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The 12 New Media Days of Christmas 2011: 12 Bloggers Monetizing

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During the 12 New Media Days of Christmas, we’re counting down the days until Santa comes by featuring some of the best blog posts of 2011 from awesome writers within the BlogWorld community! Skip to the end to read more posts in this holiday series and don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve written a post about today’s topic!

To start things off this year, I wanted to highlight a topic that I know is on many of your minds: Monetization.

Monetization can mean a lot of different things – everything selling ads on your sidebar to writing your own ebooks. I’ve gathered some of my favorite posts from 2011 about monetization across a number of topic areas; check them out!

Post too long? Head to the Quick Links section for just a list of the links included in this post without all the analysis and quotes!

1. Looking for Money in the Grass by Tom Webster at BrandSavant

Tom’s story of finding a $20 bill one day as a child perfectly describes one of the biggest problems in monetization today – junk science. In other words, we’re so hungry for an answer to how to best make money online that we don’t take a moment to verify facts or test a hypothesis. Worse yet, in my opinion, is that we’re willing to do what other bloggers tell us is “best” without taking the time to understand how these actions will translate to our own monetization efforts. Writes Tom,

We mine our tweets and retweets, and discover that noon is the best time for us to post. Or we discover that more of our emails are opened on Thursdays. In short, we look at historical data, and we find a $20.00 bill. We watch webinars telling us that we are more likely to find that twenty bucks on a weekend, or after midnight, or on a boat, or with a goat. We accept the easy answer – the “what.” We don’t ask the more difficult question: the “why.”

After checking out Tom’s post, head to @webby2001 to follow him on Twitter. You can also pick up the books he’s written: Twitter Users In America, The Social Habit, The Podcast Consumer Revealed or find him as the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for Edison Research, a company best known for providing exit polling data for U.S. presidential elections.


 

2. How to Make Money Online Though Blogging and Writing by Kristi Hines at Kikolani

This is a different kind of post, focusing not on making money on your own blog, but on how to make money as a writer for other blogs. This is my main source of income, so it has a special place in my heart! Kristi’s post on making money as a blogger is amazing. I’ve been freelancing since 2005, so it’s rare to come across a post that is totally original and helpful. If you’re interested in making money online this way, this is a post you want to bookmark. She even covers topics like promotion in this post. Kristi writes,

No matter how you decide to make money online through writing, the one thing that you will need to do to make a good impression with the sites you write for is promote your posts. Blog promotion isn’t just for blogging contests. Blog owners and businesses will be more likely to want more content from you if your posts are some of the most popular ones on their site.

Like I said, this is one you’ll want to bookmark if you’re interested in getting paid to write blog posts. You can also find Kristi on Twitter @kikolani, add her to your Google+ circles, and check out her ebook, Blog Post Promotion: The Ultimate Guide.


 

3. My First Product by David Risley at DavidRisley.com

I love it people aren’t afraid to talk about some of the mistakes they’ve made or the processes that led to the success they have now. In this post, David Risley talks about his experiences mailing out CDs loaded with ebooks and software, and how the same ideas behind this product are still relevant today.

Writes David,

I eventually stopped selling that CD because times had changed. More and more people were using high-speed internet connections. And the medium of delivery was very much turning to the Internet rather than CD.

But, it all started somewhere.

With a necessity. And with me simply providing a convenience to my readers.

You can find David on Twitter @DavidRisley or add him to your Google+ circles. He leads The Inner Circle, an exclusive members-only club, as well as offers training programs for bloggers such as 3-Day Money and Blog Masters Club.


 

4. 101 Ways Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Readers by the Inside CRM Editors

Holy list of resources. This is a fantastic post with over 100 links and tips to help you get started making money online. I love it when a post really delivers, and this one definitely does. They writers can compiled a list here that covers a huge number of monetization methods, from RSS ads to merchandizing to sponsored posts. From the post:

Blogging is big business these days, with some bloggers reporting six-figure or even million-dollar incomes. There are a number of ways that these bloggers earn such large paychecks, and the best know how to do it in a way that won’t scare off readers. Check out 101 ways that you can earn money from your blog and learn strategies for using these tools and methods in a way that’s reader-friendly.

Inside CRM is a great resource site for marketers and sales professionals. You can find senior editor analyst Chris Bucholtz on Twitter @bucholtz.


 

5. Should You Monetize Your New Blog Now or Wait? by John Chow at JohnChow.com

It’s one of the most commonly-asked questions: when should a blog be monetized. As monetization master John Chow says it best, though, there’s no right or wrong way to answer that question. It depends on your blog. However, just because you can monetize right away doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. In the post, John writes,

The right answer for you depends on what your goals for the blog are. If you’re goal is just to make a few extra bucks, then you can use Google Ads from the get go. If you’re looking to build a solid and lasting blogging business that will allow you to live the Dot Com Lifestyle, then my recommendation is to wait before putting on the ads. John Chow dot Com made no money for the first eight months of its life. There were zero ads on it and no affiliate promotion of any kind.

John then goes on to explain the reasons why waiting made sense for him and why it might make sense for you as well. After reading the post, you can find John on Twitter @JohnChow and like his blog on Facebook, where you’ll find information on how to download his Ultimate Blog Profit Model ebook for free.


 

6. Every Tool You’ll Ever Need To Create and Launch An E-Book by Jonathan Wondrusch at By Bloggers

Dudes. This is a seriously awesome post that really does include all the information you need to know to create your own ebook. It’s a super long post, but well worth the read, even if you’ve created ebooks in the past, because it will make your ebooks better. Even better, Jonathan includes both premium and open source/free products that will help you create your next ebook, so even if you’re on a budget, this post will be beneficial for you. It’s another “must bookmark” link! From the post:

While there are a lot of amazing tools to choose from, I realize that not everyone is going to be able to dish out the money needed for the higher end ones.  Mixed in with the premium products that are used in professional digital publishing, there are Open Source and free options included whenever possible.

Blogging Bootstrappers need to find a balance of keeping their expenses down, but also creating killer products.  With the tools listed, there’s no reason that won’t be possible.

Jonathan is on Twitter @bybloggers and you can also like By Bloggers on Facebook. In addition, he has a free ebook available called Epic E-Book Creation, and if you sign up for his mailing list, you’ll get the Bootstrappers Toolkit, which includes the The E-Book Creation Explorer’s Guide.


 

7. How To Increase Sales For Your Online Store By Tracking Custom Variables by Steve and Jennifer at My Wife Quit Her Job

This post is actually a follow-up to a post they published about using analytics tracking to improve their online store. Both are worth a read if you’re interested in merchandizing. Really, though, I find that their tips and techniques for using analytics to track sales can work for a variety of monetization methods, including affiliate sales and informational product creation. There are some fantastic methods outlined in this post.

Don’t get me wrong. The default tracking of Google Analytics is extremely powerful. But if you want to get down and dirty with specific aspects of your shop, you will need more power than what is provided out of the box with Google Analytics.

By default, Google Analytics spits out too much broad based information for you to interpret correctly. In order to effectively use analytics, you must learn how to filter out only the information you need and focus on what will make you the most money.

Also available on the My Wife Quit Her Job site, you can sign up for their mailing list to receive the free mini-course How To Create A Profitable Online Store In 5 Easy Steps. You can also follow them on Twitter @mywifequit and like the blog on Facebook.


 

8. 10 Quick Steps to Becoming a Virtual Entrepreneur! by Chris Ducker at Virtual Business Lifestyle

No matter how you’re monetizing, you need to start thinking of yourself as a business owner. In this post, Chris goes over nine steps to get started, and his awesome community chips in with lots of comments with more tips. There’s nothing “quick” about building an online business, but in actuality, when you break it down like Chris has in this post, it doesn’t have to be such a daunting undertaking. Writes Chris,

To become successful as a virtual entrepreneur takes more than just building a few niche sites and relying on Adsense (although we do enjoy it, don’t we VBL Niche Site Project peeps!?). I’ve taken a huge journey over the last couple of years, becoming more and more virtual as time has passed. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

So, today I thought it would be a good idea to create a small selection of tips and tactics for everyone to follow, if they are not ‘quite there’ in regards to ‘going virtual’.

You can find Chris on Twitter @chriscducker. He’s the virtual CEO of the Live2Sell Group, Virtual Staff Finder, and YourWebPA. You can also find him on YouTube and get his free ebook, Saving the Day the Virtual Way, by signing up for his mailing list on the Virtual Business Lifestyle sidebar.


 

9. A Counterintuitive Guide to Pricing Your Best Work by Tyler Tervooren at Advanced Riskology

I’m frequently asked how I price my services, and although I think the process is different for every person, I really like the argument that Tyler makes in this post: sometimes, you should give away your very best work for free.

Writes Tyler,

The rule I try to follow:

  • General and insanely useful = Free
  • Specific and insanely useful = Paid

The very best pieces of your work that apply to a general audience should be free and if someone wants it in a format that fits their unique situation, there’s a good opportunity to ask for a sale.

Don’t fret about giving away so much for free. That’s a silly problem, and I think too many people worry about it. Instead, worry about how you can give even more of your very best work away for free. When you do that, you find hordes of people paying when you ask them to even if they can’t personally use what you’re selling; they’re so happy with what you’ve given them already, they want to support you however they can.

Trust me, everyone; this post is worth a read. I’m into making money as much as anyone, but some of the points Tyler makes in this post hit the nail right on the head. After checking out the post, you can find Tyler on Twitter @tylertervooren and like Advanced Riskology on Facebook. He also runs the Guerrilla Influence Formula e-course and has a number of other products for sale at his store.


 

10. The Give Me Society by C.C. Chapman at CC-Chapman.com

On the other end of the spectrum from Tyler’s blog, there’s C.C. Chapman’s post about why you shouldn’t be ashamed to charge money when you have something of value to offer. I actually don’t think the two posts are in competition with one another – they both make the point that it is okay to sometimes do work for free, while other times charging for your time. I like C.C’s assertion that we don’t have the right to judge anyone for charging for a service or product. Writes C.C.,

I’ve been seeing more and more people complaining about individuals or groups deciding to charge for some of what they create. This give ME mentality reminds me of whiney first graders who can’t always get a cookie every time they ask for one. Not only do they want fries, but they want them drowned in gravy, covered in cheese and then fed to them by a half naked waitress with a cute smile. In other words, they want it all and they want it on their terms.

After reading the post, head to Twitter to find C.C. @cc_chapman or add him to one of your Google+ circles. You can also pick up a copy of the book he co-authored with Ann Handley, Content Rules.


 

11. Seven Ways You Can and Should Start Charging for Your Content by David Spark at Spark Minute

So now that I’ve included two posts about whether or not you should charge for your content itself (not just monetizing your blog with ads and the like), I wanted to highlight a post that reviews the different options you have for doing so, should you decide that this is the monetization route for you. This is a fantastic post from David Spark that covers everything from creating content tiers to fabricating scarcity. In his post, David writes,

Now that people are paying for digital content, and we’re making sense of what has value. How have people successfully charged for their content, and how can you do it? Here are seven successful techniques you can use to actually charge people for consuming your content.

Not all of these techniques are going to be right for you, but there are some good ideas here that you should be considering. After checking them out, you can follow David on Twitter @dspark and find out more about his social media company, Spark Media Solutions.


 

12. How to Create an Affiliate Program that Doesn’t Suck by Sean Ogle at Location 180 (Guest Post for Laura Roeder)

Normally, I try to include posts from the blogger’s own site, but this was such a great guest post that I just had to share it! One of the best ways to monetize is to create your own products, whether that’s some kind of informational virtual product (like an ebook or e-course), a physical product (like a print book or t-shirts), or an event (in-person or virtual like a webinar). To help make more sales, having a good affiliate program is key. In this post, Sean talks about how to make that affiliate program attractive. Remember, the more people promoting your products, the more sales you’ll ultimately make. Writes Sean,

Just yesterday I received an email about promoting a product that said this:

“Includes an incredible affiliate offer where you can make nearly 25% off every single sale!”

The product was $47 with a 20% commission and no other incentives.  I’m sorry but $9.40 just doesn’t excite me that much.

The reason most affiliate programs suck is because most owners of these programs care only about themselves.  They don’t want to devote the time and money to doing it right, which results in very few sales for you, and even less money for your affiliates – which let’s face it, is the whole point.

So how do we fix this?

Check out the post for the answer to Sean’s question, and then head to Location 180 to read more of his work. You can also follow Sean on Twitter @seanogle and join his membership community Location Rebel to learn how to build a virtual business. (This guest post’s host, Laura Roeder, is on Twitter too @lkr)


Quick Links

For those of you short on time, here’s a list of the links covered in this post:

  1. Looking for Money in the Grass by Tom Webster (@webby2001)
  2. How to Make Money Online Though Blogging and Writing by Kristi Hines (@kikolani)
  3. My First Product by David Risley (@DavidRisley)
  4. 101 Ways Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Readers by the Inside CRM Editors
  5. Should You Monetize Your New Blog Now or Wait? by John Chow (@JohnChow)
  6. Every Tool You’ll Ever Need To Create and Launch An E-Book by Jonathan Wondrusch (@bybloggers)
  7. How To Increase Sales For Your Online Store By Tracking Custom Variables by Steve and Jennifer (@mywifequit)
  8. 10 Quick Steps to Becoming a Virtual Entrepreneur! by Chris Ducker (@chriscducker)
  9. A Counterintuitive Guide to Pricing Your Best Work by Tyler Tervooren (@tylertervooren)
  10. The Give Me Society by C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman)
  11. Seven Ways You Can and Should Start Charging for Your Content by David Spark (@dspark)
  12. How to Create an Affiliate Program that Doesn’t Suck by Sean Ogle (@seanogle)

Other posts in the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series will be linked here as they go live:

12 Bloggers Monetizing (this post)
11 Emailers List Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting
7 Community Managers a-Managing
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

You can also check out the all the posts from 2010 and 2011 here , and don’t forget: If you wrote a post in 2011 about today’s topic (monetization), PLEASE leave the link in a comment below to share with the community!

How to Prepare You Blog for the Holidays

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I hate the fact that some stores are already playing Christmas music and putting out holiday items. It’s not even Halloween yet! But maybe they’re onto something. Companies start preparing for the holidays now so they can maximize their profits over the next few months. As a blogger, you can do the same. I’m not proposing that you change your color scheme to green and red or add a bunch of dancing snowmen that cha-cha across the screen every time the page is refreshed; I am suggesting that you start thinking about the holidays now – yes, even though it is only October!

Product Pre-Orders

For the holidays, I like to collect gifts throughout the year when I see items that would be perfect for my loved ones. I hate the thought of picking up last-minute gifts on Christmas Eve (or the eve of whatever holiday you celebrate). I’ve started buckling down to collect gifts in the past few weeks, which means that, in many cases, I’m pre-ordering items. Now’s the time for you to talk about these products on your blog!

By the time December rolls around, people are in such a panic to order items that they don’t have time to read reviews and consider multiple options. They just buy. But right now, you’re going to get the attention of more concerned consumers, the type who want to learn as much as possible about products before hitting that buy button. Cater to them with reviews, product buying guides, comparisons, and other more in-depth posts about popular items in your niche that can be pre-ordered for holiday gifts.

Get Linked

If you write posts directly before Christmas, you’re not going to get linked from other bloggers. It will be too late. Right now, if you’re talking about products that people can buy as gifts, there’s still time for other bloggers to link to you when they write gift-buying guides and other holiday-related posts.

When you write posts that include affiliate products, try to be extremely helpful. Readers don’t like to feel like people are selling to them. Instead, be a resource or guide, with the affiliate link as the secondary reason for the post. If you do that, your readers won’t hesitate to buy, but more importantly, as you head toward December 25, others will link to you.

Start Writing Posts Now

During the holidays, people are busier than usual, so you’ll probably see a slight drop in stats (depending on your niche of course). You can combat this by continue to provide high-quality posts without any kind of slow season. One of the reasons I believe most bloggers see a drop in stats during the holidays is that they aren’t blogging as often.

Start writing some posts now that you can schedule or make live when your days are filled with holiday parties and visiting relatives. You don’t have to completely finish them, but having a few almost-done posts waiting as drafts really makes it easy to keep your post count up, even if you don’t want to spend as much time blogging.

Don’t wait. The holidays have this tendency to sneak up on us, and before you know it, it’s already December and you don’t have any posts on reserve. If you start now, slowly producing one or two extra posts every week, you’ll have enough on standby for the holidays but you won’t need to add hours or work to your otherwise busy current schedule. You can even do some special video posts to wish your readers a happy holiday.

Think About Giving

As bloggers, I don’t think we’re obligated to spend time and effort supporting various charities. But during the holidays, it’s hard to ignore that thee are a lot of people out there who don’t have things as good as you do. If you can’t donate money, consider donating some time by writing a quick post on your blog about a cause you support – yes, even if it doesn’t relate directly to your blog’s topic.

It is, however, pretty easy to find something that does interest you – or to work with a well-known charity to do a fun twist on fundraising. For example, Vincent from The Robots Pajamas runs Geeks for Tots every year, which promotes giving to Toys for Tots during the holiday season while also tying into his blog’s geek niche. Get creative! At the very least, take a moment to write a single post promoting giving to your favorite charity. It only takes  a few minutes and doesn’t cost you a dime.

How do you prepare your blog for the holidays?

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