This is my second post following my attendance to two social media conferences in Toronto in the last month. For my views for brands see my previous post.
This post is going to talk about monetizing and working with brands from the individual’s point of view. There are many ways to get extra value out of the time and energy you put into your online presence and there are companies clamoring to figure out how to use you to spread their messages. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but here are my thoughts on the options that are out there.
There was a time where people felt advertising on your blog was selling out. Then it was ok and in fact desirable. Lately it seems like a lot of people are swinging back to the sell out point of view - that by advertising on your blog you are letting brands rule your content.
My feeling is that most people can advertise on their blog without selling out or compromising their values.
How? Approach advertisers that are a good fit for what you do.
I would happily advertise for companies like Zemanta, Twitter, and Wordpress on this site. They make sense with my content. I might also advertise local events, other online workshops and tools I feel would be of use to my audience.
If you are a healthy living/eating blog, maybe your advertisers are those who sell cookbooks you believe people should be using, or suppliers of healthy foods and products you have no qualms about endorsing to others. If you are a blogger who talks about crafts, you could promote the companies that you use in your home. If you are a blogger who has young kids and you love Fisher Price, what’s the harm in having an ad for them on your blog?
What wouldn’t I do? I wouldn’t have an ad on my blog for a high end restaurant on my kids’ blog, I wouldn’t have an ad on my personal blog for the Weed Man, and I wouldn’t promote anything I personally have issues with (I have lots of issues with Weed Man, don’t get me started! ;)).
I think that as long as you stay true to yourself and your own voice, you can find decide to try to find advertisers who fit in with who you are.
One of our great and longstanding advertisers at www.kidsinthecapital.ca
Is advertising for everyone? Absolutely not.
Will advertisers set limits on what you do and don’t say? I haven’t encountered it but I’m sure there are some who would have issues with swearing or certain topics. Do you talk that way on your blog? If so, maybe advertising isn’t appropriate for you, or maybe you just haven’t found the right advertisers.
Is it easy to get advertisers? It depends on your blog and your target niche. Sometimes it’s as easy as giving a quick ask and sometimes advertisers even come to you. If getting advertisers is something you want to pursue, @missfish has some great resources (including this post on rate cards) on her blog and I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments on my experiences with it.
REVIEWS AND GIVEAWAYS
There are many companies out there who will offer you products in return for a review on your blog. Some will also offer you an extra item for giveaway.
If this is something that interests you then approach companies and let them know why you’d be a good fit. Just remember that you need to claim any free product that you receive as income on your income taxes. The flip side of this is that you are now running a business and can claim expenses like an office, your internet, and your technology. (Angele over at Shoebox Be Gone is a great resource for that kind of info.)
Ford graciously loaned us a Ford Explorer for both She’s Connected and Blissdom
A lot of companies won’t even ask you to specifically write a review in return for product, but they of course hope that you will talk about them. I have gotten some fabulous clothing from Mark’s this way (I really am a huge fan of their clothing now!) and both GM and Ford Canada have been awesome enough to loan me and my friends vehicles to get to social media conferences.
There are opportunities out there for one off sponsored posts. Maybe it’s in exchange for product, maybe it’s in exchange for money, but it’s not a long term commitment to endorsing a company on your blog.
Sometimes these happen in conjunction with advertisers. One one of my blogs anyone who commits to 3 or more months of advertising also gets an introductory post and a chance to host a giveaway on the blog.
The biggest key with these is that they are disclosed as sponsored posts, generally with a statement that the thoughts are still your own.
USE YOUR EXPERIENCE
The way that I have made the most money from my experience blogging, on Twitter, etc is by capitalizing on the experience and knowledge I have gained. I share that knowledge with people who want to be in the space by holding workshops, by coaching people and by going to events as a speaker.
There are many opportunities like that that you can create for yourself. Pitch your writing to publications, offer your services to companies for their own blogs and web sites. Barter your writing services for their services (I know someone who bartered children’s classes for some writing and reviews for the business to use).
This is something I hope to do on this site in the coming year, provide online services and products people can buy. Things like e-books, tutorial videos and online classes.
WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE
- More opportunities for bloggers/people in the social space to advise companies on what works and what doesn’t.
- More opportunities to create specialized content - videos, posts, etc that can go on the companies’ sites as well as other locations online (like Facebook, google plus, YouTube, etc)
- More opportunities from companies that involve more than some free product. There are a lot of people who would be happy to have some free product but there are more people who would love a bit of extra income to help pay the bills.
What are your opinions on and experiences with monetizing?