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Making Money Because of Your Blog as Opposed to Making Money Directly From Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of December 2005 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This afternoon I had a call from a guy and the topic got onto how he wants to make money from blogging (as it seems to quite a bit these days). He was all excited by the potential but was a little muddled with his thinking about how to do it and asked my advice.

One of the questions I sent him away to ponder was this:

‘Do you want to make money directly from your blog or because of your blog?’

Here at ProBlogger I talk 99% of the time about how to make money directly from your blog using advertising and affiliate programs – but while this is legitimate and the way I make the majority of my income it is really only half the picture when it comes to making money through blogging.

While there are many bloggers experimenting with this ‘money directly from a blog’ strategy there are also many other bloggers who make a decent living BECAUSE of their blog in indirect ways. They often don’t have a paid advertisement or affiliate program in sight but still are really pro bloggers. How can this be so?

There are many ways to indirectly make money because of a blog. Instead of selling other people’s products or ad space most of these ways are through the blogger selling themselves. Here are a few ways of making money because of your blog that come to mind. It’s no an exhaustive list so feel free to add your own:

  • Consulting – If there were three of me I’d dedicate one of the me’s to do consulting work. After a year of blogging here at ProBlogger on the topic of blogging for money I have people come to me every day asking for advice. Some are willing to pay good money for it too! Unfortunately I don’t really have the time and so only take on consulting work if it’s on a larger scale or a very interesting opportunity. There are a growing number of bloggers in many different fields that offer consulting having built up a profile and perceived expertise through their blogs.
  • Recruitment – In a similar way, I’ve heard of a few bloggers over the last year or so who have landed jobs in non blogging fields after their prospective employers found and liked their blogs. Write on a topic well enough and eventually others in your industry will find your blog and in the process hear about you. You never know what opportunities might come out of this.
  • Business Blogging – Some businesses actually employ people to blog for them either as their main role or part of their role. As a result in effect they are being paid to blog.
  • Books – I’ve had a number of offers from publishers in the last year to write books on a variety of topics after they have found my blogs. Once again it’s about being seen as an expert in your field – if you can achieve this you will find publishers are more receptive to having an idea pitched to them and at times will even seek you out. This is becoming more and more common with publishers as they are seeing not only some great writers but that many of them already have large amounts of content on their blogs ready to be pulled together into a book!
  • Offline Writing Gigs – Manolo from Shooeblogs recently landed a writing gig in the Washington Post Express after he was discovered via his wonderful blog. Offline writing gigs can be in the shape of newspapers, magazines, trade publications etc.
  • Online Writing Gigs – A number of ProBlogger readers have recently told me that they have been approached to write for a variety of online sites as a result of being discovered from their blogs. These positions have been paid quite well.
  • Selling e-resources – this is close to the idea of making money directly from your blog but is a little different because instead of advertising someone else’s product you’re selling your own. E-products could include e-books, teleseminars etc. Once again the success of these products is often directly tied to the profile of the blogger (or to their sales network/affiliate program).
  • Launch a Product – This is similar to selling an e-resource but is perhaps a little different in that the product could also be a service of some kind. I’m aware of a number of start up companies that have started blogs that they will later launch paid services from. The blog becomes the launching pad for something much larger through building profile and creating interests.
  • Partnerships – One of the cool things about building a name for yourself in an area of expertise is that people often start pitching you ideas for you to partner them in.
  • Speaking Opportunities – I was asked to speak this week at a blogging conference late next year as a result of the organizers of this conference reading ProBlogger. This is a bit rare for me as I’m stuck on the opposite side of the world from most of the relevant conferences I dok now of quite a few bloggers who are regularly speaking in a paid capacity at conferences in a variety of industries.

As I said above – this is by no means a complete list. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

As I’ve written this list I’ve been struck by how that in each case opportunity comes out of some sort of a perceived expertise and profile. The book deal, job, writing opportunity, speaking gig, consulting work or selling of a product only really come about if people think you have something worthwhile to say or offer.

Building this type of profile doesn’t just happen overnight. Making money because of your blog is a long term proposition and will probably happen increasingly overtime as a blog and it’s blogger mature and become more well known.

Where as with making money directly from a blog we often talk about skills like SEO and ad placement the skills to making because of a blog probably revolve around:

  • providing useful content that shows an understanding of a niche.
  • networking within a niche and knowing and interacting with key players
  • using a blog not only to report and rehash news but to also show initiative in proposing solutions and taking topics onto new ground

These can be important in running a successful ad blog also, but are especially important for building profile.

Lastly it’s worth nothing that it is possible to go with both approaches and make money both because of and directly from a blog. In a sense that is what I’m finding with ProBlogger at present. Ad revenues are a little higher these days and affiliate programs do reasonably well – but in more recent times it’s the indirect opportunities that have come out of this blog that have probably taken ProBlogger to a higher earning capacity.

My hunch is that for many bloggers the short term gains often come from the direct earnings (advertising etc) but that the indirect opportunities come in the longer term and it’ these that often have the larger earnings potential.

I’ll finish with one example that I’m unable to give details of. I was told this past week of a blogger who had been blogging about a particular product category (a technical product) for a couple of years. He had become very well known in his industry and had made reasonably good money from AdSense and other ads. A month ago he was approached by one of the manufacturers in this industry and was asked to come on as an ongoing consultant. The fee they offered him per hour was double his daily AdSense earnings. This week he was asked to write a book about his niche. After two years of building profile things have certainly gone into a higher gear and the direct earnings are starting to look quite small.

Interested to hear what you think on the topic.

‘Do you want to make money directly from your blog or because of your blog?’

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Interesting take on the issue, Darren.

    One method of generating money from a blog or perhaps a blog network that’s often overlooked would be essentially selling it for a lump sum, or selling a stake of the business.

    I know this might not set well with many bloggers whom do it strictly for the passion of the writing, but most brick n’ mortar businesses start off with an end goal. For entreprenuers, it’s generally to build a business up to eventually sell it, and then plow the proceeds into an even larger, more ambitious project.

    Weblogs, Inc is the perfect example. I think I could permanently retire from blogging for $25 million. ;-)

  2. I started Life Coaches Blog because we wanted to build an online portfolio and discussion platform of our tools for life coaching and self development, raising awareness of us and our services.

    So we definitely wanted to make money because of our blog first, at the same time I wanted to make money from the blog to at least pay for itself. At the moment earnings aren’t there yet but I reckon it’s because I’ve been toning back the ad density, and will be looking to increase its obviousness soon.

  3. I am actually on the “because” field. I recently started a Java blog and even though I am tweaking and trying to get a few cents(!) out of AdSense, I do see the “writing books, hired as consultant” as my goal. Making some money from it directly now would be nice to cover some expenses I have, though. :)

  4. I’ve played with Adsense and several Affiliate programs just to test over the last six months. I didn’t really expect any massive income from them, thought maybe I could cover hosting, etc.

    Dismal failure. It’s the nature of what I’m doing. I mean, come on, what type of rates and ads did I expect to come from keywords like poet and poetry?

    If any cash comes in time it will definitely be because of the blog, not directly from it… (mainly live shows “Speaking Opportunities” and books). And this is already starting to happen.

    My readership has grown over 1000% in the 4 months I’ve been at this… which is obviously more valuable (in my business) than a few Adsense bucks.

    Thanks for the big picture view here Darren.

  5. Brian says: 12/17/2005 at 2:06 am

    Excellent post. This is the true direction that “pro blogging” will go, because the opportunities to make significant AdSense revenue are limited as first movers occupy all the lucrative niches.

    There are truly so many ways to make money from blogging, but I think it will require a bit of mental reallignment for many interested in the blogging phenomenon.

  6. One of the greatest side effects of blogging is that you can generate a profile for yourself in the wider community that can benefit your from a number of angles.

    On one of my sites I have a web-designer-for-hire graphic, that leads to a page about services I can provide for small companies. Its basically a sideline, a way to make a few $. The blogs and their interrelations help strengthen this side line because blogging is a great way to show off your talents for building relatively good looking websites. The blog topic brings along interested parties who see what else you can offer.

    I certainly look at blogging as a way of helping earn income, not as the means to earn income.

  7. Jon Mills says: 12/17/2005 at 3:36 am

    Very good post Darren, Interesting way of looking at it and certianly has got me thinking more about what am I wanting to achieve from each Blog I create, ad bucks, readership, or more..

  8. I have been blogging for a year and a half with really no revenue to show FROM the blog itself. However, like your example, I’ve had plenty of opportunity including a book myself.

    I personally resent the term “problogger” as it really seems to apply to people who make money from their blogs and do it full(ish) time. That really pushes the rest of us out the door when we really are pros as well… especially when, as this entry indicates, it’s quite possible to make money because of the blog and not from the blog.

  9. My experience is very much tied in with your post today about niche blogging (I spent a while deciding which post to comment on!). I hadn’t intended to be “pro” in any respect when I started my crochet site a couple of years ago. But, related to the niche post, I wanted my site to be better than the many others out there, both in design and in quality of content. Through no planning of my own, my site got very popular, and less than a year after starting it I was approached by two publishers to write books about crochet. I’ve since made my niche writing my full-time job, and I’ve just signed to write a quarterly magazine column.

    That everything happened so fast has led me, by necessity, to focus on my non-blog/site related writing, but I always keep in mind that my entire career has come about because of my web site. I’m finally able to spend time now to clean up the design and functionality of my site, and to pay some attention to direct-from-site revenue streams. My goal in doing so is more to bring in enough money that I can pay the people who contribute content to the site, rather than make money myself. The way I see it, my because-of-site revenue fills that need.

  10. I’ve seen my E-Bay sales go up since I put thumbnails of the items (linked to their respective auctions) down my blog sidebar. I’ve also made more frequent references to selling on E-Bay in my posts.

    I’ve a few buyers who specifically said, “I saw this on your blog”.

  11. Darren — Always right on the money. Yep, a book deal — that’s what happened to me because of my blog. Take a peek at http://www.cashflowtruth.com

  12. Cool comments.

    Aaron – I agree with you in terms of the ProBlogger term being hijacked by the ‘direct’ group a little. I think I’m partly to blame for this as it’s my own main focus.

    I’d like to broaden this blog to pick up more on the indirect approach but part of the challenge for me is that it’s not something I have a lot of experience in and there is less news (seemingly) that is directly relevant.

    I’m open to ideas from people of how to approach the topic more to be more inclusive of both types of probloggers.

  13. Brian says: 12/17/2005 at 9:10 am

    Hmmm… this post jumped back to the top from earlier today just when we were dicussing TypePad. Weird.

  14. (Darren) I’m open to ideas from people of how to approach the topic more to be more inclusive of both types of probloggers.

    That’s a tough one!

    My guess is that indirect problogging is much more individual than direct problogging. In other words, successful direct problogs seem like they’d have more in common than successful indirect ones.

    But there’s also a lot of crossover, as you mentioned — things that work for one work for the other, too. That’s one reason I’m attempting to do both, with an emphasis on the indirect route. Why not make a bit of money on the way to meeting the larger, indirect goal?

    Personally, I’d be interested in seeing tips aimed at the book deal aspect of things. I’m very surprised at how (relatively) often it sounds like people are getting deals out of the blue — I’d have thought that it would be more common to build a profile through your blog, then approach publishers with your book idea. (More like the traditional “get an agent, send out your manuscript” approach, in other words.)

    Also, areas where the two don’t overlap seem like fertile ground for a post, for folks (like me) who are combining the two goals into one blog.

  15. Darren–

    I agree that it is a tough one and let me just say for the record, I don’t resent you for the term problogger. I resent the folks who have ran with it and essentially made those of us who don’t blog for a salary lesser entities – whether overtly or inadvertently.

    I think that maybe guest bloggers could fill the gap where you feel you don’t have the expertise. I am not necessarily volunteering but I’m sure there’s quite a few people who could apply a professional touch to the ‘indirect’ genre once, twice or in an ongoing feature set.

    I know in our book, we have chapters dedicated to how blogging can help your job, relationships, ideas, hobbies and company… all of those are the indirects you’re talking about.

    I commend what you are doing here. The approach you take to blogging and bringing it to the masses is admirable.

    Keep it up.

  16. Thanks Aaron – understood where you were coming from – although I do feel partly responsible. When I started ProBlogger I did start with a broader goal in mind for this blog. Hopefully as I grow in my own experience with blogging opportunities in a more indirect way I’ll be able to inject more of this into what I write here. I’ll also be on the look out for the experiences of others – if you or anyone ever writes anything in this sphere let me know as I often link to what others write (no promises that I’ll link to everything sent in but it’ll at least help educate me).

    Looking forward to 2006 and how it developes in these ways.

  17. My goal is to get visitors from my blog to my other website. If the buy something from my affiliate links that is fine but not the main goal. And when they are at my other site I would like them to sign up through on of my affiliate links to one of the many pokersites that I advertise for.

    If they do I will get a certain percentage of the rake (the money the pokersite takes out of every pot), and then I would get a bit of money every month without having to work for it. After that I plan to take over the world;)

  18. I’m actually trying to do the opposite, moving away from the intensive consulting time-limited business that I do right now to a passive business. About the term Problogger, it’s funny because I think myself as one of these generic probloggers you read about – in a sense that a problogger is spending all his working time on blogs (Which I am doing and shouldn’t be doing). It’s funny, but I can get such a kick earning .. let’s say $5.00 in one DAY because that’s like 200% increase over yesterday .. and waste a day trying to figure out why I didn’t make $5.00 the next day … but meanwhile, if I shut off the computer I can make 10 times that amount in less than an hour’s work.

    I think I would have to be on the wishing side of the fence that wants to make money directly from the blog, than because of it. I’m not looking for publicity .. I’m looking for residual income. Is that bad?

  19. Been blogging a few months now. No passion, just a means to make money. All my income is from affiliate sales. Discovered your blog a week ago, and cant stop reading it. :) Lots of good info.
    Consulting would be a nice way to go. Get lots of people amazed that an illiterate working class yobbo with zero education can make a good full time income from blogging.
    Teaching others how to do it, and getting paid for it would be nice.

  20. Darren,
    A great article – it’s great you are showing interest in expanding on the “making money direct from blogging” here at ProB.

    I always believed that there is more promise in making revenue because of your blog for the vast majority of us – sort of like using a blog as your main marketing tool.

    I really wonder if people ponder your question: Do you want to make money directly from your blog or because of your blog?’ when they set out to blog professionally – as both are completely different kinds of blogging, imo.

    Directly is more seo-focused and indirectly is more personal branding, building credibility.

    Keep going down this route in 2006, Darren, and I’m back on the bandwagon ;-)

  21. “Content is the king”. If you provide a quality content on your blog the flow of visitors will automaically increase and so is the revenue.

  22. “Content is the king”. If you provide a quality content on your blog the flow of visitors will automaically increase and so is the revenue.
    Isn’t that a trite and naive statement. That really has very little to do with problogging. If I’m an indirect problogger, maybe I’m not trying to get revenue to increasse from the blog. Maybe I’m trying to shop my influence.

    And your short-sighted comment ignores the fact that it takes a certain personality to make direct revenue. I know quite a few people who do put content out there – quality content – and for all the apparent reason should be making tons of money, but because thier personality is such that they don’t have a lot of success selling ads, or running ezines, etc… they don’t make alot of direct revenue.

    Now granted some people have the fortune that everything they touch turns to gold, but not everyone is like that and I think it’s pretty naive to think so.

    I’m not trying to attack your comment for it’s intent. But I do attack your content as naive and misguided.

  23. Being newbiew in blogging is very difficult for me, someone create blog just for revenue, but the other one blogging is for life. Its depend on you, life without money is nothing.. huh

  24. vanessa says: 12/18/2005 at 11:10 am

    Martin Ralya—

    I might be able to shed some light on your question about book deals. Basically, there’s a big difference in the way things work for fiction and non-fiction titles, and it comes down to supply and demand.

    Publishers are inundated with manuscripts for novels, children’s books etc, so getting an agent they respect to represent you and spruik your work is (usually) vital.

    In contrast, non-fiction is usually commissioned, and the commissioning editor has a quota of titles they have to produce each year.

    Finding someone who (1) is an expert in the field you want a book in, and (2) can write, can be really hard. A good blogger is a perfect candidate for a book deal: you can already judge their writing ability and their knowledge of their field, AND they have a profile in their community, a verifiable number of readers, and often some kind of mailing list. It’s a marketing hole-in-one.

    Something that interests me is how many bloggers self-publish or would consider self-publishing rather than taking a book deal. What would people here do?

  25. Great Article.

    I usually refer to making money explicitly (via ads, affiliate links, direct product sales) versus making money implicitly (increased consulting and speaking opportunities etc).

    I started blogging to make money implicitly and to have fun. Success on both counts :) I’ve certainly had success making money explicitly too, but I’ve never put much effort or made a priority of it.

    I have gotten two book contracts from blogging however – nothing in print yet, although the first can be preordered from Amazon.

    Writing a book is not that similar to blogging, in my experience, but overall a great experience. DON’T expect to get rich writing books though, except perhaps implicitly . . .

  26. vanessa: Something that interests me is how many bloggers self-publish or would consider self-publishing rather than taking a book deal. What would people here do?

    Tell you the truth, I wouldn’t know where to start if I wanted to. It’s not just writing the book, it’s getting people to actually buy it which seems difficult to me.

    That said, I still am trying to get a few cents together each day from blogging so…. I guess I don’t have that money-magic. ;-)

  27. Vanessa: Thanks for tackling that question — your answer was quite helpful. :)

  28. Great post Darren. When Andy Wibbels and I teach our Business Blog Basics course, one of the first things we go over is the difference between the direct and indirect revenue streams.

    I work with people on both sides of this approach every day. The strategies and approaches are totally different. Let me give a very brief example.

    I’m in the midst of designing two blogs. One is for direct revenue (a consumer review site), the other indirect (a consultant). On the direct site, it’s all about the ads. The design considerations ultimately come down to this: capture the eye, quickly lead it around the page, and have it land on a relevant ad. The content should grab the reader just enough to have them pause before clicking on an ad.

    For the consultant’s site, the design’s ultimate purpose is to present a boat-load of content in a clear, efficient way. We’re trying to develop the personality of the site – to present the author as a trusted expert with a unique, effective approach. The approach to layout and structure is totally different than with a direct revenue site.

    The point is that there are fundamental differences in the goals of each blog. The metrics used to determine success are wildly different. There is some common ground, but not a ton. Do I see another blog in your future Darren?

  29. So… a number of “offers” from publishers but no book contract?? Direct or indirect, “from” or “because,” I can tell you first-hand that writing a book is a heck of a lot harder than blogging.

    Darren, I challenge you to get a contract (and an advance, of course) and write a book! I see your book as more of a confessional: “How I became a professional blogger” kind of thing. With lots of practical tips thrown in. Just my two cents. Could be a great read!

    Well, back to my book. I’m in the homestretch of completing “The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right” (Penguin Portfolio 2006). http://www.TheCorporateBloggingBook.com

    Happy holidays.

  30. Making Money is not the real fundamental reason why a blog is in existence. I strongly disagree with the notion that blogs should be created to make money. Conversely, I can’t deny that there are some people who do. The more important reason for blogs to exist is to communicate and reach out to people whom you do not usually reach out to, and to put your ideas out to people who may have need of them. You don’t have to visit my blog to make me money. Conversely, I have to visit my own blog to really think. It’s a tool for emotional outletting, and it’s a great way to expand my present model of the world. Nobody who has the ability to write should be denied the opportunity to blog, but they should never blog for the sake of money making. In my ideal world, people genuinely contribute to a blog so that they get a discussion going that makes a difference to the world. I’ve been training for a good 13 years now, and all the knowledge I have gained will go to waste if it isn’t properly organized and taught to people who could benefit from it.
    Life presents itself as a short game. Whatever happens, the game will end. But people will forever remember committed players, determination on the field, and the desire to extend beyond what you apparently thought you were humanly capable of. Blogging is an extension of that life, or that world we live.
    We don’t make money from our life. We make because in our life, we grow and touch the lives of others. Their growth and development gives us permission to make some money from it. But without the intrinsic value of our life and our contribution, there is no permission. So, no – we don’t make money because of our life (or blog) either. We make it because it grows and helps others grow in this never ending cycle of learning.

  31. […] “Making money because of your blog” as opposed to “Making money directly from your blog” […]

  32. My blogs have been around since 2001. It’s only in the last couple of months that I added adsense and text links and now earn quite a modest amount. If I had know blogs had that income potential, I should have started in 2003 but I resisted because the ads looked ugly then. I just thought of trying it out to see if it did give income and when it did, I changed my mind.

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