In this post I want to present some visuals on how I’ve expanded one of my blogs and diversified its income streams.
- How do I expand my blog?
- How do I move beyond the basics of making money with AdSense on my blog?
I’m asked these two questions a lot and in this post I want to share, with some visuals, how I do it on one of my own sites.
While at Blog World Expo last week I was asked to present to a small private group on how I make money blogging. As part of the presentation I put together some basic graphics that attempted to visualize how Digital Photography School works. With the permission of the clients I presented to I’d like to share them here.
Lets start with a basic rundown of what the site is made up of – or at least where I’m interacting with readers both on and off the site:
The site started as a simple blog. In time I added a forum and a newsletter. The forum added a more communal element to the site while the newsletter both gave a secondary connecting point with readers, drives significant traffic across to both the blog and forum but also opens up other ways to market to readers. In more recent times I’ve started using social media by creating a Twitter account and Facebook page.
In this next visual I highlight four of the main tasks that I focus my energies on with DPS. While there are other things that one must do to keep a site going, these are the main things I focus my time upon at present.
- Creating Compelling Content – this is the foundation of the site and particularly in the early days of DPS was what I spent most time doing. Ultimately it is about creating useful content that solves problems and meets needs for people.
- Build Community – getting a reader to your blog is hard so it makes a lot of sense to work hard on keeping the readers you have and doing whatever you can to keep them visiting again and again. One of the main ways to do this is to give them a sense of ‘belonging’.
- Monetize – a site with great content and community is fantastic – but unless you can monetize it in some way it isn’t sustainable. As a result a percentage of my time and resources goes towards making money from the site.
- Marketing – to make money from a website you need people to read it and to have people reading it you need to step outside of your own site and market yourself in some way. Great content and community is not enough. I’d include SEO in this category as it’s largely about driving traffic.
There are obviously other tasks that a blogger needs to work on (such as design, maintenance etc) but broadly speaking these are the four things I’m working on each day in some way or another.
Lets see how the two graphics above interact with one another. Below is a visual of the four areas of the site and the four ‘tasks’ that I do – it shows WHERE I’m doing each of the ‘tasks’ on the site.
OK – so I’m doing everything everywhere.
The reason I include this graphic is that I hear people talking about how certain types of media are only suited to some goals.
For example I heard one presenter at BWE talk about how social media is just for marketing or community building – however I think it can be used for monetization also. An example of this was when I launched the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. I did launches for the ebook both here on the ProBlogger blog and also on Twitter – Twitter generated over twice as many sales as the blog.
While social media may not be as effective for everyone when it comes to monetization there are certainly ways to do it. The same goes with other mediums.
I won’t go through how each of the four areas achieve each of the four goals or tasks but the take home lesson here is that if you have a variety of goals for your site that there can be multiple ways to meet them.
Lets move onto monetization. The next visual highlights the four main ways that I make money off DPS (or at least the four ways it will make money shortly).
- Ad Networks – in some circles these are looked down on as an inferior way to make money but on DPS they work. Running AdSense and Chitika in particular have been very profitable for me on DPS. Sure you share the revenue with the network but when you’re unable to fill your inventory with directly sold ads they can still work out for you. You should be looking to expand your focus and diversify but don’t write it off altogether – keep testing the options to see what converts on your site.
- Direct Ad Sales – the obvious advantage of selling your own ads to an advertiser is that you’re not splitting profits with Google or some other ad network. The downside is that it can take time to find advertiser and negotiate with them to really get the return that you could get. This can get a little easier when you’ve got significant traffic but depending upon your niche and where the economy is at it can also be difficult – particularly to attract the bigger brand advertisers unless you have relationships with them or are well positioned in the advertising sales game.
- Affiliate Marketing – this is something that I didn’t focus upon a whole lot on DPS except for using Amazon’s Associate program. However lately there have been a few quality photography products launched that have opened up opportunities on this front.
- Products – this is the ‘soon to be’ element of the monetization mix on DPS as I have two ebooks in development – one to be released in the coming weeks. I’m still yet to see how well products will work on the site but there’s significant potential if we can convince readers that paying for some content is worth doing (I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks).
You’ll notice that there are other monetization streams that are not mentioned and that I don’t do at DPS – such as text link advertising, paid reviews etc.
Here’s one last graphic that overlays the monetization streams with the areas of the site.
Once again you’ll see that each of the areas of the site are involved in at least two of the monetization streams – although not all. Some of the exceptions are simply that I’ve not had time to try them but some I’m not sure will ever happen (either because I doubt that they’ll work or because they can’t – such as Ad Networks in Social media).
Again – the reason I include this graphic is that opportunities do exist to diversify income streams between mediums. For example newsletters are a great place to monetize. While you can’t run AdSense in a newsletter you can sell an ad to an advertiser. You can also use a newsletter to do affiliate marketing (in fact I find it works better in newsletters than anywhere else on my site).
I hope the visuals above are a little food for thought and make sense without the context of the rest of the presentation.
A few Take Home Lessons:
Let me try to pull together a few of the main take home lessons that I’ve been learning:
- Know your goals – having identified that main tasks that I want to be involved in has given me a structure and helped me develop strategies to take my site forward.
- Expand and Diversify – Adding different areas/mediums to your blog can help to make your site multi-dimensional and opens up new ways to achieve your goals. It is also good in turbulent economic times to have a site with a variety of different areas but also income streams.
- Don’t Ignore AdSense – ad networks have their pros and cons. If you write them off completely you could be leaving money on the table. The key is to have an open mind, test what works best and revisit your decisions over time as different monetization streams will suit your site differently at different stages of its life cycle.
- Don’t get lazy and rely upon AdSense – many bloggers get lazy and rely upon the same old way that their site has always made money to continue to do so. Keep testing, hustle to find new advertisers, test different affiliate products to promote, watch what your competitors are monetizing with and consider launching your own product.