If you’re in the inbound marketing game, you probably already have an awesome content marketing strategy. You already know the benefits: attracting users to your site, increasing brand engagement, funneling leads, getting onsite SEO benefits, and even attracting more offsite links to increase your offsite SEO.
Creating content is highly valuable for your company, but some webmasters find it difficult to measure that value objectively. It may cost a finite amount of money to produce each article, either through a freelancer or a member of your internal team, but the benefits are hard to measure. Think about it; if you get a new lead or a new order on your website, can you directly tie it to a specific piece of content?
There are several ways you can turn your content into a separate line of revenue, generating more capital for your company while still performing all its regular brand-enhancing duties. Pursuing any one of these strategies means you’ll have to step up the quality of your content even further, but for the extra line of revenue, it’s probably worth it:
Advertising is one of the simplest ways to make money with your content, but it’s not suitable for every business. You won’t have total control over the type of ads that run on the sides and header of your blog, so you could unwittingly damage your brand’s reputation or even worse—lead users away from your site altogether.
Still, if you’re running a news site or another type of heavily content-based site, the extra ads probably won’t affect your visitor count or your reputation negatively. Most people have come to expect ads to run alongside their favorite content, so you don’t have to worry about creating a bad reputation for yourself.
Turning on advertising is simple with Google AdSense, especially if you already run your site through Blogger, WordPress, or another common CMS. There are other forms of advertising you can pursue, but AdSense has traditionally been the easiest and most profitable. You can learn more about it here, but essentially, you’ll put a code on your site that will automatically populate specific ads for visitors. For every visitor who clicks on one of those ads, you’ll get a small piece of revenue. The better your content, the more traffic you’ll get, and the more traffic you get, the more money you can earn.
This strategy is perfect for the adept content marketer. If you’re like most businesses with a content marketing program, you’re probably used to writing blog posts between 400-800 words, covering highly specific topics in depth or covering more general topics in a broader overview. You’re answering individual questions, providing concise lists, and generally keeping your audience’s interest for about five to ten minutes per article. This type of content is available for free pretty much anywhere, which means most people won’t pay a penny for it.
However, there is much longer, more definitive content available in the form of whitepapers and guidebooks—this type of content usually numbers in the tens of thousands of words, with multiple chapters and a focus on facts and details. Whitepapers are much more appealing because they can walk your reader through the entirety of an otherwise complex subject, keeping their attention for hours and serving as a reference material. This makes it far more valuable.
While maintaining your “light” content strategy for free and onsite, you can develop one or more whitepapers designed to be sold. Keep your whitepaper behind a landing page, or use your current onsite content as teasers that encourage readers to buy the “full” version—then provide a download link for the PDF in exchange for a small amount of money, usually one to four dollars. Even a hundred downloads a month will be worth your while as a form of recurring revenue, and you can use the whitepaper as a leverage point to sell your services on top of that.
Original research can be harnessed much in the same way that your in-depth whitepapers can. The difference here is in the presentation. While your whitepaper will serve as a guidebook, your research will serve as a reference, giving people raw data instead of interpreted facts. Depending on how in-depth you go and what type of markets you serve, the going price for this type of research is usually much higher, in the range of hundreds of dollars.
The flip side is, of course, that it also takes substantially more effort to produce. You’ll need a head researcher and, most likely, a team of other researchers to work together over the course of months to pull the data together and present the findings. But if you can put together research that’s valuable to you and to your audience, you can easily make up your losses and start raking in a profit from interested parties.
Affiliate links are a delicate strategy to try, especially if you’re trying to sell your own products. E-commerce sites should avoid this strategy entirely. But for the individual blogger or news site, these are perfect opportunities to casually mention a product and earn a bit of extra commission.
There are several affiliate link programs available, but one of the most popular is that of Amazon. Essentially, you’ll mention and post a link to a product within the body of your blog post, and if someone uses that link to purchase the product, you’ll earn a percentage of whatever the sale was. I say this is a delicate strategy because people are smart, and they know when they’re being advertised to. Don’t spam affiliate links, or you’ll alienate your entire audience. Instead, pepper them in occasionally, and only when they make sense for the post.
First let me be clear; getting a book published is not easy. You have to have a pre-existing dedicated audience, a go-to market plan, and a hell of a good idea at the root of everything. However, if you’re already gaining popularity as a guest author with a strong personal brand and you have an original, valuable idea to share with the world, start reaching out to literary agents and publishers who might want to sponsor your work.
You can incorporate original research, personal anecdotes, case studies, or really anything you want into your work, but it needs to be something that people will want to buy. If you’re lucky, you can get a sizeable advance and write a book that drives even more people to your business on top of that.
Even if content generation isn’t your primary line of business, these strategies can piggy-back on your current content marketing efforts, and secure you an extra line of income without sacrificing the raw benefits of an onsite content strategy. Maintain a consistent brand voice, reward your customers, and make sure to have plenty of free content options to continue to attract baseline customers. In time, you’ll enjoy a boost in search engine rankings, greater brand visibility and engagement, and best of all, a convenient extra source of income.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.