Beginner Guides

How To Turn A Blog Into A Business

Learn how to turn a blog into a business and how to optimize your monetization strategy to grow your site and make the most profit possible.

By Gene Schleeter Updated May 12, 2023

If you’ve been writing and publishing content for a minute and are ready to take things to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to turn a blog into a business.

If you think you’re not a good enough writer or you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, throw those negative thoughts out the window.

You can do this!

Following the process below, anyone can turn a hobby blog into a thriving full-time income.

Let’s get into it.

What Makes A Blog A Business?

The difference between a hobby blog and a business often comes down to semantics. Honestly, I’m not interested in nitpicking definitions.

If your WordPress blog earns more money than its operating costs, it’s a business.

It may be a very small business, but that’s an opportunity for growth.

The goal is to replace your day job and continue to grow indefinitely. There are plenty of people out there who have made millions of dollars from their blogs (many of them are Lasso customers).

If you follow the process below, you could be next!

How To Turn A Blog Into A Business In 7 Steps

If you’re ready to start making money from your blog, then follow this step-by-step guide to make it happen!

Step 1. Define Your Target Audience

When you’re just blogging for fun, it’s ok to create content about whatever interests you.

But when you start blogging for profit, you need to have a plan, and that begins with knowing who you’re writing for.

If you’re a blogger, it means niche research.

Conducting Niche Research

Ideally, you’d conduct niche research and choose a niche before you start blogging.

But if you’ve only been writing about random things that interest you, it’s time to narrow things down.

The best place to start is by looking at what kind of content your audience already engages with. For example, if you run a personal blog, but your best content is about beauty supplies, it’s a good idea to focus on the beauty niche.

If you haven’t started publishing yet (or aren’t getting traffic,) start niche research by jotting down the things you’re passionate about.

If you are struggling, get inspiration from Amazon product categories.

examples of how to turn a blog into a business by finding a niche using amazon product categories for inspiration

For every niche on your list, look for competitor sites.

You want a healthy mix of low-authority, low-traffic sites and high-authority, high-traffic sites. At this point, you should narrow down your list to only a few niches.

Then, look for products in those categories you could recommend to your audience. The best-case scenario is a mix of price ranges and product types.

After this step, narrow things down further and select your niche.

If you’re torn between two or three, just ask yourself which one you’d be willing to write 300 articles about.

If writing that much about a topic sounds terrible, it’s not the right niche.

Writing For Your Audience

Once you’ve chosen a niche, you need to consider what type of person is searching for keywords in that niche.

Using the beauty niche example, most of your audience will be young women. You wouldn’t write your articles with bro-ish outdoorsman language, would you?

This applies to every niche to some degree. Even broader categories, like food recipes and personal electronics, have primary demographics.

It’s up to you to identify and write blog content that connects to them. Usually, this is by writing the same way they talk.

If you chat with your audience, build relationships with them, and win their trust, earning money will be a cakewalk.

Step 2. Monetize

So you’re publishing content, and you’re getting traffic. Now it’s time to start earning some cash.

There are pros and cons to each monetization method, but these are the best ways to make money blogging:

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is my favorite because it’s the perfect balance between the effort required and income potential.

The most challenging part of affiliate marketing is writing and ranking content. Since you’re already blogging, you’ve already done most of the work.

To monetize your site with affiliate offers, it’s important to be thoughtful about your placements. Read through your content, think of what brought your readers to the post, and find products that help them on their journey.

examples of affiliate link opportunities pawtracks could use to turn a blog into a business

Then it’s just a matter of signing up for the affiliate programs, getting the product links, and adding them to your content.

The easiest way to add affiliate products to your blog content is by using Lasso.

Lasso is a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to manage links and increase your affiliate revenue with striking product displays. You can create a product display for any affiliate program and insert it into your content right from the post editor.

Or, for examples like the image above, you can use Lasso to insert text links and reuse the same link in multiple blog posts.

If you ever need to change a link, change it in the Lasso dashboard, and it will update everywhere you used that link.

If you’re serious about turning your blog into a business with affiliate marketing, Lasso is the best way to do it.

Best for Monetization
Lasso: The All-In-One WordPress Plugin for Affiliate Marketing

A WordPress plugin that lets you add, manage, and display your affiliate links from any program, including Amazon. Increase conversions. Find new affiliate link opportunities. Earn more revenue! Less than 5 minutes to set up.

Display Ads

Display ads are a popular monetization method because they’re easy. After you set them up, you just let them run and wait for the money to hit your account.

They usually feature things catered to each of your readers’ interests. But that often means the products they’re advertising will have nothing to do with your content, which could worsen the user experience.

Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. How much do you like browsing websites with ads in the sidebar, stickied to the footer, and inserted throughout the content?

The last drawback to display ads is that they don’t pay very well.

Most sites can expect to make between ten to fifteen dollars per thousand impressions, which is much less than you’d make with any other monetization method.

But that’s the price you pay for simplicity.

NOTE: I still advise using display ads on your site; diversifying income is always the safest way to monetize a blog.

But choose the advertiser settings that best prioritize the user experience and site performance.

If you’re working with an automated network, there will be a setting for this. If you’re working with a dedicated ads manager, you can talk to them about keeping your display ads non-intrusive.

Here are some of the best ad networks for bloggers:

Digital Downloads

This method depends heavily upon your niche, but if you’re creative, it can be lucrative.

Most niches, especially the broader ones, have an opportunity for checklists, guides, or ebooks that people will pay for.

The simplest form of this is an ebook for popular how-to keywords. For example:

  • How to change your car’s oil at home (with pictures)
  • 50 essential poses for the Yoga novice
  • The complete overland camping gear checklist for beginners

The approach to this is the same as choosing what to write about for your blog.

Find a common pain point in your niche. Write a guide about it. List the guide on your site for ten dollars and promote it on all relevant content.

You can even start your own affiliate program. That way, other site owners will drive traffic to your site, and you’ll keep most of the profit.

Of course, selling digital products requires much more oversight than affiliate marketing or display ads.

You have to integrate a payment processor and ecommerce tool into your site, and you’ll have to provide some level of customer service. How will you handle refund requests or complaints?

These are things you’ll have to think about.

Still, if you sell a digital product you own entirely, you get to keep all the profit. After getting the scraps from affiliate commissions and display ads, that will be a very tempting offer.

Ecommerce, Drop Shipping, and Merch

I decided to group these three because they all fall under the same umbrella of selling physical products through your site. They also require a lot of work, and frankly, they’re not really worth it (at least for monetizing a blog).

The difference between them is with ecommerce you buy or produce inventory and ship it to your customers. With drop shipping, a customer places an order, and you place an order with a third party, who ships the product directly to your customer.

The upside to ecommerce is that you set the price; therefore, you control the profit.

The drawback is that it’s a huge undertaking, and profit margins can get very slim after you factor in the cost of manufacturing, shipping, customer service, and advertising.

If you have a loyal following that you love interacting with, consider selling your own merch with a print-on-demand (POD) service. You can pay an artist to develop a few designs.

Then sign up for a POD service like Printful, upload your design to some t-shirts and mugs, and add them to your site via a plugin like Woocommerce.

Again, you must take care of refunds and customer service when selling products. It is not passive income.

However, as far as selling products at a high profit margin, selling your own products with a POD service is your best bet.

Sponsorships and Guest Posts

When you run a popular blog, you’re going to get hit up every day by other bloggers and site owners looking to partner with you.

Some will want to write a guest post for your site, and others will want you to recommend their product.

Every one of these emails is an income opportunity.

These people would like to get what they want for free, but they know that you have to pay to play these days.

The downside of this income stream is that it’s inconsistent and unpredictable. And you need to be careful to maintain the quality of your blog.

The upside is that you’re setting the price, so you can be as selective as you need to be.

My advice is to take what you think a guest post or backlink is worth and double it. Then, if you’re selling a lot of placements, increase the price until the sales slow down.

That will guarantee you’re getting the price you deserve for your site. Your domain authority, traffic, or the size of your following shouldn’t determine your price.

TAKEAWAY: The only thing that should determine what you charge for placement on your site is what someone else is willing to pay.

Step 3. Publish High-Quality Content At Scale

When you’re blogging for fun, writing cool stuff and getting people to read it feels fantastic.

But this is an online business. Writing and successfully ranking content isn’t enough anymore. You need to grow. And the most reliable way to do that is by investing in content.

There will come a time when your site is making enough money to outsource content.

You can start with one writer, keep writing some content yourself, and double your output. Keep repeating the process until you have a team of writers working for you.

Maintaining quality is essential when you aren’t writing your own content. Here are a few tips for managing writers:

  • Find writers in your niche. If you can, search Facebook groups or communities in your niche and find writers who are passionate about it. One-size-fits-all writers who don’t know about your niche will expose their naivety sooner than later, and it’ll make you look bad.
  • Provide writers with the keys to success. If you give a writer a keyword and a target word count, you deserve whatever they turn in to you. Take it one step further by giving them checklists and guidelines for what you expect from them.
  • Go overboard with editing. When you first hire a writer, you should be very strict with editing. Leave comments in the doc for all the necessary changes, and have them make them. Your writer will learn to meet the standard you set.
  • Elevate the performers. When you have a perfect fit writer on your team, reward their performance. You can increase their pay rate or hand them editing duties for the rest of the team.

If you follow those guidelines, soon you’ll have a content production team working for your blog. Then you’ll be able to completely pull yourself out of content to work on the business side of things.

Step 4. Improve Your Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a pain.

Most of it is guesswork at best, and even if you do everything perfectly, a Google algorithm update can destroy your site overnight.

With that said, you need to focus on SEO if you want your blogging business to succeed.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is if you don’t get any page views.

If you haven’t worried about SEO until now, here are the absolute essentials you need to take care of ASAP.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the most basic and likely the most important aspect of SEO. It’s also the step most people skip.

If you just write about whatever you want without doing keyword research, you’re likely wasting your time writing about things that you’ll never rank for in Google.

We’ve written a keyword research guide for bloggers, but here’s the basic process:

  1. Find small competitors in your niche.
  2. Look at what keywords they’re ranking for and getting traffic from.
  3. Write and publish better content for those keywords.
  4. Focus on buying-intent keywords.
  5. Try to find long-tail variations of keywords bigger sites rank for.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Your title tag and meta description are the first things a potential reader sees when they find your site in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

examples of title tags and meta descriptions and how to use them to improve seo when turning a blog into a business

A properly optimized title tag can help your site rank; and it’s easy to optimize them.

If you look at the SERP for your target keyword, you’ll usually see a common pattern in the results.

Google has already decided this is the format it wants to see. So you should follow suit.

A few more title tag tips:

  • Keep the tag close to the same wording as your post title
  • Use hyphens (-), not pipes (|)
  • Whenever possible, use odd numbers for lists for a better clickthrough rate

As for meta descriptions, a lot of SEOs recommend skipping them because Google tends to rewrite them anyway.

However, I think that’s a missed opportunity. I know I can write a meta description that grabs a reader’s attention better than Google.

Even if Google rewrites 75% of meta descriptions, it’s worth the two minutes of time investment to write your own.

Image Alt-Tags

Image alt-tags are easy to write, but many bloggers approach them incorrectly.

The purpose of an image alt-tag is to make your site accessible. If images don’t load or someone with visual impairments browses your site, the alt-tag will describe what’s in the image.

What a lot of marketers do is cram an alt-tag full of every keyword they can. That doesn’t help anyone.

Imagine you were reading an article about how to build a skateboard. Would an image with this alt tag provide any kind of benefit whatsoever?

“skateboard skateboard wheels building skateboard how to build a skateboard skateboard grip tape tutorial skateboard trucks how to attach skateboard wheels”

No, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any keywords in your alt tags; they just need to be relevant.

For example, the alt tag could read,

“Showing how to attach wheels to a skateboard when learning how to assemble a skateboard

The sentence describes what the image portrays, and the bolded words are high-value keywords that make sense in context.

Now, I’ve had writers object to this strategy because they can’t think of any relevant keywords that fit the image.

I always reply with this question: If you can’t think of any relevant keywords that fit the image, then does the image fit the article you’ve written?

Schema and Sitemaps

Schema and sitemaps are topics worthy of multiple articles on their own.

TIP: Sitemaps tell Google what to look at, and schema tells Google what those things are about.

For example, schema is what bloggers use to show rating information in Google:

example of how review schema shows up in google for product review bloggers

As a blogger, you shouldn’t worry about them much. Let an SEO plugin handle it for you.

Any SEO plugin worth your time will create your sitemap and guide you through configuring your schema markup.

Here are a few popular SEO plugins to choose from:

  • RankMath
  • Yoast SEO
  • All-In-One SEO

Step 5. Build an Email List

Now that you’ve figured out content production, monetization, and SEO; it’s time to start squeezing even more profit out of your site.

The best way to do that is with email marketing.

Email lists are so effective because they give you multiple shots at the target. Instead of trying to convert everyone on their first visit to your site, you can try to convert them for months or years afterward.

The easiest way to build an email list is with a lead magnet.

Remember earlier when I talked about selling an ebook on your site? You could also give an ebook away for free in exchange for readers joining your email list.

a lead magnet example for turning a blog into a business by building an email list

There’s a secret in internet marketing; if you want your audience to buy from you, you must deliver free value first.

By offering your subscribers a free ebook or digital download, you’re showing them that you care about them and that they can trust you.

Then, when you send them emails trying to sell something, they’ll be more likely to trust you and make a purchase.

TIP: Using an email marketing tool like ConvertKit will save you a lot of time managing your mailing list.

Step 6. Create a Content Promotion Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes blog business owners make is publishing content and then just sort of… walking away.

Do you really want to wait a few months for Google to maybe rank your content before people can start reading it?

Every blog post you publish should go to your mailing list and social media profiles at a minimum.

Getting eyes on your content early is a great way to get early feedback; for yourself and search engines.

Step 7. Test and Tweak Everything

If you follow every step so far on this list, you’ll be on the fast track to turning your blog into a business.

The last step of running a successful blog is optimization, which means running lots of tests.

Change your button colors, change your title format, and change your writing perspective. Test ads on affiliate posts and popunder ads and recommend different products.

You can test everything on your website, track the results, and run more tests.

To build a successful business, you need your blog to be a profit machine. Testing new things constantly is the best way to ensure you’re making the most profit possible.

Professional Blogging Tips

If all that isn’t enough, here are some more tips and tricks I’ve picked up through the years with my own blogs and working with Lasso customers:

Focus On The Customer Journey

The answer to every content marketing question could boil down to this: focus on the customer journey.

As a blogger, you may view your audience as readers rather than customers, but the sentiment is the same. If you put yourself in their shoes, you can’t go wrong.

Stuck on finding products to recommend? Imagine you’re the reader and think of which products would help your problems.

Wondering if you should invest in a new site speed tool or better web hosting? Think of how your site’s functionality affects your reader’s experience.

You can’t go wrong if you view everything from your readers’ perspectives.

Reinvest Your Earnings

When your blog starts making good money, it’s really tempting to take that money and start paying yourself. I get it; I have bills too.

But, if you can restrain yourself from taking more than 40 or 50% of the earnings, you’ll have that much more to invest in content or new tools.

Trust me, when your site is making five or six figures per month, you won’t care that you didn’t take as much in the beginning.

Get Your Books in Order

It’s insane how many bloggers I meet who have no idea how much income their site makes or what their monthly expenses are. They don’t know how much they make per visitor or what the EPC is on different blog posts.

Tracking your progress is a huge part of growing your site. It adds a lot of backing to your tests, so you won’t waste time on things that won’t work.

It’s not a bad idea to run through Google Analytics, your affiliate and ad dashboards, and any other tools you use {however often}.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Setting up a blogging schedule and giving yourself metrics to hit will help you keep your business on track.

If you don’t set goals for your business, you’ll just be wandering in random directions.

Keep track of things you need to accomplish, set goals for yourself, and hold yourself accountable. Do what you say you’re going to do, and forgive yourself when you fall short.

This is a long game we’re playing. But if you have a clear plan for your business’s future, you’re more likely to get there.

Never Stop Learning

Anyone who thinks they know everything there is to know about this industry is a fool.

The SEO and blogging world is constantly changing. What works today likely won’t work a year from now.

The most successful bloggers are the ones who are always seeking out new information and staying open to new ideas.

Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and keep learning new ways to run a profitable blog.

Pro Blogging FAQs

How do I promote my blog?

Every time you publish a blog post, you should post it to social media and send it to your email list. You can also find Facebook groups relevant to your niche and invite their members to read your content.

How often should I blog?

I recommend people publish at least one blog post per week and up to four per week. Just make sure you put quality ahead of quantity.

How do professional bloggers file taxes?

Most entrepreneurs file taxes either as sole proprietors or as LLCs. You can read our post about taxes for bloggers for more information.

How can I start a blog that makes money?

Most of the information in this guide applies to starting a blog from scratch. You can also read our guide to starting a blog for more beginner tips and tricks.

How To Turn A Blog Into A Business | Final Thoughts

By following all the steps in this in-depth guide, working hard to publish great content, and putting your audience first, you’ll be taking your blog to the next level in no time.

It will require a lot of hard work, but the rewards are well worth it.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing strategy and running a successful blog, then be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. We send out actionable advice every week.

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