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Make money from a blog?
Old 08-10-2011, 09:45 PM   #1
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Make money from a blog?

A year or two ago I would've posted this question to "The Military Guide" social group for the book's contributors to discuss. However it's a topic that's relevant to most E-R.org posters (military or not) and some of you might have faced the decision before. Let's figure out where to draw the line.

As a non-profit project, "The Military Guide" royalties will be donated to military charities like Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House. In fact, so far it's a non-profit project to the tune of over $300 of printing, mailing, blogging, and marketing expenses. ($250 of that has been matched by book donations from generous readers-- thanks!) We won't even see the first royalty check until December.

The blog is currently hosted under the benevolent oversight of WordPress, a division of Automattic. These guys make money by advertising and "freemium" sales. They probably work hard to keep it relatively trouble-free and reliably available. One of the reasons they're able to do this is because they don't let us bloggers run our own ads or our own personal plug-ins. If we want to blog on WordPress.COM, letting them handle all the back-office support for free, then we have to do it by their rules.

However there's a big beautiful world out there on WordPress.ORG. It's not hard to do. All that's needed is some other server host who'll reliably handle all the infrastructure details (like backups and bandwidth) for reasonable fees. Automattic will even help port over the entire blog where it can run on all of WordPress' software and plugins-- just wild and free to do whatever we want.

The first step on a money-making blog would be signing up with AdSense. The blog already dominates the keyword group "military financial independence", so there's potential revenue from the right ads.

Since USAA's invitation a couple weeks ago, blog traffic has taken off. It immediately doubled and it's about to double again to over 800 hits/day. Comment volume is rising, of course, but I'm also starting to get queries from people who want to do business. Here's a typical example:
Quote:
I noticed you tailor to the military audience. We are also working with members of the military, by educating them on their GI Bill education benefits and connecting them to military friendly schools. For the people who introduce us to military members, we provide a nice payout when a military person turns into a perspective student (by filling out a school application on our portal). We work with some groups that have face to face conversations with military people, and we work with call centers, and email marketers. I'm not sure if this would be a great fit, but I wanted to reach out to explore.
Some of these outfits are, at best, exploiting the GI Bill to deliver knowledge of dubious value. At worst they scam vets into taking out loans that they'll never be able to repay. About the only reputable outfit I know of in the veteran's education business is Military.com. Otherwise I'd hesitate to accept money that's been ripped off from veterans to donate to other veterans.

Of course I'm happily pitching USAA and other financial firms on using "The Military Guide" (especially the pocket guide) to educate their customers. No takers yet.

Any other military-oriented revenue ideas we should look into?
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:09 PM   #2
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A domain name and hosting is cheap enough that I'd imagine you'd more than make the money back not hosting on WP by doing simple things like Amazon affiliate links, aside from Adsense ads.
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:32 PM   #3
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There is big money to be made out of blogging if you get it right.

I think once you get up and running the companies will find you rather than you having to find them.

Take a look at this blog, she openly states what she earns on a month to month basis and where the money comes from.

Nerdy Nomad | Backpacking around the world on my income from the internet.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:05 PM   #4
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Start with Google Adwords and Google Analytics. It's easy once you get it setup and can run basically unattended. You get a check/direct deposit once your balance hits $100. Let this run for a while and you'll get good info about where your traffic is coming from, what ads people are clicking on, and what they're worth. After that, you'll have better information to decide if you want to take one-off ad arrangements (I wouldn't bother).
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:54 PM   #5
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(No first hand experience here, just a few ideas.) This week I saw a TV story on the lady that started Military Spouse Magazine. Granted, their magazine and website niche audience is mostly military wives, but they do reach military households. Websites with complimentary audiences might be interested in a free link exchange or small ad space swap to help cross market people. It can be a free win-win.

Another possibility beyond Google ads is affiliate income from Amazon. I think with their program you place links on your site for particular books that you deem to be worthwhile for your audience. Amazon would then pay a small % of any sales from those links. (Note: Because of Amazon's fight with a few states over sales taxes, they have ended affiliate programs in those states to avoid having a "physical presence" there.)

Good luck.
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:36 PM   #6
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It's easy to start a blog but not so easy to make a living from it. It helps if you are an expert is some topic, or a consultant, can publish excerpts from your book, etc. Then you can pick up real advertisers rather than just Google AdSense.

Another option is to start a coalition of experts/bloggers all writing for one blog. That way, rather than the reader having to bookmark lots of sites, they can visit one site. The increase in traffic attracts serious advertising; you could even hire a sales person part-time.

We got involved with a startup coalition blog a few years ago. It was slow going at first, but now we're making decent money.
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:38 PM   #7
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Thanks for the Nerdy Nomad and Military Spouse ideas. I'll also be spending time at USAA with real no-foolin' making-money-off-their-website bloggers, so I'll be able to tap into the military niche a little better with their help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaddyMac View Post
It's easy to start a blog but not so easy to make a living from it. It helps if you are an expert is some topic, or a consultant, can publish excerpts from your book, etc. Then you can pick up real advertisers rather than just Google AdSense.
The increase in traffic attracts serious advertising; you could even hire a sales person part-time.
I think we've already established that I (1) am an expert, (2) can publish excerpts from a book, and (3) don't need to make a living from it since all proceeds are going to military charities.

However I'd appreciate more details on "real advertisers" and "serious advertising". How did you find yours, and what did they offer in exchange for links or banner ads? Did you feel any pressure to "compromise" on quality or ethics or to give up anything?

Right now I have no interest in a coalition blog. I personally have enough material to keep going for quite a while, and frankly there aren't a lot of military ERs interested in writing about the topic.
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:38 PM   #8
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However I'd appreciate more details on "real advertisers" and "serious advertising". How did you find yours, and what did they offer in exchange for links or banner ads? Did you feel any pressure to "compromise" on quality or ethics or to give up anything?
I'm not familiar with your blog. But in the coalition blog we're involved in, the income is split 60% to the publisher (who pays for ad guys and all tech expenses) and 40% to the writers. The publisher sells ads, as do a couple of ad guys on commission. Since it's a techie site, ads are sold to companies like Apple, Adobe, HP, Sony, etc. I don't know all the details, but ad sales are more expensive for banner ads compared to smaller ads, or ads that run across all blogs compared to specific authors. Some run for a year, some for a quarter. Sometimes they will give them an ad just in the newsletter. So in that sense, it's like working on a magazine or newspaper: writers write and salespeople sell.

Exchanges are almost always for cash. Occasionally there'll be a trade of goods in exchange for a review. Be sure to tell the audience that you got the goods for free though (there are rules now).

As for pressure to compromise, absolutely not. I've been in publishing for 25 years and if there's one thing I've learned it's that readers can smell compromise a mile away. You are better off to just be honest and review a product as best you can, or give your opinion. Just be fair. If the reader feels they are getting good advice they will come back. When the viewers add up, the advertisers will want in. It might seem like there's a lot of paid bloggers plugging stuff, but that only gets you so far. Your reputation is everything. Build your audience and the sales will come.

We have a gardening site we started for a laugh, and I get a few emails from people wanting to place link ads in the middle of the editorial. But it's a joke - somewhere in the middle of the petunias we're supposed to mention how much we like such-and-such stock photo service. I don't think so. I would avoid those kind of ads.

Sorry I don't have much advice on where to find advertisers, since I don't have anything to do with sales. But I imagine if you can define your audience well, define the number of unique visitors each month, you could start approaching media companies who place online ads, as well as companies directly (who'll probably steer you to the media companies).
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Old 08-13-2011, 06:42 PM   #9
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here's a few sites I had bookmarked under "make money from blogging"! I'm sure there are hundreds more if you google. Inside these articles are often nuggest of info on how they are finding ad clients.

Chitika - Online Advertising Network | Search Targeted Ads, Mobile Ads & Local Ads for websites, blogs, apps & mobile

How I Make Money Blogging [My Income Split in April 2010]

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/te...ology&emc=ctb2
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:18 PM   #10
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Thanks for the NYT article and the Chitika info. I'll try those along with the traditional Adsense when I take the blog out from under WordPress.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:07 AM   #11
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Several 'financial' blogs I read are written by people who make money from their blogs - simple dollar; get rich slowly - both have posts on how they make money. Long story, short: they have 'streams of income' that include being paid for their writing, ad revenue, revenue from publications and 'team-writing' for the blog.
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:00 AM   #12
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Several 'financial' blogs I read are written by people who make money from their blogs - simple dollar; get rich slowly - both have posts on how they make money. Long story, short: they have 'streams of income' that include being paid for their writing, ad revenue, revenue from publications and 'team-writing' for the blog.
I think you've laid your finger on another issue-- by the time I'm managing "team writing", it's turned from a non-profit operation into a job...
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:08 AM   #13
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Congrats on the success.

I don't have any experience in this area.

But, if I were considering publishing as a business endeavor (or any business for that matter)... I would probably consider how to shield myself from liability related to it... firewall between family assets, income and that endeavor.

Do people generally incorporate or setup an LLC to protect themselves when they blog for profit?
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Old 08-14-2011, 02:08 PM   #14
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Nords, I've loved this guy ever since I came across his blog: Passive Income: The Smart Passive Income Blog

Basically, he was fired/laid off from his job as an architect ~2 years ago, and then started a blog and decided to try to make all of his money working just a few hours a day, via "passive" income from internet stuff. He made more money in the first year of this than he did in his previous job, and is now sometimes making $30k+ a month. He publishes a monthly and yearly earnings report, and his whole blog is about sharing what he does and how he does it.

I'd venture to say that if you spent the time to dig through the blog (and there's a lot of content), you'll find good tips and some of the things you can do to make money from advertising & affiliates.

I actually don't do anything he does on his blog, I just find him inspiring and pretty cool. I'm admirer, I guess.
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:26 AM   #15
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Nords, I've loved this guy ever since I came across his blog: Passive Income: The Smart Passive Income Blog

.

Really interesting site. I refer another friend to it,the guy is making some serious money at a young age.
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:59 AM   #16
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I'd venture to say that if you spent the time to dig through the blog (and there's a lot of content), you'll find good tips and some of the things you can do to make money from advertising & affiliates.
Thanks, that's quite a read. I like the specific recommendations yet with the ultimate warning that it's best to focus on the content instead of all the technical details.

Thank goodness for blog reader utilities.
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