Early today, I was catching up on my feed reading and I came across “3 Simple Steps To Running Your Blog Like a Business,” a guest post by Srinivas on DavidRisley.com. He makes a number of great points throughout this post, but what I’d like to highlight today is his first point: if you intend to make money with your blog, you need to do quarterly reports on your monetization efforts.
Srinivas’ point was that you should have a way to track what you’re doing on your blog. I’d like to back up for a moment, though. Before you can track anything, monetization or otherwise, you need to set blogging goals.
The Goal Game
Setting goals isn’t as easy as saying “I want to make a ton of money.” Of course you want to make a lot of money. Who doesn’t? What you need is a tangible goal, a specific goal. Your goal has to be something you can achieve. How do you know when you’ve earn “a lot of money”?
The problem with setting goals is that it can be easy to feel like you’re a failure if your goals aren’t realistic. I once set a goal of earning $500 per month with a brand new blog I was developing. That was a totally unrealistic goal for my niche.
On the other hand, in some niches, especially after you’ve been running the blog for a few months, $500 per month is in no way an unrealistic goal. In fact, you might surpass your goal by so much that you don’t develop the blog to its full potential. You feel like you can rest on your laurels because you’re doing so well, when in fact, your blog could be making ten times the amount with a little more effort.
I recommend making your first monetization goal, “I want my blog to support itself.” Pay your hosting. Pay for anything you’ve purchased for the blog, like a header design. Pay for Aweber or whatever email subscription service you use. Pay for prizes that you give away. Make your very first goal to break even. From there, you can more easily set goals that are out of reach right now, but achievable with a little work. You want your goals to always be just a little out of reach so you’re always moving forward.
From Goals to Monetization
Once you have your monetization goals set, it’s time to figure out how to reach them. I think this is where a lot of bloggers fall short. Once you set your goals, how are you going to get there? If you just start throwing ideas out there, seeing what sticks, your success will be as fickle as your methods. If you have a plan, on the other hand, you have a much better chance at actually reaching whatever goal you’ve set.
Think about the different ways you can monetize a blog. Which ones will work best for your blog? Come up with mini-goals for each effort in order to reach your overall dollar amount goal. For example, maybe you make $100 per month with Google ads. Maybe you make $300 per month in sidebar ad sales. Maybe you make $50 per month in affiliate sales. You get it the idea.
Now we get to the real reason I wanted to highlight Srinivas’ post – monetization tracking. Whether you reach your goals or not, it’s important to have a quarterly report so you can see clearly where you’re succeeding and where you’re failing. It’s easy to look at your overall goal and say, “Yes, I’ve made it” or “No, I’ve fallen short,” but unless you analyze why, you’ll never grow as a blogger.
The key is to not get too discouraged when your reports aren’t what you want them to be, especially as a new blogger. It takes time to build a blog. If you aren’t seeing results after several months, you should rethink your approach to blogging. Tracking make it easier to see how you’re failing and why, so reorganizing is much easier if you need to do so.