Monetizing and Optimizing Your Blog

November 10, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Back from lunch and it’s time to talk about blogging. Specifically, making money from your blog. Who’s not a fan of that? Go, Money!  I mean…community. Let’s go community and customer engagement. Unicorns!  Right.

Anyway. Speaking up on the panel we have Duane Forrester and Brian Clark. Chris Brogan isn’t listed but seems to be crashing. Because, well, he’s Chris Brogan and who the hell is going to tell him no? If anyone can help teach us a thing or two about monetizing blogs, it’s these three.

Up first is Duane Forrester. There’s not that many people in the room (they probably got lost at lunch). He wants to know where all our friends are. Heh.

Why is he here?

  • $855.54 (October 2010 – Google Adsense earnings)
  • 80 percent of all internet session start with search – blogs can perform well in search


  • It’s critical that any blog topic is approached with passion. Are you passionate or is it just “shit you do”?
  • Pick something you like, don’t chase trends
  • If you are passionate, it’ll come through in your writing
  • Your audience will know if it’s lacking

Your passion is what will hold you through for the first six months when no one but your mother is reading your blog. This month he’ll make $14,000 from one of his domains. He owns a lot of domains.


  • Select a niche
  • Select a niche in that niche
  • Still lots of opportunity in niche areas -look for it
  • Going broad has been done, doesn’t allow you to differentiate yourself.

Don’t be afraid to step into an area that seems crowded – that’s a sign of the opportunity there. Just be aware of your goals and your talents. It may take time to see a ROI. You can own an area if you can bring value that no one else can.


  • Know your audience
  • Bring them content they want
  • Use keyword research (use Exact match) to help you understand what topics in your niche are hot – what users are searching for –Google Keyword Tool, Keyword Discovery
  • Select products that are directly related to the topic or creatively related to the topic


Be sure to check the validity of any affiliate program you see – look around for detailed feedback on their payment schedule and if others have had problems receiving timely payouts.   You also want to watch for legalities – many programs exist, but you might not be able to advertise their products in your location. Follow their guidelines if offered – the guidelines shown exist to help you and the program operator – if you win, they win.

Affiliate Program Lists

Blend Your Ads

Blending your ads will help. Users today are ad-savvy. You can also make your ads stand out, if that works for you. Be selective about where you place them. Make sure you’re adhering to the best practices of usability.


  • Test everything
  • change colors
  • change ad sizes
  • change locations
  • track results
  • leave things live for at least a week between changes
  • After a couple mouths, implement the best performers
  • Never stop testing for best results

Pay attention. Affiliate programs can guide you to success. If you get an email about how you can increase revenue by changing your ad size, maybe listen to them.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from shit. If it’s not working, kill it. If it a topic is not generating, move on. If a template is problematic, find another. If a niche is a dead end, walk away. Don’t invest your time in something that is not giving you value. There is value in learning.

His presentation ends here, but there are more slides if you go and download his deck. Some stuff includes:

The Down & Dirty

  • Analytics – critical. If you don’t have it, get it. There are free to paid options.
  • SEO Overview – focuses on crawlability, structure, on-page considerations, links, content.
  • Paid Search Marketing – start with long-tail, cheaper phrases. Be ready to build dedicated landing pages. Can retask current pages to be landing pages.
  • Local search: engines are very good at determining if you’re local. Be sure to look for local businesses to link to you like Chamber of Commerce, BBB, other local small businesses, etc.
  • Videos & Webinars: Drive engagement by being seen as a subject matter expert. Use these mediums to add value for visitors. You can password protect some to encourage email signups. Leverage a dedicated YouTube account to house your videos. They host saving your bandwidth. Inbound link from the YouTube account can help as it gains value.
  • Internet advertising banners: Banners still work well.  Stay with what IAB recommends.
  • Social networks: use them to establish conversations. Don’t work well for direct sales. Be ready for little feedback. Look for networks that target your niche. Tools like HootSuite can help manage work flow and time.
  • Email marketing: never spam. Give something of value for joining. Build your list legitimately.
  • Shopping carts: Look into “conversion optimization”. Optimizing your shopping cart can boost direct revenue while saving you money. Off the shelf carts are costing your money.

Next up is Brian Clark.

Even if you have no existing business, you can build business from your blog without taking advertising

Instead of your content supporting advertising, your content is advertising. Whether you make money with advertising or by selling something, your content is advertising.  You’re putting content out there in order to gain exposure so that people will pay attention to you over time. People will spread that content for you on Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s free distribution that brings you attention over time. That’s why social media is so powerful,

Content Marketing: Give away valuable content to the right people and then sell them something closely related. It’s very simple, and yet, most people get it wrong. People start blogging about whatever they want and then they have no idea how to build a business around it.  Like Duane said, you do need passion. But you have to make sure there’s a market there.   Any business begins with a market needs, not necessarily about whatever it is you feel like talking about.

Tell people how to solve their problem, then sell them a solution that makes solving the problem even easier.  People want to buy a house — but they’re also looking for information about what to look out for, how to value their house, current mortgage issues, etc. There’s all this other information around the transactional act of real estate. If you give away information, you form a relationship over your competitors who are not.

Emotional engagement is the foundation of selling anything. It begins with people knowing who you are and liking you.  It’s not some dramatic emotional state. It’s just that we do business with people that we know and that we like.

The Five A Approach To Seductive Blogging

Authenticity: The most misunderstood buzzword in blogging.  Usually you’ll see it being boiled down to “just be you”. Yes, but what if no one likes you? That’s a problem.   Be the best you. You have the ability to choose your voice and choose your persona.  Tell people a story they want to hear. A lot of people online just use authenticity to talk about themselves. But it’s not about you. It’s about them. You want a voice that other people click with and that makes them want to trust you.

Attention: There’s lots of ways to get attention because everyone likes a train wreck. That doesn’t mean they want to do business with you.  Attention has to be earned by making compelling promises and delivering something valuable. If you’re delivering good enough information, people will continue to come back to you time after time.   Online you can’t buy attention, you have to earn it. That’s why content is so powerful and the action that leads to money.

Authority: Your authority is what will determine how you rank in the search engines. There’s trust AND authority, but Brian thinks they go hand in hand. You’re trying to build yourself up as an expert on your given topic. The topic relates to whatever it is that you’re selling.

Action: Now you sell. During the three initial steps, you’ve probably gotten 85 percent of the way of making the sale without getting hypey. People want to buy from people they like and trust. Basic copywriting skills will get you the rest of the way, assuming you’re making them an offer on something they want to buy. People will tell you what they want to buy. Because you’ve established trust, you can even sell something everyone else sells. They’ll buy from YOU because they like YOU.

Acceleration: You’ll find new business opportunities. He built an entire business model by creating the platform and the audience, and then partnering with people who had something to sell. By his best guess, if they had an advertising model and did direct sales, they’d make 500k-600k a year in revenue, but they do well over 3 million with this model. They’ve chosen not to include ads because they don’t want to distract people away from what they’re really doing – trying to sell their products and services.

Chris Brogan is up next. Party crasher.

Stop. Collaborate. And listen. That’s how you do social media.  Vanilla Ice did his social media. Impressive.

Chris makes his money by following Brian three years late.  He makes money via professional speaking and by running a consulting company.  He charges 22,000 bucks to speak. If you want to hire him, he charges 22,000 bucks. If you want to rent his whole company, he charges 12,000 bucks. He values his time.   He’s had a lot of success in showing people different price points that work for them. It’s the Russel Simmons model. A kid can go into K-Mart and buy Russell Simmons clothes, but someone can buy a super duper Russell Simmons shirt for $300.

He makes some money off affiliate marketing. He primarily promotes Genesis theme, and a little from Scribe SEO.  People don’t buy Scribe SEO from him because he knows nothing about SEO. The Genesis ad pays 1-3x his mortgage every month.

He runs community sites. He participates in Third Tribe Marketing and runs a nonprofit community. He found that teaching sells.

He does paid events. It took him 11 years of goodwill to make his very first ask.   He promoted other people for eleven years, and then asked people to buy his week the first week it came out. And they did. And now he’s a New York Times Best Seller.   Promote other people. No one pushes you away from the table when you’re helping them make money.

And that’s it. Now you can go make tons of money from your blogs. See how easy?

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