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It's Ok to Make Money Blogging

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We all want to be millionaires from blogging. Few of us achieve that level of success. Nevertheless, you wouldn’t be here unless you were at least interested in making money with your blog, if you aren’t doing so already. And, it is totally possible to make a livable income through your online business. The first hurdle in making money online is to realize that it is ok to make money online.

I repeat: It is ok to make money online.

The general public seems to have this perception that everything online should be free. That’s slowly changing. While the Internet is a great place to find free information, people really will shell out money for quality. You shouldn’t feel bad about charging for this quality.

A few weeks ago, I asked bloggers on one of my mailing lists to fill out a survey about their biggest blogging frustrations. One of the questions directly asked bloggers to choose from a list of common things bloggers want (more traffic, more money, etc).

One of the people who responded…well, her response kind of threw me for a loop. In a very snooty manner, she said that it never even crossed her mind to care about money or traffic; she does blogging for the love of it. Throughout the rest of her responses, she kind of implied that it was a bad thing I was doing, encouraging people to monetize their blogs. Apparently some banner ads or the occasional promotion of an affiliate link when you do a review is ok, but anything other than that is evil. It’s apparently a disservice to readers to be concerned with making money on your blog.

Personally, I believe that she’s part of an old school way of thinking that is dying out – and thank god. I believe the exact opposite. If you aren’t concerned with making money on your blog, that’s a disservice to readers. Yes, there are some great hobby bloggers out there, but the ability to make money with your blog means…

  • …you can quit your day job and devote more time to learning about your niche, providing better information to readers on your blog.
  • …you also have more time to spend answering emails and helping readers, since you no longer have to work at a non-blog job to pay the bills.
  • …you can offer readers multiple levels of interaction – free for people who just want basic information, and paid for people who want to learn more.
  • …you have more money to spend on blog design, increasing not just the look, but also the functionality of your blog.
  • …you are able to attend events in your industry, which gives readers a more direct experience on your blog, without worrying about paying the bills.
  • …you can pay for better hosting.
  • …you can buy items to review on your blog.

I read an interesting article the other day about paying for information, and although I’ve since lost the link, I can tell you this: The article compared websites to cable channels. No one expects cable to be free because it was never free from the start. People only expect information products online to be free because this form of entertainment and knowledge started out being free. More and more, however, the masses are understanding that you can’t get everything for free. Readers are becoming more accustomed to paying for ebooks, reports, videos, membership areas of websites, and more. At the very least, they’re starting to realize that if you buy products from affiliate programs, you’re supporting the website that you enjoy.

So if you’re a  new blogger, the point is that you need to stop feeling guilty for trying to make money online. Yes, there are scummy ways to go about doing it, but as long as you aren’t tricking your readers, you deserve to see some income from your website. You put a lot of hard work into providing useful information, so there’s no reason to feel bad when you start seeing revenue.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks it’s funny how people who don’t like monetized blogs would never imagine doing something (like writing professional blog posts) without getting paid.

Image credit: sxc.hu

Are You an Easy-Bake Oven Blogger?

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I’ve noticed something interesting in the world of blogging. People attempting to make money online are caught up in product launches, which is awesome, but the ones who are failing often have one thing in common. They don’t deliver any free quality content. I like to call these people “Easy-Bake Oven bloggers.”

Alli’s Tragic Easy-Bake Oven Story

When I was about eight, the thing I wanted more than anything for Christmas was an Easy-Bake Oven. Well, and a SNES, but that’s another story. Easy-Bake Over was the toy of the moment. If you were a child in the early ’90s, you understand. I mean, I guess it’s still around today, but it isn’t the same as the early models that cooked a mini cake with a light bulb. You were definitely not a part of the cool club in the third grade if you didn’t have an Easy-Bake Oven.

My mother was very much against toys that were messy or loud or expensive. She would bake real cookies with me all day if I wanted, but getting an Easy-Bake Oven from her was a no-go. Of course, a kid doesn’t really understand why it doesn’t make sense to buy a pile of plastic that cooks tiny, expensive, pre-mixed baked goods, but that’s beside the point. I was upset that I didn’t have an Easy-Bake Oven, especially when my cousin got one for her birthday.

After hearing all the hype at school, I was super excited when said cousin invited me for a sleepover, with the promise that we could play with her Easy-Bake Oven. I hurried to rip open the mixture packet and dump it into the pan. Then…we waited. For what seemed like hours. *Ding* Our barely-big-enough-to-share brownie was finished. And that was that.

I don’t know what I expected, but after that night, I never bugged my mom for an Easy-Bake Oven again. No matter how much it was hyped, my opportunity to test the darn thing was boring at best. It took us about thirty seconds to do any kind of “cooking” required, and then we just sat around waiting for a dried-out desert. I was glad my mom hadn’t dished out the money to buy me one.

A Culture of Expecting Stuff for Free

My story does have a point. If you want to sell an information-based product, like a video course or ebook, on your website, people aren’t going to buy it if their free experience isn’t awesome. Easy-Bake Over blogging isn’t going to cut it.

Point in case: I occasionally see someone Tweet about a product that interests me, so I check out the website. Usually, there’s some kind of content available for free – a short ebook, a video, some blog posts, etc. I base most of my decision on whether or not to buy the product based on the free content available.

We’re a culture that has come to expect information on the Internet to be free. I get just as frustrated about that as the next person, because I know how much work it takes to create content. If you think about it, though, it makes sense. Trailers entice people to see a movie. Music videos and radio play entice people to buy a CD. Samples at a grocery store entice people to purchase a food product.

Why shouldn’t we get something for free? We don’t want to risk our hard-earned money on an item that we know nothing about. The more we enjoy the free product, the more likely we are to make a purchase.

The Quality of Free

It stinks to spend time doing something that you’ll just be giving away to free. I have three words for you: Suck. It. Up. I’m not suggesting that you have to give your readers a free 100-page report sharing your best secrets. You want to save some really good stuff for whatever you have for sale.

But the quality has to be there. If you’re just regurgitating what can be found in your niche everywhere else, you better at least have a unique way to say it. No one’s going to buy a $497 course from a blogger who has nothing to give away but some posts with scraped content and a half-assed ebook. Look at anyone who is selling information products online. No matter what the niche, the people who are making the most money have proven themselves with free content first.

It’s more about checking your grammar and having an interesting idea, though. Quality also means that you’re providing a product that serves a purpose in someone’s life. Going back to the Easy-Bake Oven example, where this product failed for me, wasn’t in the fact that it was shoddily-made or uninteresting. In fact, for the price, I hope it was pretty decent quality (though as a kid, I didn’t take notice – I just knew that it was expensive), and it was definitely interesting enough to have me begging for one every time we passed a toy store.

But it didn’t solve my problem. One of a child’s most basic problems is “I’m bored. Entertain me.” Easy-Bake Ovens didn’t deliver, at least for me as a child, even though I know they sold quite well, so perhaps I’m the anomaly. In any case, if your product isn’t solving a problem for people, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you write or how cool your concept may be – few people are going to dig out their wallets. So ask yourself, what value are you bringing into someone’s life? Teach them to make more money, to lose weight, to find true love, to be happy with their career, to improve their tennis game…to solve whatever problem is common in your niche.

If your goal is to make money blogging, you need to give people what they want for free. It seems counterproductive, but over time, you’ll build a loyal following, and once you have their trust, they’ll open their tightly clasped fists and the money will start to flow.

Image Credit: Amazon

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