Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for

Monetization

How to Turn Spam Emails into Blog Sponsorship Sales

Author:

spam emails sponsorship sales

Who among us doesn’t receive a mountain of spam on a daily basis? How would you like to turn those spam emails into cold, hard cash?

No, I’m not advocating that you reply to the Prince of Nigeria who wants to send you money. What I am suggesting, however, is that you can reply to some of those spam emails in a certain way in order to flip the sender from spammer to sponsor. Blog sponsorship sales can help you take your monetization efforts to another level, so this is an opportunity you should definitely consider, depending on your niche.

When is a spammer not a spammer?

There are three main types of spam, in my experiences:

  • Spam from scam artists, which actively attempts to deceive you in some way, usually to acquire your social security number and other personal information.
  • Spam that is completely off-target, sending you ads for erectile dysfunction pills and other products you don’t want or need.
  • Spam that is sort-of on target, but sent by a PR rep or agency who clearly doesn’t understand how to best communicate with bloggers.

The third type of spam is what you can potentially turn into blog sponsorship sales.

Let’s say, for example, that you write a food blog. You might receive pitches every day from people who want you to promote their kitchen products, say a new type of spatula. Most reps don’t take the time to engage with bloggers and build relationships. Instead, they just “spray and pray”– in other words, they send emails to as many people as possible, asking them to promote their Spectacular Spatulas, and hope that even a small percentage of those people actually write a blog post or send out a tweet.

They’re spammers, but they have good intentions. They don’t mean to clog up your inbox. They just want to tell you about their product.

The Step-by-Step Process for Turning Spam Emails into Blog Sponsorships

The good news for you? If you do a little work instead of deleting these emails, you might be able to make some money! Here’s the step-by-step process:

  • Step One: Research the product.

First, you have to make sure the product (or service) the “spammer” is promoting is actually something that fits your blog well. If you promote products just for the money, you’ll find yourself making readers angry. Do a little research. Make sure the Spectacular Spatulas you’re promoting are innovative, high-quality, and priced correctly, not expensive pieces of junk. Remember, even if you label something as an ad, anything you put on your blog is an endorsement.

  • Step Two: Make sure your advertising rates are listed on your site.

If you accept advertising, have a page dedicated to listing your rates. Determine what kind of sponsorships you’ll sell. Popular options include:

  1. Sidebar banner ads
  2. End-of post banner ads
  3. Sponsored posts
  4. Sponsored podcasts and videos
  5. Text links
  6. Sponsored social updates
  7. Giveaways

You can opt to not include prices or to only include very general price ranges, but remember that the more information you make public, the less time you’ll waste. Pricing is tricky, but if you’re fair and honest, you don’t have to worry about pricing yourself out of the market. It’s older, but I still love this post about how to set your prices.

  • Step Three: Reply to the form letter with a form letter of your own.

I keep a form email on hand where I can “fill in the blanks” and use to reply to anyone who sends me the third type of spam. Here’s an example of what I might send if I were a food blogger who received an email about Spectacular Spatulas:

Dear John Doe,

Thanks for your email about Spectacular Spatulas! While I’m not able to promote every product people mention to me, I do think this would be a good fit for my readers. I have several options for sponsorships on my blog, which would allow you reach my audience.

You can find these options here: *link*

I would love to speak to you more about my traffic statistics, demographics, and editorial calendar so we can work together to promote Spectacular Spatulas. Let me know if you are interested.

Best,

Allison the Food Blogger

I get a response about 1% of the time, which might not sound like much, but when you think about the vast number of spam emails you get in a day, that number doesn’t look so bad! Not everyone who responds ends up purchasing a sponsorship, but about 25% of the ads I sell come from me responding to spam. It’s not a bad deal, and I highly encourage you to give it a try if you’re interested in selling blog sponsorships.

Image credit: Bigstock (altered)

12 Reasons Why Your Blog Hasn’t Made You a Millionaire…Yet

Author:

reasons blog millionaire

A few months ago, we published an infographic highlighting the top young entrepreneurs who have made millions online. Believe it or not, this list doesn’t just include social network owners (like Mark Zuckerberg) and eccommerce business owners. Bloggers were also represented on this list of millionaires.

The next time your parents tell you to “get a real job,” just show them the potential!

That said, if your bank account looks anything like mine, you’re not at that million dollar point…yet. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a more advanced blogger, there are reasons you might have gotten derailed on your way to that million-dollar mark.

If you’re a beginning blogger, here are the main ways you’re sabotaging your efforts to become the next online millionaire someday:

1. You have a traffic problem.

Hands down, the biggest reason that most bloggers don’t make a full-time living with their blogs is that they don’t have the traffic to support it. Making money is always a numbers game. If you have 500 people walk into your jewelry store, you’re going to typically make more sales if you have 20 people walk into your jewelry store. More traffic is better! If you’re wondering what you can do to build your traffic, I recommend getting started with this post: 58 Ways to Get Noticed as a New Blogger

You also need the right kind of numbers. Even if you do have 500 people walk into your jewelry store, but none of them are interested in buying jewelry, you’re not going to sell anything. The same is true of your blog. While you want more traffic, you also want relevant traffic (i.e., traffic from people who are interested in your content and want to buy whatever you’re selling).

2. You don’t invest in your blog.

Blogging is so attractive in part because you can get started without a huge investment. But the truth is, as your blog starts to grow, going for all of the free options isn’t the best choice.

Sure, you can go for a free blog hosted by WordPress, Blogger, or another platform, but if you pay for blog hosting, you have more freedom to make money on your own terms.

Sure, you can install a free theme, but unless you have the time and skills to fully customize it, you’re not going to have as many options, nor will you have the SEO benefits you get with a premium theme.

Sure, you can install only free plugins, but there are also several premium plugins that you can purchase to increase the functionality of your blog.

I might be biased, but I fully believe that investing in education like conferences and online courses are imperative to your continued growth.

If you spend money on your blog the smart way, you’re going to see a return on your investment. Here are the top five ways I recommend spending money on your blog.

3. You’re trying to do everything yourself.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you work full time, that takes up about 40 hours, plus about 5 “lunch” hours while you’re at work. If you sleep 6-8 hours per night, that’s an average of around 50 hours. If you spend an around hour in the morning getting ready and eating breakfast, and around an hour eating diner, that’s  about 15 hours.

Which means you’re left with 50-60 hours per week to potentially work on your blog. I say potentially because you and I both know how much time it takes to deal with chores and yard work, grocery/clothes shopping, family obligations, and errands. My estimate is that the average person who also works really has 10-20 hours per week to spend blogging, if they don’t have any other hobbies or small children.

That’s 2-3 hours per day. Tops.

Millionaires in any industry have teams working with them to help make their business a success. This goes along with investing in your blog – if you want to start growing and making more money, you have to start hiring help. Otherwise, you’re going to hit a ceiling where it’s just not possible to make more money because you’ve run out of hours in the day.

Hopefully, before you hit that point, you’ll be able to quit your job to blog full time. But even then, you can’t magically create more hours in a day. You will need to start hiring a team. If you don’t, and try to do everything yourself, you’ll ultimately be capped by time.

4. You have nothing to sell.

Lots of bloggers get started making money with affiliate programs, sponsored posts, PPC programs, and ad spots on their sidebar. But with all of these money-making options, you’re only making a percentage of the total the sell price. A percentage is better than nothing, but what if you could be making that entire amount (or at least a much bigger percentage).

The key is to figure out a pain point for your audience and come up with something to solve it. For example, say you blog about personal finance. Your audience’s pain point might be not understanding how to best invest their money. If you write an ebook that solves this problem by teaching people how to get started investing, your audience will respond.

Something import to remember: what you think your audience needs might now be what they actually need. In our examples as a personal finance blogger, maybe the problem isn’t that your audience doesn’t know how to invest, but rather that they don’t know how to budget so they have money every month to use for investing. Or maybe the problem is that they know the basics of investing, but lack the motivation. Before you create a product to sell, consider polling your audience and doing some research to find out more about your community. That way, you can create a product they’ll actually buy.

5. You’re in writer mode, not business mode.

I am a content creator first and foremost. I think I do have business skills as well, but my perfect job would just be writing all day. I think a lot of other bloggers out there are similar. That’s why we blog: we love to write.

The problem is that writing alone doesn’t make you any money. You have to charge people to read it in some way, whether that is directly (selling books, for example) or indirectly (through ads on your free content).

Humans, I’ve found, tend to read about topics they enjoy. So, if you’re a writer, you probably read a lot about writing and how to write better. Continue to do that – master you craft. But also read about the business side of things. Learn as much as you can about marketing, about sales, about the ins and outs of running a business. If you can, even consider taking some business classes at a local community college. Get yourself into business mode.

The bonus? Because you are a writer, you are a naturally creative person, and that’s a skill you can’t teach. Lots of business people would love to have your creative skills! So you’re starting with an advantage. You just have to put a little effort into learning about the business side of things.

6. You haven’t networked with other top bloggers.

When I first started blogging, I was scared to reach out to other bloggers. I’m a naturally introverted person, so even online, I don’t go out of my way to meet new people. I would always worry that people would find me annoying or silly.

But you know what? If you’re networking for the right reasons – to be helpful and make friends – no one will mind your communications. In fact, most people welcome them. I love to get emails and tweets from people who enjoy my work or just want to get to know me.

By networking with top bloggers in person (when possible) and online, you’re connecting with people who can also help you build your blog traffic – and remember, traffic is the number one reason you’re not a millionaire. By building real relationships, people will naturally want to promote you, which is good for both direct traffic and for SEO.

7. Your content is still “beginner level.”

There’s something to be said for creating content for beginners. Actually, I think blogs primarily for beginners can be wildly successful. But are you a beginner? If so, you’re going to have a much harder time making money.

By this, I mean:

  • Are you new to your niche, without much experience in the topic?
  • Do you use works like “maybe” and “I think” a lot, displaying a lack of confidence?
  • Are your posts basic information found on several other websites, instead of insightful in some way?
  • Do you fail to link to other posts to support what you are writing?
  • Is your writing level sub-par?

I believe that it is impossible to teach the raw talent that natural writers have, but you can learn to become a better writer. Like I mentioned earlier, go out there and master your craft.

This is important for making money for two reasons. First, whether your reader is a beginner or advanced, they want to buy from an expert. It’s hard to position yourself as an expert if your writing isn’t great. Second, you’re going to get more traffic if your posts are amazing. People share posts that are awesome, not posts that are just okay.

8. You aren’t supporting your community.

When I was a kid, my parents owned a small business (a deli and butcher shop to be exact). On the counter, they always had a can of lollipops for the kids, and the parents really appreciated it. It gave the kids a little treat, something to keep them occupied while their parents took care of business.

My parents didn’t make money directly through the lollipops, but it contributed to their support of the community. It became a tradition for many families to stop once a week, pick up their fresh meats, and get the kids a lolly.

How are you supporting your community?

Let’s face it: there are hundreds if not thousands of other blogs in your niche they could be reading, and quality alone isn’t enough to set you apart, because the Internet is full of great writers. You have to go above and beyond.

If you do, they’ll go from being readers to fans, and it’s much easier to convert a fan into a customer than it is to convert a one-time reader into a customer.

9. You don’t care about SEO.

I’ve made the mistake of thinking that SEO doesn’t matter. “The best SEO is great content!” I would preach. And while I still believe that to be true, over the last year, I’ve made some minor tweaks to my SEO strategy and they’ve made all the difference. You’ll never read a post of mine that is stuffed with keywords unnaturally or written for search engines and not people. But the optimization is there, and it’s cause my traffic to increase.

Which, again, causes your income to increase as well.

SEO is a pain in the butt. People devote their entire lives to SEO, and when Google makes a change, we have to throw what we know out the door and start over again. But the basics do not change, and will help you create better content. Google’s entire goal is to reward good content, and if you start to play by their rules, they’ll understand that your content is good and start sending more search traffic your way.

10. You care too much about SEO.

Just like it’s a mistake to not care about SEO, it’s also a mistake to care too much. I’ve seen sites that are clearly optimized, and while the content is great from an educational standpoint, there is no soul behind it.

Your writing voice and style both matter. SEO brings people to your site, but you keep them there. That’s why a blogger like Jenny Lawson has a huge community of readers despite not optimizing her posts for search engines. Let your personality shine through, so you’re giving readers a reason to become a fan of your blog and a customer of your products.

11. You aren’t giving people what they want.

Remember when I talked about polling your audience to see what then want? Yeah, that’s a biggie. Your content needs to give people what they want or they sure as heck won’t want to buy anything from you or click on any ads.

The best way to give people what you want is to start with a well defined audience. Who exactly are you trying to reach? Think about your readers’ experience levels, sense of humor, income level, gender, and other demographics. A trick I learned from Darren Rowse is to actually write out the bio of a few of your readers. John Doe is a 50-year-old math teacher who enjoys playing the guitar and is reading your food blog to learn how to cook quick meals for his kids. Jane Smith is a 21-year-old college drop out with a strong work ethic who is reading your marketing blog to learn more about finding more customers for the bakery she recently started.

Keep in mind that what people want and what people need are two different things. People often don’t realize what they need, they only know what they want (i.e. what they think they need). When it comes to your free content, give them exactly what they need. Surprise and delight people with information they didn’t even know they needed. But when it comes to selling content? Need might not cut it.

People are usually not willing to drop money when they don’t know they need a product. People buy what they want because they think it is what they need. That doesn’t mean you should give your readers products that are unhelpful, but think about want and need when you are packaging your products.

12. You have no list.

Lastly, one of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is not giving people the ability to sign up for your mailing list. Having a robust mailing list can do wonders for your bottom line.

The fact of the matter is that you can’t rely on people to read you blog every single time there is a new post. Some people will, but more often, you’ll get readers who are busy and unable to keep up with all of the great content in their feed readers. If you don’t have a mailing list, you’ll have absolutely no way of reaching those people other than crossing your fingers and hoping they see your newest post.

A mailing list allows you to not only send traffic to your blog by reminding them to read your content, but it also allows you to promote affiliate sales, talk about new products you’re launching, and even sell services like consulting and freelance writing. If you aren’t already building a list, get that set up immediately and start emailing subscribers. Your bank account will thank you!

What changes are you going to make during 2014 (and beyond) to help you make more money as a blogger?

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

How to Transform Your Dormant Sites into Fabulous Sources of Passive Income

Author:

Transform your dormant sites

If you actually took the time to follow the advice of domain services experts in regards to buying and protecting your domain name, then you probably have a few dormant websites lying around. This is because these experts often advise us to buy as many TLDs of our chosen domain name as we can to protect our brand.

So, let’s say you were lucky enough to get the .com TLD for your preferred domain name and chose to buy the .org, .net, and .biz TLDs as well. What do you do with the three websites you aren’t actively using to grow your business? Believe it or not, you can turn these dormant ones into passive income streams!

What is a Passive Income Stream?

Simply put, this type of income stream provides you with a source of income with little to no need for constant upkeep as soon as the initial investment has been completed. When you write a book, for example, you make the initial investment of writing the book and then getting it published. After that, you simply wait for the sales to come in.

The Value of Passive Income

The value of passive income sources is that they provide you with multiple income streams. This means you earn not just from the business itself, but from a number of other sources as well. The importance of having several income sources lies in the fact that it protects you from a great deal of trouble in case you experience a downturn in your business. Passive income serves as a buffer, so to speak.

The idea of using websites as sources of passive income began when some people created websites with just a few pages of content and then promoted certain products as their affiliates. The owners of those sites earned a certain amount of money for every customer they sent to their affiliates. The only thing site owners had to do to keep their sites running was to update their content from time to time.

With the Google algorithm changes, however, this type of sites started getting penalized and soon dried up. Nevertheless, the field of online passive income remains alive to this day. After all, getting affiliates isn’t the only way for you to turn a dormant website into a passive income source.

Transforming Your Site Today

The key to turning a dormant website into a good source of passive income is to make it valuable to a certain group of people. Let’s take a quick look at two types of websites that are usually meant to earn passive income:

  1. A site that mostly contains pop-up ads, banner ads, and practically any other type of ad you can think of. I’m sure you’ve run into this kind of website several times before. This approach may require the least effort, but it also gives you the least return on your investment.
  2. A website that contains “How-to” articles, updated twice each month. This isn’t completely passive, since you’ll have to post new content from time to time, but it also doesn’t require much effort and is more likely to turn in a good profit.

In the above example, it’s obvious that the second website offers more value to users than the first. That’s why it stands a better chance of turning in a good profit. Here are a few tips on how you can add value to your dormant websites and turn them into good sources of passive income:

  1. Create an ebook

Check out all the “How-to” articles you’ve written or published so far. Do you think you can compile them into a book people would find interesting and helpful? Perhaps there might even be a way for you to expound on one of your articles such that you can turn it into a detailed guide. You could then use one of your dormant sites as an online store for your ebook.

Post a summary and teasers for your ebook on that site and then set up a mechanism to allow visitors to pay for and download the book directly from that site. To promote your eBook, you could post teasers on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts along with a link to the website. You could even post the teasers and link on your business website.

  1. Create a Subscription Service

As mentioned earlier, you could create a series of articles that offer something of value to people and then post these articles on one of your dormant websites. In order to earn passive income from the site, you could require payment of an annual subscription fee. If you choose to go this route, though, you have to make sure your articles are truly relevant, useful, and interesting so people will consider them well worth the fee.

  1. Create an eCommerce Website

You already have an official website, so why do you need another one for selling products? This question is probably going through your mind right now. Well, whatever your product is, there are sure to be other products that complement it or are related to it in one way or another, right? You could provide space on one of your dormant sites for other brands to sell their products and earn a commission from each sale made.

Let’s assume that your main products are contact lenses. You could earn passive income by allowing manufacturers of lens solutions, lens cases, and eye makeup to sell their products on your dormant site! Of course, the site will no longer be dormant when you do that, but that’s the point, right?

Dormant websites don’t have to remain dormant forever. They can be excellent sources of passive income as long as you know how to design them such that they offer real value to users. You can make use of any of the strategies discussed above or better yet, use them all on the different websites you have. The more passive income streams you create, the less trouble you’ll be in, should your business unexpectedly suffer financial losses. Remember, it always pays to prepare for the rainy days.

Do you have dormant sites? If so, any plans to turn them into passive income sites?

Image credit: Bigstock

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Three)

Author:

Step Three Create Your Product

So far in this guide, we’ve talked about building relationships to help you sell your product and about choosing the right product format and topic. Today, it’s time to get down to the meat of selling a digital product: we’re talking about how to go about creating the product itself.

It can seem like a daunting task. This is where a lot of bloggers get hung up and their digital product never happens. How many of us have half-finished products just sitting on our computers? Yes, I’m in this boat as well! But I’ve also finished products that have gone on to be very successful. So, today, I’m going to share with you the difference between creating a great product and losing steam half way through the product creation step.

Step Three: Get Organized for Perfect Product Creation

Creating a digital product falls into five main parts:

  1. Planning
  2. First Draft
  3. Polishing
  4. Editing
  5. Packaging

Some people only do step two and maybe three. This is a recipe for disaster! Let’s walk through each step from start to finish.

Planning for Product Creation

You might think that determining the type of product you’re going to create is all the planning you need, but if you don’t spend some time outlining and collecting your thoughts, your end product will suffer. Here are the steps I suggest you take before you start writing or recording:

  1. Brainstorm or mindmap your topic: Allow yourself to freely think about all of the ideas you have related to your topic that you could potentially cover.
  2. Edit your ideas: Not everything about the topic needs to make it into your product. You want to cover the topic adequately, but keep in mind that your product needs to be focused. If you have to many ides, your topic might be too broad. Focus for a single product or make plans to create several products.
  3. Organize the ideas: Once you’ve crossed off sub-topics that aren’t going to make the cut, organize the remaining ideas into an outline that makes sense for your type of product. For example, if you’re writing an ebook, organize by chapter. Or if you’re creating a video series, organize ideas by which video you’ll use to cover them.

Then, start to flesh out your outline. The more details you can add, the better.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m writing an ebook about Twitter, and one of my chapters is going to be on creating Twitter lists. I wouldn’t just leave it at that and start writing, though. I would break down the outline farther:

  • What is a Twitter list?
  • What kinds of Twitter lists should you create?
  • How to find people to add to your Twitter lists
  • Promoting your Twitter lists

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would break down this topic even further:

  • What is a Twitter list?
    • Definition
    • Explain how to create them
    • Why you should create them
  • What kinds of Twitter lists should you create?
    • Private versus public
    • Naming your lists
  • How to find people to add to your Twitter lists
    • Manually adding people to your lists
    • Tools to help you automate the process
    • Who NOT to include
  • Promoting your Twitter lists
    • Should you promote your lists
    • Methods for promotion

Now, if i were really going to write an ebook on this topic, I might break down these topics even farther. That way, when I start writing, I just go down the list and make sure that every topic makes it into the book in the write order.

First Draft and Polishing

Once you’ve planned, it’s time to start creating your product. I’m going this the “first draft,” which typically refers to written content, but your videos, membership site, course material, etc. can all be “first drafts” of sorts. Basically, we’ll talking about the first attempt at creating the content.

This step is where a lot of projects go to die! :)

Here are my best tips for getting it done, even if you don’t have tons of free time (who does?):

  • Have content creation goals. For example, when I’m writing an ebook, I set a goal to write a certain number of words every night before I go to bed. Or I might have a deadline to finish each chapter Stick to these small milestones. The first time you give yourself permission not to complete your daily tasks is the beginning of the end.
  • Use content you already own. Blog posts, older video scripts, etc. can be reformatted and used to create new content. This takes a lot less time.
  • Give yourself a work time and space. Every night from 10 PM to 11 PM you sit in your home office and write. Or every Monday during your noontime lunch break you record one video in your dining room area. Having a set schedule and location for doing your work can help you meet your goals.
  • Set a firm deadline. These are a little different from goals. A deadline is a time for the entire first draft to be done. The best way to make your deadline real is to tell someone (like an editor) when the draft will be available. That way, you’ll hold yourself more accountable. If you work with a mastermind group, you can also work with others to hold one another accountable for meeting goals and hitting deadlines.

Part-way through the product creation process, a weird things sometimes happens: you figure out that you’re doing things in the wrong format. That’s okay! Now is the time to change your idea a bit to better play to your skill set and make sure that you’re giving your future customers the best possible product.

Once you have a complete first draft, it’s time to polish it. This is the self-editing process can be difficult, but try to be liberal with your red pen. Cut unnecessary words and even unnecessary sentences or full sections if you’re producing written content. For other content, be just as liberal with cutting sections. You want to present your customers with the best, most focused product possible.

Editing

So if you’ve already self-edited to polish your work, why am I calling this section “editing”? Because self-editing and proofreading isn’t the same as having someone else look at your work to give you feedback. I know a lot of people cut costs in this area, but if you work with an editor, your final product will be much stronger.

And if you don’t have a great final product, customers will disappointed and less likely to recommend it to their friends.

If you don’t have a big budget, here’s how you can still get a great editor for your product:

  • Trade services with a friend: You edit their new ebook, they edit yours. It’s easier to see mistakes in others’ work. This is a great way to get free feedback and even proofreading services.
  • Offer a free “sneak peak” to your top community members: Give them free access in exchange for providing feedback on your product. This isn’t good for proofreading, but it is good to get general comments on how to make your product better.
  • Work with a VA: Virtual assistants (VAs) are often available at a very low cost, and they do great work. Find someone who specializes in editing and proofreading, preferably in your niche/industry.

Don’t skip this step. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Packaging

Lastly, once the content of your product is created, you have to package it. You need to design the ebook and create the pdf. Or you need to upload your videos and create a page to host them. Or you need to design your membership site. Or…well, you get the picture.

In the food blogging world, the saying is that people “eat with their eyes first.” In other words, you have to make it pretty if you want to sell it. So don’t skimp on this part either. Hire a designer if you can’t do the work yourself.

Along with packaging, you need a distribution method. Here are a few options:

  • Put the content behind a pay wall on your site. People will need to log in to view and/or download this content. The easiest option for this is a service like Wishlist Member.
  • Use a service like E-Junkie for easy distribution when someone purchases the product. You can also do this through PayPal, though other services allow you to have an affiliate program as well.
  • Manually distribute the product whenever someone buys it. This requires virtual no set-up, but can be too hard to manage depending on your sales. If you go this route, you may need to hire a VA to help with this process.
  • Set up an email sequence to distribute the product. For this option, you’ll need an advanced email management program, like Infusionsoft, where payment processing is also an option.

I can’t give you advice on which mention you should use. That depends on your specific product, the skill level of your customers, your budget, and your projected sales. Look into all of the options and try to stick to just one for all of your products if possible (this is the easiest option!).

Now…go out and create your digital product! Next up, we’ll talk about preparing for launch day. If you missed any of the posts in this series, you can view them below!

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product (this post)
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Two)

Author:

Step Two Choose the Perfect Product

Yesterday, I started this “selling digital products” series with step one, about building relationships. Today, let’s get into the meat of selling digital products and actually talk about the type of product you’re going to sell.

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of just starting to create, but in actuality, it behooves you to put a little thought into determining what product will be perfect for your audience. It might not be the product you’re initially inspired to create. This is one time that you don’t want to go with your gut, at least without giving your gut’s advice a little thought.

So, the second step in selling digital products is examining your options and choosing what kind of product to sell.

Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product for Your Blog

In thinking about the product you’re going to sell, there are two main things to consider:

  1. Topic
  2. Type of Delivery

Topic is the most important category, so let’s start there–but make sure you read to the end to learn about type of delivery as well, as this makes a difference to your bottom line too.

Your Product’s Topic: How do you choose?

If you want to make money on your blog by selling a digital product, you have to think about what your audience really wants. A poll is a great place to start, but sometimes your audience doesn’t know what they want or need.

To have a better grasp on what will sell, think about Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’re not familiar with Maslov, his hierarchy lists what people want/need in life, in order of importance to survival. At the base of the pyramid, you have things you actually need to live, like food and water, and as you move up the pyramid, you see other wants/needs in order of importance. This video explains it well:

In the video, the speaker is talking about this pyramid in relationship to helping mental health patients. But anyone who is selling a product, digital or otherwise, should access where their product falls on this pyramid as well.

What problem does your product solve for people? The lower this need, the more people who are likely to buy it. For example, if you’re selling pills someone needs to live, that’s going to be a higher priority for someone than if you’re selling jewelry or tickets to a sports game.

Now, it is possible to sell products no matter where they fall on this hierarchy. But the higher you go on the pyramid, the more money you need people to have. If someone doesn’t have a ton of disposable income, they’re going to spend their money on an ebook about financial planning before they spend their money on an ebook novel.

Of course, not everyone makes smart financial decisions, and some people spend beyond their means, going to the movies when they don’t have enough money for rent. But in general, the higher your digital product falls on the hierarchy, the higher income your average customer needs to have.

Here are some more great tidbits of advice when it comes to choosing the topic for your next digital product:

Product Delivery: What Type of Digital Product to Sell

After choosing a topic, you also have to choose a delivery method for the information. You can choose this first, but I like to think about topic initially, before I decide how to deliver the information. In my mind, topic is key!

Here are some of your options for digitial products:

Ebooks: These can be anywhere from 10 or so pages to hundreds of pages long. The digital formatting means that you don’t have to keep inventory in stock or pay for printing, so you cut your self-publishing costs significantly.

Here are arguments from people much smarter than myself about why ebooks rock:

White Papers: Like ebooks, white papers are traditionally text-based. The terms are actually used interchangeably in many cases, though a white paper delves more deeply into the topic and focuses on thought-leadership, instead of a general overview like you get with an ebook, and are extremely data-driven. White papers also often focus on explaining the specific benefits of a product, service, technique, or way or thinking. They are also usually very text-heavy, as opposed to the “hipper” highly-designed ebooks that many people are producing.

I like to compare white papers versus ebooks to scholarly articles in journals to educational articles in well-respected magazines like Time or Rolling Stone or Popular Mechanics (or whatever is comparable in your niche). Both give you great information, and often cover similar topics, but the scholarly articles are on a different level (though that doesn’t make them better…they are just written with a different goal in mind).

Courses: Sometimes, an ebook isn’t quite as organized as you want the information to be. So, instead you can offer a course with lessons. This allows you to present the content in a way that encourages more action from anyone who purchases it. Course don’t just include text, like an ebook, but also activities for the student to complete. Course can include workbooks, suggested reading lists, videos, and more.

This video from David Siteman Garland is awesome for explaining why online courses are great for packing your information:

Tutorials: Maybe you don’t need a full course on your topic of choice. Maybe you just need a tutorial (which can be text, audio, video, or a combination). Tutorials are shorter, but typically teach a highly-desired skill to learn. For example, you might sell a tutorial on you beauty blog about how to achieve a certain hair style that you’d typically have to pay to get at a salon.

Membership Sites: If you have lots of content to share, a membership site might be the right route for you. Membership sites can include virtually any kind of content – blog posts, interviews, videos, even full courses, and you can also build an “inner circle” community behind the pay gate using forums and other means for members to talk to one another. One of the great thing about membership sites is the recurring revenue stream option. While someone might pay for your ebook once and be done, with a membership site, they’ll pay you a small amount every month, and often, even people who never log in don’t take the time to cancel!

Here are a few resources about why membership sites might be a good option for digital information distribution:

Webinars: You might be able to charge $100 for consulting or coaching on your topic of expertise, but there’s a ceiling with this business model. If you work 8 hours a day, you can only make $800 max. Even if you were super human and could work every single hour of the day, never sleeping, you’re still limited to making $2400 a day. Nothing to sneeze at, for sure, but what if you could do the same work, but make ten times that amount? With paid webinars, you can. Webinars allow you to teach a class on your topic to a live audience, then open the floor for questions. You won’t make as much per person as you would if you were working with them one-on-one, but you still have a higher earning potential this way. Instead of coaching one person for $100 an hour, you can coach 50 people at once for $20 an hour each – and make ten times the amount!

This is not an exhaustive list of infoproducts you can choose to sell, of course! You can sell just about anything if you have a community of willing buyers!

The key is to match your digital product’s topic with the format that makes the most sense. If you’re teaching someone a very visual skill, like how to bake bread for example, you probably want a video tutorial or course, or at least an ebook with a ton of pictures. The answer isn’t always what is cheapest or easiest to make. You’ll sell more products if you really think about what your audience needs, because when people like your product, they tell their friends!

So take some time to brainstorm. Then come back for tomorrow’s post in this series, all about how to actually create your product!

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product (this post)
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

How Should I Spend Money on My Blog?

Author:

how should i spend money on my blog

Over the last few years, blogging has gone from “that kinda weird thing that Internet people do” to mainstream. My mother still uses a pre-paid cell phone, has never been on Facebook, and had dial-up Internet up until about a year ago. And she has a blog.

One of the biggest reasons that blogging is so attractive is that it is a way to enjoy your passion that requires little start-up cash. Heck, it costs more to go to a baseball game with your family than it does to start a blog. You can even get started with absolutely no money.

As your traffic starts to grow, however, you might want to spend a little money on your blog. Recently, we posted an infographic featuring bloggers who made millions online. You can bet your britches that these people have invested money into their blogs! Now, yesterday, I wrote a bit about the advantages of paid targeted traffic, but if you’re a beginner, there are other things you should start paying for first.

Without further ado, here are the top five ways you should spend money on your blog:

Hosting

The number one thing you should purchase if you want to continue growing as a blogger is hosting. While millions of bloggers have gotten their start on Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, or another freely hosted blogging platform, very, very few free services allow you enough freedom to really grow your blog. Sponsors/advertisers and customers will take you more seriously if you own your own site. Think about it. When’s the last time you saw a successful blog on a wordpress.com or blogspot.com site?

First, you need to purchase your domain name, which costs around $10 per year depending on where you register the name, and whether you want a .com name or a different extension, like .net, .org, or .me.

Then, you need hosting, which costs as little as $3 per month, depending on the size of your site, the company providing the hosting, and whether you purchase by the month or pay several months in advance. As a blogger, you really shouldn’t have to pay more than $10 per month.

So, in total, you’re looking at $75 – $150 per year (or $6 to $13 per month) to own your own site. You can spend even less money if you look for a sale. If you spend no other money on your blog, spend money on this.

Premium Themes and Plugins

Next, for many bloggers, it makes sense to invest in a premium theme and some premium plugins. Yes, there are a ton of free options out there, but the features you get with premium themes and plugins can help you grow.

As far as themes go, you can choose options such as Thesis, Headway, or Genesis, or you can choose to subscribe to a membership site where you pay one fee to have access to lots of themes. Woo Themes is an example of this kind of membership site and while you will be paying month instead of a flat fee, these membership options are typically a good choice if you have several blogs or change your theme often.

Premium themes can cost as little as $5 and as much as several hundreds of dollars. Most of the time, you get what you pay for.

Now let’s talk about premium plugins. There are thousands of choices out there. Pay for the plugins that make the most sense for your blog and your goals. You can also find “freemium” plugins, which means you have access to the plugin for free, but you have to pay if you want additional features and support.

Some Premium plugins that I really like are:

  • CommentLuv: Freemium – I purchased the upgrade and LOVE it! Not only does it give you Look for a sale and you can upgrade for a very reasonable price. When I purchased, I think I paid $30-40 for unlimited use, which is normally $97.
  • Gravity Forms: $39 for one site and support for a year
  • Visual Composer: $25 for one site, and well worth the money if you build complex pages
  • A/B Theme Testing: $10 for one site, and great if you want to test different themes to see what performs better
  • Backup Buddy: $80 for two sites or $100 for ten sites (with options for more at higher price points)

Of course, this doesn’t scratch the surface of the premium plugins available for bloggers, so I recommend doing your research to find those that are going to really enhance your blog, based on your goals. (And if you have a favorite premium plugin, leave a comment below to tell us about it!)

Education

I might be biased, but I believe that one of the best investments you can make as a blogger is in education. I work for NMX not just for the paycheck, but because I really believe in what this company is doing to help teach content creators to be better at what they do. I always walk away having learned something! If you’re not already signed up for our next show, I highly recommend it (you can learn more here).

Conferences aren’t your only option. If you want more education, here are some other options:

  • Online conferences, courses and programs, such as our virtual ticket
  • Single webinars/videos (often these are free, but sometimes there are premium options)
  • Ebooks (again, often these are free, but sometimes there are awesome premium ebooks you should consider)
  • Print books from experts in the topics that interest you

Of course, you should also be reading other blogs, which is completely free. It always boggles my mind when bloggers say they “don’t have time to read other blogs,” which really means they don’t make time to read other blogs. Education blogs (like this one and others like it) are invaluable for learning more about blogging.

Virtual Assistants and Contractors

How much is your time worth?

Let’s say that you have a few hours every day to work on your blog. In those hours you can be doing any number of tasks; as most bloggers know, you could fill a hundred hours a week with blogging work!

A virtual assistant or a contractor can help you with low-level tasks so you can work on other tasks that are going to help you make more money. For example, you can have a virtual assistant help with emails so you have time to write more blog posts. Or you could have a contractor write some posts for you so you have time to work with sponsors.

With virtual assistants and contractors, you don’t always get a more trusted, skilled person if you spend more money. I’ve worked with VAs who charged $5 per hour and were excellent. I’ve also worked with VAs who charged $20 per hour and did a horrible job. You really have to do your research to find the person who is a right fit for you.

As a sidebar, one of our speakers, Chris Ducker, runs a company that specializes in helping people find VAs. We love Chris, and if you’re looking for virtual help, definitely check out his services at Virtual Staff Finder.

Mailing List Services

Lastly, I highly recommend that you invest in your mailing list. There are free services to get started, like MailChimp, but I like the premium services offered by other companies a little better. My personal favorite is Aweber (for bloggers), and if you need a more robust CRM and marketing tool, not just a way to send emails, there are more expensive services out there, such as HubSpot, Marketo, and Infusionsoft. With mailing list services, you’ll pay by the size of your list.

Feedblitz is also an option. This service combines RSS and email so you can reach readers with the content they really want.

When someone visits your site, you have no way of reaching them again if you don’t have a mailing list. Even if they follow you on Twitter of Facebook, there’s no guarantee that they’ll see your updates, since the Twitter stream moves so quickly and Facebook status updates aren’t seen by everyone.

With a mailing list, you can reach the reader where they live the most…in their inbox.  You can send them newsletters to help build trust, links to your blog to help boost your traffic, and product recommendations to help you make more money. You can also survey your readers using your mailing list, allowing you to find out what kind of content they most want.

So there you have it: my top five recommendations for spending money on your blog. Do you invest in your blog? If so, how do you spend your money? Leave a comment letting us know!

Full disclosure: some of the companies mentioned are past or current NMX/BlogWorld exhibitors and sponsors or are owned by past or current NMX/BlogWorld speakers. It’s hard to keep track since we’ve had so many people working with us over the years! I never recommend a product I don’t believe in, though. If you have any questions about NMX’s relationship with a specific company, let me know!

Better Blog Pages: Pages to Help You Make More Money (Day Five)

Author:

This post is part of a five-part series about creating better blog pages. You can see all the posts in this series here.

If your blog is monetized, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to make more money while still keeping content quality high. Creating a few pages with monetization in mind is one of the best uses for your time. On my own blogs, I’ve made thousands of dollars over the course of the last few years with the creation of the following pages:

An Advertising Page

Sometimes, advertisers will simply look at your about page or contact page, but my advertising inquires increased by tenfold when I put an advertising page on my site. This page simply covers some of the most common questions advertisers have, like demographics and pricing.

I really encourage you to list some baseline prices on your advertising page. This helps cut out people who email you and want free link trading or have a very low advertising budget. You don’t have to give specifics, but you can list ranges or your starting prices to give potential advertisers an idea of what they’ll need to spend to work with you.

Even if you have a contact page (which you absolutely should), include your email address on your advertising page as well. You don’t want people to have to work to figure out how to email you about buying advertising!

A Sponsored Post Page

One of the forms of advertising I offer on some of my blogs is a sponsored post. So, I have a separate page just for this, which answers the most common questions and gives pricing information. You might want to simply include this as part of your advertising page; it depends on your niche and how many sponsored posts you want to include on your blog. Before adding a sponsored post page, I would get requests three or four times a year. Now, I get about two every month.

The biggest benefit to having a sponsorship page is that you can talk about the quality you want in a sponsored post. Before, of the few posts I was offered every year, at least half of them were very poor quality—nothing I would publish. Now, most of what I get is on point.

A Resource List

If you make money with affiliate sales, I recommend creating a page with your top resources using your affiliate links. (Of course, include a disclosure that they are affiliate links.)

This isn’t just a way to make money. It’s also a quality resource for your readers. Customize the list for your niche (for example on one of my sites, The PinterTest Kitchen, we have a list of kitchen supplies we like since it’s a food blog). Don’t forget to keep your list updated so it’s always relevant for readers.

I also recommend creating some posts on your blog that are really specific about certain resources. For example, if you have a fashion blog, you could have a page for general resources, but at some point you might create posts like “The Top Ten Shoes Every Girl Needs to Own” or “My Favorite Hair Tools of All Time.” Link to these posts on your general resource page.

A final page that I really recommend every blogger has (if your blog is monetized) is a disclaimer/disclosure page. The FTC requires you to disclose when you have relationships with certain companies you blog about or when links are affiliate links. Having a blanket disclose page helps you comply with these rules. This page can also include other notices and policies, like your comment policy.

Introducing Our Brand New Free Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship

Author:

If you’re a blogger or podcaster wondering how in the world others in your field have caught the attention of major sponsors, you aren’t alone. Working with brands can take your content monetization to the next level, but sponsors don’t just materialize out of thin air and offer you cash for your blog or podcast – at least, not most of the time.

I get email questions about sponsorships at least once or twice a week: How do I find brands who want to sponsor me? Should I work with such-and-such a brand or will it make my fans angry? What can I do to make more money working with sponsors?

Our newest free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship, answers all of these questions and more.

I’m not going to sugar-coat things; working with brands can sometimes be a challenge. Many brands don’t fully understanding blogging and podcasting, so you often have to be an educator as much as a salesperson. Our ebook is all about helping you learn these skills so you can be successful when working with brands.

Let me give you a little sneak preview of the ebook with a quick FAQ about sponsorship!

What is blog/podcast sponsorship? Is it right for my blog/podcast?

Brands want to advertise their products and build their communities, and they can do so by working with influential bloggers and podcasters. This can be in the form of advertising, or you can work more in an ambassador type of relationship. Sponsorship is not right for every blogger or podcaster, but there are so many different options for sponsorship deals that you should definitely consider the options before writing it off completely.

What kind of sponsorship deals can I offer?

Depending on your type of content and niche, you can offer anything from banner ads on your sidebar to travel sponsorship deals where a company will pay to send you to a trade show. Other common sponsorship options include spoken ads (like commercials) , sponsored posts, sponsored social media messages, and wallpaper sponsorship.

How can I make myself attractive to sponsors?

The best case scenario is a sponsor emailing you with interest in working out a deal. This will never happen, however, if you’re unattractive to sponsors. You have to have quality content, decent traffic numbers, and a media kit. It can also help to create an advertising page and use language on your blog or in your show notes that will help sponsors find you when they’re searching for opportunities.

When will sponsors start contacting me?

You might be sitting around and waiting by the phone for a pretty long time. Instead, take matters into your own hands! Our ebook goes over five great techniques you can test out in order to find sponsorship deals instead of just waiting for them to happen. Be proactive!

Should I work with Brand XYZ?

In every niche, there are certain brands you want to avoid. It’s important to evaluate every potential sponsor, rather than just saying yes every time money is offered. There are several types of sponsorship deals you should avoid at all costs – and when you say no, you can definitely do so  in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges, so you can potentially work with the sponsor in the future on a different deal.

How much should I charge?

That’s a huge question, and the answer depends on several factors, including your traffic, the type of sponsorship, and your niche. Our free ebook covers this question in much more detail, along with some step-by-step options for setting prices.

How can I make even more money working with sponsors?

Are you offering package deals? Have you reminded brands already working with you about their sponsorship options? Have you created a relationship that will last long-term? Yes, you can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month with a single sponsor if you’re smart about it!

These FAQs are just a brief taste of what you’ll get in the full 130-page ebook we’ve created. So, if you’re ready to take your monetization strategy to the next level, download The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship today!

17 Free WordPress Plugins for Blog Monetization

Author:

monetization plugins for bloggers

One of the reasons I like WordPress as a blogging platform is the vast library of plugins to add functionality to your blog. No matter what your niche, there are tons of awesome plugin options, many of which we’ve already talked about here on the NMX blog, along with other awesome tools for your blog.

Today, I wanted to highlight plugins that play a specific role – helping you monetize your blog. If you’re looking for ways to make money with your blog, these WordPress plugins can help. (Disclosure: Some of the below-mentioned companies/people have exhibited at our events in the past or have other relationships with NMX, but they aren’t listed here because of that connection. They’re listed here because I honestly thing they are good tools to consider as you’re monetizing your blog!)

These plugins are listed in alphabetical order not in order of importance, and not every plugin is right for every blog, so use a discerning eye to determine which are right for you.

1. Ad Injection

If you want to include ads within your post, not just on your sidebar, this is a great plugin to consider using. Ad Injection works with Google AdSense, Amazon, ClickBank, and lots of other ad networks. Ads can be injected into your content at the beginning, end, or random spots throughout, and you have tons of control over who sees these ads, as you can limit ads by post length, post age, and more. You can even split test with this plugin to see which ads are preforming best.

The biggest reason I recommend Ad Injection over some of the other ad plugins out there is the amount of control you have with this tool. It’s pretty easy to scare readers away if your blog is too ad-heavy, so with Ad Injection, you have the control you need to make sure your content isn’t getting overwhelmed. The ability to target specific readers based on parameters such as how they were referred to your site is an added bonus.

2. AdRotate

As the name implies, AdRotate is a simply plugin that allows you to have rotating ads on your blog. I find this plugin a little less intuitive to use than others, so make sure you set aside some time to read the documentation and learn how to use it. Once you do, however, there are a lot of cool options. You choose the ad sizes and add them to group or blocks, and you can see the click through rates and other stats in the dashboard.

This plugin also warns you when ads are about to expire, allows you to export ad statistics, automatically disables ads after your designated time/number of clicks/etc., and more. So, once you set it up, this is a very easy automated system for ad management on your blog.

3. Affiliate Link Cloaking

The Affiliate Link Cloaking plugin allows you to use a “pretty” URL that redirects with your affiliate URL, giving you the capability to make money without a link that includes your affiliate ID. This ensures that the user does not remove the ID (yes, some people do that for some reason), and it also makes your links look nicer (some networks have really long, ugly-looking links).

A word of caution: NEVER use this of other link cloaking plugins to “trick” a reader into clicking the link. Always follow FTC guidelines and disclose any link that is an affiliate link.

4. Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer

I recommend some other Amazon plugins (see below) that you can use to add links, images, widgets, and more to your site, but definitely install Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer as well if you are an Amazon affiliate. What this plugin does is add your affiliate code to any Amazon link on your site, so if you forget to use an affiliate link, you won’t miss out on the sale.

Even better though – this plugin automatically detects where a visitor lives and directs them to their country’s Amazon site. So, if not all of your traffic is from one country, this ensures that you’re sending people to the same product on their localized Amazon site. You can pretty much install this one, update the options to include your affiliate IDs, and forget about it.

5. Cleeng Content Monetization

People are willing to pay for good content, and Cleeng Content Monetization gives you an easy way to create a pay wall, like you’ll find on membership sites, but without requiring membership. Anyone who wants to see more content simply clicks to pay a very small amount, but you can still keep the majority of your content open to the public in order to take advantage of advertising revenue. You can also work with a traditional membership subscription model or give out daily passes. There are a lot of options.

Here’s a great video that explains how Cleeng works:

6. CrankyAds

The CrankyAds plugin from Yaro Starak allows you to add text, banner, and video ads to your blog pretty easily. A lot of other plugins do the same thing, but there are a few functions that set CrankyAds apart:

  • The plugin automatically creates an advertising page for your blog with all of your ad options.
  • The process is streamlined, so while you don’t have quite as many options as you do with some other plugins, you have a much simpler method of monetizing your site with ads.
  • You don’t have to do any of the manual uploading yourself – your sponsors do the work.

Although this plugin is free, when someone buys an ad, they do so through the CrankyAds marketplace, and they of course take a cut of the money. Some bloggers have also noted that they don’t like the auto-populating advertising page. CrankyAds is relatively new, however, so I think we can expect to see some improvements over the next several months. It’s definitely worth checking out and keeping your eye on, even if you’re not sold on it right now.

7. MSMC Redirect After Comment

Like some of the other plugins on this list, the MSMC Redirect After Comment plugin doesn’t have to be used as a monetization tool, but it certainly can be. With this plugin, whenever someone leaves a comment, they’ll be redirected to a page you specify, rather than just back to whatever post they were reading. So, you could have them redirect to a sales page, an online store, or even a list of “products I recommend” with affiliate links. There are a lot of possibilities with this plugin, and at the very least, it allows you to keep your readers on your site longer in many cases. The longer someone stays on your blog, the more likely they are to buy a product, sign up for your email list, or tell their friends about you.

8. Outbrain

Outbrain is a “related links” widget that can be used across many platforms (including WordPress). You can use this plugin to do internal linking, which typically decreases your bounce rate, but it’s also a monetization tool – if you want it to be. Some content creators pay Outbrain to distribute their posts on other blogs. If you write something related and agree to have outside posts linked as part of your Outbrain widget, you’ll be paid for the traffic you send to that sponsored content. With Outbrain, you have full control over the sponsored content you allow linked on your site, and you can also indicate other sources you’d like to include in the “related links” section when relevant, so it’s a great way to support your favorite bloggers.

9. PostPost

If you want to monetize your feed, PostPost is a great plugin option. With this plugin, you can add content before or after your posts/pages. Simply add the code snippet or text via the options and it will start appearing. PostPost supports JavaScript-based code, which means you can use it with Google AdSense and other ad networks, or you could also display affiliate ads, text/banner ads sold directly to sponsors, or even your own products.

10. PostRelease

When you sign up for PostRelease, you open your blog up to a brand new automated revenue stream – sponsored posts. With this plugin, you’ll join a network of publishers, and companies interested in content marketing will automatically be matched with your site. So, for example, a car company might write a post called “How to Buy Tires For Your New Car” and be matched with your automotive blog. The post will appear on your blog exactly like any of your own posts, and will be marked clearly as “sponsored.”

From your dashboard, you can approve or deny sponsored posts, as well as track stats. If a sponsored post is not performing well, PostRelease will delete it so your site isn’t continually cluttered with posts your readers don’t like. One feature that I really like is that sponsored posts will always show up second in your feed. So, your own content won’t be overshadowed on your homepage if a PostRelease posts is published after it. Your content always takes center stage.

Check out this video to learn more about PostRelease:

11. SEO Smart Links

The primary function of SEO Smart Links is to allow you to easily link internally on your own site, but you can also use this plugin for affiliate advertising. Basically, you input a list of keywords, along with the URL you want to link to whenever the keyword is used.

If you do choose to use this plugin for external affiliate linking, make sure you don’t overdo it. You don’t want to have links on every two words in your post! Also make sure you have a disclosure notice on your blog so you’re complying with FTC rules requiring you to tell your readers that you use affiliate links.

There is a premium version of this plugin available, but you can start off with the free version.

12. Sharexy

As a blogger, you probably already realize how important social sharing buttons are on your site. Sharexy is one of the button options out there, but unlike other social sharing plugins, this plugin also allows you to earn a little extra money on the side. One of the options you have with Sharexy is to also display a small advertisement, and you’ll earn money for every click.

I personally have never used Sharexy on any of my blogs, but have stumbled across this plugin more than once, and some people seem to really like it. So, it’s definitely an option I’m considering and one you should take a look at as well.

13. WordPress Amazon Associate (plus some other Amazon plugins)

This is an awesome plugin for anyone who’s an affiliate with Amazon. Yes, you can just log in on Amazon.com and get all the links you need that way, but with WordPress Amazon Associate, you don’t even have to leave your dashboard. The shortcodes you can use with this plugin save you time, and adding pictures and lists of products is easy to do in a professional way with WPAA.

For me, having WPAA right in WordPress also serves as a reminder to me as I’m writing posts to think about what products I could recommend to my readers that are related to the post topic. You, of course, don’t need to add affiliate links to every post you write, but recommending products that are helpful to readers is definitely a revenue stream you can explore.

Amazon Link is another Amazon affiliate plugin that you can consider. I do not have personal experience using this plugin, but it looks like it has many of the same functions. I’ve also read good things about AmazonSimpleAdmin, which is another Amazon plugin for affiliates that provides some of the same functions as WPAA and Amazon Link.

14. WP125

For those of you needing a simple ad management solution, WP125 is an easy-to-use option. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll find with other ad plugins, but sometimes, simple is better. With this plugin, you can easily add and manage 125×125 banners on your blog, either in manual or random order. This plugin also tracks how many times each ad was clicked, so it’s a great option for all-in-one affiliate ad management as well, not just for ads you sell to sponsors. In addition, you can have the plugin notify you via email when an ad expires, which is great for manually following up with people.

I personally do not use WP125, but I know people who do and like it due to its simplicity. If you’re just getting started and don’t have tons of banner ads to manage yet, check it out.

15. WP Auctions

Ever wish you could offer items up for bid online without using eBay? With WP Auctions, you can. This is a great option if you already have decent traffic and are selling some items closely related to your niche. You’re not going to have nearly the amount of viewers as you would on eBay, but for some people, this could work.

WP Auctions integrates with PayPal for easy payment when the auction is over. Along with selling items, keep in mind that you can also get creative with this plugin by auctioning off ad space, holding auctions for charity, etc.

16. WP e-Commerce

If you sell your own products, like ebooks or e-courses, WP e-Commerce is a great shopping cart solution. This plugin integrates with PayPal, Google Checkout, and more – and you can even accept checks via mail with this cart system.

Designers, rejoice! This plugin gives you complete HTML & CSS control, so you can customize your shopping cart experience. Don’t worry, though: if you aren’t technically inclined or don’t have an eye for design, the out-of-the-box version looks nice too.

Some other WP e-Commerce perks?

  • The ability to offer discounts, coupons, sales, free shipping on physical products, etc.
  • URLs that are search engine friendly
  • Integration with many common plugins and platforms
  • The ability to decide if you want one-click checkout or a multi-step process
  • Sales notification via email

I could keep going – you really have to check out this powerhouse plugin yourself to see all the cool options, most of which are available with the free version. For those of you out there with heavy commerce needs, there are also some paid upgrades available here.

17. WP-Insert

WP-Insert is similar to Ad Injection in that it allows you to include advertising not just on your sidebar, but within your content as well. With this plugin, you have a lot of options for control, such as blocking ads from showing on certain pages/posts, ad style customization, add the option to inset your ads into your RSS feed.

This plugin has a unique feature – the ability to add a ready-made Terms and Conditions page and a ready-made Policy page to your blog (if you want them). This isn’t an option every blogger needs, but as you grow, these are definitely pages you should definitely consider including on your blog. The written T&C/Policy pages can be edited easy to fit your needs, but it’s nice to have a starting point.

WP-Insert is really more than just an ad management tool. For some of you, the various functions will be welcomed, while others might find it a bit clunky because there are too many options. Check it out to see how/if it can fit into your needs.

Your turn: What WordPress plugins do you find helpful for monetization?

The Number One Mistake You’re Making if You Want Sponsors

Author:

You have awesome content. Your traffic is steadily increasing. You’re setting yourself apart from other bloggers and podcasters in your niche. And yet, still, no sponsors or advertisers are knocking on your door.

Why? Why is no one interested when it seems like “lesser” content creators in your niche have more opportunities than they know what do do with? Why are you suddenly the last kid to get picked in gym class, the girl without a prom date, the smelly boy sitting by himself at lunch?

Easy: there’s a huge zit on your face, and it needs to be popped.

Bloggers and podcasters make one mistake more often than any other, and I should know; I’ve made this mistake too. Recently, while listening to Marcy Massura speak at BlogWorld New York 2012, I swear a light bulb clicked on above my head.

The number one mistake you might be making too is this: If you want family-friendly sponsors, you have to be family-friendly.

What does that mean? Let’s take a look at Disney, for example.

Think About Disney

Now, the likelihood that a company as big as Disney will sponsor your blog is low unless you have mountains of traffic, but let’s say you have a travel blog and you really are blowing other travel bloggers out of the water. You’re getting nearly a million hits a month and driving a ton of traffic to advertisers’ sites, which is going to make Disney sit up and take notice.

But what happens when they get to your site and see an f-bomb every two sentences. Is Disney going to slap a sticker of approval on your blog? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter if your target audience is parents, not kids. Disney is a wholesome, family company. If they endorsed a foul-mouthed blogger it wouldn’t be in line with their company branding.

Now, Disney might not be your target, but any family-friendly company from a Fortune 500 corporation to a family-owned local travel agency is going to feel the same way. You become a risk, and risks are not good. So, instead, Disney and Mo’s Travel Shop are both going to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere.

Think about Disney when you’re writing or recording. If they wouldn’t be happy with your language and content, you should think twice before posting it online.

How Scandalous!

It goes farther than foul language, though. I know some content creators who never use a word stronger than “darn,” but family-friendly companies still shy away. Why? Because you’re scandalous in some way. You create controversy that makes the company uncomfortable. Here are some examples:

  • You’re argumentative on your blog, podcast, or social channels.
  • Even though you aren’t in the political niche, you voice strong political opinions often.
  • Your content has a strong religious slant or bias.
  • You party at professional conferences (or elsewhere – and pictures/videos are posted online).
  • You attack other people in your niche or industry.

In other words, you rock the boat. And not just by writing op-ed pieces regarding what’s going on in your niche or including your opinion when you discuss the news of the day on your podcast. You rant, belittle, and take no prisoners even when the topic has nothing to do with your niche.

Again, you’re a risk. If a company sponsors you and your next piece of content is a rant about gay marriage or the next election or whatever the hot topic of the day might be, you put that company in a very awkward position of looking like they agree with whatever you’re saying, even though they haven’t voiced an opinion one way or another. They’re guilty by association, and your opinions might cost them customers who don’t agree.

If you’re scandalous in any way, sponsors are going to be scared. Just look how many sponsors left when Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked student Sandra Fluke.

Your Brand Matters Most

Regardless of what sponsors want, however, keep in mind that your branding needs to come first. Being a buttoned-up blogger or a demure podcaster might not make sense for you. We need people to question the status quo and certainly there’s a large audience who likes the more edgy style. I hope Erika Napoletano never stops “slapping” people, and I would cry if The Bloggess suddenly became a family-friendly blog. There will be plenty of people – and even plenty of sponsors – who are happy to support this kind of style.

Maybe dropping those f-bombs every two sentences or promoting your religion or being snarky on Twitter is what works for you and your community. That’s okay. Just understand the costs associated with this type of branding. Certain sponsors will never come calling if your content isn’t family-friendly. Be aware of your goals for sponsorship so you can make sure your content is setting you up for success, not scaring potential sponsors away.

Want to learn more about getting sponsors for your blog or podcast? Check out our monetization track at NMX Las Vegas!

What’s New on the NMX Blog:

NMX 12 Days Of Giving: Day 1 – Complimentary VIP Upgrade

NMX is pleased to once again present our annual 12 Days of Giving event, where we offer a special gi...

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. (Please Confirm Your Subscription by Visiting Your Inbox)

Categories

Archives