This is a guest post by Katheryn Rivas.
Though blogging is a fairly new job category, it has quickly developed its own set of conventions, like tracks on the ground that make it easy for newcomers to follow.
The formula goes something like this: build a website > write posts > monetize your blog with Adsense, advertising, and affiliate sales > grow your network by commenting, guest posting, and following others > make money.
Maybe this happened to you — you write, advertise, market, and network your heart out, just to find that you're making just barely more than you could working at McDonald's. If that.
What happened? Has the blogging well run dry?
The answer to that question is no. In fact, what has happened is that the blogging well has flooded and is now super-saturated with bloggers trying to skate by with ads.
The Root of the Problem
Your troubles making money blogging don't stem from a faulty system. While the system is overloaded, there are still very successful writers out there making a decent living doing what they do, baffling the rest of us with their dazzling success.
The root of the problem is our inclination to follow the blogging conventions, to do what everyone else does, even when the rules are changing.
It's time to start thinking outside of the box, to get off the tracks made by the first generation of bloggers. Conventions are a handy reference point, but aren't always necessarily the end-all, be-all rules; in fact, conventions are most useful to point out where a system is failing, and where departing from them can be beneficial.
The New Blog
Blogs are evolving into much more than the personal online diaries that they used to be. But everybody already knows that. What many new bloggers haven't picked up on yet, however, is that blogs are now starting to replace resumes as well.
Employers are more and more frequently turning to blogs (if an applicant has one) to get a richer, more honest picture of their prospective candidates, and to determine the extent of an applicant's expertise in and enthusiasm for his or her field.
So your blog is not just a blog, it is also your portfolio — and you can use that fact to your advantage to make the money you wanted to make when you first started blogging.
An Unconventional Model
It is clear to most bloggers now that ads alone don’t bring home the kind of bacon that they would have hoped. At the same time, we now know that blogs have potential to impress employers. (Some of the more notable bloggers have received job offers from major firms, just on the merit of their blogs alone).
The question, then, is what to do to make our blogs different and successful.
It is a complex question, but the answer is much less complicated, and can be summarized in three parts:
- Know Your Audience
Blogging is not about you, it's about your audience. The new blog is a sales device that connects you with a large audience that shares a similar problem or set of problems to which you have the solution(s). They need a service, and you provide it.
But unless you know who you are writing to, you'll never reach them, and you'll never be able to provide the service they want.
Paint of statistical picture of your target audience that includes their:
Most importantly, though you need to …
- Know Their Need
Using the information you now have about your audience, figure out what it is they need. Maybe your audience is bloggers, and they desperately need design advice. Maybe your audience is entrepreneurs and they would kill for marketing strategies. Whatever it is, find it, and provide it.
- Develop Your Skills
You might find that your audience's common need is something you aren't an expert in — don't worry. Learning is easy, and for one reason: there are already professionals out there doing whatever it is you need to learn, and chances are, they'd love to meet with you and give you pointers.
Reach out to people in the industry after you've identified your target product and meet with them. Ideally you will already have a little experience in the field and you just need some direction to refine your skills. This is where the professionals come in.
Once you've learned what you need to, you can then use those professionals as references. Your readers will be impressed and will want your service that much more. And you can bet they'll pay more for your product than ads could ever bring in.