This blog post was inspired by our Blab with Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom. Members of our audience hopped on video live and had the chance to ask her anything! She gave excellent advice on balancing a business and motherhood, what to do when blog traffic is slow, and how to earn passive income.
Sam Thomason of Kiwi in the Clouds hopped on Blab and asked, “How do I monetize my site when my audience loves freebies?”
Crystal certainly has experience with this dilemma, and quickly realized on her own blog that she had to find creative ways to market as well as shift her message over time to attract the right audience.
But when it comes to monetizing any site, a blogger's top priority should be making the most of their top-performing posts. This is a variation of the 80/20 rule. Maximize what's already working and you'll see big results.
Here's what to do to make the most of your popular posts:
Insert Extra Ads.
Once it's clear that a post has gone viral on Pinterest or is bringing in much more traffic than normal, you should absolutely maximize your efforts. While you may be concerned that a regular reader will be turned off by excessive ads, in this case, you're only adding extra ads to a post that's bringing in loads of brand new readers. One post with a bit more advertising shouldn't be a deal-breaker. Crystal says she monetizes her top 100 blog posts with ads by Media.Net If you use Google AdWords or any other ad network, you can insert ads in a few extra places within the post rather than just using them as sidebar ads or at the end of the post. (FYI – Media.Net ads look like text links and Crystal just uses them at the end of her best posts.)
Use a pop-up on the post to gain more email subscribers.
This can be a friendly pop-up that only appears when someone is about to leave the site. (Kirsten Thompson shares more about this here.) And make sure the freebie you offer ties in closely to the content that new reader is consuming. Keep those brand new visitors around for the long haul by staying in touch via email. Now you can build a relationship with a brand new reader and sell something later on.
Link to other similar posts.
Again, your goal should be to build a relationship with new readers for the long haul, and the longer you can keep them on your site, the better your chances of gaining a long-term reader. This is your chance to introduce your site and who you are to a brand new reader. Show off your best content. Let them know that “there's more where that came from!” Be insanely helpful by providing them with all of the answers to related questions they may have had in another blog post. Not to mention, inter-linking is great for SEO!
Use affiliate links.
Even if you're sharing a free printable with your audience, you can talk about the high-quality paper you like to use to print and frame your work. You can share the printer and ink you use. Ellen Russell of Create in the Chaos does this with her printable posts to make the most of them.
Always require an email address to get a freebie.
Crystal says that you need to prime your readers to know what to expect, and it's absolutely reasonable for them to expect to hand out their email address if they want to grab a great freebie. You have to get something in return for your hard work.
Annoy the Whiners.
Sam expressed some concern about readers who were frustrated at having to hand over their email address for every printable. Crystal says that you want to annoy those people so they'll go away. Those whiners are not your ideal audience. “This is what you need to do to build your business. You're not a charity,” Crystal says, “be ok with annoying the whiners.”
Write for the Audience you Want, not the Audience you Have.
Crystal realized that if she wanted to grow a successful business, she couldn't write just for the ultra-frugal –many of whom couldn't even afford her first e-book priced at $0.99! Instead, she has slowly shifted her message from just pinching pennies to people who want to change their lives and make a difference. Now, she's building an email list of motivated people who are willing to invest in a digital product that could help them.
For Sam, this may mean sharing a few less free printables and writing about high-end nursery decor more often. This will attract an audience who is interested in spending money on their baby's nursery, and also may be willing to invest money in Sam's adorable nursery art.
Share Freebies, but Bundle them into a Product.
Ellen Russell gives away freebies of her kids' activities and crafts printables, but she also bundles several together and sells them for a few dollars. People will pay for that convenience and to get all of the activities at one time, in one place. (P.S. Her robot craft pack is adorable!)
Make Subscribing Ultra-Enticing by Building a Library of Printables.
When someone hears that they'll have access to an entire library of printables just by giving up their email address, they're so in! This is a much more enticing offer than just offering one printable at a time. Let readers know that they'll not only get the current printable you're sharing, but also access to an entire library of free printables as one of your awesome subscribers. (Learn how to create a secret freebies page for your subscribers right here.)
Nurture your List.
Give your list new printables and great freebies often. They'll be so excited to hear from you and see what's new! Once the relationship has been established, Crystal recommends selling something to your list just once a month. Offer them a product that's in line with what they want and the content you regularly share.
Don't be afraid to talk about your products within your most popular posts.
While nurturing your email list is a great way to sell products, you can also sell them right within a blog post too. Don't be afraid to link to one of your great products when talking about it feels perfectly natural and it's a great fit with your current content. (Gosh I'm sure wishing we had a great product to insert here!)
Are you currently making the most of your top-performing posts? How are you leveraging them to grow your business?
~ Beth Anne