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This article is a great place to learn the strategy of an outdoors blog. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to start your own outdoors blog, check out our free blogging course.
What Is Your Blog About?
The fact that you are here reading this article means you already have a pretty good idea of what you want your blog to be about - you are starting an outdoor blog! But you will need to dig a little deeper to decide what, exactly, you want your blog to accomplish. Are you starting an outdoor blog for kids? A big game hunting blog? A blog about outdoor photography?
By deciding what you want your blog to be specifically about, you can set the tone and direct your content creation efforts from the beginning.
There’s a quote that fits this situation perfectly:
"If you try to be everything for everybody, you will be nothing to no one."
Establish Your Niche
When creating a new blog, you need to find your niche. This is the corner of the market that you have the most knowledge about, the place you can establish yourself as an absolute authority. If you try to take on Outside all at once, you will find that you are facing competition that is essentially unbeatable.
Your goal should be to find a niche that is not too wide and not too narrow. “Outdoors” is too wide - you will never stand out from the crowd. “Fishing lures for bass in Texas ponds” is too narrow - you will probably run out of things to write about or find that your audience just isn’t big enough.
Some examples of niche outdoor blogs are:
Name Your Blog
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s a great time to start brainstorming a name for your blog. You’ll want to pick a name that’s brandable and available. Use our domain name tool to check if your name is available. If it is, scoop it up before someone else gets to it first.
Brand Your Blog
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool will help you brand your business with a unique logo to make your business stand out.
Finding Your Audience
Having a good sense of who is going to be reading your blog is one of the best ways to know what type of content to create, how to shape it, and, ultimately, how to grow your following. With a clear understanding of your niche, understanding your audience should come more naturally.
Finding your target audience - the people you want hanging out on your blog - isn’t only statistics and demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of who these people are and what they want. Your target audience is the people you’re writing to when you write your blog.
Are you writing to an audience that dreams of going out in the wilderness, but has never stepped foot outside of the city? Or, are you writing to an audience that lives and breathes the outdoors? Regardless of which niche you choose, you need to know your audience to ensure you write in a way that will reach them.
Create a Persona
One way to understand your audience is to create a persona of your perfect target audience member. This essentially means creating a mock-up of the ideal person you hope to reach with your blog.
Here is an example of a target audience persona:
Having a persona for your perfect audience member helps you to visualize and understand who you are writing for and provides important direction to your content.
Be Your Own Persona
Another popular way to find your perfect target audience is to be your own persona. Many of the best products and services come from scratching your own itch. It’s possible you’ve searched for the perfect outdoors blog to read, came up short, and decided to create it yourself. This makes you the perfect audience member for your own blog.
This can be a great strategy for creating highly effective content. If you’ve noticed a meaningful omission in blog content, chances are you are not alone. By writing personally satisfying content you are likely to reach an audience in search of the same things.
Where Is Your Audience Hanging Out?
No web content exists in a vacuum. While you should strive to create uniquely entertaining content for your blog, your target audience is almost certainly already out there reading other blogs, engaging on specialized forums, and using social media. Finding the sites where your audience already mingles is a great way to discover what topics they are most interested in, what language they are using, and what valuable content you can add to that mix.
Some examples for your outdoor blog may include:
Visiting these sites is also a great way to begin engaging with your audience before your blog has even gone live. Jump into conversations on forums and in comments sections and get to know the people you’ll be writing for. This is a great, organic way to build relationships and direct people to your blog in its early days. Sharing your passion with like-minded people will make them more excited and passionate about supporting you in your blogging endeavor.
How Will You Present Your Work?
Traditionally, when most people think about a blog they picture written content on a page. However, there are several different ways to present your ideas on your blog, depending on your subject matter and target audience. Every blog will thrive with different formats, so it’s important to think carefully about how to best showcase your content before you start.
There are several effective methods of presenting the material on your outdoors blog. They include:
As the name suggests, evergreen articles are composed of content that lasts. These articles are designed to have a long shelf life and continue drawing readers to your blog over time. They are typically long-form, text-based articles that delve more deeply into a particular topic.
One great option for evergreen content on an outdoor blog is gear reviews. There is no shortage of outdoor gear that you can examine, use, and give your knowledgeable opinion about. It may feel like you should stick to reviews of new products, but try to review tried and true gear as well - because there are people looking for such reviews and that may struggle to find them. By giving your audience reviews on all the gear they are interested in, you can build a strong base of evergreen content that will attract readers.
While the video format is not new, the explosive growth of YouTube and the advent of new and innovative video-based tech like Snapchat and TikTok have shown the true power of video as an online medium. While you may think that creating video is much more difficult and expensive than writing your content, you have access to all the technology you need to make high-quality video content right on your smartphone.
An outdoor blog is a perfect place for video content, especially when your niche includes content on how to do things. Instructional videos are extremely useful for your audience. You can write articles about how to shoot a bow, how to tie a fly, and so on. But when you add video content that covers such topics you really flesh out your offerings and provide a way for more people to learn from your instructions. Some things are just easier to learn by watching rather than reading.
News articles or other “announcement” type content can be a great way to gather new readers. One benefit of news content is the short-term but powerful increase in search volume during an event. While this bump may be temporary, it can be a great tool for grabbing new readers who end up coming back for more.
Writing about current events or new happenings also means there will typically be less competition for readers. Other blogs and media sources are all getting the information as it develops. Since the base of knowledge available is smaller, this gives you a good opportunity to add your own flavor to the article.
The downside to news-type articles is that they tend to lose popularity much more quickly than evergreen content. While the interest for an event may be very large one day, the next day people may already be moving on to the next shiny object.
There are always new things happening in the world of outdoor news. Once you know your niche, you can spend time regularly researching different topics to write about - which will allow you to pick up on newsworthy topics as well. New gear releases, new rules for public land usage, new research on animal behavior patterns, and other news will make perfect subjects for your news-type blogs.
While most people expect to be reading when they visit a blog, image-heavy content can be very appealing and break up your text-focused posts to keep people’s attention. Depending on the topic of your post, displaying multiple images per page on a single subject can give your audience a better sense of what you are trying to convey.
While some topics may take to images very easily, like a car blog or a celebrity gossip site, others may require some deeper thinking to make this strategy work.
As an outdoor blogger, you are going to have plenty of opportunities to incorporate images into your content. You can pull images from online resources, take your own photos, or do both. Over time, you will develop a process for finding and/or producing images to go along with all of your blog posts.
If you are interested in taking photos to use on your blog, the best time to start is now. You may not be a pro photographer right now, but regular practice and experimentation will help you increase your skills dramatically. Don’t stress too much about getting things perfect right out the gate - your audience will appreciate your efforts and will like seeing your progress. Some of them may even give you helpful tips on how to improve your outdoor photography.
Mix and Match
You need variety on your outdoor blog - a range of content delivery strategies is just how blogging is done these days. While it is perfectly normal to have a preference when it comes to creating content, you and your audience will benefit from your efforts to diversify. If you love writing long articles or taking photos, keep at it. But also try your hand at other types of content that you are less familiar with. By stretching yourself, you will keep blogging interesting and challenging, and you will attract a bigger audience by offering a little of every type of content that people are looking for.
How To Make Money From an Outdoors Blog
One of the main reasons people start blogs is to generate some sort of profit. Whether you’re looking for a few hundred dollars per month or a job-replacing income, blogging is still an excellent way to make those dreams a reality.
There are a few great ways to make money from an outdoors blog:
Display Ad Networks
Display ads are the simplest way for websites to generate any sort of income. Ad networks, like Google Adsense, are fairly simple to be accepted into, and implementation onto your site is streamlined and clean. If you’re just beginning to see some traffic to your blog and want to turn this into dollars, display ads are where most people start.
There are a few downsides to display ads, however. The first is that some feel they detract from the user experience on your blog. Most people have been to a site where large ads pop up and block the content in the middle of reading. This can be distracting, frustrating, and even drive people away from your blog. While it’s possible to clean up and control the type of ads you use, it can be a constant battle to balance effective ad placement with aesthetics and readability.
The other main downside is that they don’t pay a lot. These networks generally use a pay-per-click (PPC) model which, depending on the niche, can pay anywhere from $0.01 to $1.50 per click, most on the lower end.
While display ads are a great way to make your first dollars, you’ll want to make sure any negatives they bring are worth the profits they provide. Once you develop a solid following, you can consider moving on to more lucrative and effective profit-making options.
Affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Affiliate have become much more popular over the past few years, as they take the payment model from pay-per-click to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This means you can refer as many users to an advertiser’s product as you want, but will only get paid when the user makes a purchase.
Both advertisers and publishers benefit from an affiliate marketing setup. The advertiser pays nothing until a sale is made and the publisher enjoys much higher commissions than the pay-per-click model.
As an outdoor blogger, you have plenty of options for affiliate programs to recommend to your audience. Which you choose will need to depend on your niche and your personal preferences. In the long run, it is better to partner with companies that you can easily recommend to your readers for less money than to take bigger commissions with programs that your readers may dislike.
Backcountry is a major affiliate program for outdoor bloggers, offering an 8% commission for sales of all types of backcountry gear. They offer gear for trail running, rock climbing, camping, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and almost every other outdoor activity you can think of. The brands they carry are ones you know well, including The North Face, Mountain Hardware, Arc'teryx, Marmot, and others.
Bass Pro Shops also have an affiliate program. Their gear is more oriented towards sports like hunting and fishing, but they do have plenty of other outdoor gear as well. Affiliates get 5% commission on sales that they facilitate - not a big percentage, but Bass Pro Shops are an easy sell for many outdoor enthusiasts, especially those focused on hunting and fishing.
Sell Digital Products
Digital products are an online entrepreneur's dream. You create the item once, then sell it as many times as you can, with little to no cost of reproduction. This means that you can scale your business to infinity.
Examples of digital products are:
- Ebooks - A piece of writing, generally in PDF format. These can contain literally anything that your audience would want. They can either be true book-length all the way down to a few pages of content. Depending on your niche, audience, and subject, these can run from $1 to $100 per sale fairly easily.
- Gated Content - This is content that is served on your website just like any other article, except that is behind a “paywall”. If you are creating content that you don’t want to be released to anyone but your true followers, you have them sign up for an account on your site and charge them a subscription fee for access. Generally, authors charge anywhere from $5 to $200 per month for access to gated content.
- Online Courses - If you can teach a skill that your audience wants to learn, you can create an online course to sell to them. These courses can be formatted in whatever way makes the most sense to you, but most nowadays are video courses. Online courses can sell from $10 to well over $10,000 per course, obviously depending on the subject matter and audience.
A great example of a digital product that an outdoor blogger could create is an online instructional course. If your niche involves teaching your audience how to do things - such as outdoor survival skills, or hiking tips - you can create an online course that goes more in-depth into the topics that interest you and your readers. You can even conduct a survey of your audience to find out what exactly they need from such a course. A well-produced course in this niche could sell for $150 or more.
Sell Physical Products
Selling physical products is the original money-making strategy. You gather an audience that is hungry for something, you sell it to them, and everyone wins. You don’t have to be an inventor, designer, or manufacturer to sell products. Sites like Alibaba and AliExpress import already-made items into the United States and sell them for a markup.
The two main methods for the distribution of these items are: dropshipping and self-fulfilled.
Dropshipping is a method where you advertise a product on your site that you do not own. Once you make the sale, you inform the manufacturer, who will handle the shipping and handling to the end-user. While this is simple because you don’t have to worry about storing or shipping any items yourself, you’ll find that the margins can be quite slim.
Self-fulfilled sales are much more of a hands-on approach to sales. You buy the item from the manufacturer, store it, then ship it to the end-user once you have made the sale. While there is much more work involved, you’ll find that the margins per sale are much higher.
When it comes to selling products on an outdoor blog, it is best to start small and gauge the interest of your audience before you invest heavily in products that they may or may not want. Many outdoor bloggers begin with branded apparel and inexpensive gear, such as carabiners, that they can buy for a few dollars and mark up for sale. If your blog becomes popular enough, you could partner with a company that you like and design products for sale.
While it can be very profitable when done well, selling products is not generally recommended for the beginner blogger. It’s best to secure an audience that you know will be receptive to the product before making a large investment in product development or acquisition.
Create A Service
Providing a service is another very basic money-making plan. If you can provide a service that you know your audience needs, you have a viable business on your hands.
Whether this service is delivered through one-on-one interaction with the user, through a piece of software that you develop, or by directly completing a task for the user, this is a great way to monetize your skillset and your blog.
If your outdoor blog focuses on survival skills, you could offer outdoor seminars on survival. If you teach outdoor photography on your blog, you could offer group classes on the subject or even one-on-one coaching.
You have positioned yourself as an expert through your blog, which means you can charge a premium for your services. However, you need to be careful to avoid overcommitting yourself, especially early on. The money may be great and the demand may be high, but you still need to maintain your blog to keep traffic up and business coming in. It may be challenging at first to balance offering services and blogging, but you can do it!
Next Steps To Get Your Outdoors Blog Started
Now that you have the strategies in place to build and grow your own blog, check out our free course: How To Start A Blog.
This course includes all the essentials on how to get your blog out of your head and onto its own website. Starting a blog is simple and inexpensive, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t start today!
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
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