Blogging for a living, to some, is becoming the new norm. Be it mommy-blogging, fashion blogging, or some other niche – blogging is a huge platform and it gives people the freedom to do something that some only dream of: Make their own rules.
If you’re a blogger the only one that gets a say in what you do is, well, you (and your hosting company if you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing). When it takes you 2-3 hours to write a blog post and publish it, not even taking into consideration research time, editing images, etc – it can add up to a large chunk of your day. Not to mention your week, your month, and even your year (but I’ll be there for you – ahem – sorry). When this happens I think it’s only natural that we kind of drift into the, “Is there a way I can earn money doing this?” mindset. Even when you’re passionate about something, we all still have bills to pay, yo.
The problem is that blogging, while becoming a great method of getting those bills paid, isn’t as easy as it seems. If it was, we wouldn’t need the twelve million posts on Pinterest about how to blog. Likewise, making money while blogging isn’t a piece of cake either, and time and time again I feel myself handing out the same advice to people about building that revenue around blogging. You have to remove yourself from the equation and look at it from the perspective of someone who has never been to your site before.
Possible Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making
- People Don’t Know You Offer Advertising (or You’re Doing It Wrong)
This is the biggest one because ultimately how are you supposed to attract advertisers if… no one knows you’re offering it? I see a lot of people doing one of two things:
Sticking an advertising link in the navigation, and hoping it magically sells.
With a blog the issue with this is that usually the main reason someone is on your site is the first page they see upon entering. When you’re on a blog unless someone’s posts intrigue you enough for you to want to know more about them, there usually isn’t much of a reason to check out the navigation. Not to mention that most bloggers also have a blurb in the sidebar, which is usually closer to where the reader is than the navigation. People are lazy, sidebar = less work = avoiding the navigation.
Copy + pasting some code from some random advertiser site (blogher, blogads, adsense, etc), into your sidebar somewhere and calling it a day.
With advertiser sites like BlogHer, BlogAds, or Adsense you make pennies per click. PENNIES. I’m not underestimating this. I had Adsense on a site once that got around 10k unique views per day, it took me three months to get $100. You can’t cash out Adsense and many of those other advertiser sites until you hit that $100 mark at least, so if you never do, that’s wasted space. BlogHer and BlogAds are the same type of demon, it takes up space, they usually are really annoying or ugly ads for stupid brand name crap and you get nothing for it. Not to mention with browser addons you can remove ads even on things like YouTube videos, so making your ads attractive and not an eyesore for your readers is incredibly important.
Mention your advertising in other places on your site. Put a nice looking banner or button under your profile that says something like “We get a ga-trillion visitors a month and we’d like to share them with you! Find out how by clicking here!” Sounds a lot more interesting than “Advertise” doesn’t it? Also, put the banners in more than one space. You don’t want to clutter your site so be reasonable, but you do want to attract people to it and by doing that you’re going to have to let them know it exists. Put the banners only where you’re going to sell advertising (sidebar, under posts after someone clicks ‘read more’, etc) and make sure the design matches the rest of your brand.
Don’t use advertiser sites. I’ve heard it time and time again that “I’ll just use X company until I know people are interested and I’ll manage it myself, or invest in something like Passionfruit.” NO. No, no, no, no, no. Firstly those sites make your site look like a giant ad and that’s bad for business (because why pay someone for advertising if you’re just going to get lost in the fold?) Secondly if you want people to be interested and invest in you, invest in yourself and show them that you’re the type of person that does something right the first time around.
- You’re Charging More Than Your Worth
This one is difficult, especially when you’re just starting out. The rule of thumb I like to tell people is to start small. Say you’re only selling ads in your sidebar and you plan on having 4 ads display at a time. Start with $5/mo, see if some friends or Twitter followers want to gobble those up for you – keep those prices for a month or two. Once you notice that they’re constantly selling out, raise the prices a little bit. Jump from $5 to $10, and if they keep selling out in two more months jump them up to $15.
Eventually you’ll notice signups start to fade, that’s when you want to stop – and maybe even go back to the level before. Whenever people are climbing over themselves to get to you, it’s usually an indication that whatever you’re providing is too cheap.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, your lucrative ad revenue won’t be either.
- No Authentic Community
This one is really easy. If you become a blogger to make money, people will know, and they will avoid you like the plague. Create a community around your blog, reach out and talk to your readers in the comments, on their blog’s comments, on Twitter, etc, etc. You can be the most charming well-written person in the world and it will never make up for authenticity. Ever.
- The Process Is Too Confusing
Like I mentioned earlier, people are lazy – don’t make 12 million steps to sign up. If you’re managing the advertising on your own and not through some sort of system, have your reader fill out a form, make sure to ask for their Paypal email, and invoice them when it comes time. Remove as many steps as possible so that there is less time and less reasons for them to question the decision.
- Your Design Is Lacking
Who knew this was going to end with a design related issue? Just me?
This one I think is the hardest one for people to understand because what does your site design have to do with advertising? The truth is, a lot. Your site design tells people how much time and effort you put into your blog, and how much you value it. Sure, your content is important, and and reigns supreme, but let’s face it – no one is given the chance to read your articles before they SEE them. Your posts are awesome, to the point, professional and filled with your kick ass personality. So make sure when people land on your site, it tells them the same story.
Typically the answer is really simple, and sometimes you just need to give it time. There will always be someone who made a million dollars in a week with their blog, or someone who sold a product out in the first 2 hours – but the saying is “slow and steady” for a reason. The faster you rise, the faster you fall.
Take your time, figure out your plan of attack, and do it right the first time.