A lot of us begin blogging with the notion in our noggins that we’ll make money via our blogs ‘some day’. Meanwhile, we pour our energy and talents into crafting quality content and building traffic, gradually growing a supportive and engaged community.
One day, we look up from our diligent endeavors long enough to realize we totally missed the Monetization Clue Train by waiting around for ‘some day’ to arrive. ‘Some day’ is not a day of the week, and if we’re serious about monetizing our blogs, we need to take action sooner, rather than later.
But just how do we shift into money-making mode now without coming across like a money-grubbing, ditch-licking weasel to our loyal readers?
Simple. We do it by continuing to put those readers first in everything we do.
Feel their pain. Your readers have problems and challenges, and if you provide products and services that address those issues, they’ll thank you for it. Comb through their comments and conversations for clues about where they’re feeling short on knowledge and long on frustration. Run surveys or ask questions via your blog, newsletter, Facebook or Twitter to find out what sorts of things they’d like you to offer. Not only does this put you on the right course, but it gives readers a heads up that you’re going to be selling things with their interests in mind.
Get real. Once you know what readers want, get clear about your own business vision and be honest about your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Would you enjoy working one-on-one as a coach or consultant, or do you prefer more ‘hands-off’ monetization options like ebooks, videos, and self-study courses? Perhaps you don’t have the time or desire to create your own products and prefer to stick with affiliate marketing or selling ad space for useful products. Create a plan and strategy that works for you, as well as for your readers.
Go slow. Don’t shock readers by offering so many products and services at once that your site looks like a hotel on the Vegas strip. Add one offering at a time–perhaps by sharing a personal experience in a product review post with an affiliate link and then adding a banner ad for the product on your sidebar. Also, start sharing information in your blog posts about products you’re creating or hope to offer soon to keep your readers in the loop and build anticipation.
Respect them. We all have our own opinions on what’s good marketing and what’s obnoxious and annoying. In the end, only you can decide what it means to respect your readers and market with integrity. As a rule of thumb, aim to provide super-useful products based on quality and not commission and share the benefits of those products with readers without beating them over the head.
Show them the love. Continue providing top-notch free content and engaging with your community just as you did before you started offering products, and always treat buyers and non-buyers with equal respect. Also, give readers the opportunity to earn money by being affiliates for your products, and thank everyone for whatever role they play in your success, whether they tweet about your products or comment on your posts.
When you care about your readers, it shows, and they’ll see it as a benefit when you offer quality products and services through your site. Just stay tuned in to their wants and needs as you expand your monetization efforts, and your readers will stay tuned in to you.
Your turn: How would you suggest turning profits instead of stomachs?