Half of my life I lived under a communist regime. Among other funny things under a communist regime, money, or, to be more precise, the lack of it, was something pretty common. So, I started to learn the value of money very early, mainly by the absence of it. Why am I telling you that? Well, because this particular context of my life created a very interesting situation. Namely, the ability to create money out of any imaginable situation. When you live under pressure, you learn how to breathe differently.
Years later, this very ability, which is more on the survival side, to be honest, than on the corporate, “let’s conquer the world” side, served me really well. Not only was I able to create and sustain for more than 10 years my own online publishing company and successfully sell it once I decided to start something new, but also helped me when I started this very blog. Which finally brings us to the point of today’s article.
Which is part of a brilliant series, ignited by my fellow blogger (and upcoming A-lister) Mars Dorian. The idea was to bring together a pack of internet rock-stars and squeeze the hell out of their knowledge and expertise. As you may see, we have even a visual identity for this series (which I think it’s a very cool idea).
The articles were sequential, meaning at the end of one article the author had to introduce the next blogger and topic. Well, since I’m the last one in this series, I can only have the honor of mentioning the previous articles, as follows.
The Guerrilla’s Guide To Attracting Your “Right” Audience – by Mars Dorian
“Less Followers” Is The New “More Followers” – by Francisco Rosales
The Art of (Online) Seduction (And Why You Need It To Make Money) – by Ashley Ambirge
How to Join Forces with Other Bloggers and Grow Your Audience Together – by Corbett Barr
Networking Awesomely, Kissing Digital Babies and The Lifeblood of the Blogosphere – by Srinivas Rao
Now, let’s get back to the topic. Which is, as you already know, monetization. I will skip the parts related to writing and traffic building, as I expect you to have a lot of know-how, after the first articles. I will also suppose that you have enough traffic to start monetizing. That specific threshold varies a lot depending on your niche, writing style and overall goals with the blog, but as a rule of thumb, I think that from the magical “1000 unique visitors / day” milestone you can start to apply some of the following strategies.
So let’s see what exactly can you sell from your blog in order to make some money.
Selling Real Estate – Advertising
The most affordable way to monetize your blog is advertising. It’s also the most inefficient one. You need huge traffic in order to make some decent money and you also need a LOT of real estate (or, in other terms, a pretty big, in terms of space) blog. Because you will have to have enough space to accommodate your advertiser’s exposure, without alienating your audience.
I used advertising extensively on my network of websites and tried a lot of approaches: automating it with very affordable, ready to buy online packages, selling it with my own sales force or delegating it to an agency. While I did have some positive results over the years, I have to say that this activity is both time and resources consuming.
It’s good if you want to get your feet wet in the monetization world, and learn some stuff, but in the long run it won’t pay for your jet. Unless you’re Mashable and you don’t know that yet, of course. 😉
Selling Interactions – Affiliate Marketing
The next thing you can do after advertising is affiliate marketing. This is a very different technique and it’s also enormously diverse. You can start doing affiliate marketing on your blog with only one client, or you can sign up to dozens of affiliate programs. There are tons of affiliate marketing strategies and many of them are really working well. If you’re new to this world, I highly recommend this course Affiliate Marketing For Beginners (by Corbett Barr). And yes, that link is an affiliate link.
In my experience, no matter what strategy you choose, there are a few things which are always standing up. Those things are the cornerstone of any affiliate activity.
1. Be Honest
Clearly state the fact that you’re doing affiliate marketing. Let people know that by buying the products you’re recommending you will get some money. Many readers will choose to reward you this way, if they find the products appealing.
Also, try as much as possible to recommend only what you’re using. In fact, do recommend only what you’re using, otherwise your credibility will decline in time.
2. Be Consistent
If you started to do something in this area, continue. Affiliate marketing is not an instant business. Sure, you can have spikes and wake up one day to realize that you’ve done over 1000 USD in sales, but that won’t happen in the first day.
Also, be consistent in your niche and product choices. If you’re trying to associate yourself with too many products, or try to cover a way too broader niche, your own brand will weaken.
3. Be Useful
Think at your readers. Think at their needs. Just because you’re excited about some product or service which has an affiliate program, it doesn’t mean your readers will be too.
Selling Your Own Information Products
After you did some advertising and affiliate, it’s time to go to the real stuff: creating and selling your own information products. I consider this to be by far the most profitable and resource effective way of monetizing your blog. No matter your topic, your biggest slice of money may come from the thing you’re already doing on your blog: creating useful information.
There are many ways to create information products and I think a course on this will cover at least several hours. But let’s assume for the moment that you’re just creating ebooks. Ebooks are very appealing to your users, because they’re already consuming your content in the form of articles. They may find the whole buying process very natural. They’re already reading you for free, so if you create some premium content, they’ll be most likely willing to pay for it.
There are also a few things you may want to know about information products:
- their lifespan is relatively short. Unless you’re creating a huge hit, they’re last only a few months. After that, you can bet that all your audience already knows what the ebook is about. If they really want it, they buy it in the first few weeks.
- they must bring in something completely different from what your blog brings, but at the same time carry your own personal mark. So, packaging your blog in the form of an ebook may not create as much buzz as you think. People want something different.
- there are a few psychological levels related to pricing (and the way people are perceiving products, generally). A small but useful ebook will be priced between 10-20 USD. A relatively premium ebook will be priced between 20-40 USD. And from that mark up, you can start thinking at creating series or even more complex products, like webinars or online courses. These as well can go anywhere between 50 and 250 USD, depending on the value you put in and your niche.
Other Media Declinations
This is very similar to the one above, only it happens on other channels. It’s still selling your own products, only you take a lateral step and go into a somehow different way of packaging the information. The closest example is a podcast. It’s very similar with what you do in your blog, but it’s really different. There are a few significant examples of successful commercial podcasts on the internet, galadarling.com being one of them, for instance.
But you can also do something different than a podcast. Package your blog posts as audiobooks. This is what I did with one of my post (after this was suggested by a fellow blogger) and, believe it or not, I do sell it, check it out:
Imagination is the only limit here. I remember that a few years ago, when I had my car portal (the biggest in Romania at that time) I started a small radio show (3-5 minutes daily) and tried to sell advertising on that radio show. Go figure…
Real Life Interactions
This is a very interesting way to make money. In fact, many people who are already making money in the offline world are turning to the online world in order to support their offline business (that sounded a lot more complicated than I wanted to). To keep it simple, it’s about coaching, consulting, workshops or even webinars.
In this case, your blog will be a vehicle for your offline business. Although I think there is a scalability problem here (namely, how high can you go, how many workshops can you deliver, etc) there is something that attracts me a lot to this. I think it’s about the real energy exchange that takes place in these workshops. I went to Steve Pavlina workshop last year and I felt incredibly. Not because the concepts Steve taught us (many of them being around the common sense threshold) but because of the energy that emerged out of the group.
After I started to do my own workshops (on business and blogging) I got the same feedback from my attendees. “It was wonderful, but the most important thing was that we felt good together”.
So, if you reach a certain level of popularity, don’t be afraid to go out in the wild, and try some public speaking and some workshops. It may not work from the first time, it may not bring as much money as your ebook going viral may do, but boy, you’ll feel good. 🙂
iPhone / iPad / Android apps
This is a relatively new way to monetize your blog. Because this media is quite new. When I started blogging, iPhone wasn’t invented yet (I’m having a hard time to realize this, to be honest). Anyway, the fact that our content has become available and it’s consumed on an increasing number of devices creates a little bit of opportunity.
One thing you can do is to package your blog into a “hidden column” type of iPhone/iPad app. The “hidden column” is another name I give to the freemium model. You package your blog in that app along with something unique, that is meant to be available (and consumed) only through that app. That unique thing is your “hidden column”, something that people would be happy to pay for.
Or you can try to implement some of the concepts you have into an iPhone app. This is exactly what I did a few months ago. I created an ebook about my productivity framework “Assess – Decide – Do“, and I also created an iPhone app, iAdd, which implements this framework. The app is available in the AppStore and it does sell pretty well. And so does the ebook.
Well, that was it for now. I don’t know why, but I have a very distinct feeling that I only scratched the surface with it. Honestly, this is why I changed the title of the post too. There’s so much to be said on this topic, but I already have more than 1800 words written on this.
So, if you want to know more, just kick me up in the comments, I’d be happy to talk more. 🙂