You have a successful blog with thousands of readers. Fantastic. Give yourself a big pat on the back. Most people don't even make it this far. Success takes work, so you've probably put plenty of time and effort into your blog. It's important to find a way to monetize that hard work.
You're probably already selling some ads on your website. You might even be happy with the income stream. But, you might also be suffering from some of the most common frustrations:
- Choppy and sometimes unreliable income.
- Wasting time searching for advertisers.
- Chasing down payments from advertisers.
- Figuring out how to use Google Adsense.
- More and more clutter on your website.
None of this is fun to deal with, and too much clutter on your website can actually hurt reader engagement and retention. Let's explore how to monetize a blog without ads.
Value for value
You're in the business of providing value to your readers. It might be in the form of learning, entertainment, news, or community. A common example is a magazine. They provide regular content in return for a monthly or yearly subscription fee. Your blog isn't a magazine, but if you've built a readership or community, you can certainly monetize it like one.
We're obviously a little bit biased (as we make membership software), but we genuinely feel paid content is the future of independent publishing on the web. The paid membership model gives your readers an opportunity to support your work, and it provides you with a recurring revenue stream. If you have a popular blog, you really shouldn't wait to start selling memberships.
Here's the rub. Most people expect to pay for value in the real world, but there has been a general expectation that content on the internet is free. This is what you're fighting against. Your job is to get creative with ideas for your membership site. Once you strike the right balance of member benefits and content, you'll be much more likely to start converting regular readers.
The good news is we're seeing a fundamental change in the way people view paying for content on the internet. Big blogs like The Dish and new news sites like The Information are now offering paid subscribers only content. The concept of paying for valuable content isn't very new at all, but it's certainly new on the internet. Over time, as the tools evolve and the thinking shifts, it will become more and more commonplace to expect to pay for valuable content on the internet.
Another ancillary strategy for monetizing your blog is to pick a popular topic relevant to your audience and write an eBook around it. Marketing an eBook can be time intensive, but if you've already got an audience, that job is much easier. eBooks can also be rolled into your membership benefits and / or sold standalone. If you're using Memberful, uploading and selling your eBook is super simple. You can also include your eBook in any paid plan with the click of a button.
Keeping your ads
Adding a membership option to your site doesn't mean you have to go without ads. You can do both.
One option is to keep all your existing ads in place, and remove them for paying members. Drive by readers will see the ads, but your paid members will get a more pleasant and distraction free reading experience. You can sell this as a member benefit. This approach makes sense if you've got quite a few profitable ad spots on your site already.
Another option is to consolidate your ads into one location and be more choosy about what type of ads you accept. This simplifies things and makes your site more enjoyable to read. If you do it right, you can add value to your regular audience with targeted ads they actually enjoy viewing. You can also leverage an ad network like BuySellAds to do the selling and advertiser management for you.
Whatever you choose to do, it's important to remember that the publishing landscape on the web is evolving. The expectation of "always free" content is slowly being challenged, and the thinking is starting to shift. This is great news for publishers, as it will become easier and easier to earn a living producing valuable content on the internet.