“The irony is so thick you could choke on it.”
I’m not one to remember lines in a movie, but that one from the 1993 “In the Line of Fire” stuck with me over the years.
What irony, you ask?
The irony that many people when they discover the blogging business and start researching it want to start a marketing blog.
How does that happen?
They read that they should choose a niche that interests them.
Since they’re keenly interested with making money online with a blog, the first topic that comes to mind that they’re interested in is “making money online.”
And so their first blog is a marketing blog.
There’s a glaring problem with this approach. Something is missing. That something is real-world experience, whether it’s another successful blog or working on a successful website in a meaningful way.
What happens is the blog may eventually gets some traffic and make some money. They then ramp up the advice based on the results and methods used on the very marketing blog that teaches marketing.
It’s self-fulfillment at its finest.
The better approach is to build up a successful blog or some marketing endeavor separate from the marketing blog. Once you have some success, then it’s time to use that experience and data to publish a great marketing blog.
Step 1: Get some credibility
This is the most important step in starting a successful marketing blog.
What’s interesting is you don’t need much success independent of the marketing blog. If you get a niche site to $3K per month, that’ll do it. Or, if you have a slew of successful freelance SEO campaigns under your belt, that qualifies.
The point is get some experience to hang your hat on.
What’s even more interesting is once you have the street cred, you can stand out quickly. Street cred (i.e. screenshots and income reports) do wonders for trust and credibility.
I’m not a big fan of publishing income reports, but I do so because it gives me credibility. Without proof, how do readers know that I know what I’m talking about? They don’t.
With the proof, building up a lucrative marketing blog is easy. For the time put in, Fat Stacks has probably been the most lucrative website I’ve ever published… not that you’d know because I don’t include Fat Stacks revenue in my income reports.
Of course, I don’t put all that much into this site. I could do so much more, but I’m busy building up other sites so my time is limited. Fat Stacks is fun for me that actually does well. I think it can be the same for you when you can publish it without having to depend on it for money.
Assuming you have the prerequisite for starting a marketing blog, how do you go about building one and making money from it?
There are a number of ways to do it.
Step 2: Choosing a blog name
Come up with something memorable, like Fat Stacks. It’s a name that stands out. People like it. There’s even a reason behind it (a quote from the Breaking Bad TV show by the Jesse Pinkman character).
Alternatively, you can go with your name. Building your name into a brand can be very effective. You become a rock star. I prefer corporate brands for my sites, but I totally see the benefits of using your name.
Avoid generic, boring corp-speak blog names. Sure, you could get so popular that it’ll become a brand, but it’s easier and more fun to do something memorable, catchy or irreverent.
Step 3: Setting up your blog (the technical details)
I’m not going into the minutiae of getting your domain name and activating WordPress. There are a million free videos on that. Any hosting provider will have all the tutorials you’d ever need. These days all it takes is a few clicks.
But I will give you this tip. Do not get wrapped up with blog design and fancy features in the beginning. Just get content flowing, whether articles, videos, podcasts or all of the above. It’s the content that will do the trick. That fancy stuff can come later (or if you’re like me, never).
Step 4: What’s your marketing expertise?
This is easy to answer. What type of successful marketing have you done? It could be:
- Content marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Email marketing
- Video marketing
- Social media
Maybe it’s several of the above.
If your experience is publishing other successful niche sites like me, you’re probably proficient doing several of the above such as content marketing, SEO and perhaps social media. At the very least, you’re proficient at the “how to start a successful niche blog” marketing site (which is what Fat Stacks focuses on).
For most people with street cred, the focus of their marketing blog is easy. They focus on what they’ve done and know.
If you have no marketing experience and insist on a marketing blog, I guess you pick one and figure it out as you go.
Examples of different marketing blogs and their areas of focus:
- Income School: Niche sites, affiliate marketing, SEO and AdSense
- Niche Pursuits: Niche sites and affiliate marketing (with quite a lot of emphasis on Amazon affiliate marketing).
- RankXL: Niche sites, AdSense and SEO.
- Quicksprout: SEO
- WPBeginner: WordPress coding, design, etc.
That’s just a few examples I follow and read. There are hundreds of various types of marketing blogs.
All of the above are published by folks who have street cred from other independent projects which forms the foundation on which they blog about.
Step 5: How much time do you have to devote to it?
If you’re running other niche sites or involved in other work, you won’t have loads of time for your marketing blog. This means you have to pick and choose what you’ll be able to do.
I’m very limited in time so I focus on writing blog posts. That’s what I enjoy. I could do much better with videos and a podcast, but I don’t have time for that. I could also publish a lot more content, but again, my time is limited.
If you have no other projects anymore (maybe you sold or quit), then you can go all out and ramp up quickly.
Step 6: Publish some blog posts
Since this article focuses on “how to start a marketing blog that makes money” your first order of business is to publish some blog posts. There’s really no prescribed approach. I publish all types of articles. Some short. Some lengthy. Some are conceptual. Some are far more concrete (i.e. how-to). Some are blatant keyword targeted for traffic.
I blog about topics that cover what I’m doing with my niche sites. It may be a new way to monetize. It might be about how I get content. I seldom fail to come up with something. Granted some posts here are better than others. That’s the nature of the beast.
My suggestion is to write what you know. Suggestions include:
- How-to articles (how to do long tail keyword research);
- Resource articles (i.e. best WordPress themes for a food blog);
- Case study: kick off with a case study of your other successful projects.
- Monetization analysis: Publish a breakdown of how you monetize your other projects.
When you actually do what you’re blogging about, you’ll come up with topics so fast, you’ll need a spreadsheet just to keep track of them.
Step 7: Build your e-mail list
I don’t think email marketing is the be-all and end-all in every niche, but for marketing blogs, it’s really important and lucrative. Once you have your blog set up, you need to get your sign up forms on your site with a great incentive to entice people to join your email list.
I keep my incentives simple. They’re PDF reports or white papers on something I think will appeal to as many visitors as possible. I could certainly do a much better job attracting subscribers, but my time is limited.
The key is to get something set up to start building your list.
I also find that if visitors interested in marketing in the format you blog about and they like your content and your street cred, they’ll sign up just to sign up. However, offering an irresistible report helps.
You don’t have to have a huge sequence of prewritten emails lined up.
All you need to do is email your subscribers when you publish new content. Keep it simple to start. You can add an evergreen sequence later. In fact, many big marketing blogs don’t have sequences. They just send emails when they have new content and/or are selling something (this is when the money is made).
There are many good email autoresponder options. I use AWeber (and have for years).
Step 8: Monetizing your marketing blog
I don’t think you need to have all your monetization figured out when starting a marketing blog.
Because marketing niches are so lucrative that you can count on something working. You may have to test some stuff, but it’s not hard to make money.
- Start as an affiliate for other courses and software relevant to your marketing focus.
- You can level up by selling a course or info product.
- Offer coaching (if you’re so inclined and/or have the time).
- Of course, selling services like Human Proof Designs can be an easy and lucrative offering.
- If you’re ambitious, you can create software (I’ve never done this, but many do and make a killing with it).
What about monetizing with AdSense on a marketing blog?
While I love AdSense, it’s actually not a good fit on a marketing blog. First off, the CTR is deplorable (compared to other niches). Second, affiliate offers, selling courses, software, coaching and/or services is much more lucrative.
A few words of caution about selling courses, coaching and software:
It’s not as hands-off as you might think.
When you sell a course, you’ll field emails from customers. You could be a jerk and ignore them or answer them. I answer them to a limit. If someone is asking complex questions one after the other at some point I politely explain that this is venturing into a coaching situation.
Courses need updating. Setting up funnels and sales pages is a lot of work (and I put in a fraction of the effort that other people do).
Coaching of course is time-consuming. It’s essentially trading time for money.
Software is probably the biggest time-suck. It constantly needs to be updated, bugs must be ironed out, endless customer support, ongoing marketing and so on. Expenses can be high too (developers don’t work for nothing).
If you want your marketing blog to as passive as possible, focus on affiliate offers. There are reams of options that pay really well.
Step 9: Expand your reach
I don’t do this, but should. Again, it’s lack of time.
If I were to maximize Fat Stack’s potential, I’d do videos and podcasts. Both are outside my comfort zone, but with practice, I could get okay at it. I’ll never be a YouTube star, but I could practice enough so that I’d be watchable.
Marketing niches are perfect for video and podcasts. Audiences consume endlessly from the blogs they follow. While YouTube isn’t a very good traffic source in other niches, the brand exposure from thousands of video views is very, very, very good.
I got wind of IncomeSchool on YouTube. They make great videos. In fact, they focus on video content. Their video content is so good, I’ve watched a few of their videos which is rare for me because I loathe watching videos. I much prefer to read.
People interested in learning marketing topics will directly visit sites from videos. If they like the video, they will search in Google or type the URL directly the browser to visit the blog for more info.
Without a doubt, the reach potential on YouTube and podcasting is huge. It’s not just SEO traffic. If your videos are good and get plenty of quality views, the videos will perform well in YouTube which further fuels the success.
Step 10: More blog content
You might focus on one type of content. Maybe it’s epic guides. Or maybe, you write well and publish interesting editorial style articles. Or maybe you’re a research hound like Glen Allsopp and publish epic case studies based on industry research.
I don’t have a prescribed type of blog post. I do it all, but most are based on data, testing and plain-old concrete tips from my work publishing other niche sites.
I’m inconsistent with my publishing schedule on Fat Stacks, which isn’t very good. Some months I publish a lot. Other months I publish nothing. It all depends on my time.
If you want to be more professional, follow a publishing schedule. Your audience will appreciate it.
What about keyword research?
I do probably the least amount of keyword research for this site of all my sites. I’m paying a little more attention to it lately, but I just write about what I want to write about. I know hundreds of good keywords, but I’m not really interested in writing about that stuff. Besides, it’s all been done. If I’m interested in the topic, know it and believe I could add something to that’s not been said, I’ll do it.
However, you could probably grow faster and bigger than Fat Stacks if you put some solid SEO effort into your marketing blog by doing good keyword research and blog promotion. Speaking of blog promotion, I do almost nothing. Again, not the smartest given it can work really well in marketing niches, but I just don’t have time.
Some marketing bloggers email other influencers, tweet them and just full out hustle when they publish a new article to get the word out, the shares happening and the inbound links flowing. It works well. Some get an incredible amount of traffic. While hustling and outreach doesn’t always pay off in all niches, it sure can in marketing niches.
Things to avoid in the beginning
Don’t forsake your other projects for your marketing blog:
For example, if you publish other niche blogs which is the foundation for your marketing street cred, don’t ignore them and let them deteriorate so you can put more into your marketing blog. You need to take care of the golden goose, which are your other project(s).
Don’t invest too much money:
I know many people suggest getting a custom blog design, fancy graphics, professional headshots and reams of software to get going, but don’t do this. Do this when you have mone coming in.
I’ve wasted a ton of money over the years on failed experiments, but one thing I do is I keep each new site’s expenses low until they can pay for themselves. Once a site makes money, then I can invest more into the project. Same goes for Fat Stacks. In fact, I still use an out-of-the-box WordPress theme. I got my headshot done when we hired a photographer for family photos. I don’t have business cards. I paid something like $20 for the logo on Fiverr.
That said, if you’re doing videos, investing in good video equipment is worth it. If you’re taking the time to create video content, it should look and sound good. Your competition is definitely looking and sounding good. The days of using a webcam are over.
Don’t rush it:
Even with street cred, it takes time to gain traction unless you’re really good at networking or know a lot of people in the space. I didn’t know anyone and so it took 6 months to get some traction. But once you do, it grows nicely without too much effort.
Avoid blackhat SEO stuff. It’s not worth it. If you have good knowledge to share (which you will if you have real-world marketing experience), you’ll eventually gain momentum.
One thing that can get the ball rolling quickly is guest posting on other big marketing blogs. While guest posting is only good for links in other niches, it’s actually good for traffic and exposure in marketing niches. A well written and informative guest post on a popular marketing blog can get you a lot of traffic and subscribers.
Is a marketing blog a good niche financially-speaking?
If you have the experience and credibility and enjoy writing about this stuff, yes it is.
There are many other benefits though. I’ve met a lot of very successful niche publishers through Fat Stacks. They’re friends who I chat with regularly. We bounce ideas off one another. It’s good to get the inside scoop from other bloggers.
But, just because you have a successful marketing or blogging background doesn’t mean your next niche should be a marketing niche. Many highly successful niche site bloggers do not start a marketing blog. They’re totally under the radar and like it that way. I know several people who have the know-how to publish an amazing marketing blog, but they prefer not to.
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 that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
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.