12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Thoughts and Advice for Selling Out

(This post will be temporary. I will find some place to store it, perhaps on another site.)

I won’t bore you with layout and blog advertising rings. I will do a follow up on syndicated ads, ad rings and commission arrangements. But for now let's talk about how your blog can generate income.

What do you sell? You may be selling space on your blog for others to advertise. You may advertise your own services or goods. There are e-merchandisers that will let you design a logo and place it on t-shirts, hats, bags, backpacks and cups without ever having to buy inventory or ship items. You may create a new set of services as the time honored middle man of other people’s services and goods. And many bloggers just flat out ask for donations (including yours truly on one of his blogs).

I have a business that places students into top colleges and grad schools with favorable financial aid packages. I have also work as a consultant with a marketing business and I do grant writing for community development.

· A single blog and forum on each issue brings me clients. I also sell books and software at a mark up on the reduced prices I get. (For example, a person can purchase a book about getting into top colleges I co-authored on my site.) So the idea would be to sell whatever it is that you do or produce. There is no advertising that will yield more money than your advertising your own goods and services.
· Advertise on your own site to let people know that space is available. There isn’t the middle man of Adsense and Overture. Join a direct affiliate. They offer higher rates on your per click advertisements. Most will let you be selective in what you want to sell, i.e. something in relation to your site topic. Some advertisers give you discounts on products.
· Advertise local products for free in exchange for offering your readers a discount coupon. It may not immediately seem worth the trouble to have someone create a pop up for a coupon. If you have the right target you may generate leads for a service or small business that the seller eventually comes to appreciate. When the free trial is up the business may want to continue to the relationship on a fee basis.
· Join other people to help you with your blog work. I tend to be autocratic and opinionated about certain things (surprise). I don’t want information on my blog linked to my college prep site that I disagree with. However my employees and I are contributors to other people’s websites and journals.
· Help other people you do business with. I have a friend who is a coach of Olympic caliber athletes and a personal trainer. We have worked with getting students into top colleges with athletic scholarships and used marginal students’ athletic ability to help get them into competitive schools. He has a good rapport with a number of coaches and athletic directors. I offer referrals when appropriate and I usually get a referral fee. I also offer referrals to a financial planner that I trust. I have an MBA and a background in finance and accounting and I am a master at securing students financial aid. Sometimes however extra expertise would be helpful. These days however, I place prominent ads on my site with a write up that says I endorse them. I feel more comfortable explaining that they are trusted referrals that advertise on my site with my endorsement. It is a much better segue than saying, “hey, I know a fella…”
· Advertise. Yeah, you advertise. When I wanted to increase the rankings of my college prep site I had my website designed to be rankings friendly and I advertised. I learned not to just use Adsense and Overture. I advertised on blogs, which is much cheaper and brings better results.

Miami is perfect. There are real estate folks with advertising budgets as big as their greed. Soon there will be property managers trying to rent apartments for condos that aren’t moving. There are restaurants, hotels, clubs, taxis, rental cars, beach scooter rentals, boat rentals; in short everything that is needed to make tourists happy. There are always new suckers wanting to relocate and all that entails. Why isn’t there a bunch of local bloggers advertising to the punters?

The other thing Miami has going for it is a number of surprisingly good writers! What we lack in depth of talent we make for in quality. There are also a number of excellent photographers, both amateur and professional. I crashed a swank “new media” shindig with a friend who was actually invited. The big bloggers were there. In New York they had to get together venture capitalists and the mayor’s office to get people together to lure bloggers. In Miami we actually get along cooperatively in our little world without all of that. Will this actually get people to put together some cooperative platforms? Here’s some more advice.

· Go for the gusto. Ads may annoy us all but we are also use to them. Those intro screens, pop-ups, pop-unders, fly-overs, as well as the side bar ads all bring money. If people like your blog and have grown accustom to it they will close them or wait them out.
· As I pointed out, the key thing is to design your blogs to appeal to the largest audience possible while making your blog reliably on topic.
· Niches that target high-spending, well-educated readers—such as gossip, sex, and politics. Hit the sweet spot not hoi polloi. Gawker even claims to turn away advertisers that are too low-rent; no Ford or Chevy ads because they “hate American cars” and no pharmaceutical ads because their “readers are healthy and beautiful.”
· Getting an A-lister puts you on his “blogroll”, (but please do it with sincerity).
· Get lists of potential customers. If they came by your blog and commented on that subject then a single “hello from yourblogname did I mention I am offering” shouldn’t be seen as spam. Go easy there though! Err on the side of not annoying anyone.
· When Nick Denton of Gawker said you can’t make money at blogging everyone believed him. Denton and partners, veterans of the dot-com boom, sold their last company for $50 million. The lesson here: don’t be like John and encourage others. Miamista readers, it’s out secret.
· Crank out a few well written sites rather than just one. Or you may consider tying a bunch of pages on various topics together (like online “magazines”). It will not only increase your space for advertising, an individual topic blog may become a hit while others lag. Here are some Adsense numbers. Remember, this is only one funding source. Bloggers make much more by direct advertisement.

§ 33% earned under $30 per month
§ 16% earned between $30 and $99 per month
§ 11% earned between $100 and $499
§ 9% earned between $500 and $999
§ 4% earned between $1000 and $1499
§ 2% earned between $1500 and $2499
§ 4% earned between $2500 and $4999
§ 3% earned between $5000 and $9999
§ 1% earned over $10,000
§ 13% do not use Adsense
§ 4% did not wish to disclose their earnings

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