Last week, I argued that the quickest path to money from blogging for most people is to use blogging as a marketing tool for their unique skill sets. The complaint was made in the comments that references to alternative blogging revenue streams are made but that nobody ever explains precisely what these alternative revenue streams may be. This is because, in order to determine what you can sell on your blog, you need to take into account your own talents and your own marketable assets — there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
The online marketplace works the same way as the offline marketplace: you need to figure out something that you have to offer for which people will be willing to give you money. There is no magic bullet, and the answer to how to make money from your blog might be far less glamorous than you were hoping. However, if you want to make money online, quickly, the best way is to market your skills with a blog, rather than sitting around and waiting for your traffic to increase to astounding levels. Here’s how to figure out what you can offer.
1. Figure out what your marketable skills/salable products are.
In order to use a blog as a marketing tool, you need to have something to sell. The first way to figure out what you have to sell is to think about what you could do, today, if you went out into the workforce and tried to get a job. Are you able to do web design? Editing? Freelance writing? Accounting work? What would you be doing if you were working at a regular job (or, if you are working at a regular job, what is it)?
Alternatively, maybe your skills are more creative — are you somebody who can make jewelry? Bake? Cook? Write down all of the things you can make and/or services you can provide that have a tangible market value on a piece of paper before you do anything else.
2. Figure out a way to make a “product” out of those skills.
Depending on what skills you have, you can either create tangible products to be sold from the platform of your blog, or you can use your blog as a means of attracting the attention of people who might need your services. If you are good at some kind of consulting, you can launch a consulting business and use your blog to sell it. If you are good at making jewelry, or baking, you can use your blog to sell it. Alternatively, you might be able to think of new products that can be created that package your expertise in an easily accessible form to be sold. An extremely financially successful example of this concept can be seen in the travel guides that Chris Guillebeau sells on his blog: these guides are summaries of travel tips and pointers that Chris has gained over his years of world travel, and they are sold in ebook form to people who visit his website.
3. Use your blog to provide consistent, free, high quality content that is related to your products for people who want more guidance.
Though I make some money from advertising on this blog, by far the most financially successful venture attached to this blog is my consulting business. People read my site and get some general advice for running their blogs, and when they want more specialized attention they hire me to consult them. The same thing works for people who want to sell ebooks or other products as offshoots for their blogs; if you want to sell baked goods, post a recipe for cupcakes and link to your etsy page, and if you want to sell jewelry, feature pictures of your latest styles and how you made them, and give your readers a way of purchasing. The blog allows you to soft sell to your readership without bothering them, because people who don’t want to buy anything from you never have to get involved, and the people who do come to you are usually ready to give you money.