Bloggers write interesting, engaging and valuable content. But when it comes to monetizing this content, most bloggers never get to reach the promised land. Using these three tricks, you can avoid failing where many other bloggers do.
“Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land…’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” (Deuteronomy 34; 1-4)
Forgive me for the bombastic analogy, but I have to share it with you: bloggers are like Moses.
Just like Moses’s 40 years in the desert, a blogger’s journey is long, exhausting, and full of obstacles; it is inspired by a sense of care for the community, and oriented towards a well-identified goal.
When bloggers start a blog, they have in mind a certain need of the community that is not being attended. They lead their communities loyally and passionately and are role models for whole generations. They embody the rare combination of captains and servants, and do everything they can to help and guide their comrades.
Yet, just like Moses, bloggers never get to see the promised land. All the effort of building reputation, gathering a community, researching, and posting the best possible content – and still, few make the magical switch from hobby to profession.
Monetizing blog content is the pot of gold over the rainbow of blogging. The answer to the million-dollar question “Can I make a living out of blogging?” remains, up until today: hardly.
Bloggers SHOULD be able to earn from writing, but they aren’t
Let’s start with a confession: I love blogs. I was 13 when I started running my first personal blog and didn’t stop reading and writing ever since. Sports, politics, food, parenting, tourism, you name it. Lately, I even got my fiancée into the fever, convincing her to write a wedding blog together.
Bloggers have changed the way the world consumes content. They are respected sources of information and expertise, substituting traditional content providers and playing a crucial role of social influencers. According to NewsCred, 329 million people read blogs every month.
If bloggers have such an immense potential, why can’t they turn their influence into income?
To answer this question let’s have a quick look into the three main ways that bloggers have to monetize their work:
- Sell advertisement space. This is a good method for passive income from blogs, and is increasingly gaining popularity. However, there are serious doubts about the cost-effectiveness of this practice: the income is not high enough, and the cost (in terms of credibility and aesthetics) is too high.
- Sell premium blogging services: consultancy services, e-learning courses, books. Some top bloggers do it, but for most bloggers it’s not a realistic solution. Creating your own blogging products is too big of an effort to pay off. If you are not a top of the top blogger who writes about blogging and targets other bloggers, I don’t see it as a sustainable business model.
- This leaves us with the most popular practice among bloggers, which is the main focus of this article: influencer marketing, that is, working with brands and businesses.
Blogger outreach as a form of influencer marketing is without a doubt the leading online marketing trend of 2015. Bloggers are the 21st century’s influencers, and they beat traditional media and advertisement. But despite the boom in online influencer marketing, many bloggers are still wandering in the desert.
Why? Because they don’t know how to make this cooperation happen.
Plenty of tools are now available to bring bloggers and brands together, and make blogging a profitable business through stable, long-lasting relationships. All you need to do is to use them wisely. I now propose you three steps to use existing tools that will make your cooperation with brands long-lasting and lucrative.
Three tricks that can bring Moses to the promised land like a boss
Attend a cocktail party
My previous job, as amusing as it may sound, was for a diplomatic institution. One of the most important lessons I learned from diplomats is that nothing is more important than being in the right place with the right people. Being invited to that ONE cocktail party that everybody is talking about, is pure gold.
Online, the situation is similar. You have to be seen in the right place.
Think, for example, of blogger outreach platforms – platforms that bring bloggers and brands together, and help them find each other and cooperate. They are there to make bloggers shine, and there are good chances to come out of this cocktail party with the right business card. My favorite one, for example, is The Shelf, but there are many others as well. Check out different platforms in this Twitter list I have prepared, and find the right place for you.
Ask a business on a date
You can write good content on a topic about which you are passionate; you can join a variety of platforms for blogger outreach; but when the moment of truth comes, how do you draw the attention of the right brand, and how do you start cooperation? Like in a party, those who sit in the corner never get asked to dance; I see many blogs failing in this stage because they are too shy. Be active, bold, sassy.
The rules for presenting yourself to a brand are pretty simple. A little bit like in dating: you want to make a good impression on a second person with whom you would like to “cooperate”. So, if we are inspired by dating, here are some “pitching tips” adapted from, where else, Cosmopolitan:
- Reach out. Don’t be afraid to make the first step.
- Get friendly. Remember that on the other side there is a human being.
- Be honest. We all know there is no point in pretending to be something else.
- Speak up. Don’t be afraid of taking the lead on a talk (moderately, of course).
- Take it easy on the negative talk, nobody likes trolls and haters.
- Know you’re awesome. Show your self-confidence and be convincing.
- But don’t forget to also be open minded. Remember it takes two for tango, and you are here to build a relationship.
- Keep the first date short and sweet. Make the first contact short and to the point, leaving taste for more.
- Give thanks. Don’t forget to be polite!
Institutionalize the relationship
Ok, money time. You have the content, you have the brand, but where is the money?
Let’s face it, many businesses don’t take bloggers seriously. How many times have you received offers from brands to write a review for free, or for some ridiculous reward? Here, again, you need to put your shy side away, and demand what you deserve. You don’t work for free, and if brands are in for a serious relationship with you, they’d better understand it comes with a price.
Striving for institutionalized relations with brands has two aspects: demanding proper reward, and offering long-lasting commitment.
Long-lasting commitment means that your cooperation with the brand is not limited to one post, with a limited life-span. When you write a blog post for a brand, it is popular in the first days, but after few days, when the popularity drops, you and the brand are left with very little. To ensure long-lasting cooperation with a brand, there are two things you can do:
- Commit to a campaign, in which you will write a series of articles.
- Offer the brand to boost your articles: using a tool like Boost the News, your brand-partner can promote your articles through online ads. This way you get free advertising for your blog, and in addition, earn revenues for each article the brand promotes. Boosting articles can provide you with months of passive profit.
Time to start working
Working with brands has never been easier. New platforms and tools make it easier to contact brands and initiate long-lasting and lucrative cooperation. You have no excuses, but there is still a lot of work to be done. A passive approach is not going to bring any blogger too far.
Keep these three tips in mind, and the promised land of milk and honey is waiting for you.
Now, are you still here? Go to work! ;-)