The sharks who make up the investors on the television series Shark Tank are brilliant business people who have earned millions, and in some cases billions of dollars in the business world. If you've not seen the show, it is a simple concept. An entrepreneur comes into a room of investors and presents their concept or product. The investors ask questions and may or may not offer to invest in the product. You can learn a lot about monetizing your site from the advice they offer on this show and simply by watching these investors as they make business deals that are best for them and those they invest in (usually anyway).
If you've been blogging for a minute or two, you've likely at least thought about monetizing your site. Some bloggers start blogging with the idea of one day making a little money from the site. Others start blogging because they have something to say and then realize they want to earn a little funding as well. Whatever your reasons, there are as many ways to monetize your site as reasons for starting a site in the first place.
Where Many Bloggers Fail with Monetization
When it comes to monetizing blogs, there are huge ranges between success and failure. Glassdoor shows a wide range of income levels from around $20,000 a year up to $80,000. However, there are also bloggers who earn $10 a year and those who earn in the six figures.
Where a lot of bloggers fail with monetization:
- Failing to seek sponsors. Whether you earn products or actual cash, many bloggers earn additional side income from sponsorships over Google Ads.
- Promoting products their readership isn't interested in. You can sign up for an affiliate account for nearly anything, but if you are hosting a gardening blog while trying to sell motorcyle helmets, your markets are not a match.
- Putting all their eggs in one basket. Don't just count on Google Ads to bring in all your revenue. Diversify into other areas.
- Failing to reach their target demographic. Do you have a typical reader? What are they interested in? What products and articles solve their problems?
- Quitting too soon. Mohammed Hajjar over on Social Triggers talks about most bloggers having big dreams. Yet, when they don't see an immediate reward for their efforts, many bloggers quit within three months. Earning money from blogging doesn't always take time, but it can take time. You have to build an audience, after all.
“What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? It takes willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24/7 job where someone is always out there to kick your ass.” – Mark Cuban, one of the sharks on Shark Tank
Learning from the Sharks
The “sharks” have some very specific characteristics and skills that you can also apply to running your own blog.
- Know the product. Often, someone will come in with a great product idea, pitch it to the investors, and one will say that they don't really know much about that area and so they are out of the investment game on this one. If you don't know your product or your niche inside and out, then you will not fully understand how to promote it or how to best monetize your blog. This goes back to what other people advise, write about something you are either passionate about, know well, or can learn well.
- Have something of value to offer. There are times when the product still needs some work or is unproven that the entrepreneur brings to the sharks on the show. However, that person often has something more valuable to offer. Perhaps they have training in a specialized area, have a great personality for marketing, or are willing to work hours on end. What do you have of value to offer? Do you have specialized knowledge that few people have? Perhaps you look at the world in a unique way? Your gift might be humor. Whatever it is you have to offer, be aware of your strengths and be ready to highlight them.
- Know your numbers. You can't improve your conversion numbers if you don't understand what they are and why they are that way. If you watch Shark Tank, Keven O'Leary almost always asks them to tell him the numbers. He wants to know when they started the business, how they've marketed it, how many of the item has sold, what the profit margin is, and what the item sells for. The reason he wants to know this information is that it can often show weaknesses in a business model. Do you know where your weaknesses are? How will you fix them if you don't know them? As Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O'Leary, says, “Whatever you pay attention to grows.”
- Don't give up. There have been times when the sharks seem uninterested in the product, but because the presenter is so passionate and outgoing, someone invests more in the person than the product, believing the attitude will help them change their vision and keep going and win in the end. Building an online business is one of those things that can take off overnight or take months and even years to build. Keep trying new things, reaching out to others in your niche, taking online courses, reading articles like this one and growing as a website owner.
“The difference between the real winners is how long they take to feel sorry for themselves. My winners feel it… but they come back up and say ‘hit me again.’” – Barbara Corcoran, one of the sharks on Shark Tank
Circle the Bait
Sharks are known for circling their bait and you should do the same thing. Just as Mr. Wonderful asks pertinent questions and gets statistics, you should look at the statistics of your monetization strategies. What is working for you? What isn't working?
One way you can figure this out is with A/B testing. A/B testing will help you track which pages and features are converting visitors into customers.
Another thing you can do is to network and get to know people in your niche. You can do this by visiting online forums where the topic is discussed and participating on social media networks. Just be careful not to be too spammy. Online forums are meant for discussion that adds value, not for you to blatantly promote your website. Once you establish yourself as an authority on the topic, the promotion will naturally follow without you having to force it.
Be smart, work hard, and learn from the example set by the investors on Shark Tank. Before you know it, you just might be one of the top earning blogs. If not, you'll at least have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in the world of monetizing a website.