Starting a Profitable Blog: The Ultimate Guide for 2021

Starting a Profitable Blog

Thinking about starting a money-making blog?


Well, you’ve come to the right place.


You might be wondering, “Is blogging still profitable in 2021?”


In short, yes. If anything, the booming blogging industry has taken on a whole new life in 2021.


What started as a hobby where occasional posts were cast out into the internet, has now blossomed into a fully-fledged industry from which people have built their entire careers.


As of 2021, it is estimated that there are over 500 million blogs populating the internet.


Many have turned to blogging to not only decorate their businesses but to build a business entirely from scratch.


Every year there are more innovative and surprisingly easy methods to monetize blogging, which is one of the reasons it has become so popular.


Another reason is the appeal of working from the comfort of your own home.


Whatever the reason, we're sure you have some burning questions on how to begin the daunting, yet exciting process.


This article will give you an extensive guide on how to build an effective, profitable blog.

1. Create your blog

Create your blog

Obviously, to earn a profit from blogging, you would first need a blog.

1.1. Find your niche

A niche market is a sector of a larger market that targets a more specific audience.


In finding your niche audience, you can know exactly who you are connecting with and are therefore able to cater more specifically to their needs.


To help find your niche, you're going to have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What am I passionate about?”
  • “Is there a market that aligns with my passion?”
  • “Does this market have a large enough audience?”
  • “Can I offer a unique stance that will  help me stand out?”
  • “Will I be able to relate and connect to the audience in an authentic way?”

You should hopefully be able to narrow yourself down to a few niches.


With these options, it’s time to consider the hard question.


What will make the most money?


Unfortunately, passion doesn’t always equal profit.


That's why it’s crucial that you focus your blog on a profitable niche.


These are specific niches that have the potential to help you earn a bigger profit than others.


Some of the most profitable niches from last year include:

  • Fashion
  • Food
  • Personal development
  • News
  • Traveling
  • Finance and Investment

By combining the niches that suit you and your budget, you should be able to find a distinct sector of the market into which you can launch your blog.


Your next task is to dive headfirst into research — learning every corner of your sector so that you can use it to your advantage.


A keyword generator is a great tool for understanding your niche.


By searching for keywords within your niche, you can find out exactly what your niche audience is asking for.


Some important research topics are:

  • Niche audience - Who are they? What do they want? What do they like? Is there a demand that is not being met?
  • Competitors- Who are the leaders within your niche market? What do they do well? What could they be doing better? Is there something that they are all missing?

With this new knowledge, you can stride confidently into your niche market and find a comfortable spot for your blog to flourish.

1.2. Find a platform that suits you

Now that you’ve decided on your niche, it’s time to set up your blog.


To start, you'll need a blogging platform.


These are platforms offering software that help users manage and publish blogs, as well as supply direct communication between blogger and reader.


Here's the list of the top free blogging platforms:

  • Medium: If you're looking for a simple and sleek design, Medium is the platform for you. Medium keeps it simple by focusing on the written content over the visual content
  • WordPress: WordPress offers great value, including your own free WordPress.com subdomain as well as access to an enormous community of readers. WordPress offers a wide variety in all aspects and is incredibly good at creating an individualized experience
  • LinkedIn: This platform is perfect for those trying to connect with professionals and businesses. Not only is it a platform made for professionals, but it also has useful features that send your posts directly to your built-in audience
  • Instagram: Instagram provides a unique blogging experience and is recommended more for microbloggers. Other than it being one of the most popular platforms in the world, its format works excellently with visual-focused content.

Systeme.io also offers a blog feature that is incredibly easy to use and perfect for blogging newbies.


And yes, the service comes at a price, but it comes with many extremely helpful tools to optimize your blog.


Monetizing your blog is also super easy with systeme.io with all the extra features such as email marketing, affiliate programs, product and service sales, online courses, webinars, and much more.


Each of these top-blogging platforms will provide templates, themes, and functions that should make the building and publishing of your blog a smooth, simple process.

1.3. Let your concept drive the building process

Let your concept drive the building process

There are two main approachesto creating your blog concept:

  • Building your blog around a product or service
  • Using your blog to share advice, expertise, and experience

Though the method of earning a profit is very different, both are equally as effective.

The choice comes down to your passion, skills, and niche.


It’s time to start carefully crafting your blog around your concept.

This is where that earlier research comes in handy.


The newly discovered knowledge of your niche audience can help you design your blog to focus directly on the needs and wants of your viewers.


Right off the bat, you want three things from your viewers:

  • To instantly find your blog appealing to the eye

The first point focuses on the overall theme of your blog.


Many readers can be lost in those first few crucial seconds of viewing your blog purely because they don’t find it attractive.


So, remember to choose your design wisely.


Looking at your competitors can help narrow down your decisions


There'll most likely be a common aesthetic among your competitors.


The trick will be to create a balance between being similar enough to your competitors so that you fit into the market, while also establishing a unique voice that'll separate you from the rest.


If you're struggling with the design of your blog, here are some examples to spark inspiration.

  • To immediately know the intention of your blog

To achieve the second point, your methods need to be more direct.


Your concept should be front and center — subtlety is not your friend for this one.


The lack of ambiguity allows your reader to know exactly what your blog is about and really helps draw in your niche audience.

  • To instantaneously connect with the content
connect with your audience

Lastly, you must connect with your audience through your content.


Things like format and functionality are essential aspects of accessibility.


The easier it is for your reader to understand and navigate your blog, the quicker it is for them to find the content they're looking for.


There are a few tricks to help optimize the format of your posts so that you gain maximum interest — here's a very helpful article with some excellent tips on how to do just that.


Your content should concentrate on answering the questions, solving the problems, or meeting the demand of your niche audience.


This will keep your audience coming back for more and help you build a consistent reader base.


Let’s look at an example to see how it's all applied.


Check out Our Food Stories — a food, home, and travel blog

Our Food Stories

Instantly, the viewer is hit with the stunning, sleek design and is welcomed into the warm and cozy home of Laura and Nora, a photographer and food stylist from Berlin.


The front page swipes through relevant posts of delicious recipes and beautiful interiors, immediately establishing the blog as part of the food and interior design niches.


Decorated with carefully composed photographs, their posts follow an elegant style and journal-like format, sharing their experiences and expertise.


This offers an instantaneous personal touch that's so important in a niche that is built upon personal experience.


This example illustrates how a consistent and appealing theme centered around a clear purpose that caters to the demands of the audience creates a blog that is tied perfectly together.


Notice the pop-up screen asking you to join their mailing list? 


That’s just another thing that Our Food Stories does right.

Continue reading to find out more about the importance of email lists and how to use them effectively.

2. Promote your blog

Promote your blog

With your blog up and running, the next step is to get your blog in the hands of your readers.


The end goal is to create an online community of readers where your blog can act as a hub for like-minded people to come together.


“But, how do I keep up with the marketing strategies when they're constantly evolving?”


Well, we’ve got you covered!


Below, you'll find crucial techniques to keep you ahead of the marketing game.

2.1. Use social media to your advantage

social media

With over 3.6 billion people using social media in 2020, it's hard to deny the amount of power social media has over the world.


It's become one of the largest marketing tools to grow your business.


Social media has so much versatility, which can make it difficult to navigate.


Firstly, we need to know what we're working with.


Some of the largest social media platforms include:

Each platform has a very unique medium, audience, and tone.


So, you'll need to use each one appropriately and masterfully to fit into the tone of each platform so that you can connect with each audience.


Here's an informative article that explains the differences between each platform and how to successfully choose which ones will suit you best.


Once you have chosen your platforms, it’s time to start posting.

2.2. Consistency is key

You'll need to have a regular posting schedule to keep your audience informed and coming back for more.


They'll very quickly learn your schedule and be ready for it each time you post.


This will give your posts a jump start to success and will also keep your audience up to date on all the latest information.


You can use scheduling tools to help you, such as Hootsuite and SproutSocial.


The times you choose to post can make a large impact on your reader engagement.


An analysis of the best times to post on each platform can be found here.


Below are some tips on how to optimize your social media posts to achieve maximum engagement:

 how to optimize your social media posts

It can be just as important to connect your blog to social media as it is connecting your social media to your blog.


There are many different ways to integrate social media into your blog — adding a share function, social media buttons to send them to your profiles, or social media logins in order to comment.


This helps draw the reader further into your online brand.

2.3. Network, network, network

Another incredibly useful social media marketing strategy is networking with other bloggers.


Though they're your competition, you both have the same niche audience.


You can use this to your advantage by bridging the gap between your reader bases.


The goal is to build a network by cross-promoting their content.


As a result, they'll hopefully promote your content, which will extend your reach and will lead to a larger reader base.

2.4. Engagement is everything

One of the most necessary aspects of digital marketing is engaging directly with your audience.


This includes talking to individuals in your audience, listening to what they have to say, and using this information to better cater to their needs.


Some ways to do this is to:

  • Use your direct messaging to get to know the people within your audience
  • Be very active in the comment section, reading and replying to what your audience has to say
  • Use features, such as stories, surveys, and polls, to ask questions directly to your audience

This first-hand experience will be ten times more beneficial than any research you were able to find online.


You can get to know your audience on a personal level, further defining your niche audience.

2.5. Embrace your email list

email list

Remember that pop-up screen you noted back on the Our Food Stories blog?

Well, this is when email marketing comes into play.


Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy where sending emails is used to further connect and engage with your audience.


The goal of email marketing is to draw in prospects, convert them to customers, then turn them into loyal fans.


It's become one of the most effective and widely-used marketing tools, with 87% of marketers using email marketing to distribute their content.


First, you'll need to build an email list.


People can choose to subscribe to this list by supplying their email addresses.


With this list, you can send them all sorts of marketing content such as offers, updates, surveys, resources, promotions, and newsletters.


One of the simplest ways of building your email list, as seen in the example above, is to have an opt-in pop-up screen when anyone views your blog.


This is known as a call-to-action and encourages the viewer to act.


Viewers merely type in their email address and it goes straight to your list, opening a clear pathway for communication.


To help build your list, promoting it on social media can make a big impact.


Another extremely helpful trick is to entice your prospects with rewards or special deals.


“Sign up now and get a free eBook!”


Therefore they get what they want — a free eBook — and you get what you want — another email to add to the list.


Other good deals to consider are:

  • A discount on an offer
  • A free trial
  • A webinar
  • A free consultation

There are endless possibilities!


Now that you have the email list, it’s time to use it.


Like social media, you'll need to start sending out consistent, quality content that will offer real value to the customer.


To help with this process, an email marketing service is advised.


This is a service that offers the freedom of automating the majority of the process in your campaign.


Here's an article explaining the best email marketing service for 2021.


As with everything in business, you want to optimize your email list and find out how to use it the most effectively.


One way of doing this is segmentation.


This is a method of dividing your subscribers into smaller groups based on specific criteria to create a more personalized and relevant experience.


There are many different ways to segment your email list — here's a great article describing all the email segmentation strategies.


It’s important to remember not to spam them.


Spam can irritate your subscribers into unsubscribing, thus losing your audience.


Your email deliverability can also be affected if your emails are deemed as spam.


So, here are some tips to increase deliverability and avoid the disastrous spam folder:

5 tips to increase deliverability

These techniques will hopefully target your readers with precision, hitting them in the exact spot to transform them into avid, devoted customers.


To find out more, read this blog post sharing 8 ways to build a high-converting email list.

2.6. Focus on being SEO-friendly

SEO

SEO is something you'll hear thrown around a lot in the world of digital marketing.

“But, what does SEO even mean?”


SEO stands for search engine optimization, and, simply put, is the method of ranking high on a search engine in the organic results (the unpaid sections).


This means that to be SEO-friendly, you need to use very specific and effective techniques to optimize your content so that your blog ranks highest in a keyword search.


The more SEO-friendly, the more traffic your blog receives.


And, what makes SEO even better is that you don’t have to worry about paying to make your blog rank higher on search results.


In fact, 70-80% of people ignore paid search results, choosing to only click on the organic search results.


The key to SEO is to focus first on user intent, then on catering to the search engine crawlers.


Let’s walk through some of the most fundamental SEO techniques:

  • Emphasize keywords: you can use keyword finders, such as Ubersuggest, to find popular keywords that you can focus on in your post and increase your relevancy
  • Write longer blog posts: the higher the word count, the higher the number of keywords, the more backlinks, and the more internal links; the longer the reading time, the longer people are on your site
  • Get rid of anything that slows down your site: there's nothing more frustratingly fatal than a slow site that can so easily deter traffic. Read this article that lists 12 techniques of website speed optimization
  • Incorporate backlinking: by including links to other relevant websites and articles, you gain credibility as an honest and unbiased blog which can also help in raising your ranking in the search results
  • Use internal linking: this helps search engines establish a hierarchy within your website’s structure, adding more link value to your most important pages
  • Optimize your title tag, meta description, and headings: these play a very unique role in SEO, so to find out how each one should be approached, click here. Here's another helpful website on how to create the perfect heading (H1)
  • Be careful with your URLs: keep your URLs as simple as possible by sticking to only a few keywords that are easy to understand

These techniques should increase your traffic in no time.


If you want to further optimize your SEO, you can find even more SEO techniques here.

2.7. Use effective sales funnels

sales funnels

A sales funnel can initially sound confusing and difficult to use, making you wonder, “Is it even worth it?”


Well, let me tell you — it most certainly is! And, you probably already have one.


The key is to be able to identify and optimize your sales funnel.


A sales funnel is a model that maps out the journey a customer goes on from starting as a prospect to eventually making a purchase.


The sales funnel model has four stages:

  • Awareness: this is the point when the user first becomes aware of your blog and what you have to offer
  • Interest: this is where you try to spark the user’s interest and feed them quality content to hook them in
  • Decision: this is the stage where the prospect is deciding whether or not to make a purchase and is the time to pull out those skills of persuasion
  • Action: the user has made the purchase, but it doesn’t stop here — now you can try upselling or express your gratitude and invite them back for more

To help better understand the four stages of a sales funnel here's a useful article exploring the best sales funnel examples of 2021.


Building an effective sales funnel can take a lot of hard work and practice.


Check out these two expert blog posts detailing all the techniques on how to build the perfect sales funnel:

Systeme.io offers an incredible sales funnel feature where you can build a sales funnel in 30 seconds with only 3 clicks.


You can start your create your free systeme.io account here.

3. Monetize your blog

Monetize your blog

Now that your blog and reader base is built, monetization is the last step to a profitable blog.


With the exponential growth of the blogging industry, there are constantly new ways to make money that go in and out of trend.


Below, we'll go through the most essential techniques to monetize your blog that'll never go out of fashion.

3.1. Sell products and services

If your blog concept is centered around a product or service, this one should be pretty straight-forward — sell your product or service.


Even blogs that are based on sharing experience, expertise, or advice can still subtly incorporate products and services.


Let’s go through some of the most effective product and service options that will especially help blogs that aren’t centered around an offer.

  • eBooks:
eBooks

This is a very popular digital service product, especially among bloggers who are more experience-based.


Almost every food blogger has a recipe eBook, and every fitness blogger has an epic exercise plan.


An eBook is usually an extra product, secondary to the main concept of the blog.


For example, a food blogger might draw in readers with great recipes and expertise, and then once the reader is hooked, they'll sell them a recipe eBook with extra special recipes.


One of the reasons why eBooks are so popular is because they're so easy and profitable to make.


With no paper or publisher needed, all the earnings become profit.


If you want to write an eBook and don’t know where to start, read How to Create an Ebook From Start to Finish.

  • Online courses:
Online courses

Online courses are the perfect way to share your expertise while getting a return on your hard work.


Because, yes, starting an online course can be a lot of hard work.


But if you have the passion and can find a service to help you create your online course, it can be quite easy.


Like systeme.io for example.


They provide an online course feature that guides you through the process of building an online course as well as supplies a platform for you to launch it.


They also supply resources on how to build an online course and then how to sell an online course.


Online courses are mostly used to compliment your blog but can also be used as your main concept if needed.

  • Webinars:
Webinars

A webinar is a term used for a seminar held over the web.


Like online courses, webinars are a place to share your expertise.


Unlike online courses, webinars are usually a one-time presentation.


A webinar is either live or pre-recorded.


Live webinars take place through a virtual meeting place where the host and the audience can directly engage with each other.


Pre-recorded webinars have the advantage of multiple replays.

Webinars can be used for:

  • Training courses
  • Q&A’s
  • Expert presentations
  • Product demonstration
  • Interviewing a guest speaker
  • A panel of speakers

To host a webinar, you will need a webinar platform.


You can learn more about the different webinar platforms and find which ones suit you best by clicking here.


Systeme.io, on top of everything else, also has a feature where you can run an evergreen webinar.


Evergreen webinars are webinars that never go out of fashion!


They're usually on-demand and contain content that remains relevant regardless of the date it was published.


Whether it's an evergreen or regular webinar, there are a few important notes to keep in mind:

  • When choosing your topic, draw from your research and find something important within your niche
  • It is recommended to keep your webinar 60 minutes or less
  • Using high-quality equipment to improve the experience
  • Practicing your presentation can help the event go as smoothly as possible
  • Visual slides can aid your presentation with clarity and audience engagement
  • Also be prepared that, if it is a live event, there are most likely going to be a few hiccups, but remember to take them in stride
  • You can follow up your webinar with a call-to-action

Webinars, if done correctly, can be an easy and effective tool to market your blog, share your expert advice, and build a better connection with your audience.

  • Freelance work:
Freelance work

Freelance work is when you can work for yourself, contracting work for companies or individuals, but ultimately remaining self-employed.


The main advantage of freelance jobs is you hold most of the control, managing your rates, workload, and hours.


Your schedule can become very flexible, especially because freelance work is mostly done remotely.


That’s why it has become such a popular form of part-time work.


Freelancing is another example of a digital service that relies on your expertise and skills.


As a blogger, your service could be as straightforward as writing blog posts for other people.


There are many other options too, like a freelance photographer, web designer, copywriter, visual editor, social media marketer, etc.


Thinking of incorporating freelance work into your blog? 


Here are 21 tips for first-time freelancers.

  • Membership:
Membership

A membership works by offering premium content and deals to your members at the price of a monthly fee.


One of the main advantages of this you get a recurring, reliable source of income.


A membership program also creates a smaller, more exclusive circle within your reader base with whom you can more deeply connect and communicate.


Just remember that your premium membership content has to be much more valuable than your regular content.


Your members should never ask themselves, “Is it even worth it?”


To prevent this, you can consider incorporating your online courses, eBooks, and webinars into your membership where members have access to these resources.


Building a membership site can get quite technical, here's a detailed article on how to create a membership site in 2021.

3.2. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing has overtaken advertising as the most popular way for businesses to make money online with 81% of advertisers and 84% of publishers in the U.S. turning to affiliate marketing.


According to Pat Flynn:


“Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company's product (or service). You find a product, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”


Affiliate marketing is made up of three parts:

Affiliate marketing

The first step is to join either an affiliate network or an affiliate program.


These are two very similar concepts with the main difference being networks act as a middle man between the seller and publisher, whereas programs come directly from the seller.


One of the pros of affiliate marketing is that joining most affiliate programs and networks is free.


This means that with no expense, all the money that you make is converted into profits.


Here are lists of the top affiliate programs and affiliate networks in 2021.


Through your chosen program or network you can pick the offer that you want to promote.


To perform your job as an affiliate, you'll receive a link that you can post on your blog, social media platforms, or website.


Now, with every click on your link that turns into a successful purchase, you'll also be able to collect a commission.


It’s as simple as that!


Its simplicity is only one of the many advantages of using affiliate marketing as a method of monetization.


To find out more, check out this article on how affiliate marketing is a great asset to your blog.

4. Conclusion

With your blog building, blog promoting, and blog monetizing skills down, you should be well on your way to starting a profitable blog.


Though there are many steps to consider to reach the final product, by putting in hard work and dedication, you can trust that your blog will be booming in no time.


Just remember to follow your passion, and let it drive your entire journey to success.


Good luck, and happy blogging!

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