1. Money

How to Your Blog into a Profitable Venture

Overview of 3 major sources -- advertising, donations and paid membership

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This is the second half of a guest series from Mary Nolan of livemercial on starting a successful blog. In part one, Welcome to the Blogosphere: 10 Getting Started Tips for Blogging, she outlined 10 steps for planning and publishing a successful blog, with an emphasis on generating killer content that is engaging, keyword dense and informative in order to attract and retain a sizable audience.

The next step, after you’ve met those requirements, is to determine how you can generate revenue to turn your blog into a profitable venture. There are three primary revenue sources for blogs: advertising, donations and paid membership.

Advertising:

One of the easiest ways to bring in advertising dollars is through Google AdSense, a free service that provides both text and graphic ads that are relevant to your content and target market. You get paid when someone clicks on the ad from within your blog.

How much you can earn depends in part on how much advertisers have bid for keywords that will link to their ads. Generally, revenue comes in the form of cost-per-click (CPC) ads, where the advertiser pays a set amount every time a visitor clicks on their ad, and cost-per-impression (CPM), where advertisers pay each time their ad is viewed on your blog -- whether or not a visitor clicks on it.

Another popular way to generate advertising revenue is to use an affiliate program, where you promote top-performing products by placing a text link, image or banner on your blog site. The best strategy is to identify products that have some logical relationship to your blog. For example, if you’re blogging on cat health, ads promoting cat-related products are a good fit.

Most affiliate programs pay on a cost-per-action (CPA) basis, where visitors need to take some action such as registering for more information, signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase, before you earn any revenue. Some also work under CPC or CPM arrangements. Check with the affiliate for specific details on their payouts.

Paid memberships:

Once you’ve established a broad community with a steady stream of traffic, you will know what interests your readers and what does not, setting you up to begin offering paid memberships. The blog itself can still be free, but a reader with membership status can read more in-depth articles or access other special features, creating a sense of exclusivity.

The trick to successful membership programs is to make sure you can offer a consistent flow of exclusive information that your readers cannot find anywhere else.

To get a better idea of how this works, check out 5000bc.

Donations:

Soliciting donations may sound like a big turn off, but depending upon the type of blog you’re publishing and its focus, donations can often make perfect sense. For example, you can solicit donations to benefit a non-profit organization that rescues cats or provides free veterinary care, a portion of which can be used to help off-set the costs of maintaining your cat health blog. Or, if you’re writing about breast cancer, you can raise funds to support research or other cancer organizations in addition to generating revenue.

Of course, if your readership is strong, you can also ask for donations simply to help cover the costs of continuing to provide them with your insights and expertise.

The key is to be very clear about your intentions, how the money will be used and to make sure you’re in compliance with any fundraising and tax regulations.

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that you’ll get rich off the revenue generated from your blogging venture. But that’s okay, because the most important aspect of blogging is the fun you’ll have writing and networking with other bloggers.

Finally, if your first blog isn’t the success you expected it to be, look for new ways to attract and retain readers. Or simply regroup and launch a new blog with a different niche.

As Quality Control Editor, Creative Writer and Blog Editor for livemercial, Mary Nolan specializes in creating compelling, keyword dense copy for blogging communities, websites, banners, graphics and print ads. She also reviews and edits websites and media in order to assure that all publications are of the highest quality.

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