First, you have to decide if you really want to monetize your blog. Because you don’t have to. If you want to keep your blog simple and free of ads, that is fine! However, you can still benefit financially from your blog even without running ads.
If you are interested in running ads on your blog, be aware that simply joining an ad network such as Google AdSense or Blogher, or any of the others, will not immediately make you hundreds of dollars.
I make enough off of my Blogher ads each month to buy 4.6 Starbucks - VENTI. Obviously that is worth its weight in gold, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a windfall.
There are other ways to benefit financially from ads, though. You can sell individual ad space in your sidebar on a month to month basis, which can quickly ad up depending on how much you charge. I have not done this yet mainly because I wanted to be in a position to really be able to offer advertisers a return on their investment (i.e. I wanted a higher volume of traffic). If you only have six visitors a month, most advertisers aren’t going to shell out the big bucks to rent space in your sidebar.
Most bloggers find that their largest financial benefits have come as an indirect result of their blogs. When you work online, you create a virtual resume that opens up doors of opportunity you may not have had otherwise. For me, that came in the form of writing for other sites (who paid me for my services, some of them very well), book editing and speaking. It’s through these ventures that I’ve been able to create some financial support for my family.
Blogging was simply the platform that got me there.
You can benefit financially in other ways, though. Are you a photographer? A kick butt blog, with regular posts that allow people to see that you consistently take excellent photos can bring in more clients. Are you a product reviewer? You may see the financial benefits of saving money as you receive free product to review.
As a quick aside, though, let me speak directly to those of you who want to review products. I encourage you to maintain your integrity when pitching product to your readers. Be honest in your reviews and be willing to turn product down if you know it’s not something you would be able to review with integrity. Don’t push product just because it’s exciting to get something free in the mail. Product reviews can be done really well, and they can be done really poorly. Aim for honesty and integrity and don’t sell yourself short!
Remember that if and when you do start earning money from your blog you need to handle it wisely. If you find that you are bringing in more significant amounts than 4.6 Venti Starbucks, you may want to hire an accountant who will help you run your business in such a way that Uncle Sam doesn’t come searching for you in the fall.
If you’re just starting out in this wide world of blogging and you wonder how on earth you will ever get your foot in the door, my suggestion is start small. Write for a larger site for free. Gain some experience and slowly begin to build up a resume. Like any business, networking is key to success. Try to get to know a few successful bloggers and glean from their experience and wisdom.
A couple of years ago I hit a wall with my blog. I was discouraged and frustrated. I felt like I was working my tail off with little to nothing to show for it. Then I met three amazing women who I had admired from afar but never had the privilege of knowing personally. The day after I met Danielle, Suzanne and Ria, I sent them an email and just put myself out there.
I wanted their advice and I respectfully asked for it and you know what?
All three of them wrote me long, sweet responses with some of the greatest encouragement I’ve ever recevied. Danielle even called me on the phone and spent 45 minutes just talking with me. She didn’t have to do that. She’s a busy lady, but she was willing to take the time and I now count her, as well as Suzanne and Ria, a dear friend.
Likewise, Janice spent a solid 30 minutes talking with me my first year at Blissdom just trying to understand how she could better help me accomplish some of my personal goals. There are bloggers who have walked this path before you who are willing to help. Be respectful and understanding of their time constraints, but also, don’t be afraid to seek out advice.
Their words of wisdom just might be the springboard to your success.
And with that, I will conclude my series on how to succeed at blogging. I know I haven’t covered everything and I’m more than happy to answer questions if you have any. I hope, however, that you’ve been encouraged this week as you prepare to take your blogging to the next level!