There exists a misperception among some people that bloggers make a lot of money. Sure, there are a few bloggers who have turned their passions into careers. But the great lot of bloggers don’t make a lot of money and need day jobs to pay the bills. But that doesn’t prevent us from dreaming.
One reason many bloggers fail to make money is because they’re trying the same old thing and hoping for different results. They’re focusing on CPM display ads and then trying to build traffic. That might have worked back in 2004, but it’s not a strategy that works in 2012. These days you need to try new tactics. Here are a few that might work.
1. Start selling products, not readers
There’s an old saying, and it applies more to blogging than perhaps any other industry. Write this one down and tack it up above your computer,
If something is free, you are not the customer. You are the product.
If your main method of monetizing your blog is selling CPM ads, your readers are your product. You’re selling them to advertisers — cheaply, I might add. Wouldn’t you rather sell something useful to your readers, rather than selling them to someone else?
You might not have the resources to create physical products for your readers, but you can offer them information- and knowledge-based products. E-books are popular sellers, especially with more and more people owning tablets and e-readers. If you can create a compelling e-book on your blog’s topic, you might find a few people willing to buy it for a modest price.
Another popular form of sales is affiliate marketing. This takes a lot of work and effort, thanks to everything that goes into affiliate marketing: SEO, PPC, link building, and copywriting, just to name a few. If you want to learn more, you can check out TechSling’s affiliate marketing tag.
2. Teach them something new
Teaching pays. Yet so many blogs out there don’t teach their readers anything. They just re-blog the news or offer opinions on various subjects. Unfortunately, readers don’t benefit much from this. Bloggers don’t benefit much from this, either, because the only way to monetize these kinds of blogs is through CPM ads. That means attracting a large mass of traffic, which is very difficult these days.
Instead of just spouting an opinion or regurgitating the news, why don’t you teach people something? If you know everything there is to know about the different types of water heaters (and as you can see there are plenty), you can teach that to someone. That someone will be grateful to you, and you’ll have won over a loyal reader.
Teaching blogs also lead to excellent monetization opportunities. Many times when you teach people something, they’ll need additional resources. You can offer these resources in the form of affiliate links. Advertisers will also want to place their display spots on your blog. Teach them something new, and you’ll see many new avenues open for you and your blog.
3. Focus on your core, not the masses
As I mentioned above, the idea of making money by attracting tons of traffic and selling CPM ads is a thing of the past. It’s nearly impossible in the modern blog market. Even if it were possible, it’s the least efficient way to go about building a blog. Most of that traffic is worthless, save for the couple of pennies they make you when they see your ads.
Want to think about it differently? Read 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly. It’s a comprehensive article that touches on the idea that your blog can sit in an area on the spectrum that is neither the head nor the long tail. What are the advantages of having a small number of true fans, rather than a mass following?
- You can interact with a dedicated fan base. Interactions are at the center of what blogs do these days.
- Dedicated fans are more likely to spread the word, to their friends and via social media.
- Dedicated fans trust you more, and will hesitate less to buy something from you.
- Dedicated fans will provide you with honest feedback that will help you grow.
You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something to a smaller number of people. Focus on these, and let the rest come as they please. If you’re doing something well, your following will grow beyond that initial core of fans. But focus on them first. Good things happen when you do.