5 Ways Your Blog Can Make Money
Ian Lurie Feb 17 2009
There’s been a lot of stink lately about bloggers bowing out. In the most publicized example, reporter Dan Lyons decided to call it quits. The refrain: “We just can’t make any money.”
I won’t want to be too confrontational, but: Bull pucky.
There’s more than one way to skim dollars off your blog. Here are some serious, and some not-so-serious, techniques, and my experience with each.
The only way to make money by selling ads on your blog is to be rich or famous first, and then write about how you became rich or famous.
Before you say “But what about…?”, yeah, I know there are a few exceptions. A few. And most have 4-5 writers working in sweatshop conditions to crank out posts so fast their fingerprints have melted off. The others have names like Darren Rowse, and I’m so jealous of them I can’t even mention them here.
But, that won’t stop you from trying. So go ahead. Take your blog that gets 5,000 visitors per month and stick some Adsense ads up there, or even better, try to sell ads direct.
My attempt. I have Adsense ads, plus I sell direct.
My earnings. My best month ever? $200. That’s with an average of 35,000 visitors per month. Told ya.
You can also hawk other people’s wares. Sell enough Acai Berry for Frank’s Supplements Emporium and you can make a bundle. Sell a few really high-priced items and you can make some nice change, too. Use Market Leverage or someone similar and you get great, helpful people to help you pick the best possible offers, too.
Affiliate marketing isn’t a bad racket, actually. I’ve done OK, earning enough to keep my wife from snickering at me when I take an hour to blog instead of snuggling in front of the TV (she snickers affectionately).
But you need to pick products you can stand behind, and pick your affiliate network carefully. When I started out, I got ripped off, and I still occasionally run into situations where I don’t get paid for, oh, 4-5 months.
My attempt. I sell MarketingSherpa’s excellent guides, books via Amazon and the occasional event on this blog. I also sell everything from chocolate to books on a number of others.
My earnings. Great compared to advertising: $300-700/month. Pathetic when you consider the hours I put into writing.
Steal & Cheat
OK, I’m being a little harsh. If you want to Stick It To The Man, figure out 30 ways to fool folks into clicking on hidden Adwords ads, steal other people’s content and risk their fiery wrath, or sell your e-mail list to the highest bidder (for $.03/e-mail).
OK, maybe I’m not being harsh.
The internet is still young, and there are plenty of ways to wring cash out of advertisers or the unsuspecting via your blog. Just don’t ask me how.
My attempt. None. I have enough bad karma from times I’ve snapped at my kids for no reason or went 50 in a 40 zone.
My earnings. Zero. And proud of it.
Create Your Own Product
Create your own training course, e-book, book or other product and sell the crap out of it.
On the plus side, you control your own destiny. Create something great and it just might stand out from the 999,999 other training courses, e-books and other self-created products that every other blogger is hawking non-stop.
On the down side, there are 999,999 other training courses, e-books and other self-created products. Plus writing, producing and launching an entire training course may lead to permanent nervous ticks.
My attempt(s). I wrote Conversation Marketing, the book, as well as the UnScary, Real-World Guide to SEO Copywriting. I’ve sold a total of maybe 500 copies. Ever. In my life. Plus I have another horrifyingly late e-book on analytics due out, and a Dummies book due out in about 4 weeks.
My earnings. Not a hell of a lot. Still, it’s fun, and I love to write. I’ll probably keep beating my head against the wall on this one.
Use Your Blog To Build Your Business
A 100% guaranteed route to success, if you’re willing to put in the effort, is to use your blog to build your business. You do that by:
- Demonstrating your expertise.
- Building your SEO leverage with great, link-worthy content.
- Creating a history and a tone to which you can introduce prospective clients.
- Building a body of knowledge that establishes you as an expert.
- Generally building your presence among potential customers.
- Inviting others to come read your latest creation.
It’s not easy. It takes a long time. But it works, beautifully. I have yet to see someone who writes insightful, thoughtful stuff 1-2 times a week fail at it.
Before you tell me you can’t write something insightful, read this post. And ask yourself: Don’t you have one insightful moment per week? Just one?
My attempt. You’re reading it.
My earnings. If I only count clients who have found me and my company directly via this blog, $200,000 per year, average, over the last 3 years. If I count all the potential clients who I sent to the blog to further sell myself and my company, closer to $400,000 per year.
What strategy do you want to try? It’s your choice. Just go in with open eyes and a long-term plan, and the worst that happens is you work your way through until you find a strategy that works.
Oh, and here’s the latest product I’m hawking non-stop:
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More