It’s all the rage to ‘monetise your blog’. The Problogger conference last year hosted many workshops, panels and discussions about how to work with brands and how to monetise your blog. But in the last three and a half years that I’ve been running Blogging for Business courses around Australia, I’ve discouraged inquires from people wanting to learn how to monetise blogs.
Here’s why – and how you can better measure your business blogging success by avoiding irrelevant comparisons with internet famous bloggers.
Know your business model
A business that uses blogging to market their goods and services is very different from a blogger making a living from their blog. Take the example of an exercise physiologist versus a person blogging about exercise physiology: the physiologist sells one-to-one consults and runs regular events teaching specific exercises to groups who are suffering the same issue; the blogger makes money through affiliate marketing, banner advertising and sponsored content. These are completely different business models.
One of the ways we undermine ourselves down in business is by unfavourably comparing our business to those with entirely different business models. If you’re using your blog to sell other businesses (through affiliate marketing, banner advertising and sponsored content), you’ll spend all your time creating appealing content and promoting it because your business model relies on having massive reach.
If you’re an exercise physiologist using blogging to attract new clients through Google and social media, and build your professional reputation and point-of-difference, you don’t necessarily need a large audience – in fact, depending on the particulars of the business, a big audience may be disastrous.
Know your business model and you’ll stop comparing apples to oranges, focusing only on what you need to improve – and forgetting about irrelevant comparisons and other distractions.
Start with what people are buying
The other major reason why I don’t teach people how to monetise their blog is because it’s a more complex question than it first appears. Oftentimes people are asking about creating a brand new business – a question which may take years to nail.
Participants at my Blogging for Business courses are business owners and sole traders who are already established in business. They know who their target market is because they’re already selling to them.
Bloggers looking to monetise their blogs need to start with large online followings. Blogger agencies don’t consider representing bloggers with followings of less than 10,000. And an eye-wateringly large following takes consistency and hard work to build. Plus, it’s no guarantee of a thriving income, as plenty of articles attest.
To turn a sizeable community into a thriving income takes savvy negotiation, networking and collaboration, a lot of content reliably produced over time, and solid digital marketing skills.
Some people develop hybrid business models, combining their own services and/or goods with brand ambassadorships, blog advertising (including affiliate marketing) and sponsored content, but arguably, these are entrepreneurial individuals with solid business models. That’s very different from bloggers seeking to be paid for their blogging efforts.
Work is still work
It’s tempting to look at what other people do and believe it’s easier, more fun and more profitable. But bloggers and online influencers with large followings work hard to grow and maintain their online communities. They’re content ninjas: producing a veritable terabyte of images, words, and videos day-in, year-out. Building a big blog or massive social media communities take plenty of work, and time.
Conversely, blogging as a marketing technique for business can be highly effective with far smaller followings and email lists. Key to this is being focused, strategic, and consistent.
The importance of blogging for your business
Business blogging attracts, educates, informs, builds trust and authority, overcomes misconceptions and other barriers to purchase, all of which leads to sales.
At my Blogging for Business course, we focus on clarifying our marketing strategy and understanding best practice principles so that websites rank for relevant search terms while attracting your particular target market. Prospects find your blog through Google and social media, sign up to your email list, continue reading your content over time, and eventually become new clients (who bring friends!).
This means that effective business blogging enables you to reduce or remove your advertising spend, instead channelling this time, money (or both) into blogging instead.
Blogging helps you service people
The internet has encouraged people expect far more information than ever before and spend more time comparing businesses and researching options. Additionally, our socialisation means that most people won’t purchase immediately (particularly older people) because we were taught as children to always walk away from a salesperson and never buy at first blush.
Business blogging helps your prospects make up their minds about doing business with you, giving you a natural way to deliver information in an appealing, informal, human way. Done well, business blogging should help you reduce your spend on sales as well as customer service – answering frequently asked questions decisively and articulately.
Although your blog is ultimately designed to make you money, like all valuable business endeavours, it’s about playing the long game.
Business blogging attracts, builds and maintains far more relationships with people than would otherwise be possible – magnifying your impact online and in real life.
Blogging for Business & Social Media Savvy courses are happening in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Learn more.