This is a guest article by Joe Pawlikowski. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
It is incredibly difficult to lose money on a blog. The overhead is so low that even CPM ads, AKA webmaster welfare, can pay the bills. As sites grow and require more expensive hosting packages, they can usually extract more for CPM ads, so it all evens out. In other words, blogs that lose money probably aren’t trying that hard to make it.
But you’re trying hard to make your blog more profitable, right? You want to get as many eyeballs on it as possible, right? Good. Then we’re on the same page. There are a few ways you can approach these ideas. There’s just one catch..
At some point, it’s going to cost you money.
Don’t worry, though. Much like your hosting costs, you can recoup these dollars via future earnings. But in order to break through barriers, you’ll have to break a few eggs. Fortunately enough, the resulting omelette tastes delicious.
Affiliate Marketing is not easy but it's worth it!
The Pitch: Affiliate Sales
Affiliate sales is a term every blogger should know in some form. It is a potentially lucrative way to monetize a blog or other online venture. Many companies offer affiliate programs, which allow third parties to sell products and get a commission. There are plenty of companies that aggregate affiliate offerings, allowing you to find many programs in one place. Starting with affiliate sales is remarkably easy.
It is remarkably difficult, however, to make money at first. You can implement affiliate links on your blog, and you can even try to promote them a bit. But chances are, no one’s buying what you’re selling. There are many steps you have to take before you can successfully implement affiliate links onto your site. And yes, those resources will cost you money.
The Solution: Conferences
Every year there are a number of conferences for affiliate marketers. Just google it and you’ll find dozens of results, which reveal conferences all around the country. The industry is large and full of veteran experts who have been doing this since the late 90s. That’s a wealth of information available to you. All you need to do is get to the venue and pay for admission.
The admission price is pretty set in stone. It’s what you pay in order to gain the benefits of others’ knowledge. There are other costs involved, but those you can help control. For instance, Affiliate Summit is an annual affiliate conference in New York City. You can use a travel site such as Orbitz to find a package deal that provides a discount on airline tickets and New York hotels (which, as you can see, are not cheap). Little hacks like this can go a long way, and they can help keep your costs down while traveling.
Remember, though, that in the end it’s all an investment. You’re going so that you can turn that plane ticket, that hotel room, and that admission ticket into dollars from your blog.
While affiliate sales can earn you plenty of money, they require heavy volume in order to be truly profitable. You’re earning a small margin per sale, so you need a lot of sales for those pennies to add up. They’ll add up far faster than CPM advertising, but there are far faster ways. Selling your own products directly to consumers can be a profitable endeavor for bloggers.
As with affiliate sales, it’s tough to get the ball rolling. The big difference between the two is the overhead. You’ll have to pay for research, for manufacturing and other types of production, for shipping, for storage, and for a number of other costs. It might not sound very enticing. This is why many bloggers do not travel this path. It’s just not safe, and it can put you deep in a hole.
Yet there is a solution that can minimize your overhead while maximizing profits.
The Solution: Information Products
You know something about something. Everyone does. With just a little focused research, you might even become an expert in that field. The great part about being an expert is that you can then sell your expertise in the form of ebooks and other electronic products. These take little money to produce, so what you make is almost pure profit. They do take your time, which is your most valuable resource, but if you spend your time right the returns will amaze you.
It will require a significant time investment, at first, to gain expertise in a field. Once you get there, you’ll need to spend time researching which types of information products you’ll offer. A newsletter is useful, since it allows you to remain in constant contact with prospects. That can help you sell ebooks, e-learning videos, audio guides, and other products. The actual product creation could take the least amount of time. Once you find the structure, the content creation should be relatively easy, since you did all the research beforehand.
Implementing affiliate and direct sales to your site can provide more income than you ever dreamed possible. The catch is that doing either requires discipline and an investment. In other words, you’ll have to spend money to make money. But, since that’s how businesses have done things since time immemorial, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Are you ready to invest in your blog, and yourself, yet?