Last week, I carried on a conversation that began with Joe Jaffe announcing he would exchange sponsorship on his podcast for an iPod, about which Mack Collier wrote a thorough examination of monetization vs. value.
Today, I take a different view on the subject. One that should not be controversial but it might be provocative, based on the lessons shared.
Everyone within the blogging community that I most frequently participate in is a business person, most often involved in services such as marketing, advertising, PR, consulting, design, and web-based technologies. We are not non-profits. We work hard to earn a living. For me, that means that a piece of growing my business includes a blog. Like my web site, the blog was launched to build brand and to grow business. But those two goals do not form the foundation of the content.
I do little self-promotion and whatever branding I do primarily involves my business name and my picture, which appears in the left column. The blog is what it is. A place to offer and share free professional experiences and advice, and a place for others to join in the conversation and offer their opinions. The blog is designed as a sharing avenue for readers to grow personally and professionally. The content is not about me. It is about you. Pandering to readers also is avoided, even if it causes me to hurt my brand or my potential to get work.
Content, however, as any good marketer and writer knows, achieve my goals of monetizing the blog. Last week, I attained my third paying client who discovered my through my blogging since May. In my mind, creating an educational and a conversational blog based on quality and focused content is the “right” way for me to monetize my blog (and my web site, as well as the other blogs, books and articles that I contribute to or author). No advertising, no sponsorships, little to no self-promotion. Just straight-forward talk and story-telling.
Ninety percent of my marketing effort is tied up in my web site (where free content and advice are also offered), my blog and my writings. I think this is what Mack is getting us to think about when he asks how to share income with our readers that we make through our blogs. My answer is that we achieve value for our readers and our clients by giving away tens of thousands of dollars of consulting and business advice and experiences, and then when one of them hires us, we work our butts off to exceed their expecations.
In an effort to share here what I believe works (but you are the final judge of that), here are tactics are that I use to provide value and to market my services and build my brand:
1. Keep to the subject, which in my case is the world of business, most often centered on marketing but not always. Only on Fridays and weekends do I veer away from business talk to sharing the music I love.
2. Create weekly series that publish the same day each week so readers know when and where to find them. My current series are called “How Do You Feel About [name of company]” and “Fridays and Weekends Rock with [name of musician or band].”
3. On occasion, be provocative. Don’t avoid controversy. Do avoid being argumentative. Never be rude and always respect readers’ intelligence. Cam does this better than most.
4. Accept all comments except those that cross the line of respect, dignity and decency.
5. Post four to five days weekly.
6. Listen to readers and write about the topics they seem most interested in.
7. Respond to every reader comment with an e-mail and at the very least, say thank you, even if you don’t respond in a blog comment.
8. Read other blogs and comment and, when appropriate, get to know them better with a personal visit or an offline conversation. CK is great at this.
9. Credit others, especially when following up on their posts or when using their ideas to create a different point of view. Use links, in other words, to help bloggers grow their readership. Toby and Valeria are generous in this way.
10. Reread every post and delete first-person pronouns as much as possible. Write about and for readers, whenever possible. (Believe it or not, this post has about half the number of first-person pronouns than the original. There still are too many, I think, but my brain hurts.)
These tactics are not thorough, of that I am certain. For example, David Armano does a great job with visual elements, and that is a marvelous way to draw in readers and to help them better understand his thoughts. What other strategies and tactics can help us continue to share but also monetize that sharing in a professional business manner?