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?
Disclosure: Links in this post (and anywhere on The Savvy Solopreneur) may be affiliate links. Find out what that means here.
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.
6 thoughts on “Is It Ever Too Early To Monetize Your Blog?”
My blog is almost 2 years old and I’ve not monetised yet but I do want to in the future so thanks for the tips. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare
Hannah Spannah recently posted…5 reasons why your child should play golf
Thanks for stopping by, Hannah. Maybe I’ll see some steps towards monetization next time I visit your blog!
Karen recently posted…Six Reasons Network Marketers Need A Blog
Excellent post, Karen – nicely balanced. We generally believe in the “Marc Z approach” – waiting a while, as outlined in “The Social Network.” We clipped a little snippet from that movie that’s on-point…
You lose a little touch of coolness or “purity” when you start monetizing. And most solopreneurs, when they first start out, start at 0 visitors per day ( you had more behind you, of course 🙂 ). Even at 100 visitors per day, you don’t lose out on much income by foregoing the placement of ads, aff links, etc.
But you do get a clean chance to win fans over with excellent, value-appreciated content. Many won’ t even CONSCIOUSLY realize why they feel better about your site, don’t “see” what’s not there. But you feel it. Our recommendation walks a middle ground…
We generally recommend waiting until 1% of your pageviews per day adds up to a certain amount of money that kind of hurts to leave behind. That amount will vary per individual and according to your niche, but it’s the most flexible and reasonable we could think up. 🙂
There is a danger, though. Some folks REALLY don’t like to monetize – very shy about it. These solo’s can misinterpret the above advice into putting it off for as long as possible because it renders the site “impure” or “dirty.” No, we’re not saying that…
It’s just that, like Mark Z says in the movie, give your material a chance to find itself. Your audience will love you and understand that nothing is free forever.
Yes, you’ll get a few who’ll always want something for absolutely free and who WILL complain when you monetize. Ignore them – they were never going to actually BUY anything, anyway.
I hope this adds a little to the topic. Love the blog! 🙂
All the best,
Thanks so much for your very thoughtful comment, Ken. You make some very interesting points. It’s true that many readers don’t even ‘ CONSCIOUSLY realize why they feel better about your site, don’t “see” what’s not there.’
An ad free site looks cleaner, friendlier, and more genuine to some people even if they don’t know why. You’re also very right about the few who complain about monetization. They were never going to buy anyway. I’m sure Mark Z would agree. The people who complain about Facebook ads would never pay for a premium FB account. Some people simply want something for nothing, and that’s OK. It’s why I always say don’t even worry about the (vast majority of) readers who don’t ever buy from you. Learn to enjoy serving the people who can’t or won’t spend money on information. They were never going to buy anything anyway. It’s the small percentage that do who enable you to make money from your blog.
Karen recently posted…How To Set Up A Blog On WordPress in Under Ten Minutes
Thank you for a really interesting read. I started my blog properly back in July and this is something that I would like to do in the future. Having read the post, I think I am in the build my readership first, camp. There is so much to learn, so thanks for sharing and I will keep an eye on your future posts for lots more tips #weekendblogshare
Thanks for commenting Lisa. There is a lot to learn and learning while you build your readership is a good strategy. No doubt you will discover ways to monetize as you go along. Sometimes it just starts to happen very naturally as you see ways you can help your readers and recommendations they might enjoy.
Karen recently posted…Ten Reasons Every Blogger Should Consider Writing a Book