image by mleak
Are you currently blogging to generate income, or have you recently thought about monetizing your site?
As I prepare to leave my steady job with a guaranteed paycheck and (hopefully) move on to blogging or working online full time I have looked at and analyzed a tremendous amount of blogs and the top money earners all share one common characteristic.
Without a doubt, all of the major, financially successful sites out there, including ProBlogger, have one similar component and that is their mastery of branding, or more specifically, self-branding.
Branding can be described as the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a particular product or company.
Effective branding serves to create assumptions, excitement, associations, and expectations that are ingrained in consumers and generated with the mere mention of a company and its goods or services (think GOOGLE, NIKE, Jet Blue).
What is self-branding?
Just like with any company such as, Microsoft, or a product like the IPOD, which attempt to emote certain feelings within the consumer in order to get them to purchase their goods, bloggers need to establish on their site who they are and what they embody. Essentially, every one of your blog readers, (whether it’s a first time visitor or a frequent active comment poster) are your consumers. Therefore “self branding” as it pertains to an individual’s blog should quickly allow readers to know what you stand for, what you are trying to portray, and most importantly, the message you are trying to convey.
How you choose to brand yourself will determine if you will capture loyal readers.
We must try to remember that blog readers are not on any given site because of the ads, or products that are placed there. First time visitors to your site are there to read your content and to hopefully learn something that they might not otherwise know.
I do not know the specific statistics but I believe people decide within the first minute if they are going to return to any given site that they have visited. Therefore, you have a limited amount of time to market yourself and you must keep in mind that you are your brand and the topic that you write about is your niche.
Blog visitors will return if you can create an emotional connection with them particularly if they feel that they have something in common with you.
Additionally, people will continue to visit a blog if they trust you and feel they stand to gain something through your well written site content. However, in order to get them to click on your ads, or purchase your products they have to believe in you and what you are trying to sell. Whatever you are selling, or promoting through your writing, there has to be some sort of fundamental emotional value in it for the end user.
Typically, blogs about making money from blogging recommend that you “need to find a niche” if you want to be successful and actually earning a living via personal publishing.
While I strongly agree that a solid niche is needed I feel that the concept actually goes well beyond just having a niche if you are going to have long-term, sustainable, financial success online. For a blog to be successful in this day and age sites need to have a well-planned three tiered approach, which includes:
- a well-defined niche
- well written quality content
- effective self-branding
Moreover, each of these varying aspects must seamlessly support and feed into the other. Are there exceptions to the tiered approach? Of course there are. However, people who blog can be successful within their niche and can produce good posts but they are missing out on sales, or ad click throughs if they are lacking successful self-branding.
For example, let’s take a look at ProBlogger. Recently, Darren has been writing about and helping to promote the Teaching Sells “Step-by-Step Training Courses.” If I had noticed this endorsement on 99.99% of the other blog sites out there I would have given it absolutely no attention at all. However, because Darren has successfully self-branded himself as one who provides practical, useful, and readily applicable tips at ProBlogger, he has an inherent and well-earned trust with his visitors (myself included). So, the end result being that there is a very good chance I will pay for the Teaching Sells course.
This is exactly where self-branding and how your blog readers view you is SO important. Die hard skeptics, myself included, will click through ads, support your promotional items, or even make a direct purchase from you if they believe in you (your brand).
Another blogger that has mastered self-branding is Maki over at DoshDosh. Personally, I am not a huge fan of anime and before I discovered his blog the Japanese cartoons used to represent (in my mind) typical Saturday morning television for children. However, because Maki makes it a point to include a cartoon with all of his posts the way that I associate and perceive anime, and the feelings it emotes, has completely changed. These days, if I find myself flipping through a magazine, or catch a snippet of anime on television I begin to think of the blog DoshDosh, the niche it represents, and the tagline, “helping you make money online.” The reason for the change is Maki’s successful self-branding.
Of course, you can place all the ads you would like on your site but if people don’t trust you then they will not click to your sponsors or purchase your products and you will lose money. If you are interested in earning money from blogging, or would like to generate more revenue, here are five simple tips that you can use to help you begin your self-branding:
- Before setting up your income generating blog create a plan and write down how you would like to be perceived by your readers (e.g. practical, humorous, sarcastic, authoritarian, combative, etc).
- Review the sites that you go back to again and again. Have you purchased anything from them, or clicked on their ads? Analyze specifically what it is about those blogs and the emotions they evoke that have you coming back.
- Create an effective tagline. Sounds simple but it will set your site’s tone immediately.
- Know your readers (your consumers).
- If you expect site visitors to spend money or click on ads then be approachable. If you reply to a readers query about an ad on your site not only will you establish a personal connection with them, additionally, for the skeptics out there it can help to create trust in you.
If you are blogging for money always try to keep in mind that self-branding and how you choose to present yourself and your content will determine if you will capture loyal readers, which in turn can lead to into increased ad revenues.
This is a guest post by Mark Hayward who blogs over at MyTropicalEscape and Culebra Blog. He and his wife recently purchased the Palmetto Guesthouse on the island of Culebra located in the Caribbean. Mark’s fulltime job ends next week so he is looking to blog or work online fulltime. If you would like to discuss business opportunities, or hire him to write for you he can be contacted directly at mark_w_hayward[at]yahoo.com.