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How To Create A MILLION Dollar Blog (12 VITAL Strategies You Must Follow) – Graphic © WealthPowerBoost. Photo © Shutterstock #89157067 (under license)
I’ve actually done this, so I can help. Here are 12 “key insights” that I have learned from generating over $1.95 million dollars in 8 years blogging and running over 20 blogs / websites… one of which is a “million dollar blog” – yes over $1,000,000 in revenue. Enjoy – and take notes! 🙂
1. Model Success.
It’s advisable to study “outlier blogs” – the ones that had success on a different scale to the rest – and observe what they did. It’s always beneficial to study people, systems, niches and models that have had atypical success – because you can learn a LOT by reviewing what they did and comparing it with blogs that did not do so well! Success is not an accident – and it leaves clues. Now of course you have to create original content, but you can see what works… observe the affiliate and ad systems they are using, the layouts and themes, the tools and apps… and watch how they turn visitors into buyers. Here is a giant list of 45 Of The World’s Most Successful Blogs – together with detailed analysis and tons of insights!
2. Long Haul.
Buckle up and make sure you are mentally prepared for the fact that creating a top-tier successful blog is a grind. Blogging is a lifestyle business and you have to be ‘into it’. Yes, there are examples of blog profits that have gone ballistic in a year (and yes, I have had one of those – a health blog which hit $90k+ income in one month in month 12!) but this is very atypical. However one thing that is typical is that you are going to have to work your butt off for this kind of success! I worked like crazy on that blog! The bottom line here is that consistency and commitment are vital. You should also have a means to sustain yourself financially – because you might not start seeing money that approaches what could be called “earning a living” for a year… or three. I have had a website that did NOTHING worth knowing about for 3 years suddenly go vertical in year four and become a 6 figure-per-year website! So prepare yourself (both emotionally and financially) for the fact that it might take anywhere from 1 to 3 years for a blog to show its true form – and that is also only if you do things right, which leads me on to…
3. Commit To Ultra-High Quality Content.
I speak from experience. I have made this mistake too – and see TONS of people doing it.
Once you get going with a blog, you look at your stats and notice that at 50 pages you make “x” income. You then say to yourself: Well hey now! If I have 500 pages, I can make 10x income. Logical? Yes… and no. The important point is that if you create 500 pages of crap, you are never going to get traction. In fact you are going to KILL your chances of success – because people will not stick and the whole blog becomes a morass of mediocrity and poor signals. The kind of site that people leave and don’t come back to… the kind of site that search engines regard as worthless… the kind of site that creates a “meh” reaction on social media… and then gets buried by the algorithm. Don’t do it.
It’s tempting to attempt to scale this way because it’s cheap and fast but it doesn’t work out. Trust me. So don’t outsource your content creation to the lowest bidder, because you will be compromising on the overall awesomeness of your blog in ways that WILL come back to bite you. Don’t turn your blog into a guest post farm (I would avoid guest posts altogether honestly – unless you have some blogs that are “past their prime” or that you have lost interest in and you don’t mind “putting out to grass”). Don’t “buy cheap likes”. Don’t do any of those tricks / shortcuts to bump your numbers at the expense of quality – because low quality WILL lead to long term failure. I know, because I have tried them!
After my first truly successful blog, I tried to replicate it “faster” by creating several new blogs and outsourcing the creation of all the content. It flopped spectacularly – and deservedly so, because it was not good! Your content is your ‘golden egg’. Don’t ever end up in the position where you find yourself with 1000 pages of crap that you might as well dump because it just dawned on you that it actually adds no value to anyone’s life… or yours. Even if the content was cheap, spending money on trash is an expensive and ultimately catastrophic fail.
The world’s ultra-successful blogs tend to have one very obvious “signature”. It’s immediately visible… Ultra high-value posts, which are typically long, detailed and very carefully put together. That’s a lot of work! Cranking out 500-word cookie-cutter articles doesn’t cut it at this level. You need to go big on your content and on the value you are giving your readers. This post clocks up 2,800+ words, which is considered a nice “benchmark” to aim for in general – however there are some posts on this blog that rack up over 10,000 words. That’s more than some books that are for sale – and it’s free content. When the visitor sees that, they are more likely to be blown away by the sheer quantity of value that is on offer. And to have them “blown away” is what you should be aiming for. That is your goal.
Translation: You not only have to be strategic and have clear objectives for your content, but you have to either be something of a compulsive writer, or be able to hire effectively – which means having the skill set to be able to select, engage, direct, motivate and quality-control a content creation team.
It’s competitive. Sorry, but it is. If you put out weak, lazy, low value articles, you are going up against posts that put the effort in – and guess who will win?
Make your content “bar” of quality this: Whatever topic you create content on, seek to make that page BETTER than the competition. Earn your rank! Super-profitable blogs tend to be authority sites within their niche – which means they got to the top by virtue of being better than the rest, rather than by attempting to “trick the algorithm”.
In this realm, you’ve got to give in order to get… It’s not actually that hard – you just have to make the commitment and make the effort.
Here’s an example of how this process works from the consumer’s point of view. (You should always consider it from the consumer’s point of view!)
When researching my post 45 Of The World’s Most Successful Blogs I did the “usual ritual” – I went to DuckDuckGo and typed “highest money earning blogs list” or something. I clicked open all of the top 10 results in new tabs. This is how most people do research!
About 6 of those pages were knock-offs of each other with the same “top 10 list” and thin, rewritten content. So once I had made note of their blog list from the first tab, I closed those tabs out without even reading them. And will I go back to those blogs? No. I can’t even remember their names – and I don’t care!
But in the Google top 10 there were a couple of posts that blew all the others out of the water. See, and one of them is going to get my link! This AWESOME post. www.dananicoledesigns.com/types-of-blogs-that-make-money/ It was a deep dive post, well organized, high value to the reader, with takeaways and tips. Super high value content! And that one got my attention. It was, as they say, a KEEPER.
I ended up thinking “Wow. I wonder what else they’ve got”. And THIS is the reaction you should be seeking in your audience. THIS THIS THIS. If there is one thing you get from this entire page, this is it. Make your entire content strategy to create the reaction “Wow. I wonder what else they’ve got.” If you do that, you will win at this game. Full stop. Over-deliver. Focus on creating THAT response, daily – and KEEP DOING THAT for a few years.
THAT is how you win big at blogging! I promise you!!! 🙂 I own a million dollar blog, so trust me on this one!
Yes, those other posts made the Google Top 10 through some clever SEO tricks and so they probably think they are winning the game. But they only got one click, then those viewers are gone. And you’ve got to think about the long game: In a few years, Google will be smarter, will know that those posts suck and their crappy site will be buried. And if your passive income stream dries up… you gotta go back to work. Don’t be them…
4. Evergreen vs. Trending Content.
Be aware of the differences between these two content styles and choose the one that is going to work for you.
There are certain topics where “news becomes old news” really fast. And there are others where the post will still be viable in 10 years.
Example of Evergreen Content: Recipes. Recipes are evergreen content because that recipe will still be usable for years.
Example of Trending Content: The latest SpaceX launch.
News about the latest SpaceX launch is trending, and will perform strongly in the short term – but after a couple of weeks, that article is ‘dead’. This means, generally speaking, that you have to sustain a high volume of content creation. Both evergreen and trending content can work, but personally I like evergreen and I think the recent collapse / financial struggle of many “news” sites has borne this out. A similar phenomenon can be observed with Youtube Entrepreneurs. There are numerous topics that are still interesting and valuable several years down the track. There are some channels that haven’t uploaded for a year and yet the channel is still getting millions of views per month. Gotta love that! True passive income! 🙂
5. Don’t Solve Problems That Nobody Has.
Do your research to find the topics that are “hot”. Create content that lots of people actually want. You can create the best article in the world on… let’s make up a silly example… the average number of pages in books published between 1680 and 1690… and… your post will be interesting for about 4 people in the universe. So before creating content, you have to ask yourself “does anyone care?” – especially if you are a nerd like me and love obscure stuff. 🙂 In the beginning, I made the world’s best content (literally) on stuff that nobody gave a crap about – and despite the content quality being outstanding, it is still sitting there in the digital wilderness among the crickets and tumbleweeds, getting zero likes, ten years later! That’s a mega-fail, captain!
6. Keep Your Posts Relevant To Your Audience.
Note how the most lucrative blogs keep their content tightly focused around the main theme / topic of the blog. You can sum up what the blog is about in one sentence – and this means that people can quickly evaluate what the site is about and whether they are “in”. So if you have a recipe blog, don’t put in posts about sports cars just because you like sports cars! Most of your recipe fans won’t care! Keep each channel, site or social media page strictly focused on the topic and the audience’s related interests. So if it’s a tech blog, keep it tech and don’t post your holiday photos. The only exception here is if “the brand is you” and people just love you no matter what you are up to that day…
7. Market Research In Your Niche.
Learn what else your readers and customers are into, though. This can include not only “core interests” but things that are peripheral / related to your main niche. Random example – fans of classical music might also be into tips on how to care for vinyl LPs, learning the violin or shopping for expensive hi-fi components. Tip: Many of the most successful blogs have very well chosen content categories and you can data-mine these categories to see what already works. In the case of the top earning blogs you can bet that the category choices were no accident and are the result of in-depth research. Learn from them! “Think in reverse” when creating content. What problems does my ideal reader have? What do they need that I can provide? Put yourself in the position of the person discovering your website for the first time.
8. You Have To Love Your Niche.
While I DON’T buy in to the worn-out mantra “Do what you love and the money will follow” (because it is your customers’ interests that matter, not yours), if you are going to go the distance in blogging, you do have to believe in your content and have passion for the topic. Find your passion and stay connected with it. Sometimes, I see people killing it with sites that I personally dislike, and for a moment, I feel torn. I know that they are making BANK, but can’t bring myself to jump into that niche. Either the site or the topic… or “something”… grates on me. There will always be those niches – and I would advise to steer clear altogether.
If you find that you dislike a website or topic, for whatever reason – don’t model it “just because they made money”. Not only will it feel unfulfilling to be doing that every day, which is demotivating, but you won’t be driven to learn consistently about the subject, which is required in order to create authority-level expertise. If you try to be something you are not, you will lose authenticity and authenticity is KEY at the top level of blogging. So be honest with yourself about your interests. What you do is not for everyone and what others do is not always for you – and that’s ok. There is room for you! For some of the best and most profitable blogging niches, check out my Top 26 Profitable Blog Niches Plus 11 You Should AVOID At All Costs (Very Important!!)
Proudly exclude some of the big, lucrative niches and have faith that there ARE still niches which not only have massive potential but within which you can shine and be authentic. These are the ones. For me – I know that I could smash it with a viral news site for example, but I just can’t bring myself to do it because viral news irritates me. Having this kind of clarity and identity will help you in the long term.
9. Avoid The “Make Money Niche” Until You Have Made Money!
Super important! If you do some research into blog income, you can see that the make money niche probably has the biggest potential within the blogging world. However nobody wants to learn about making money from someone who has not made any yet – and if you dive into the examples given, you will find that these bloggers typically had a health, recipe, craft or other blog which they blew up before they created a second blog teaching people how to make money!
10. Don’t Over-Diversify.
If you are like me, it’s tempting to be like a kid in a candy store and think “I want to do them all!” Some diversification is good. It gives you resilience and you will find that some blogs naturally perform better than others. However if you spread your efforts too thinly, you won’t generate the authority, velocity and the critical mass needed for success. If you are an absolute content machine, then by all means, go for 2 or 3 blogs – and if you have a ton of brand ideas then sure, why not get them started. But it’s vital to be realistic about the workload and the requirements of a successful website. If you have too many websites in your portfolio, you simply won’t have time to focus on them all – and once a site starts to look like “ghost town” with no new content for a while, it can lose a LOT of traction. Youtube and other social media engagement scores are HIGHLY influenced by posting frequency. Google too may also measure rate of new content growth as a ranking factor.
11. Know Your Numbers.
Analytics will reveal to you which content is getting the traction. You will typically find that a most of your content performs “somewhere in the middle” relative to the others, then a few posts flop and a few blow the others out of the water. Look at your winning content in order to learn why it worked so well and to “do more of what works”. You should also take note of which posts get the highest eCPMs. Research and data mine other successful blogs. Look at which of their posts gets the most backlinks for example, or the most social media shares, to gain ideas for which topics to emulate.
12. Everything Has A Rise And A Fall.
Just be aware of it. Nothing lasts forever. I think in this industry there is a fantasy that blog income will just keep on going up and up – and people love to hype that, because it makes them look good and builds a big following of hopefuls. But the REALITY is that even the world’s biggest websites have a lifespan and a trajectory – based partly on macroeconomic factors beyond their control. Blog income doesn’t just keep going up forever. At a certain point it will cap. At this point, you can either retire the blog and continue to make some passive income from past posts (quite nice!), do more of what works, fine tune and optimize, add new programs to create higher income per visitor, or sell the blog (note however that in business you will often hear it said to “sell just a little too soon” – in other words while it’s still hot! Buyers are often put off something that has cooled down and seems past its peak.)