This is the 6th article from the series “How To Build Reputation With Your Blog”. If you came here directly you may want to read the previous entries:

Go The Extra Mile

By now, you know how to write constantly, how to clearly state your expertise and how to interact with your audience. That, if you read the previous articles. Unfortunately, this is not enough. You have to push more. Once you reached to a certain writing and interacting level, you will hit a very subtle wall.

This is the wall of self-sufficiency. It’s quite difficult to create such a routine, and I mean it. Then why don’t you take a break and enjoy it for a while? After all, you’re a blogger now, right? Right. You’re a blogger. But you’re not necessarily a reputable one. Writing constantly and interacting with your peers and audience will create a steady amount of traffic. Ok, now what?

How and why would you convert that traffic in something meaningful for you? Please note that I didn’t said you should convert it into money. If money is of interest for you, go on, convert into money. But you can also want to convert it into something else. If you’re a political figure, for instance, you will not hit money directly. Instead, you’ll chase audience points or visibility. Again, if you’re having a steady artistic career (you’re a music player or painter, for instance) you may not want to convert into money. Popularity will be your target.

But the most important part of the question is not “how” but “why”. Why would you want to convert that traffic? That’s a key point and a very important question for every blogger who had been wrecked more than one keyboard writing. Once you reached to this point, you’ll realize that is something more important going on with this blogging thing. What you developed so far was only discipline. A set of rules followed closely. And that discipline gave you something to work with. A foundation.

The key question is “why” would you like to build on this foundation. The question will challenge some of the most important parts of yourself. Having a constant audience will bring with it not only the benefits of being visible and appreciated, but also the responsibility of giving more. What and why are you going to give?

Before jumping to the next section, namely, the “how” part, take some time aside and think what are you going to give. The world is ready to receive it. Now it’s your turn. Hint: please have a look at the previous article, about differentiation. If you’re going to create value, be yourself. The world needs you, not a copy cat.

Blogging Related Products

In my need to expand my activities, I’ve been trying a lot of options. I also looked at other, successful bloggers, and tried to understand their strategy. Here are a few types of products that you can build, and market through a successful blog. These are just shortly described here as you can get a much more thorough list in the initial post: “Want To Make Money With Your Blog? Build Reputation!“.

Ebooks

They are simplest to build, because they involve mostly writing. As a rule of thumb, an ebook should provide more information than a blog post, or a series of blog posts. They would provide something that should be read in a wider time interval than a blog post too. You will also have to do some tidying up, editing your cover artwork and making the pages look good, which you usually don’t do at your blog (your theme does this for you).

Ebooks can be both paid and free. I don’t think you should focus more on the problem solved by that ebook than on its price. I have written both paid and free ebooks and I didn’t see any difference in the number of downloads. If there’s something that is truly important people will pay the price.

Podcasts

These are the spoken equivalents of your blog posts. Making podcasts is a lot of fun but it’s also a little bit more complicated than making an ebook. I had a few years experience working in various radio stations so for me it wasn’t a big deal, but if you didn’t have any previous contacts with sound recording and editing, you should take some time just to familiarize yourself with the whole setup.

There are a few bloggers who are doing pretty well by selling podcasts, or special versions of their content. I know I’ve been giving a lot of examples from the blogging and copywriting niches, but for podcasts, the first one that comes to my head is galadarling.com. I’m not even remotely in her target, but I can spot a solid business when I see it. :-)

Live Workshops

These are the live versions of your blog posts. I did a few live workshops since I started this blog and I can tell you I had the most exciting time ever. It’s a completely different beast than blogging, but it’s also the most engaging thing of all. The live interaction, the energy exchange, the adrenaline rush, these are hard to be imitated by a blog.

On the other side, workshops are slower to build and harder to convert. They are enjoyable, of course, but it’s kinda difficult to make a living out of them. Steve Pavlina, one of the most popular personal development bloggers in the world (if not the most popular), gathers between 20 and 150 people to his workshops, from all over the world.

Online Courses

This is something I haven’t done yet. But I’ve been always fascinated by this as a business. The mantra of online courses is of course Teaching Sells, by Brain Clark, but I’ve been also pleasantly surprised by other, more focused courses, like Corbert Barr’s Affiliate Marketing For Beginners (reviewed a few weeks ago on my blog).

One of the things that I’ve been pondering lately is to transform this series into an online course. Not only is the longer series I had so far, but it’s also one of the most easy for me to write. Every time I start a new episode, I almost know it by heart, before writing the first word. I’m also visualizing the structure and the exercises of the course pretty clear. But, as always, I will do it only if it’s enough interest. So, if you’ve read through this, please leave a comment and let me know if you’d be interested in such a course and how much would you like to pay for it (if any).

Lateral Products

These are the complimentary products of your blog. I already talked about my iPhone / iPad app iAdd, which is an implementation of my Assess – Decide – Do framework. But you can create a lot of other related products, not necessarily information based. I know a woman who was briefly in our circle of friends who started a very profitable business with  slings (a variation of “wraps”, a way to carry your baby with you by wrapping it up all over you in a certain “outfit”). She was a very active member of a mothers community (which we may call her blog) and she was also quite respected. She started this business using only her influence in that community and it was a big success.

The Channel Is Not Your Merchandise

So, forget about “just writing on my blog” and start making your own products. If you’re good at writing. write some ebooks. If you’re a live motivator, create workshops. If you’re a musician, create music.

People will soon need proof outside your blog realm. They will want to see you performing on other levels. And if you met their expectations on those levels too, your reputation will sky rocket. As a blogger, you create only an audience. As an expert, you create reputation. The blogging is your outlet, not your job.

Take it as a sort of digital persona, a “placeholder” for your identity in the internet world. The blog will create and propagate your image, your informational body and your attitudes. But it will never be what you are providing. This is why I’m reluctant to use banners as a conversion tool for blogging. Putting banners on a blog will be like putting advertising tags all over your clothes. Would you walk outside with these tags on you? Nope, because that is your personal image, you can’t associate your image with advertising tags. The closest example is a Formula 1 pilot suit. Filled with advertising. Have you ever seen a Formula 1 driver walking around in those suits outside the competition? Never. They do it only when they want to associate their skills with those advertisers.

At the end of the day, your blog will be mainly a place of interaction and expression. It will not be your merchandise. Don’t confuse them, because it will never work like this.

With your blog you create audience and traffic. But what you “sell” is not your blog.

It’s your expertise.