The following post was submitted by David Wilkinson from Techzi who previously wrote a post here titled How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog – The Advice of a 12 Year Old.
Something that alot of people have asked me these past few days is “David, what makes you a ProBlogger?” and truth be told, I’m not entirely sure. What does make someone a ProBlogger? Is it the fact that somebody blogs for another person, getting paid per post? Is it someone who blogs alongside others, sharing the revenue between them? Is it somebody who maintains their own blog, making an partial, or substantial income from their blogging activities?
Heck… In my opinion, it’s all of them! So how can you become a ProBlogger? Well, contrary to popular belief, it’s actually very, very simple, and I’m going to do my best to show you exactly how to do so yourself, and start churning out a profit within the shortest amount of time possible. Why? A commonly known factor here on the net is “Give, and you will get.” In other words, helping others can often hold a valuable return, much more than what you originally gave, or the time you spent on something.
Blog for yourself.
Possibly the most popular option on the drawing board, is blogging for yourself. Why? Because anybody can do this, with any interest, any field of expertise, or anything at all to say. You don’t need to be a super-writer, a genius or a crafty marketer, you simply write about what you enjoy, developing your writing style all the way. Writing style? What’s this got to do with earning money? Gradually, your writing will improve, progress, leap and bound, from one type to another. As a blog reader & writer, I often skim through people’s archives month-by-month seeing how much someone’s writing has changed. I know that from looking at my own, I started off as a truly terrible writer, and have gradually improved, even if my grammar still isn’t spot on. So how will this earn you money? Your changing writing, that adapts to how you see your audience (whether it be big or small), often entices visitors, and interests them into what you’re doing & who you are. Many people, after reading a blog several times, will often make an attempt to find out more about the author. As a blogger, I know this, after tracking my statistics, I can tell you that my personal “About Us” page receives a substantial amount of hits.
This is where personalization comes in. I believe that personalizing your content helps define your blog better than anything else… Including your own added-touches, whether it be a story that’s happened to you in the past, your own quirky sense of humor, or a link to a site that reminded you of something you’d meant to add earlier, can all help build the reader/writer relationship. At the end of the day, this is very similar to the 3Cs, enhancing the community & trust within it.
Unsure about monetization? It’s best to play it safe and go with tried & tested methods of money-making. CPC (Cost Per Click) programs such as YPN (Yahoo Publisher Network) and Google AdSense are often some of the best if you’re just starting out, but over the past few months, I’m sure most bloggers will agree with me when I say that earning from CPC has become a lot harder, and can now require copious amounts of work in order to keep your readers clicking. This is not so much the readers fault, or the companies behind the schemes, but more a sign that the times are changing. Sure, the end-users are getting used to the adverts popping up in their current forms all over the net, but at the same time the industry is bumping down prices, meaning that when clicks are met, the payout is lower. This makes it very difficult to point the finger at anybody in particular and is a sign that perhaps the market is becoming over-saturated.
Another popular method is affiliate programs. There are many stories of run-away successes, just as with CPC, however the major difference with affiliate marketing is that publishers are only paid per conversion, or ‘lead’ as they are called. This also often requires the user to shell out money for a product or service, which they then may, or may not like. This can be a risky business, as if a reader is unimpressed, and feels their money has gone to waste, you’d be surprised how fast they snap the door shut on you & your blog. Generally, for affiliate marketing to work, a user or reader has to trust you enough to buy a product, which often requires alot of work. All that aside, if you can pull it off, the pay for affiliate programs are handsome.
Text Links. In my opinion, these ads are the least obtrusive, most acceptable to readers, and also churn in a healthy profit. How can you get started? The most popular option out there is most likely TLA (Text-Link-Ads), however many bloggers, including myself are experimenting with our own alternatives. Often programs such as TLA deduct large portions of the money earned (50% in most cases), and in many cases, people are having their websites under-rated and under-priced. For this reason, many people are offering their own privatized advertising deals, including my own website, Techzi.net. On the whole, this has been a great success, with people flocking in to buy adverts, costing over 40x what TLA was offering me in one case. Advertisers also seem more willing to do these privatized ad deals, as they know they’ll be getting one-on-one support with the webmaster rather than having a company such as TLA acting as a middle man. Of course, as with most opportunities, there are some snags to consider when going private. Many people may be unwilling to co-operate with you, wihtout using a middleman, as they feel more secure using a service where they know that a company has been monitoring the activities of both parties to make sure that nobody is ripping anyone off. If however, an advertiser sees a good reader/writer relationship, and sees trust in there, it is far more likely that they will consider doing such a deal, without using a middleman.
The final method, that recently seems to have really taken off in the blogosphere, is sponsored posts. Whether you’re with PayPerPost, ReviewMe, or some other new service, chances are that the offers are either flooding in, or running dry. Pricing your blog effectively is important, as often, new bloggers over-estimate the worth of their blogs on such schemes, and charge the same prices, or just shy, of what the big time bloggers like John Chow charge. Setting your price too low though, can often make you look desperate, even if in the long run, the return is great. So what’s the problem with paid reviews, sponsored posts and all that jazz? Well on the reader/writer side of things, it really is a black mark against your name. Often readers will feel annoyed, or ‘Sold Out’, as some have phrased it, and are unlikely to come back. On the other hand, if the article is relevant enough, people will treat it like a normal post, and read through it, clicking on the links all the same.
Each of these methods has it’s own pros and cons, so I advise you weigh them up for yourself based on your own website’s criteria. Different things work for different people, and trying a combination of the above, or simply asking your readers what they’d most prefer & find least intrusive can often provide you with invaluable insights into your readers mind, and what they’re most likely to participate in, in order to make you enough to keep you going.
Blogging for someone else.
Sometimes, this can be very tiring, but often, if you’re not having much success at creating your own community, or simply want to earn a bit of extra cash blogging about what you like, this can be the ideal way forward. I both maintain my personal blog network and blog for a few other companies. So who might be interested in hiring you? Well, for starters, it’s important to understand that unless you have a good grasp of language, wording and the subject your writing about, you’re never going to become successful. If you’re simply looking to earn some cash, you’re never going to be successful. You have to be a team player, and you have to be passionate about what you’re writing about. From the NBA to SEO, fine dining experiences to Britney Spears’ latest haircut, you’re going to have to give it your all if you plan to make progress. Many large blog networks actively hire bloggers to write on new niches, topics & events, so whether you’re up for a quick spin, or a more long-term project, there’s bound to be something that suits you. So how can you find a blogging job? One of my personal favorite places to check, is the ProBlogger jobs board, as this is updated regularly with listings from most of the major blogging companies. If you believe you have found a new niche that could be explored & profited from, you can also try contacting blogging media companies such as b5media, Weblogs Inc and other through their official websites.
Pay for such companies is often generous and ranges from $5 per post, all the way up to several hundred dollars per post, based on the frequency of the blogger in question, the quality of the article and the successful monetization of the blog at hand. Being part of a major blogging network has to be taken one step further, and treated like a proper job. Often these media companies will set a minimum amount of posts that are required to be published each and every week, and the posting frequency is expected to be consistent, and the articles of high-quality.
If you don’t fancy yourself as being a professional online journalist, and aren’t ready to treat the Internet seriously, as a job, this isn’t for you. If you know you’re busy, and your business might call you over at any moment, making you unable to blog, this isn’t for you. This is for the more serious-minded amongst you, and if you have a streak for journalism or a passionate flare for writing, then it’s a career worth considering.
It stands to reason that if you’re making money using your blog or someone else’s in any of these methods, you can call yourself a ProBlogger. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Battlestar Galactica. It’s important to have a break from blogging once in a while, and maintain a healthy balanced life. Go take a run in the park, sit down with your family and play a game, or go out and have a meal. Even bloggers take breaks. What’s the most important thing to remember when blogging, in my opinion? Stay on your feet, and never expect it to be an easy ride. If in your first month, your blog rakes in $50,000, don’t expect it to the next month. Prepare for the worst, take in all the factors and possibilities. To some, blogging would be the dream job, but in reality to some, it can be hard both mentally and physically, willing yourself to stay up that little bit later and finishing the article that was due in last Saturday. The fact is, in every profession, you need time off. You need to relax. Consider ALL the possibilities, the net’s a big place.