Do you really want to Monetize your Blog?

Some people have strong personal feelings with respect to making money from their blogs.  If you think commercializing your blog is evil, immoral, unethical, uncool, lame, greedy, obnoxious, or anything along those lines, then don’t commercialize it.

If you have mixed feelings about monetizing your blog, then sort out those feelings first.  If you think monetizing your site is wonderful, fine.  If you think it’s evil, fine.  But make up your mind before you seriously consider starting down this path.  If you want to succeed, you must be congruent.

Generating income from your blog is challenging enough — you don’t want to be dealing with self-sabotage at the same time.  It should feel genuinely good to earn income from your blog — you should be driven by a healthy ambition to succeed.  If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to earn income from it.

If you do decide to generate income from your blog, then don’t be shy about it.  If you’re going to put up ads, then really put up ads.  Don’t just stick a puny little ad square in a remote corner somewhere.

If you’re going to request donations, then really request donations.  Don’t put up a barely visible “Donate” link and pray for the best.  If you’re going to sell products, then really sell them.  Create or acquire the best quality products you can, and give your visitors compelling reasons to buy.  If you’re going to do this, then fully commit to it.  Don’t take a half-assed approach.  Either be full-assed or no-assed. You can reasonably expect that when you begin commercializing a free site, some people will complain, depending on how you do it.

Can most people make money from their blog?

No, they can’t.  99% of people who try to generate serious income from their blogs will fail.  One really has to be smart in order to truly make a decent money from his blog but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), smart people are a minority on this planet.  So while most people can’t make a living this way, I would say that most smart people can.  How do you know whether or not you qualify as smart?  Here’s a good rule of thumb:  If you have to ask the question, you aren’t.

This kind of 99-1 ratio isn’t unique to blogging though.  You’ll see it in any field with relatively low barriers to entry.  What percentage of wannabe actors, musicians, or athletes ever make enough money from their passions to support themselves?  It doesn’t take much effort to start a blog these days — almost anyone can do it.  Talent counts for something, and the talent that matters in blogging is intelligence.  But that just gets you in the door.  You need to specifically apply your intelligence to one particular talent.  And the best words I can think of to describe that particular talent are:  web savvy.

If you are very web savvy, or if you can learn to become very web savvy, then you have an excellent shot of making enough money from your blog to cover all your living expenses… and then some.  But if becoming truly web savvy is more than your gray matter can handle, then I’ll offer this advice:  Don’t quit your day job.

Web savvy

What do I mean by web savvy?  You don’t need to be a programmer, but you need a decent functional understanding of a variety of web technologies.  What technologies are “key” will depend on the nature of your blog and your means of monetization.  But generally speaking I’d list these elements as significant:

  • blog publishing software
  • HTML/CSS
  • blog comments (and comment spam)
  • RSS/syndication
  • feed aggregators
  • pings
  • trackbacks
  • full vs. partial feeds
  • search engines
  • search engine optimization (SEO)
  • page rank
  • social bookmarking
  • tagging
  • contextual advertising
  • affiliate programs
  • traffic statistics
  • email

Traffic, traffic, traffic

Assuming you feel qualified to take on the challenge of generating income from blogging (and I haven’t scared you away yet), the three most important things you need to monetize your blog are traffic, traffic, and traffic.

Why is traffic so important?  Because for most methods of online income generation, your income is a function of traffic.  If you double your traffic, you’ll probably double your income (assuming your visitor demographics remain fairly consistent).  You can screw almost everything else up, but if you can generate serious traffic, it’s really hard to fail.  With sufficient traffic the realistic worst case is that you’ll eventually be able to monetize your web site via trial and error (as long as you keep those visitors coming).

When I first launched this blog, I knew that traffic building was going to be my biggest challenge.  All of my plans hinged on my ability to build traffic.  If I couldn’t build traffic, it was going to be very difficult to succeed.

Traffic is the primary fuel of online income generation.  More visitors means more ad clicks, more product sales, more affiliate sales, more donations, more consulting leads, and more of whatever else that generates income for you.  And it also means you’re helping more and more people.

Never feel skeptical monetizing your blog. If you feel so, then don’t do that at all.