10 Business Models for Bloggers

Whether you’re blogging full or part-time, if you expect to make money, you need to have a clear business model. It’s no good just posting and expecting the cheques to roll in, you need to plan for how that cash will start flowing.

There’s a vast array of different business models out there that center around a blog. I want to look at what I see as the top 10 though, and get your thoughts on those, aswell as ones i’ve left out.

Here’s the top 10 business models i see out there currenty, in a very rough order of popularity.

1. Advertising

There are, as you might well imagine, several sub-sets to the advertising based business model. As a general revenue model though, it’s clearly #1 for bloggers — Adsense has made it possible for even the most low-traffic, uncommercial blog to make some money, but professional bloggers have taken contextual advertising to new heights with seriously targeted blogs, and well integrated ads.

There are a few types of advertising model though, it’s not all Adsense you know!

  • CPM based banner ads for broader, higher trafficked blogs
  • Niche advertising. Meaning pinpoint precision targeting and negotiated deals with ecom’s in that area
  • Sponsorship. Where you target a particular sector, and have a company “sponsor” your blog — not quite the same as regular advertising, as it’s very much a 2-way endorsement type of affair.

2. Affiliate Marketing

This could almost have been a subset of advertising, but really, done correctly it’s marketing not advertising. A typical affilite marketing based blog will be either:

  • A niche product / product group blog
  • A niche audience blog (no, not quite the same as above)

And will generate sales by sending traffic to selected merchants via in-post text links, banners and special offers. This seems to work great in product blogs, and if you combine it with some more regular advertising, you can start spreading your risk — one really good thing about affiliate marketing, is that if you get sick of the merchant, you can always just swap your links out for another, and it’s not uncommon to make bespoke deals with merchants in your niche.

3. Consultancy

Experts in their fields that provide consultancy, full time or outside of regular jobs can make a pretty good salary by blogging on their areas of expertise. It’s particularly common among PR companies themselves, marketing agencies and web based service providers such as Search marketing and business blog consulting.

4. PR Vehicle

This type of business model is very similar to #3 — Usually it compliments and existing model. Evangelizing your company or products on a blog can create a great way for customers, potential customers, other bloggers and press to interact with your company and products — thus selling more of them!

5. Lead Generation

Lead generation blogs are very much like consultancy blogs, in that their authors blog on areas of expertise, positioning themselves as experts in their field. The main difference is simply the end result. Whereas a consultancy blog will also “generate leads” for their consultancy offerings, a lead generation blog may very well take information sent to them and forward it to a company they have a standing deal with for completion, or perhaps nework for someone that can fill the request.

So, that was the top 5. The remaining 5 models are far less accurate in their ordering. Im really uncertain about a couple of them, and would welcome some feedback!

6. Product Sale

Possibly this one could belong further up the list, im not sure it does though. Thing is, it should do, as its a very effective model from what i can gather.

Focus on one product, or a small family of products and be THE site to go to for information on those products — Naturally, your blog will sell those products, either directly or indirectly using affiliate marketing or regular ads.

7. Donation

Probably the poorest excuse for a business model in the list in my opinion. I just can’t find anything to like about relying on the good will of readers for your income.

8. Subscription

If you publish an “expert blog”, one way to monetize it is to not publish all of your information. Make some of it, perhaps more detailed blog posts/reports or sections of the site by subscription only. You don’t see this a great deal, but it can be pretty effective in some areas.

9. Syndication

Syndication as a business model? Sure, works kinda like the consultancy or lead generation gigs. It’s not so common, but people do write specifically to get published in more traditional media, and on larger websites.

10. Ecommerce

This one, i have never spotted in the wild. Not yet anyway, because im 100% sure they exist! If you think about it, it makes some sense — im not talking about bolting a blog onto a shopping cart, im taking about turning a blog into a shopping cart.

It’s something i would personally love to expore more, so if anyone can add information to this entry, please do.

The way i see it is this: If blogs are conversation, and if links are speach, why the hell aren’t we talking about buying? Right there, in the blog — not pointing to a product page, posting about a product and writing your pitch as a blog post.

UPDATE: Thanks to Andy for reminding me about Woot! — not sure how i could have missed that, but i did, and it is an ecom blog imo…

Any More?

Come on, we all know i left out a whole stack there. What other business blog business models can we add to the list?

4 thoughts on “10 Business Models for Bloggers

  1. If you’re a blogger looking to make money, the last place you should be looking is to make money on advertising (Google Adsense). That’s a lazy way to try and make money and will only become increasingly more difficult. The easy money has already been made in AdSense. The smarter approach is to combine lead generation and affiliate programs in combination with your own personal recommendations and reviews. If the product is contextually relevant and has a strong personal recommendation from a blogger who has actually used the product or products like it, that product will have a much, much higher conversion rate on the site. The days of just slapping up some AdSense ads or a bunch of affiliate links without supporting it with additional content, reviews or recommendations just doesn’t cut it anymore. Those days are over.

    You’ve got to add some value to the user who’s reading your blog. Otherwise, stick to your day job.

  2. It seems like there are a lot of variation on affiliate marketing.

    1. price comparison
    2. affiliate stores
    3. digital product
    4. physical products
    5. datafeeds

    There seem to business models under business models.

    NOTE: Edited by moderator to remove multiple self-serving and irrelevant links.

  3. Thinking about making money with a blog !!! but did you thought about making money not with a blog but using a blog system ?

    Using a blog allow not only to develop as much as you want your subject and call users for comments.

    Look … you are trying to sale fishing rods … (exemple) … first to suroud the subject and give readers lusty of fishing you can start with a splendid fishing vacation on white sand beaches at Bora Bora … 20 to 40 pictures will do the deal if you don’t forget the agressive marketing and call lovely blondee or brunette to sit aside the fishing rods you plant to sale.
    User will (for sure) hit on the rods or on the chicks or on the rods and on the chicks. And this is exactly what you are looking for, traffic and comments.
    Create a pool for your users and allow them to vote for fishing rod 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 (it’s up to you) and agressive marketing again … ask them to vote for the chick (do this innocently like … would you like to go fishing with Bella, Marylin, Donna etc etc)
    Now on the pool resuslt page add the paypal buy it now button for each of your rods saying

    Top 1 Rod 1 (Donna) buy it now
    etc etc etc …


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