“How do you make money from your blog?” is a question bloggers get asked whether they’re blogging for themselves or for a company. To ensure that your blog generates sales, it’s important that this is one of your top goals since it focuses your strategy.
Understand that it can take time before your blog generates healthy sales. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert blog made the point that it took him over three years to receive any revenue directly from his blog. This underestimates the blog’s contribution to helping Jay get a publishing contract for his book, The Now Revolution [Affiliate Link], written with Amber Nauslund.
5 Ways blogs drive sales
Whether you’ve got a B2C, B2B, not-for-profit or solopreneur oriented blog, you have five major options for generating money from your blog.
- Support your sales process by providing helpful content. This doesn’t mean blogging promotion after promotion unless you’re Woot, an Amazon owned firm that built a reputation on its twenty-four hour sales and quirky content. Rather use your blog to answer your customers’ questions, teach your prospects how to utilize your products, provide recipes and patterns to enhance product usage. Actionable Blogging Tip: Integrate the links to the specific product in your posts. Example: ePromos, an Ad Age 150 blog, does a great job of showing prospects how to use promotional products.
- Pimp your own business services. Use your blog as a platform for spotlighting your expertise. Create a blog that’s a platform for describing your area in a way that attracts your audience. Give readers a regular dose of your information to help them. By sharing your insights about your area of knowledge, you attract potential customers to your blog that can act as a website to promote your personal or business brand. The services offered can include consulting or other professional work, public speaking or content creation. Actionable Blogging Tip: Include a page outlining your services. While prospects interested in hiring you will contact you directly, having a targeted sales page streamlines the process. With sales, the goal is to reduce steps to action. Example: To extend the visibility of your services, make sure you incorporate it into your navigation like Mack Collier and Peter Shankman.
- Sell other people’s products. Blogs provide a great forum for selling products in a contextually relevant, targeted environment. Affiliate marketing where you sell products for a share of the revenue that’s often regulated by a third party. One of the best known affiliate marketing networks is CJ or Commission Junction. From the marketer’s perspective, it’s like having an extended salesforce. Actionable Blogging Tip: Understand that you must label links related to affiliate sales since it’s an FTC requirement. Example: HeidiCohen.com is promoting SocialMediaExaminer.com’s affiliate program.
- Develop content based or related products. Often referred to as information products, these offerings are associated with your blog’s focus and may even incorporate content you published earlier on the blog. Actionable Blogging Tip: Build an email housefile to help you to communicate and sell your product. Don’t take my word for it–listen to SocialMediaExaminer.com‘s founder Mike Stelzner. Example: Copyblogger, one of the top content blogs, sells a variety of different content products.
- Integrate advertising into your content. This is the traditional way media entities make money. Advertisers want their products associated with your content brand since you target similar audiences and your media offers an implied endorsement. On a blog, this translates to advertising and affiliate marketing. Advertising can take a variety of formats. You can offer banners, links, sponsorships and other specialized options. There are a variety of options to achieve this. You can sell your advertising inventory directly or use a third party such as Google or BlogAds. Actionable Blogging Tip: When adding ads to your blog, it’s critical that they not obfuscate your content since it’s the main reason people visit your site. You need to balance your financial goals versus improving the reader experience. Example: Problogger uses a variety of methods to generate revenues. In this screenshot, the ads are in the righthand column.
Regardless of how you decide to create revenues, optimize your blog to achieve your goals. To this end, integrate a contextually relevant call-to-action, use a unique promotional code to track results, and streamline the purchase process because your blog can be great at attracting prospects but if the website doesn’t close the deal, you won’t make any money.
To maximize your blog’s sales generation, test a variety of options to see which is most effective for your target audience.
What forms of revenue generation have you tested on your blog and what was your experience?
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Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarale/7070186981/s