Parenting blogs can be big business but only if you have a reliable source of income. The best source of monetization for any blog owner is to have a product to sell. While other forms are fine, let’s understand why they are less reliable.
Unreliable Forms of Monetization
Sponsored posts are great to learn how to work with and represent a brand, but prospective clients don’t want to see too many of these on your blog (20% sponsored to 80% unsponsored is considered “good”), nor do they want to see competitor posts. Sponsored posts also might not bring a great return on your time investment. If a client pays you $100, and you spend five hours working on that project, from product purchase to edited pinnable post, you are only making $20 per hour. The effort may not be worth the payment.
Affiliate Links and Ads
These seem like easy passive income, but the rules can changes for search engines, social media/video, FTC requirements, email marketing and your affiliate organization may be challenging. You need to keep up with those and keep in mind when your links expire. And remember, that visitors and brands do view this as sponsorship. It also generally takes a very large audience (100,000 page views) to make more than a few dollars per post.
With ad space, it’s difficult to attract prospective clients for advertising out of the box, particularly when affiliate advertising is available for bigger brands. Finally, keep in mind that your blog itself is vulnerable. Even if you have good ad revenue, an unexpected disaster can prevent you from earning.
I recommend you do this, if you want to be a writer. However, these projects can be time consuming and can drain you. Personally, I do not book more than 8 of these per month because it’s very difficult to produce quality content if I have too many writing projects.
Why Products Are The Hot New Trend
While you do not have to give up projects like these, selling your own products will provide a better income source. Here are the benefits:
# 1: Products Are Long Lasting
Once you create a product, you can sell it forever if it is evergreen content. A course on blogging or social media will change over time, however, books on parenting or cookbooks can last a long time with little or no updates.
# 2: You Have Complete Control
Your product can be as long or as short as you need, can have highly niched detail, can be updated as you see fit, or you can create entirely new versions based on audience feedback. And depending on how you deliver your product, you’ll have control over pricing and keep most or all of the profit.
# 3: Products Are Portable and Safer
You can sell your product anywhere, anyway, so you don’t need to worry if your blog crashes, your email provider tanks or your Facebook page mysteriously disappears. The ability to sell in different venues keeps your income intact.
# 4: Passive Income
Everyone wants to earn income while they sleep. While ads can help you do that, products are more profitable, don’t expire and sales can be automated, providing you an easy way to sell.
Products You Can Sell
Your expertise can set you up very well to sell certain kinds of items. You'll need to focus on an area where you have experience and build a product around your skills and niche: parenting, cooking, homeschooling, etc.
Product Idea # 1: Ebooks/Books
Ebooks are great because they are quick and easy, and can lead to things like a speaking career or possible offers to get published. However, you are on your own from start to finish, so make sure you hire help for design, editing and proofing. You'll also need to decide whether or not to self-publish. You may need to keep the price point low. Additionally, you may want a format that is not easily passed around to others, like a PDF. You can use book content as a free lead magnet to attract subscribers.
Product Idea # 2: Webinars/Online Courses
Courses and webinars allow you to charge more money. The easiest way to set one up is to offer an email training program, delivering modules weekly. If you have enough content on your blog, you may be able to take the bulk of the content from it. Live webinars are great but far more difficult and time consuming but you can offer free training to market your full course. Remember that you’ll need to support your students if they have questions or problems.
Product Idea # 3: Coaching/Consulting
This is a great tool for someone who has a very specific, trainable skill (for example, cooking gluten free or stress free parenting) and a lot of coach training available for you to invest in. You need to be a people person, too, and schedule sessions that make sense for your availability and what you are charging. Know your subject in depth and expect to have absolute beginners that will struggle with what you think is basic.
Product Idea # 4: Handmade Arts & Crafts
I have several friends who sell one-of-a-kind handmade items through Etsy, from bags to furniture. You’ll need to consider delivery costs as well as the time for production and how you will market your products.
Product Idea # 5: Packaged Graphics & Web Design Items
Many bloggers learn they have a love of tinkering with code or designing graphics. You can offer packages like WordPress themes, icon sets or blog maintenance. If you are savvy, you can consider building sites from scratch or logo design. These options require a high level of skill, so train as much as you can and use professional software once you can afford it.
Product Idea # 6: Photography
This is another area that many bloggers enter for profit. I wouldn’t go this route unless you have at least a DSLR camera with separately purchased lenses, and really know photography basics, like how to light a person and rule of thirds. You can submit your photography and sell it through some of the big stock houses as well.
Selling Your Product
Once you’ve chosen the ideal product for your niche and your skill set, you’ll need to figure out how you are going to sell your product.
If you don’t know where to begin, do some research. Find entrepreneurs who sell similar products and see what they charge. Keep in mind that for coaching and services, experience will play a part in determining your hourly rates. However, do not give your services away for free to build experience. This sets up an expectation, both from your client and within yourself, that anything you might charge is too high. Those who charge more are considered more professional than those who offer low cost or services. You can do a free consultation, however, to see if you are a good fit for your prospective client.
Partnerships are a great way to get the word out to a larger audience and offer more options. Some partnership ideas include a web designer working with a graphic artist, a professional blogger working with a social media manager, or a health coach working with someone who sells health supplements. You can also market your product through bigger bloggers by setting up an affiliate program that gives them a percentage of the sales as an incentive.
The same marketing techniques apply as in blogging: find your target market, create a lead magnet and landing page and build your email list. Your blog instantly becomes a marketing tool but keep your voice and niche the same, while weaving your product into your content.
Earning money by selling products is a faster route to steady, reliable income. Keep in mind that your existing blog is already primed to sell anything that is laser-targeted to your current audience. This will help you consider and create products that can even outlast your blog.