I’m a huge believer in blogging for your own reasons. If you want to blog for creative outlet, for therapy, for friendship or for money, that’s entirely up to you. There’s no single ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to blog – only what works for you.
And given a tight economy and limited job opportunities, I suspect an increasing number of bloggers will be starting 2011 asking themselves, “How can I make money from my blog?”
This is an interesting topic. Some very high-profile bloggers have argued that there’s no money to be made from blogging – and it’s a common misconception. I remember writing a post about using subscriptions to make money from blogging, and being told in no uncertain terms by many commenters there was no demand for this kind of thing in blogging circles because bloggers don’t want to make money. Well, maybe sometimes that’s true – but not always.
Today, loads of mainstream and successful bloggers are making money from blogging using a variety of tools and techniques. I certainly know of plenty of people earning a respectable part-time salary from blogging, which has the advantage of being totally flexible and possible to do from home. And I know a couple of people earning a full-time salary from their own blogs, although that’s still a bit harder to pull off.
If it’s something you’re interested in exploring for your own blog this year, I’ve pulled together some of my favourite examples of bloggers making money from their blogs. Do add your own experiences in the comments, and share your predictions for 2011 – will we see more people making a living from their blogs?
- Direct Ads: There are an increasing number of digital agencies such as iCrossing, Caliber Interactive and Mediacom who are buying advertising on blogs on behalf of clients, while other brands are buying advertising directly from individual bloggers. On average, blog ads seem to generate between £30 and £50 per month (or half this for text links, via agencies like Tomato Can Consulting). Most ads are sold on rolling three or six month agreements. This means a successful blogger hosting half a dozen ads over a year can expect to generate around £4,000 a year in revenue.
- Affiliate ads and Advertising networks: There are also affiliate advertising networks such as Affiliate Window and Linkshare. Sign up for these and if someone clicks on an ad and makes a purchase, you earn a commission – which might be anywhere from 2% to 10% of the order value. Meanwhile, ad networks such as Handpicked Media sell ads across multiple blogs in a sector, with everyone taking a cut of the proceeds. The income from such ads tends to be quite a bit lower than selling ads direct, but there may be other benefits, such as access to exclusive discounts or publisher events.
- Sponsored posts: This is a fairly new opportunity for bloggers, and one that may well evolve following the OFT ruling on blog transparency. However, brands such as Next and Andrex have paid bloggers between £30 and £100 to write a post on specific products or initiatives. Along similar lines, many bloggers are publishing sponsored posts and videos promoted by eBuzzing, which pays around £40 for bloggers who publish posts incorporating specific links or images.
- Consulting: Some brands have recruited bloggers to act as paid consultants to their brands. Susanna Scott of A Modern Mother was hired by Glam Media back in July to recruit parent bloggers to their advertising network, while other bloggers have consulted on projects conducted by brands such as Yeo Valley and Green & Blacks. Consulting can take various forms: as a freelance trainer, I’ve provided dozens of workshops to PR agencies on blogger outreach techniques, and I also take on public speaking engagements (hey, it’s my blog, I’m allowed one plug, right?) .
- Retailing: Some bloggers use their blogs to promote hand-made and home-made products alongside their regular blog content. Jen at the Madhouse sells a range of home-made crafts through her blog, while Red Ted Art is selling paintings via her brilliant craft and art blog. Or do you fancy some cake balls? Amy from Cooking, Cakes and Children sells baked goods through her blog.
- eBooks: Many bloggers are hankering after a book deal in 2011, but some enterprising bloggers are going down the self-publishing route and selling e-books to their readers. Becky at Baby Budgeting recently launched a new eBook packed with winter activities for kids, while Natalie at Baggage Reclaim makes a significant chunk of her income by selling downloadable ebooks of relationship tips and advice. Tim at Bringing up Charlie sells two of his books via his website – the brilliant Writing Therapy and a brand new anthology of writing by bloggers, Tiny Acorns – which is sold in aid of Children in Need.
- Copywriting: If you’re a successful blog writer then guest posts aren’t the only way to write for money. This year, many bloggers (including myself) have successfully earned an income by writing for mainstream parenting websites such as Parentdish while others such as Carol Smith of New Mummy have set themselves up as copywriters for hire. Many bloggers use their blog to help boost their profile while working as freelance writers – Slummy Single Mummy, Babyrambles and Hot Cross Mum are just three great examples.
- Launching online businesses: One of the more imaginative revenue models I’ve seen this year is The Online Stylist, launched by family and fashion blog 40NotOut. The blog still covers fashion news and opinions, but there’s also an online styling service, which helps women choose outfits for any occasion – for a very reasonable fee.
- Kindle: It’s not earning anyone a fortune as yet, but bloggers such as More than Just a Mother are selling subscriptions to their blogs on the Amazon website for Kindle users – charging £1 or £2 a time. It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2011, and whether subscriptions on other mobile devices will follow suit.
- Photography: There are some brilliantly talented photographers in the blogosphere and I often wish I had a print of some of the pictures I see. Now Jan Mary, a Mummy blogger based in Northern Ireland, is selling postcards and prints of her best pictures on her blog. Great idea.
Do you know of a great way to make money from your blog? Or do you want to keep your space in the blogosphere ad-free? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join us over at the Blogger.Ed Forums to chat with other bloggers and PR execs.