One question I have been asking myself lately is how to make money at blogging. It’s kind of a natural question really since a lot of bloggers want to some day get paid for what they do. What got me thinking about this was an excellent post over at Copyblogger. Don’t click on it yet. You need to read the rest of this before you do (I have the link at the bottom so you don’t have to scroll back).
The basic thesis of the article was that blogs don’t really make money. Rather they are a strategic marketing tool for some underlying business. Read that one more time. A blog is a strategic marketing tool that supports some underlying business. Hmm. So, that means that if you want to make any money in blogging (or rather by blogging), then you have to have some sort of product or service that people can actually buy. Sure, you can have ads and affiliates, which does bring in some revenue , but not as much as some tangle product or service. This is an interesting thesis since most of us bloggers want to make some sort of living at blogging.
As I thought more about how blogs are more of a strategic marketing device than a money making device, it naturally makes sense to figure out how a blog fits into an overall business strategy. For some, defining their blog will be pretty easy while for others, it will be more of a challenge. A couple of things to think about when assessing how your blog helps your business include:
- How much of me is in my blog? Part of creating a strategic marketing tool is that it needs to reflect the business it serves. If you have too much of yourself in your blog, then it will distract from the business purpose. It’s fine to have some personality that make it unique but don’t put a lot of your personal self in your blog. You are not a business (unless, you are famous).
- What topic(s) does it cover? The topic of your blog needs to directly relate to your core business. It’s acceptable to niche blog by taking on specific challenges that your business can solve but don’t make the mistake of diverging your blog topics from your business focus.
- How easy is it to find your blog? Part of a blogs appeal is that it’s always working for you, 24/7. The reason is because of the wonderful world of Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is always working for you as long as you work for it. So, make it easy to find your blog by applying inbound marketing techniques so that customers can find you.
- Are there similar blogs to mine? If you can find some blogs that are similar to yours, that’s a great way to gauge how you stack up. It also wonderful intelligence on how others might make money from your topic. Don’t copy others but it’s important to distinguish your blog from others so that it attracts the customers you want.
Assessing Your Business
So now that you have a good idea what your blogs about, the next thing to think about is what business you are in. Remember the thesis above, that just being a blogger is not a business model since a blog is just a strategic marketing tool that drives business to the supported enterprise. To figure out what business you are in, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I sell on my blog today? Take a look at your blog and figure out if it sells anything. By selling, I mean is there someway, via a link or icon or whatever, for a reader to click on to purchase your product or service. If you have none, then you need to ask yourself why.
- How am I making a living today? If your blog has no way for readers to pay you, then you must be making a living somewhere else. How does that living match up to your blogs message?
- What customer pain does your business cure? People buy products and services to fill a need. Without such a need, a customer will not be motivated to part with their money. Look at your business and figure out what pain does it cure. List a couple of pain points that you think people will pay for. How can your blog promote that?
- What business am I really in? Now that you have an idea about how you make money, is this the business that your blog promotes? If not, why not? Does your blog help solve your customers pain? Take a critical look at your business needs and how your blog can help you achieve them.
Hopefully, your blog aligns with your business needs. If not, then you need to change that. If you want to be an effective blogger, you somehow have to convert all of your readers to take action that benefits you if your aim is to make money with your blog. If all you want to do is blog for the love of blogging, then disregard everything I just said.
Aligning Your Blog To Your Business
So now that you have assessed your blog and your business, it’s now time to align them. Aligning your blog to your business is as simple as making what you blog about strategically align to your business needs. It also includes making what you sell available to potential customers. Now, you don’t need to do a hard sell or anything like that. Rather, make whatever product or service you have easily available so that your readers can support your blogging effort.
What’s Business Are You In?
I know a lot of you who read this are bloggers looking to make some money. After all, this is The Bloggers Bulletin and it’s sole purpose is to discuss the business of blogging. So, tell me what business you are in. Since there are about 40 contributors to this blog, I would except at least that many comments. I assume you are all serious about making money via your blog. Aren’t you?
I will even go first. The Daily MBA’s business is to help technical and creative people succeed in business. I do this by selling books and offering consulting services via my creative branding and strategy company, Pointed Letters. See, that was easy. Now, it’s your turn. Tell me, what business are you in?
This post was inspired by this great post over at CopyBlogger. You should go check it out.
About the Author
Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He is the managing director of Pointed Letters, a creative branding and strategy company. Jarie also volunteers with San Francisco SCORE as a cyber-counselor and also blogs about innovation, management and entrepreneurship at http://www.thedailymba.com. His first book, Frustration Free Technical Management, has recently been published. You can also follow him on Twitter @thedailymba