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How secure is your blogging income right now? Many bloggers are in quite a precarious position… just one small algorithm change away from radically slashed traffic and income. Here’s how to future proof your blog.
Blogging is a great way to earn money, but all too often that income is very unreliable and insecure. Many bloggers are very dependent on just one traffic source and one revenue source for EVERYTHING. It doesn’t take a genius to see they are just one tiny algorithm change / economic shock / legal tweak away from total wipe-out!
For example, we’ve seen over the years bloggers’ traffic get slashed by a social media or Pinterest algorithm changes. We’ve seen RPMs take a tumble when the stock market does. We’ve seen traffic to travel blogs decimated because of COVID. We’ve seen sponsored post opportunities dwindle for various different reasons…
We simply do not know what is round the next corner (and COVID has taught us that what is around the corner could be literally anything!) and we are kidding ourselves if we think that how we get traffic and earn income will stay the same forever.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of steps savvy bloggers can take to anticipate and protect against the inevitable changes that are round the next corner. In this blog post I am sharing 5 ways to future-proof your blog!
1. Stop relying on social media and Pinterest for traffic
If the last 5+ years have taught us anything it’s that social media and Pinterest traffic cannot be relied on. When I first started out as a blogger, it was relatively easy to get significant blog traffic from social media – especially Facebook – and Pinterest. But gradually, over the years, this traffic has dwindled as the social media overlords have devised ever more clever ways of keeping their users on their platform.
Why this shift?
Because, quite bluntly, those aforementioned social media overlords earn their money from ads… and the only way they earn that money is if their users stay on their platform. It is not in their interests to send significant traffic to bloggers. Consequently, they have tweaked and re-tweaked their algorithms to make sure they keep their users on their platform for longer.
So, if you are still very reliant on social media and Pinterest for a large part of your traffic, you should be concerned right now. This trend has been consistent for a while and I can’t see it reversing any time soon.
So what is the alternative?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – is a much more reliable, consistent and long-term way of driving traffic to your blog.
Of course, you are still at the mercy of an algorithm, but it’s a much more consistent, predictable and blogger friendly algorithm.
Want the fast track? Then you’re definitely going to want to check out my complete step-by-step SEO course for bloggers: SEO Jumpstart!
2. Avoid being dependent on just a few blog posts for the majority of your traffic
So many bloggers are in this very precarious position – dependent on a very small handful of blog posts for the vast majority of traffic. In fact, I’ve come across bloggers who rely on just ONE BLOG POST to send them OVER FIFTY PERCENT of their traffic. You don’t need me to tell you how precarious that is!
If just one blogger writes a blog post that is just a tiny bit better than yours and Google decides to rank it above your post… your traffic is going to crumble! Or if there’s a Google algorithm update that just shakes things up ever so slightly… but enough for that one post you depend upon to move from page 1 to page 2 of Google… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about!
So, if you are in this situation right now, what is the solution?
If you do this well, you should find that before too long you have lots of high-volume keywords which are ranking in Google and your blog is much less dependent on that one super-popular post for the bulk of its traffic.
3. Keep up with Google’s direction of travel
One of the great things about Google’s algorithm – compared to those troublesome social media algorithms – is it is much more predictable and blogger-friendly. Google is in the business of delivering the best search results… and so the best way to rank well on Google is to be the best result. If your blog is genuinely the best result for any given search result, your blog will rank number 1.
But how does Google determine the best result for any given search term? That’s where the algorithm comes in. Google’s algorithm contains over 200 ranking factors, each carefully weighted, to ensure that the best results always rise to the top.
Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm, but it’s always working towards that same goal – delivering the best results for its users.
One of the best ways to future-proof your blog is it notice the patterns (What does Google care about? What does Google keep focusing on in its algorithm updates?) and try to anticipate where Google will go next… or, in other words, pay attention to what Google cares about!
And what does Google care about?
Google cares about a lot of things, but these are the big ones that feature time and time again in Google’s algorithm updates:
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
- High quality content that actually answers the searcher’s question
- UX (User eXperience)
- Site Speed / Core Web Vitals
- Mobile friendliness
- Stopping people gaming the search results with underhand ‘black hat’ techniques
If you focus on getting these things right, you’ll greatly reduce your chances of getting hit by an algorithm update.
READ MORE >>> How to avoid getting hit by a Google algorithm update
4. Convert ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic
Of course, as I’ve already mentioned, none of us know exactly what is around the next corner. While Google is a great way to get reliable, consistent, long-term traffic right now, there is no knowing how long this source of traffic will be available to us.
No matter where you get your traffic from now, be it Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, the fundamental problem is that this traffic is ‘borrowed’ traffic. In other words, you are reliant on someone else’s platform to send you traffic… and there are absolutely no guarantees that this flow of traffic will last forever. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this flow of traffic WON’T last forever!
What we as bloggers need to do is find some way of converting this ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic.
Fortunately, there is a very easy way to convert ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic and that’s email marketing – you own your email list… nobody can take it away from you. You are not at the mercy of anyone else’s algorithm/whims/business model.
And better still, when someone subscribes to your email list, your emails land in their inbox and stay there. You are not reliant on that person to decide to do a Google search that day, nor are you reliant on the social media overlords deigning to show your post in your follower’s feed. And if they don’t check their emails that day… it’s still there the next day (unlike social media posts!)
But it gets even better… because you can use email marketing to nurture those casual readers into regular readers… and then into raving super fans and advocates for your blog. If you do email marketing right, your subscribers will become such big fans they’ll naturally share your blog with their friends and family… thus expanding your reach and growing your audience.
If you want a measure of how precarious your situation is right now, take a quick peep at your Google Analytics and see what proportion of your traffic is ‘returning’ vs ‘new’. The higher the percentage of ‘returning’, the safer you are. And the best way to get your readers to come back is to get them on your email list.
If you are wondering how to harness the power of email marketing to turn your ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic, then you should definitely check out my Beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers and also my post on How to create an opt-in offer that actually works.
Ready to take your email marketing to the next level? Then sign up for Email Marketing Jumpstart! This course not only shows you how to convert your current ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic, it also teaches you how to nurture your new subscribers to turn them from casual readers to raving fans AND how to make money from your email list.
5. Diversify your blogging income
So far, we have looked mainly at traffic, but of course traffic is only half the equation! The other half of the equation is income.
If you are like most bloggers, the majority of income is probably coming from just one source right now – which is also a pretty precarious place to be in! It just takes one economic shock / change in the law / change in policy and that income source could dry up overnight.
When I first started blogging, the majority of bloggers I knew got most of their income from sponsored posts. But gradually over the years those previously lucrative sponsorship deals began to dry up… Fortunately we were all saved by the rise of programmatic ads, from the likes of Mediavine and AdThrive. Suddenly it was not only possible to replace lost sponsored post income with ads, but it was actually possible to make much, much more from ads!
But this tale is cautionary. Who knows what will happen next? Who knows how long bloggers will be able to make good money from ads? Already we are seeing dark clouds on the horizon in the form of the ending of third-party cookies. How much this will affect ad revenues, only time will tell. And good ad companies, like Mediavine are already putting steps in place to mitigate the effects of this change. But it’s a worrying sign, nonetheless.
So, what’s the solution? Is there any form of blogging income we can totally rely on?
Well, the answer is no – there’s no one form of blogging income we can totally rely on… which is why it’s important for us to diversify out revenue streams… and not be solely reliant on any one form of blogging income.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of different ways we as bloggers can earn money from our blogs: ads and sponsored posts, of course, but also, affiliates, ebooks, online courses, physical products, services, events…
However, for me, there is one revenue stream that stands head and shoulders above the rest right now and that’s online courses… Just like email marketing coverts ‘borrowed’ traffic into ‘owned’ traffic, so online courses make you less reliant on ‘other people’ or perhaps we could call it ‘borrowed’ income streams. It’s also a huge growth area right now. Here are a few stats to get you excited:
- The global online learning industry has been on a steady rise in the past two decades. Since 2000, it has grown by a whopping 900%.
- The global online learning market is expected to double in size from around $250 billion in 2020 to $499.1 billion in 2027
- Thinkific and Teachable, the two leading platforms for creating and selling online courses, have together helped course creators make more than $1 billion in revenues to date.
- When it comes to pricing, the average price of courses sold through the Teachable platform is $177 while almost 25% of schools priced their courses in excess of $200.
If I may be allowed to make a little prediction, it would be this… A few years ago the secret to blogging success was social media and sponsored posts… Right now it’s SEO and ads. My prediction is the next phase will be email marketing and online courses… I could be wrong of course, but even if I am, what I am definitely not wrong about is that THERE WILL BE A NEXT PHASE… so make sure you are prepared for it!
Over to you
What are you doing to future proof your blog? Let us know in the comments below!
- How to avoid getting hit by a Google algorithm update
- Help! My Google traffic just tanked – what do I do?
- How to earn passive income from a blog: a step-by-step guide
- How to use email marketing to boost your SEO