This post was written by Aditya Mahesh of BlogOnExpo, a free digital conference for bloggers that will feature sessions about blogging and interviews with Darren Rowse from ProBlogger, RandFishkin of SEOmoz, and others. The conference kicks off on December 1st, 2007.
You have a successful blog. You post on a frequent basis, have a strong reader base, get a decent amount of comments, and earn some revenue from the blog you run? So what do you do now? Many bloggers simply continue to post and reply to comments. Hoping that their blog continues to grow and eventually earn more revenue.
There is nothing wrong with is, but the question I most often have for successful blogs (and by successful I don’t mean 1 million page views a month and 200,000 RSS subscribers with $50,000 in ad revenue, I mean a consistent steady reader base (5000+ monthly) and some ad revenue), is why they don’t go beyond just a simple blog?
Blogs aren’t the only way to make money online and there are tons of features bloggers can add to their website to improve the user experience and generate more revenue. Here are a few of the best features you can add to your blog.
Blogs are all about discussion and what better way to generate discussion than by launching a forum (eg Darren’s Digital Photography Schools Forum). Forums keep users on your site longer and get them involved in your blog’s community. There are a number of free forum programs available like PHPBB; however, your best bet for a highly scalable, reliable, and feature-rich forum would be VBulletin, the software that runs thousands of the most popular forums on the Internet. Single licenses start at $160.
2. Job Boards
Job Boards are a great way to provide quality content to your users and increase revenue. Like the job board here at ProBlogger.net, companies will pay a certain amount to have their opening listed on your blog’s job board and your visitors looking for a job will have a place to find a job in an industry they are interested in. Job boards work especially well in blogs that attract students and freelancers. You can code your own job board, or use services like JobCoin.com, or SimplyHired’s Job-a-Matic.
3. PodCasts / VideoCasts
Many bloggers run their own daily/weekly/monthly online radio or video shows and there is no reason why you shouldn’t either. While podcasts work well, I prefer to create videocasts like the one Darren has on the homepage. All you need is a webcam. Just sit in front of your computer and record a video post about anything that relates to your blog’s content. Videocasting has a number of advantages. It puts a face to the blog and is a great change from just a plain text post. Video ads from sponsors can monetize these video posts and submitting videos to YouTube and other video sharing websites can be a great way to reach new readers. Also, you can encourage readers to respond with “video comments” of their own, though this would require a video sharing script. vShare.in has a decent script for just $10.
4. Social Networks
This can get expensive and thus should not be attempted until you have a decent number of monthly readers (20,000+). To further engage your readers, you can create a social networking website like MySpace or Facebook specifically for your readers. Why would you want to do this? Well, it’s a great way for people with similar interests to meet or connect. A social network would be ideal for any type of blog that relates to business/entrepreneurship as communication is a major part of professional success and a blog’s social network will be a great place for people to connect with others in the same industry. Creating a social network from scratch can be very time consuming if you are familiar with programming/designing and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get a custom script made. As a result, most blogger will have to go with a common script, but even these can be quite expensive. Your best bets would be PHPFox.com ($300) or SocialEngine.net ($250-$419) – (eg – check out Mashable’s Social Network for a great example of this type of thing extending a great blog).
Do You Have other ideas on how to extend your blog? Let us know with a comment.