Blogging is easy. Write good content and people will read it. But how do you take the next step and make it profitable? What does it take to make it your full-time gig? In their New Media Expo 2014 session, The Honest Truth About Professional Blogging: How We Lost Readers and Money During Our First Year, Amanda Brooks, Carol Cain, and Paula Pant talked about how to monetize and become profitable as a blogger.
There is no perfect pattern. Make it up as you go. That’s what they did. First they started writing. A lot. About what? Find a niche you’re passionate about and you should be able to write forever. Don’t just pick something you think will be profitable. If you don’t know the topic, that will come through in your writing. You have to LOVE your topic. You can’t be an expert in something you don’t know every detail about. Pick a topic and start writing. Promote through social and build a following. Until you have content, no one is going to pay you. You have to build it and show others what you’re capable of and merit getting that payday down the line.
Cash In On Freebies
Once you’ve been blogging and your writing starts to attract the attention of those in your topic industry, you’ll likely get offered free stuff. That’s awesome! You’ve been recognized as someone of influence and a company wants to send you their product for free, in hopes that you’ll review it and promote it for your following. While free stuff is great, you need to be careful. Don’t accept just anything. If you’re posting about products that aren’t related to your blog’s topic, your readers will not go for it and you’ll likely lose them. Not only do the products need to be related to your core focus but you need to give them honest reviews. Don’t just give them 5-stars because you got the product for free. This will only destroy your reputation and trust with your readers when they follow your bad recommendation and buy a crappy product. You can’t be afraid to say no if the product doesn’t align with what you’re focused on.
Get A Real Paycheck
So now you’ve got free products coming in, which give you lots of stuff to write about and reviews are a great traffic source. But how do you pay the bills? You certainly can’t pay them with free beer koozies, healthy snacks, and other freebies. It’s time to ask for actual money. This is hard the first time but it has to be done. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that after time they’ll see the value in your writing and want to pay you – it won’t happen. Why would they pay you suddenly if you’ve been working for free all this time? When a company offers you a freebie, in your reply simply ask them, “What’s your advertising budget?” The worst they can say is no and you get a free product anyways. Counter-pitch. They’re pitching you. Pitch right back.
You’ve asked a company to advertise and they’re looking like they will. So how much do you ask for? Don’t give them a number to start. Many times people throw out a number only to find that the advertiser very happily accepts it because they were willing to pay much more. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re valuable. It may only take a few minutes to write a great post for them but that fee isn’t just for the time spent writing that post. The fee is for the months or years you took developing your blog, developing your following, and developing your skill.
Sponsored posts are another form of income for bloggers. Brands are looking to pay bloggers to post on their blogs. But be careful with your sponsored posts. If they come to you with cookie cutter content, that’s an advertisement.
- Know Your Value – Remember what your blog is worth to you. You spent a lot of time and energy building greatness. Don’t hurt that with low quality sponsored posts.
- Say No If It Doesn’t Fit – Don’t feel that you have to say yes just because you want to get paid. Your readers will respect that you respected them and didn’t post something that isn’t right for them.
- Authenticity In Your Reviews Is Key – The content on your blog needs to be genuine. Put your voice in it. It’s OK to go back to them with a different idea or ask to write the post in your own voice.
You’ve built a great blog that advertisers are paying you to be on. Now what? Grow that existing relationship. It’s much easier to work with an existing relationship than finding a new client. Come to them with ideas. Companies don’t always have a lot of time to think about new and interesting ways to promote their products – they’re too busy running their own business. Feel free to pitch them new ways you can work together to bring them (and yourself) more business.
The goal of every blogger is to get something out of their efforts. Be it validation, recognition, notoriety, or a ways to earn a living. For those looking to turn their work into a source of income and work for themselves, these tips can serve as a great guide to get started and make it pay. Build your blog into a great revenue source and let us know how it goes along the way.