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More monetisation tips from the professionals

I finished my previous post with the promise to elaborate a bit more on the information Darren Rowse of Problogger disclosed during his webinar on ‘Monetisation of a blog’. I had the chance to be part of this last week and there was a lot of information that was worthwhile to pass on.

I really urge anyone who is interested to make money from their blog to subscribe to his site ‘Problogger’.  Darren Rowse has been very successful in making money out of his blogs about ‘blogging’ and ‘photography’ and has first-hand experience to support his tips. There were dozens of questions at the end of the webinar and I like to share some of his countless tips.

Timing of monetisation?

Several people were asking when to introduce monetisation in to your blog. This can be regarded in several ways.

  • Wait with monetisation until ………

Some people may start a blog and will not consider making money out of their blog until the blog is popular. There is something to say for this way of thinking however there are some disadvantages with this approach. Your readers and subscribers are following your blog as it is and they may not appreciate the commercialisation of your blog.

  • Monetisation from day 1

By doing this you set the right expectations for your readers and you create awareness that you see your blog as a business. You can start with subtle advertising or create your page in such a way that the ads integrate well in your pages.

Number of monetisation streams?

Darren Rowse recommended considering 1-3 different streams. The first step is to identify your readers and their ‘needs’, find out what they are asking for and then match this with the promotion of a product or service. The type of monetisation depends therefore on the type of audience and their needs rather than choosing a random way of making money. Again just as with a ‘normal’ business, creating an income with your blog requires business planning and taking all factors into consideration.

Amazon affiliate programs?

Affiliate programs offer a way of making money online by promoting some one else’s product or service. Rowse has been using the Amazon Affiliate Program in his blogs for a number of years and supports this method of creating an income. First of all, Amazon is a trusted brand and it is a familiar site to many readers. The good thing about Amazon is that people may browse and buy more products when they are on the website. All the sales based on your link will give you a commission.

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org?

WordPress.com offers a full package including blog name and hosting. It is possible to start a blog within 5 minutes and have a reasonable amount of freedom regarding the appearance and the functions of the blog. There are restrictions though and one of them is that you can’t monetise your blog. They don’t allow any form of advertising. The only thing you can do is publish an e-book that you have written yourself.

WordPress.org on the other hand allows you to monetise your blog in any way you want. In order to set up a blog within this website you will have to buy a domain and hosting. Furthermore you may need some technical skills as it is not as easy to start up a blog through WordPress.org as with the hosted variety. However if you do have intention to make money from your blog you should consider this option.

More than one blog?

Another popular question was about the amount of blogs you can have. In principle you can have as many as you like but the danger is that you run out of time to write good quality posts. The trick is to get a good balance, not to spread yourself too thin and rather than maintaining several blogs about different topics Rowse recommended to diversify your niche.

Hopefully this will give you something to ponder!


Learning from an experienced blogger

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of a Webinar organised by Problogger. Problogger is a website about all aspects of blogging launched by Australian Darren Browse in 2004. The theme of the webinar was ‘monetization’ of a blog. If you are interested in making money from your blog it might be an idea to subscribe to his website and receive notifications of his upcoming webinars. He is one of the earlier bloggers and talks out of experience – and I mean a lot of real life experience!  He is also the founder of a blog called ‘Digital Photography Blog – now called Digital Photography School.

I found the information he shared during this webinar very interesting and worthwhile for anybody who intends to make money out of their blog. Because of this I like to recap some of the content of his webinar.

Treat your blog as a business!

Darren Rowse first tip was to ‘treat your blog as a business’.  If you want your blog to be an income earning entity, you’ll have to start treating it that way. Just as with any other business you’ll have to strategically think on how to increase your traffic and get more advertisers.

He talked about the three foundations of profitable blogging – useful and unique content, effective promotion and an engaging blogging community. Once you have all those in place you are on the road to profitable blogging.

How to make money out of your blog

Apparently Rowse uses 37 ways, at least!  But not every way is suitable for everybody and it takes skill to decide what works best for you. Rowse introduces 7 groups of methods to make money being advertising, affiliate marketing, selling your blog, continuity programs, products, services and other indirect methods.

Currently his blog income derives from over 40% from e-books, 19 % through AdSense, 18% from affiliate programs and around 5% each from direct ad sales, continuity programs and speaking events. This may change on a monthly base depending on the launch of products and services. He uses a combination of monetization methods based on what his readers’ needs and wants. The first rule when deciding on ways to monetize your blog is to get to know what your readers want. You then match the method to these needs.

A bit of history

Darren Rowse first blog ‘Digital Photography Blog’ started out as a photo blog for beginners posting 2-3 articles per week. He remembers thinking that his articles were too simple but reader comments were showing him that he was spot on with his content. Over time he has educated his readers and now he is writing more advanced material and has increased the number of posts to 4-5 per week.

The importance of subscribers

Rowse’ readership grew enormously when he decided to set up an email newsletter.  80% of his subscribers come from this newsletter and only 20% via his RSS feed. He mentioned that a lot of bloggers focus on their RSS feeds to increase the number of subscribers however Rowse found that the real growth of capturing contacts came after he introduced his email newsletter.

When his blog grew he changed his approach. He expanded the type of topics and started hiring writers for very advanced content. He also upgrades his site on a regular base and optimises social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Webinar was useful and full of tips. It was presented from the heart and partly as a case study of a successful blog. Rowse ended the session with answering questions from bloggers who attempt to make money out of their blogs.

There were literally hundreds of questions – too much to handle here however I will filter some of the information and publish that in a future post.

When is selling acceptable?

Offcourse there is a fine line between creating awareness for a certain service or product and hard sell. I have not really figured out what I find appropriate myself.

When you post something on your blog it is out there for everyone to read. In principle anyone can comment on what I write, express their opinion and I suppose flog their wares. One could even debate that – when I am publishing the message, I may need some help regarding the topic I am writing about.

That is where the crucial point is to my opinion. I am not inquiring to get advice – I am only elaborating about something on my own blog. Maybe it is the nature of the game. After all when I am watching a film on TV I am not asking for dozens of ad breaks and yet I get them presented on a platter, over and over again. It doesn’t stop me from watching the film. Although I hate the ads and will very likely utilise the breaks to get a drink or have a toilet stop.

Another one is going to the cinema where you are the target of its sponsors. The other day I discovered that you even get bombarded with messages enticing you to come to the cinema – while you are already sitting there waiting to watch a film. Now that is what I call wasting resources! What about promoting refreshments after the program has started? Do they really want people to get up, go and buy popcorn and disturb fellow film lovers?  I don’t get that!

Advertising and blogging

For some they go together and for many others it may raise their hairs. The general consensus seems to be that bloggers need to take care not to alienate followers by suddenly adding ads to their blogs. It is recommended starting with advertising if that is what you have in mind. You can debate this and as the blogger you could have the attitude – you lose some, you gain some! After all when your blog is popular, it would be silly not to benefit from sponsors and AdSense.

I am planning to use various types of advertising on my blog in the making ‘EasyDone Gourmet & Style’. I am not making a secret of that as my aim is to make it a source of income. But as the type of person I am, I want to make sure that the blog looks attractive even with ads. That is one of the reasons that I start a blog with my own domain and hosting. You have more control over what the end product looks like.

At the time being I am consulting a techie to build my blog and a designer to make it look nice because I can’t do that myself. It is an investment as one has to do when starting a business. I find it very important that I have input where the ads are being placed and even what they look like. I certainly don’t want flashing ads and pop-up boxes which are hard to close. My blog is partly about style and that includes the advertising. It all needs to be attractive – it’s the whole package!

The preparation process may take a bit more time than I intended to but when the blog finally looks the way I want it, it will be out there. And I will have a beautiful, stylish office to go every day!

Number crunching…


With so many blogs around you wonder who finds and reads your blog. We are overwhelmed with information and yet we love spending time seeking out more. The number of people who write blogs is growing steadily and the reasons for blogging are numerous. I thought it might be interesting to explore this a bit further and I came across the following.

Technorati, an internet search engine for searching blogs, releases every year a report called the State of the Blogosphere. Since 2004 they have followed trends and measured growth in the blogosphere.  The 2011 study reports on topics such as media, branding, marketing, monetisation and changes within the blogosphere, http://technorati.com/social-media/article/state-of-the-blogosphere2011

It’s interesting reading especially if you are a number cruncher. The report shows some remarkable figures displayed in easy graphs. Technorati used to follow blogs worldwide but seem to concentrate nowadays only on English blogs.

Some interesting findings

Technorati divides bloggers into various categories – hobbyist, professional part time and full time, corporate and entrepreneurs. Most bloggers are between 25 and 45 year of age and in this group the part time professional writers are represented the best. More than three quarters of the world’s bloggers are from the USA, Canada and Europe.

People spend 1-3 hours per week blogging and write between 2-3 posts. Professional full time bloggers spend over 35 hours per week and post 1-2 per day. And believe it or not there are some who post up to ten times per day!

The largest percentage of bloggers gets their inspiration from other blogs. Against my expectations as I would have thought that people tend to blog because they have this burning desire to write about something that is important or of interest to them. The second source of inspiration is conversations with friends. I can relate to that. Once you have started blogging, many everyday discussions with friends have the potential of becoming the subject of your next blog post.

The increasing impact of blogs

Blogs are seen more and more as a serious source of information. They will keep on growing in popularity and bloggers believe that more people will be getting their ‘news fix’ from blogs than from traditional media sources over the next 5 years.

To me blogs represent a source of information with a ‘human element’. I find myself looking for blog communities and forums when I need ‘brainstorm’ information. I am aware this type of info could be subjective but if you read various sources you will get a fair idea. People who talk about something out of experience can make you aware of the benefits or lack of benefits of a product or service.

Traditional media or advertising tends to concentrate on the features of a product and service. It may be considered more’ objective’ but I can’t tell from features what the potential benefits could be. Seeing someone elaborating in a blog may well help me decide. Then I like to add that I am not so sure about the traditional media sources being that ‘objective’ either but that is a different subject altogether!