My friend Lisette Voytko landed on Reddit, a popular user-generated site of interesting & newsy links. With the expected spike in traffic, I replied, “monetize!” Meaning, turn that traffic to your blog into cold hard cash! But then she called me out and asked, “how?”
Well, here’s a few ways I’ve monetized my blog(s) over the last few years.
I’ve sold stuff on my site and people have bought it. I’ve sold hand-drawn robots at my Willed From Wires Robot Shop, and I’ve got two ebooks detailing my bike adventures from the past year and a half. Skip the affiliate links on Amazon – create something of your own – something you can stand behind – and put a price tag on it.
I’m not so huge that I can just sell stuff everyday, but I could sure use extra storage space on DropBox! So I wrote a post about how awesome DropBox is, and encourage readers to sign up for an account, which gets me more storage space.
When I was writing on The Bike Nerd during my daily bicycle adventures around the US, it showed something; I can write about bikes. It’s not about “lots of traffic,” it’s about the “right traffic,” and that’s how I got a paid writing gig for a bike shop in NYC. Write to your audience, not a “general audience,” and see what happens. The hard part? Figuring out who your audience is.
Okay, so you don’t have anything to sell today, and maybe cloud storage isn’t your thing. But you just know that someday you’ll have something that people will love. Well, make sure you have a “subscribe to my email list” box somewhere on your site. If you don’t have anything to sell today, maybe you will two months from now. The best time to start that is 10 years ago, but the next best time is now (hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk for that one).
Monetizing your blog isn’t just ad networks or e-commerce, it’s about opportunities that come your way just by writing great content day after day, year after year. I did Buzzgrinder for six years before I got my foot in the door at AOL, and then it was another year and a half before I started Noisecreep for AOL Music.
HOMEWORK: What’s the one thing you just KNOW? It doesn’t even have to be an internet skill. Maybe you work on motorcycles, or you have experience finding great places to fish, or maybe you took over your parents business. Trust me – there’s an audience for all of those things on the internet. If you want to be a pop-culture super blogger, well, good luck with that. But if you want to be the #1 Google search result for “how to take over my parents bakery,” or “where to camp in Utah,” well, I bet you can own that audience.
So, who is your audience?