Pet sitters. Dentists. Mother-in-laws. These days everyone writes a blog. And for those providing readers value, the hobby can make downtime profitable. The most-talked about industry survey, courtesy of Chitika and University of Texas, reports that the top 500 blogs account for $100 million a year (more than $500 a day!), but the rest of us are likely to make a very small fraction of that.
“Blogging isn’t a way to make a quick buck, but armed with persistence, passion and great content, you can add to your income,” says Debbie Weil [www.debbieweil.com], social media consultant, author of The Corporate Blogging Book and six-year blogging veteran. “Remember the 80-20 rule — 80 percent of the time you’re giving away free content, but once you build a relationship with readers, about 20 percent of your content is sell-able.”
Even starting with a small group of dedicated readers — from a hundred or so to thousands — can lead to cash if you encourage traffic and slowly build your audience. Weil says the secret is building loyalty through offering really amazing, targeted and differentiated content consistently — think daily —so readers know you’re serious and gain value through your blog experience.
Weil suggests keeping pricing between $7 and $47 per transaction on sell-able content and services to start. She also says that from a psychological perspective people are more likely to buy when prices end in 7 or 9.
Test-drive these five sound cash-in-pocket strategies that leverage your skills to pad your income (or at least up your latte budget).
1. Offer in-person consultations. People love the idea of face-to-face consulting, particularly if your blog is local, Weil says. If your site if fitness-based, offer workout tips and tricks, then once a week host a cycling tour or a three-month marathon training class that meets monthly. At even $10 a week, that’s $120 per person per class. Photographer? Have readers meet you at the park for a day of shooting lessons. 10 people at $20 or $30 is nice uptick in your wallet.
2. One-on-one telephone coaching. Another productive way to make a buck is to offer skills and knowledge through coaching series, says Weil. This is great if you’re selling specific targeted advice as a mentor or tutor like writing classes, new business start-up consultation or job hunting, for example, price by session or package. For example, a human resource blogger can cover the latest in employment and job hunt news, then offer resume development, interview prep and negotiations advice by phone. Just six $30 consultations a week equal $720 a month.
3. Host virtual classes. If your platform allows you to teach more than one person at a time — say you’re a computer expert— offer different levels of classes starting with the basics to how to use certain programs, depending on your demographic. You can teach a decent-size group all at once, say two to three hours at a time, to make more cash more quickly. Five students at $50 for the evening is a fast $250.
4. Create Ebooks. If you’re writing a baking blog, ask readers to submit their favorite cookie recipe. Compile the top 10 or 20, package them in a PDF and sell a downloadable version. Maybe the prize for the best recipe is a free PDF or an amazing cookbook you scored for a deal. Or, Weil says to take it up a notch by asking readers to complete a cool survey — for instance, your fave baking tips and tricks — then package the results for sale. Ask a few extra fun questions to help create additional sell-able content in the future. Bonus? The content is evergreen.
5. One-off sales. If you’ve got a tangible product for sale, say art, pottery or vintage clothing, populate the blog with your take on the latest trends, then sell your merchandise. Weil points to 1shoppingcart.com, yahoostore.com or PayPal as easy options for bloggers to sell with minimal effort.
And don’t forget to ask readers to sign up for your e-newsletter. You can use this remind bloggers of fresh content and new promos, Weil recommends, which can ultimately translate into more sales.
Finally, we deliberately discussed non-ad-based cash strategies above, however, once your readership gains momentum and begins growing, Google ads or similar programs can provide a revenue stream — from a very small $100 a year up to thousands — based on a pay-per-click model. Check Calculators Live for monthly/yearly revenue estimates based on your blog genre and traffic (from 100 daily site views and up).
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