April 25, 2014

How to Monetize Your Blog – Ideas to Earn Money Blogging

15 Ideas to Earn Money Blogging, Part 1

Our recent Meetup group focused on blog monetization.  There are some obvious ideas and some that are a little different.  I always like to say that there are many keys to a successful website, but the two that are most important are getting traffic to the site and then converting them.  Conversion can be many things, including building awareness for a non-profit organization or cause, promoting ideas, a candidate or legislation, distributing materials via audio, video, text or photos.

How to Monetize Your Blog

Most people are looking to raise revenues, and that’s usually a goal to sell their own products or services, and that’s the first of my ideas on how to monetize your blog:

  1. Image of Shakespeare asking, "To blog or not to blog."Sell your own products and services. This can be a photographer selling wedding photos or someone who builds birdfeeders to sell online or at a local fair.  Blogs devoted to a specific product are not uncommon and are especially prevalent in the affiliate marketing space. (See below)
  2. Adsense ads.  This is one of the most common blog monetization tactics.  Google has a program where you can show ads on your site and advertisers have the ability to have their ads shown on the Google Content Network in niches that make sense.  Every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you get paid a small fee.  Usually, blogs write content about a very specific topic and try to rank high for it.  As people find the content, they see the ads, resulting in you earning money with your blog!
  3. Affiliate products. As with Adwords, highly focused blogs are used to attract an audience looking for a specific solution that can be fulfilled by products you sell that are provided by others.  Most often affiliates join networks such as Shareasale or Commission Junction, which represents products of just about every niche you can imagine, from apparel to industrial equipment to furniture to holiday stuff.  This is similar to selling your own products listed above, but one benefit is that fulfillment, such as shipping and product support are handled by the merchants.  Amazon (see below) is a huge supplier of products to affiliate marketers.
  4. Membership programs.  Setting up a free membership site is a great way to attract and retain people who might be interested in you or your products and services.  That can evolve into a paid version where you charge participants monthly or annually for regular content, which may include a regular teleseminar or webinar.  You can take that a step further by adding another level to the membership level.  An example might be to have a $27 monthly membership that includes a newsletter access to archived information.  Next you could add a monthly or weekly teleseminar/webinar for a total of $47/mo.  Kick it up another notch by adding 20 or 30 minutes of one-on-one coaching for $77 or maybe even $97/mo.  I’ve seen layered membership sites go up to $500 or even $2,000 per month!
  5. Amazon.  Amazon is one of the largest affiliate marketers, but they no longer sell products thru publishers based in sales tax nexus states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois and New York.  (That will change when a national online sales tax is created – and you know it will!)  One of the cool thing about Amazon is that you can promote a product on your blog, but also get a commission if your reader browses around and finds something else!  For those who do promote books, music movies and anything sold by Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Buy.com can often buy from themselves and get a commission for items they’d buy elsewhere.
  6. Sell eBooks.  You can write and produce an eBook using Word and turning it into a PDF, sell it on you blog using PayPal or something similar.  More eBooks are sold today than traditional books and you can get yours in the Amazon marketplace and sell it on your blog and in Amazon.  Once your buyer pays for your book, they are sent to a page where they can download it.
  7. Self-publish your book.  You can sell a self-published book on Amazon, B&N and any number of other places.  Use your blog to promote it and link to it.

People who have come to know you, like you and trust you will buy from you!

Next, we’ll have 8 more ideas on how to monetize your blog!

What ideas do you have?

What challenges have you faced trying to earn money with a blog?

What questions?

 

1 Thing Small Business Owners Should Do Today Online: Re-Assess Goals

Goalsblackboard

Following up on my previous post, 5 Things Small Business Owners Should Do Today Online, here is the first of five (actually 6) posts where we'll focus more on my previous recommendations.

I've said for a long time that failing to set specific measurable goals is the biggest mistake most companies make with their website. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

All too often I hear executives say that their goal is to "sell product."  But they usually don't qualify that by defining, "How many?" or "To whom?"  Whether you have one product or many, you need to determine how many you need to sell to make your online efforts worthwhile – to earn an ROI.

And even if you only have one product or service, consider ALL the potential customers who may have a need.  Don't just think about selling to "them."  The tactics you use and the messages you project may be different to different target audiences.

Also, consider that you may have more success by setting a series of interim goals that lead to your prime objective of "selling product."  The ultimate goal of a football team is to win the game.  Interim goals are to score touchdowns, get within field goal range, protect the quarterback or prevent the opponent from scoring. 

Your online sales funnel may include a number of steps that begin with your prospect's initial interest and include requests for more information, e-mail opt-in, marketing support, a needs analysis or survey, participation in on an on or offline demonstration or some specific followup or sequence of followups. 

Your goals can then be adjusted based on an ongoing analysis. If you achieve more of your ultimate goal when your prospects engage in a specific activity, then you may want to promote that.  If something else isn't working, you'll likely improve ROI by ending the initiative and focusing on productive activities.

I consult with many small business owners and often say that they will usually see a consistent ratio of the total number of people who visit the website to the number of people who ultimately buy.  It is even more illuminating to see the ratios of visitors to each of the interim goals leading up to the sale.

Then, work to improve each step along the way!

You can and should also break it down to target audiences.  You may have many more than one target audience.  What are each of their needs?  How can you customize or enhance their experience?  Testing and revising your website strategy and message will likely lead to more sales and ROI.

Do your goals end with selling something?  What about the future? Is there an opportunity to cross-sell, up-sell, support the sale, get a referral or maintain a profitable relationship that will lead to future sales?

All goals are not sales related.  Your goals may have to do with operating more efficiently, building a network of influencers, promoting a cause, getting volunteers or donors, hiring, distributing news, teaching/training, working with partners or building a community.  Some of these goals may be part of an effort to build sales and they all may benefit from or require interim goals to succeed.

So, TODAY, list ALL the goals for your website and the specific interim steps to achieve them with your target audiences.

– Kurt Scholle

Follow me on Twitter! @KurtScholle

What We Learn From Radio Programmers About Website Strategy

Doctorjohnnyfever Early in my career as a radio programmer, I learned about quintile analysis and its effect on strategy.  I worked for the NBC owned and operated FM radio station in Chicago: Q-101.

Quintile analysis looks at a situation broken down into five parts, 20% pieces of the whole.  In radio, QA studies how the 20% of the audience who does most of the listening compares with the 20% of the audience that does the second-most amount of listening, on down to the 1/5 of the audience who really is not brand loyal and doesn't listen very often.  The 5th quintile usually prefers another station OR they may like your station alot, they just don't listen to the radio much.



It's much easier to get the top 20% or 40% of your audience to do something than it is to get the 1/5 of your audience who listens the least to do something.

It was the first time I considered the differences between segments of audience; their respective needs, loyalties and motivations.  Getting your first quintile to listen 10% more was far more effective than getting the 5th quintile to listen more often. And you're motivating 20% of your audience who listen much longer than any of the other 4 segments, so a 10% improvement of those most brand loyal is worth much more than a 10% improvement in those audiences who are not as dedicated.

It's helpful to analyze you website's audience in a similar way.  Visitors who have bought something from you are more likely to buy from you again than those who have not received products or services.  Consider them your first quintile audience and look for ways to maintain relationships that lead to a followup sale.  That could be links to non-public pages with special offers or premium content.  That also includes websites where "Thankyou for your order" pages also promote an  up sell or cross sell.  If you know what motivated them to do business with you in the first place, it'll be easier to figure out how to 'rinse and repeat.'

Your second quintile audience are those who you've had some interaction with, but not necessarily a sale.  They filled out a form or survey, requested information, attended a teleseminar, signed up for a newsletter, etc.  You know something about their interests and what they've been exposed to.  More importantly, you know SOMETHING about who they are by the contact information they've given.  Use that information to follow up.  Give them an update.  Make them feel like you care.

Web Asylum has a customer that markets industrial products all over the world.  They offer dozens of whitepapers about the market and the products they offer.  We built an application where the sales manager can view what whitepapers have been downloaded by date and where their prospect is in the world and assigns the lead to the appropriate company rep or dealer.

Quintile analysis can be even more effective when you incorporate website analytics!

I'm not saying that 20% of your visitors are all buyers or that 20% would all fit a common description.  But to evaluate your prospects by previous behavior or brand attributes will give you a unique perspective that can be leveraged successfully.

And that will increase your website ROI.

– Kurt

Best of the Website Success Blogs (April 8, 2009)

Marketing and conversion are the two most important elements of a successful website strategy, in my opinion and I have focused significantly on Social Media Marketing in the past year.  I've noticed that I spend more and more time on SM in this blog and have been developing more social media elements into strategies for our Web Asylum customers.  And they are succeeding!

Skippy
I'm also a big fan of Guerrilla Marketing, which incorporates low and no-cost marketing techniques.  GM and SM go together like PB&J.

This week, we have links to great posts about search, e-commerce, social media and other interesting, important topics to achieve website ROI.  I've included a post on Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires and finally, some 'hits and giggles'.

I hope you find these useful.  I'm gratified by your tweets (@KurtScholle) and emails (kurt at webasylum.com) and look forward to more suggestions of blogs to include on Best of the Website Success Blogs!

Google AdWords:
Analytics and AdWords Tips, Part 1 of 4
Learn how to use Google Analytics to improve AdWords results

Search Engine Journal:
Google Expands One Line SiteLinks: Little Blue Links in Serps

Webdesigner Depot:
10 Tips to Design Usable Shopping Carts

Webmaster Resources has a couple of posts worth reading: Factors That Affect Your Website Usability and SEO and Ten Things That You Should Know About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Get Elastic's take on Price Guarantees: No Substitute for a Unique Value Proposition

Social Media is surpassing e-mail as a top marketing initiative. WebProNews has a great post on how Twitter can drive traffic to your site.  Writer Chris Crum followed up with: Facebook Can Drive More Traffic Than Google  Read about the apps, including how to post to Twitter from Facebook.

One of the big stories this week was the release of Seesmic, a Twitter application similar to Tweetdeck. TechCrunch has this review.

Reuters MediaFile:
Twitter older than it looks
What demos are hanging out on Twitter?

Chris Brogan:
What an Executive Blog Editor Needs to Know
Chris will be a featured speaker at SOBcon09 Chicago. I'm attending and really looking forward to meeting Chris and others.  Consider attending!

Advertising Age:
Google Uses Twitter to Sell Ads
Intuit Is First Marketer to Have Its Tweets Streamed Across AdSense Network

aimClear blog:
2009 Social Media Optimization: Back to Basics?
A nice report from SES New York

Who doesn't want to be a success?  Reader's Digest has a good article on the secrets of successful entrepreneurs. Secrets of Self Made Millionaires.  I also recommend the Elker book that is mentioned.

And for 'hits & giggles' check out Funny Twitter Cartoons and yourlogomakesmebarf.com

– Kurt Scholle, the Website ROI Guy.

Best of the Website Success Blogs (March 12, 2009)

SmurfThis week on the Best of the Website Success Blogs, which includes blogging and marketing, there are several good posts on using keyword research to boost organic search traffic.  Carrie Hill, the SEO Mom, provides us with a list of Free Keyword Research Tools, but if you want to do it best, you need to eventually graduate to the paid services.

 Then there are tips for setting up an SEO campaign and improving website usability.

I also offer some places to find good ideas, including 5 Marketing Secrets from Infomercials and headline writing inspiration from Cracked.com.

SEO Mom:
Free Keyword Research Tools

WebProNews:
Tips For Organic Keyword Research And Selection

Wordtracker Blog:
New Wordtracker Keyword Tool is Coming

JeffWoelker:
Starting your SEO campaign? Call in the SWOT team!
Jeff's a good guy and I love this headline. Wish I'd thought of it.

Adwords Daily:
AdWords Ad auctioning EXPOSED and Explained — in simple terms

Get Elastic:
My Top 5 Must-Haves for Ecommerce Success

Webmaster Resources:
Factors That Affect Your Website Usability and SEO

Influential Marketing Blog:
5 Marketing Secrets from Infomercials

Traffikd:
10 Tips for Using a Blog to Promote Your Own Services

Social Media Explorer:
My Pitch Log Mashup, Vol 2
Good stuff from Jason Falls.  Read Vol. 1 too!

Dr. Mani:
Best Twitter Tips

10,000 Words:
The Top 7 Mistakes New Twitter Users Make

I was coaching one of my customers this week on writing headlines for sales letters and their website.  I told them someone once suggested using Cosmopolitan magazine covers for good examples.  "10 Tips for the Best Sex Ever", for example, might become "7 Tips for Saving Money on Insurance."  The person who suggested it even puts old covers in a swipe file.  Great idea!

This week, @emailcopywriter recommended Cracked.com for the same reason.  I think they may be right!  Check it out for at least a few 'hits & giggles.'

– Kurt Scholle