While you can sell advertising on your blog, doing so can be tough and the returns might not be as high as you’d like.Plus, if you’re selling advertising, it means that someone else has figured out a profitable way to use the traffic on your site.After all, they can afford to buy it from you – right?Because of this, it is often better to cut out the middle man and capitalize on the traffic that your blog receives in a way that will produce greater returns.For most blogs, there are two things that you can generally sell – a physical product or an information/digital product.Whatever you sell, you’ll need to make sure that it is something that the visitors to your blog want to buy.If you’re looking to sell a physical product, take a look at your niche on Amazon and check out some of the high selling physical products found there.If you want to sell a digital product, take a look at the Kindle section of Amazon and find out what books are selling well, within your niche.You can also use sites, like Clickbank, to figure out what digital products are selling well within your niche.In both cases, you’ll find that your conversions are going to be higher if you can get people onto your email list.Therefore, once you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, your next goal is to figure out how you’re going to get people onto your email list.You don’t need to overcomplicate this.Create a giveaway that solves a pressing problem for your target audience. Then, offer it in exchange for an email address.I’ve discussed how you can create a brilliant giveaway here.Create a sidebar opt-in box and also create a popup that tells that people to enter their email to obtain the giveaway.Later on in this post, we’ll cover how you can use ‘Content Upgrades,’ to also generate signups for your blog.Create interesting contentNo one is going to sign up to your email list and engage with your offers if you don’t have anyone visiting your site in the first place.One of the best ways to get people visiting your site is by creating interesting content.You don’t need to be a brilliant writer (though you should aim to become a better one over time) to create interesting content.All that you need to do is find content within your niche that has succeeded before. You then need to create something similar, but better.You can find such content by using Buzzsumo.Let’s say that I’m creating a blog dedicated to ‘Keeping chickens.’After typing ‘Keeping chickens,’ into Buzzsumo, I’m presented with a list of highly shared content that relates to this topic.After a bit of scrolling, I find content ideas that seem to have done well within this niche. I have highlighted these ideas in the screenshot below.All I need to do is take these existing pieces of content and then create something better.So, what can I do, in order to make better pieces of content?The first thing that I can do is to make the content more in-depth. Above, there’s an example of how a chicken owner can ‘keep their chicken water from freezing.’I could take that piece of content and accompany each stage with a high quality image. I could also go into more detail, in terms of the steps that need to be taken.Research has shown that colored visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.On top of that, content with relevant images receive 94% more views than content without images.I could even consider using GIFs, which will make the content feel more engaging and possibly more entertaining, too.On top of that, I could also provide a video at the end of the post that details the process a chicken owner needs to go through, if they want to stop the drinking water from freezing.I could make the article easier to read, by providing easy to follow headers that break up the content.I might even provide people with a free checklist that they can refer to when they’re not near a computer.Something like this is often referred to as a ‘content upgrade.’Providing content upgrades can be an incredibly effective way to generate signups for your blog, since you’re providing something tailored to what the visitor has just read.Eventually, you’ll want to create content upgrades for each of your blog posts.To begin with, however, create content upgrades for the top 5 blog posts on your site.You’ll then be able to capture the bulk of the people who are reading your content.Once you begin to get some results with your blog, you’ll want to make a few changes here and there, so that you can experience even better results in the future.Sometimes, you’ll be forced to do this, as some tactics might stop working as well as they did before.I experienced this with Infographics. In 2010, my inforgraphics drove 53,459 visitors and, in 2012, they drove 21,582 (on average).That’s still decent – but it indicates a downward trend that needs to be accounted for.So, what should you be doing, in the long term, in order to keep your blog engaging and profitable?One thing that you can do is to open up your blog to guest posts.This can be helpful, if you want to provide a different perspective for your readers.If you want to encourage guest posts, you simply need to put up a notice that lets people know that you’re accepting guest posts.You’ll also want to create a guideline for writers, so that they know your rules.Another thing you can do is split test.Split testing your blog layout, opt-in boxes and offers can lead to an increase in profit over time.There are a ton of elements that you can split test on a blog.Keep in mind that making drastic changes can sometimes bring surprising, but welcome results that would have been hard to attain with small, incremental changes.You may also want to improve the sense of community that your blog creates.You can do this by responding to people in the comments section, while also encouraging people to leave comments in the first place.It might even be helpful if you create a Facebook Group for people who are readers of your blog.Within this Facebook Group, people can ask you (and each other) questions.And, with the recent release of Facebook Live, you can even host Q&A sessions with people who follow your blog.