Right now, bloggers are talking about how the face of content is changing and how that will affect their blogs and blog income. New technologies may encourage brands to stop working with bloggers and find existing brand fans, paid in product, to spread the word. Companies are seeing a huge influx in individual blogger pitches. If you want to monetize your blog in this day and age, you’ll need to make smarter, business-savvy choices to survive the current environment. Here are 5 tips to help bloggers survive a recession.
1. Know Your Brand and Pitch Smarter
Pitching is not yet done for. MarketingProfs.com reported in February 2016 that ad blocking software cost brands more than $20 million in revenue. They believe that influencer marketing is the solution to ad blocking. Influencer marketing is not dead, but the key is focusing your brand by:
Tip # 1: Maintain a Consistent Voice
Keep consistent across all your media streams. Angry? Funny? Have a cause? While you can differentiate what your social media focuses on or how you communicate it, you should still be you.
Tip # 2: Be Authentic
You can’t really maintain a consistent voice if you’re not authentic. It will come through and readers will realize you aren't being real with them.
Tip # 3: Use the Same Avatar
You should change your avatar from time to time – at least annually – to stay current but make sure it’s the same image across all your streams. I recommend a photo of yourself because people respond to a face better than a cartoon and will recognize you in person.
Tip # 4 Brand Your Blog
This means having a recognizable logo and consistent look across social media and branding your pinnable images with a common style (i.e., font style, size, color, background shading). Learn more ways to develop your brand on a budget. I’ve noticed that now that I have streamlined my brand, more prospects are coming in. Bloggers need to take care sorting through new prospects, particularly when you are tightening up your niche. I get lots of technology or toy pitches, which no longer aligns with my current business goals but rather with older blog posts. Changing your brand or repositioning your niche is fine as long as you stay consistent when tempted with offers.
2. Work With Smaller and Newer Brands
Like most bloggers, there was a time I was strictly interested in working with that amazing big brand – for pay – that was already a staple in my home and a good fit in my niche. Unfortunately, that dream campaign was elusive, no matter what I did. When I did get the chance to work with a beloved brand, it was only in exchange for product. There are a lot of reasons this occurs. Popular brands may have bloggers queuing up for product reviews. Some brands are pulling back on influencer budgets and seeking out current fans instead. Additionally, certain niches, such as organic foods, have smaller marketing budgets since so much goes into production costs. If you are not getting pitches or campaigns but are hungry for exposure, look into smaller brands that are seeking to gain traction in your niche. A great choice, for example, is a new technology brand (apps, tech gear) in your niche that has passed the “fund me” stage but is looking to grow brand awareness. You can reach out and pitch these brands, making sure to send them a media kit with all your metrics, experience and strengths. If your page views are not that high, a strong, engaged social media following will help your case. Starting with smaller companies will build your confidence and expertise in creative pitching particularly when companies are a good fit for your audience.
3. Think Bigger: Joint Venture With a Brand
Becoming a brand ambassador is wonderful, but why not up the game and do more than that? Consider how your skills and experience compliment a particular brand that you like and how you can turn that from an ambassadorship into a partnership. It’s a good idea to build a relationship with that brand first – and here’s where “mom and pop” brands make a good choice. What areas are they looking for help in? Some ideas include web design, blog creation, writing, marketing, networking, etc. When you have a good, niche-focused relationship with a business you can get a feel for where they are struggling and offer support. Be careful not to come off like a salesman though! You should be brainstorming ideas together and offering suggestions, until you’ve established authority. Be careful not to do all the work for them for free but instead to fan their own ideas and need for help. For example, I have met lots of moms who created products to help their own disabled children. That also happens to be my target, so I’ve worked with one such business owner in different ways, such as developing plans for a blogging team, providing value-added tools for her products and representing her at conferences. Another way I’ve worked with brands is to co-host events with them. You can do this virtually or in person, if that fits your skill set.
4. Diversify Your Income
Many brands are cutting back on sponsored posts, but smart bloggers will diversify their income. Here are the possibilities you can try:
- Write and sell an ebook that appeals to your audience.
- Use affiliate marketing or contextual advertising
- Create courses or webinars in your area of expertise.
- Seek out speaking engagements in your niche, starting with small local events.
- Pitch other mediums besides posts to create brand awareness, such as Twitter events or niche-focused talk shows.
5. Flip Your Focus From “Blogging as a Career” to “Blogging for a Career”
I’ve talked often about how to leverage your writing skills into a career in professional blogging. Now it may be time to think about creating a business inside your niche such as consulting, advocacy, coaching, or teaching. I reached out to Ruth Soukup, the blogger who started Elite Blogging Academy and author of several books, for advice on this concept of shifting your paradigm to “blogging for a career.” She responded:
“When you can find something that is helping people and filling a genuine need, there is always a way to create a business out of that. I don’t really see my business and writing as two separate things. My business has just always grown out of my passion.”
Continue to focus on writing about your passions and causes and find out where those “genuine needs” are. Has someone thanked you for providing information or encouragement? Have you had a post or video go viral on a topic you can teach? Had a printable downloaded hundreds of times? Those are the go-to topics you can research for a business. For example, I write to help parents raising children with disabilities use non-toxic living to improve behaviors and brain function, and help them cope. Once I focused my niche in this direction, the idea of coaching parents was a no-brainer so I’m currently studying to become a health coach. Blogging today is a much more competitive endeavor than even 5 years ago. Bloggers can still monetize their blogs, but we need to take more professional and creative approaches to income than in the past. Start today to break into a new path to earn a living from your blog to protect yourself in the crowded blogger marketplace.