During my first 6 months of blogging I made 847 USD. I still wait for some results from one of my affiliate deals but based on the previous activity I can more or less predict how much is going to be. As you may already guessed, this is the third post from the series: The First Six Months Of Blogging, and it is about money and blogging. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here:
Why Do I Want To Make Money With My Blog?
Before dwelling on the blogging money too much I think I should clarify a bit on the “Why?”. I guess the “Why?” is fundamental and it has a tremendous impact on your overall income. If you don’t have a clear reason on why you should make money with your blog, I guess it will be pretty difficult to attract money making opportunities.
During the first 6 months I haven’t had a clear focus on making money. My main focus was at creating a self-discipline about writing, creating a comfortable blog setup and putting together a promoting strategy. I am pretty sure I could made much more than 847 USD, if I would intended that.
My revenue sources in the first 6 months are based on more or less incidental affiliate deals. I wasn’t proactive on those deals, it just happened. I found some opportunity, I evaluated the impact on my writing and promotion routine and if everything seemed ok, I jumped on it. The main reason behind those deals was to find some metrics and learn how much money I can really make. It was like a sandbox, more like an experiment than a real monetization strategy.
The reason why I want to make money with my blog is to support my lifestyle of choice. I don’t want to accumulate, but I want to be able to generate enough income to support my family and myself. At this point, all my expenses are covered from other sources. I do not depend on blog money. But I made a choice to create a different lifestyle and I want this lifestyle to be fulfilling on all levels, including financial levels.
For some of my readers it should be no secret by now that I consider money as a form of energy. Playing directly with the energy (for instance, with electricity, which is a form of energy) is not always the healthiest choice we can make. In fact, if you expose yourself too much to a powerful source of energy, you can end up pretty shocked. You need some protection when playing with this energy. You need a goal. Whenever you have a clear goal, money seems to flow much more easier. Making money with a blog just in order to make money with a blog is like putting your fingers into a power outlet. It can give you the thrills for a while, but after that you’ll end up completely wasted.
So, my goal is that my blog will support my new lifestyle. For those of you interested in more details, you can have a glimpse at what I want to do in 2009, for instance.
Broadcasting And Receiving
After I sold my online business, I choose blogging as my main communication vehicle. My message is simple: you can be a better version of yourself. I use this blog to broadcast my message. That’s all I do. I create value and broadcast it.
But I’m also ready to receive the positive (or negative, if case will be) impact of my work. I’m not only in broadcast mode, I also do receiving. I already started to receive appreciation notes from my readers (and that’s besides the comments). Some of them are saying that my writing really made a positive impact on their lives. They’re manifesting more courage, they start to change their dreams, they start to attract more happiness into their lives. That’s good. I am genuinely happy when this is happening.
But receiving mode means a little more than emotional communication. Can mean opportunities, new ventures or money directly. I’m ready to receive this and I’m also creating the scaffold for those future activities. As with the blog setup routine, getting ready to receive some more money implies some scaffold to be built. I have to actually make room for this to manifest. I will show you a little later how I intend to do it.
Money As Numbers
But before getting into more details, I would like to answer to that question I hear in your minds from the beginning of this post: are 847 USD a lot in terms of blog money? The honest answer is: I don’t know. I don’t have a scale on which I can identify the first 6 months of blogging and the corresponding money numbers. I also seriously doubt that there is such a scale anyway.
But I do know that in the first 6 months of blogging Steve Pavlina made 167 USD. Yes, that’s right, you read it well: blogging icon Steve Pavlina has made only 167 USD in his first 6 months of blogging. How do I relate now to my 6 months of blogging winnings? Well, you can bet I’m happy. I’m more than happy: I made 4 times more than Steve.
I’m joking of course and I only bring this into discussion for a reason. And that reason is: the number is not really that important. But having a working model is. And now I have a working model about blog money. In the first 6 months I had enough time to evaluate how the affiliate deals are working and what other monetization strategies I want to implement. I know the input and I know the output, I understand the process. All I have to do now is to optimize it. And optimizing implies only two main activities: increasing the broadcasted value or tweaking the revenue sources. Or both. But the process is in place and this is all that matters for now.
I guess that’s the main reason bloggers are giving up after a certain interval: the number mindset. They are focusing on numbers not on the process. They try to increase the numbers not to improve the process. That simple existence of the process is a guarantee that your blog can produce money. All you need is to tweak the process in order to make it more efficient. Instead, bloggers are assuming the business is not working and quit. The precious, just created process is abandoned. Sad.
Now let’s get back to my blog monetization scaffold. As I did with my blog writing routine I created a setup for my money sources. It will be implemented as of now for the next 6 months. In this model, I chose only 3 ways to monetize: donations, affiliate programs and display advertising (only direct sales).
I really think some of our monetization models are so long and difficult to maintain. In a classical monetization scenario you have to find advertisers which in turns are trying to sell you banners for your traffic, and you are striving for more traffic and so on. It’s complicated. Why not trying something more direct? And by direct I mean like something really between you and me, no middlemen.
If you find something useful in my writing and feel the urge to reward me, just do it. I’m not asking for it, but it’s much more open to let you have this tool than to not. You have now a donation page and a box after each post from where you can access that page. As I told you, this is only my feeling that a more direct way of broadcast / receiving pattern will be useful for both of us. Rest assured that any amount is appreciated.
Affiliate Programs And Deals
At this moment there are only 2 affiliate programs and deals running: one about my blogging tool of choice, MacJournal, and the other about thesis, the wordpress theme I am using right now. My choice is to endorse only products I use and appreciate. So if anybody wants me to join their affiliate programs please keep in mind that I do need to use that specific product and be satisfied with it prior to write about it.
Reputation is many times more valuable than plain advertising. I do believe in reputation as a much more efficient sale strategy. I follow several bloggers and I know their values and style for some time now. If those people are endorsing a specific product that would make more for me than one thousand banner impressions.
For display advertising I chose only direct sales which means I will sell a limited amount of banners, 4 small squares for a fixed price. You would have to contact me directly if interested. I don’t want my sidebar to be cluttered with too much visuals, 4 paid small squares seems enough for now, knowing that I will have some visuals for my affiliate deals as well.
There will be a fixed price for each banner and that price will be listed on a special page, linked from the top link bar. The price will change accordingly each month, if there’s no change in the advertising page, it means that nothing’s changed. The last price listed there is the current price.
I chose to have a limited amount of display advertising (and only if it’s directly supervised) because I can understand how a product can borrow some of my visibility and I also understand that my visibility could be enhanced by a certain product. I will only endorse products form personal development, personal growth, health or productivity. Please do not send requests for products in other areas, I simply can’t relate to them, even if I do know you can make interesting offers.
Why Not Contextual Advertising
It’s a time killer. It’s difficult to control. It’s cluttering. It’s low pay. And I’m bored, I’ve been using this for the last 5 years intensively, so I don’t want that anymore, I want a change.
Making Money By Increasing Value
Now that my revenue sources are already outlined, all I have to do is to increase my broadcasted value. I intend to keep the writing pace as much as I can but I will also try to increase the value with various new content types, including, but not limiting to:
– more mind maps. There are already several books on my reading list that are waiting to be converted into mind maps and published here. Also, there are several other types of information suitable for mind mapping, most of them into the productivity area.
– blogging tools: that will include something like the thesis hooks post and the blog audit plugin. Those tools will be provided for free.
– ebooks: I started to write several ebooks, as you already guessed after this post. Some of them will be free, but will contain much more than the content in the blog. As some readers suggested I could make even this series into an ebook, with some more tips for writing, promoting and making money. Some of the future ebooks, completely different form the blog content, will be paid. Hopefully, if they will be succesfful, I will turn them into affiliates programs.
That’s it, that’s my money making setup for the next 6 months.
The bottom line is that making money with a blog is not a question of secrets, magic tools, unrevealed knowledge or insanely precious tips. It’s simply a question of creating more value.