Making money online: Want to see the money?
If you have done all the above correctly, then you could well be on the way to making some money for yourself from blogging. These are the various avenues you can explore:
This is what we have all grown up believing since the dotcom got associated with stories of riches. Get the eyeballs, advertising will follow and you can live it up. This is how all media survives. If you have the audience, advertisers cannot ignore you.
The simplest way to start is to sign for a service like Google’s Adsense. Acting as a middleman, Google approaches advertisers all over the world and automatically places ads on blogs and sites that sign up with them. The advertisement that gets displayed is contextual to the content on the site, and it is all done automatically.
All you need to do is create a free account and get a code from them that you place in your site program. And the ads will start coming up. The more the number of people who view or click on the ad, the more revenue you generate.
It sounds great in theory but you have to have a lot of traffic to earn enough to feel good about. Few people know how Google decides the percentage to share with you, but it is a very small one for sure. The few cents you get per click will add up to something chunky only if you have people queuing up to read your blog. Not the smartest way to monetise your blog.
How about pitching for ads directly from potential advertisers instead of making someone else rich? This way all the revenue you generate is yours to keep. In some cases you may have to shell out 15 percent agency commission but that is a standard practice. And Google does not even pay you 15 percent of all revenues it generates through your traffic. To get direct ads, keep the following in mind:
Get ads at any price: Someone paying ten dollars for an ad for a month may still be more than what Adsense pays. Not saying you make this your benchmark, but start. Get anyone at any price. No one wants to be the first advertiser, but are willing to follow. How do you suppose new magazines are always full of ads from the first issue onwards? They give out free ad spots, others believe the publication must be doing well to attract advertisers and decide to do so themselves too.
Tease your target advertisers: If Ford is not willing to commit to ads, place one of GM even if free – call it ‘hitting at the competitor.’ Then go back to Ford and tell them GM is with you. The folks at Ford are sure to ask ‘Hey, how much is GM paying?’ Play with words carefully and you could have Ford as a paying advertiser.
Forget providing detailed analytics: No need to get bogged down by your traffic figures. In many cases, you may decline to share these with advertisers. Instead, focus on your rank on Technorati (a search and ranking engine for blogs) and the number of loyal readers. Companies could be invited to advertise for the brand exposure to these audiences.
Be confident – offer a money back guarantee: Make this offer to all advertisers. Offer to return their money if they are not happy with the results. If your claims about your blog are true, less than one in a hundred may apply for a refund.
Join forces: Get together as a group of bloggers to jointly offer your inventory to advertisers. The value proposition may suddenly be more attractive.
Cut out the middleman: Going direct has its benefits as all the money is only yours to keep. But can you always spot a willing advertiser? Track which ads appear with higher frequency on your blog through programs like Adsense - there is often a pattern. Call these guys up directly after this – they may bite if there is relevancy and the cost to them is lower than what they would have paid Adsense.
Do you have a product or service to sell? If your blog has the audience, why not make a sales pitch while you have their attention? Make it attractive for them to buy from your blog than other outlets by throwing in discounts and freebies.
What if you don’t have something of your own to sell? No problem. Sell stuff on others’ behalf. If you have a blog on mobile phones, contact Nokia or their distributor to offer a special deal on your blog for a given product. Once you receive an order and have processed the payment, you can pick the stock from the distributor and dispatch to the customer. You do not even have to bear the risk or investment required in carrying inventory.
Likewise, what you can sell is limited by your imagination. If you have a travel blog, sell packages at prices better than all others. An auto blogger can sell accessories for cars. A books site can offer books on discount.
You can choose to offer only a limited selection of popular products, or even set up a full fledged online store. All depends on what you can gear yourself to manage. At the same time, you need not always offer stuff to match your content. An auto enthusiast is a very likely buyer of laptops. Why not offer these to customers on an auto blog?
You want to dabble with e-commerce but are not inclined to tie up with vendors, process payments, fulfill orders and manage complex books of account? Go for affiliate marketing.
This is how it works: You tie up with an online merchant like a computer store and carry ads of the latter on your blog. When any of your visitors clicks on these ads and makes a purchase with the merchant, you get a commission. It is all easily automated with a simple code you embed in your site.
Once you have established yourself as a subject matter expert on a given topic, why not get paid to help individuals and organizations further with your knowledge and experience? A lot of professionals have seen their consulting incomes rise substantially after prospective clients read their blogs. If the subject of your blog lends itself to having such commercial potential, make sure you tap into it.
That’s another thing your blog does for you. It becomes a way to get invited to speak at conferences and other events. In India, the concept of paying you to speak is still to catch on in a big way but it is important to be on the speaking circuit if you can. When the market trends change, you may be one of those who may start getting paid to speak. And don’t forget the networking potential when you speak at events: you get to meet the right people who may just lead you on to better things in your career.
Newspapers, magazines and online media are increasingly relying on bloggers who know their subject to write columns. This can be a handy source of income. Typically one can expect to be paid between Rs. 2,000-5,000 for a piece. Yes, the per piece rates may sound low but aggregate them into, say, ten pieces a month and you could have something decent for yourself. At the effort of usually doing no more than repackaging content from your blog. There is also a non-monetary advantage: writing for leading publications boosts your personal brand and can serve as a testimony to your worth – and thus opening doors to newer opportunities.
Pay Per Post
For years now a debate has been raging over the ethics of bloggers being paid to write. Services like PayPerPost offer to pay all those who write about their clients. The fee is usually quite low, under ten dollars for a post. An unwritten code demands full disclosure when you write something in exchange for material gain on a public forum like a blog just as would be the case with a newspaper or magazine. But if your idea is not establish any journalistic credentials but carry content for the sake of attracting traffic and generating advertising revenue, what you do is your call.
Books from Blogs
It may be early days yet, but there is already some interest in this area. You may just land yourself a book deal based on the content of your blog. And you will not be the first to do so. Even if it is not a book all by you, your posts could form a part of anthologies published by the companies like Sulekha.com (http://sulekha.com). Even if you do land a book deal, chances are it would take a while for royalty cheques to start coming in. But that should not be reason to walk away from such an opportunity. Once you have one book out, chances are you could start expecting advances on subsequent ones. Or even get alternate means of earning money like consulting, freelance writing etc. A long shot, but don’t give it a miss.
And if you are really having a lucky day, an overseas publisher might take note of what you do.
Syndicating your content
In theory you can start syndicating or selling your content to other media to republish and pay you for it. Some publishers do buy such content, but very sporadically and pay only a pittance. But do keep your eyes and ears open for the time when the market opens up. It will over time as publishers realize the economic and other value in outsourcing. You could do well to explore western markets if you have content that may interest them. Services like Mochila.com allow you to post your content for other bloggers to see and publish. If they do, you can be entitled to a share of the advertising revenue accruing from such postings. Likewise there are many sites and blogs out there who allow you to post your content and they share advertising revenue with you. In both such cases the amount you earn depends on the traffic these sites attract and how much of this reads your specific post. And don’t expect any transparency and detailed break-down of revenues earned and split. If you are not too protective about your content, go for these options too.