Here’s the model for monetizing your blog in 2016.
First, you need to write. Under your name. With the dot com. Anything else is a waste of time. If your domain isn’t available, bribe the hell out of the person who owns it.
Then you write. A lot. Like it’s your job.
Then you ask people to give you their email addresses so you can create a “newsletter strategy,” which is a method to spam people but in a professional mode. Your content in the newsletter should be different than content on your blog. It should hook readers into spamming their friends with your newsletter, and if you’re lucky, those friends will read your stuff and become evangelical zealots for you. (I use MailChimp.)
Then you need to do the other social stuff, which must link back to your blog. You can auto-post your blog feed to your branded Facebook page, your personal Facebook page, Twitter, your LinkedIn profile and a LinkedIn company page that you created because your blog is a corporation. (I use Sprout Social.)
You also need an Instagram account because everybody is on the instas. You might also open Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat accounts even if you never use them. Oh, and you should have a SlideShare account.
Don’t forget you should be writing on your blog every day. And you’ve probably not made any money, yet, but that’s okay.
Now you should insert Amazon ads and maybe a Taboola footer to make a little cash. You might earn $7/month. If someone asks you to include paid links on your site, look at the vendor and product. Ask yourself if this seems fishy. If it does, say no.
Okay, so your primary blog is up and running. Now you should create an offer of some kind for a “free download.” What’s a free download? Anything you want people to download that seems exclusive. Use the email addresses from your newsletter to create a good email pitch that offers people something for free. Send your readers to a private page on your website, but please note that the destination should be sorta exclusive while simultaneously encouraging these VIP readers to forward that link to their friends. And while you are at it, ask people to give you their email addresses before they download your offer.
You might have to pay a graphic designer for the marketing asset/offer and a web designer to help you with your site. I hope you’re earning more than $7/month.
Okay, so now you have a blog and a newsletter and a special offer. Jesus, you’ve been busy. When the offer is 25 days old, open it up to everyone by blogging about it. That will feed to your basic social profiles, and people will share it. That will drum up some traffic, too.
(Oh, sheesh, I forgot about the webinar/podcast/YouTube/Google Hangout/Google AdSense strategy. And I forgot about Twitter chats, conferences and local meet-ups. Well, that’s phase two of striking it rich.)
So back to phase one of making money: you’ve generated traffic on your site. Is the traffic robust? Do you even know how to benchmark any of this? Well, you can create a Google Analytics account to determine whether or not you’re reaching your target audience on the blog.
Is your traffic okay? You’re now ready to sell a product to your audience. What’s a product? Well, it’s not your blog. Your blog is a vehicle to sell stuff.
Disappointing, I know.
Write an e-book and work with an independent publisher to put it on various book sites. Open an Etsy store and sell your art. Put up a calendaring system and sell your time. Write about your consulting services.
All of this is just to say that you probably won’t make much money from your primary blog, and it’s easier to do many other things in life. I would rather have a discussion with a bunch of cranky HR ladies than send out a newsletter to my readers. I would rather talk to a room full of condescending CEOs than write a sponsored post for a few thousand bucks.
(Honestly, real work pays more than blogging.)
Does this discourage you from writing? I hope not. Start a blog because you love writing and telling stories. Make it a hobby, and if you are any good ad it, the money might follow.