This post continues the description of my journey to rebuild my life and my finances in Canada after the traumatic experiences in Zimbabwe.
It is as much about making a living from writing, particularly blogging as it is about my own experiences. Perhaps it should be categorised as Internet Marketing, but I started the series as content for my book in the Memorable Moments category and will continue.
Stuck in my mind from a presentation by an Internet Marketing guru a couple of years ago is the admonition never to assign a post to more than one category. It is a bad SEO tactic. I must confess that I have not researched that further, but all his other advice worked for me so I am sticking to this one too.
Reader and much appreciated regular commenter, Roberta, from MoreThymeThan Dough, asked if it really is possible to make money from a blog. My answer is definitely yes and I will give reasons to support that statement and links to blogs that I know are financially lucrative in this post.
My reflections on where I had been spending my time proved the Pareto Principle or 80:20 rule, once again. in my case it was more like 90:10. The activities I spent 90% of my time on, only generating 10% of my income. That could not continue.
I wrote in my first post in this series that I was on a quest to create the 5th phase of my business life. One of the problems of being old enough to have led a long life full of variety and different experiences is that it provides too many options to consider when drawing the map for a new business.
By analysing my skills, interests and experiences, I find that I am reasonably competent in marketing, management, speaking, writing, farming, horses, marathon running and guns. Those broad categories can be broken down into sub-categories. I have a high level of interest in politics but cannot claim any degree of competence (can any one, least of all our elected leaders?). Many other topics interest me but not to the extent that I have any desire to build a business around them.
Two of the biggest benefits of the Internet, the speed and ease with which we can obtain information, and the speed, economy and extent we can reach potential customers are also the biggest obstacle to creating a viable, focused internet based business. There is too much information, too many experts, too many possibilities and too many peripheral distractions – like social media.
For several reasons, I discounted the idea of building a business specifically around my horse related, farming, running or gun / shooting proficiency skills. When I looked at my management, marketing, speaking and writing skills and background, then combined these with my experiences of overcoming adversity, I realised that I have had success as a communicator, have become good at asking questions, can see things from a different perspective and have achieved results helping other people overcome adversity in both their business and private lives.
Many hours of thinking and working with a mastermind partner have allowed me to combine my skills, passion and a real need out there in the world to provide a service to help people create brilliance from adversity and lead extraordinary lives. Along the way, I discovered a Harvard Business Review post by Greg McKeown about the concept “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” which allows you to find “Your Highest Point of Contribution” where those three attributes of talent, passion and market need overlap.
Therefore my mission and purpose are to help people understand my personal motto “It’s Not What Happens To You In Life, But What You Do About It That Counts.” There are versions of something similar attributed to various authors, but I have not seen these exact words.
Will focusing on this mission make me a lot of money?
Probably not immediately, but it has already given me the direction I have been seeking for the last 4 years or so. I still have a lot of work ahead of me to put a programme together, find more paying clients, create ebooks and newsletters and market my service effectively.
This mission is complimented by my speaking ability, both in working with individual clients and speaking to groups.
You may have noticed that the topics I have been writing about on this blog have moved away from social media, marketing systems, penny auctions and politics. As much as I enjoy tilting at political windmills and exposing the erosion of individual freedom, this is not the right vehicle for that. I have set up a separate twitter account @pol_incorrectus to vent my political frustrations.
The move away from the subjects mentioned above has cost me in terms of both daily visitors and Alexa ranking. However most of the loss is in first time visitors finding the blog by searching with keywords specific to the topics I have dropped. I have noticed an increase in both subscribers and new visitors using keywords relevant to the topics I am now covering.
My focus is now to provide a service that will help people overcome adversity, improve their lives and their businesses by personal consultation, content on this blog, other content and speaking to groups. I have created a new website to promote my coaching and speaking business, as it is not complete yet, I will provide a link at a later stage.
That brings me to the question as to whether it is possible for a blog to make money.
The shining example must be Huffington Post which AOL bought from Ariana Huffington for $315 million in 2011. Others that I believe are financially successful are Copyblogger, ProBlogger, Smart Passive Income and Social Triggers, some bloggers regularly publish breakdowns of their earnings. Smart Passive Income reported earnings of $56 239 for January 2013. Not bad.
The conventional wisdom was that a broadly focused blog would attract larger numbers of followers more quickly, a narrow focus would find fewer but more loyal followers – therefore more likely to become long-term subscribers and customers.
One of the early success stories was the Agora model which propelled Agora Publishing to huge growth. That model used a blog with good content on a few topics, a strong call for visitors to subscribe, incentives of free reports to encourage signing up, a daily email newsletter to subscribers with links to sales pages, and an occasional sales email.
Does that model still work? Yes and no. It can work in the right niche, with good content that provides value, if it stands out from the crowd and if it is aggressively promoted to the right audience. The way that or similar models are currently promoted by some “experts” is doomed to failure in this age of information overwhelm.
If blogs and email newsletters are the 21st century equivalent of magazines, newspapers and direct mail pieces, we need to consider the overwhelm factor. I may be atypical of my generation, but I recall that in my 30’s and 40’s as a busy manager, I subscribed to one daily newspaper, 3 or 4 magazines, bought 1 or 2 Sunday papers and skimmed through a maximum of 5 trade magazines a week at the office. Direct mail was censored by my wife at home and my secretary at work, rarely did it get through those defences.
Compare that with the volume of blogs, email newsletters, social media notifications and updates we are subjected to on a daily basis now. In 2012, it was estimated that there were 42 million blogs on the web. Is it any wonder that very few make any money? This link will take you to an infographic on JeffBulla.com which shows more interesting blogging statistics.
Another advantage of physical media such as newspapers, is that until they were physically removed from sight, they were a very visible reminder that they contained unread information. Leave a blog or email newsletter halfway through a post and most of us will never return to finish reading it.
A trend towards a minimalist, uncluttered blog design has been emerging together with good content in long posts. Ryan Deiss has just published the findings of his research that contradicts that. He is having more success with “busy” blogs full of posts from a number of contributors and cluttered with calls to action.
Huffington Post would be an example of a huge blog publishing content on a wide range of subjects from a large number of contributors. Compare that to The Altucher Confidential which is one author’s stories about his life. He has thousands of subscribers and 265 000 likes on his Facebook page.
I am not and have no aspirations to be, an expert on blogging. Here is what a very successful Internet Marketer, Kevin Hogan has to say. “People earn significant incomes on-line because they provide other people with meaning, a service, a form of identity, experience or value.” That about sums it up.
How do you actually earn money with your blog?
Affiliate commissions for products or services like the Hostgator ad on this blog.
Adverts or links to sales pages for your own products or services.
Sponsored posts with hyper-links to the sponsors website.
Paid ads without affiliate commissions.
Google Adsense ads.
Building a mailing list of subscribers to convert to customers.
Donation Button – some fairly small blogs generate over $100 a month.
Another source of information for an internet based business is Bob Bly’s range of courses and ebooks.
I have a contact with an agency looking for blogs to carry adverts in the Gaming, Health, Fashion, Travel and Finance market segments. If you have a self-hosted blog targeted to one of these and you are interested in discussing paid advertising for your blog, contact me through the contact page.
Wishing you success.
p.s. I am an affiliate for Hostgator, Kevin Hogan and Bob Bly and will earn a commission if you place an order using these links, however it will not cost you any more. I have no commercial relationship with any of the other sites mentioned in this post.
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net