During a forum discussion today, Corinna Turner (Simply Green) mentioned how difficult it is for writers to make blogging a paying proposition. My email response got a bit long, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my reply to her into today's blog post.
I think part of the challenge of making blogging a paying proposition is that we need to keep it professional and interesting. The blog also needs to have a narrow focus so that visitors are quite clear about what they'll get and what they can it for. BTW, my blog Storypot is not a good example of that kind of narrow focus, where my client site OneLove is.
Anyhoo, in order to make a blog more comercialised, you need:
1. A subject that people really want to know about, but that you're also passionate about. In my case, NOT writing, because while a lot of people say they want to be writers, few actually take steps to do it. And there is already very fierce competition from more established, more vocal writers. I guess what i mean is, find something beyond your immediate passion to something that would really sell. In my case, I think that would be kitchen gardening. I love it, lots of people do it, many more want to get into it, and there aren't many amateurs out on the blogosphere talking about it. Professionals, yes. But amateurs who understand that your basic aim is just to not kill the green stuff? Not so many.
2. Write good quality material that allows readers to walk away with something new and useful.
Again, if you just write about what you do ( which is my style on Storypot), your blog as a resource may be too obscure. Ja, sure be personal. But there should be a moral to the story.
3. Publish regularly
You want your blog to be a habitual place here your target audience congregates. If you don't blog regularly, then you'll lose some of your readers. Assuming you ever manage to get anyone to come regularly.
4. What's your drawcard?
Say I run a gardening blog, and week I have some sort of give-away. Maybe a gardening ebook, a packet of seeds, a collourful watering can some other day etc. Basically, my readers know that my site offers potential to impact on them directly. They're more likely to come often than if I keep blabbing on about my garden everyday. I've also seen a number of writing blogs offer job leads for writers. If you want to make a living as a writer, then you check in with them to see if they interesting job leads for you.
5. Build traffic
In a sense,that's mostly what your potential clients want to know: how many people visit your site daily, weekly, monthly?? Who are those people? Is your target audience within a demographic that's likely to want to buy their products? No matter how good quality your content is, if the right people don't come in droves advertisers won't be interested.
6. Reviews and endorsements
Now suppose I have 5000 amateur gardeners all across South Africa subscribed to read my blog about kitchening gardening on a regular basis. I could legitimately test out some gardening equipment/seeds/products etc and then review them on my site. The trick would be to be careful about what I actively endorse, because while money is nice, it's important to retain the trust and faith your subscribers have on you. Selling out for a quick buck is a mistake you may never be able to repeat, because your readers will move on to someone else quicker than you can blink. That said, you could get a few freebies from your related industry, which is an in-kind type of earning.
P.S. While I refer to the potential of a gardening blog on this post, I have no plans to start one:-)
P.P.S. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff that I left out of this post, that could help make a blog more attractive to advertisers. Leave a comment to share with us, thanks.