“Should Legal Blogs Ever Be Monetized?” asked by @chrischeatham on Twitter.
“Should I try to make money on my blog?” is a question I hear a lot from bloggers of many niches and while ultimately the answer will vary from blogger to blogger depending upon their own circumstances and the focus of their blog – there are some topics which present challenges when it comes to monetization.
While I don’t pretend to be an expert in the legal blogging niche I suspect that as a topic it is probably one such niche that is challenging to make money directly from.
Let me share a few disorganized thoughts that perhaps some legal bloggers (and other business bloggers as some of this is relevant to other niches) can expand upon and share their experiences of.
Indirect vs Direct Income
My initial reaction to the question above is that legal blogs are probably better suited for monetization through ‘indirect’ methods than ‘direct’ ones. You can read more on this distinction in my posts on direct and indirect monetization but essentially what I’m thinking is that using direct methods of making money from a blog (like by selling advertising) are probably not going to be as successful as indirect methods. In fact I’d probably steer clear of running ads on a legal blog at all and stick with indirect methods.
Indirect methods that may work might include:
- selling your own services (consulting, legal advice, speaking, training, events etc)
- writing and selling an ebook, real book or some other kind of resource
- membership areas (for example if you had specialized focus that people might be willing to pay to join a community on)
- classifieds/job board
Once again, I’m not overly familiar with the niche so perhaps some of the above isn’t quite on the mark and perhaps there are other more obvious indirect earners for legal blogs.
Promoting Competitors with Advertising
I did chat with one legal blogger recently who showed me his blog which he was monetizing with AdSense. While the main point of his blog was to build his profile drive business to himself as a lawyer he told me proudly that he was making reasonable money on a per click level from the AdSense ads which he was excited about – however when I viewed his blog I immediately saw ads for other lawyers and companies offering services that this blogger himself offered.
One of the problems of using AdSense as someone trying to ‘sell yourself’ in some way from your blog (and in fact many other types of ads) on a blog is that to make money you are sending people away from your blog – quite often to your own competitors. For this reason I’d probably avoid advertising on a blog through a network where you didn’t have much control over who could target ads for your blog.
The Flip Side of AdSense
Of course for every recommendation there is a flipside and as I mentioned in the above example the blogger was reporting healthy earnings on a per click level with his legal blog. He specialized in a focused area of law (a particular type of personal injury) and as a result AdSense earnings were higher than for some other topics.
IF you were not blogging with the motivation of selling yourself (indirect earnings) then perhaps the AdSense thing could in fact be something to explore as you wouldn’t be sending people to competitors.
If developing their own product or resource to sell isn’t something that a legal blogger has time to do then there could be scope to develop an affiliate relationship with someone else who has got some kind of product. The key would be to find a product that you believed in and that was of a high quality (don’t recommend a shoddy product as it’ll impact your reputation) and then find relevant and genuine ways to promote it to your audience.
The last piece of advice that comes to mind is more aimed at legal blogs who might have built up a fairly substantial readership. It involves running advertising with a limited number of high quality and non competing advertisers.
For example I was recently speaking with a blogger in another business field who had just landed a sponsorship deal to run ads on their blog for the premium conference within their niche. They were proud of the sponsorship and were confident that if anything it would enhance their blogs standing in the eyes of their readers rather than anything else.
In this way you have very limited advertising on your blog but it is of a high level (and good earning potential). It also remains relevant to the audience and topic yet not sending people to your competitors.
Personally – if I were a legal blogger I’d still stick to the indirect methods than running advertising on my blog (unless the ads were highly relevant, on topic and from a reputable advertiser) – what about you?