When I see or hear the word ‘ProBlogger‘ I think Darren Rowse. Darren has been an established authority in the realm of ProBlogging for a few years now. In this interview we cover such topics such as monetization, the value of community, the problogging niche, the six-figure income, and Darren’s thoughts on the personal brands trend. On with the interview!
Jeff – It’s 2008. For those who are just now beginning to blog, what would be the best way to monetize their work?
Darren – 2008 already!? Wow – time is flying.
OK – there’s two main ways that I encourage bloggers to think about earning money from their blogs:
Directly – This is where your blog makes money directly through things like advertising and affiliate programs. You can start to make a little money from these avenues using programs like Google’s AdSense with just a little traffic and as a result it’s usually where a new blogger would start with monetizing their blog.
Indirectly – This is where a blogger makes money because of their blog – or they are able to ‘sell themselves’ (or their business. For example they might offer consulting services, to speak at training events, they might write and sell a book etc. The blog itself doesn’t make money but they’re making money because of the profile that the blog brings.
For new bloggers the ‘direct’ methods are probably easier because indirect methods generally rely upon you having established trust and profile with reader – and this takes time!
Having said all that – if you’re just starting out – I’d probably spend more time thinking about developing rich and useful content for readers than thinking too much about how to monetize it. Yes you can make money from just a few readers but you’ll make more in the long run if you’ve got a blog filled with great content being read by lots of readers – so start there.
Jeff – As far as I’m concerned, you have the problogging niche covered. Is there still room for people to have a blog about blogging, or would having a site in this niche be like beating a dead horse?
Darren – The ‘blogging about blogging’ and the ‘making money online’ niches are very crowded. There must be hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs on these topics. As a result it’s difficult to break into these niches and establish a voice.
It’s not impossible by any means (there have been some great new blogs on the topics) but I suspect there are less crowded niches. I personally welcome more blogs on the topic as I learn from them – however if you’re looking to build a large readership it’s tough.
My advice to bloggers considering topics is to start with a topic that you know something about, something that you love and if possible – to choose a topic that has ‘space’ for a new blogs to emerge (ie one where there are less established blogs).
Jeff – You are the exception, not the rule when it comes to successful bloggers. A six figure income is a dream rather than reality for most of us. Do you feel that in todays day in age, this dream can still become a reality? That is, a six-figure income through blogging?
Darren – ‘Six figures’ is not the place that bloggers should probably be thinking when they start blogging. Yes it is possible and I could reel off quite a few names of bloggers who earn that much – but it’s not the norm.
My advice to bloggers wanting to grow an income from blogging is to keep your eye on the next step or two ahead of yourself and build it into a part time income before you start quitting your job and ‘going pro’.
It’s like any ‘pro’ activity – take sports for example. The majority of people playing sport do it for fun, a smaller number make a little money when they win a competition, a smaller number are able to go ‘pro’ but don’t hit the big time and a smaller number become mega-stars (Tiger Woods for example). There is a similar spread of people making money from blogging.
Jeff – How much of an influence do you think a blogs community has on the overall value of a blog?
Darren –I think it varies from blog to blog. Blogs tend to draw different types of readers to them and as a result ‘community’ forms (or doesn’t form) differently.
For example – on Digital Photography School (www.digital-photography-school.com/blog) I seem to have attracted a community of readers that just want to learn together. It’s on a topic where they can show off their work (photos) in our forums and there’s a natural comradery there.
However, on other blogs people are just there to consume information and are not interested to hang around to ‘chat’ and build relationships.
While I’d encourage all bloggers to try to build community around their blog as it adds a lot – it’s not essential and sometimes it just doesn’t ‘click’.
Jeff – What are your thoughts on personal brands? Is this a trend worth being a part of?
Darren – I think it depends upon your goals as a blogger and upon the type of blog you’re building.
For example – on ProBlogger I promote myself as the blogger more heavily than I do on Digital Photography School. My reason for this is that on ProBlogger I want to align myself with the topic there because I want to build my perceived expertise on the topic. This has opened up opportunities to write books, speak at conferences, release products etc.
On the other hand on DPS I don’t want to tie my own ‘brand’ to the blog as much because I’m more interested in promoting the community of knowledge there. I don’t want to become seen as an expert in photography or create a blog that is reliant upon me – so I step back a little and let others be the face of the blog and forum there.
Jeff – What are your thoughts on the state of online advertising as it relates to bloggers?
Darren – It’s an interesting time.
On the one hand we’re seeing a slowing of the economy and talk of less money going into advertising.
On the other hand the online space is full of innovation and is taking a larger slice of the overall advertising spend of many companies because they can see it as an effective way of reaching their target audiences with real precision.
We’re also seeing more and more ad networks come onto the scene – offering lots of different options to bloggers.
All in all I think it’s an exciting time – although one that I think we need to approach with a little caution and smarts with the economy as it is. I advise not throwing all your eggs into the basket of one ad network, diversify income streams and develop multiple sites if possible to help spread the ups and downs of earnings.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Darren for taking the time out of his busy schedule and answering my questions. I’ve learned a few new things based off of his answers. What about you though? Do you agree or disagree with Darren’s responses?