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Bloggers have only three reasons to blog: make money from your blog; communicate for passion, or both. A few things are a must for bloggers to do even before flirting with the idea of monetization: invest in a hosting account, setup the blog properly, and start generating quality, niche-dominating content.
Apart from that, there’s the herculean task of attracting readers to your blog, building a community, and making sure that your blog gains some traction.
The pre-defined work that needs to go for a blog that aims to gain traction and reader engagement itself is endless. Monetization is just about leveraging all that traffic you’ve managed to attract. It’s also about making money from your efforts that went into running your blog prior to your goal of profiting from it.
Monetization won’t even come into the picture until you get your basics right. You’d need a rock-solid blogging platform. You’d need to market your blog just as you’d market your business. You’d need to invest money (to make money later), and you might even need a full team of designers, writers, and managers to keep pushing your blog to orbit at the potential for monetizing.
Once you get there, here are some tried-and-tested ways to monetize your blog:
Be a merchant
The best step forward – in the sense of true entrepreneurship with focus on producing for profit – is to sell your own products and services. Granted that it’s one the most difficult ways to monetize your blog and it’s also one of the most demanding ways to make money really. Yet, it’s also one of the most profitable ways to monetize your efforts from your blog.
Your blog works as the “trust engine” and helps you generate a massive following of earnest, enthusiastic, interested, and passionate readers. While those efforts will be on, your products and services will be the ultimate moneymaker for all your efforts. Think of this “blogging to sell”, “Inbound marketing”, “trust marketing” or whatever but this is how it works, and it does so effectively.
You could be small or big. You could spread yourself thin across a niche or get into “focus” mode and deliver on a tight niche. Create your own digital products or setup a string of services that you can deliver and you are in business.
Once you set up a product or service, you can also sign up with Clickbank.com and E-Junkie (if you have a digital product). If you have a physical product, you can sign up with the likes of Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareaSale.com to attract an army of affiliates from around the world who can boost your sales on a commission basis.
We did tell you that there’s more potential in being a merchant or a proper business that produces or delivers services rather than just being an affiliate, didn’t we?
Affiliate marketing with strings attached
Creating a bunch of blog posts with links embedded leading to merchants is a thing of the past. If it were that easy, every link on the web would be a moneymaker. Your readers, in time, will respect your opinion and make decisions based on what you have to say (at least they’ll factor this into their decision making). You’ll need a long-term content marketing plan with an honest approach to affiliate marketing. So, here’s what you’d do:
- Focus on value delivered to your readers. Affiliate marketing is secondary.
- Get into marketing affiliate programs for products or services that you’ve used, purchased, or tried. For instance, if you were an affiliate for a hosting service, you’d be ideally using the hosting service yourself.
- Create a resource page listing all kinds of products and services you use – along with other crucial tools, products, and services you are in awe of – and let your readers go from there. Just don’t push.
- Use your email subscriber list for promoting affiliate products when it feels right or when it’s appropriate.
Affiliate marketing won’t work with a lazy approach. It won’t work when your content cannot demand trust and recognition. It won’t work with just “any” content. You’d have to dominate. You’d need enough social proof.
Once you get your blog to attract tons of traffic, reader engagement, and allow readers to see a perceived value in your offering, it’s easy enough to monetize.
A host of programs exist today to allow publishers to make money from the traffic visiting their websites. Google Adsense, Chitika, Bidvertiser, and Clicksor are all great ways to monetize your blog. Contrary to what you’d end up reading on a countless number of websites advocating the apparent “ease” with which you can make money, it’s not as easy as it’s made out to be.
- Getting all that traffic to your website takes a lifetime of work.
- Keeping visitors or readers engaged is asking for nine more lives.
- Making money off third-party advertising platforms such as those listed above (including AdSense) involves continuous work involving testing each page for proper ad placements, A/B split testing, and a relentless pursuit of optimizing your blog pages for maximum conversions or revenue (and this applies for every marketing channel or tactic).
- Do Google AdSense ads perform better when you place them in your blog sidebar or after every post?
- Do they work better when they are colored and formatted matching the look of the rest of the blog or when they left as is?
- Do you stand to make the most of click conversions when ads show up repeatedly within your content or when they are left prominently as “sponsors” or “advertisements” somewhere away from the content?
- No two sites are alike and only A/B Testing can help you answer these questions, Adpushup lets you A/B Test your Ads to optimize ad revenues.
- Leave a few blocks of ad space open for advertising opportunities for merchants who’d specifically request you (or you’d hustle and request them) to advertise on your blog.
The key for effective monetization lies in a combination of traffic, trust, engagement, and effective use of space for advertisements (no matter which network you choose to use).
Digging the gold in Membership sites
Membership sites are touted as incredibly profitable routes for bloggers but that doesn’t come without its share of work. Unlike normal blogs and online publications, any form of membership would require more than normal adherence to quality of content and an almost insane level of commitment to publish content continuously. You’d obviously need a niche that has the potential to call for that kind of content continuously, of course.
What kind of content? What are some of those membership sites that made it big? Here are a few examples:
- Lynda.com – charges a monthly membership for high-quality, HD, production house level instruction videos on training related to software products, technology, business, and skills that immediately help others make money.
- Kiyuko.com and bcgurus.com – charge membership fees for training on Adobe Business Catalyst (Including technology, business aspects of running a BC business, and also Business Catalyst Templates).
- Most web-based apps charge subscriptions for continuous use of their products. Some of those examples include Xero, Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, and many more.
- Some of the examples of websites that charge purely for content are AppSumo (with a fair bit of affiliate marketing as their secondary source of income), GigaOm, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many more.
Other forms of monetizing your blog
The above-mentioned forms of monetization are pretty standard. You’d also want to check out sites like BuySellAds.com, which allow you a streamlined way of monetizing your blog with well-paying advertisements. You may also want to write for other blogs and get paid in return while you use your own blog as a portfolio to pitch new opportunities of this sort.
Sites like Postjoint.com allow you to pick and respond to “blogging for pay” opportunities. You may also accept guest posts on a paid per post basis for the trouble of reviewing posts, editing them, and making sure they are in line with your publishing standards.
Using your blog, you could also offer micro consulting (doing little errands for your visitors/customers/readers for a small pay) and conduct consulting sessions on Skype or by using Online meeting tools).
Depending on your niche, you may even launch “Job boards” with paid access for employers to hire quality freelancers, contractors, or other skilled professionals. Darren Rowse’s Problogger.net and BloggingPro.com are two such examples with Job boards that employers pay for a 30-day listing of their job or freelancing requirements.
On a similar note, FreelanceSwitch.com has freelancers paying for access to a definite and niche job board where legitimate employers post jobs looking for freelancers.
If you want to, you may look at book publishing as another option that takes off from your humble beginnings as a blogger. Nomadic Matt is a good example of how blogging took Matt towards the book-publishing route. Alternatively, you may also look at gathering enough momentum for launching yourself into public speaking, events, and conferences.
What you want to do with your blogging is totally your prerogative. From the time your blog starts to make money, your choices virtually go unlimited. At that point, it’s only a matter of choice as to what you want to do then.
The trick is to push all those boulders to make your blogging machinery click. It’s about dominating your niche. It’s about making a difference to your readers. It’s about being found and then respected.
How are you going to monetize your blog?