The unfortunately thing about blogging is that it doesn’t pay the bills unless you go out of your way to make money — and then it’s dangerous because you don’t want to antagonize your loyal readers or drive anyone away. The WeddingLovely Blog makes a little pocket change from ads (seen on the sidebar), and I was definitely interested in this session since I wanted to know more ways that I could pay the bills and keep doing what I love! Session headed by Nicole Balch, Mariah Bruehl, Jessica Turner, and Liz Stanley.
Affiliate links are essentially just links where, if someone click through and buys a product, you’re paid a % of their purchase. A big example of this is Amazon’s affiliate link program, but there are also other dedicated programs that work with a ton of small companies, such as shareasale.com (Editor note: Which I use and recommend) Commission Junction, RewardStyle, E-Junkie, Google Affiliates, Escalate Network, or even private networks (in fact, WeddingLovely.com has an affiliate program!) See a huge list on TheMomCreative.
When choosing an affiliate program, look for these things:
- Flat rate commissions (such as, paid a flat $5 for each product)
- or high rate percentages (paid 10% of any bought product).
- Bonuses — if you refer a certain number of sales, then you’ll receive a bigger percentage or a bonus check.
Always always always disclose that you’re a “compensated affiliate” and it’s best to mention that in every post you have an affiliate link on — not just your about page.
You can incorporate affiliate links in your content in many ways:
- Any time you mention a product, make sure to use an affiliate link. (Make sure you’re a part of their program first or join early, since sometimes it takes awhile to be a reviewed.)
- Affiliates also have banner ads that you can use in your newsletter or blog sidebar.
- When an affiliate has a sale or special coupon code, write a post (you can also run an exclusive sale if you ask!)
- Incorporate affiliate links on your Pinterest boards.
- Write product roundups (like your favorite books) that all have affiliate links.
E-Courses can be an awesome way to form a blog following as well as making some revenue if you have something awesome to teach. It could be flower arranging, blog writing, Pinterest, Facebook, anything. What do your readers want more of? A great way to choose a topic is to ask your readers, even just through Facebook to see if there is interest.
There are several types of delivery methods, from video to podcasts to emails to live calls — it just comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. Mariah did videos and used iMovie, showing photos and having a voiceover.
You can house your content on a password protected blog, or even better, on Ning – a blogging platform with built-in photo galleries, forums, and more, to foster community between your attendees. You can also create a Facebook group, private Flickr group, and other forums to create more community.
To organize, figure out your start and end dates, how many sessions you’ll run, and your price. Pre-sale your tickets 4 weeks beforehand and do giveaways to drum up interest. 6 weeks e-courses you can charge more for, but you need a lot more content and preparation, and Mariah likes 4 week courses. As for figuring out your price, look at what your competitors are offering, and charge slightly more than what your intuition tells you. A nice course size is ~100 people, but 10 people could be perfectly okay too.
For communication, Mailchimp and Constant Contact are recommended, especially since you can set up auto-responders with your content that can be sent out automatically.
Spread the word through affiliate programs (see above!) — you can set one up for your program so people will be motivated to share your e-course. You can also get blogger friends to promote (sometimes in return for promoting their stuff), giveaways, and social media campaigns.
Always keep participants first, read your audience and see what they need, and be responsive, active, and real.
This is more for those who sell their own ads. Like the above, make sure you know your audience and what they’d like. Also, know your stats — page views, unique visits, and social media numbers. Keep in mind that managing ads can be a lot of work. Create a media kit with your numbers, as well as the minimum number of months an ad can run, where the ads will be placed, and all your rates.
If you’re worried that your readers think you’ll be selling out, keep in mind that readers understand that you need to pay the bills!
Focus on growth first before reaching out to companies for ads — Liz started out with 70,000 page views/month. A great way to start as well is trading ads with fellow bloggers.
What to do to reach out to others for ads:
- Have a good URL (not something.blogspot.com)
- Be very personal in your emails to the potential advertisers (not just “I love your products!”)
- Never ask for money straight up, ask to “work together” instead.
- Mention your audience and how they relate to the product.
- Don’t mention or promise engagement.
- Don’t reach out to brands because they advertise on another site.
- Don’t charge different amounts of money to different advertisers.
Working With an Ad-Network
As compared with selling your own ads, an ad-network does all the selling and pitching for you in exchange for a % of the revenue. Ad networks include Glam Media, Martha’s Circle, and Federated Media.
It’s usually not as simple as emailing the ad network to join — they may approach you. Sometimes you need face-to-face time to get into the network. Some have minimums (in terms of page views) so they may turn you down if you’re not on that level. If you’re reaching out yourself, be annoying — email several times until you get a response!
What to expect: An contract (for a year, etc.), as well as details on exclusivity, how you can cancel, and your compensation. Their share of the revenue is usually 50/50.
They’ll find both banner ads as well as sponsored posts. In terms of sponsored posts, make sure you don’t run more than two per week (don’t piss of your readers), and be selective (make sure the sponsored post fits your brand and style). There are several different types of sponsored posts: Reviews, giveaways (usually preceded by “Brought to you by…”) and endorsement/brand ambassadorship.
If you have any questions about my notes, leave a comment below! I can definitely tell you I’m looking very closely at running an e-course. Sounds like a ton of fun!
Altitude Summit coverage on WeddingLovely is brought to you with support by Crafty Pie, an amazing stationery company for the modern bride, specializing in ready-to-order and custom save-the-dates and invitation suites.