One Simple Thing You Can Do to Monetize Your Blog Today

Monetize-your-blog

The tears welled up in her eyes. Sharon, a woman I’ve always known to be steady as rock, was falling apart right in front of me.

“What am I going to do, Gary?” She asked. My friend looked lost. Broken. Pitiful.

“What about the bills? The house, the cars… everything.”

I didn’t know what to do for her really, other than sympathize and listen.

Sharon is a wonderful person. She’s smart, honest, a hard worker, and she’s talented.

Sharon has worked in marketing for many years – and has been successful at it.

She also runs a blog which began as a hobby or a kind of side project that she hoped would eventually produce some income for her… or maybe not.

Initially, it really didn’t matter either way. She had a good job that she liked and that paid her very well.

But, as happens more often than not, Sharon’s life changed. Dramatically.

To make a long story short, Sharon’s mother became ill with a condition that would require a lot of attention. After looking at every possible alternative, Sharon and her husband reluctantly decided that their best bet was to have her stay home with her mother.

But here’s the problem: Sharon accounted for about 45% of her family’s income. So in addition to worrying about their family member’s health, she and her husband were now beside themselves with money worries.

They were petrified because they had no idea how they’d be paying the bills if they didn’t figure out something fast. After working hard their whole lives, their financial future was suddenly in question.

“If I could just turn the corner with my blog, maybe I could make up for some of that lost income and at least make things manageable”, she said to me.

“But I’ve been at this blogging thing over a year already, and I’m still not making any money from it.”

Now, if you have your own blog, you’ve had that very same thought. If you say you haven’t had that thought, you’re lying… and your pants are flaming. Or so a popular saying goes.

Sharon knew I was generating cash flow from Reboot Authentic – so she asked me to take a look at what she was doing and offer some advice about how she could start monetizing her own blog.

We decided that while monetizing wouldn’t immediately solve her current problem, we could sure generate enough cash to alleviate the panic and take off much of the pressure.

By the way – Sharon is a real person. Her name has been changed for the same reason that I won’t be mentioning the name of her blog: For the time being, she and her husband prefer to keep their story anonymous. Maybe we’ll reveal their identities and interview them eventually… just not today.

How to Fail Every Time

What I found was that Sharon was missing a very VERY important first step to making money on her blog. And as I thought about it, I realized that the vast majority of all the blogs I see are guilty of this same huge mistake.

There are a lot of things that go into successful monetization. But before you start talking about creating courses, or affiliate products, or ads (ick), or anything else – there are some more basic challenges you need to overcome first.

Don’t get me wrong, you need to be up to speed on the different methods of monetizing your blog, but first things first.

If you want to cook breakfast, for instance, you don’t begin by buttering the toast. You begin by going to the store and buying the bread, butter, eggs, and bacon. You have to do the prep work before you can do the actual thing, right?

Monetization is no different.

Monetization is the thing… but you can’t do it properly without the prep work.

I dug into Sharon’s Google Analytics and while she wasn’t setting any records, she was getting reasonably good traffic. Her email list numbers were similar – nothing jaw-dropping, but certainly respectable.

At the most basic level, to successfully monetize, visitors need to turn into followers (subscribers), and then followers need to convert to customers. A pretty simple concept, right?

The truth is that you don’t need a big email list to start monetizing. All you need is a list of the right people.

While you may not be able to start earning thousands per month on your blog with a small list, you for sure can create cash flow. That is, as long as you have targeted the right people for your list.

Why You Need to Quit Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Here’s the unfortunate thing…

Up-and-coming bloggers tend to waste their energy quite a bit. Sharon was doing it. I used to do it, too.

They waste their time trying to implement intermediate and advanced techniques when they’re still beginners. See, studying those things makes sense because you have to know what you’re working toward… but trying to pull of A-List Blogger moves with a relatively unknown blog just doesn’t fly.

Sharon is a talented writer, and she has a ton of knowledge to share with people. She creates truly helpful stuff. And those who have subscribed to her list love her work.

But as an up-and-coming blogger, Sharon’s lifeblood is new visitors. Lots and lots of them, right?

Bloggers with lists of 100,000 can talk about courses and webinars and all that… but an up-and-coming blogger needs to initially be concerned about one thing and one thing only…

Keeping the eyes on the page.

If your new visitors don’t immediately connect with what they see on your blog, they’ll never subscribe. And if they never subscribe, your chances of monetizing early on are nil.

So if you’re an up-and-coming blogger hell-bent on building an engaged list that you can sell to – there is one area on your blog that is more important than all the others.

I’ll tell you what area that is in just a bit.

How Many Seconds is Your Blog Worth?

Pop quiz time.

When a new visitor stops by your blog, how long do you think you have to make a great impression on them? You know, the kind of impression where they think, “Wow. This blog is perfect for me!”

So how long do you think you have to make them feel that way?clock

One minute?

Two?

You wish!

According to the Neilson Norman Group the average web site visitor is only willing to give you 10 to 20 seconds to make a positive impression. And that’s the liberal estimate.

Spend a few minutes on Google and you can find much more conservative numbers like 7 or even 5 seconds.

Now if that’s true (and it is), then the next question a smart person like you ought to be asking yourself is the exact same question my friend Sharon asked me during our discussion…

“5-10 Seconds? What can a new visitor even possibly see in 10 seconds or less?”

A great question – and it comes with two possible answers.

If you mean how much space or content can be seen in 10 seconds or less, then the answer is “not much.”

If you mean how much can a new visitor learn about your blog in 10 seconds or less, the answer is, “a ton!”

The secret of connecting with the right audience lies in the area of your blog that a visitor sees as soon as your home page loads. Everything that is visible without scrolling.

This vitally important area is referred to as the area “above the fold.”

Why Your Monetization Efforts Live and Die Above the Fold

Right about now you’re probably thinking the same thing Sharon was thinking. She said, “Yeah, ok – that makes sense… but what does any of that have to do with earning money from my blog?”

Good question, isn’t it? I told you she was a bright lady.

The answer is that it has everything to do with making money. As I explained to Sharon…

If your offer – be it to subscribe to your email list, a course of some kind, or a coaching service – isn’t visible, obvious, fascinating, and above the fold, only a tiny percentage of your visitors will ever see it.

Therefore only a tiny percentage of that tiny percentage will accept your offer.

No sales, no income.

Remember, you only have somewhere between 5-10 seconds to “wow” them.

That means that whatever you’re showing above the fold needs to speak very loudly and clearly about who you are and what your blog offers your new visitors.

In those first 5-10 seconds, as brilliant as your content may be, the rest of your site and content means precisely jack squat.

Sharon and I sat down together to look at her blog’s above the fold area.

My one directive to her was, “Now, as many millions of times as you’ve looked at this page… when I hit enter and it appears… try to look at it with the eyes of a new visitor. She agreed, and my fingers went type, type, type, enter.

Sharon had been writing frequent, useful content – and generating decent traffic from it, but when the page loaded and we looked at her above the fold area together, you could see the disappointment in her eyes. It was awful… and she knew it.

The Story Your ‘Above the Fold’ Area Can Tell

Sharon said, “Wow. That really doesn’t say… anything… does it? I mean, at least to a new visitor.”

And it didn’t. There was very little going on.

She had a nice professional theme and a nice looking logo – and all those things we tend to obsess over. But there was no clear message. Nothing said, “Welcome to my blog, I stand for A, B, and C – and if you follow me, you’ll get X, Y, and Z.”

It was a big, visually appealing nothing.

Having seen the issue through a new set of eyes, Sharon was ready to correct the problem.

I explained that when someone comes to your site, your above the fold area has to tell your whole story in just a few seconds. Things like…

  • What’s this blog about?
  • Who are you?
  • Should I listen to you?
  • Who says so?
  • What is your content like?
  • How do I learn more about you?
  • What should I do first?
  • What’s in this for me?
  • How do I follow you on social media?

When you bring your above the fold area together in such a way that it answers all those questions and more, then good things start to happen.

Visitors start staying past 10 seconds, they scroll down and read more than one piece of content, they check out your other pages: Your about page, your resources page – and your offers.

Once you’ve conveyed a clear image of who you are and why you should be listened to – then you’re in prime position to begin earning money from your blog.

Incidentally, Sharon did start earning some money from her blog. Pretty quickly, actually. And it has helped her family through this rough patch.

In the next post, I’ll share with you the elements of Sharon’s above the fold area we optimized – and how you can do the same thing.

In the meantime, tell me…

Have you specifically worked on your blog’s “above the fold” area?

When your blog loads and a new visitor looks at it for 5-10 seconds, what impressions do you think they’re getting?

 

.

Like that post?
Well, then... join us!
Enter your name and email here to join our community of influencers, get insider news, special offers, and a couple of great free bonuses. We're waiting for you!
About Gary Korisko

by Gary Korisko --
When he's not traveling around the country coaching sales managers and small business owners, Gary writes about The Art of Genuine Influence at Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter

Comments

  1. Gary I go bonkers on the branding bit above the fold. All about my brand. Readers know I pet tigers, feed monkeys and travel the world, sharing money making tips to help you do the same. No doubt above my fold. I need to shore up my squeeze page though to boost conversions. Telling tale and very true. We have seconds to make an impact, so make those seconds count by telling a clear story above the fold.

    Place ads high up. If not above the fold, place ‘em high up on your blog. Some scroll low but most don’t. Appeal to as many folks as possible to draw in eager readers in the present and long run. Pack as much info as possible in a clear, clean manner either above the fold or close to this point.

    Get clear on what you do. Brand you. Monetize. Simple, easy, concise advice here. You’ll aid many struggling bloggers.

    Loving the tips Gary!
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Are You Making this Self Conscious Branding Error Over and Over?My Profile

  2. Incredible post, Gary!

  3. What I like is the simplicity and clarity of what you explain, lots of writers use jargon which I don’t understand and I give-up probably losing loads of information. But with you, Gary, you make it easy for beginners, like me, to understand so thumbs-up to you. Thanks.
    Lynne recently posted…How Criticism Made me a Better PersonMy Profile

  4. Hi Gary. I’ve needed to work on my ‘above the fold’ for a while and keep procrastinating because even though I know it needs improving, I didn’t know where to start. This will definitely help. Looking forward to the next post. I just have one question, as ignorant as it sounds: Part of your action steps include what to do next. So what you’re saying is that we ask them to subscribe right away? Before they fully understand what you stand for? I guess my challenge is squeezing all of the aforementioned elements above that fold.
    Lynn Silva recently posted…Comment on Productivity Hacks That Work In Your Sleep! by Lynn SilvaMy Profile

    • That doesn’t sound ignorant at all, Lynn. In fact, I promise a lot of people are wondering the same thing.

      It’s a great question.

      And this may be confusing at first…

      Yes, you give people the opportunity to subscribe right away.
      But no – not before they know what you stand for.

      What you stand for has to be immediately apparent, obvious, and fascinating to your target audience above the fold that they get the picture almost instantly.

      One of the huge mistakes bloggers make is to have the attitude of, “Once people read some of my stuff, they’ll get me and subscribe to my blog.” And that sounds nice.

      The problem is, 99.99% of the people who visit your blog are only going to give you mere *seconds* to explain yourself before clicking away. That’s why the above the fold area is SO, SO important to your success.

      The problem is, when you’re living in your own head (which we all do) it’s difficult or impossible to see your own blog through others’ eyes – so it’s possible that one might think they’re already doing a good job of explaining themselves – but they’re not.

      Does that help?

      (And there’ll be more detail in the second post)
      Gary Korisko recently posted…One Simple Thing You Can Do to Monetize Your Blog TodayMy Profile

  5. Yes actually it helps a lot. So what I need to do is come up with a ‘hook’ right away above that fold. The concept is simple…but coming up with the right words? Not so much. lol. I’m on the right track though so thanks! : )

  6. Excellent post Gary, I enjoyed it reading.

    I’m at Sharon’s level and I’m looking forward to putting your tips into practice.

  7. Gary – you are amazing. Your content is top notch. Your writing crystal clear. And your advice, so wise. Thank you!
    daphne cohn recently posted…to sell is to serve (part 1)My Profile

  8. Hey Gary, you make some really good points about the fold, but these days, it where exactly is “the fold?” About 10 years ago, it was the first 600 pixels. But now that people are increasingly coming to websites on mobile and tablet devices, that dimension varies.

    They have small laptop screens or large desktop monitors. They set their views on different settings, have more or less junk at the top of their browser bars (tabs, url, bookmarks, etc.) What will they see when they visit the site on a mobile phone in portrait view? What about in landscape?

    So while it IS important to pay attention to what is above the fold, it’s also VERY important to study your analytics and see what screen sizes your visitors are mostly using to visit your site.

    Also be careful not to “shove everything up the fold” either. Less is more, allow the visitors eyes to easily scan what’s there and make the one or two most important items stand out. White space is soo soo soo important and use your accent colors to highlight those 1 or 2 things.

    Hope this helps!
    Marianne recently posted…Keep Your Blog Design Simple: Focus On ContentMy Profile

    • Marianne:

      For sure mobile devices have changed the game to the point where I don’t know if you can call it out by number of pixels anymore. And as you say, you can set your mobile responsive site to work with that “fold” if you know which devices are most common.

      As the second post will explain, I’m not talking about shoving everything up in the top part of the fold. It’s not about design elements being jammed in there so much as it is about the proper messaging being immediately clear. True, some of that messaging may include design elements… but messaging comes first.

      The part these two posts (and the work I did with Sharon) focuses on is conveying who you are at a glance within just a few seconds… but not looking cluttered is certainly excellent advice.

      In case no one picked up on it, Marianne is a friend of Reboot Authentic who’s also a design expert. In fact, you’ll be seeing more of her here in the near future.

      Thanks, Marianne!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…One Simple Thing You Can Do to Monetize Your Blog TodayMy Profile

    • Marianne, thanks for mentioning this. I realized this problem the other day, about how to figure out where your fold actually is. Though I have a question for you: what do you do if your blog hasn’t launched yet? I assume I can watch traffic and adjust the fold accordingly once it has launched, but what’s a good starting point for the fold when you’re working on your blog behind-the-scenes?
      Bree recently posted…Das Keyboard (Technology/Gaming Ghost Blogging)My Profile

  9. Loved this post Gary!!! Thanks for these awesome tips on how a beginner blogger can learn how to monetize their blog even if they have a small list, as I do….Learned a lot and now I will implement!! Great stuff! I always learn something new from you! You rock!!!
    Joan Harrington recently posted…Do You Want More Traffic To Your Website?My Profile

  10. Uh-oh. Busted. I’m definitely going to have to do some above-the-fold work. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and gift of clarity so well, Gary!
    Bobbi Emel recently posted…Need more self-esteem? 5 reasons why you really don’t.My Profile

  11. Hey Gary,
    Visiting your blog for the first time and already feel like a fan of your content… surely you know how to catch a new visitors attention,

    agree with you on most things, almost all blogs that are decent and yet not really making anything much has the same problems. They lose the visitor quickly. The first 10 second is important, one has to build the connection quickly before the reader leave. ..
    Uttoran Sen recently posted…Top 15 Tips to Flip a Blog Successfully for $11,500+My Profile

  12. A noteworthy content sharing the importance of the first 10 seconds blog content optimization! Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Above the fold has been on the top of my mind recently. Coincidence that you wrote this post about it? Probably not.

    This was something I knew I’d have to look into while I worked on my blog behind-the-scenes of the landing page. I’ve been looking at Plugmatter’s Feature Box to help me get my email freebie front and center, and considering a landing page video less than a minute long to help explain all the answers to those questions you posed.

    Also, I’m very glad Marianne pointed that out about “fold” being a relative term now (for the most part). While you probably can’t optimize for every type of browser/viewing experience your audience is using, you can definitely focus on the bulk of where they’re coming from and work from there.

    Thanks again for another great post!

  14. Great post! ‘Above the fold’ is such a neglected area on most blogs.

    I especially enjoyed the way you tied it up with earning money with your blog …. good stuff!
    Mary Jaksch | A-List Blogging recently posted…Take this Fun Quiz to Find Out What Makes a Blog SuccessfulMy Profile

  15. Right now, I’m feeling a pretty big connection to Sharon’s sad face. My blog wouldn’t do much on that list, maybe 1 or 2 things which clearly means I’m losing the readers I want to stick around to read. Thanks so much for this post, it is clearly time for me to put on my re-design hat and get cracking on edits!
    Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 No-Fail Ways to Come Up with a Blog TopicMy Profile

  16. Sorry I’m late. Behind in my reading.

    And yes, I know, I need a photo. I’ll get to it, I swear.

    Good reminders about first impressions, I know my blog suffers in this regard and I’ll be looking “above the fold” with some fresh eyes. Thanks for this!
    Dean recently posted…Session 87: “City Proud of Its Beers”My Profile

  17. Hi Gary.
    Thanks for your post. It has been really useful.
    I know that my front page needs a lot of work because it doesnt show what i stand for. There is only a vague idea.
    Its definitely on my to-do list to change!
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa!

      My pleasure :)

      I just looked at your site, and I think you’re doing a lot of things right. It’s very visually pleasing and I’m happy to see an optin box above the fold. But you’re right about it being somewhat vague.

      You know what though? No worries. That can be fixed – and we all continuously reiterate ourselves and our messaging. Make sure you catch the next post. I think you’ll find it helpful. And in the meantime, feel free to reach out if I can help!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…One Simple Thing You Can Do to Monetize Your Blog TodayMy Profile

  18. Hey Gary,

    What you saying here is so important to the success of your blog or website. And we do tend to put the cart before the horse.

    Bloggers get anxious and miss the big picture. They see things through their own eyes and lose site of what appeals to their visitor. We’re all guilty of it.

    It takes a post like this to get us to really take an objective look at our goals and what we’re actually doing versus what we want to do. It’s not so easy.

    Good post Gary :-)

    Blessings,
    Liz
    Liz McGee recently posted…Know Your Target Market – It Means More Sales For You!My Profile

    • Hi Liz.

      That’s so true. So many bloggers spend all their energy on second or third or fiftieth level stuff that they skip step one.

      You can’t make money if you don’t have a sufficient number of the *right* kind of people to provide services to. And that all starts above the fold.

      The next post will drill down to further detail. Thanks for your comment!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…One Simple Thing You Can Do to Monetize Your Blog TodayMy Profile

  19. Hi Gary,
    I am new to blogging. as you said your article stopped me more than 10 seconds. Pls update me with all your new posts
    sri katyayani recently posted…fiber optic cable or OFCMy Profile

  20. I certainly stopped for more than 10 or 20 seconds here. ;)

    Nice stuff, will be coming back for more tips from an experienced blogger such as you!

    Thanks Gary!
    Jhonny recently posted…The 5 Best Ways to Make Money on InternetMy Profile

  21. This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!!

    Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Cheers!
    google recently posted…googleMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] if you’ve read my last post, you know exactly what I’m talking […]

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge

Subscribe to our mailing list