This post is a review of the information I gleaned from the Blog World and New Media Expo panel, Making Money Online with a Blog. The panelists’ advice is in bold, my comments are after the bold in regular type.
Advice from Darren Rowse
- Promote yourself to your readers with a prominent picture and biographical information. This helps readers feel connected with you. I noticed that once I posted my FaceBook link and my video from 5 Minutes for Mom, many of you wrote to me that you enjoyed being able to put a face with the advice I share. I have to admit, it also made me feel a bit more connected as well. I felt that sharing my face with you made things more personal. It was less about me dispensing information from behind my computer, and more about joining the community we have all built around Blogging Basics 101. As I redesign Blogging Basics 101, I plan to make my information more accessible.
- Advertise from day one on your blog. The idea behind this suggestion is that your readers will be accustomed to seeing ads at your site. Although your revenue may not be what you’d like it to be, as you grow, so will your revenue. Your readers will not be dismayed when you start advertising more or using affiliate marketing because you’ve been using it from the beginning.
Advice from John Chow
- To make money on your blog, your blog has to be more than a hobby. This was a point that was reiterated by everyone on this panel. Each of the men discussing making money on your blog work up to 12 hours a day writing and maintaining their sites. A hobby blog generally is not going to be a money-making blog. If you’re interested in making money with your blog, you must be committed to working hard at writing content your readers need and building community.
- Affiliate sales are John’s preferred method of making money. You can check John Chow’s advertising page (which is automated so he doesn’t have to worry about when ads go up or when they come down) for his media kit so you can see what he is doing. In fact, all of the panelists agreed that CPM and third-party ad sales are not the way to go. They strongly encourage everyone to start looking into affiliate marketing if you want to make money with your blog.
Advice from Zac Johnson
- Provide useful information and earn money via advertisers.
- He advertised on JohnChow.com for a month to encourage visitors to his site.
- It takes time (and effort) to build your audience.
Advice from Brian Clark
- Design your site to be an independent brand. BB101 has several articles that explain branding and why it’s important to building your blogging image and community:
- About a month ago Brian took off all third-party advertisements on his site. He now sells all advertising directly and/or uses affiliate marketing.
- Building trust with your readers and community is key. You can’t start building affiliate sales until you have that trust. Once your readers accept you as an authority in an area, they trust your recommendations. It’s your responsibility to ensure your recommendations are genuine in order to retain your readers’ trust.
Random Thoughts Discussed
- Develop a useful e-book, then give it away for free. I heard this in other panels as well. The idea is that writing useful information that is easily downloaded is one way to encourage readers to subscribe to either your RSS, RSS via e-mail, or your newsletter. It’s a simple give-and-take incentive: readers sign up, you give them something in return. The panelists also noted that an e-newsletter allows you to promote more affiliate sales somewhere other than your blog or web site.
- Should you use your own name as a domain? Most of the panelists would not do it if they had it to do over again.
- All panelists suggest using aweber.com to manage e-mail newsletters.