One of the first things we recommend for any online marketer is to start a blog. Whether it relates to any of your campaigns or not, a blog can help you reach out to your audience and build a brand that is independent of your other sites. This is always a good thing as it can diversify not only your potential income, but the risk you take on related to that income.
However, what we don’t necessarily recommend is turning your blog into a shrine for the products you promote, or creating that site with the sole intention of making money. The best blogs are not created to build an audience or make money but to build an audience and create new relationships. So to help you bridge the gap between the goal of your blog and your ultimate financial goals, here are some tips for monetizing.
When to Monetize
When you first start a blog, your goal should be to build an audience. Ten people on an email list or subscribing to your RSS or Facebook feeds are worth 100 random strangers via Google, so it’s important that you create content and generate relationships with this goal in mind.
Set a content creation calendar for weekly uploads, respond to comments quickly, submit guest posts to other blogs, and work toward building an audience that will read anything you write, not just the stuff they find in a search engine.
When you have this, you can start monetizing with affiliate promotions.
When is that? I like to recommend at least 50-100 people on an email list and 100 fans on Facebook as an indicator that your audience is growing. Alternately, if you are getting more than 100 hits per day to your blog with at least 30% return visitors, you are doing quite well.
How to Monetize
There is a good reason people like Pat Flynn make so much money through affiliate marketing through their blogs.
They are transparent, they have a loyal, active audience, and they provide exceptional value at every step to their readers. Hiding your affiliate links inside the body of your posts, tricking people into clicking review links or writing shady reviews will only sacrifice the trust and audience you’ve generated. Good affiliate marketing strategies on a blog include:
* Only Review What You Use – Don’t write reviews of products you have not used. Most vendors will give you an evaluation copy for writing reviews (just remember to tell people you got a freebie).
* Clearly Mark Ads – If you place ads in or near content, make sure they are clearly marked to avoid any confusion.
* Test for High Performing Products – Remove ads or reviews that your readers don’t like or that don’t receive a lot of clicks. You want to maximize the value you offer your readers as well.
* Offer Special Deals for Readers – Talk to vendors and get special deals, discounts or bonus offers for your readers. If you have a larger audience, this is very doable.
This is all honest promotion, mind you. Just saying you’re getting them a good deal (when every other site owner gives the same deal) is not enough. You need to go above and beyond the competition and your readers will thank you for it by clicking those links.