! Even if you don’t want to create your own Facebook group you can join groups and be active in them. I’ve met some of my best blogging friends in Facebook groups and have also gotten decent traffic from engaging with the threads.
Turning readers into customers
Getting thousands of visitors each month is an accomplishment in itself, but visitors don’t pay the bills. If you’re looking to make money from your influence and sell your online course to your blog audience you’ll need to savvily sell to them.
Build your email list
You’ve heard this from us a million times, but building an email list is so essential to selling your online course. While your blog readers might be interested in you, your email list is full of people who are fans and will be more likely to buy from you.
Having a blog makes growing your email list a million times easier because you’ve got all of your content in one place, and you can add a call to action and content upgrade to each post.
If you’re stuck on how to get started building your email list, consider these methods:
- Simply ask people to subscribe. This is called a “Call to Action” and is surprisingly effective. Calls to action are the most basic way to get people to subscribe and while they do work, you’re best off pairing this with other strategies.
- Create content upgrades (also known as lead magnets). These incentivize your readers to subscribe by offering them something in return. Your content upgrade could be an ebook, guide, resource list, or anything else you can dream up.
- Offer email list exclusives. By offering content just for your email list, that’s another incentive for your audience. Your exclusives could be a weekly blog post, motivational newsletters or interviews you share only with your email audience. Whatever you decide to advertise, make sure it’s high value enough to draw people in.
- Install HelloBar. If you’re not ready or willing to use a big pop-up or landing mat for your blog, consider using HelloBar instead. It’s more discreet than the other options, and it takes up so little space that your readers don’t have to click away from it to enjoy your content. It isn't the highest converting method, but you should catch a few emails from it.
- Keep your list warm. No, you don’t need to knit them a sweater, but you should show them you care about them by checking in consistently. Send them emails every week or so either offering them updates or providing them with exclusive content.
- Show your list what you’re capable of. If you want your audience to trust that they are going to get a ton of value from purchasing your online course, consider creating a free email course to use as a content upgrade and offer to your current subscribers.
- Sell using our Crazy 8 Launch Strategy. Once your course is created, you’ve built a list and they are all warm and fuzzy towards you, you’re ready to sell! At Teachable we have a proven launch strategy called the Crazy 8 Launch Strategy.
Involve your audience
One way to make sure that your blog audience is excited about your online course is by including them in it’s creation.
Mention in a post that your course is a work in progress and ask them to comment what they’d like to see. By giving them the opportunity to have a say in what goes into your course, they’ll feel more inclined to buy it as parts of it are directly catered to them.
From there, keep your audience updated.
If you’re excited about the course you’re creating and letting your audience know about your progress, your enthusiasm will rub off on them.
Do you have a blog? Have you used it as a marketing tool for your online course?