I am willing to wager that one of your goals for 2012 is to make more money online than you did in 2011.
If so, great! I want to help you figure out whether you need to do more of what you did last year and/or add new business-building activities to your repertoire.
Read the recommendations below for ideas that will increase your bottom line.
Test Your Market and Commitment
If the blog you started in 2008 has never made a dime and the thought of trying to write yet another blog post about contact lenses leaves you cold; it's unlikely that the blog will start producing big fat commission checks this year either.
Take a good hard look at your blog topic.
Is there a market for its related products and services or did it decline with middle class disposable incomes during the recession? If the market has vaporized, it's time to reassess your investment in that blog. You can let it age and return to it when the market improves — or sell it.
You should also re-evaluate continuing your blog if the market remains strong, yet your interest in the topic has vanished. If you can find the spark that originally inspired you to start the blog, fuel that fire! Otherwise, let it go and spare yourself the pain of boredom. Let it go, try to sell it or find someone to write for you on a regular basis.
If you decide to let your blog go, start another in a more profitable and interesting niche.
At a bare minimum, start building your portfolio / business card site this year.
Use the Right Tools
Bloggers have access to many awesome free tools such as:
- Google Analytics
- Google Reader
- Google Webmaster
- and many more…
Making good use of those tools can help you make piles of ‘extra' cash in commissions.
For example, you can decrease your blog's load time by using Google's Page Speed. When readers can access your content faster, your conversions will increase and you make more money.
However, there are a few essential tools on which bloggers must not skimp — even if free options are available.
Those who want a hobby site to entertain friends and family, can do so for free with Blogger or WordPress.com. Or, just stick with Facebook.
Need convincing that owning your own domain is an absolute necessity?
OK, here's one of the most compelling reasons — Merchants decline applications of affiliates who use third-party hosting providers, i.e. WordPress.com, as they are regarded as unprofessional.
You also need an autoresponder service.
If you rely on Feedburner for blog broadcast delivery, make this the year that you start building a real list of blog subscribers whom you contact, even when you don't post to your blog.
Every successful money-making blogger uses a professional autoresponder service to build their subscriber lists. I've been using Aweber for over a decade, and recommend them above all other services. If you're a new customer, you can test out an Aweber account for just a $1.
A list of people who are interested in your topic and what you have to say will always be your greatest business asset.
Better yet, you might make some friends amongst those readers…
Start Connecting with People
I've remained in this business for over a decade because I enjoy connecting with the people I meet online who share my interests.
Feedback – positive or negative – helps me make my business better. Positive feedback tells me I've hit the mark and that I need to do more of the same. Negative feedback indicates that I need to review and revise my approach in one or more areas.
Learning something new everyday encourages me to foster even more relationships and there are so many different ways to connect with people online.
Responding to folks who comment on your blog is first and foremost. Not each and every one, but certainly to those who have asked a question or left a very thoughtful and detailed response. In doing so, you forge relationships and build credibility as a trusted authority in your niche.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr accounts increase your online presence. When those accounts are properly connected, posting to one will show up on others, i.e. with your YouTube and Facebook accounts connected, a video upload to YouTube will result in a notification on your Facebook page or profile. Each notification is an opportunity to bring visitors back to your blog or find new readers.
Posting thoughtful comments on others' blogs not only builds backlinks, but your reputation as well. Make sure the blogs on which you post comments are in a niche relevant to your own — and don't pull any ‘cheap shoes‘ tricks.
Meeting with merchants at an industry conference is another fine way to build relationships and increase your commissions as many will offer higher payouts to affiliate marketers whom they meet in person. Trading war stories with fellow bloggers is also fun, highly educational and bound to increase your bottom line.
Blog Early, Blog Often
If you blogged once a week last year, try to double or triple your output in 2012.
Increasing the amount of unique content that you publish is a sure way to get Google to reward you with more free traffic. More visitors always means better earnings.
Don't have the time to blog more often? Consider partnering with a writer, hiring a freelancer or buying PLR.
Review, revise and re-use your existing blog content.
Frustrating readers with out-dated content or broken links is a sure way to make LESS money, so review your blog for posts that are out-dated or no longer relevant… but do NOT delete them.
Old posts that still attract traffic can be used to redirect visitors to newer, more relevant material. Simply add a bolded notice to the top of the post with a link to the new material. Make the sentence highly noticeable by using a color not used elsewhere on your site.
Check your blog regularly for broken links – I use the Broken Link Checker plugin.
Check for links that DO work, but which do not link to the site or product that you intended! Sad, but true – I've come across a small percentage of merchants that will change the landing page in such a way that you will no longer be compensated for referred sales.
Another option is to update and re-post articles. For example, if you promote a particular event every year (such as I do with Yanik Silver's Underground Seminar), simply put the post back into Draft mode, enter the new information and re-publish it.
Too, review posts for opportunities to link to other relevant posts on your blog. Consider creating a new post that lists 5 – 7 articles and call it a ‘series'. 🙂
Make a Plan and Work Your Plan
Read the Affiliate Marketing: Month-by-Month series of articles which highlights holidays and events.
Use it to create a publishing schedule for your blog and get suggestions for products and services you might consider promoting throughout the year.
To help you create a plan and stay on track with your plan without getting overwhelmed, here are some helpful articles.
I wish you all the very best of blogging success in 2012!
Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!