March 16, 2009

Money Smarts: Before You Monetize Your Blog, Define It!

Money Smarts is a new weekly feature here at The New Frugal Mom, one that will focus on how to monetize your blog, wahm opportunities, budgeting, and just generally saving more money while earning (legitimately) a few bucks as well.

For more details about the origins of Money Smarts, click here.

This week's topic: Define Your Blog Before You Monetize

First, I want to start by stating I'm no expert on blogging or on the subject of monetization of your blog. Really -- my big clay feet are crumbling as I type this. I'm as new to this as you are and I really hope that some of you reading this will link any posts you have about your success with blog monetization in the Mr. Linky box below; share what you've learned!

Looking at my blog, you'll see I do run two types of ads right now: Google Adsense and Coupons.com widget. I've also run YouData, but I recently removed it from the sidebar because it wasn't a strong performer and it took up a great deal of space. I plan on adding it back onto a permanent page because I do believe in what YouData is doing - paying you to watch ads. It's a great idea for social media.

If you blog on Blogger, adding Google Adsense is easy; you've Blogger is owned by Google so Adsense is easily integrated into your blog. You do have to earn $100 from Adsense before you receive your first payment; reaching that $100 can take time (I'm close, but my total Adsense is based on blogging since fall 2007).

I also run the Coupons.com widget in the header of this blog and I earn a few pennies for each coupon printed and used from that widget (thanks all!). This hasn't really earned me much; I keep it more for my convenience than anything else so I remember to look for the newest available printable coupons.

Other than those three listed above, I've not added any monetizing elements to this blog...yet. I intend to do so but these are the reasons why I've waited.

1. Numbers Matter

It's true - to do well with monetizing any blog, you need healthy numbers.

It sounds cold to say it like that, doesn't it? Yeah, it does. But many affiliates won't consider you as a partner if you're not at a certain threshold, statistically-speaking. And even monetization opportunities that don't require a certain set of golden numbers won't be beneficial to you without healthy traffic to your blog/site.

Which brings me to my next point...

2. You Gotta *LOVE* Blogging

I love social media and not just for the friendships I've made or for the chance to tell stories from my life in bits and pieces. I truly believe that social media has great power to do good (like this whole couponing thing -- there's no way I would have learned this much without the power of social media) and that it will continue to change the way we connect, the way we do business, and the way we learn.

But maintaining a blog - one that you want to see grow and attract an audience -- is work. There's the writing (fun for me), and then the techie stuff (fun for me in a different way, and ever so time consuming), and the time spent reading good blogs and finding new blogs (never enough time for that), and then there's time spent dipping your toes in the social media pool (I favor Twitter) to keep up with what's going on.

It adds up to a big, big amount of time you have to invest to keep the hamster running on the webby wheel; if you don't LOVE it, then it will be harder and harder to do each day.

Love blogging - everything about it - first before you try to make a few bucks doing it because even if you don't make much money, you'll still be pursuing something you love doing.

3. Ready, Set, Go, or Plan, Implement, Grow

This is my second time around writing The New Frugal Mom; when I started this blog in March of 2008, it exploded fast and I couldn't keep up with the pace. I quickly burned out and ended up deleting (!) the whole thing in June of 2008.

What I lacked was a plan. I can't stress this enough - you have to have some sort of guiding plan for your blog, whether it's a mission statement, a personal goal, or a schedule. Once you have that plan, you can begin to implement bits and pieces of it - maybe not the whole thing all at once, but parts - until you start to see it come together. Then you're ready to grow and change.

I don't know about you, but I'm racing like crazy trying to keep up with my kids, my real life, and all that matters in the world where my feet are planted. By having a plan in place for this blog, I know that I can keep working when I have time to improve and implement elements; that certainty relieves me from becoming overwhelmed.

Bottom line: failure to plan is planning to fail.

4. Do You Really Want to Hard-Sell Your Readers Every Offer You Can Find?

Before I add any monetizing elements to this blog, I want to be sure I can back them and believe in them before I share them with you.

We've all been in those conversations with folks who sell Product XYZ on the side or for a living; when all they can talk about is how you really need to buy XYZ, how XYZ is a-MAY-zing, that XYZ is the hottest thing out there...so on and so on.

Do you tune them in or out? Do you seek them out for conversation again? Maybe...maybe not.

I'm careful about this because this blog is a back and forth endeavor; I write, you read and comment/email and then I try to chat back via a comment as well. If I'm constantly trying to sell you something, I can't imagine you'd hang around for long.

Good ads and affiliates are out there and you really can do well with them when you add them to your blog; just remember you should believe in the products/links you offer on your blog.

5. Be A Good Neighbor by Giving

This blog has a lot of info in it for you to read about couponing, deals, freebies, recipes, etc - all for free. And I try to offer you chances to link up and promote your own blog as well - all for free.

Why?

Part of it is altruistic; I believe in helping where I can. But part of it is simply the fact that if I give you free, useful information, you'll come back (hopefully!). And if I try to use whatever audience I have to help you promote yourself, you'll grow and (hopefully!) your links back to me may help me grow more as well.

If your blog is a conversation, then blogging - or the blogosphere - is a community of close neighbors. Be a good neighbor; give and help just because. People will come to read your posts because they're useful, free information; they'll come back again because you helped them in some way. You'll grow (see #1 above) and then you'll have a better base from which to launch any blog monetization elements.

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So there you have it, my Top Five list about what to do before you try to make a buck with your blog; did I tell you that I'm no expert? Yeah, I thought I did - just checking.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on blog monetization and what to do first if you're just now considering it as a possibility.

If you have a post on this topic that you want to link up and share with everyone, please do.

And, because I value your input, what should we chat about next Monday for Money Smarts? Leave a comment about what you'd like to see next week; I'll read them (I always do!) and announce next week's topic on Wednesday 3/18/09.



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5 comments:

  1. Thankyou, Thankyou, from the bottom of my heart for this post. It has answered so many questions I had. You wrote it in such a way it was easy to understand. I am very new at this bloggy thing. I was considering trying to make money from it. But, I am trying hard to get traffic, and, comments would be nice. I am not as good at it as others, but, I try.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is great!! Thank-you for sharing what you have learned!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Susan: I'm glad you found this useful and easily understood.

    I think most of us out here want to make money as a result of our efforts blogging. But it's like any other business endeavor - you've got to learn learn learn and give yourself ample time to grow.

    Hang in there and keep working on you blog -- try using Twitter to connect more directly with folks as well.

    Being a wise steward: You're welcome! Again - I'm no expert, but I'm glad to share my observations/experiences in bloggyland.

    Bottom line: relationships and people come first. Money comes second. That's pretty good advice for real life as well!!

    ;-)

    Thanks for commenting ladies!

    ReplyDelete
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  5. Thank you for the posting! I am considering trying to make money on a blog I started recently, and this answered some questions I had. I do have one though, how do you know how much traffic you have? I have a tracker thing on my blog but I don't know how accurate it is. Do you have a suggestion for that? How much traffic do you think you should have before you begin monetizing?

    ReplyDelete

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