If you are relatively new to online marketing, it represents a broad frontier with lots of opportunity. If you are anything like I was early on, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, and are unsure where your gifts and talents fit in the big picture. Don’t make the mistake I did and go in every direction (which is the inspiration of the MarketersFAQ special reports). To be successful in online marketing, entrepreneurs need to have focus. Regardless if you are focusing on becoming a local marketing consultant, an email marketing consultant, paid or search traffic expert, or an affiliate marketer, blogging is a great branding medium. Enjoy these reasons and examples, and chime in with your thoughts.
Before diving in here, let me just say, it is very easy to have a short-term view on blogging, at least for classic Internet marketer types. The emphasis on making millions by purchasing a $37 product (more on that here), or turning a profit lickety-split, while possible in some cases, contributes to this short-term mindset. So, if you are looking for something new that will have you making millions in an instant, this isn’t your post. If you recognize that it takes some work to build something that will last, read on.
1 – Blog For Free (Now) with a Long-Term Options
Many scoff at this idea. I think it is legit, for good reason (see example shortly). Blog for free, but with a long-term view. Publish content for a while to get your feet wet as to what is involved and required to be successful. While it is possible to do it with one of the free services, I strongly encourage you to do it on a domain you own. This will require a small investment to buy a good domain name, learn the ropes with WordPress or similar platforms, and hone your writing skills.
Make sure you do it on a subject that is your passion and tied to your personality and talents. You’ll need this passion to carry you through as you learn the ropes of blogging.
Example of Blogging for Free: My wife has been doing blogging for the past year. She is a Brazilian native living in the USA with a joy of cooking. Taking her passion of cooking, and a willingness to develop both photography and writing skills, she started just over a year ago.
Last month (February 2012) she had 3457 unique visitors to her site and is on pace for 4600 in March, all from organic SEO traffic.
As a result of a long-term view with her blogging, she is now experiencing multiple opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Which brings me to the second point.
2 – Blogging for Exposure
Exposure = opportunities. There’s something about the written word. It carries weight. It does the job of marketing. If it’s good, you get noticed. It’s about exposure. As your consistent content becomes seasoned you are really building a portfolio. As you outlast the points in time when others often quit, opportunities come.
These opportunities happen as readers and search engines realize you are serious about this.
Outcomes of Blogging for Exposure: Exposure has benefited the sites I mange (including this one), and it happened to my wife as well. Requests to receive guest posts on your site, as well as opportunities to post on other sites are indicators that the exposure is working, even if they are not paid opportunities. For my wife, she has declined nearly every opportunity, but may accept a few as she has more time to act on them down the road.
3 – Blogging for Profit – The Kind That Goes In The Bank
This is where many are in a rush to get to, and rightfully so. If there isn’t some compensation involved perhaps it isn’t worth it. While one can accelerate the process a bit, if you are starting from scratch on a shoestring budget, paying for traffic isn’t a viable option. This is especially true if you haven’t nailed down your business model.
As I see it, there are three main ways to profit from blogging.
Advertising. This requires a decent amount of traffic but can be effective on small niche sites. The common option has always been to use Google AdSense, but if using WordPress you might consider this free Ad Management Plugin or something more robust for a fee like OIO Publisher in lieu of placing ads manually on your site.
Product reviews or mentions. This approach means you provide value to your readership by reviewing products they might be interested in. If they click through your review, and you are an affiliate for the product, you are compensated by the product creator for bringing them the sale. This is the primary way this site is monetized.
Become a Full-time publisher. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to goto work for a company that values social media and blogging, and publish for them. This is a great way to hone your skill, while getting paid for it. Some reputable sites also have job boards for these type of positions, like here and here (marketingpilgrim, and problogger).
You might also consider publishing a vendor profile on a 3rd party outsourcing site where people go to find writers. Something like WriterAccess, TextBroker, or even classic outsourcing sites like oDesk or Elance.
The downfall here, is that your compensation is a one-time event. You write you get paid.
Writing on a site you own and manage means it is tied to you, and you benefit directly from the traffic the content on your site receives for years to come.
Bottom-line on Blogging for Profit
There are many ways to blog profitably, this post represents one perspective. If you want a platform that can profit quickly at some point down the road, you need to invest time now and continually by publishing content. In my wife’s case, she published about 40 posts to experience her current traffic levels, or roughly 3 posts a month. With a steady stream of traffic, you can then look to monetize the site with ads or product reviews. Alternatively you can get a job as a full-time content publisher as an outsourced talent, or with a company. Thoughts? Feedback on blogging for profit? Chime in below.
Image Credit: Nanny Snowflake, Vinoth Chandar, Fab O Lens (Flickr-CC)