I got into a conversation with a fellow freelance writer the other day about the value of the services we offer. How much can you really justify charging for a blog post? There are a lot of ways to price up a writing service – by the word, by the hour, by the project – but however you do it you’re going to have to assign a certain level of value to your skills as a writer and the return clients are going to get on their investment.
I’ve had a few people who don’t work in the digital sphere ask me how much I charge for a blog post, and they’re often shocked by the answer: ‘Around £50 for a 500 word post’ often sends them into a tailspin, or a tirade along the lines of, For a blog post? How do you justify that?
A large part of this reaction is the perception that blogging really doesn’t sell anything. That it’s something you do as part of your marketing, or maybe just for fun, but it’s not actually the thing about business that makes you money.
This is a perception held by many, even in the business world, and was precisely the point my fellow freelancer friend and I were discussing: we know how much our services are worth to clients, but they often aren’t fully aware of the true and full value, which means there’s a ceiling when it comes to charging for blog posts. There’s a limit to how much most entrepreneurs believe a blog post is worth, and it is a lot lower than the true value a piece of high-value content genuinely holds.
Regardless of how much money a client ultimately ends up earning off the back of the content we create for them, there’s a key mindset shift they need to have made before they’re willing to pay over a certain amount for a post.
Shockingly, it isn’t even coming to the understanding that content drives traffic, builds relationships, and generates leads, which lead to sales.
Most of you are fully aware of that by the time you find us, or you wouldn’t be looking for a freelance blogger/blogging advice to begin with.
Rather, the shift is comprehending that, unlike an advertising campaign, the value of great content is its longevity.
Say you’re running a PPC campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords. People will see your ads, click on them, and either convert or not. As long as the campaign is well optimised and you have a decent conversion rate, the amount of money you generate through that campaign makes it well worth your while.
It’s also a quick return.
If you’re running ads while launching a new course or service you immediately get people buying and can very easily connect the dots between the ads you paid for and the money you have earned.
But when your advertising campaign stops, your conversions pretty much stop with them. Yes, you may have attracted new followers who will convert later down the line, but the vast majority of the time you’re aiming for an immediate conversion, not a long-term strategy. You base the success of your campaign on how many people convert to paying clients right away.
And this is an understandable mentality when you’re in business: you shell out money to attract leads, you want to see money coming back in.
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The uncomfortable truth about content marketing that nobody likes to acknowledge (not even the freelancers writing it for you!) is that content is a long game.
I say this all the time and for very good reason: if you’re expecting the blog post you buy from me to immediately covert readers into paying clients, you’re going to be disappointed.
That’s not to say instant conversions never happen, they do, but the instant conversion rate on content is far, far, far lower than what you’d expect from a successful advertising campaign.
There are two reasons for this:
- People clicking on adverts expect to be sold something, they don’t generally click if they’re not willing to at least read a sales pitch. Meanwhile, people clicking on blog posts are looking for great free content, and while they might not mind a pitch, they may very well click away and never come back if you make one.
- Blogging has a cumulative effect: the more of your content people read, and the longer they follow you and see you delivering consistent, high-quality content, the more likely they are to buy from you.
So the monetary benefits of blogging aren’t something you achieve in an instant, but they are a lot more valuable in the long-term because every piece of content keeps working for you, and (assuming you’ve effectively optimised for SEO) the longer it’s live, the more effective it become at attracting new people.
Great evergreen content will consistently attract people to your site for months and years, not the days or weeks of an ad campaign. That cumulative effect builds a real relationship with your readers, one they trust and value. This makes them far more likely to drop a big fat wedge of cash on a high price item at some point, and far more likely to come back to you again and again and again.
And finally, there’s the big thing most people forget: the ad might attract people to your site, but it’s the content that actually converts them, not the ad itself.
And this is how freelancers justify our prices. It’s why we should, in all honesty, charge a lot more than we do, and why some freelance writers earn over a grand per post.
It’s also how entrepreneurs who don’t want to outsource their content, or can’t afford to hire someone to write it for them, justify spending so much time and energy creating it themselves.
In the long run, a great content schedule will earn you so much money that it’s well worth the investment you make. It attracts people to you and convinces them your products and services are worth buying. You simply need to be aware of the fact that the return you get will be long-term and cumulative over the course of months and years.
As true as this is, and as important as it is for entrepreneurs and bloggers to understand, it’s really not a very sexy reality, is it?
Let’s face it, we’re impatient, and we want to know that all the time we’re spending writing those blog posts, or all the money we’re paying a great writer to create content for us, is going to net the most money possible, as quickly as possible.
Now, if your blog gets 10K+ unique hits a month, making money from it is going to be relatively easy. Conversion is a percentage, so even if your conversion rate is only half of a percent, you’re still going to get 50+ conversions a month.
But building that level of traffic takes a lot. Lots of content, lots of time, effort, resources, and a commitment to consistency.
I’m nowhere near that level of traffic yet, and I do this for a living.
It’s a real challenge to genuinely make money from a blog that gets fewer than 1K unique visitors every month, but it’s totally possible.
Like I said, I do this for a living – I earn a good full-time wage in my business using nothing but blogging to market it.
So how exactly do you monetise your blog and ensure you get the best return on your investment possible?
The Ultimate Guide To Monetising Your Blog
There are a lot of ways to earn money from your blog. Before we dig in, I just want to explain why hosting adverts for other brands and businesses isn’t on this list. It’s really easy to include space on your website that displays two kinds of adverts:
- Automated ads for big companies like Amazon, or algorithms that display ads for the sites your visitors have been visiting (hands up if you find these super creepy!).
- Ad banners, essentially spaces on your site that you rent out to people who pay to display their ads in that space.
When I was first starting out in blogging many moons ago, getting people to advertise on your site was the main method of monetising your blog that was taught. In fact, at one stage it was pretty much the only method taught. Since then, the online world has moved on, digital marketing has moved on, and if you’re an entrepreneur trying to build a business, this type of monetisation is no longer a good plan.
I’ll get into this in more detail at some point, but for now suffice to say that you put a lot of effort into getting people onto your site. Unless you have absolutely no other means of earning money from you blog it’s not going to do anything for you.
If you run a business that uses ads as part of its business model they can work for you – online magazines for example, such as my fabulous client Kerry Brind’s equally fabulous site, Me Me Me, naturally lend themselves to selling advertising space as a means of generating income.
But for any other business model, external ads only encourage people to go off-site. In the case of automated ads for big companies they aren’t usually related to what you do at all, so you’re not only sending people away, you’re distracting them from what they came to you for and giving them something completely different to think about.
If you’re renting space out to specific people you need to be very careful you’re not sending the money all your hard work and content has attracted to someone else! Even if they’re not directly in competition with you, you’re still sending people away.
There are two exceptions to this. One is affiliate marketing, which isn’t the same as advertising although it’s quite similar (I’ll get to that in a second), the other is selling banner space for ads that are external to your blog. For example, if part of your content marketing strategy is releasing a magazine that is hosted on a site like Issuu, selling ads in that magazine is a great idea.
One of the simplest and easiest ways of earning money directly from your blog is to write about things that are relevant to your ideal clients, and include affiliate links for them to follow so they can buy them.
I do this an awful lot myself, whether in the form of books I recommend, or products that I use to create my content, which I recommend my readers use also. My go-to affiliate programme is Amazon, because there is such a huge range of products on the site that are useful to people in the entrepreneurial sphere. Here are two examples of posts that include affiliate links on TWCG site:
When I read a book I find particularly useful to my business and/or inspiring, I create a dedicated piece of long-form content around it that really digs deeply into the subject. This is much more than a simple book review, which would give an overview of a book, pros, cons, and a little detail on the author. You can absolutely write simple book reviews, and I have done so in the past, but where monetisation is concerned you’ll get a lot further with pieces that dig deeper.
By creating a really high-quality piece of content that makes people think, that inspires them, or motivates them, they’re much more likely to actually buy the book, and will take true value from the content itself.
Value is the name of the game in content marketing. For most businesses, simple book reviews don’t provide much value to their readers. Dig deeper, offer a unique perspective on the subject of the book, as well as some immediate take-away value, and include lots of affiliate links out to the book throughout the piece, giving people the chance to go and buy it for themselves.
Check out my recent post on The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks as an example.
Last year I put together several blog posts on the power of video marketing, including one to help you start a vlog for your business, and one that gives a very detailed breakdown of all the equipment needed to start a vlog, from free and easy stuff, to a basic low cost investment, all the way up to the high-end equipment.
This is a mega example of an affiliate marketing piece as there are loads of different items on it I recommend, almost all of them linking out to an affiliate programme. Many are on Amazon, but some are affiliate programmes with system and service providers like Movavi Video Editor.
You don’t need to create posts on such a huge scale in order to include affiliate links in your content. If there is any practical ‘stuff’ you use in your work or enjoy as part of your lifestyle and it’s relevant to your audience you can also create content around these items. If you’ve ever seen ‘unboxing videos’ you’ll have some idea of where to go with this, and offering simple reviews of any product you enjoy is a great way to do it.
You also don’t need to limit yourself to using affiliate links in content specifically created to showcase products. You can simply mention things in passing – books you’ve read or are referencing, equipment you’ve used, new things you’ve treated yourself to – and include an affiliate link using the name of the item as the anchor text.
It takes a little while to get used to, but once you’re in the habit of it and have registered for affiliate programmes that are really relevant to you and your content, it’s incredibly easy to do.
Another way of using affiliate programmes is to advocate for specific high-ticket items, like courses run by other businesses. The veritable tsunami of content that comes out annually to encourage people to buy Marie Forleo’s B School is the perfect example of this. Simply by sharing their experiences of B School and recommending it for others, alumni of the course earn a massive amount of money every year – some of them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One word of caution here: only recommend things you have personal, genuine experience of, and truly believe will be beneficial to your audience!
Launch A Membership Site
Going into detail on exactly how to do this would take a whole post in itself, and it’s not something I’ve personally done myself yet. When I have (I’m working on it!) I’ll create a load of stuff to help you do it to. I do, however, have several clients who have used the membership model to great effect.
A membership site is the biggest no-brainer when it comes to monetising a blog for a lot of reasons. Yes, it requires some extra infrastructure on your website, and yes, it requires quite a lot of marketing to make it generate a lot of income, but beyond that it’s really just an extension of what you’re already creating and making available for free.
If you’re smart about it, and carefully plan the amount of time and resources you pour into the additional content you create, you can easily start small and scale it as the income you generate grows to allow you to invest more in what you’re offering.
In other words, when you first launch a membership site, unless you have a ready-made audience of thousands of dedicated subscribers hanging on your every word, you’re not likely to make a massive amount for a while. Rather, you’re probably going to have a trickle that steadily builds to a larger income.
While you’re building your membership base, you’ll need to be careful how much you invest in content creation. If your site ends up being a flop, and you never get more than a few members, you can easily end up losing a lot of money rather than earning it.
So there are definitely reasons to be cautious about this option, but if you’re smart about it a membership site can be an incredibly lucrative way of leveraging your blog and creating a very profitable revenue stream.
Write A Business Book
I’ve discussed the full benefits of writing a business book elsewhere, so do check that out, but suffice to say that a blog is a place where people fall in love with what you have to say.
Saying more and asking them to pay a relatively small amount for the privilege of reading it is an absolute no-brainer.
Beyond the passive income a book can generate for you, it can become the linchpin of your content marketing strategy as a whole, positioning you as an expert in your niche and really helping you boost all your other money-generating efforts.
(If you’re interested in creating a book for your business, I offer editing and proofreading services to help you whip what you’ve written into shape. And if you really want to release a book but don’t want to have to actually write it, I have completely confidential ghostwriting services – all the benefits of a biz book without the hassle!)
Sell eBooks On Kindle
In addition to a full-length and totally excellent business book, eBooks offer you a very easy and efficient way of earning additional passive income. Part of my Divine Blogging Design is the creation of a big lead magnet every six months. This might be a short video series, or a quiz, but frequently the option clients go for is an eBook.
This isn’t a full length business book, but a short book of around 10K words that can be given away for free on your website and used to grow your list.
The one thing I always recommend clients do is to make their eBooks available on Kindle for the lowest price point they can (this is $0.99 in America, and around 74p in England but it varies from country to country). Doing this can seem pointless when you’re selling the book for so little, but given how short these books are you really can’t justify charging much more (although I do know people who charge up to $3 for them, though I definitely wouldn’t go above $3!).
There are great benefits publishing short eBooks on Kindle:
- Passive income – despite the very low price point they do generate income, and it comes from content you’ve already created (in order to grow your list), so it’s money you’re earning without having to create anything new. You’re aiming for a cumulative effect here – the amount you earn from individual sales is very low, but the more eBooks you put out, the more you earn from each purchase, because the price is so low people will generally buy all your books once they’ve bought one. Keep putting one out every six months (or more frequently if you’re able) and you quickly grow a catalogue that, as a whole, earns you a good chunk of change every month.
- It quickly and easily allows you to call yourself an author! (Seriously, don’t underestimate the power of that word when it comes to bumping the profile of your blog!)
- It establishes your author platform on Amazon and gives you a great base from which to launch a full length (and higher priced!) book.
In addition to publishing free eBooks you create on Kindle, you can also compile blog posts on similar topics, edit them, and publish them as short books to add to your catalogue. AND if you ever write mega posts that run to 5K words + you can pop those on Kindle too as stand-alone books, expanding your catalgue even further!
Create Online Courses
One of the biggest ways bloggers are earning money is by releasing eCourses. Like membership sites, this is a much bigger topic that I will cover in more detail when I’ve actually managed to release my own (again, working on it!). But the earning potential in an eCourse is amazing and it’s an incredibly scalable venture.
Start by identifying something your current readers really need to know more about, and put together some content that teaches them how to do it. That might be as simple as more written content, but I strongly advise you to use video for a course.
Your first course may not prove to be massively successful, but it will allow you to earn some money immediately, while you work on creating other courses and fine tuning your offers. A lot of entrepreneurs have built multi-million pound businesses doing exactly this, and no longer need to do anything beyond selling their online course or courses, so it’s well worth a try!
As with a membership site, just be aware of the amount you’re investing. Start with a very basic course that can be easily and cheaply created. And while you can pre-record your whole course and create the whole thing before selling, a much better idea is to teach it live (at least the first time you launch it) so that you’re not actually investing time and resources in its creation until you’ve already sold it. If you find people are interested in it you can revamp it once you have the money coming in to justify it – you don’t have to start with a fancy set and a filming crew, it can begin with you in your living room talking into your webcam!
Before you dive into these ideas I’d really like you to remember two things:
- Content marketing is a long game! Making money from your blog is absolutely possible, but it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time, and effort, and in the beginning the amount of money coming in will likely make you question if it’s even worth it. Persevere and be patient!
- Every single thing on this list hinges on one thing: incredibly high-quality content! If you’re serious about making money from your blog, you quite simply can’t skimp on quality!
If you’re looking for pro tips on exactly how to create a high-quality content marketing schedule, you can download the first chapter of my book, Divine Blogging, totally free. And if you really want all the great benefits of a monetised blog, but really don’t want to have to deal with it yourself, check out my Divine Blogging Design service and book a free consultation…