5 Top Tips to Turn a Blog into a Six-Figure Business

5 Top Tips to Turn a Blog into a Six-Figure BusinessI started a blog in 2008.

I had a 9-month old daughter, and as much as I loved her and enjoyed being with her, I was going crazy with next to no grown-up “work” for my creative brain.

I wanted to write, so I put all my creative energy and imagination into coming up with a name for the blog: The Mom Writes. (Yes, I know.)

Soon people began to notice.

I had readers commenting, sending me emails and then, one day a reader emailed to ask if I would write for his site. I said yes. He wanted to know my rates and just like that, I was in business.

I’m here to tell you how I’ve used blogging to build a six-figure business and how a blog continues to be my top marketing strategy, even after 7 years.

Since then, I’ve worked with more than 100 small businesses as a business blogger, social media copywriter, and community manager. My little blog has helped me build a six-figure business — and remains my number one marketing strategy.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Start smart … but actually start

One of the things that helped me most was overcoming my perfectionism and just starting. I had a blog on Blogger. No, not self-hosted or anything fancy. I had a simple free template and no header either.

You already know the story behind the blog name. So, you know that wasn’t perfect in any way.

Nothing was perfect. But I started. Jumped in with both feet and did it.

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back. (Don’t get me wrong. Perfectionism is great in many cases — but not when it’s holding you back.)

Just start.

2. Copy my 3-pronged strategy

Growing a blog can take time, unless you supercharge it with a three-pronged approach: Google on one side, your readers on the other side, and your niche in the middle.

This approach helped me land clients within the first 6 months of blogging.

My niche was parenting and simplifying life at home.

My readers started resonating with my content because I was just like them. I knew what they struggled with and shared how I resolved those struggles. And I always let them know that I’m a writer and what I enjoy writing about.

Naturally, they would think of me each time someone in their circle mentioned they needed a writer.

Google started loving my content because I used my growing SEO knowledge to optimize my posts. This helped bring targeted traffic from the US and Australia to my blog.

More readers = more eyeballs on my content = more business.

This three-pronged approach is what I’m using to date, including with my content marketing site, Content Bistro. It still works.

3. Your blog posts are your portfolio

When you’re starting out and don’t have a portfolio to showcase, a blog is your best friend.

Direct prospective clients to some of your best content. I’d share links to blog posts in their niche, whenever possible. For instance, a baby products website loved my posts on co-sleeping and reading to my toddler and hired me to write for their business blog.

Do this, and you’ll have a much stronger conversion rate. Ask me how I know!

4. Invest intelligently

Being a writer online can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to invest funds and what to bootstrap on.

There are courses, website themes, tools, conferences, and so much more that requires forking out cash.

Some of these investments are smart, but some are unnecessary.

Invest in a professional looking design for your blog and website. Invest in courses and mastermind groups that build your knowledge and give you community support.

Invest in conferences where you can meet fellow bloggers, writers, and business owners.

This August, I flew across the world from India to Australia to attend a blogging conference. A big investment but it was totally worth it. I learned a lot, met some amazing people, and came back with a couple of new clients as well.

5. Build a bouquet of services

Finally, and most important, use your blog to offer a variety of services.

Besides writing for freelance clients, I coach beginning bloggers and aspiring work-at-home moms, sell e-books, and offer community management and Web, SEO, and social media copywriting services.

All of these services add up to my income every year.

If you’ve stayed away from building a blog, reconsider. It can be one of your biggest business-building tools and probably, the most inexpensive one as well.

Does your blog bring you clients? Share how you do it in the comments below.

Prerna Malik is a gourmet copywriter and community manager for time-starved entrepreneurs at Content Bistro. Snag her free eBook, Social Sizzle, to supercharge your social media.

MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR BLOG! Small Blog, Big Income: Advanced Ninja Tricks for Profitable Blogging. 90 Tips to Make Money Blogging. By Carol Tice

 

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65 comments on “5 Top Tips to Turn a Blog into a Six-Figure Business
  1. Anika Devi says:

    Perfect as you said. I have improved my income from blog by your tips. Thanks.

  2. Tabitha says:

    Thank you Carol. Where can I get clients who I can offer pro bono projects? I have written a few simple articles for unique gifter and that is the only place I have a by line.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Tabitha, prospects for pro bono work are all around you, from nonprofits where you volunteer to small businesses you patronize. Free help? It shouldn’t be hard to get someone interested. 😉 And once you have 4-6 samples, it’s time to start charging.

  3. Tabitha says:

    Thank you for this great post. I’ve learnt a lot from the post and the comments. I quit my 8 to 5 job to focus on freelance writing and blogging full time. I have realized that for one to stay away from content mills and sites like Upwork a portfolio is key. I’m starting my free blog now in order to have a portfolio.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Tabitha, your own blog is better than nothing…but a lot better than that are pro bono projects you do for real clients, where you can get a testimonial.

  4. Sonika says:

    Thank you for your answer. It’s something that I will keep in mind and into consideration, but what I am really interested in is: do you need to have some sort of firma,to pay taxes, in order to be a freelancer? (I mean sell articles, translate, or whatever) Can someone explain this to me, please? This ia a domain that is new to me,meaning freelancing and I do not have anyone near me that is doing it to be able to ask her/him. This is why I dared to ask it here.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Aha — Sonika, you can check out my ebook Freelance Business Bootcamp for everything you need on how to create a US-based business, and the choices of business form/type. Yes, you pay taxes. The SBA website also has good info.

  5. Sonika says:

    Thank you for your post. For some time now I am researching for begining a blog. It’s not so difficult if you have something to say. The only problem I am still trying to figure it out is after I make the blog and say I try to sell my services is if I need to have some legal form as a freelancer. Do you all have some sort of legal form as writers? I will be more than happy if I could solve this issue.
    I love your posts, Carol’s and Linda’s. Are all very inspiring and helped me a lot. Sincerely Sonika

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m not sure what sort of legal form you mean — perhaps a contract between you and your clients? If that’s what you’re driving at, yes, you don’t want to work without a contract. You can write up something simple about deadline, fee, and who owns the rights to the work, as well as payment TERMS — when you are to be paid, 50% up front, for instance. We have a lot of sample contracts inside my Freelance Writers Den community, and some are included in my Freelance Business Bootcamp ebook as well.

  6. I have found, especially for new writers, that the KISS method works very well. Do what you love, and you will do it well. Do it all the time, and you will become an expert and can make money at it. Try to do too many things, and you will reach burn out and become disenchanted.

    I am a writer. I am not a designer, or an IT tech. I hate all the bells and whistles some people think are necessary for a blog. I write well, so I stick to writing, and this has been profitable for me. I am quite certain if I invested a ton of time in learning how to make my blog pop and fizzle with all sorts of widgets and such I would waste a lot of time that I should spend writing.

    I have defied tons of advice and used Blogger (aka Blogspot) exclusively for several years, and I recommend this for new bloggers. After you learn the ropes you may be interested in switching to WordPress. I never have. I have found for people like myself who “just write,” Blogger is perfect, and WordPress is a headache.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Trina, if you’ve been able to monetize a blog you run on Blogger, then congrats, because I RARELY hear of that. Their format really limits what you can do. But you’re certainly right that you can start free there, or on SquareSpace, or Wix, or Weebly, or any number of platforms. Design and layout will be a challenge, but if you have no budget for this, it’s a starting point. Many of us end up migrating our blogs — mine started on my caroltice.com site, before spinning off to its own site.

  7. Dennis says:

    I found this article very helpful.
    I have also been meaning to create a website and monetize it but I have constantly been held back by the feeling that I do not know how much it will cost me to build a fully functional website. Any advice on this?
    I would appreciate it a lot.

    • Dennis,

      You can create a blog for free at blogger.com. Many people use a blog as their website, especially to give it a try for the first time. After you establish your blog and get a following, you may want to switch to WordPress and purchase a custom domain, but you can do this with Blogger too. Long and short, Blogger is free and very easy to set up if you have never done so before.

  8. Mikos Page says:

    Perfect tips for a beginners in blogging .

  9. Nia says:

    This was so motivational! I just started a new blog for my freelance and social media management business. Of course, I’m dealing with the usual bouts of fear and drumming up clients but overall I’m excited and this article is pointing me in the right direction. Thanks!

  10. Larry says:

    I believe you are running a scam Ms. Tice. Know that I have talked too, and I mean know one, has made a damn dime off your program, you and Linda both. I want you both to know, that what ever your are trying to pitch is garbage, but you’ll both be out of business soon.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m not sure why you felt compelled to post this on Prerna’s guest post, “Larry,” but all I can say is if I’m running a scam I’m doing it wrong. I think the point of a scam is to bilk people while not doing any work…not put up over 700 FREE posts of useful information, spend scores of hours developing classes, and so on. I’m not pitching a single thing in this post. But I’ve learned that no matter how hard you try to help writers earn more, somebody thinks you’re a fraud.

      Luckily, this post comes as I’m reading through dozens of testimonials on all the better gigs writers got from Linda’s and my fall Pitch Clinic. Not sure who you have talked “too,” but maybe you want to talk to some of our students? I’ve learned I can only help writers who believe they have the potential to earn a living as writers.

  11. Noelle says:

    Hi Carol,

    I started my blog just a few months ago. I love to write in Spanglish and reflect about my life as an immigrant in the USA, however I have not studied writing, marketing or anything similar so I’m struggling with how to connect with readers and the SEO concept is foreign to me. Leaning as a go…

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Hi Noelle!

      Congratulations on starting.. That is the first step and really, we all are learning as we go. 🙂

      Take it ONE step at a time and make sure that you apply what you learn 🙂

      All the best!!

  12. Rhonda Swan says:

    These are great points that you make here. Putting together great content is key. People are looking for someone to invest in them.

    Keep living unstoppable!

  13. Judith Docken says:

    Thank you so much, Prerna!

    Your follow-up comments – and Carol’s as well – are as useful as article itself.

    I have been spending the past year learning everything I can about becoming a full-time freelancer, and Carol Tice’s website, classes and e-books have been invaluable. I’ve started a couple of blog websites on my own and have learned that I am not a web designer. I finally made an investment in my goals and hired someone to build a professional-looking website for me that actually works and plan on launching that shortly. As you mentioned, I want it to have different aspects that will bring in income – 1.) A newsletter/blog (with a free e-book for new subscribers), 2.) A “hire me” link so I can write for publications and companies and 3.) A way to sell fiction novels that I have written.

    I also want to learn how to monetize all this and make it work for me. I know a blog can be a viable income stream so I want to make it happen. I’m working full-time while I build this and my goal is to be freelancing full-time by the end of 2016.

    I know I can do this. I am not afraid of not being “good enough” (I know you learn by doing) and I am researching everything I can find on blogging, epic newsletters, freelancing, marketing, etc. My biggest sticking point is pinning down my “Niche”. I have no idea what my Niche is. My current full-time job is as an administrative assistant and I have no specialization, but I want to move away from the Admin Assistant label I’ve been stuck with for 12 years. My general focus right now is encouraging people to dare to follow their own dreams, to be the best version of themselves that they can be, instead of being a copy of someone else. It’s kind of vague, and I’d also like to write company profiles for businesses, but I’m going to move forward like I know what I’m talking about and hope my Niche will present itself.

    Thanks again for all the great information.
    Judith

    • Carol Tice says:

      Judith, there are plenty of ‘uplifting/inspiring’ type blogs that do very well — I think that’s a niche.

      Glad my blog and other materials are helping you!

      The only problem I see with your model is that we find freelance writing clients don’t want to hear you’re a fiction novelist. Then, they don’t want to hire you — they think you’d rather be writing your novel! So you may want to build a separate platform for promoting, list-building and selling fiction.

      • Judith Docken says:

        That’s a good point, Carol. I hadn’t considered that. That actually helps my direction a bit. Thanks!

  14. Simone Rhea says:

    Hi,

    Great article! I’ve recently resigned from a 9 to 5 job to start a freelance writing career, and even though I’m not making money at the moment, it is the best thing I’ve ever decided. I’ve started by creating a blog website, to act as a portfolio. I’m struggling with the concept of SEO at the moment, but focusing on getting content down, and then will tackle finding clients. I’m also using my website to track my journey, hopefully helping other new freelance writers. Fingers crossed it turns into a six figure business!

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Thanks Simone and SO glad to hear you’re celebrating your decision to be a freelance writer! It is still early days but you’re on the right track of using your blog as a portfolio… Also, if you need help with SEO, I have a bunch of easy-to-apply tips on my site, Content Bistro. Plus, I’d recommend reading Neil Patel’s blog too:)

  15. Tom Southern says:

    Hi Prerna,

    Thanks for sharing your journey. Most inspiring. I love hearing about people’s success, especially when they started out having to create their own success, rather than having a ready-made audience/money behind them.

    I also love your strategy of writing and attracting people just like you to your blog. And how you grew because people could see how much you were like them and so understood where they were coming from.

    This is a strategy I call “common bond” strategy, seeking out people you share a common bond with – usually shared experience of a problem, struggle, frustration and letting people who recognise you know how you can help them solve the problem or overcome the struggle.

    I also like your encouragement and advice to keep writing and learning and getting better and to have goals in mind. Until I took time to set some realistic goals, I kept floundering about snatching at anything that sounded like a good idea. So, yes, set goals, keep writing and learning – and believe you can do it. And get to know other people who share your goals.

    Inspiring post, Prerna. Thanks.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Thanks so much Tom! So glad the post resonated with you!! 🙂 Also, thanks for introducing me to “common bond” strategy.. That is a new one for me!

  16. I enjoy your tips. I want to be a blogger so created Mamadi’s Blog. Would appreciate your comments

  17. Eliza says:

    Just get started is such good advice and also the hardest. I finally did it and am slowly making improvements and learning as I go. It’s easy to think ‘I just need to learn more’ but until you actually do something, you don’t know what you don’t know or what will work for you. And I can attest to using your blog as a portfolio. I did just that several years ago and got commissioned by a national magazine.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Eliza, you’re absolutely right about not letting the “fear of not knowing enough” stop you. I’m SO glad to hear that using your blog as a portfolio helped you as well.. Here’s to making more progress with your blog!!

  18. Katie says:

    I’ve begun reading and researching the topic of blogging. I’d say I’m more than a novice, because I don’t yet have a blog, but the idea’s been bouncing around in my brain for some time now. So, after reading some posts and comments and seeing the supportive community; I’m thinking now may be a good time for me to enter the world of blogging. Some concerns I have, however, are: blog title; I want something catchy, but can’t think of a good title that might attract readers. Do blogs have to focus on one specific topic/area, or can their content be more flexible? Hmmm, as I write this forum post, maybe I should do some more reading and research before I delve into the blogging community…thanks in advance for any feedback.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Hi Katie! YES to starting your blog.. So, like I said.. don’t overthink things… Everything is changeable and fixable.. So, if you do mess things up in the beginning, consider them as practical training in what not to do and move on. 🙂

      Regarding your questions.. Yes the blog title should be catchy but again it should be clear and easy-to-understand as well. 🙂 Are you in a mastermind group of some kind? Toss your title options out there to get feedback or crowdsource a title:)
      Regarding niches, a blog can have multiple topics but a focused niche.. Does that make sense? In other words.. you can write about parenting, home management, organizing, productivity but your niche will be moms 😉

      Hope that helps!

  19. I remember when the blog concept was new, it was something “everyone had to have”–then most of the “everyones” lost interest because it was too hard to keep up a schedule (if I got paid for every site I’ve seen with a Blog page, last post 6 months or more ago…), or it brought in no immediate ROI, etc. Now that blogs are becoming seriously recognized as an important marketing tool, serious entrepreneurs invariably have one on their marketing plan.

    P. S. I’m a subscriber to BeAFreelanceBlogger.com (wrote their latest published post, actually) and recommend it to anyone interested specifically in blogging for other businesses.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Hi Katherine!

      Absolutely right.. Blogs are an integral element for every solid marketing plan, whether for solopreneurs or for SMEs. I look forward to checking out your latest post too:)

  20. Shoshanah says:

    Thanks for an inspiring post. I have had a blog going for a few years now, on blogger. I have not managed to get clients from my blog and rarely get comments. I’m busy researching how to improve my blog, including how to monetize it or earn from it.

    I do see the potential but have not yet managed to earn much from it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Shoshanah, for turning your blog into a good sample that gets you freelance clients, you might take a look at my How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger ebook — it’s ALL about that and has tips from Sean Platt and other successful bloggers!

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Shoshanah Carol’s already directed you to a great resource and I have another one for you, The Business Blog Brew that you can find on my site that showcases everything you need to do to improve your blog so it can generate income and engagement..

      I took a quick look at your blog and have a few suggestions.. One would be to add bigger, better images to your posts, another would be to remove the Infolinks from the posts and the bottom of the site.. they don’t look professional and give your site a slightly spammy feel.. sorry! Also, bring more you into the mix. Add a photo and introduction of who you are to the sidebar..

      Tweaks and improvements like these will help you move forward and start seeing result 😉

  21. Aziz says:

    Nice tips, Prerna. I started my blog on Blogger but now it’s almost dead because I can’t devote the time required to maintain it. A blog is like a plant that needs regular attention to grow. When it grows, it will give you fruits. I sown the seed, but I don’t have patience to let the plant grow so I can eat fruit.
    What is the biggest mistake that novice bloggers do when blogs don’t work? Giving up? Procrastination?

    • Carol Tice says:

      I hope Prerna will weigh in soon with her take, but I’ll give you mine — when I started my blog and nothing was happening…I learned. I realized this was a form of writing I didn’t know much about, and I set out to learn all about it.

      I found people who could teach me about blog writing, design, and usability. Then, I took their advice. Every time I made one more change, learned to write stronger headlines, decluttered my layout — my subscriptions went up.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Hi Aziz! Carol has given you a great tip already.. Learning is key. Implementing is vital.

      I’d second that and also, add that when you feel like giving up {and trust me, you will come across that feeling!} go back to the basics.. Why did you start your blog? What did you hope to achieve with it? How can you make that happen?

      Sometimes, it’s just a case of burnout and I’ve suffered mine several times 😉 so I know what it feels like. However, it is important to not ignore it.. but acknowledge it and deal with it. Take a blogging break, for instance. I take one every December and use that time to revisit my values, vision, goals and action plans. I read up, catch up on courses and come back in January raring to go. 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  22. Ros says:

    Hi.

    I moved to self hosting this year but now I’m freaking out. I know what niche I want to focus on, but I keep thinking I won’t be good enough. I don’t know how to make my content amazing or how to draw in New subscribers. I took days building my site, and I’m proud of how it looks like so far. But I know I can do more. I know I can make this a living…. I’m just not sure how

    • Chelsea says:

      “I keep thinking I won’t be good enough.” <- I don't know exactly what your standard is for "good enough," but my experience has taught me that you definitely don't have to be the best to be successful. You've just got to show up, be dedicated, and be honest with your readers. They'll appreciate that so much more than you being an overly-credentialed "expert" in your field.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ros — stop thinking “I won’t be good enough.” Think “thousands of bloggers are doing worse.” Because it’s true. 😉

      If you don’t know how to make your content amazing, you can check out this thread:

      http://www.makealivingwriting.com/tag/blogging

      Or check out my Products I Love page for a couple of blogging community and training programs I recommend.

      • Ros says:

        Thank you so much. I’m in the tab and there is so much information. Didn’t realise one has all these tools and resources to their disposal.I’m excited about Jon Morrow’s resources. I have heard a lot about him, but I’m ashamed I didn’t utilise any of his work before.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Oh Ros! You already know that my blog till date has a “not good enough name!” and it still hasn’t stopped me or held me back.. Don’t do that to yourself!

      Like you said.. You KNOW that you can do more. You KNOW that you can make this a living.

      Go on.. Jump in with both feet and make it happen!!

      • Ros says:

        Yes Prerna.I’m reading the resources Carol referred me to. I’m realising that there is a place for my blog in the world:)

  23. Marcie says:

    Thanks for sharing how your blog helped your bottom line, Prerna. I am currently earning more from my blog through services. I freelance for organizations and publications, write bios and sell my eBooks. I was a little slow at believing that my skills and expertise could convert to dollars via my blog, but I now know better. Planning to earn 6 figures in 2016.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      You’re most welcome Marcie! And great to hear that your blog is helping you market your services.. That is exactly what I’m talking about;) And cheering you on for your 2016 goals!!

    • Denise Doles says:

      If I have written responses on blogs, is there a way to retrieve them for my portfolio? I think I may have some (hand written notes) but not the good ones.sigh

  24. Jaime says:

    Thank you for encouraging people. Now is the time to start a blog. In 2014 there were 3 billion people around the world connected to the internet. That # will rise as more people around the world get connected to the internet. Most internet surfers and readers will read several blogs and websites. The facts are very positive. The time to start blogging is actually *right now*.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Absolutely Jaime and the key thing is to be a blog that builds community and value for its readers. While the # of blogs will continue to climb, blogs that provide incredible value will always stand apart.. Case in point: This very blog 😉

  25. Blossom says:

    Great article! I’m 18 and just started my blog a couple of months ago, and it’s just so fun, I didn’t really put much effort into making it profitable right now. But why not get paid for something I love doing? I’m so afraid to spend money, but that conference trip was a well-spent investment. If an opportunity like that comes to me, I don’t think I will be that hesitant to accept it because of your experience. Thanks for sharing!

    Oh and when your children grow up, you can take them to my website filled with school tips and teenage life rants!

  26. Noman Nazir says:

    Hi Prerna,
    I’m a freelance writer and write for whatnrxt.pk.
    I have a descent portfolio of 160+ artucles.
    I dont own that blog. The owner pays me $3 per 300 words posts. I know it’s v. V. Low but Something is better than nothing.

    I desperately want to start my blog and write for high paying sites – carol tice published a list of 79 high paying sites. The problem is that something is holding me back:it may be perfectiinism or anything else I only want to ask u is there any remexy other than wat u stated?

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’d challenge the idea that in freelance writing a pittance is better than nothing, Noman. I actually think it’s WORSE — because if you write for FREE to build your portfolio, you never become confused that it could turn into or be built into a living. You realize immediately that you should do it for a very limited time…and don’t stick around until you’ve written 160 articles at starvation rates.

    • Prerna Malik says:

      Hi Noman.. Carol’s already given you great advice already.. I’d also recommend to quit writing for a pittance and just use your writing to build your portfolio. Set yourself small actionable goals.. Say, sending out 1 pitch letter a day and build up from there. Start taking action now.

    • Rob says:

      I got caught in that trap for over a year. I was so busy trying to make enough money to live on I couldn’t look for better paying work. Set aside some time to find decent paying work. When I look back, it boggles my mind that I worked 7 day weeks to earn what I can make in a day now.