Smart, Nonintrusive Ways to Monetize a Blog

April 13, 2011

I’ve become a student of entrepreneurship lately, spending much of my free time watching interviews with entrepreneurs and reading about their strategies, and even picking their brains at work. After all, many of us are entrepreneurs in our own right, figuring out how to cobble together a living doing what we love. (Self-publishing, by the way, falls into this category.)

This topic is a good fit for me because my brain is always bursting with ideas, which is, of course, one of the main requirements of being an entrepreneur. I come up with an idea for a new project almost daily, and I’m constantly reminding myself that I need to focus on what I’m already working on, lest I spread myself too thin. So rather than act on every plan I hatch, I file most of them away in an idea file. (I use Evernote for that.)

But I’m dying to put some of these ideas to use. So I’ve decided to try my hand at monetizing this blog, almost as an experiment. Not in a major way; I certainly don’t blog for the money. And not in a way that jeopardizes the content or look of this blog; I can’t stand Google ads, text ads or even sponsored posts. But now that this blog is a success, now that we’ve created a community, I want to take it one step further and see what we can do with that readership.

Which turns this into a bit of a challenge, requires a bit of creativity. How can I monetize in a way that adds value for you? Since I’m not trying to make a lot of money here, and certainly not trying to make a living, the stakes are low.

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve come up with:

Affiliate advertising. I’m already an affiliate with Thesis, which means if you buy the WordPress theme through that link, I benefit. But I’ve been brainstorming other affiliate opportunities that make sense for this blog, ones that are actually relevant.

I signed up with my web hosting company DreamHost (use promo code “alexisgrant,” and you’ll get $10 off), as well as a few interesting travel e-books: The Art of Solo Travel (I interviewed the author, Stephanie Lee, a while back) and Negotiating Your Sabbatical, a product I wish I’d come across before taking my career break. But I’m still trying to figure out where to display these opportunities without compromising the clean look of this site.

I tried Amazon affiliates for a short time, but quite frankly, the small return I got for each sale — especially books, which are relatively inexpensive — wasn’t worth cluttering up my sidebar.

Anyone have suggestions for other quality travel, social media or writing-related affiliate products?

E-books. I’m absolutely fascinated with the idea of selling knowledge-based e-books, and I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. But I’d also like to hear from you: Of the topics I write about — writing, journalism, travel and social media — is there anything in particular you’d like to learn about more about?

Video tutorials. Along those same lines, it would be cool to expand on some of the ideas I write about here in video format, mainly showing you a few of my social media tricks. This would be a great opportunity to experiment with Pay with a Tweet.

Relevant advertising/sponsorship. I’d like to offer ad space in my sidebar to a writing coach, manuscript editor, or individual who teaches writing classes — services my readers would actually want. Only one ad at a time, at least to start, and super affordable prices. Contact me if you’re interested, and we can work out the details.

Which of these ideas do you think will work best? What creative monetization strategies have you seen work for bloggers with medium-sized audiences?

Photo credit: Flickr’s br1dotcom

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    9 Replies to “Smart, Nonintrusive Ways to Monetize a Blog”

    • Jaclyn says:

      This is great!! No harm in making a little money (or a lot!) from your blog and as always it’s informative and awesome that you’re sharing what you learn. I think you’d be a natural for an e-book. I’d love an e-book providing details of how you went on your African adventure. Of course you have posts on this blog that could apply but everything from how did you decide to go, the planning, what it was like when you got back and the challenges… having that all in one place would be a great resource.

      Personally, I’d also love to see an e-book or video tutorial on how to launch a successful social media business. How did you market yourself? What were the big challenges and how did you resolve them? That’s a shoe-in for new entrepreneurs like me!!

      Can’t wait to see what you decide to implement!

    • Tracy Whitt says:

      Would like to see an e-book on your experiences and how-to on social media. So many of us who are not tech savvy are so lost.

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Jaclyn & Tracy — Thanks to you both! Any feedback on this is super helpful, and you can bet I’ll turn your ideas into useful products. Thanks!

    • Kim Kircher says:

      These are great ideas. When I first found your site, I came for the adventure stories. I wanted to know about your travels and how you’d turned them into learning opportunities. I keep coming back because of the practical information you offer. I, too, have written a memoir and I’m promoting it through social media (but let’s face it, isn’t every writer trying to do that?). Your posts about using facebook and twitter have helped shape my presence there. Having said that, you seem like a natural for selling e-books. Hey, I’d buy one about how to get your name out there, how best to promote yourself without coming across as pushy, the unwritten rules of engaging in social media. That kind of thing.
      Thanks for asking for our feedback, and keep up the good work!

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Thanks for this, Kim! SUPER helpful. And though I’ve drifted over into practical I like this reminder to post one of those adventure stories every once in a while 🙂

    • Karlene Cameron says:

      I like the idea of video tutorials.That would attract more readers. Then you may charge for the download of these videos.

    • I think I will like to learn more about the journalism. I think I can become a good columnist. I gave up on that a long time ago after I spent time convincing people I can write in English; since it is my second language. Secondly, I will like to know how to pay with a tweet I still have lots of Student loan to pay, but I love your help here.
      You are awesome. I hope to read more from you.

    • frenchadele says:

      Advertising services that your readers could want is a fantastic idea. It increases the services your site offers by directing readers to valuable services. If you are endorsing these products then they already have credibility, which is great for a blogger wanting to follow in your footsteps (without having to wade through a plethora of average services).

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