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Jim looks at 10 different ways to use your blog as a revenue generating source for your business.

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In recent weeks I’ve been trying to share some of the business issues I’ve been working on, covering things such as working remotely, delegating work, and questions about how I got my start. But as I gave a presentation this week to newbies on creating an effective blog, I want to make sure that I keep the focus on helping YOU, the reader, and hitting on the basics. So with that I’m going to keep it simple and present:


The key takeaway I gave them was that while a blog might be the center of your brand, surrounded by things like Twitter, Youtube, books, and more, it might not be the main source of income. OK, here we go.

1) Corporate ads and sponsorships

The concept here is straightforward… attract a large enough audience of like-minded people that continually come to you to consume your content, and an advertiser will want to pay you to associate their product on your blog.

Most people think big picture, and it’s true that in many cases, you need thousands and sometimes millions of eyeballs on your site. If you view big media entities such as the Huffington Post, Engadget, Macrumors, and TMZ as a blog, then you can understand why companies would want to be seen in front of their millions of monthly users.

So what if you run a simple blog about your love of wine or golden retrievers or cupcakes? Does that mean you should abandon hope of a corporate sponsor? The answer is no, but you have to do two things… start small, and target a niche.

This is a must-watch video of Gary Vaynerchuk crushing it and showing how it’s done:

2) Google Ad words

When Google launched it’s ad words program back in the day, it seemed like a godsend for bloggers. And for many, it was. Simply write relevant content, put up some text ads, and whenever people clicked, you earned some money.

In 2012 its tough to gauge how many people actually earn substantial income from this method. Sure, you might get some money for coffee, but I think the common feeling in the blogging industry is that it’s not worth “cluttering” your space with ads for just a few dollars.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income has created a niche site around Security Guard Training HQ, and is pulling in nearly $2,000 per month based on his September income report.

Example of Pat Flynn using Google Adwords on a targeted niche website:

The opportunity here might not be around putting ads on YOUR blog, but rather creating microsites that are specific for a topic. This is something I’ll be testing in a future episode.

3) Affiliate programs

An affiliate program works by selling other people’s products on your site, and that company giving you a cut. Individual companies such as Amazon.com offer their own program, while sites such Commission Junction act as a one stop shop to find products for you to offer.

The advantage here is that you can offer these products with little or no investment yourself. Another is that you can honestly write about the topic you want and then find a product that aligns with it.

For example, I’ve always been a fan of the book, The Four Hour Workweek, mentioning it several times in the blog, and writing a review of it here. By linking it to an Amazon account, I earn a commission if one of my readers buys it.

The key here is transparency. Make sure to tell your readers about those links and that you have a vested interest.

4) Merchandising

Selling your own branded merchandise is a fun way to offer allegiance to your blog. I have a Hopkinson Report store on Spreadshirt.com, although I don’t promote the link. It’s definitely something that makes more sense with a large, passionate audience, such as the reddit store.

The good news about merchandise, is that sites like spreadshirt or café press means that you don’t have to put up money up front to buy, store, and ship inventory.

5) Write an eBook

This is the preferred method for most information experts these days. The best part is that anyone can do it. If you’re an aspiring author with a burning idea inside, write it out in Word, save it as a PDF, and add some design flair to it.

From there, you can charge what you want, use sites such as e-junkie and Paypal to handle the ecommerce, and sell it directly from your site.

6) Self publish a book

Taking the next logical step, if your short ebook does well, why not expand to a full length novel?

With millions of Kindles and other e-reading devices being sold each year — there are at least 8 Kindle models on sale right now — you don’t need an agent to get in the Amazon bookstore and offer your story to the world.

A good reference for this is The Creative Penn. Author Joanna Penn sold more than 10,000 copies of her religious thriller Pentecost (and that was as of August 2011, and followed it up with another in the series, Prophecy.

7) Video or Webinar series

Are you better on camera than with the written word? Many bloggers are hosting classes using tools such as Go To Meeting.com. The interesting thing here is that some charge students to watch a live webinar for one price, record it, and then sell it again later to anyone that couldn’t make the live show.

8) Online education

I’ve covered the explosion of online learning companies in the past, and I think it is going to keep growing. If you have built up a collection of blog posts, presentations, graphics, and videos around a niche topic, you can package it together on a site like Udemy and earn money each time people buy it.

9) Speaking, teaching, consulting

For many bloggers, this is the holy grail. They might not make a penny directly from their site, but their expertise and credibility from their website – sometimes aided by a book from step 6 – let them leverage paid speaking gigs in the corporate world or at conferences, consulting with individuals, or teaching gigs at colleges and other institutions.

10) Barter

While this might not be direct income, and can be fraught with pitfalls, the experience and skills you develop through blogging can be used as leverage with other companies. Are you a master at copywriting and design? Perhaps your contractor needs a flyer to advertise his services and is willing to knock off part of the price when installing new hardwood floors.

You’d be surprised at what industries can find synergy. I was able to exchange some personal training sessions with a trainer at my gym in exchange for setting up a web presence for him. As long as the value is clear on both sides and both parties feel they got equal value for the time invested, this can be a great way to leverage your skills.

There you have it…

10 ideas for directly or indirectly leveraging your blogging skills to bring revenue to the bottom line. As I mentioned I’m hoping to dive deeper on microsites and online training in future episodes to let you know if that experience might work for you

Sponsor Message: Freshbooks Fresh Take of the Week:

I thought about having a topic this week called, “Is it important to have an audience for your blog?” The thinking is, what if I found out that the link to my podcast was broken all this time, and no one had ever listened to it. Would it matter?

My argument was going to be no, it wouldn’t be worthless. Keeping a weekly blog or podcast does several things:
– Lets you rant and get things off your chest
– Hones your writing and speaking skills
– Makes you stay current with news and technology
– Helps your creative process and keeps you sharp.

So I guess it wasn’t enough for an entire podcast, but I think those points tie nicely to the podcast today. Your blog doesn’t have to do everything, and many ways it’s a launching pad for other projects.

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