So You Want To Scale Your Blog Biz: What You Need To Know
Despite having been around since the very first days of the internet, blogging still remains very much a staple of the digital world.
Modern content monetization methods were all brought into existence by bloggers. And though the level of competition today is overwhelmingly tougher to contend with than it was a decade ago (or even earlier), the big improvements in technology accessibility have ensured that turning blogging into a source of income is still completely viable.
But there’s a big difference between picking up some small amounts of affiliate commission, and making enough money from your blog that it can conceivably become your primary revenue source.
Regardless of your current level, scaling a business is a real challenge. It’s essential that you do your research first — so before you try to scale your blog, here’s what you need to know.
Automation tools are essential
Blogs almost always start out as solo operations, and there’s a decent chance that you’re in that boat right now.
Handling a business solo has its pros and cons: having complete control over everything that happens is a big positive, but it makes you the bottleneck. Only through your work can anything happen — the moment you can’t keep up with demand, your business will be left in limbo. This is why you need to free up your schedule as much as possible.
If you’re serious about scaling, you’re going to have to embrace automation. Luckily, there are many automation options available for bloggers, and it’s usually easy, free and fun.
Think about all the tasks you do for your blog on a frequent (or even daily) basis. Which parts need your creative input, and which are repetitive processes that require little thought? The latter are going to cause you trouble the larger your business gets, so it’s best to find ways around them right away.
For example, take social media and email marketing. If you want to scale your blog biz, you will also need to scale your promotion.
This is where automation will be invaluable. There’s no shortage of great email automation tools, and plenty of advanced social media tools for communicating across multiple platforms.
Think carefully about everything that goes into your average day, and hunt down tools for saving time and making your life easier.
Take shortcuts with your visuals
Your visual content on your blog is as important as your written content — it’s what’s going to grab people and reel them in, illustrate your points, and inject some vibrancy to your posts. Every blog post needs at least one image to accompany it.
And although it would be great to use original images taken with an expensive camera and edited on PhotoShop until they’re perfect, this isn’t always (or usually) possible. Time and money get in the way — especially if you’re trying to scale your blog biz.
Thankfully, there are ways to get around this. The creation of free stock image sites — which offer millions of high-resolution, royalty-free images — is the blogger’s savior when it comes to scaling a business. It’s an easy way to scale up, offering you countless images to add to blog posts and social media promotion without the effort or money previously needed.
Plus, if you want to further reduce the time you spend hunting down stock images, you can try a stock image plugin (if your blog runs on WordPress) to choose an appropriate image without even needing to leave the post window.
You may need help with content production
No matter how prolific a blogger you may be, and how relentlessly you can type at pace, it’s super unlikely that you’ll be able to hugely scale your content production process without suffering from burnout. Whether this is creative (writer’s block is the worst) or physical (RSI is a real concern for bloggers), or both, you definitely want to avoid this.
That’s why you’ll need some kind of human assistance at some point.
You may not like the idea of farming out your content to other writers (especially if your blog is your baby), but you don’t actually need to do exactly that to speed up your production. There are other elements you can hand out — like research, graphic design, networking, or even editing (you can write the rough draft, then pass it to someone else to be cleaned up, or vice versa).
How you go about it is totally up to you. You can hire a full-time employee, get a part-time employee, or hire a freelancer using a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork (there are many different freelance sites that you can choose from).
The point is that you have options. And, if you feel that you’re biting off more than you can chew when it comes to scaling, you can find ways to pick up the pace without completely sacrificing your creative integrity.
Reworkable material is invaluable
Getting the most value you possibly can from each piece of content becomes more important the more you scale.
This is because quality demands get much higher, requiring you to invest more time, effort and resources into everything you do. Uploading a blog post that ultimately gets a couple of thousand views might be solid for an amateur operation, but not for a business.
One of the best ways to increase the value you receive from a piece of content is to make it reworkable.
What we mean by this is that you can create a substantial piece of content that can then be adapted for various distinct platforms. For instance, writing a post that can easily become a script for a tutorial video, or be turned into a podcast, or cut down to an infographic. There are lots of ways that you can repurpose a blog post.
It’ll take longer to create a comprehensive piece of source content, but that investment will pay off in the long run, allowing you to create 4-5 unique pieces of content that will attract different (and bigger) audiences. This will also allow you to showcase your expertise in specific areas, which makes you look great if you’re trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
A mix of evergreen and seasonal content is ideal
Broadly speaking, there are two types of digital content: evergreen, and seasonal.
Evergreen content covers topics that are always relevant. For example, this piece is (in principle) evergreen, because people seek to grow their blog businesses all throughout the year.
Then there’s seasonal content, which covers topics that are only relevant either temporarily or at certain times of the year — topics like recent news stories, or public holidays, or (as the name suggests) the changing seasons.
Each type of content has its advantages. Evergreen content is great for building up search rankings over time, because it’s always valuable to someone. Seasonal content is perfect for attracting maximum attention when deployed at the right time.
That’s why it’s good to aim for a decent split between the two for your scaled-up content — that way, you’ll cover your bases.
You should monetize everything you can
Unless you happen to be super-rich and you’re scaling up your blog business just to have something to do, making money is going to be a primary concern — perhaps the primary concern — of your blog.
To make as much money as possible, you’ll want to monetize as much as you can without damaging your content and turning your blog into a walking, talking advert for someone else’s business.
Here are four tips for achieving this:
Sign up to all relevant affiliate schemes. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, with lots aimed squarely at bloggers. When you link to particular products (many of which you might link to anyway), you can get a commission for each person who clicks that link and places an order.
Clearly state your willingness to do business. Many bloggers are interested in finding ways to monetize what they do, but not all of them are. If someone arrives on your site and decides that they’d like to work with you, you’ll need some copy in an obvious place to explain that you do work with brands and you’re willing to listen to ideas and form partnerships.
Run ads on your blog. We maybe wouldn’t advise using something like Google’s AdSense, because even a small number of automatically-loaded ads can really dissuade someone from following your website, but you can easily run manual ads. Let people know that you’ll consider ads, then figure things out as you go.
Start selling branded products. It’s great to have a large audience and build sponsorship deals with big companies, but making your brand marketable will really expand your range of options. Think about branding merchandise: print-on-demand shirt services are very convenient and easy to use.
Reach out to prospective partners. It’s always good to be proactive instead of waiting for potential income sources to find you. If you think you have an audience that would be valuable for a particular brand, send them an email. Realistically, the worst outcome is that they turn you down, and you try again with someone else.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly for your sanity, you need to know that it’s going to take time to get where you want to go.
Blogging is a slow and labored business, with audiences typically building up over years. While you can definitely get some fast results, there isn’t really any way to take a shortcut to lasting long-term success.
So be patient with your scaling, stick to your long-term plan, and don’t make any snap decisions. Good luck!