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Brainstorming an Out-of-the-Box Approach to Blog Monetization

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.
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How to Make Money

“How do I make money your way Darren?”

This was a question I was asked today by a seminar that I was attending recently so I thought I’d put together a little list of links that might be useful in answering the ‘how to make money from blogging’ question that I get asked more and more.

By no means is this all that I’ve written about the topic of making money – but I thought it might be useful for this particular person.

Gawker Introduces Job Boards

Another blog to go the job board route is the Gawker blog Lifehacker who today announced theirs. It runs in conjunction with Gizmodo’s (also announced this week).

Quite a few bloggers have gone this route and looking at the number of jobs being advertised on them it seems that they’ve had some success (see TechCrunch, GigaOm’s, ReadWriteWeb’s etc).

Job boards on blogs won’t work for everyone but they can be both a good income earner and something that adds value in it’s own right to a blog.

They seem to work best on sites with a technology edge at present but I could see other sites with jobs that relate to their topic being possibilities also.

Traffic is a key however both in attracting advertisers as well as attracting readers to apply for jobs.

My own experience with ProBlogger’s job boards has been worthwhile. It continues to tick over with new jobs for bloggers. We don’t do quite the quantities of jobs that other boards are doing but focus in on a narrower niche and have still managed 9 new jobs across a number of topics in the last week.

Blogging for Money By Self Publishing a Book

Thumbnail-CoverMarti Lawrence from Enter the Laughter has emailed me to tell me of a new money making venture he’s been experimenting with – self publishing a book.

The book – Queen Klutz – is a collection of humorous and inspirational stories which fits pretty well with Marti’s blog.

She’s chosen to publish it through Lulu where it’s available either for download or print.

I’ll be interested to follow how sales go as its a good example of someone attempting to find indirect ways of making money from blogging.

I think the key for success with the blog/book approach is to build a readership on your blog first and then to do some clever cross promotion. I’ve seen a few people attempt to launch books and blogs at the same time and I’m not sure that it’s worked too well.

Scoopt Words – Interview with Graham Holliday

Scoopt Words Logo-1
A few weeks ago I started getting emails from readers telling me about a new way of making money from blogs that they’d come across by the name of Scoopt Words.

I’ll be honest and say that the emails came at a busy time for me and I didn’t give it enough attention and follow up what it was all about but the emails have persisted (to a point where I get one a day now) and I thought I should take a little more of a look at it.

Scoopt Words is a service that takes a middle man approach between bloggers and editors of publications and which will negotiate the sale of your blogging content for you. The concept is pretty simple really and on many levels makes a lot of sense to me – so I decided to approach them for an interview which they were kind enough to grant me.

What follows is an interview with the head of Scoopt Words, Graham Holliday. Graham has been gracious enough to not only answer my questions but is willing to take some of yours also over the next day or two. If you have any – simply ask them in the comments section below and he’ll stop by and answer as many as he can.

Thanks for your time Graham – Can you tell us a little about Scoopt and what you’ve been doing since you started?
Scoopt launched in July 2005 and was the first citizen journalism photo agency. It has since sold photos to newspapers and magazines all over the world. ScooptWords is in beta, as they say, and launched around 2 weeks ago.

What is Scoopt Words and why did you start it?
At the moment, ScooptWords is simply a payment mechanism for bloggers who want to sell content and editors who want to buy it. We will soon aggregate the best blogs and blog content available under our commercial license. We will then push this content, and the bloggers, to editors who are interested in buying.

We started ScooptWords for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s a lot of good blog content out there and some of it could walk into magazines, trade publications and newspapers. Secondly, there’s no obvious route to market for the blogger beyond an approach from an editor. Thirdly, your average blogger may not always understand copyright, contracts and what words are worth in cash in different publications.

From my own experience of blogging at www.noodlepie.com I have seen my work stolen, copied and plagiarised on a number of occasions for no payment. I know I’m not alone. However, I have also been commissioned by several editors to write pieces specifically because of my blog, further strengthening our belief that there is a market for quality, commercially licensed blog content.

Lastly, we also believe that all journalists will become bloggers before too long and some bloggers will become journalists. Some will also need a route to market and a trustworthy payment mechanism. We hope they’ll chose ScooptWords.

Why should a blogger let Scoopt sell their content?
Because we’re completely transparent and because, with Scoopt and now ScooptWords, we’re working hard to revolutionise and democratise the media. And because we’re a proper media organisation run by journalists and editors, not just a dotcom dabbling with user-generated content.

What type of publications have been buying this content?

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Making Money Blogging Without an Ad in Sight

Money-Blogging-3One of the distinctions that I’ve made previously about blogging for money is that there are Direct Methods and Indirect Methods for doing so. Direct methods are where blogger makes money FROM their blog and Indirect methods are where a blogger makes money BECAUSE of their blog.

ProBlogger.net tends to focus more upon direct methods but I’m increasingly finding examples of bloggers who are using indirect methods.

Probably one of the most prominent examples of a blogger making money because of his blog (among other things) is Seth Godin.

The most recent indirect money maker for Seth is a couple of seminars that he’s running in June. The first seminar is a 12 seat seminar (very exclusive) which costs $3995 (USD) per person. The second seminar is a 60 seat seminar at $950 per person (discounts for multiple attendees from the one company).

Now Seth’s ability to hold seminars that attract people willing to pay that much for his time doesn’t only come from writing his blog (he’s written numerous books – many of which he gives away free online – and regularly speaks at conferences etc) but his blog is part of his approach to raising his own profile which results in many income earning possibilities.

The only ‘ads’ on Seth’s blog are for himself and the products that he sells. No AdSense, no affiliate programs, no banner ads – just Seth.

Seth embodies the ‘give it away‘ strategy that many bloggers making money indirectly from blogs use. In giving useful, unique and free content to his readers in his books, e-books and blog and by encouraging his readers to pass it on he continues to expose his ideas and personality to more and more people. Along the way the income generating opportunities arise and he’s able to sustain himself for the next round.

10 Reasons Why Many Blogs Don’t Make Much Money

Chris Garrett writes a good post on Can Anyone Make Money From Blogging? and says that the answer to the question is ‘yes’ – but then qualifies his answer with a number of factors.

My own answer to the question would be very similar.

I would also say that it is possible for anyone to make money from a blog (I’ve seen people from many countries, of most ages – from children to elderly people – male and female, able bodied to people with a variety of physical hardships and people of different education and social levels make a go of blogging for an income). It is possible but the reality is that most who try don’t make a lot of money.

The reasons for this include the list that Chris comes up with and more. The reasons why many who try don’t make much money blogging are many but here’s 10 reasons that come to mind:

  1. Not enough time – as Chris writes, it is hard work and takes time on an ongoing (daily ideally) basis
  2. Giving Up too quickly – most successful blogs don’t hit their strides til they are at least 12 months old
  3. Non commercial Topic – some topics are easier than others to find significant income streams for
  4. Lack of writing skills - like it or not, blogging is a written form and unless you are able to write you’ll almost always struggle
  5. Breaking the Rules - some bloggers get greedy and break the rules, either of the ad programs they use or the unwritten rules of blogging
  6. Distractions for the core functions of a blog – many get caught up in one of the many distractions that challenge bloggers and forget to concentrate on their actual writing of quality content
  7. Unluckiness – sometimes a blog’s success hinges on a lucky moment – miss it or fail to take the opportunities that come and you might miss significant rewards
  8. Taking Readers for Granted – I’ve seen a couple of blogs over the last year or so that fell over because the blogger became so self important that they forgot that a blog rises and falls upon whether it’s readers find the blog useful to them.
  9. Spreading self too thinly – many bloggers have the gift of being visionaries (a good thing) but fail to have the gift of realism. The result is that many start things that they have no way of seeing through or spread themselves across too many projects too quickly (to the detriment of all of them).
  10. Lack of Focus – hyperactive bloggers who flit from one unfinished project or idea to another without seeing anything through tend to fail to build sustainable blogs

Even as I wrote this list I realized that some of the above factors (and others that continue to come to mind even now) are within the blogger’s grasp and some are not. Like any business there are both internal and external threats and risks – blogging for money is no different.

Chris sums it up well with the last paragraph in his post:

“Anyone could make money from blogging but only a percentage of people actually go all the way and succeed. Critical to success is having staying power, not being defeated by minor setbacks, being willing to put yourself out there and put in the hard work. If you stick to it and can do all those things then yes, I am sure anyone can do it.”

I hope you found the list helpful – it might be worth bookmarking it an coming back to periodically to run through as a bit of a filter for one’s blogging efforts.

How to Sell Information Products

Wouldn’t you love to have your very own product to sell?

More and more bloggers are looking to diversify their income streams, rather than having all their eggs in the AdSense basket. Others are just now discovering blogging, and they recognize right away that it is an ideal platform for information sales business models.

For my very first guest article here at Problogger, I’d like to share a few tips about utilizing a blog to both create and sell information products. While it’s possible to sell information products created by others through affiliate programs, I’d like to encourage you to consider creating something yourself, as it puts you in the absolute best position in the online sales world.

The good news is, if you already have a blog, but no product, you’re on the right track. And if you have neither a blog nor an information product in development yet, you will definitely want to consider starting to blog first. I’ll explain why below.

So, without further ado, here are 7 tips for creating and selling information products with blogs:
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How Much Money Can a Blog Earn?

“If my blog has ((insert daily number of impressions or page views of your blog here)) how much should it be earning?”

This is one of the more common questions I get asked by bloggers just starting out with making money from their blogs.

On one level it’s a valid question to ask – after all if you’re going to put time and energy into building something it’d be great to know up front what rewards might be awaiting you.

On another level – it’s an almost impossible question to answer because there are so many factors to take into consideration.

As I look across the blogs that I am involved with (around 100 in number if you count b5media’s 80+ blogs) there is a massive variation in the earnings that blogs are pulling in. It is very difficult to make sense of it as it not just a matter of traffic levels.

For example – As I write this I’m looking at the earnings for January of three blogs that I have some involvement with (I don’t get into what specific blogs earn so don’t ask) and here’s what I see:

Blog A: For the month this blog had a total of around 20,000 page views from about half that number of visitors (ie they viewed 2 pages each. The Total earnings of this blog (all from contextual advertising) was $790.91 (USD).

Blog B: This blog had just over 40,000 page views over the month, this time from about 13,000 visitors. It’s total earnings from contextual advertising (same amount of ad units per pages as the other) was $99.08 (USD). it also earned around $35 from an affiliate program.

Blog C: Our last example is a blog that had around 160,000 page views over the month from around 80,000 visitors. It earned $515.12 from contextual ads and somewhere in the vicinity of $2,500 from affiliate programs.

Factors to Contribute to a Blog’s Earnings…

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