There’s a lot of information out there about making money with a blog. And a lot of hype. For example, this article reports of blogs making $15,000 a month! Imagine that. There’s no doubt that you can make money from blogging. The blog your are reading does, in fact, make us money. 🙂 If you missed it, here’s a series of articles that we did on setting up a simple blog business.
However, I thought it is important to write something of a ‘reality check’ concerning making money with blogs, especially in Kenya.
So, you want to make money blogging? Welcome to the club! Thousands have gone before you and many have succeeded but the sad fact is that the overwhelming majority of bloggers make little money or, most likely, nothing at all. I’m not trying to discourage you, just telling you as it is 🙂
Many bloggers that I know of start off with the idea that they’ll make money from advertising. This is cool – thousands of blogs survive and thrive on this, especially with Google’s Adsense program. But, and it is a big but, the truth is that advertising may not be your best option. In fact, many of the blogs that fail were started with this general plan: Start a blog – write many cool and interesting and fun articles – get lots and lots of visitors over time – make money. This may very well fail in today’s internet. Why? Well, it is very difficult to make substantial amounts of money off advertising alone – especially with Google Adsense. Yes, Adsense is wonderful and it supports thousands and thousands of blogs to make money but it does not work unless you are getting large numbers of visitors to your site. If you don’t get at least a thousand visitors a day then Adsense will very much disappoint you. That’s the truth. So don’t base your whole plan on advertising alone.
The good news is that there is a world of options for blog owners. For example, Kenya Buzz (which is not a blog), managed to get some advertisers on their site even when their visitor numbers were pretty low. I’m not sure how much they charge but it’s got to be something worthwhile. If you can get such advertising deals for your young blog then go for it, by all means. This brings me to another important point, unless you have very high visitor numbers, ‘self service’ advertising works better than advertising platforms such as Google Adsense. By this, I mean that it would be better to try and find your own advertisers at your own rates than relying solely on programs such as Adsense. For one thing, you can make more money even if you don’t have the visitors – depends on how you structure your deal and market it.
Of course advertising is not the only way to make money using blogs. Problogger has a huge list of ways to make money using blogs. There are, indeed, many other ways. We have to keep in mind that, at its core, a blog is very much part of ‘social media’ and web 2.0. A blog is a tool that you can very easily use to build a community of like-minded people. This is why, when it comes to blog monetization, I favour the techniques that use blogs to build or enhance a business. What I mean is that you do not actually make money ‘from’ the blog, but because of it. For example, Wambere does make money with Like Chapaa but not from it – she uses it to get clients for her other business. It works very well. So, for instance, if you are a photographer, you definitely want to set up a blog but not so that you can make money off advertisements or other ‘direct’ means – the blog helps you build a community of readers; it further helps you engage those readers and nurtures their interest in you, and your work. Selling your photography services to them then becomes much easier – and every new reader is a potential client who will love your blog, engage with it and, finally, buy your services. A blog is perfect for this. Blogs work very well for businesses that have a long sales cycle – businesses in which buyers take time before deciding to buy from a particular person/business. I hope I’m clear. In my experience, this is the best way to make money using blogs in Kenya.
So, before you rush out to your blogs, here’s some more thoughts:
- You just have to pick a niche. Do not write a general blog, it gets you nowhere and will not build a very good, single minded, community. For heaven’s sake do pick a topic that you really love. There are many months of cold nights ahead and if you don’t love what your blog is about, then it will start to feel like a “chore” and then your blog will die a slow, miserable and penniless death.
- Think clearly and rationally about the content of your blog. Remember that your content and style of writing will attract a very specific type of person. You want to avoid attracting people who will not end up being your customers because then you’ll be wasting time with the blog, ama? For instance, if you are a freelance writer, it may be very natural to write a blog about “how to write well” or “how to make it as a freelancer”. You will be surprised at how many people do this. The question is, who are your readers going to be? If you are a writer, and your readers are other writers, do you think they will pay money for you to write for them? No? Then don’t do it! Write about something like photography, so that you attract photographers who may then, possibly, need your writing services.
- Blogging is hard work and it takes a pretty long time before it starts paying off. It may take months to years, even if you write daily. There are millions of blogs out there and every potential reader of your blog already has tons and tons of other things to do with their time. Please only do this if you are prepared to go “long term.”
- As you work on your blog, you will notice that as time passes, you become more successful. If you picked a good niche and write quality stuff, then you will succeed, after a while. Just keep at it and have a clear picture of what you want from the blog so that you keep yourself motivated. Thinking long term is better.
- Blogging money can be the best money you ever make! Most bloggers just love writing (because they picked a topic that they enjoy) for their blogs and when this starts making them money, it is pure bliss!
- If you already have a web presence for your business, or if you are already into ecommerce, then you just must have a blog. It is priceless in terms of marketing and enhancing your online presence. For one thing, a blog does wonders to any site’s SEO (search engine optimisation). You’ll want to think clearly and deeply about the ‘tone’ that your blog will take. Make sure it goes well with the rest of what you do. Creativity is key, though.
So, that’s it, some random thoughts on making money using blogs. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you. We’re also available for hire, by the way. 🙂