There are many ways and platforms that you can use to create and monetize online content. Creating articles, videos, podcasts and even infographics can be a source of recurrent revenue if done professionally.
However, to be done efficiently, online content requires quite a good deal of Strategic Planning. The Internet is full of high quality content that competes in ranking places in Google and social media sites. Knowing what to write and how to write it is the key, so you will need to make some stategic planning before starting.
Plan before you start
There are four important aspects that you will need to consider before starting your content creation business. These are:
- Focus on a niche;
- Deliver quality content;
- Offer real value;
- establish authority.
1. Focus on a Niche
The most important aspect before you start is to select the niche you want to start creating content for. Whether it is articles, videos, podcasts or graphics, you will need to do research to help you focus on a theme and select a clear target audience.
2. Deliver quality content
Good articles will get more engagement, people will spend more time reading it and that will help with the search rank and getting more views. A poor article just will just eclipse itself and will get you nothing. Guaranteed!
3. Offer real value to people
One key thing you need to keep in mind is that when people read your article (or view your video) they expect to get something in return. When writing an article or producing a video about education you will need to keep in mind that the viewer is looking for you to solve his problem.
4. Establish your authority
If you focus on providing quality and engaging content you can establish your authority in a particular field and be an influencer. Because, after creating quality content, its all about marketing. You can use your personal brand (your name) to spread the word about your expertise by building a consistent presence across several online platforms.
Ok, now that we got this out of the way let's talk about our next subject: Content Strategy. Content Strategy, which is different from Content Marketing Strategy, deals with strategy high-level planning for your content producing activities and how they will interact with your brand, who they will reach, and how they will help you achieve your business goals.
Typically to define your Content Strategy you'll need to supports the following things: answer these questions:
- What you're trying to accomplish
- Who you’re trying to reach
- What types of content you’ll publish
- How your content will support the brand
- The ways in which your content will be differentiated
- How you will promote and amplify your content
- The metrics that define success
The answer for these questions will guide you into following the best steps to build a strong base of quality and engaging content that can promote your brand, build an audience and get leads to your sales if that's the case.
With each of the following questions you will have some decisions to take, as we datail:
1. What you're trying to accomplish
The content you will create will depend on the type of action you want to achieve from your users. There is several actions you can expect from this client and the type of content you write, its size and its tone should reflect your goal. For example, you can write several types of actions:
- Service subscription
- Sale of a product to the user
- Free subscription
- Email Registration
- Download or preview of a content
- Brand awareness (no concrete follow-up action)
2. Who you’re trying to reach
Choosing your target audience is probably the most difficult thing to do. To sell some product and even more a service you will first need to establish one Buying Personna (or more). This "Personna" is a description of a person that will most likely by from you. When you set the characteristics of that perso, ussually, the age, its occupation and behaviuor you will need to know what kind of activities he/she does so that you can start choosing what content she will likely search for.
To establish your buying Personna you will need basic information such as:
- Age and Gender
- Level of income
- Location (namelly urban/suburbs or actual city/country)
- Family status (important for B2C consumer brands)
- Level of education (particularly important for content marketing teams)
- Job title
- Professional and personal goals
- Beliefs and values
- Biggest struggles and pain points
- Obstacles and challenges they are facing
- Irrational/rational fears
- Preferred blogs, social networks and websites
- Influencers and thought leaders they trust and look up to
- Favorite events and conferences (online or offline)
Once you define your Buying personna you will be able to choose what type of content you need to create so that it can matcgh with his/her expactations/struggles and tastes.
3. What types of content you’ll publish
So basically until now you have responded to (1) what you sell and (2) whom to sell. We are now ready to choose what you will write.
There are many types of content you can create, here are some examples:
- Information Articles
- Inspiring Content
- Trainning Videos
- Customer Testimonials
- Guides and eBooks
- Content Aligned With Sales Funnel
- Educational Content
It is also very important that your content to be as up to date as possible since people will spend more time (and no skip) viewring your content and will generate more views.
4. How your content will support the brand
This item relates to the Buying personna. If you write abouth themes thart are more related with your product and service you will likely attract people that are more pron to buying or interacting.
For example if you sell Pet products it would be important to write articles that relate to pet owners and their problems, and especcially if you sell a certain product that can solve their problem.
The more you adapt your producvt and services to the specific content you create the more clicks, leads, sales and recommendations you'll get.
5. The ways in which your content will be differentiated
In the process of validating the feasability of your business idea it is very important, for many reasons, to know what are your competitors.
Wether your market is local or global, you must have an idea of who is selling and how large is the market. Eve more important is analize the competition that is already selling their products through digital channels and how they create (or not) contents to get leads and sales.
If you find out that there are some local or regional markets where you already have many online content creators that are in direct competition you will need to differentiate your online activities in order to grab a part of the market. There are many ways to make this distance yoursef of your competitors, but the most important thing is to create real value for your target market, to be consistentent and to create some type of a community that unifies people arround their intersts.
6. How you will promote and amplify your content
There is many ways to promote and amplify the reach of your content. In the Content Strategy prespective (the Content Marketing will be explained later), you will need to create content that can apply to the following goals:
- Create content that is SEO friendy
- Design content that can be multiplied by several media
- Invest in media that is very engaging and searched for
- Develop both engaging and simple layouts for the information
All content must be complient with good practices of Search Engine Optimization, containing the titles, descriptions, tags, internal links and so on. Content must be Google frienlly and must have social action buttons ot be shared on several social networks.
Try to multiply the medi formats that your content can be displayed. For example if you have a trainning article you can have the html page, but yoiu can also create a podcast and a video with it and tmultiply the reach with several networks and platforms.
Try to invest in a media format that is the most searched by your audience. By searching the communities you can reach the conclusion that your audience favours more video content than written articles.
Use both quality and simple web page layouts that are suitable to present the information and that can ask your users/readers to perform and action on the page.
7. The metrics that define success
One of the least considered factors when planning some kind of business is how are we going to measure success. Content Marketing is no different and when we are investing in content creation we should always hava a prediction of what is our thereshold of success.
Content Marketing normally takes a certain ammount of time to generate results so what we propose is to have some kind of a prevision for 3 time ranges: shorter, medium and long term. A good example of these terms can be 3 months, 6 months and 1 year and a half.
For each of these periods we can elaborate many kind of metrics:
- Social media views
- Social media Engagements
- Social media clicks on content
- Site Visits / Views
- Email registrations
- Register Clicks
- Article Views
- Contacts through form
On the other hand we can also make a cost estimation of what each article costs to write, publis and promote so that we can in each period have some kind of results.
The content you will create will depend on the type of action you want to achieve from your users. There is several actions you can expect from this client and the type of content you write, its size and its tone should reflect your goal. For example, you can write several types of actions::
Content Strategy is both labor intensive and can be quite complex as it leads with many different activities and tools that support it. It involves using tools to perform Content Optimization tasks that can find the best keywords and search activity for the theme you have chosen.
The most used tool for Content Optimization is the Google Search Console, which is a free tool offered by Google to optimize content on your site. You can use Google Search Console as a way to look into how search engines understand your content. There are many other tools you can check, check out this article: Best Content Optimization Tools for SEO
- to know the pros and cons about them.
The next step on your list is to build your Content Marketing Strategy, which operationalizes the distribution of the content you have produced.
Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have quality and search optimized content available you will need to monetize it. Let's consider 3 main ways of monetization:
- Using your own blog or website
- Using 3rd party platforms
- Selling your content to clients
Monetizing content through your own blog or website, as opposed buy having other to do it, gives you much more flexibility to try different approaches but, on the other hand, it can also also complicate things because you will need the time (and skills) dedicated to marketing specific tasks and that can distract you from the content creation tasks.
Those 3 monetization options are not, however, mutually exclusive, so you can have your own site and sell content and aslso sell content through 3rd party platforms or directly to clients.
Ways to Monetize your online content
Whether you use one or more of these approaches you will have several ways to monetize your content. Here is a comprehensive list:
1. Monetize content through your blog or website
First you will need a website to work with. Normally it can be a blog service like Wix or you can have your own wordpress installation on a hosting provider.
Once you have your blog or website ready you can monetize it through many ways. We have sorted out a list ordered from less difficult to most difficult so that you can sort out how you want to proceed:
2. Sell Content as a Freelancer
This is the easiest way to monetize your content since your blog will serve as a showcase of your services with a few articles. You can also opt for selling custom exclusive articles you have published already (you can tell google that the article permanent url has changed with a simple hack).
3. Use Google AdSense
Less difficult to set up but requires a large volume of traffic. Typically hundreds of thousands of views to get a minimum monthly income of $500. Your content needs to be in niche or high traffic volume keywords.
4. Sell Sponsored Articles
Sponsored content is usually paid by an advertiser or directly by a brand. In each case you will have to present them with good traffic statistics. Work hard on the media presentation. Needs to know your market and go after each lead.
5. Get sponsored by a brand
Beside creating sponsored articles you can also get those clients to sponsor you in a more permanent way. Create sponsorship packages and sell them as an alternative or in a complementary way to sponsored posts.
6. Sell Coaching or Consulting Advice
Offering coaching services is one of the easiest ways of monetizing your blog. You can offer one-to-one or group consulting. Normally you're stuck in the location or, if you want to do it online you will have to build a strong reputation.
ve the option to become a coach and turn your blog into a cash-making machine.
7. Sell Affiliate Marketing
You write specific articles or set up landing pages that link to a specific product which you are affiliated with. You will earn a commission for each sale that originated from your pages.
8. Sell Physical Products
You will need to set up a shop and a payment system to sell physical products. Usually works best in a niche market where you don't have so much competition.
9. Create Sponsored Email Newsletters
With the leads coming from your content you can set up email lists organized by interests and create a steady flow of newsletters where you can sell space on.
10. Sell Info Products
Needs work on creating a strong base of articles, guides and videos. You can also create specific ebooks and sell them via their own landing page. Helps to have a strong authority on your niche, otherwise content is difficult to sell.
11. Sell memberships to your site
You will need strong quality content (especially videos) and established authority that can be complemented with guest speakers. You can create a membership area of your site and use a third party platform like Patreon.
12. Sell Online Courses
It involves creating quality content organized in a course structure layout. It involves creating lessons, graphics, guides and most important video lessons.
13. Organize Webinars or Workshops
Building a strong community around a niche subject and establishing a theme authority will enable you to set up a strong community where you can organiza online talks, virtual meetings and even online workshops.
14. Sell Digital Products
Creating digital products can be difficult since it involves programming. You should focus on developing a quick prototype related to the content niche you have chosen and validate it with subscriptions. Keep it simple.
15. Sell your own Merchandise
Many bloggers create specific merchandise related to the content they produce. If you have a vast audience and are loyal , merchandise products can be a way to get financial support. You will need to be very creative.
16. Setting up your Social Media pages
Social media is a mandatory step getting online audiences and being seen in your niche market. Depending on your public (age, interests, and geography) you can choose the right social media channels.
One strategy is to open 3 or 4 social accounts but to invest most of your marketing effort in only one or two at the most. For example, if your audience is younger you might want to concentrate your effort on Instagram and maybe Facebook.
If your audience is more business related and you know your viewers and buyers are mostly on LinkedIn, that will be your main media channel. Be prepared that building audiences in some channels can be a more painful and time consuming process. An example of this is Facebook versus Twitter, being the former easier to get more audience.
Monetizing content through 3rd-party platforms
As we said, you can also monetize your content through other platforms. There are 3 ways to do this:
- Using Affiliate Market Platforms;
- Selling as Affiliate (directly);
- Selling Your Services on Marketplaces;
You can opt to choose one or the three of these channels, as the content, services or products taht you will be selling are yours.
1. Using Affiliate Market Platforms
There are a number of Affiliate Market Platforms that monetize content from different sellers. These platforms normally are basically brokers between you, the advertiser, and the sellers.
These platforms let you choose between brands and types of services and facilitate you with the links or "widgets" that you can insert into your content, which constitute the call to action to make a registration or a sale.
When choosing these sellers you will have to take in account the type of content you're creating so that there is a perfect "fit" between them. If your content is about clothing, you will not want to redirect the viewer to a food product. So whether you opt to write specific content for the services you want to promote or you concentrate on your specific niche and then choose only the ones that are a fit, it's up to you.
Normally these platforms give you commission information and statistics. There are services that can pay you for a "Lead", aka registration on their website, or for a "Sale". Commissions are normally fixed and can range from a few cents to a few dollars or more depending on the type of market and service.
Affiliate platform normally pay you after a certain amount of time (eg. end of the month) with a certain minimum amount limit. You will also have to pay charges from the amount you receive depending on the provider and the country you're in.
Some Affiliated Marketing Platforms1. Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is the most used and known affiliate marketing network. Amazon Associates enables you to earn a commission on pretty much anything sold at Amazon.com.
Amazon Associates also enables you to earn a commission on everything new that someone you refer purchases, even if it’s not the product you linked to.
Amazon has a flat-rate commission structure where you’re paid a flat percentage based on the category that each product is in, which varies from 1 to 10%.
Commision Rates: Amazon Associates offers a commission of around 5% depending on the product.
Payout Schedule: 60 days
Payment Options: Direct deposit, Amazon gift certificates, checks (with a $15 processing fee).
Cookies last only for for 24 hours
ShareASale is one of the most popular general affiliate networks. ShareASale sales include both physical and digital products.
Commision Rates: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
Minimum payout: $50
Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
3. Rakuten Marketing (Formerly LinkShare)
Rakuten Marketing (previously known as LinkShare) is a popular affiliate network that includes a lot of big American merchants such as Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and Papa Johns.
Commission Rate: Depends on merchant you sign up with.
Cookie duration: Depends on merchant you sign up with.
Minimum payout: $50
Awin is one of the largest affiliate networks, with 15,000 advertisers & 200,000 plus publishers which include Etsy, StubHub, HP, Hyatt. AWin has digital or physical products for almost every product category. Awin was founded in Germany, but also includes the US & global companies.
Commission Rates: Around 5% but varies from merchant to merchant. They do charge an application fee.
Minimum payout: $50, monthly.
2. Selling as an Affiliate (directly)
This option is similar to the above, but with the distinction that you register into each brand as an affiliate, eliminating the middleman (the platform). Normally you can use both strategies and see how they can complement each other or what works for you.
This strategy can give you more freedom to choose the products that you want to promote and have more control of your business but nevertheless you will have to follow the rules of each brand you're affiliated with. Aslo, managing each seller can be more time consuming especially if you have low sales from them.
3. Selling Your Services on Marketplaces
Selling your services through a Marketplace is also a feasible business options but it also can be complicated because you will be in direct competition with other providers. This can mean that you will have to lower your margins to get sales and sometimes negotiate pricing.
This is an opposed strategy of having your own brand and managing your direct sales contacts. We view this strategy as a complement of the direct approach, so that you're not dependent on the low pricing. In summary, less control and shorter margins.
You can also use other content platforms and services to monetize your content.
After defining your content strategy, setting up the website and opening the social media pages you're half through the process. Now it the time to start write and start posting your firts contents and start measuring results.
If your website gets organic page views (without paid campaigns) will be more difficult and take more time. So a way to measure the quality and engagement of your content will be to create campaigns on social networks.
Our advice is to diversify on a few (3 or four different pieces of content) and test them with 2 campaigns each. You can test each article to a different audience in a 7-day period so that you can measure the results.
As we said before, getting substantial organic views can take more time, but it also depends on the frequency of the posts you make and on the history of your social pages.