Bloggers make money from blogging in an every increasing array of ways – but in general they can be broken down into:
- making money directly from their blog (where the blog makes money – typically from advertising or affiliate programs)
- making money indirectly because of their blog (where the blogger makes money because of their blog – for example by landing a book deal, consulting or a job)
Much has been written about making money directly from blogs – but the opportunity for blogs to be leveraged to make money indirectly is something that I think has great potential and which is largely ignored by most bloggers.
Whether it be by using your profile from a blot to sell yourself as a consultant, author, employee, blogger on other blogs, speaker, business partner or whether you use it to sell a product or service that you or your business has produced – blogs are ideally suited for this type of approach.
So how do you make money BECAUSE of your blog (indirectly)?
Let me suggest a few starting points (note: these six points made up a small part of my WordCamp Melbourne Presentation. You can see the full video here, although it’s a little sketchy on the audio at times):
1. Align Yourself with a Niche – one of the most powerful things that you can do is to pick the right topic to blog about and which is aligned with what you wish to ‘sell’ from the blog. If you want to become an author on a particular topic – you’ll want to blog on the same (or a related topic). If you wish to do consulting in an industry, your blog needs to cover that topic. If you have a product to sell – you’d better pick a topic that naturally fits with that product.
2. Establish Trust, Expertise and Authority – once you have your topic your primary objective needs to be to work hard at becoming a credible and authoritative voice in your niche. Your ultimate goal at this point is to align yourself so much with your niche that you become the first person that people think of when the topic is mentioned. This partly has to do with branding – but is also closely related to the content that you produce.
Perhaps the best example of this that I can give (best because I know it well) is this blog – ProBlogger. I chose the name ProBlogger on a whim one day (I think I was watching golf or tennis and wondered out loud if there could ever be a blogger that goes Pro). It wasn’t a strategic move – but in hindsight it was one of the best things that I ever did because ‘pro blogger’ has become a term that is now widely used to describe people who make money online. Whether the term would have been used if I didn’t start this blog I’m not sure – but the more the term is used the more happy I become as I know my brand is now aligned with the term.
3. Showcase what You Do – I discovered the power of showing people what you can do early in the life of ProBlogger when I decided to write a post about how A-list blogger Jeff Jarvis could better optimize his blog for AdSense. Looking at his blog today I’m not sure that Jeff really took a whole lot of notice of what I said – but that didn’t really matter because others did (and Jeff did link up). The power of showcasing what I could do paid off the next day when I had emails from 10 or so potential consulting clients wanting me to do what I’d done for Jeff – most of whom were willing to pay me for it. The take home lesson is to not only talk about what you can do – but to show how you can do it.
4. Give away the principles and Sell the Personalization – I spoke with an author and business coach recently who does a fair few Media appearances to promote his work and he told me that his strategy is to give away as much general advice as possible when he’s on TV or Radio in the hope that people will buy his books and come to him for coaching when they want to know how to apply it to their own lives. I think that this is a great strategy for bloggers also. A blog is a great place to spread the word of what you have to offer. Teach people the principles of what you know – but make yourself available to those who want to take it further and apply it to their own situation.
5. Sell Yourself Not Someone Else – a common mistake that bloggers make when they want to sell themselves or their own products from their blog is to also run advertising on their blogs. The problem is that those who will want to advertise on your blog are likely to be your competitors and instead of just selling yourself you’ll be selling them too. While it’s possible to do both – I find that it’s much better to choose to either make money directly or indirectly from your blog and not to mix your messages (having said this – I’ve managed to do both here at ProBlogger at different times with different levels of success).
6. Make Yourself Accessible – looking to pick up opportunities that come your way from blogging? You’ve got to make it easy for people to give them to you. While I understand a need for privacy – if you make it too difficult for people to get in touch – they won’t. In the early days of my blog I not only had an email contact form on my blog – but I also published my phone number and Instant Messaging contact details. While this did lead to a lot of disruptions to my days – it also brought in some truly amazing opportunities. Of course there’s a need to be smart on this and as my blog grew in popularity I also stopped publicizing my IM details (there are only so many hours in a day).
One last note
The above 6 steps do not just happen. They take time, they take effort, they take consistent work and they take a little luck. Step 2 is crucial and particularly takes time. Building trust, establishing an audience and being accepted as a credible source of information can take years.