Last week I went to the Alabama Bloggers January Meet-Up, or #AlaBlogMeet for you Twitter-savvy folks. We met at Silvertron Cafe to discuss monetization, advertising networks, and blogging revenue. While my blog is brand new and nowhere near ready to monetize (if ever), advertising discussions are right up my alley, and I was curious to hear what people had to say about the topic.
I was really excited because it was A) my first Alabama Bloggers event, B) my first time meeting many great bloggers that I had been following for a while, and C) SNOWING! Kickass bloggers that attended the event were Rachel, Wade, Heather, Mitzi, Katherine, Sherri, Isaac, and others that I know I’m going to go back in and add because I forgot. I was especially excited to meet Rachel IRL, because I secretly think that she’s the cat’s meow!
Rachel and Wade led the discussion about the ins and outs of advertising on your blog. Even if you aren’t interested in monetizing your blog (or have never considered it before), here are my key takeaways that I think apply to everyone:
Create a media kit Rachel and Wade stressed the importance of developing a media kit to present to companies that either approach you or that you pursue for advertising. They said to include things like your audience, your blog focus, where are the best opportunities on the site to advertise, and how many views you average. While this is especially important if you are looking to advertise, I think going through the process of developing a media kit can be helpful for anyone with a blog. It will make you take a hard look at your posts and statistics and help ensure that your blog is still going in the direction you intended. Are your posts all focused around weight lifting when your blog is called In My Kitchen? Maybe it’s time for a blog overhaul.
Get creative in the ways you monetize Wade said that monetization is only limited by your imagination. Examples that he gave of ways to monetize beyond your blog were to organize events, offer consultations, and offer services related to your passion. For example, if you have a yoga blog, offer private lessons. If you blog about cooking, start a catering business or become a food critic. If you blog about running, offer coaching. Again, whether you’re interested in making money or not, these are all great ideas for bloggers to come out from behind their screens and do something with their passion.
Analytics are your friend, but can become your enemy Whether you use Google Analytics, WordPress Stats, or sites like Stat Counter and Site Reader, take a peek at the data every now and then. The data can tell you which of your topics are the most popular, where your readers come from, how much time they spend on your blog, and who are your biggest fans. From an advertising standpoint you can see what topics your readers are driven to, and then you can write similar posts. If your readers like your product reviews, reach out to companies and offer to review new products. From a general blogging standpoint, you should use the data to help develop and strengthen relationships with your readers. Look to see who comments and likes your posts, then reciprocate. At the same time, don’t sit and obsessively refresh your statistics page. You are bound to have good and bad blog days. Learn from both of them.
Don’t let anything steal your joy of blogging Media kits, second jobs, pages of analytics. Er, what if you want to blog purely for the sake of telling your story or sharing your interests? Everyone agreed that monetization isn’t worth it if you start to dislike blogging. Once it starts to feel more like a job, like you have to blog about something or other, then you’ve lost that spark. This applies to everyone with a blog—do it because you want to, because you have such a passion for something that you want to share it with others. Your blog will reflect your excitement, or lack thereof, and readers will react accordingly.
I learned a great deal for the future if I ever do want to create a monetization strategy, but more importantly the roundtable opened my eyes to the different things I should keep in mind as I continue to grow my blog. I can’t wait for next month’s discussion!
Thanks to Rachel for planning the meet-up, and to everyone else for their input. Please feel free to add anything I may have missed—I couldn’t write fast enough!