I recently participated in a webinar hosted by a popular blogger. The goal of the webinar was to educate the attendees as to how to be more effective as a blogger. How to create content in a way that will not only attract readers but optimize your ability to monetize your blog at some point.
Ultimately helping us to leverage our online persona to help fund our writing. But I noticed the ugly side of monetizing about a quarter of the way into the webinar. There was a perceivable shift in the purpose of the seminar. It became more about selling a tool set than about education. It was a very stereotypical bait and switch. They provided twenty minutes of real content but the catch. There is always a catch. “If you want more just sign up for this extra tool set.” And in true infomercial fashion they began to talk about how we could get a discounted rate because we were simply participating in this webinar. The author of this blog had succumbed to the temptation to monetize too quickly. I can’t say that he was getting a cut of the money from the sales of the tool but I don’t really know why he would have given his audience to this technique if he was not profiting from it at all.
As one’s online clout grows there is the temptation and need to monetize the passion that you have so intentionally nurtured and developed. And that’s not a bad thing. Monetizing has been demonized in many people’s conversation. We are all likely against it until we can do it. But this transition has to be carefully executed. I think there are some keys to creating a cash flow from a perceived ministry.
Do not lose sight of your persona.
There is a reason the people who have been loyal readers have stuck with you. They trust you. They enjoy your content. They have begun to relate to you on a deeper level than most. This means you have a responsibility to yourself and them to not tarnish this image. This does not mean that you must sacrifice your identity for the sake of their comfort, but make sure that every attempt you make to monetize is done in a way that will not hinder your effectiveness.
Do not over monetize.
When the money begins to trickle in there can be a temptation to push it to the next level. Be very wary of this mentality. If your readers start to feel more like a customer and less like a partner they will no longer value your voice. You will alienate a portion of your tribe. I’ve recently seen some bloggers offer advertising space on their site. They have done so in a tasteful manner that allows for the avid follower to connect with the original feel of the site. You don’t want it to end up looking like all you are concerned about is making money. And if that is your intent expect a significant shift in the type of readers you attract.
Do not use your influence to overshadow your voice.
This is less about money and more about our ego. We can begin to think that our influence is the key to everything. We are now more “powerful” than ever. In our cockiness we can begin to lose our original voice. Our original voice is what earned our readers. We owe it to them to make sure it is still central in our business model.
Writing a book is not for everyone.
In an era where e-publishing is increasingly popular and incredibly easy bloggers can be quick to assume that they can write a book. Blogging does not necessarily translate into book writing. It can seem to be an easy way to generate some revenue but your message might not be meant for books. You have to honestly assess whether or not you can be a blogger and an author. Your individual platform might suffer and the content inside the book could be lackluster.
While I have not pursued monetizing my particular platform I can see the benefit of it. I am not opposed to it. Honestly I encourage it. If you can create something of value, you should be able to convert that value into something tangible. I simply want to maintain my voice and eliminate any temptation I might have to sell myself out simply for a buck. But if done correctly there should be no sacrifice of integrity, trust or voice during the process.
What do you think?
[Image via Anant Nath Sharma]