This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.
Last March I attended Elite Retreat – a rather exclusive conference with a small number of participants and 7 big name presenters who taught us much of what they know (including Darren himself!). One of the biggest eye openers I had at the conference was that I had been a bit too hyper-focused on sticky blog content creation. I know – it sounds counter-intuitive! But when you create really good content, your blog readers don’t want to click ads. They stick around to read your stuff and then usually leave the site via a link to other great content.
So it was one of those “DUH” moments when I realized that I had better re-think my monetization strategy on my non-product blog.
A New Advertising Strategy
For blogs that are focused on creating compelling content, AdSense and other CPC (Cost Per Click) ads aren’t the way to go. My blog was building my brand, so it made sense that I shift to an advertising strategy that would build the brands of advertisers as well. This meant a shift into selling advertising directly and charging on a CPM (Cost Per Impression) basis. That way the site would make money based on page views rather than clicks.
Since I started selling advertising on my site (with Darren’s and Yaro’s help), revenue has increased substantially and next month I expect to make over $1000 just from CPM based ads. Because of this I have been able to spend more time writing and driving traffic instead of optimizing ad placements.
A New Product Strategy
It took a conversation with Jeremy Shoemaker for me to have another one of those “DUH” moments. Knowing full well that product blogs make money easier than content blogs, Jeremy sparked an idea to create a blog focused on small business products and services. Since regular blog visitors came to my main site for content (and not to shop), it made sense to create a separate blog just for the products and services that they would be interested in. My readers appreciated the fact that I was able to both give them relevant commercial content AND put it in a place that didn’t interfere with their enjoyment of regular articles, thus Shoestring Smarts was born.
By segmenting the content in this way, both sections of the site compliment each other but draw different visitors for different reasons. Since this new blog has been making money from day 1, it’s definitely been a success.
A New Marketing Strategy
The biggest takeaway from Elite Retreat was that I found a renewed enthusiasm for affiliate and email marketing. Once you’ve built a relationship with your blog audience, selling becomes a two-way street. I buy products and services from readers or via their affiliate links, and they do the same on my site. RSS subscribers climb regularly, but this can still limit you. Only about 30% of internet users use RSS – and far less than that actually KNOW they use RSS. Plus, you can’t just sell to regular readers, unless you don’t want to grow.
Most people want to shop in a familiar setting – especially online. Traditional methods of marketing via email and setting up ‘store sections’ on the site aren’t generally appealing to other bloggers. But they do invoke a sense of professionalism and trust with sporadic site visitors and less tech-savvy folks. It comes back to ensuring your blog is appealing to a larger audience than just other bloggers.
Creativity and Out-of-the-Box Thinking
Although I am an extremely creative person, it really took a different perspective to come up with fresh ideas and ways to market my site. I highly recommend networking with other bloggers to build co-mentoring or group mastermind opportunities, or attending conferences like Elite Retreat to be able to brainstorm with others.
Some of my most successful money making initiatives have come from conversations with other bloggers/marketers in which I said, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself!”