Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.
There are certain things every blogger must be able to do in order to succeed at blogging.
Of course knowing how to write well and get your points across to the reader is at the top of the list.
However, there are other things that are just as important that don’t really have anything to do with the “blogging” process itself.
Today I’m going to concentrate on one of the most important things bloggers can do to ensure their long-term success: Diversify!
We’re constantly hearing how important it is for investors to diversify their portfolios. After all, putting all of one’s “eggs” in the same proverbial basket is a recipe for disaster.
Well, the same principle applies to blogging.
With that in mind, here are three things that ever blogger needs to diversify in order to ensure their long-term success as a blogger:
1 – The technical foundation of your blog
And if you decide to go the self-hosted route you’ll need three things in order to succeed.
First, you’ll need to register (i.e. purchase) a domain name for your blog.
I chose RicksDailyTips.com for mine, but you can choose any domain that suits your fancy as long as it hasn’t already been registered by someone else.
Next, you’ll need to subscribe to a web hosting plan with a good hosting company.
And finally, you need to arrange for a good backup plan in case your blog’s server ever crashes and you need to restore your blog’s files from a backup.
Most web hosting plans give you the option of using the same hosting company to register your blog’s domain name, host its files on their server and back those files up onto the same server.
As you can see, that’s extremely convenient.
However, I strongly recommend that you skip the convenience of doing all those things through the same company.
Why? Well, remember what I said above about putting all your eggs in one basket?
That’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you allow the same company to register your domain name, host your blog’s files and then back those files up onto their server.
It’s extremely important that you diversify by using a different company for each of those services.
There have been numerous cases in which a hosting company would hold a blog’s domain name, blog files and backups hostage in response to a dispute over terms, pricing or some other issue. In fact, this happens quite often.
If your web host also serves as your domain registrar and backup service they can easily prevent you from moving your blog to a new hosting company.
At the very least they can require you to jump through a bunch of hoops, during which time your blog is down and you’re not earning you any income from it.
And in extreme cases (like when a hosting company goes out of business, for example) some bloggers end up having to simply abandon their blogs and start over by registering new domain names and writing entirely new blog posts.
However, if you have your domain registered with a different company you can simply sign up for a web hosting plan with a different web host, point your domain’s name server address to the new server and then install your blog files.
In short, you can be back up and running with a new host in no time!
But that of course assumes you have access to your blog’s backup files. And you might not if your previous web host also hosted your backups on their server.
This is what I recommend in order to avoid all of those hassles…
But DO NOT sign up for a hosting plan with that same company!
Next, sign up for a hosting plan with a good web hosting company. There are plenty to choose from, but I use and recommend Nexcess and inMotion Hosting because of their blazing fast servers and outstanding tech support.
Note: If you have (or plan to have) a WordPress blog I recommend choosing a Managed WordPress Hosting plan with Nexcess. You’ll thank me later…
And finally, it’s fine to allow your new host to back up your blog files on your server, but you also need to augment that with an off-site backup plan from a different company.
Personally, I really like VaultPress from the folks at Automattic.
Automattic is the company that built and maintains WordPress itself so there is literally no company on the planet that knows WordPress better.
Once you sign up for a VaultPress subscription and install the plugin on your blog they’ll begin backing up your blog to their servers immediately.
What’s more, they’ll make a new backup every day as long as your subscription is active.
Once you have a VaultPress backup in the “vault” (on Automattic’s server) you’ll be ready to restore your blog’s files from the backup with just a few clicks of your mouse if you ever find yourself needing to do so.
That wraps up the first thing every successful blogger needs to diversify.
Now, onto number two…
2 – Your blog’s traffic sources
As you surely know, the key to success for any blog is traffic. And not just any traffic – you need quality, targeted traffic if you plan to make money from your blog.
As you also surely know, Google is the gold standard when it comes to sources for blog traffic.
But you don’t want to depend solely on Google for getting visitors to your blog.
Why? Well, it’s that “all eggs in one basket” thing again.
Google routinely makes changes to their ranking algorithm to (hopefully) increase the quality of their search results and penalize websites that use “black hat” tactics to artificially boost their Google rankings and Google traffic.
These Google algorithm updates can cut both ways…
If their algorithm changes in a way that benefits your blog you can see a drastic increase in the amount of traffic Google sends you literally overnight.
However, if the algorithm changes in ways that are detrimental you can just as easily see your Google traffic level drop to virtually nothing just as quickly.
Numerous companies have literally been forced out of business due to a Google update wiping out most of the traffic to their websites.
This is why it’s never a good idea to depend solely on Google as your source for blog visitors.
Don’t get me wrong here. You should definitely do everything you can to stay in Google’s good graces because they can send you a ton of traffic, and that traffic will be just about the best quality traffic you could ever hope for.
Just don’t put all your eggs into the Google basket without cultivating other traffic sources to augment it.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to diversify your blog’s traffic sources.
For example, if you have some cash to spend you can purchase advertising from other websites and blogs. And truth be told, you can purchase traffic from Google themselves via their Google Ads program.
You need to analyze your marketing data to identify what is bringing the best results and which ads are not performing the way you wanted. Luckily, you can set up Google Ads BigQuery integration and optimize your ads more efficiently to save some money.
Another great source of paid advertising is Outbrain.
Like Google, Outbrain will place your ads on other popular websites and send traffic from those sites to your blog when their visitors click on your ads.
The best part is you don’t have to pay a cent to place the ads. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and actually visits your blog.
This is called “Pay-Per-Click Advertising” and it works extremely well.
The downside to Pay-Per-Click Advertising is the potential cost.
If you aren’t careful with your keyword bidding you can easily end up spending a small fortune for the visitors they send to your blog.
That’s why if you decide to go this route I strongly recommend that you read everything you can find on the way this form of advertising works and develop some keen bidding skills.
In addition to advertising there are many other traffic sources available to you, most of which are actually free of charge.
One of my favorites is commenting on the posts on other related, but non-competing blogs.
Most blogs allow you to leave comments on their posts and link your name to your blog’s URL so other readers can click on it and visit your blog to check you out.
Another popular method that I’ve used with some success is guest posting on other related, but non-competing blogs.
Basically, this involves writing a blog post that’s geared to the other blog’s readers and allowing the owner of that blog to publish the post on their blog.
You can embed a link or two to your own blog inside the guest post so readers of that post can click through and visit your blog.
If done correctly guest posting is a huge win-win for both blogs. The other blog gets to publish a well-researched and highly engaging post on their blog to benefit their readers while your blog gets much-needed traffic from the host blog.
What’s more, having several quality guest posts up on other high authority blogs can boost your search engine rankings on Google. And that will result in Google sending you even more traffic as well.
You do need to be careful here though. It’s easy to run afoul of Google’s good graces if they perceive that the purpose of the guest post is solely to boost your search engine rankings.
That’s why you need to keep all of your guests posts as non-promotional as possible. You also need to make sure you only allow blogs that are high quality and authoritative to publish your guest posts.
And finally, we come to my favorite traffic source of all (after Google of course)…
If you aren’t doing so already you need to sign up for a service like Substack or MailChimp and use it to start collecting your visitors’ email addresses via a signup-form and placing them into an email database.
You can then send those subscribers email updates containing links to your latest blog posts and other info that might interest them.
Trust me, there is power in a properly collected and well-maintained email list!
The key here is to make sure you only collect email addresses from folks who actually want to receive your emails. And once you have their email addresses you need to treat them like gold (because that’s what they are worth to you).
For example, you don’t want to SPAM your subscribers with tons of offers for merchandise and services after they signed up to receive links to your blog posts or other info that interests them.
It’s fine to include an offer (or even two) in your emails, but they should be just a minor part of the emails. The content the subscribers signed up for should always be front and center.
It’s also extremely important that you make it easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe should they ever change their mind about receiving your emails.
Trust me, it’s no fun looking at your email stats and seeing that someone has decided to unsubscribe, but that’s a lot better than having that person mark your emails as SPAM because they couldn’t find a way to unsubscribe.
If too many people mark your emails as SPAM they’ll start ending up in the SPAM/Junk folders of the subscribers who really do want to receive your messages.
And even worse, too many SPAM complaints will get you kicked off your email marketing provider’s platform.
I said all the above to say this…
Before doing anything else in terms of traffic generation, start building your email list, hopefully by signing up the very first person that visits your blog!
To see why, let’s look at an actual example: My own Rick’s Tech Tips Newsletter. Here’s how it works:
I send out a daily email featuring links to my latest blog posts.
Every email I send out results in literally thousands of readers (my newsletter subscribers) clicking one or more of the links to visit my blog.
Not bad, right? But it gets even better…
Since some folks actually click multiple links in the email and read multiple posts, the total page views resulting from that email are a lot higher than the number of visits.
And that traffic is in addition to the visitors I receive from Google and all my other diversified traffic sources.
See what I mean when I speak about the power of an email list?
That wraps up the second thing you need to diversify (your blog’s traffic sources). Let’s move on to the last one…
3 – Your blog’s income streams
One of the primary goals of any successful blogger is to generate revenue from their blog(s).
In fact, there are literally thousands of bloggers who earn a comfortable living from their home offices or kitchen tables by simply writing blogs posts and using them to earn income for themselves in one way or another.
Like the traffic sources mentioned above, there are countless ways to earn money by writing a successful blog.
The example that probably comes to mind first is selling advertising space on your blog.
Both Google Adsense (the flip-side of the aforementioned Google Ads program) and Outbrain allow you to place their ads on your blog and receive payment every time one of your blog’s visitors clicks on one of the ads to visit the advertiser’s website.
Those clicks will typically earn you only a few cents per click, but they can really add up if your blog receives a lot of traffic that results in a lot of ad clicks.
There are numerous other ad networks for you to choose from as well. Just do a bit of research by searching Google for something like “monetize my blog” or “sell ads on my blog”.
Another awesome way to earn money from your blog is to place relevant affiliate links to your blog posts.
When a visitor clicks on one of your affiliate links and makes a purchase that company will pay you a commission on the sale.
And depending on the product or service involved the commission can be quite substantial. In fact, some programs (web hosting plans for example) typically pay $100 or more for every sale!
The opportunities for finding affiliate programs to join are endless.
Most large online retailers and service-based companies have affiliate programs. Just visit the websites of the companies you’re interested in and look for links labeled “Become an Affiliate” or “Affiliate Program”.
These sites make it easy to enter into an affiliate relationship with literally hundreds of companies, all from within their easy-to-use dashboards.
All you have to do is peruse the list of advertisers that match your blog’s niche (this is searchable) and then click “Join Program” for every affiliate program you’d like to promote via your blog.
The advertiser(s) you applied to partner with will check out your blog and either approve or decline your application. You’ll need to wait for their approval before you can start earning money from those programs.
Some advertisers approve applicants immediately which means you can start placing their affiliate links in your blog posts and start earning commissions literally within minutes.
Just be aware that virtually all of the best paying advertisers will insist on approving your blog manually.
In addition to placing “Pay-Per-Click” ads and affiliate links on your blog you can also sell advertising space to advertisers directly.
This is done on a simple one-to-one basis. You simply contact the companies you’d like to advertise for via email and tell them you’d like to discuss the possibility of having them advertise on your blog.
Some companies are open to these direct advertising deals, and some aren’t. The only way to find out is to contact the ones you’re interested in and ask them.
The advantage of selling direct advertising is there is no “middle-man” to take a cut of the advertising fee. Whatever amount you and the advertiser agree to is yours, and yours alone!
And now, that brings me to my favorite revenue generating method of all…
Remember that email list I told you to start building, ASAP?
You can sell advertising space in your newsletter emails as well. Even better, you can advertise your own products via your newsletters and keep 100% of the profit.
And guess what? The people who have taken the time to subscribe to your list and read your emails on a regular basis are perfectly targeted to receive your offers!
After all, they liked the info you provide enough to hand over their email addresses. And they continue to like it or they would unsubscribe and stop reading your emails.
As long as your offers are relevant to the content you provide in your emails and blog posts your subscribers will be interested in learning more about them. And after they learn more about them they just might decide to buy!
Well, that wraps up the income diversification section of this post. Now, the main takeaways…
Virtually every successful blogger on the planet uses a combination of these techniques to keep their blogs humming along like a well-oiled machine and earning revenue for them month after month.
You can do it as well.
Just remember the following and you’ll do just fine…
1 – Diversify every aspect of your blogging endeavor. That includes everything from starting your blog to using it to earn a living.
2 – If you haven’t done so already, start building an email list. And then treat that list like gold (because that’s what it’s worth to you).
I hope the things I discussed above are a help to you. I wish you the best of luck in your blogging endeavors!