How to Automate Your Blog
I saw a Reddit thread earlier. Some guy had a travel blog website and it was pretty good, by all accounts. It had some great information. The problem was that it followed the general “blog guru blueprint” model and his question was “How do I make this more four hour work week?”
The Four Hour Work Week being guru-bait aside, it’s an interesting question because a lot of bloggers have the same problem: They build a great resource and then try and make money after the fact.
Blogs are pretty time-intensive. They’re hard work. If you use your blog to sell products, services or other business stuff, then you can easily make back your time investment.
Simple Math: You sell a $200 course and you link to the course at the end of every article. Each article generates one sale over the course of its lifetime, so you make $200 for that hour invested.
If you don’t have a product or your product is a $10 e-book, then it’s very difficult to make your time and/or money back.
Most gurus recommend you do “affiliate marketing” but not really in a smart way, and this makes it really hard to make money worth your time. This is especially true when the guru tells you about Amazon’s affiliate program, which will pay you a whopping 6%. Unless you’re smart about blogging, then it’s a tough nut to crack.
There’s also another big problem with your blogging “business” that I’ll talk about before trying to remedy the issue and answer the guy’s question in the best way I can.
Harsh and Hard Truth About Automating Blogging
The big problem and possibly unavoidable problem you’re going to run into with trying to create a four hour work week style blog is that your writing is what people are coming for.
Assuming you’re not selling a product, running a magazine or whatever, the value of your blog is in your words and action.
That’s not really something you can automate in the way a sales page + PPC traffic is. People only come back when you write more.
If you’re good at blogging, then that’s your problem. If you’re bad at blogging, then nobody is going to read your site and it’s a given that it’s a waste of time anyway.
Anything you do to alleviate the core value of your blog is probably going to weaken it: if you hire writers, then it dilutes the blog. If you try and pivot to a place where you’re blogging less, then that obviously dilutes the blog.
Those things can be good moves if you’re sick and tired of writing tons with no benefit, but you have to switch from “blog mode” to “business mode” and find a way to balance the whole thing being about you vs. getting you out of the picture.
That said, there are things you can do to make the blogging experience more automated.
Change Your Income
If you’re making pennies from affiliate sales, then you’re going to work hard for each sale and you constantly need a fresh stream of new content.
This is why I recommend people build niche sites with real expectations; you can make a few hundred dollars a month, but there’s a ceiling to how much you can make from each site without the effort being too high for the extra money you’ll make. (And niche sites are more about directly selling than your average blog anyway.)
The quickest way to get “automated” income is to switch to selling evergreen products. If you don’t sell anything… you’re severely limiting your ability to make money. (This should be obvious, but it’s the easiest place to remedy a lack of income.)
E-books aren’t complicated to make and if you’re regularly writing blog articles, you should be able to create the content in a short time period. E-books – or better yet short “special reports” – are quick and easy. You can get complicated though; bust out a video camera, create full-length courses, offer consultations.
Creating a handful of high-ticket items and offering consultations based on your authority in an area are a way to go from making $0 a month to making $100+ a sale.
You can also set and forget the above for the most part. Once you’ve created a sales letter and built the product, that’s the hard work done.
Outside The Core Proposition: Social Media
Social media is a time sink and mostly waste of time. People get hyper-involved with it and a lot of bloggers think of social media as a “brand building exercise.”
Even though it doesn’t build your brand for the most part, and even if it does, building a brand =/= making money.
If you get a lot of traffic and that leads to sales, by all means use social media responsibly. If you don’t make any money from your social media presence, then by all means carry on doing it but understand it’s a waste of your time for no return.
Ergo, it’s a bad business decision.
In terms of automating it though and building a presence, here’s what I suggest:
- Get tools to broadcast new posts. These are free for the most part and there are millions of them to choose from
- Write all other material for particular networks offline and schedule it in order to build an audience
- Don’t spend time browsing social media unless you’re looking for particular things
Really, that’s all there is to running a blog and automating it as far as the big picture is concerned.
- Switch to a better business model
- Stop thinking the average social media habit is going to bring in big money
Other stuff you can try:
- Split-testing; some pages will convert, others won’t. Test this and enhance your site overall.
- Email marketing; concentrate on autoresponders which you can set and forget… broadcasts aren’t really helpful
- Outsourcing design, programming and other jobs that are quick, easy and cost effective
The problem with running a blog as though it’s a business is that the problems aren’t superficial like some would suggest – you can’t just say “get another writer” or “post more on social media” because it’s your presence which is valuable. So before you can think about how to automate or otherwise “step out” of your blog’s day-to-day activities, you have to shift the focus and structure of the site.