A very high percentage of people who start blogs in hopes of making money will wind up being disappointed with their results. While it’s possible to do very well financially with a blog, it’s not the easiest way to make money like a lot of people think it is. Building a successful and profitable blog takes a lot of work, consistency and patience. However, if you’re able to build an established blog it will open up a number of other possibilities besides just selling banner ads.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to monetize a blog is by selling services. As an established blogger you will have already proved yourself to be an authority on the subject and you will have earned the respect of a sizeable audience. This gives you a natural opportunity to market to these people by offering them a service, and they already trust you and know your abilities.
With some creativity, services can be developed for just about any blog in any niche (see Extending Your Blog: Offer Services to Increase Your Income). Of course, any blogger, established or not, can offer services. However, the demand for services from well-known and highly-thought-of bloggers will be far greater.
Another great way to monetize a blog is through sales of some type of product that you have created. Selling a product usually isn’t easy, but for established bloggers with a large, loyal, and dedicated audience it can be very profitable.
A current example of this is the premium WordPress theme, Thesis, being sold at Copyblogger. The theme is developed by Chris Pearson and marketed by Brian Clark of Copyblogger. In a very short time Thesis has already become one of the more popular premium themes, and Copyblogger’s established audience gave it a natural platform from which to launch.
While ad revenue for a blog is usually limited (you can only put so many ads on your blog), affiliate income is much more open-ended, although many bloggers achieve very little success with affiliate programs. The combination of an established blog with a target audience and the right choice of affiliate programs can be highly successful. High-profile bloggers like Darren Rowse and John Chow make a ton of money with affiliate programs.
New Blog/Website Launches
One of the great benefits of having an established blog is that you can quickly and (somewhat) easily launch a new project if it is relevant to your existing audience. The primary blog will give you an interested audience that is receptive to your work, and you can use that success as a springboard for a new project.
Although I’m certainly not an elite blogger, my newest project DesignM.ag had the help of an established audience at Vandelay Design to get it off the ground quickly. The most difficult time during a blog’s existence is the early days when you’re working hard for every visitor and trying to build a name for yourself. This phase can be almost eliminated if you have another successful blog on which to market your new one.
Better Odds with Social Media
Many newer bloggers get extremely frustrated with social media because it seems like the rich getting richer, and smaller blogs often struggle to gain traction with social media (see A Small Blogger’s Guide to Social Media Marketing). While small bloggers do have a chance with social media, the truth is that larger blogs have much better odds of success. Just look at the front page of Digg and you’ll notice that the same major players seem to be one the front page all the time.
While this can be a discouragement for new bloggers, it should also create some motivation to get your blog into that category of established blogs that is able to leverage its audience for social media success. Blogs with large audiences can often get a big boost from simply using voting buttons on their posts.
Once a blogger has developed a strong, established domain with search engines, there is an opportunity to set up landing pages that are specifically built for certain purposes. The strength of the domain will make it much easier for the landing page to get a high ranking for its targeted phrase.
Speaking at Conferences
There are a growing number of blogging conferences and conventions around the world, and naturally the most successful bloggers are asked to speak at many of these events.
All bloggers have opportunity to help others with links and mentions, but the impact of getting a link or a recommendation from a popular blog is obviously much more significant than that of a new blog. While it’s probably not going to be the primary motivation for most people to build a successful blog, being able to help others out whenever you want is a good opportunity to have.
I do some freelance writing for a few very large blogs, and it’s interesting to see how much people appreciate it when I link out to them in one of these posts. It’s not unusual to get an email saying thanks and that they got a nice bit of traffic from the link.
What About You?
What motivates you to build your blog bigger and better? While blogging is a difficult money-making activity, the opportunities mentioned in this post show that having an established blog can obviously be very profitable and it can also open up plenty of new opportunities.