Most of us (some secretly and some not-so-secretly) hope that one of these days out blogging hobby will turn into a money-making machine. For some bloggers, this is possible. But how is it that many bloggers are still making pennies for hours and hours (if not months and years) of hard work?
You probably already know that there are lots of ways to profit from your blog. But how do you know which method has the potential to work for you?
It’s time to do a little thinking. Before you start to make a plan for how you’ll make money from your blog, you need to ask yourself…
What business do I want to be in?
My friend (and new IBA member) Don Purdum talks about this a lot on his blog, and it got me thinking: How many of us are out there blogging, hoping to make money, without really knowing what business we’re really in? In his recent post entitled Dare to Be Different and Reach More Prospects, Buyers, and Earn Raving Fans, he poses a few questions to help you get started on the process of clarifying your vision for your blog. Don wrote:
1. Define what business you are “really” in. Ask your best customers or readers and a few you just met how they would answer that question. Ask as many as you can and get a solid random sample. The point of this question is to learn how your readers, prospects and customers view you and your business. In their eyes what makes you unique and different.
2. What problems do you “really” solve? Again, this isn’t from your point of view. You are probably too close and never even thought about this question. It isn’t about you, it’s about your readers, prospects and customers. You learn here how you are different and how you can communicate with them based on what they need and want; not based on what you do.
3. Who do you “specifically” solve the problems for? Again, this is important because you will be talking and writing directly for them, not for everyone. This will help you be perceived very differently when people feel like you’re writing for the one person who’s reading the article.
It’s a more complicated question than it might seem, and most often (as you might have gathered by now) there isn’t an easy answer. Let me help to further clarify this process for you by posing some possible answers.
I would argue that the majority of creative (think food, diy, craft) bloggers are in the business of gaining traffic to sell ad space. The other layer of this answer, of course, is that they’re in the business of selling the dream of a beautiful home, artistic expression and creative energy to spare.
When you sell that dream in an entertaining and visually appealing way, network and market like a pro, and stick with it over many years, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to start bringing in some decent money from ads and affiliate marketing.
Advanced Tips for Creative Bloggers
Include affiliate links to the products you use on Amazon. If people are interested in your article, they might be considering doing something similar, so you could make a small commission from the supplies they buy. Also, make sure you take full advantage of Pinterest. In my opinion this platform should be every creative blogger’s home base.
If you want to make sure your images don’t get ignored on Pinterest, read this article: Why Won’t the Cool Kids Pin My Stuff on Pinterest?
Business bloggers stand to make a bit more from affiliate sales since business-related products and services tend to cost more and bring in higher commissions, although this isn’t always true.
Information/digital products, consulting services and other professional services can be a great source of revenue for these types of bloggers, but that’s not what they’re really selling. They’re selling the possibility of making more money, achieving more success, and working in a more efficient or fulfilling way.
The more effectively your readers can envision these things happening for them when they read your content, the more you get that content seen by your ideal customer (once you determine who that is) the more you stand to make money.
Advanced Tips for Business Bloggers
It’s easy to jump straight to the idea of leveraging the cateer-oriented user base on LinkedIn, but this might not be the answer for you. You need to meet your customer where they are, not where you assume they should be. I first got to know my friend and blogging powerhouse Ryan Biddulph in the many comments he left here on the IBA blog because he very intelligently determined that his target demographic, bloggers who want to “live the dream” were here. He knew that networking with this kind of people would be a fantastic way to establish authority in his niche– something he’s done quite successfully in a relatively short amount of time.
There’s some debate out there as to what a “lifestyle blog” really is, but for my purposes, I’ll assume you write about life in general. Now, the things you write may or may not be useful, but I sure hope they’re at least entertaining! You’ll face many of the same obstacles that creative bloggers face, but maybe even more because it’s not easy to build traffic, let alone revenue, if you’re not providing any real value aside from just entertainment. Just ask my buddy Kevin over at Be a Better Blogger— he ran a comedic blog for years and actually brought in quite a bit of traffic… but never figured out how to successfully turn that traffic into revenue.
Contrast that with one my my favorite blogs to read, Let Me Start By Saying by Kim Bongiorno. Not only is she selling books, but she’s also got some ads up and is being paid to write for all kinds of awesome publications.
Advanced Tips for Lifestyle Bloggers
One of the ways to make money as a lifestyle blogger is to become known for being a great writer. This is not easy to do, but it can be done. The strategy if that’s your goal should just be to get your best writing in front of as many people as possible (are we sensing a pattern yet?) and learn as much as you can about marketing your freelance writing services/publishing your own work.
If you love to write and could do it every day, all day, you might want to get into freelancing. The most successful freelancers I know are the ones who are constantly networking and looking for new clients, but if the thought of that just makes you sleepy, head on over to my freelance blogging site, NerdyGirl Writers, and apply to work with us. I won’t guarantee you work, but I love helping other bloggers find gigs when I can.
Over to You
What business am I in? This is a question I’m still answering for myself. I don’t particularly like doing sponsored posts and if you read my post here a few weeks ago you know I’m not a huge fan of ads. I do like writing books, but in this competitive market, promoting an eBook can be a full time job in and of itself. So stay tuned, friends. Let’s figure this thing out together, shall we?
What business are you in? What business do you WANT to be in?