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