Marketing your site.
Monetizing your traffic.
There’s a lot that goes into running a money-making website! In this episode, I want to shortcut your learning curve a little bit.
To do that, I’m joined by a couple of gracious volunteers. The first is Side Hustle Show listener, Jamie Robe, who’s started a new website to help people in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms.
As a resident of Central Florida, it’s a topic he knows plenty about!
My second volunteer is professional blog coach Kim Anderson.
(You might remember Kim from an earlier appearance on The Side Hustle Show, in which she shared how she made financial independence a reality for her and her family through her blog, Thrifty Little Mom.
Listen in to our coaching call with Jamie as we try and guide him toward clarity on his content, promotion, and monetization strategies.
What strategies could you apply to your own site?
What Jamie Was Looking for Help With?
I started off by asking Jamie what he was looking to get out of the call, and he said:
- Ways to build up his readership (increase traffic)
- He wants to help people visiting his site
- He’d like to make money from his site eventually
Jamie said he knows building a blog can take time, and he’s willing to be in this for the long haul. Hunker Down Guide was 2 months old at the time of recording, and wasn’t earning any meaningful traffic or income.
Want to start a site of your own? Check out my free video series on how to get up and running.
Is Hurricane Preparation a Good Niche?
Jamie decided to build a site in the hurricane preparation niche because it’s a topic he’s interested in, and he saw a need for better content.
“There are a lot of websites and web resources about the weather, but there’s not a lot of things that have to do specifically with hurricane preparation that are realistic,” Jamie told me.
Kim agreed, adding “You’ve got a great niche, there’s a ton of room for growth.” It’s a niche where visitors will be finding the content when they are looking for specific answers, so they will already be “warmed up” to the topic Kim said.
One potential area of concern: for Jamie’s primary keyword, he’s up against some very authoritative .gov sites in the search results.
Content Strategy Tips
Jamie said he likes to write, so he doesn’t anticipate content production being a bottleneck.
He started out writing an ebook and was going to write content to funnel visitors into buying the book. He since changed his mind and plans to use the book content to publish helpful “skyscraper” posts.
Kim agreed this is a better idea. Publishing long-form content will increase his authority in this niche, and without traffic, there’s no point selling an ebook.
Kim also suggested adding specific categories instead of publishing content under “blog”.
She suggested adding the following categories:
These categories flow well and will help visitors find what they’re looking for quicker when they land on the site. Kim said there’s also an SEO benefit to doing this as it helps search engines better understand what a site is about.
It’s also good practice and makes for better user experience when content is structured clearly.
Jamie has a huge post called 101 Things You Can Do To Prepare For a Hurricane or Tropical Storm, but it’s currently a huge wall of text. Kim suggested breaking it up into sections, adding more white space, and writing supporting posts and interlinking to them in the list.
Another tip Kim had for Jamie was to add a popup when there’s a storm coming to direct visitors to content relevant to that storm. She suggested using HelloBar or a WordPress plugin called What Would Seth Godin Do to do this.
Keyword Research Strategy Tips
Jamie asked if it’s a good idea to try and get one step ahead by writing content on storms just as they starting, or even before they are on the radar.
Kim said it’s going to be hard to keep on top of news-style posts, and he will be competing with sites like CNN and Twitter. These sites have much more authority and have already built up a large user-base.
Kim suggested that Jamie could use social media for live updates on storms and potentially drive people back to his site. For example, he might follow the hashtags for storms on Twitter and offer links to relevant and helpful posts.
I jumped on Ahrefs during the call and could see there is much more search volume for broader terms around prepping and survival. My advice was to create evergreen content around those terms, rather than chasing storms.
YouTube Strategy Tips
Jamie recorded one video demonstrating how to use a grill gauge to find out how much propane is left in a propane tank, and it’s one of his posts getting traffic. Kim said videos are a good idea for his niche and recommended recording more.
YouTube has high authority, so with the right keywords, you can rank a video higher in the search results than a blog post on a new site like Jamie’s.
Jamie said he plans to make more videos and enjoys the process, so it will be interesting to see how this works out for him.
When to Build an Email List?
Jamie has created a 22-page PDF download as a lead magnet. He’s using this to collect emails because he’s seen other sites doing similar, but wasn’t sure if/when he should go after emails.
Kim said that what she’d do is make a smaller “quick win freebie” as a lead magnet, such as “My 10-Item Hurricane Prep Kit”. Then she’d offer the 22-page PDF as a paid product (“tripwire” product). She recommended listing it at around $7 and saying that’s 50% off the regular price as a starting point.
“Pinterest is the quickest return on most people’s time when they have a new site,” Kim told Jamie.
You don’t have to build up your authority to get your content noticed. With a great image and the right keywords, you can drive traffic to your site a lot quicker than through Google.
Kim said it can take a couple of months for pins to reach full maturity, so all the time Jamie spends on pinning his content now will be paying off for later in the season and definitely by next summer.
- Don’t give away all the information about your post in your image. You want people to click through to your site.
- Don’t post infographics; they have a low click-through rate.
- Make more than one pin per post, as Pinterest rewards fresh and varied content.
- Optimize your pins with keywords and hashtags.
Kim does her Pinterest keyword research on Pinterest when writing her pin descriptions. She types in her seed keywords and looks at the auto-complete suggestions that appear and the alternative topics are recommended in the search results.
If you struggle with the designing aspect of your pins and making them look pretty, Kim recommended checking out Simplifying DIY Design. Kara has loads of professional-looking templates over there you can use and some great design tutorials.
Of course, Jamie eventually wants his blog to make money.
He wanted to know if display ads are the best way to monetize his site as intends on producing a lot of free informational content. There will be some opportunities for affiliate commissions, but he likes the display ad model.
Kim said it’s a great idea, and Jamie should set his sights on joining Mediavine. Mediavine is an ad management network, similar to Adsense. The difference is that they require a minimum of 25k visitors a month to join and will help optimize your site/ads for increased revenue.
Kim gets a return of between $12-$20 CPM with Mediavine, compared to a CPM of $3 she was getting with Google Adsense.
In Summary: Kim’s Strategy for Jamie to Build a Successful Blog
Work on building authority in the niche by adding long-form helpful content, and structuring HunkerDown into relevant categories.
Perform keyword research before writing posts and follow good SEO principles to maximize organic search traffic.
Social Media Strategy
Focus on YouTube and Pinterest as these are the best platforms for new sites to generate exposure and traffic.
Add affiliate links where relevant, but aim for 25k visitors per month to join the Mediavine ad management platform.
Kim ended by saying consistency is one of the most important factors when building a successful blog. Blogging is a long-term business for most bloggers.
She advised Jamie to keep publishing the best quality content he can, and she’s sure he’ll become an authority in his niche.
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Links and Resources from this Episode
- Kim Anderson Consulting
- Thrifty Little Mom
- Kim’s first appearance on The Side Hustle Show Ep#253
- My free course on how to start a blog
- What Would Seth Godin Do (WordPress Plugin)
- Keywords Everywhere
- KW Finder
- Simplifying DIY Design
- Kim’s Pinterest page for Thrifty Little Mom (1.7m monthly unique visitors)
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