Focus on the wrong things and you’ll spin your wheels. It’s called a job.
Focus on the right things and you’ll grow. It’s called a business.
If you want to create for yourself a job, stop reading now.
If you want to create and grow a business, continue.
I’ve been in this blogging racket for years. I’ve built up a good team. I’m not anywhere near the biggest operation online. Not even close. But I’ve carved out a decent biz, most of which is handled by terrific folks I’ve hired and who freelance for me.
While I’m doing okay, I’m still involved but restrict my involvement to high-level tasks.
Here’s a list of 10 high-level tasks that move the blogging needle forward.
1. Keyword research
KW research is a high-level task. Done right, and you can earn yourself a living in due course. Done poorly and you’ll be spinning your wheels. I handled all KW research until a short while ago when I hired a very capable keyword researcher.
Writing is either something you outsource as soon as you can or never. If your blog content is branded with your site, it can be outsourced immediately (and should be). If your blog content is all about your personality, opinions and experience, you’ll have to stick with it because your audience wants you. That’s not to say you can’t transition the blog to a corporate style, but you may very well alienate some of your audience.
I liken the editorial role to supervising the entire content production process. You need to ensure articles and topics are spot-on. Social media content must be working. Basically, you review content product to ensure it’s done to your specifications.
4. Monetization Testing
Once you have a few hundred or thousand daily visitors, you need to improve your monetization. This can be an ongoing process. As you get more traffic you qualify for better monetization opportunities. You should always be seeking out the most lucrative options until you’re at the pinnacle. And even then, new opportunities arise that you should be aware of.
For non-ecommerce sites, your two main ways of monetizing content sites are:
- Ad networks, and
- Affiliate promotions.
You should continuously be trying various ad networks or platforms as well as various affiliate offers.
5. Landing pages
Other than Fat Stacks, email landers and sales pages are pretty much irrelevant. If you sell stuff and/or build an email subscribership, you need to invest time and/or money in improving lead flow and sales. This requires continuous testing. Yes, this can easily be outsourced, but it’s not cheap. Talented landing page creators and sales page copywriters charge a lot of money.
6. Email strategy
Your email strategy, if email is integral to your blog, can make a huge difference to your bottom line. There are many effective strategies. You need to choose one and go with it. You will need to set it up and possibly manage it – depending on whether you write the newsletters or can outsource it (again, depends on audience expectations).
7. Traffic stacking
Traffic stacking is leveraging content for traffic from additional channels. Most bloggers and publishers focus first on Google search traffic. Once you have systems in place for that, it’s time to leverage all that content for traffic from additional channels such as YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and others. Not all will work, but you as publisher should give them a shot because if you hit success, it could add a lot of traffic using the same content.
9. Systems Setup
This is the publisher’s main job. It’s what I focus on weekly. Once you figure out something that’s working, and assuming you have the revenue, it’s time to hire a person or a team to handle the day-to-day. Making this work requires creating a workable workflow that is efficient and effective. It takes patience and tweaking but once a system is working, you’re in great shape.
10. Stay “in it to win it”
Unless you have an exceptionally well-paid manager or CEO running your site who is as good or better than you, you should stay in it to win it. This means you need to pay attention at least weekly to the numbers (traffic, revenue, conversions) and content quality to ensure your systems are working. Tweaks and adjustments will be needed. You also need to stay abreast of the latest developments pertaining to your main traffic sources, monetization methods and other important aspects of your blogging/publishing business.
What about course creation?
If you sell courses, you’ll definitely want to be involved in that. The good news is once a course is done, you put your feet up until updates are necessary. This is why people love creating and selling info products. Work once, earn for years.
Can you get to the point where you have nothing to do?
Yes and no.
I’m almost there with my niche sites.
In theory, you could become a media giant with folks to oversee everything. However, until you’re there, you should check things out weekly just to make sure everything is being done to your specifications. Fortunately, that doesn’t take much time. When you set up the systems, you can tell quickly whether your team is running things as you expect. If changes are needed, one or a few emails can fix that.
These days I focus on systems. All other “infrastructure” tasks are done such as monetization set-up, design, email strategy and content strategy. Of course I may tweak these over time as well but I have people handling the day-to-day.
I’m in the process of traffic stacking.
I have systems in place to produce content for organic search.
However, I’m leaving traffic on the table from Pinterest and Facebook. I’m in the process of improving those systems. It’ll take some time because it requires experimenting and then honing the system. I’ve done well with Pinterest over the years with little effort but now I’m investing in firing up systems and making some tweaks to improve it.
Facebook is a big maybe. I’ve been trying a few things but am not sure anything will work sufficiently that would warrant hiring a person to manage it.
YouTube is definitely an opportunity but that requires big bucks. I have my eye on it but need more revenue to do it well.
As you can see, I tackle traffic sources step by step – hence the term traffic stacking.
The thing is traffic sources change things up all the time. In the past I’ve put in big Pinterest pushes that worked but then Pinterest would change things and I would ease off the jets. It’s been a while since I’ve put in a big Pinterest effort so I’m back at it.
Same with Facebook. Facebook used to be a significant traffic driver, but in recent years it’s been a dud. I’m revisiting that testing some things but it’s very much up in the air whether it’ll work out.
Other traffic source potential:
For now, Pinterest, FB and YouTube are the only viable opportunities on top of search and email (and email is not all that great).
Can one conceivably delegate everything?
Yes, It can but it can be insanely expensive for some niches.
For example, I still write, produce podcasts and videos and manage Pinterest for Fat Stacks. My audience wants to hear from me (I think). However, that’s not to say with a big enough budget that I couldn’t outsource most of what I do with the exception of the podcast and video stuff. It’s kind of impossible to replace me there. However, I could hire someone to replace me but it would be obvious. That move may alienate some folks.
Fat Stacks is a personal business blog so my involvement is integral. I could transition it to a corporate blog like Hubspot and I’m sure it would work, but it would be different. I have no plans for now to do that, but since we’re talking about it, I have to admit it’s possible.
When can you do NOTHING?
You get to do nothing when one of three things happens:
- You hire someone who can do all of the above as well as you or better (and have enough left over to eat). This isn’t cheap.
- You sell for millions and call it a day; and/or
- You’ve squirreled enough cash away in passive income investments (stocks, bonds, real estate) where you can live comfortably for the rest of your life.
Before you rub your hands together in giddy anticipation for the day you need never do anything again, ask yourself if doing nothing is what you want to do. It’s not my goal, but I do relish having enough passive income investments where work is optional.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.