As we all know, there are some “classic” things to include as additional elements to your blog’s offering. I’m sure you’ve heard about email lists (newsletters), social media integration, video posts, guest posts and so on.
However, there’s also a nice set of not-so obvious things that can help you strengthen your position in the niche and make your blog more popular. And that’s exactly what I want to focus on today.
1. Membership site
Membership sites are a fairly common business model online. But more often than not, they are portrayed as something only the big players can do. When in fact, it’s not true.
These days, launching a membership site (or a membership module) is not that difficult from a technical standpoint. Essentially, you have two possible approaches to choose from:
- A blog module.
- A stand-alone membership site.
If you like to keep everything in one place and make your blog the center of your membership program then consider plugins like: Membership (free plugin by the WPMU team), WishList Member (premium plugin starting at $97) or aMember (premium plugin – $180).
Each of these plugins has a slightly different set of features and both pros and cons. I, personally, would advise you to start with Membership (the free one) and then later on, if necessary, check out the premium plugins.
There are only two small issues left: what would you publish on your membership site and how to promote it?
Essentially, membership sites are like any other product on the internet, which means that some common methods of promotion will work for membership sites too.
The approach I actually advise is to steal good promotional strategies. Start by checking out what your competitors are doing to promote their programs and then try to mimic those methods in one way or another. It’s always easier to use a method that’s already proven to work, rather than search for something completely new and groundbreaking.
Now, content is the only element that has no specific one-size-fits-all blueprint. This is something you’ll have to figure out on your own for your specific niche and audience. However, the general rule is to provide content that can’t be seen anywhere else on the internet. Hence, making it the value of the program.
Some examples: good sports betting insights, currency market predictions, lists of websites (as a resource) where you can get paid to write, lists of websites that accept guest posts, templates and strategies for effective guest blogging. The possibilities are truly endless, but you have to start with good research.
2. Freelance services / “hire me” page
Freelancing is a great income stream for many blogs, yet not that many people take the possibility into account.
This is mostly due to the fact that freelance services are not the most straightforward blog monetization model. Things like advertising, affiliate marketing, paid posts publication, cheap e-books (more on that in the next section) are way more popular.
Do note that depending on your niche, you can offer many different services. But the one most likely to work with most of them is freelance writing. Trying to get paid to write articles indeed is the approach with the best success rate. Bloggers usually do a great job at writing communicative articles that many companies seek. As a blogger, you have one more advantage – your writing can be seen publicly on the internet. It can turn into a kind of portfolio/resume and your prospective clients can get a good insight into your style and abilities.
Offering this kind of freelance services has some very significant advantages. Such as:
- Once a client pays for your work, the refund rate is 0% (something impossible to achieve for any tangible or digital product).
- You can set your rates at whatever level you wish and different clients can pay different prices.
- You can do as much work as you like, which gives you the ability to find the perfect “work-time to money” balance.
- It strengthens your brand as an expert; if later on you’ll be trying to score some big contract, you can use your previous writing works as proof that you’re kind of a big deal, so to speak.
Now, joining the freelancing world is not that tough. Start by creating a “hire me” page on your blog and list the services you’re willing to offer. Try to be detailed and answer the most important questions, which are:
- What (what is your offer)?
- Why (why are you offering it)?
- Why you (why you are the person to choose)?
- What for (what are the benefits you can offer)?
3. No crappy e-book products!
Let’s focus for a moment on one thing you shouldn’t introduce on your blog. I’m talking about all those crappy e-book products.
And unfortunately, they are fairly popular on the internet.
Here are some characteristics of a crappy e-book product:
- 20 pages or less,
- costing money (free ones are okay),
- low-budget presentation and composition,
- created from a standard Word document,
- providing advice that can be found everywhere for free,
- marketed as the best thing ever.
Really, those things are not helpful at all and even if you manage to make some money with them, the thing still won’t be worth the effort because your brand will suffer in the long run.
These simple e-books are often described as the holy grail of online business. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
“Hey, you only need to publish this short 15-page e-book and if you just get a sale a day, you can make even $3,000+ per month and your readers will thank you for it!”
Reality check…this isn’t always true. Your audience doesn’t care about over-hyped e-books created in haste bringing no unique value. If you’re going to release an e-book, do it like it should be done. Make it at least 40,000 words or more. Release it in the Kindle store. Prepare a whole marketing approach. Oh yes, it won’t be easy.
Depending on your skill and experience, proofreading has different levels of importance for your blog publishing. For me, personally, it is an essential practice. I’m not a native English writer, so I need to proofread the hell out of my articles.
However, proofreading is also very time-consuming especially if you want to make your articles perfect.
More than that, you will never do a better job of proofreading your own articles than any other person (a stranger to your writing).
The reason is simple. Since you’ve written the article, your brain will naturally see what it wants to see, not what’s actually on the screen. A stranger doesn’t have this problem. They see things as they are.
That is why I encourage you to hire someone to do your proofreading. You can go to a place like oDesk or Freelancer.com (an interesting turn of events considering that just a minute ago I encouraged you to offer freelance services yourself) and find someone willing to work on a per-project basis or even per-word basis.
The price can vary, but it’s always good to do some research and check what’s possible. If you’re making money with your blog, speeding up the publication process might be worth the investment in the end. You can always find a better use for your time than doing proofreading yourself, right?
That’s it for my list. Feel free to comment and share what you’re planning to introduce into your blog in the near future. Is there anything interesting waiting in line?