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It seems like everybody and their sister has a blog these days. Unless you’ve been hiding in a hole (with no internet access!), you’ve heard that blogging is an actual way for people to create an income. You’ve probably even read some of the success stories, about people making hundreds, thousands – even tens of thousands — a month with a blog. So you want to do the same thing. You want to start a blog and monetize your blog.
Maybe you’re a college student, looking to have some income to help offset the cost of classes, or maybe you’re a mom who wants to earn enough to contribute to household expenses so you can stay home. Whatever your reason for creating a blog, you’re probably asking yourself how soon you can start trying to make money with it.
Should You Try To Monetize Your Blog From The Beginning?
That question has been around pretty much since blogging began, and it has two pretty divided camps. Should you work on building a loyal following before you start monetizing, or should you attempt to earn money with your blog right away? Let’s take a look at both points of view.
Create An Audience First, Before Monetizing Your Blog
Before blogs became popular as a way to start your own business and earn an income, most people started them because they loved the idea of daily journaling, or because they had something to say. I started one of my earliest blogs after I moved to Peru – I wanted a way to keep my family in the US up to date with what was going on in my life. So-called “hobby bloggers” enjoyed blogging about what they were experts in and sharing that information.
Big-time blogger Darren Rowse had a similar story. He started his first blog as a hobby, and it became popular in its niche (church/religion). As time went on, he learned about AdSense, and gave it a try, hoping to defray the costs of his hosting. Well, he’s done much better than that over the years! But as he says, his first forays into AdSense worked, because he already had a fairly large audience.
This is a common story among bloggers – we started for fun, and then it turned into work, taking a lot of time and effort, so we started looking for ways that we could be compensated. Because this is such a common blogging story, and because it worked so well for so many people over the years, it’s often been said that this is the way to do it: Build your audience first, then monetize.
Monetizing Your Blog From The Beginning
Things are different today. Most of us go into blogging with the idea we are creating a business. And there are so many ways to monetize your blog, that there’s no reason to think you can’t start making money right from the start. You can sell your own products or services from the very first day of blogging, or put ads on your blog, or offer affiliate products – so why wouldn’t you?
Think about any other type of business you know. A magazine doesn’t start out by printing ad-free issues the first year! A garden shop isn’t going to hold 6 months of classes on how to care for plants before they start offering potted plants and peat moss to the customers. Likewise, it only makes sense, if your blog is going to be your business, that you would make money from the beginning.
There are a couple of reasons why it’s a good idea, but to me the most important is that it lets your readers know right from the beginning that there are going to be products and services offered on your blog. They know what to expect and won’t be surprised later on when you suddenly have ads or products show up.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you monetize your blog. First of all, it may lead some people to consider your blog more of a business than you as an individual. But writing content that connects with your readers and shows you as a person can easily counteract that.
Also, some readers may come to your blog and be put off by the fact that you’re displaying ads or linking out to affiliate products. But if your purpose in blogging is to create an income, are those people really the audience you want? By monetizing from the get-go, it helps you connect with the readers you really want – those who value your content and are willing to spend money.
Finally, remember that just because you’re monetizing from the beginning, it doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to make money right away. It will take time to create traffic to your blog, to get readers, and to build trust. You may find that the first person who comes to your blog just happens to be looking for exactly the thing you’re selling, but it’s probably going to take a bit longer than that.
So yes, monetize your blog from the start. Have a plan for creating income. But in the beginning, keep your main focus on growing your traffic and building a relationship with your readers. This way, as your traffic picks up, you’ll have already built the groundwork for turning those readers into paying customers.
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