Blogs – a love affair with a niche interest or hobby. Whether it’s photography, technology, fashion, cooking or cocktails, that interest is enthusiastically combined with the intrinsic need to share it with others across the Internet.
A blog can be born in the dead of night or on a rainy Sunday morning. After pondering and planning for months – figuring out a logo, color palette and the perfect branded name – you’ve created something beautiful. You fill it full of great content, grow social media accounts organically and invest more and more time.
All your hard work pays off and money starts trickling in. But wait! This could be a full-fledged business, allowing you to work full-time on something you’re passionate about.
Every social influencer has their own road to success. For example Hallie Wilson of Corals and Cognacs wrote in regards to her digital career, “I’ve spent more than four years creating content, slowly growing my social media and developing genuine relationships with people, which has helped me find work consistently (paid partnerships, writing gigs, freelance consulting, etc).” Wilson is just one of the content creators adding to the estimated 2.73 million blog posts a day.
With such a saturated digital market, how does one make money in this click-bait, headline-grabbing gig economy while maintaining a level of authenticity and holding true to the reason you got into blogging in the first place? Here are seven surefire ways, no matter the topical content, to take your small time blog on the road to a lucrative business and influencing brand.
Join an influencer marketing platform
Signing up to an online influencer marketing platform can give your blog a huge revenue boost. It works as a broker of sorts between marketers and digital influencers. You spend all that time growing your social presence, you may as well generate revenue from it.
With a global presence and 103 million sized audience, Webfluential is a way to secure offers and market yourself to brands. The gain for marketers is they are able to reach out to specific target audiences through influencers’ networks and the ability to gather analytics prior to inducting influencers into digital campaigns. Among other essentials the platform manages all of the logistics for paperwork and payments. Consider a platform like Webfluential as a stepping stone to opening doors to longstanding, revenue maximizing partnerships.
Offer content writing for brands
The beauty about a blog is it acts as your writing resume. Your blog will be garnering views and some of those eyeballs may belong to brands that want your expertise and unique voice. Some of these brands may approach you to write content for their own blogs, for which, if it fits within your scope, you should say an adamant yes to. Developing partnerships with other brands will help to build your business through recognition and potential link-backs to your blog.
To ensure you’re putting yourself out there, open to this glorious opportunity, write a clear call to action. An appealing sidebar button and tab in the menu are great for drawing potential brand partners to easy contact. Better yet, devote a landing page to your content writing services. Highlight past projects, expertise, benefits of working with your blog and testimonials of other brands you’ve written for (even if it’s your friend’s local boutique shop front).
Get paid to appear at events
Get paid to party? Yeah, you heard that right. There is a whole event industry that targets bloggers as speakers, panelists and co-hosts. Why? Because you have an audience and are willing to grow it while sharing your expertise and experience.
Sponsoring an event means that you’ll share it with your audience, a similarly targeted demographic. Of course you’ll need to approach such events with professionalism, but also open your network to meeting and potentially collaborating with other influencers.
Payment may come in the form a free ticket to attend, pay for travel costs, include your blog on digital and print promotional materials and social media posts. Be ready to say “no” to unpaid events hosted by companies that may just be looking to take advantage of your audience and connections. Weigh if this is worthwhile for your time and brand growth before signing a contract. And always make sure there is a contract and you’ve read the fine print.
Run banner ads
As the publisher of a blog you have a piece of real estate on the web. When you carve out specs for advertising on your site, you allow for that real estate to be purchased through advertisers. While many readers may be banner ad-blind thanks to the overuse of them, banner ads don’t have to be obtrusive or unrelated.
Ensure that the banner ads being served relate to your main demographic and their location. An ad network or mediation technology platform can aid in real-time bidding (RTB) process for these ads to optimize for your readership demographics and locations. The more applicable (and attractive) the banner ads, the more likely your readers are to click resulting in an average $0.25-$0.55 per action.
A good stat to know: 39 percent of people clicked an ad because it featured a product they were already interested in (retargeting) or it sparked interest not previously considered. Keep this in mind when working with fellow bloggers to source advertising about what commonalities you and your potential partner have with the audience.
Create and sell merchandise
Who doesn’t love a soft, comfy t-shirt or hilarious coffee mug? Before ordering merchandise, take into account the upfront costs and potential for distribution. The ROI will be elusive to calculate upfront, but know that if your website and brand name are associated with and on the merch it can only increase impressions.
Craft a memorable tagline and place it on an item that your demographic wants (or something you can make them need to have). Don’t forget first impressions – nothing is as luxurious or well thought out as when merch arrives in custom, creative materials that look aesthetically appealing and is brand consistent. Remember: minimalism is bliss, no need to go overboard.
Your regular readership looks forward to your weekly new content and the accompanying Pinterest-worthy photography, occasional video tutorial and giveaways.
Sponsored content is a way of incorporating native advertising into your blog and going beyond the banner ad. This content is paid for in promotion by brands that you deem highly related with your blog’s audience. It provides value for readers in the form of information and entertainment, and so long as it is clear the content is sponsored, readers are likely to continue trusting your site.
To affirm transparency, notate the sponsor somewhere in the post and maintain your business’ identity by claiming editorial control over all sponsored publications while incorporating the brand’s name and products as decided in the ad buy.
Create a media kit
Ask any public relations pro and this will be the first tip they advise on. A media kit advertises all the important data big-time brands want to know prior to embarking on a relationship with you. Your media kit should include details of your social media presence and following, website traffic and demographics (age, gender, location, interests) of your audience, and brand it in the same palette of your blog.
Creating a media kit from scratch (for anyone but a graphic designer) can be a daunting task. Look to great examples from bloggers who came before you and set the bar high, invest in online templates or join a platform that offers media kits.
The final post
Making the leap from side hustle to brand name business means maximizing avenues for revenue. Following these tips and tricks and your blog will be ready for the big leagues.
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