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As someone who has been blogging for just over six years, I will attest that there is always something new to learn as the medium is forever evolving, growing, morphing and offering new and unique ways to share content as well as connect with readers and other businesses.
With that said, the first step is to connect. Allow monetizing, should you wish for your blog to be a business, be the second and natural step. While I do not have a MBA, I do know that there must be a market for what you wish to monetize. To assume readers will want what you have to sell, even if you do have an amazing product or service, is to put the cart before the horse.
Keeping that in mind, in today’s final part of the three part series (part one and part two), we’ll first discuss how to network both with fellow bloggers and on social media. And then we’ll dive into monetizing.
The best way to connect is to read, follow and comment on blogs that are similar to your niche as well as are interesting to you. The first year, I found myself visiting and commenting on blogs almost as much as I was blogging itself. As you know, there are endless blogs in whatever your interests may be. Seek out these blogs and comment. Be authentic and don’t ask for them to visit your site. If it happens, let it happen naturally. Another great way to connect is to share great content when you come across it. Whether you share on Twitter or have a weekly Friday Links posts (such as my This & That) where you share posts that caught your eye over the week beyond your blog, spread the love and share the amazing work that people are putting out into the blogosphere. I will forever be grateful to Franki Durbin of her eponymously named blog (at the time it was called Life in a Venti Cup) who took the time to shine a spotlight on my blog in an entire post unbeknownst to me only three months into blogging. All of a sudden, I had a spike in my page views, and I couldn’t figure out why. Well, you guessed it. It was all coming from Franki’s kind and sincere mention.
The power of shout-outs, thank-yous, spotlights and sincere love for what someone else does builds the type of bonds which lead you to connections you may not be able to predict. New York City stylist and blogger, Tiffani of Style by Tiffani and I met via our blogs, and to this day we continue to remain close friends. I could go on and on, but the key is that all of these relationships, while it may have occurred in a business/blogging bubble, they were also sincere.
2. Connect your social networks
A simple tweet, Facebook post, Tumblr post, Instagram image or Pinterest visual each time you post is the simplest way to spread the word and introduce your blog and content to new readers. There are helpful ways to sync your posts to tweet and post automatically when a new post goes live which will save you time and eliminate forgetting on those days when your schedule is busier than expected. Check out TwitterFeed which can link your RSS feed (posts) with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, WordPress has a handful of plug-ins that will do this for you automatically as well. Simply upload them and you are set. Try this plug-in, NextScripts, to include Pinterest.
Allow readers to easily share what they love about your blog. I have linked to the WordPress plug-in, but your web/blog designer can create unique pinterest buttons that pop up when readers hover over each image.
4. Respond to comments
One of the hardest, but without question, valuable tasks bloggers need to engage in is responding to comments on the blog, Facebook, Tweets, etc. Often this can become hard if you have a second full-time job, but the discussion allows you to connect with your readers and establish a relationship. Even if you aren’t able to comment on the same day, whenever you are able to respond will be a positive comment.
5. Ad Affiliates
Whether you are a blog that specializing in book reviews or a fashion site that exhibits street style like Atlantic-Pacific, ad affiliate companies work with advertisers who work with you (publishers) to market their goods to consumers. Affiliate links are associated with certain items and if the reader purchases the item (after clicking through), the blogger receives a small commission for the sale. The companies that offer this commission based relationships are aplenty: Amazon, RewardStyle, LinkShare, Commission Junction, ShareaSale, and individual business will have their own affiliate business. Just ask or search the site.
Most importantly, whatever you recommend or include in your posts, do so because you sincerely love and would recommend the product. Trust is crucial when it comes to blogging. In my FAQ page, I share with readers that some of the clothing spotlighted is associated with affiliate links. Maintaining and communicating this is helpful to readers; however, most are well aware of the ubiquitousness of affiliate links.
6. Sponsored Posts
Similar to Ad Affiliates, if you have chosen to work with a company, and they have offered you a product, only do so because you would recommend it for free. Just as importantly, be upfront with your readers. Somewhere on your blog post let them know that the post was sponsored. Most often the companies do not require you to state any one thing in particular as you would have declined them if you weren’t interested their product, so make it known as well that the thoughts shared are entirely your own. I have taken on a few sponsored posts in the past, but I have turned down far more. Again, the key is transparency and authenticity as you are gradually building trust in your readership.
7. Create a product or service
Once you have established yourself as an expert (or a trusted emerging expert) in the field your blog is focused on, listen to what your readers want. More often than not, they will tell you what you should be doing. It took two to three years of readers insisting I create a hold-in-your-hands book that brought together the basic premise of living simply luxuriously, but without their prodding I wouldn’t have been assured that the market wanted what I had to offer. Now with a successful book launch, I’m glad I listened, and a second book is in the works.
The offerings are endless based on your skills and talent. My primary income from the blog is based on ads and the sales of the book, but just at the top of 2016, I made available another item that readers had been requesting, TSLL Planner Templates. However, what you offer doesn’t have to be a physical product. It can also be a service, such as the Online Styling services I have offered for the past three years. Having a blog opens the doors to connections beyond your physical location, and that is overwhelmingly powerful as you can reach those who are looking for what you specifically have to offer and they now (because you have a blog) can find you.
8. Work with Influencer Marketing
Another tremendous source of income that doesn’t require any work other than the initial setting up of your html code in your blog is working with an influencer marketing business. Basically, they are the middle man. Google AdSense, Style Coalition, Mode (formerly known as Glam Media) and AdThrive are all businesses I have worked with or am currently work with and highly recommend. Most require you to have been blogging for a certain period of time and have the ability to display so many pageviews a month, but once you meet the criteria, the hard work is off the table. They place the ads, find the advertisers and you simply get to write what you love writing.
A book I highly recommend if you are interested in fashion or lifestyle blogging is Yuli Ziv’s Blogging Your Way to the Front Row. She is the founder of Style Coalition, and having had the opportunity to meet her in New York City at Fashion Week a few years ago, I can attest, she knows of what she speaks.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to monetizing, and in all honesty, I am always looking, reading and discovering something new. However, as of January 2016, this is what has worked for me. Now the podcast is an entirely different animal. Perhaps I’ll address that in future blog posts. 🙂 I do hope this series has helped answer a few questions about getting your blog up and running the way you want it to. Below are the first and second part of the three part series. Happy Blogging!
~Part Une: How to Create a Blog You Love (the foundation)
~Part Deux: How to Create a Blog You Love (content, finding your niche)