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Monetizing Online Traffic Is an Organic Process
Point is, if it doesn’t hurt a little when you give it away, it will probably be of little value to others.
If you’re a superstar, famous author, or millionaire entrepreneur, then these rules don’t apply and you can start selling from the first line of your first post (and you’re probably not reading this). For the rest of us, soliciting as a newcomer is a tough proposition. There’s no worse feeling than starting with a promising title and getting gypped on delivery. That’s how you amass haters, not followers.
How I Monetized My Blog’s Traffic
This happened slowly and organically. After analyzing the site’s traffic (more on that below), I eventually added a banner link to my blog for those wanting more, for those looking for deeper dives into particular topics. This was not presented as a preview or teaser. The topics covered in the blog were full of value not affected or diminished by any advertising. A paid Udemy class was a natural extension for those wanting more details, longer labs, or lacking the time to do their own research.
Gather Followers or Start a Business, Don’t Do Both at the Same Time
The model is simple and transparent. Truth be told, when I started blogging, I did it without any intention of starting a business. When I embarked on my data science journey, I didn’t quite know where I was going with it. I had a surge of excitement on the subject matter and funneled it through writing. People came, and are still coming, at the rate of 10K visits-per-month on my blog, and almost half a million views on my data science videos.
These may not be big numbers but represent a very focused niche community of dedicated viewers interested in data science. The intelligence from Google Analytics and YouTube viewing metrics eventually led me to start a few classes on Udemy. The intelligence gathered from what people liked and didn’t like in my posts was absolutely invaluable. What I thought would make great content turned out to be of little interest to readers, other things, like anything financial, exploded. Having first posted about the topics for free, giving real value through end-to-end posts allowed me to measure interest and determine where to create paid material. With this information in hand, I was able to target my time in the best way possible. Once the class was ready, I went back to the related free posts, and placed ads there — months, if not years, after the fact.
…when you give away valuable tips for free, people will appreciate it and give feedback, that in turn triggers new ideas, and so on and so forth.
Point is, if it doesn’t hurt a little when you give it away, it will probably be of little value to others. When I first started blogging, I was worried that I would run out of ideas after a few posts, but the exact opposite happened. I now have way more ideas than time to write. My ‘Ideas’ notebook on Evernote gets an average of five ideas a day but it takes me a couple of days to write a post. The exact same thing happens when you give away valuable tips for free, people will appreciate it and give feedback, which in turn triggers new ideas, and so on and so forth.
Either choose to start a business or gather followers — one can lead to the other in due time. If you choose followers first, as I did, make sure you’re giving value before trying to squeeze them. I recommend the organic approach, start with solid content and only when the interest is overwhelming, offer additional paid additional options — that’s when they’ll be ready.