Dream bigger to monetise your blog

The biggest light bulb moment for me at PBEVENT 2015 was the realisation that my community are not the people I should be selling my products and services too.

This model, one of two key business models for monetising blogs that I outline below, I hadn’t considered before.

Dream a little bigger to monetise your blog - Zest e-Biz

Ultimately my vision for people to go home from work feeling like they made a difference and more energised requires action from leaders of organisations, as well as from individuals themselves.

I’ve had various visions for my business in the four years since I launched my baby. Last weekend was the first time I found the courage to put into words my real passion for what I do.

I’ve pivoted in business a number of times.

I’ve worked for free during start-up. I’ve traded services. I’ve worked with micro businesses affording an hourly rate that rivals minimum wage (when overheads are considered). And more recently I’ve worked with organisations that have healthy bank balances due to government funding.

You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling

To create the biggest ripple in an ocean of opportunity, I need to educate and empower the c-suite with one of Simon Sinek’s key concepts:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Only when employees understand and buy into an organisation’s why and believe what they believe, are they fully invested in making their vision a reality.

When a whole organisation is singing to the same tune, customers are more likely to get why an organisation does what it does, and begin to buy into that why.

Once customers buy into an organisation’s why, they turn into raving fans and advocates for that why, attracting more people who believe what they believe to invest in making the organisation’s vision a reality.

Refine your why

I’ve blogged sporadically to anyone who would read my blog about issues relating to organisational culture and leadership, then to small business owners about strategy and branding, and more recently to leaders of organisations about culture and strategy.

Paralysed at times to write anything, I realise now I was never clear about who I was talking to in my blog posts.

Day 1 of PBEVENT it hit me. I need to speak to the people who are feeling the same pain that I felt as an engineer stuck in a career path that I saw no future for, aside from great pay checks and a few jollies offshore now and then for work.

I need to speak to people who believe what I believe:

  • That work should be an avenue of our lives where we can apply our strengths and really make a difference.
  • That work shouldn’t leave us completely drained so that we don’t have the energy to engage in our hobbies or with our families outside of work, the things that give us joy.

Finally, all the different people I’ve worked with now fit within the ‘avatar’ for a member of my community.

But I’m not motivated (or perhaps it’s that I haven’t worked out how) to make money from these individual members of my community.

The reality is that they don’t have the disposable income to invest in my time and energy to make it worth my children being in daycare part-time.

Leaders of organisations on the other hand do.

Not only that, empowering leaders who buy into my vision helps many more people than I could ever hope to help working with them one-on-one.

When inspiring leadership starts at the top it trickles all the way through an organisation like lush, life giving waterways. Cutting through landscape that is sometimes neglected and starting to dry out if it has been disconnected from its life source for too long.

You need to make an income to sustain your blog

I’ve attended two PBEVENTs in the past and each has dropped numerous #truthbombs leaving me feeling clearer about the next steps to grow my business. Or so I thought.

Then I attended PBEVENT 2015.

Possibly the #1 intention of every PBEVENT attendee is to learn how to montetise their blog, or at least the majority who treat blogging as more than a hobby.

Because if we don’t fit our own oxygen mask first and create a sustainable living (in some way) to be able to continue to blog, then we may run out of oxygen (energy, time or money) to help others through reading our blogs.

Darren shares great ideas in a money map about different ways to build income streams from a blog.

Numerous sessions over the years at PBEVENT have covered how to develop a product (e-book, e-course, podcast, book etc.) or make money from your blog through advertising. And in more recent years how to work with brands and build partnerships through blogging.

I’d started to gravitate to the latter, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

After each PBEVENT I’ve zigged and zagged between what product or service would be the most lucrative for me to develop in order to bring in more income from my blogs.

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of choosing which to develop first and suffering from paralysis by analysis, ultimately I did nothing. Well next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I made small tweaks to what I was doing online, while slowly drifting further away from the blogosphere to spend more time developing offline face-to-face business services for clients.

Two key business models to monetise your blog

In the small biz bootcamp session this year it finally dawned on me.

There are two main business models for making an income from blogging:

1. Make a million dollars by selling something for $1 to a million people

2. Make a million dollars by selling something for $10,000 to 100 people

But who is going to pay $10,000 for something? People, businesses and brands who want to get in front of the eyes and ears of my community, the people who believe what I believe.

Make a million dollars selling something for $1 to a million people

An great example of the first model is the Green Smoothie Co. who have built a vibrant community of raving fans who now purchase products directly related to the vision they promote to their community i.e. recipes books and super-foods.

Other examples of the first model include Leonie Dawson and WP Curve, both making a relatively small amount of money directly from a huge number of people within their community.

Make a million dollars selling something for $10,000 to 100 people

Problogger is an awesome example of the second business model. Darren and his team have provided so much value to a community of bloggers that they are able to attract sponsorship from brands that want to get in front of those bloggers.

Note: I have no idea how much sponsors pay to sponsor Problogger Events, but I do have some idea about the cost of running events, so I can only guess the difference between the income from the ticket price to attend and the total cost of the event, let alone trying to make any money from such an event.

The net effect is that Problogger can provide even more value to its community members, without having to charge each member the real cost of the value they receive.

The example that finally made this concept click for me is Tradies VA who (I’m assuming) make more money from the partnerships they’ve developed as a result of their podcast than they do directly from the tradies they help.

I don’t make money directly from the community I build

One thing both models have in common is that they both require you to find your tribe and love them hard.

They all bring together a large group of people who believe what they believe. Only when you’ve built a community of raving fans can you make sustainable income from either model.

I’ve finally realised the second business model will lead to my vision becoming a reality much faster. I don’t need to make money directly from the members of the community I build.

More effective use of my time and energy will be to empower leaders of organisations to reconnect with why and streamline how they do what they do, giving them more time and energy to make a difference.

I need to define separate avatars for members of my community and those who I work directly with to actually make money.

Or as Sarah Dillon put it after we chatted about this idea:

“The eyes and ears of my community are different to the ones paying my invoices.”

I now know, in order to get the attention of the organisations’ leaders and build my credibility, I need to focus on building a community of people who believe what I believe.

I need raving fans who are all chanting my message that:

When your character strengths are aligned to and applied to your work, and you know why you do what you do, you can make a real difference in the world and feel energised at the same time, not drained.

Did you attend PBEVENT? I’d love to hear your thoughts below about my synthesis of monetising a blog.



10 thoughts on “Dream bigger to monetise your blog

    1. So crucial but so hard too sometimes Lisa. It’s taken me a number of years and attempts to refine my why. I think last weekend was the first time I’ve come up with something that really clicked and joined a lot of dots for me, as well as inspiring me every day 🙂

      I’d love to know your why if you’d care to share?

  1. I went to the first PB event it was excellent! I love your thinking now, finding the ultimate business model for your blog is something that takes real creativity and critical analysis and luck!

    We have been sitting on our business model for http://www.fivepointfive.org waiting for the right plan and we are going to launch it really soon. But it has taken 3 years of consideration to come up with something that is perfect for our audience and perfect for us.

    Business and blogging and website communities are an ever evolving game – you have to be constantly monitoring your baby and coming up with new and better games for it to play with 🙂

    1. Totally! I find the hardest thing with a business blog is where to spend my time between in person delivering the business services and then online monitoring and nurturing the blog. All part of being the parent of a blog hey! 😉

  2. Hi Kylah, well put. There are many different ways to make money off a blog and it seems like you are on track and are able to utilise what you heard at problogger asap. I think the most important elements are consistency and focus – then the money will follow. Thanks for sharing your insights. Ulrike

    1. Oh… consistency and focus! Two incredibly illusive elements on my blog at times. I think it has taken me 3 years to finally get some focus, and consistency well let’s just say I’m still working on that, haha!

    1. Haha! Next step is to tweak my website so it is talking to my ‘tribe’. This will include updating the email sign-up buttons and also creating different welcome email series depending where people sign up on my website. I’ve written a to-do list and I’m now in the process of finding someone to tick all these things off for me so I have more time to create new content. Thanks for asking!

  3. I love this post and awesome that you got so much out of PBEVENT 2015. It can be hard to find your why and at times what you thought it was can change. Then finding and building your tribe is another challenge, but will be an amazing feeling to have delivered an important message and service to the people that you wanted to, helping them with their why. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments Christel! Finding your why can be so hard, and yes can change often! All part of the fun 🙂

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