The difference between blogging and blogging for profit is monetization. Starting a blog today is as simple, easy and fast as setting up a social media profile. Anyone can start a blog, either self hosted or using a webhost. There are blogging platforms that allow you to have your segregated section, complete with your profile and exclusive posts.
There are free content management systems that allow you to host a blog on their parent domain. You could also purchase a domain, register it, host it and create a website essentially designed to be a blog. Assess the costs of the different options, consider your technical skills such as website design and choose a platform that suits you.
Choosing a Niche
There are bloggers who want to write on everything, almost. There are bloggers who focus on a niche. Both can work and both can fail. It depends on the expertise of the blogger. Not the writing expertise but knowledge. Not every blogger can develop a sound understanding of every subject that can be written about. If you are alone or have a very small team, then it is best to focus on a niche. Trying to write about too many things will not only be bafflingly challenging but it will also confuse your potential audience. Readers like specificity. You too would be perplexed as to whom you wish to target. If you check out the popular blogs or even the video bloggers who have amassed millions with their channels on YouTube, all of them are focusing on a niche that is well sorted.
You could write on anything, from fashion to technology, geology to politics, economics to history, consumer electronics to real estate, family or kids to relationships, dating or health, sports or current affairs to news, events, photography and anything that interests you.
Bloggers who have an astute understanding of what they are writing or the larger domain will always do well. Blogging is not just writing. It is a fine combination of writing acumen, knowledge, specialization, awareness of latest updates and an understanding of what people or readers are looking for.
Choose a niche that you are comfortable with and equally important is the readership. Do not pick a niche that no one is interested in. You can write a blog on such a niche to satiate your own desire but such a blog will be hard to monetize. You can only monetize a blog for profit that will have substantial traffic. Microbiology or nuclear science, applied mechanics or even the history of textiles would not be appealing niches, even though some interesting posts can potential get thousands or hundreds of thousands of hits. A niche must be perennially popular for the blog to be monetized for profit. You need sustainable revenue and not a onetime windfall gain, although the latter too is welcome with the sustainable profits.
Path to Monetization
There are many ways to monetize a blog. One of the most unpopular and ineffective methods is subscription. We live in an era when information is free. While you can have your content and intellectual property protected with copyrights, you cannot really prevent the information from being available in some other form. Reproduction of information in non-plagiarized forms will always happen. Since there is no dearth of information, subscription has not really been the most successful way to monetize a blog.
Even the most popular newspapers and magazines are losing paid subscribers. However, if your niche is very refined and your target audience is looking for rare exclusive information then you can charge a fee. This will not work for most types of blogs but then there are always exceptions. You need to assess if your audience will be willing to pay a subscription fee per month or yearly to access your blog. This can be a captive source of revenue and hence profit.
The most widely used method of monetization of blogs is advertising. There are many types of advertisements you can resort to. First there are Google AdWords which would put relevant advertisements on every webpage or post on your blog. Your website will effectively be populated with ads as per the modus operandi of Google and the likes of Bing. You sign up for the Google Ads and they will sprinkle different kinds of ads in allotted spaces on every webpage.
Such advertisements pay revenue in different ways. Pay per click advertisements will get you paid only when the readers on your blog actually click on the links put up in the ads. Pay per view or impression ads will generate revenue based on how many people are on the given webpage coming across the advertisement. Some ads require visitors on a blog to hover over the advertised link or content for the impression. Usually, pay per view ads has fixed revenue for a certain count of thousand or several thousand.
Then there are sponsored ads, banner ads, footer ads and larger sponsorships. You could have sponsored ads on top or bottom of your webpage, ala banner or footer ads, ads within the content you are posting, on the sides or you can have a specific webpage dedicated to only one advertiser or just one brand that will have its offers dominating the layout of the webpage.
These can be facilitated by Google or you can have your direct association with advertising networks. You may also get brands to directly advertise on your blog but for that you would need a substantial readership to entice them.
Advertising is a steady and rewarding source of revenue for blogs provided there is a large readership. Blogs that are not read by too many people will generate almost no or insignificant revenue with ads. This is why other methods of monetization become not just important but essential.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an effective way to monetize a blog. It has a simple modus operandi and can be used by any blogger. You need to sign up with an affiliate marketing network, also referred to as affiliate network, and start promoting the products or services directly or indirectly. Affiliate marketing is quite simple.
You come up with a blog post wherein a product or service, in most cases multiple products and services, will be advertised or showcased. These products or services could be just mentioned in fleeting reference within a post or the blog post can be about those products and services. If the reader clicks on the link of the product or service and purchases or signs up then the blogger gets a commission.
Affiliate marketing has become a rewarding source of revenue for bloggers, principally because one doesn’t need a very large readership to earn revenue. Even if one of your blog posts get fifty views and two people end up buying a product or signing up for a service, you can get a handsome commission. Such commissions could be exponentially greater than what you would earn with pay per view or pay per click advertisements. However, people have to buy or sign up for the products or services respectively for you to earn anything.
Affiliate marketing is often upfront wherein the blogger makes it amply clear that the posts are about products and services. These posts are mostly reviews or accounts of personal experiences. They are informative but do have some degree of promotional intent in the manner the content is created. The purpose is to offer information and to influence the buyers to purchase the product or sign up for the service being promoted. You could also do this in a subtle way, without making it obvious that you are an affiliate blogger.
3. Paid Content
You could monetize your blog with paid content. You can get paid to write specific types of posts. These could be informative, reviews, assessments of specific products and services, comparison posts, analyses of companies or brands, endorsement articles or just outright informational posts to help increase the outreach of a company. Paid content is very common and even some of the most read blogs have various posts that companies sponsor directly.
However, a blog cannot survive entirely on paid content. Then it becomes a glorified billboard. Paid content would inevitably be promotional, subtly or overtly. There should be more organic content than paid content. No reader wants to read a blog that is only self serving and paid content is more in the interest of the company and the blogger than the reader. There are exceptions in cases of products or services that can truly help people in their day-to-day lives. Other scenarios are outright consumerism.
4. Direct Sales
This may not sound like a very plausible strategy to monetize a blog for profit but it is absolutely plausible. Affiliate marketing, paid content and ads are essentially promotions. They are all about commerce. Facilitating direct sales is more straightforward and honorable than the indirect measures. There are blogs that host direct sales. Incorporating ecommerce features in a blog is no big deal these days.
People who explore information and trust the bloggers they follow ardently don’t mind shopping for products they need directly from the blog. This has become very popular in fashion, beauty and healthcare sectors. This is becoming a trend in electronics, accessories and peripherals. Depending on the niche you are targeting, you can easily set up an online store and sell select products or services. Do not vie for a marketplace as you would have to cater to your niche. Be selective and have only the best products or services. Have an ecommerce strategy to go along with your everyday blogging.
5. Blast Marketing
You can offer such blast marketing services to a plethora of companies cutting across industries. Chances are your database will be in demand for businesses operating in the industry which is also the niche your blog is scattering to but a database can always be used for marketing products or services in multiple categories or niches.
Multi pronged Monetization
You have to start somewhere and with something. You need to pick one path to monetization and perfect it. If it works, then you should improve it and then consider another option. If it doesn’t work, then have it in place and then expand your scope of monetization. You can never be sure which monetization attempt will work wonders for you. It is also true that each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses so they all must coexist. It could be affiliate marketing one month earning you revenues that you need to stay profitable for six months. It could be sponsored or pay per click ads in another month that will earn a mini fortune for you.
The simple reality is that a blog must have a multi pronged monetization strategy. You should be open and prepared to generate revenue from any and every possible source. An assured revenue or multiple sources of revenue is the only way to survive, to ensure a blog is profitable and to remain focused on what matters more than everything else, the readers.
The readers want helpful information, content that will positively change their lives or assist in their decisions. To achieve this, you ought to stay committed to research and ever expanding knowledge base, you must be dedicated to creating quality blog posts and you must continue working on expanding your readership. These will be daunting challenges if you cannot come up with a multi pronged monetization strategy that works and will work in the future.