Monetising your blogOne of  the most frequent questions I get asked when I mention that I’m a blogger, is “So, how exactly do you make money blogging?”

There seems to an unspoken assumption in some circles that blogging is a get rich quick scheme. It’s not.

Yes, it’s true that there are bloggers who earn a full time wage either directly from their blog, or as a result of their blog, but personally, I would not be able to name more than a handful of Aussie bloggers that do this.

Those few bloggers who do earn a full time wage from blogging, or from the business they built as a result of their blog, will tell you that it’s bloody hard work. No-one has been an overnight success. Some started their blog as a deliberate business strategy, while for others the business opportunities unfolded as their blogs gained popularity.

For most bloggers who choose to monetise their blogs, the income they earn is mostly pocket money.

So, how do you make money blogging?

First, I will quote Darren Rowse, whom I heard speak for the first time at the Digital Parents Conference in 2011, “If you have even an inkling that you might want to make money from your blog one day, start treating it as a business from day 1”.

What does that mean?

Ideally, this would be a written business plan, with goals and practical strategies for reaching them, which should include investment in your own learning and in setting up your blog as a business.

Even if you start without one, you should have some goals in mind for your blog and clear ideas for reaching them. You will need to learn about running a business, or be prepared to hire someone to do the business side of things for you.

There are two categories of monetising – on the blog and off the blog.

Making money On-the-blog

1. Working with Brands and Business

Brand Word Marble Columns Trusted Durable ReputationMost personal, parenting and lifestyle bloggers will be familiar with this approach.

This is where you work with selected brands and businesses to promote their products on your blog through sidebar advertising, sponsored posts, reviews, giveaways and brand ambassadorship.

You don’t need to be a big or an established blogger to get involved. All you need to do is show evidence to the brand, or business you want to work with, that you have a connection with their desired demographic.

If you are a parenting blogger, you will want to connect with companies that sell products to parents and show them that your audience is engaged with your blog. Engagement is best demonstrated through blog post comments and social media interaction. Your traffic statistics do matter, but if you can show continuing growth in your audience and good reader engagement, then you will definitely be of interest to your chosen brand.

How do you get started? Here are just a few suggestions:

  • connect with Nuffnang and set up an account to start receiving ads on your blog,
  • set up Google AdSense on your blog,
  • visit Brand Meets Blog and learn more about working with brands and creating a Media Kit,
  • more information on Media Kits can be found on Bloggers Bazzaar,
  • start following brands and their PR companies on social media, particularly LinkedIN and Twitter. This means you will have to do some research – who is handling your chosen company’s PR and marketing? Is it done in-house or outsourced?
  • get involved in Facebook bloggers’ groups. There are country, state and even city specific groups where you can share information about working with specific brands and get advice on how to approach them,
  • sign up with Source Bottle, which often has call outs for bloggers to review products or get involved in PR campaigns,
  • contact some small businesses to offer them sidebar advertising on your blog, you can do this by inserting some code into your sidebar with an image and a link to their website.

Important: Always, always disclose (right at the top) that a post is sponsored, or that you’ve been gifted a product to review. Write the post in your normal voice and make sure it’s consistent with the rest of your content.

Tip: If you are reviewing a product, ask the brand/business to offer the same product as a giveaway to your readers. Also, get the company to organise for the prize to be sent to the winner.

Another tip: When reviewing products, be clear whether or not you get to keep the product.

What brands would you like to work with? Do some research, find out the best contacts for them and approach them with a proposal for working together.

 2. Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing message illustration designThis relates to proactively marketing products and services that you are an affiliate for.

Being an affiliate means that you receive a commission every time someone buys the product by following your unique link the product website. Some common affiliate programs include Amazon and Book Depository. There are also affiliate networks you can sign up for that cover a whole range of brands, for example: ClickBank and ClixGalore.

The most common mistake I see people make with Affiliate Marketing is just having the links in the sidebar, without any promotion of the products and services. Affiliate Marketing works best when the products you promote relate directly to the content of your blog and when you proactively market them in your posts. What does that mean?

For example, if you have a blog reviewing children’s books, why not join an affiliate program with a book seller and then include affiliate links to the titles you are reviewing in your post. This is how Digital Photography School, run by Darren Rowse, makes a significant portion of their income. If you blog regularly about website development, you might want to join website hosting affiliate programs and use those links in your blog posts.

Warning: It is good practice to disclose to your reader that a post includes affiliate links, so they understand that you will potentially make money if they make a purchase.

Hint: If you have a favourite supplier of a service or product, but they don’t have an affiliate program, approach them and ask if this is something they might like to explore. After all, it encourages people like you to send business their way.

What products or services would you like to be an affiliate for?

3. Creating products and services related directly to your blog

This is where you create things like ebooks, training programs, online courses and other digital products. For example, Katrina, from the Organised Housewife, sells a whole bunch of digital products on her site, products which she created as a direct result of her blog.

Another example is Problogger, where you can buy a selection of books directly related to blogging.

How do you get started?

  • Compile a selection of your favourite/most popular blog post and offer them to readers at a small price. There is nothing wrong about selling content that is available for free on your blog – readers actually like having a single product that includes high value content.
  • If you have a food blog, why not put together an ebook of your most popular recipes?
  • If you have a travel blog, you could create an ebook or even an ecourse on travelling with kids, or travelling solo.

What could work on your blog?

Making money Off-the-blog

4. Setting up a business using the skills you have learnt in your blogging journey

Many bloggers have created blogging courses to share their expertise in blogging, others have set up social media consultancies, yet others have become website developers.

Often people combine the skills they have learnt from blogging with those they already had from prior jobs, or they might even do some further study, like marketing or copywriting, to set up their businesses.

What skills and passions do you have that could be the basis of a small business?

5. Your blog as a platform

There are bloggers like Kerri Sackville and Clint Greagen who have been offered book deals as a direct result of their blogs. Their blogs are the platforms for honing their writing skills and act as a portfolio of their work for potential publishers. Others, like Josefa Pete have been successful in publishing articles in a number of online publications.

How do you get published? Well, sometimes the publisher will come to you, but you don’t need to wait for that. Many publishing houses have “open days” when they accept submissions. Do some research and find out what these are and what their submission requirements are. Join a writers organisation like Writers Victoria to learn more about the publishing process, get some contacts and immerse yourself in the world of writing. In addition, there are courses offered by the Australian Writers Centre that will help you hone your writing skills.

Getting publishedGetting published in print and online publications takes a bit of research into the specific publications you want to target, finding out who the relevant editors are, developing a relationship with them (again consider Twitter and LinkedIN, as well as good old fashioned email) and then pitching them your ideas. It requires bravery, persistence and a fair bit of confidence in your skills. Again, your blog is the platform the editors will check to find out about your writing style and the topics you cover.

In addition to the written work, some bloggers have been very successful in securing paid speaking engagements as a result of their blog. Carly Findlay is a great example of this – she gets regular paid speaking gigs as a result of her appearance diversity advocacy work on her blog. Similarly, Darren Rowse, is a highly sought after speaker on all things blogging.

How to get started?

Sometimes word of mouth is enough to get you those first speaking gigs, but don’t be embarrassed to put yourself forward to organisers of networking events, conferences and workshops that relate to your area of expertise. Become involved in local networking events, blogger meet ups and local charities.

What topics could you comfortably speak/write about?

 

So there you have it. An overview of the best ways to make money from your blog. What will work for you? Will it be just one of the above, or will a combination work best?

I’d love to hear from you about the ways you have, or are planning to, monetise your blog.