Samantha Wood's top 10 tips on how to make money from blogging.
10 points to consider before earning a living as a blogger
If you have built up a solid following for a passionate blogging hobby, you may want to consider developing it into a professional business. Samantha Wood, the Dubai-based founder of FooDiva (www.foodiva.net), which is dedicated to impartial restaurant reviews and food features – and voted the number two Best Blog in Dubai – shares her top 10 tips on how to earn an income from blogging in the Middle East.
1 Business goals
First, make sure your commercial plan fits your skills, blog and audience. This depends on the nature of your blog; for instance, your subject could be consultancy services, shopping, reviews or simply information. Some tactics may be more appropriate than others. Don't put all your eggs into one basket - it's good practice to combine different strategies.
2 Blog design
Generating income from direct marketing opportunities on your blog can impact its design. Certain free blogging platforms, like www.wordpress.org, which allows a blog to be self-hosted, can support advertising, but give you a free hand to design your blog. It's relatively simple to migrate to a new platform once you are ready to earn income.
3 Ad networks
Consider participating in one of the major ad networks, such as Google Adsense, which supplies text ads. By simply registering as a publisher, you can easily paste a code into your templates and the ad network takes care of the rest, while you generate revenue based on clicks and impressions. One word of caution here: as you do not have full control over the advertisers, there may be a conflict of interest with your subject matter, so ensure this strategy matches your business goals.
4 Media pack
Prepare a media pack that includes an introduction to your blog, reader demographics, statistics, social-media following, marketing campaign and advertising options with rates. You can use this document - I prefer PowerPoint - to pitch to potential advertisers. Also list the options available on your blog on a separate page called "Advertising". Draw up your wish list of advertisers and start making contact with them one by one. In my experience, a personalised email introduction works best, followed by a phone call and a meeting. If you don't have a direct contact in a company, find someone who does (use LinkedIn) and ask for an introduction.
5 Banner and newsletter ads
Your media pack should also include a range of banner ads in different sizes to complement the design of your blog. You can pitch the banner ad space at the foot of your e-newsletter, which gets distributed with each new post to your subscribers. List the pixel dimensions and rates for each, as well as any technical specifications.
6 Competitions and advertorials
A very effective marketing opportunity in this region is competitions, in which you give away a product or service from a particular company related to the topic of your blog. The company pays per competition to cover the administration and promotion - this is purely marketing, so don't be fooled into not charging in exchange for the giveaways. Similarly, an advertorial is where an advertiser hires you to write a post. With both options, ensure you disclose sponsored posts so your readers are fully aware.
This is where a company that has some synergy with your blog or subject pays a monthly fee - usually over an annual agreement - in exchange for branding on your blog and social-media channels. This can include a mix of banner and newsletter ads, competitions and advertorials.
8 Indirect opportunities
By establishing a strong voice and credibility on a particular subject matter via regular posts, a blogger can become an industry expert and thought leader. You may then start receiving approaches to consult on your area of expertise. You may also get speaking and brand-ambassador opportunities, freelance writing commissions and regular columns with mainstream media, or even training workshops. Time is money, so be sure to charge based on an hourly or daily rate.
9 Writing a book
The advent of online and self-publishing options has made this easier. Competition is rife, so if you want people to buy your book, make sure your topic is strong and different. A few lucky bloggers have been approached by publishers but you can also pitch directly - just be prepared for plenty of rejections.
10 Cash flow
It would be prudent to ask for 50 per cent in advance, with the remaining half on completion of each campaign or project. Blogging is a small business and cash flow is essential. Remember that monetary success needs the support of a strong publicity campaign.