How Do I Monetise My Non-Consumer Driven Blog?

Laura Power

April 1, 2014

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Hi Kat, I’m a blogger and I have a conundrum. I hope you can help. Lately I’ve been finding that when I write about anything life-advice related I get a huge response, and people really enjoy the discussion topics. In comparison if I post about something more trivial, like interiors, fashion or beauty it seems a bit like filler content to me. They get a bit of a response, but nothing compared to the meatier stuff.

What I really want to do is just remove all my categories and keep going with my blog as a place for life advice, women chat, a little light feminism and a place to be inspired.

The big problem is (and this is why I didn’t do it in the first place) is that I’m really struggling to know how to monetise that kind of blog. When you’re writing about STUFF it’s easy, people pay you to promote their STUFF (geddit?) but what if it’s just me writing things I think will help people? How do I then turn a profit? Who are my advertisers? How do I reach them?

These are all things stopping me from following my heart when it comes to my blog but there must be a way around it, I just haven’t thought of it yet.

Is there a way to make money from your passion if it isn’t immediately and obviously a commercial venture? Or should I just accept that writing about make up, clothes and interiors is the way to get people to sponsor?

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When it comes to blogging, the number one rule is that you really need to write about the things you are truly passionate about. If you don’t it will be completely obvious to your readers, but more importantly, it will be no fun for you! Who wants to spend their days writing reviews of products they don’t really rate or sharing fashion trends they don’t really care about?! 

Following the masses is not what will make your blog successful. There are a million other bloggers doing beauty product reviews, Pinterest round-ups and sharing their outfits. In order to stand out, you need to make yourself memorable – and different – by being yourself!

I’m so happy for you that you’ve found the path you want your writing to take, that’s more than half the battle. There are too many bloggers out there doing the same old thing and they’re all fighting tooth and nail for the same advertisers.

However, in saying that, I don’t think every single article you publish needs to be the equivalent of the next War and Peace. It’s actually quite nice to mix things up with a few lighter, or as you say filler, posts. Otherwise your blog might end up being all very heavy and intense! Everyone enjoys a little escapism now and again, even if they don’t bother to comment on it telling you so.

After all, if you’re covering a sensitive topic, everyone will have an opinion. There’s also always something someone else can add to the discussion in the comments. Yet when it comes to posts about more trivial matters such as interior design, fashion or beauty reviews, there’s really not much you can say in response, other than something like “This is cool, I want to try it too”. Most people just won’t bother. I’ve written about why I think blog comments are down before, and if you haven’t, I’d encourage you to have a read.

To have the most success with these ‘filler’ articles you always need to keep who your readers are in mind. Why do they love your blog? What are their interests? What do they like to read other than your website? What do they do in their spare time? Maybe instead of being high street darlings they’re the kind of people who’d prefer eco home ideas, or charity shop shopping. Remember, they all still live in houses and wear clothes, they just might not care about expensive kitchen gadgets or the latest trends.

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So onto the next part of your question – how to monetise. My first piece of advice would be to not think about each article in terms of pounds and pence. If you do, it’s all too easy to start putting out lacklustre content because you think it will please potential advertisers or make you a profit. You always need to put your readers first and write things for them. Remember, without any readers you don’t have a blog to monetise at all. 

It is a massive fantasy that the most successful (in terms of revenue) bloggers make all their money from advertising. It is not the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the ones that make a fortune from it are certainly the (very rare) exception, not the rule. Pre-recession it might have been more common, but these days bloggers have to be a lot more creative when it comes to making their living.

Let’s look at some examples – A Beautiful Mess, Problogger, Shauna Haider and Gala Darling. If you look at their business models, advertising is only a very small part of it.

A Beautiful Mess have a phone app, Photoshop actions and online workshops. They also write books surrounding the subjects they are passionate about (DIY and photography). Problogger sells e-books, does speaking gigs and consulting alongside many other thingsShauna Haider uses her blog to sell her services as graphic designer and Gala Darling sells digital products relating to her Radical Self Love philosophy. Gala, Shauna and I also all use our blogs to sell ticket to our Blogcademy workshops. Advertising is just a small piece of everybody’s much larger pie.

So instead of thinking that you need to rely on other people (aka advertisers) to keep your business above water, you should be coming up with some ideas for using your blog as a platform to sell your own offerings.

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There are a million and one things you can do to make money. You could write a book (physical or e-), do an email course, do paid livestreams, create your own products aimed at what your readers are into (like my print magazine and headpieces!), sell your services as a stylist/ copywriter/ designer/ photographer, host live events, do workshops, promote yourself as a speaker or freelance writer… Think of your blog as your elaborate CV. It should be a place to sell yourself, not to simply promote things for other people.

I actually do this with the Green Room. Unlike the wedding side of my site, it isn’t directly monetised with advertisers or sponsors. That doesn’t mean I don’t earn a portion of my income because of it though. Due to the things I write about over here I get invited to speak at conferences and on discussion panels, I can use the fact that I clearly know what I’m talking about to indirectly sell tickets to my in-person workshop and I can put out a book about running your own small business (which I’m still hoping to do at some point, where do I sign up for those extra hours in a day!?)

You see, monetising a blog isn’t an exact science. There is no one-size-fits-all path that you can follow for guaranteed success. You need to find your niche, build an audience, and then think about some ways you can make some money off the back of it. Your blog itself might not be the thing that nets you a fortune, but it can be the most amazing platform to promote your skills and help you earn your living by doing something that you love.

If you have any business or blogging questions that you’d like me to tackle in a future article, don’t hesitate to drop me an email and I’ll see what I can do!