This is a guest contribution from Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur.
Sometimes creating valuable content week after week feels a bit like you’re running on a hamster wheel, doesn’t it?
It doesn’t even matter how much you like writing blog posts and replying to readers’ comments. If your blog doesn’t start to make money, you will start resenting all the work you put into it, and the days of loving your blog will be short lived.
So let me tell you a little secret.
Your blog will stop feeling like a chore and start feeling like an investment if you can find the key that links your content directly to the money you make.
The great news is you can start monetizing your blog straight away by simply using the content you’ve already written on your blog and repurposing it.
Let me show you how.
Back in 2008, I had just quit my corporate job and co-founded a startup to build a fundraising app for Facebook. Being a startup was a crazy rollercoaster ride and I really enjoyed building something from the ground up.
In the middle of all this, I started my first blog, WomanzWorld, to share my experiences on starting a business, and to interview successful female entrepreneurs about their experiences in building their companies.
I hustled like crazy to build a community and following, and slowly began to attract an audience of people who found my writing to be inspiring. I began to enjoy blogging and interacting with my readers in the comments.
So much so that in 2010, I decided to leave the startup and focus on growing my blog and business — which was, at that stage, just my blog.
However, almost immediately after I left I realized there was a big problem — I had no way to monetize the blog (read: no way to turn my hobby into an income).
For the next 6 months, I kept writing blog post after blog post, but I couldn’t figure out how to make money in a way that was aligned with my values.
I loved creating content and sharing my experience, but I was getting anxious about not having an income. I was down to the last $17 in my bank account when I was finally able to turn it around.
Since then I have used the same strategy to create multiple streams of income directly from my blog, and turn it into a multiple six-figure business that allows me to travel the world while helping impact people’s lives.
Today, I want to share with you what I did, and how you can do the same.
How to monetize your blog by repurposing content
If you have been producing content for any amount of time, on your blog or other people’s sites, it’s likely you are sitting on a wealth of information that could be useful to a lot of people.
All you have to do is repurpose and package that information into formats that people will find really helpful and are willing to pay for. You can start by looking at which topics and posts have been receiving the most traffic, likes, shares or comments and start with that.
Let me break down the content repurposing process I went through when I monetized my blog:
Step 1 – Find out what content your audience is engaging with
When I started my blog, Facebook (and social media in general) was still in the early stage. Working in a startup, building a fundraising app for Facebook gave me a unique insight into the world of social media, and I started sharing this knowledge with my readers.
I found that the posts about social media strategies were getting a lot of comments, more than the posts on any other topic. I realized that people were interested in social media strategies to help build their business and credibility, so I took it to the next step.
Step 2 – Validate your content idea
Just because people liked a couple of blog posts didn’t mean that the topic would continue to hold their attention. I needed to validate the idea that people were genuinely interested in the topic and would continue engaging with it.
So, I wrote a series of 12 blog posts on the topic and published regularly over the space of a month. My readers loved the information as most people were still relatively new to using social media for business purposes. The content series was a huge success.
I saw a sharp rise in the traffic to my blog and saw that the visitors were engaging with the content. Now, I knew for sure that people were interested in reading more about social media strategy.
Step 3 – Validate the idea with a minimal transaction
I knew my readers were actively engaging with the content, but I needed to find out if they were ready to take the next step by becoming a subscriber. So, I created a lead magnet in the form of an ebook that outlined social media strategies for small businesses.
Can you guess how I did that?
Yep, that’s right. I combined the 12 blog posts into an ebook called, The Social Media Workout for Entrepreneurs. I added a bit more depth in some posts and packaged it all up into a well designed and value packed PDF.
As soon as I made the lead magnet available for download on my blog, I saw a sharp growth in the number of subscribers and my email list kept growing after that. In fact, it was so popular that it continued to serve for over 5 years (with regular updates of course) as the only lead magnet on my blog.
Step 4 – Ask your subscribers to buy
Nothing validates an idea like people actually paying money for what you offer. I knew some of the readers had been with me through the entire journey and now I could email them directly and ask them to buy.
So, that’s what I did. I sent out an email to my subscribers, asking them if they would be interested in a two-day, in-person workshop on social media strategy, where they could get personal feedback from me on their unique problems. More importantly, I asked if they would be willing to pay to attend this workshop.
It was a gut wrenching moment for me, asking for people to pay me. It was the real test of whether I could monetize my blog.
Before I knew it I had 3 sold-out workshops with 30 people attending in total and $15,000 in the bank (that previously had just $17 in it). It was the first time since I started growing my audience that I had been able to directly monetize my blog and my knowledge.
I knew I could continue to offer similar workshops and make money, but I had something else on my mind. Namely, travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina and to scale my workshops to reach a larger audience, such that they didn’t have to be there in person to learn.
Step 5 – Create a residual revenue stream
I wanted to see if people would be interested in buying an online training program on social media strategy. I could take all the content that I had created, the workshop I had conducted, and package it up in a way that people could buy and access online. I could price it much lower than an in-person workshop, it would be just as valuable, and people could learn at their own pace from anywhere in the world.
So, a couple of months after the workshop, I released and shared this online training program with my audience, and few of them bought it. I didn’t make a lot of money initially, but sales for my Social Media Bootcamp (online training program) kept growing as I got better at marketing it and more people started referring it to others.
I was excited that I had something I could sell online, without having to create any new content, and that people were readily paying for. I finally had a residual income stream that would continue bringing in money while I was traveling the world.
Many people may call this passive income, but I beg to differ. You have to select the right content, package it up, set up payment and support systems, and market it to your audience. As you can see, it still is a lot of work.
You just do all the work up front and continue to get paid for it. And even then, you have to keep updating the product, and do relaunches to keep the momentum going.
But this first stream of residual income was just the start. Since then, I have grown my blog and audience into a successful business that makes multiple six figures by creating multiple streams of active and residual income by providing solutions to the specific problems and challenges my community have; while traveling to 69 countries.
Trust me when I tell you that content repurposing really works. Even counting all the other amazing monetization strategies, I have a feeling that as a blogger this one will resonate with you the most.
Figuring out your own content repurposing strategy
Monetizing your blog has never been easier because now content doesn’t just mean blog posts. Ebooks, infographics, podcasts, videos, and everything in between is a form of content.
This is good news because your readers may not want to pay for reading blog posts, but they are willing to pay for content in other formats like:
- Online Courses
- Membership sites
- Even newsletters
It may still be the same content at the heart of all of it, but everyone loves the convenience learning and digesting the information in one format or in one place. That is why they will willingly pay for it.
This presents a tremendous opportunity to repurpose the content you’ve already created and package it up in ways that people are ready to buy.
Let’s say you have a blog post that has done well. After you have validated that this is a topic people are interested in, you can grow your audience with the same content in a new format by:
- Recording yourself reading the blog post and turning it into a podcast episode
- Recording a video of yourself reading the blog post and publishing it on Youtube. If you don’t want to be on camera, you can create a simple slide deck summarizing the blog post, and record a voice-over-slides style of video.
As you continue to grow your audience, you will find they have specific needs and will even ask you for solutions. You can create products to fulfill those needs and sell them directly on your blog, knowing that they will pay for it.
For example, to create an online course, you can split up the validated topic into a series of blog posts, turn them all into videos, and package it up so that it delivers a specific outcome to your readers.
You can also expand on the series of blog posts, create an ebook on the topic, and package it up with the course as a higher value offering. Just like Jeff Goins talks about in this Problogger post on six-figure product launch strategy.
You can start repurposing content today with a simple content audit — use Google Analytics to look at the most popular content on your site and best-performing articles, or use social sharing statistics and comments. Then, all you have to do is follow the 5 step content repurposing strategy I outlined above, and soon you will start making money from your blog.
If you enjoy creating content and want to keep doing it, you owe it to yourself to monetize your blog and free yourself from the hamster wheel of content creation.
Repurposing content can become your ticket to freedom.
Natalie Sisson is an Amazon No #1 bestselling author of the Suitcase Entrepreneur, podcaster, speaker and adventurer who believes everybody has the right to choose freedom in business and adventure in life. She’s on a mission to ensure 1,000,000+ entrepreneurs do just that by 2020 over at the SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com