This post is based on episode 135 of the ProBlogger podcast.
What does it take to make a full-time living for your blog?
I know some bloggers who managed it with hundreds of daily readers, while others needed tens of thousands of daily readers.
The amount of money you make from your traffic depends things such as:
- the monetization model you have
- the income streams you use
- your readership, and how engaged they are.
But no matter how much you need, more traffic is generally better. And more income definitely is.
To grow your traffic and increase your income I suggest setting some goals for yourself, which is what I’ve been doing for a decade and a half now.
How I Started Setting Goals for My Blogging
Back in 2004, when I’d been blogging for about 18 months, I started experimenting with AdSense and Amazon’s affiliate program. I wanted to know how much traffic it would take for me to go full time.
Google Analytics wasn’t around at the time. However, using a tool called Site Meter I could view the stats of both my own blog and other people’s. And I fell into the trap of comparing my traffic and my income to that of other bloggers.
It was depressing and frustrating.
So instead I started comparing my monthly traffic against that of the previous month, and set myself the goal to having my traffic increase each time.
To begin with my goal was to simply increase it, no matter how much that increase was. But as I repeated the exercise I realized my blog was growing naturally by about 5% each month.
At this point I began setting specific goals. The first was to increase my traffic by 10% each month. If I had 3,000 visitors in the first month, I wanted 3,300 the next month, then 3,630, then 3,993, and so on.
Sometimes it was easy to hit that 10% increase. Sometimes I hit 30%. Other months, 10% seemed impossible. But having that figure in my mind meant I could always see whether I was on track.
I did something similar with my income, which at the time was largely from AdSense. I realized that if I could increase my traffic by 10% every month my AdSense income would generally go up by 10% too.
That being said, I set my earnings goal at 15% increase each month. One obvious way to increase earnings was to increase the traffic on my site. But I found I could go further than that by positioning the ads better, changing the design of the ads, and so on.
I also started adding other income streams. I focused more on Amazon’s affiliate program, and started experimenting with other advertising networks (such as Chitika) and selling ads direct to advertisers. I found that 15% was quite achievable for me, and some months I managed a 30%, 50% or even 100% increase.
How to Set Your Own Goals for Your Blog
When it comes to traffic and income, don’t compare yourself with other bloggers. Instead, compare your stats for this month with your stats for last month. (Or, if you’ve been blogging for a while, compare April this year with April last year.)
Aim to increase your traffic and income each month. You might aim for a 10% or 15% increase like I did. Or depending on the stage you’re at in your blog’s lifecycle you might aim for 40%, 50% or more.
You can use this technique for other metrics, too. For instance, you might try to improve your bounce rate, or increase the number of pages viewed. On social media you might look at the number of new followers you’re getting, or the number of new newsletter subscribers.
Ultimately, you want each month to be better than the previous month. Try to set goals that are not only realistic but also stretch you a bit. Even if you don’t quite reach them, having that goal in mind will help you go further than you would have otherwise.
How to Reach Your Goals
Just setting goals won’t get you far. You need to be specific about how you’ll achieve them.
For instance, if you want to get 10% more traffic each month ask yourself:
- “What blogs will I guest post on?”
- “What forums will I start interacting with?”
- “What influencers will I reach out to?”
- “Who will I email to share links to the things I’ve written?”
- “What shareable content will I create?”
Each month, try to come up with three or four things you’ll do to get closer to your goal.
For more help on traffic, check out these episodes of the ProBlogger podcast:
For more help growing your income, listen to episode 48, How to Make $30,000 a Year Blogging, where I talk about how to make a full-time income from blogging by breaking down that goal and diversifying your income streams.
What’s your goal for the next few months? Share it with us in the comments, and let us know what you’ll be doing to reach it.
Image credit: Jesper Aggergaard