This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com's Second-Quarter Startup Kit, which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.
In the book Start Your Own Blogging Business, the staff at Entrepreneur Press and marketing expert Jason R. Rich explain how to start a profitable business as a blogger by generating income from advertisers, subscribers, merchandisers and more. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer details on some of the ways you can turn your blog into a profit-generating business.
Bloggers who are interested in earning money for their efforts have found many ways to do this. Just remember, your chosen method, or combination of methods, should be appropriate for your intentions and content. For example, knitting blogs may have a hard time selling hats and T-shirts, while a blog based around a personality might become very successful at it.
Realistically, using a subscription or paid membership model rarely works, since people aren't typically willing to pay for content they can generally find for free elsewhere on the web. Unless you have a truly dedicated following and content that people find unique and valuable, consider other revenue-generating methods.
Here's a brief list of established revenue-generation methods that are currently working for professional bloggers:
- Selling merchandise with the blog's brand, logo and content (books, hats, mugs, etc.)
- Selling other products or services directly from a blog
- Soliciting donations from readers
- Participating in affiliate programs that offer high commission pay-per-click or pay-per-sale opportunities
- Showcasing advertising from other companies within your blog. This can include banner ads, display ads, video ads, or text ads.
- Offering premium content on your blog using a subscription or paid membership model
Here's more information on a few of these methods:
Affiliate programs function basically like any other form of text, video or banner advertising, in that you're paid to place an advertisement for a service, product or company on your blog. What's different is that affiliate program ads require not only that your visitors click an ad but also that a sale results from the click. When a click-through from the ad happens, and then a sale is made, you'll earn a pre-determined commission on that sale.
There are thousands of affiliate programs offered by every size and type of online retailer. Even Amazon and BN.com, as you probably know, offers a huge range of items--some of which may be suitable for you to sell from your blog, and for all of which Amazon or BN.com will pay you a percentage of sales.
If you have blog content an image, or a logo that lends itself to being printed on mugs, T-shirts, and mouse pads, or other items, you should consider selling branded merchandise from your blog. Not only is it extremely fun to see your brand printed on all sorts of swag, but it will help you with promotions and can earn you some extra money.
There are several ways to go about creating and selling your own merchandise. The first, and most obvious, is to trek down to your local T-shirt shop with a copy of your logo, hand it over, wait a few days, and then take home several boxes of cotton and polyester goodies.
You could also sign up with an on-demand branding service. An on-demand branding service is an online store that sells a variety of items that are basically blank canvases for your logo, brand or funny quip. The various services offer such items as mouse pads, T-shirts, bumper stickers, clocks, aprons and so on. Each item you select to sell will be displayed, with your graphics on it, on the customized and branded web page that the service provides you so it looks like it's your site selling your own merchandise. Through this page, your readers can purchase items, which are then printed and shipped. You don't need to worry about doing anything except setting up the store and collecting the revenues. The service handles the rest.
Popular on-demand branding services include:
Selling Display Ad Space
The standard and most reliable way to earn profits from your blog is by selling advertising space. Advertisers will pay good money to place their ads on your site if the conditions are right. In other words, if you can serve up tens of thousands or millions of targeted customers, advertisers will want to reach those followers by paying to run their ads on your blog.
In order to be desirable to advertisers, your blog must have reliable traffic and content that's relevant to the advertiser's product or service. Most text-ad networks take care of the latter for you by scanning your site text for keywords and displaying relevant ads, as we explained earlier. But signing up with contextual ad networks is not all there is to blog advertising.
When getting a blog started, signing up with Google's AdSense (or a similar service from Yahoo! or Bing) just to get some money flowing is a good idea. But once you're established, if you're looking to make even better money with your blog, you might want to investigate ad networks.
Advertising networks have been on the internet since the beginning. But the breakthrough of relevant textual advertising created a spike in the number of ad networks available to bloggers and website publishers. You'll have plenty of options when seeking a network to join. They all function similarly in terms of how they publish advertisements on your blog. But they all have different methods for how, when, and how much they pay.
Here's a list of some advertising networks you might want to research: