Blogging has become really simple. You can now get a new blog set up in the same time frame it will take you to drink your morning coffee. You can potentially share your message with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, which means you can share your products, services and recommendations too. So, should you monetize your blog from day one, or build a relationship with your readers first?
You may want to use your blog to help promote your books (like I do) your info products (I do that too, with The Busy Blogger’s Success Kit), or your services. You can also monetize your blog with advertisements, affiliate sales or sponsored posts, but should you start trying to make money from your blog straight away, or build your audience first? There are pros an cons to both approaches.
Let’s look at both options:
Building Your Audience First
Pat Flynn began his blog back in 2008. He created a fan base that loved his content before he ever tried to monetize his blog. When he did finally offer products and services to his followers, he was surprised at the level of success he had.
His audience came to know, like and trust him before he ever asked for them to spend a single penny. He’s now one of the bloggers who makes more than $10,000 a month from his blog, and his followers are some of the most devoted on the Internet.
Some readers prefer to establish a relationship with you first, before they see any attempts to monetize your blog content. In many niches, developing a loyal, engaged following is more important than trying to make money immediately. In other niches, monetization efforts are rewarded immediately.
I’m a fan of building a relationship with your readers before launching your own high-end product, but there are also a couple of good reasons to monetize in other ways, right from the start.
Why you may want to monetize from day one
The simplicity of affiliate marketing means you can potentially start making money from your blog from the day you go live. And you can do it in a very subtle way, recommending products you use, reviewing them, or mentioning them in a natural way. If you attempt to monetize your blog from the beginning, your audience knows what to expect. From your very first post they understand there are going to be products and services offered.
It is possible to make (a little) money from your blog very early on. When I launched this blog I followed my own advice and prepared a handful of posts in advance. They included a few affiliate links. Then I launched, with a small list I’d built up through the The Savvy Solopreneur Guides, and a lot of social media promotion. I have a fairly healthy social media following (especially on Twitter) so I started to see a little traffic straight away, and I made my first affiliate sale almost immediately.
Another good reason to monetize your blog posts from the beginning is that if you have a good content marketing strategy in place, you’ll be promoting those posts regularly in the future. Even if you don’t make any money in the early days (and you really shouldn’t expect to) you can build your following slowly over time and then send new followers back to those posts in the future. It’s as simple as adding your earlier posts to your social media schedule, or adding a PS to future emails to your list, with a suggestion to ‘check out this useful post on (insert interesting topic here) from the archives’.
Adding subtle monetisation to your blog from the beginning saves you going back and adding them later on, when your blog is getting lots of traffic and even older posts are seeing regular visits from new readers.
If you do monetize your blog immediately, follow these simple rules:
Don’t overdo it. Sites that are a mass of ads and offerings are a turn-off for the vast majority of readers.
Remember that you’re far more likely to make money from recommending affiliate products that you’re familiar with and can sincerely recommend, than you are my plastering your blog with ads.
Temper your financial expectations. A brand-new blog will take a while to attract traffic and conversions.
Keep it relevant. Offer your readers something that ties in with your content.
Promote your own products or services with a dedicated page on your site (such as this one where I showcase my ebooks or this one where I offer my freelance writing services).
And if you decide to build an audience first?
Get comfortable with the fact that blogging is time consuming and be sure you don’t mind putting in a fair bit of effort with no financial payback.
Plan ahead. If you plan to monetize at some point, build a readership who will be interested in your offers when you start promoting them.
Build an email list by offering a relevant free opt-in. Send your subscribers free information regularly. People are more likely to trust your recommendations if you’ve previously provided lots of value.
Start slow. Readers may be alienated if you start pushing products on them, never having previously done so. Start by recommending just one excellent product or service at a time.