If you’ve done my free course Build a Profitable Blog, you know that I am not a fan of putting ads in your sidebar or trying to monetize with affiliate links, because it dilutes your brand, clutters your site, takes way to long to make real money, plus a hundred other reasons.
So if I’m taking those outdated ways of monetizing your blog off the table, what are we left with?
What are the best ways to go from Blog to Business?
This can be an awkward transition - I know because I’ve been there.
After writing free content for many years, and selling physical products, going from blog to business was a big decision.
But I knew that if I wanted the freedom to travel, the financial stability, and the life I was designing - that I’d have to take the leap. I don’t really have to say this - but yeah, I’m glad I did!
If you’re on the cusp, and ready to go from hobby blog to business without selling out or wasting your time, this is for you.
If you’re wondering how to turn your blog into a business without turning OFF your readers and driving them away, this is how.
And if you know you want to start earning money from blogging but are sick of hearing the same lame-ass advice about affiliate marketing and ad space, read on.
Today I’ve got 10 ways to turn your blog into a business, in totally awesome, non-icky ways your readers will LOVE.
1. Start doing one-day paid virtual workshops on your niche topic.
Did you know you can charge for a virtual workshop? It’s essentially a private, paid webinar or “virtual class”. I have seen one-day workshops like this priced anywhere from $49 - $499, and I personally have attended a few that I really enjoyed!
There are so many ways to interpret and deliver “digital” products, and the live event is a really unique and fun way to present what you know and get paid. The fact that it is live (and maybe even has limited seats!) makes it an urgent offer, and the live interaction and real-time Q & A is something special that most courses just don’t have.
This is a GREAT way to test out your product idea or a larger course idea - just do a shorter one-day test run of the materials for a reasonable price to test the demand, and if it goes well you know you should create a bigger product!
What you need to do:
- Choose a date and time
- Choose a VERY specific, actionable, and detailed thing that you can teach. Remember, this is a one-day workshop, so focus in on one topic you can really dig into.
- Create a sales page with a buy now button (I use DPD button on a Squarespace site).
- Set up your live workshop either with LeadPages, GoToMeeting, WebinarJam, or Hangouts On Air and prepare your teaching materials.
These are great if you’re just starting with monetizing your blog and don’t want to immediately create a full-blown course or eBook.
You can sell the spots in the workshop, deliver the content live, and if you decide to you can always expand it into a bigger product down the line. You can also sell the recording after the live workshop for a different (higher) price!
I’m working on offering more of these types of intensive workshops - so keep an eye out for those!
2. Sell a group program or group coaching sessions.
A group program is a little bit like a course, a little bit like coaching - and is a really good way to start offering your skills and knowledge to others.
I recommend that you start with a group coaching program, help everyone in the group program get amazing results, and pay close attention to what their struggles, questions and road blocks are.
You can then use this information you gathered to create a more scalable online course or product that can help more people. Don’t you love it when you get paid to do your own market research?
A group coaching program essentially consists of coaching calls within a group, worksheets and content, and a community aspect, so that everyone is working together on similar goals.
This is another product that you don’t have to spend months creating up front.
All you need is an idea, the results that you can help your clients achieve, and a coaching call schedule.
The value here is access to you, weekly calls with you so they can get questions answered and keep moving forward, and access to the community of accountability partners and friends.
What you need to do:
- Choose a time frame for your program - is it 6 weeks, 2 months, 3 months?
- Choose a price that reflects the VALUE of the program - meaning access to your expertise, access to a community and support group, any content they might receive, and of course the RESULTS. I’ve seen programs like this priced anywhere from $300 - $6,000. It really depends on your niche, market, and program!
- Set up a sales page and payment option.
- Tell your one-on-one clients that you’re moving over to a group model (and this will help you gain back some of your time!).
- Invite your ideal clients to join you in the intimate group experience, either via email, social media, or from your blog.
3. Packaged service: one-on-one coaching or consulting packages
Packaged services can really be anything - and this is honestly one of the easiest ways to go from blogger to boss. Usually people start out offering packaged services, and then move into products or group programs once they’ve worked with a bunch of clients.
If you can, narrow it down. What’s your ONE specialty? What can you help people with in a short time period?
You want your clients to feel like they are walking away with something tangible - a result, a plan, a task.
Just offering a “pick my brain for an hour” package is NOT as effective as “Let’s come up with a plan to take your blog from blah to BAM in an hour”.
You want to offer something with some sort of result, even if the client just ends up talking to you and picking your brain for an hour!
Here are some ideas for offering a coaching session with results and purpose:
>>> Together, we’ll write your about page for your blog or bio for your book cover so your ideal readers squeal “I love this person!"
>>> One hour consulting session, during which we will come up with a personalized nutrition plan for your diet.
>>> In this one-hour session, we will hone in on your niche so you can start making your blog profitable.
One packaged service I offered on Femtrepreneur was copy writing for businesses - those packages sold out right away (and I stopped offering them).
You don’t have to be a certified “expert” to be a coach, just be confident in your knowledge, expertise and skills, and offer them to people that need them!
You’d be surprised how many people just want someone they can talk about their ideas and plans with, get some feedback from someone slightly ahead of them, and make some solid progress.
4. Offer an extremely specific service
Really, the best way to get started making money online is to be specific.
Most online businesses make the naive mistake of thinking that being too niche will repel all these potential customers away. But if you don’t have any customers, you need to get very specific about what you offer. Just because you CAN do everything, doesn’t mean you should.
So choose one really specific service you can offer, either technical, creative or whatever your specialty is.
Here’s an idea for a technical implementation service, I would have payed for when I was trying to figure out autoresponders last year:
"I subscribed to your newsletter (which I love) and I notice you don’t have an autoresponder. I will create an email autoresponder and email funnel for you and implement it in your MailChimp account for $1000. It should then bring in a steady number of sales as each subscriber becomes familiar with you and is pitched your product through the autoresponder sequence."
(I would totally pay for this - doing this myself took me like a month!). If you have some results to back it up (a la “I implemented this service/system in my business/another business and it got them these results") use them!
Basically offer a specific service to the people that you follow and read their stuff.
What’s one thing you might know more about than them?
Creating Facebook ads? Creating a stand-alone site for their course currently a page on their site? Create a simple app that brings people to their latest blog post or video right from their phone? Can you offer blogging services for startups or small businesses online? Pick someone to target, figure out how you can help them, and offer your results-based services to them!
5. Create an eBook or digital product
This is probably my favorite way to go from blogger to business, and it’s certainly the most scalable and lucrative way to turn your blog into a business. The one-to-many model (as opposed to one-on-one model) will allow you to sell more, help more people, and reach a bigger audience.
This is also one of my favorite ways to turn your blog into a business because it genuinely HELPS your readers.
It respects them by being created by YOU for THEM - instead of you trying to sell another person’s product or get ad clicks from them.
They read your blog because they like YOU - not a sponsor company. So give them what they want - more of you. More of your content. Your best stuff. Access to you.
If this is your business model of choice, go read The Ultimate Guide to Creating, Selling, and Publishing your eBooks! It has everything you need to take this idea and make it a reality.
Yes, I totally expect you to Pin this!
6. Create and sell an online course.
Can I just take a moment to say that I love e-courses? I love making them, I love taking them, I love how much money you can make with them - so please, just a moment of appreciation for whoever came up with this idea.
Courses are my favorite digital product because they get the best results (better than an eBook, which gets read but rarely implemented) and are better than a group coaching program (because you make the program up front, so less time involvement from you).
In Your First 1K, we go through a very specific process of creating and selling your first course or product.
Many of the same principles apply as I explain in the Ultimate Guide to Creating, Selling, and Publishing your eBook, but the format, and delivery is different.
Courses can command a premium price, and they incorporate different mediums (video, audio, text, etc) in order to create the learning experience. Most courses have a community aspect (like the amazing live chat group in Your First 1K) which adds super value!
Courses can also be launched and relaunched, which means you can plan your revenue around bi-annual or quarterly launches.
In Your First 1K we go through step by step how to pre-sell, create, launch and market your course or product. If you want a ridiculously detailed, next-level step by step course to grow your blog and turn it into a business, go sign up.
7. Start a “membership” service or site.
A membership site is a strange beast - it has a lower recurring monthly payment rather than a large up front payment, like a course might have.
One issue people with membership sites is that you essentially have to continue making the sale again and again.
Meaning, you have to convince someone to sign up for the membership site first, and then you have to continually “sell” the benefits in order to retain customers. Many people have trouble with retaining people, even if they do have success with the launch, it can be difficult to hold people’s interest.
But if you like managing a community, creating exclusive content on a regular basis, and prefer the “stability” of having a pretty steady monthly recurring revenue, then a membership style site might be perfect for you.
What does it entail?
Membership sites often have group calls, an exclusive members-only forum, exclusive content that only members get access to - all for a subscription fee.
One way to work around the recurring payments issue while still offering a membership site, is to offer one up front cost for the year, more like a course pricing. So in your sales page you can say that the membership is “$25/month”, but the cost is $300 per year up front. This means you’re less likely to have people dropping off after 3 months.
You can get very premium with membership sites, requiring applications or screening new members to make sure the quality of the group remains very high.
I’ve also seen people turn their free email newsletters, free forums and groups into paid products once they get to a certain level of popularity.
So if you’re already running a free community - like a Facebook group or other forum - think about how you can introduce a premium option.
Alternatively, you can announce that your free group is now becoming a paid group - and start charging a small fee per person per month.
I’ve seen case studies where people have retained 90% of the original group even when they introduced new prices and fees. If people LOVE your community forum, many of them will want to pay to stick around.
I know for me, when I get a “taste” of something for free and really like it, I will absolutely pay a membership fee to continue getting that value.
8. Speaking gigs
Paid speaking gigs were actually my first revenue stream from blogging. Before I set up a services page, before I had products, I would get inquiries about public speaking. And I would also seek out those opportunities.
9. Physical products & shop
Though physical items have more overhead and work associated with them than some of the other options for turning your blog into a business, it’s still an awesome option.
When I was actively running my online clothing shop as a full-time job, it was tons of fun. It’s creative, challenging, social - an art and a science.
If you’re ready to start selling Physical Products on your blog, you need to decide what kind of shop you’re going to be. Are you selling your own items? Handmade? Locally Manufactured? What would your blog readers like? If you review beauty products, can you sell beauty products? If you are a style blogger, can you sell your clothes or curate a shop? If you're a brand can you sell merch? When I was in a touring punk band, one of our main revenue streams was our band merch: t-shirts, records, and pins and posters put gas in the van and paid for our meals on the road.
If this sounds like fun for you and a good fit for your brand, I have so many resources for you:
10. DO IT ALL! EVERYTHING!
Successful entrepreneurs have multiple streams of income. (I actually saw a statistic that said that most millionaires have at least 7 streams of revenue).
If you’re turning your blog into a business, you might not know right now which income streams will work the best for you.
In my experience, the products and income streams that you least expect it will end up being your best sellers. And your business and blog will evolve to accommodate that - once something really starts to take off, you will adjust your offerings, close the doors on some things, and expand other products.
But when you’re just starting out, the only way to know is to try it.
So yes, I’ve offered ALL of these types of products, services, and business models at one point or another over the last few years of being an entrepreneur.
I’ve sold physical products, been a consultant, offered very specific service packages, written and sold eBooks, courses, and group programs. And having done all of those things, I know that they best way to figure out what’s going to work for you in your business is trying it for yourself.
Listen to your readers and customers. And if something starts gaining momentum that you didn’t expect to, go with the flow! Embrace it and expand it.
My question for you, and what I want you to tell me in the comments, is what business model are you going to explore to turn your blog into a business?
Which of these ten ways to turn your blog into a business sounds like the best fit for you and your audience?
If you're new here, I want to invite you to take my free course Build a Profitable Blog, which is better than what most people charge for (don't ask me - that's what they say!). Once you're part of the gang, you'll get access to weekly live trainings about blogging and business.
As one of my hilarious students said to me, "Mariah really lifts up her skirt and shows you everything...about her business."