Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blogging for Bucks: How Your Startup's Blog Can Bring in Cash

Blogging brings in a lot of benefit.  Not only do blogs direct potential customers to a startup’s site, but they can also help sell a product, inform readers about a service, or act as a megaphone for thoughts and opinions. 

But did you know that blogging can bring in the bucks too?

It’s true.  If done effectively, blogging can generate extra cash for your startup.  And when you’re first starting out, any money is better than no money at all!

Many startups may already have an established blog (but if you don’t, be sure to read this article before you get started: The Blog Brawl: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Enter the Blogosphere).  Blogs can be easily set up through sites like Blogger, Wordpress or even Joomla. 

Once your blog has been created, generating interesting and consistent content is key.  When you write about topics that people are interested in reading, more users will visit your blog.  And when more users visit your blog, you have more potential customers in your market.  With patience, a blog can bring in thousands and thousands of viewers a month (or even a week!)—and that’s a lot of potential new customers. 

Once your blog has built a strong readership and is well-received by the public, it may be time to look into generating blog bucks.  But how?

1.  Blog Ads
Blogs can make money through the display of advertisements.  Many bloggers use Google AdSense, a service that pays based on how many readers have clicked on a blog’s advertisements (and it’s free!).  Other bloggers use CPM-driven tools that pay by the total number of impressions the advertisements receive.  For this, a startup can use ContextWeb, AdClickMedia, Adbrite or Adify. 

If you’re interested in taking your blog advertisements a step further, look into BlogAds.  BlogAds hook bloggers up with would-be advertisers and levies a commission in return for ad placements. 

The biggest concern that most startups have about advertising on a blog is that the advertisements will not match up with the blog’s theme or topic.  But tools such as AdSense account—the service pinpoints certain words in the blog so that the content matches the advertisements. 

2.  Direct Ad Sales
Selling space directly to advertisers can be a challenge, but it is possible!  With a highly-accredited blog, many advertisers may want to “buy” space on your blog, much like a newspaper or magazine.  Find services and products that tie into your niche market in order to place direct ad sales on your blog.

3.  Affiliate Programs
Blogs can serve as a conduit between readers and online sites that offer goods and services.  One of the best affiliate programs out there today comes from Amazon.com (Amazon Associates on Blogger).
When a blog mentions or reviews a book, it can link to the Amazon.com page so that readers can buy the book with a few clicks of the mouse.  When people find the book on your blog and then purchase them from Amazon.com, you get paid!

Other companies with great blogging affiliate programs include FlexOffers, LinkConnector, Commission Junction, Shareasale, E-Junkie, LinkShare, ING Direct, Ebates, Perkstreet Financial, Mint.com and Sharebuilder.

4.  Inbound Marketing
Many blogs exist just so that users can shout their opinions and thoughts to the world.  But what about using your blog to generate business?  That’s what inbound marketing is all about.
A startup can expand blog thoughts and opinions by talking about how a particular service or product can create solution or solve a problem.  By providing a call-to-action at the bottom of the blog, readers may feel a sense of urgency to look at your website or call your new startup.  Use effective search engine optimization, link building and keywording to bring more people to your blog—you never know; this could produce more customers! 

Follow me! @AllisonThinkBig

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