By Jenna Cyprus

There are many viable reasons to start a blog. You might pick it up as a hobby, create a blog as a source of information and value to your company’s existing customers, or start a blog with the sole intention of creating a business around it. In any case, you’ll be putting work into your ongoing articles and providing value to a (hopefully) growing audience. Hypothetically, that means any blog has the potential to be profitable—but the reality is a bit more complex.

The truth is, not all blogs can be profitable because not all blogs provide enough value or maintain a steady direction. If you want to succeed in making your blog profitable, you’ll need to follow a deliberate series of steps to do so.

Steps to Make a Blog Profitable

These are the steps you’ll need to take if you want a profitable blog:

  1. Research a valuable niche. Not every blog idea is going to be a moneymaker. If you want to attract a sizable audience and collect a profit, you need to find a niche that has the potential to offer you that return. Do market research to determine which demographics might be interested in what you have to write, and competitive research to determine what’s already been done on the subject. You’ll need something original that some segment of readers will find valuable and interesting.
  2. Create the blog. Yes, this seems like an obvious step, but when and how you create the blog matters. Creating a blog from scratch is relatively easy, but you’ll want to make design choices that reflect your brand and modern users’ preferences, and you’ll need to load the blog with at least a handful of back-dated posts (so your inbound readers have more content to explore upon their first visit). All your articles need to be consistently in brand voice, well-researched, well-written, focused on one target audience, and of some practical value for your readership. That’s not easy to accomplish, but you’ll get better with practice.
  3. Find a way to monetize. One measure of success for a blog is the number of people regularly visiting it—and that’s going to be very important. But the real measure of profitability is going to be how much money you can make from those people. For that, you’ll need some kind of monetization strategy, and fortunately, there are many to choose from. One of the most popular and straightforward, for example, is to include ads on your site, earning a share of revenue for each person who visits your blog and sees the ad. You could also work affiliate links into your blog content, sell products and services, or offer higher-quality long-form content, like eBooks, to generate recurring revenue.
  4. Develop a rhythm for posting. After your initial batch of content is in place, you’ll need to develop an ongoing rhythm for writing and posting. The secret to retaining an audience over an extended period of time is consistency. Develop an editorial calendar where you can keep track of your ideas, keep yourself on a regular posting schedule, and identify new points of potential exploration. Then, build the habit of writing posts on certain days of the week (or certain times of day), and get used to how to publish and support those posts on your blog.
  5. Promote yourself. Finally, you’ll need to start promoting yourself. Spread the word about your new blog and the type of content you’re producing, and get your best-written posts in front of more people who actually want to read them. For example, you can develop a personal brand for yourself and syndicate your best articles on social media, reaching out to prospective new audience members individually until you collect an initial readership. If you’re interested in growing even faster, you can consider investing in paid advertising campaigns targeted to your ideal market, or work with an existing influencer in your industry to secure thousands of new blog views. Whatever method you choose, your blog will need some kind of jump start to get going.

Cultivating an Audience Over Time

Ideally, your content will be so good that readers can’t help but share it with their friends and family. Eventually, by sheer virtue of your content’s quality, your blog will attract hundreds of thousands of people. Unfortunately, even the best-quality blogs need a little push before they can achieve those levels of popularity and success.

Everything comes down to your ability to generate (and sustain an audience). Initial strategies of self-promotion will help you get some seedlings, but if you want to continue growing, you’ll need to continuously strive for new methods of promotion, new audience segments, and new ways to generate traffic.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.