- (1) Are you a newbie blogger?
- (2) Do you plan to generate revenue from your blog?
- (3) Do you have a concrete business strategy in place?
- (4) If so, does it sound like this:
“Build Up Blog – Then Monetize?”
If you answered ‘No’ to question 3, and ‘Yes’ to the other questions then you need to read on.
In theory this model sounds plausible: you build an audience; once you’ve built an audience then you start selling to that audience (they know you, they trust you, they perceive you as an expert…yada yada yada, all the things you’ve been taught).
But there’s a massive flaw built into this business model – and it’s potentially undermining your long-term goals.
So, What’s The Flaw Built Into This Model?
The flaw in this model is the way you attract your audience.
Most newbie bloggers look to build up their blogs by creating content and posting it to their blog. And then promoting it by blog comments, social media, content syndication, guest posting, etc.
And that works. Write quality posts, and promote those posts, and you WILL build up an audience.
However what you’re doing is conditioning your audience to reading your FREE stuff. And there’s no guarantee that when you transition from the ‘building’ stage to the ‘monetize’ stage that you lose a significant part of your blog.
True Story Time – How To Play Bass, From Free to Fee
Around two years ago my bass site was struggling. I was getting decent traffic, and decent opt-in rates – but the uptake of my ‘paid’ stuff was poor. And not enough to justify the time I was spending on the site.
At that time I was providing a free weekly newsletter of around around 15 pages or so. In each newsletter I had links to my eBooks and my Online Lessons – and from time I made sales.
But not enough sales. After sounding off to one of my mastermind groups I got this advice:
“Go From Free To Fee”
Since producing a 15-page newsletter each week was not generating the revenues I wanted someone suggested that I charge for it.
After deliberating at length, I changed the format of the weekly newsletter, added extra content, put out one issue as a freebie and told my opt-in subscribers that from now on the weekly Ezine was only available with an annual subscription.
Unsubscribes and Vitriolic Emails
I expected a few unsubscribes and maybe a couple of complaints.
Here’s what I actually got:
- Around 4 % of my list unsubscribed within a week
- Another 6-7 % or so unsubscribed over the course of the next two weeks when they realized I was serious
- About 20 complaint emails 5 of those basically accused me of ‘selling out’ – only they weren’t that nice
A couple of those emails upset me – and at one point I was reconsidering my decision. However two things stopped me:
- Great and supportive advice from my mentor Sean D’Souza
- 80 sign ups to the new subscription format in the first 10 days
The reason I lost a tenth of my list, and had to read through those emails, was because I’d conditioned my audience to expect quality free stuff, and than that was taken away from them.
With hindsight I could have managed the transition from free to fee much more smoothly.
So When Is The Right Time To Monetize Your Blog?
If one of your blogging goals is to generate revenue from your blog – even if it’s a vague goal to be tackled at some unspecified day in the future – you should be preparing your audience for that now.
Not in a month’s time. Or when your first product is ready next year. Or when you have 10,000 subscribers to your email list.
You don’t have to sell anything to prepare your audience. But you DO have to drop references that you are planning to release an eBook. Or run a Webinar series. Or plan to do consulting.
Plus you can start preparing your blog for the day when you WILL have something to sell. For example if you’re a regular visitor to One Spoon At A Time you’re probably familiar with the ‘Books and Courses’ tab:
What you might also have noticed that there’s a new option in the menu bar. That new menu option is ‘Services:’
Now if you click on the Services Menu you’ll get to a page that looks like this:
As you can see, the two services that I will be offering are not yet live. But they will be in early September – and by adding ‘Services’ to the Tab bar the majority of visitors to One Spoon won’t be surprised when those services go live in September.
And there will be references to those upcoming services in future blog posts, as well as an announcement when they go live. So I’m preparing my audience for that.
You can do the same too – even if your eBook or Course or Services are 6 months away. A great recent example of this can be found on Steve Scott’s site.
Case Study – Steve Scott/Affiliate Marketing Without The B.S.
Firstly, if you don’t know Steve or haven’t been to his blog, make sure you visit him and subscribe via email or RSS. His blog can be found at:
Steve’s blog has been going since around January 2010 – but he only launched his first product last Monday.
What’s really interesting is that if you have a careful read of the posts and comments on his site for the last 3 months or so, there have been periodic references to his upcoming book on affiliate marketing.
So he’s been preparing his audience for the release of this product – and carefully moving them from ‘free’ to ‘fee.’
Now I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy or not – Steve is a frequent visitor here, so hopefully he’ll comment and let us know! – but it can serve as a model of how to do it for YOUR blog.
(Paul’s Note: Steve’s Course – comprising 8 eBooks – is currently just $29.97. That price is set to rise – on Monday I think – so go here and check it out!)
Other Ways Of Preparing Your Audience
That’s not the only way of preparing your audience to move from free to fee though:
- (i) You could add adverts to your site – either Pay Per Click or rent advert space to suppliers in your market
- (ii) You could TELL your audience that you are releasing an eBook or an eCourse on a topic – and solicit their help by asking what problems or questions they have on your intended topic
- (iii) You could review a book or product or software in your market, and include an affiliate link for anyone interested in buying. (Note: ONLY review something that you own and use – NEVER review something because there’s a big affiliate commission attached to it!)
- (iv) You can reference your upcoming product or course whenever appropriate in comments – either on YOUR blog or on someone else’s. (Again – only reference this if it is appropriate and in context of the conversation)
- (v) You can get other bloggers to mention your upcoming products – for example my Mastermind buddy Danny Iny is doing a big launch of his Firepole Marketing program in late August. Now my audience isn’t Danny’s – but not only do we blog about related topics, but it may send traffic over to Danny’s place.
Ultimately what tactics you use should align with the goals you have set for your blog. The point is that if you plan to generate revenue from your blog at some future date, you need to prepare for it now.
If you plan to generate revenue from your blog at some future date, building your audience first can condition your audience to expecting quality free content from you.
To avoid any fallout or problems when you do start monetizing, start preparing your audience NOW.
You can do this by:
- (i) Including references to upcoming products in your posts and comments.
- (ii) Creating product pages on your blog – even if those product pages say ‘Coming Soon.’
- (iii) Reviewing products that you recommend – and placing affiliate ‘Buy’ links within the reviews.
- (iv) Adding adverts to your blog (either ‘banner’ style or PPC). Note, adding adverts is my LEAST favourite way of doing this.
- (iv) Getting other bloggers to mention your upcoming products
So how do YOU plan to monetize your blog?
- Are you going to create a product?
- Or a service?
- Or do the affiliate marketing thang?
And most importantly, how are you preparing your audience for the transition from free to fee? Fire away in the comments section below!