First off let me mention that I truly believe if your 100% intention to start a blog for profit outweighs your desire to provide great content, you will fail. Your viewers/readers/listeners will sniff you out and walk right past you faster then the guy collecting signatures outside of Walmart. With that said here are a few other items to consider before you start blogging or podcasting.
When you blog/podcast you are associating your name to something. Everything you say or do is a direct reflection upon yourself and the integrity of who you are. It is important to consider this because if you have no desire of being tagged as a sports guy then you have no reason to be blogging about sports. Catch my drift? You need to make sure that your blogging platform matches the one you are currently standing on.
I have always been the tech guy to those around me. When the iPod was first able to hold photos, I made sure my wedding clients could view their photos on their iPods to show others. When the iPhone came out I did the same, I even made sure that the video slideshows I put together for my clients would play on their iPhones. I wanted to make sure the content I gave them was readily available to be shared with ease. In website design I have always pushed my clients in the direction of mobility. I tell all of my web design clients that they need to be accessible on mobile devices because that is where many customers of the future are going to be doing their searching. I have always been pro-mobile. When I decided to start the iPhone App Podcast I saw a good connection there that would bridge something I was already passionate about with my own personal brand.
A note on Personal Branding: We all have a personal brand, some stronger than others, but our brand is what we stand for and what we lend ourselves out to. My personal brand stands for excellence in wedding photography and website design but it lends itself out to other brands such as Apple, Toyota, Guess, Nike, and a myriad of other brands in which I support by purchasing and allowing other to see me using. I love Apple products and I wear that on my sleeve. When you start to blog or podcast, the attention of the people you reach are going to start to notice those other things about you. The more popular you become the more the associations you have with others will be noticed as well. Consider what you are doing to your name before you start talking about something. Make sure it does not water down your name or spread it thin. Think about the celebrities you have seen over the years who farm their name out to anyone with a few dollars to throw at them. Your name is important in the biz world and it’s use should be well watched over.
1. Find your audience
Before you start blogging or podcasting you need to define and find your audience. The first thing I did when starting my blog and podcast was to identify that my viewer was not just an iPhone or iPod Touch user but also a business person, a student, a father, a husband and much more. If all I did was review game applications for the iPhone then I would miss a large part of my demographic which are business people who are looking to get productivity from their iPhone. I make sure I cover all of the bases.
2. Be passionate!
When you are talking with someone who is in business strictly because they are trying to make a quick buck you can tell. You don’t feel the passion that someone who truly loves that business would have. The most successful people in this world were passionate about what they were doing. Having a passion for something means that you love to do it and would not care if it paid the bills or not. Of course you have to decide when you can afford to have passions and can not. One of my passions is to go to pilot school so I can learn to fly a plane but that passion is not in line with my bank account at the current moment.
3. Be specific
It takes enough time and effort to become a voice in any industry, if you decide to talk about to many things you risk not having enough content about each topic to hold an audience. I have been asked over and over to start reviewing applications for the Blackberry and the Google Phone. I have no desire to do this because it goes outside of what my website is all about. My website is the iPhone App Podcast, somebody even started the iPod App Podcast because I so specific. Of course most applications for the iPhone work just the same on an iPod, my demographic is people like me who have an iPhone and use it wherever they go.
4. Don’t be afraid to invest in your passion
Like I shared earlier it cost me a few dollars to get started. I am fortunate enough that I have years of website design experience behind me which saved a ton of startup costs. There are blogs that are very popular such as the photography blog “The Strobist” which have been using Blogger since the beginning and still do. My podcast is video so I wanted to make sure that the video I served up was of quality. My viewers watch the podcasts on their iPhones, iPods, computers, laptops, Appletv’s and I’m sure several other ways as well. I started out using my digital camera to record video and quickly upgraded to a nicer camera so I could use a better microphone. After watching my podcast on my own tv and hearing my voice through my Dolby 5.1 system I was a little embarrassed and knew I needed to step up quality. People will pick up on quality and believe me quality makes up a large portion of value.
5. Live what you preach
I have been an Apple Fanboy for lack of a better term since 2001 and everybody knows it. I always have the latest Apple offering. When the iPhone came out, I got one. When the 3G came out, I was in line to pick one up. Everybody comes to me for Apple advice and if you are going to blog about a subject everybody should know you are the one to come to for that topic. If you blog about gardening then you should have the best garden in the area. It just makes sense, nobody writes books about topics they don’t have any clue about… Ok maybe some do, but they will never become a best seller. People are not stupid, give them something to follow.
By now you have figured out that creating a blog for profit is not going to come easily. Trust me, it did not come easy for me. I have had 100′s of blog ideas, dozens of blogs launched and this is the first one that has turned a profit worth getting excited about. I bet if you contact all of the other “successful” bloggers out there they will tell you the same thing. Your core value should be to share what you love with others in hopes to inform them and empower them to love it as much as you do.
Once my blog and podcast started getting popular the cost of running it went from moments of my time and mild stress on my server to gobbling up my spare time and sucking the very life from my server. I knew that I needed to create an income stream from this project or it would quickly have to be put on the back burner. Here are some of the things I did to start generating income from my blog and podcast, some worked great, others were a waste of time.
The first thing I did was create some ad spaces on my blog and hook up Google Adsense to them. I did this not because Google pays out much at all but what it does do is serve up random content that is ever changing so it brings the appearance of activity in those ad spaces. I have never generated more then $120 in one month from Google Ads. My goal was to sell those spaces to companies for a monthly fee. I have successfully done this a few times earning as much as $250 a month for a 300×300 side bar ad space. The downfall to this was having to remember when to remove those ads and email the company to renew that space, most did not. I knew that this was not going to be my core source of income.
From the beginning I was plugging the idea of pre-roll and post-roll advertisements on the podcast. I wanted to keep clear from an actual commercial because that would require me to have to edit that into each video file. I did not want to have to drag any of my video reviews into video editing software. I contacted Godaddy and was able to land them as an affiliate sponsor. I have my own coupon codes and earn about $100-$200 a month from them depending on how much time I spend plugging them.
One of my goals from the beginning was to provide a way for the new app developer to get noticed. I knew that the iTunes App Store would quickly become like the music store. Great music is released every day in the iTunes Music Store but is never found because there is so much there. The same is becoming of the app store. This means that Developers will have to find ways to get their name out there just like music artists. Even on my own website apps will get buried as I review more of them. With my website growing in viewership I realized that there was value in that viewership. On most websites, front page placement is worth a lot of money. My front page was receiving a lot of attention as I was getting linked up on websites such as Digg.com, Makeuseof.com, Appscout.com and many others. I decided to start offering a featured placement to developers for a small fee of $25.00. This would get them on the front page of my website in rotation for 7 days. The day their review released they would be in the #1 position until the next day when another app review took it’s place pushing it down to #2 and so forth until seven days later it would be pushed off of the front page. I also created a category in the menu titled “Featured Apps”. The name lends itself to believe that there is more value in the apps listed under it then apps that are not. Our minds are predisposed to this kind of thinking because we like words such as value, sale, special, featured, etc. They are verbs that get our brain in take action mode. From the get go I started selling that Featured spot almost daily, after a few weeks I was selling it daily and with in the first 30 days I was selling the space more then once a day. This quickly turned into a problem, though it was a good problem. My website went from generating about $200-300 a month from Google and Godaddy to $750 a month not including Google and Godaddy. The problem was that now I had a waiting list. I could not get the app reviews up as fast as they were coming in because I had created this Featured placement that only allowed for one to be released per day. To be honest, I am still backed up to this day but I am always working toward finding quicker ways to do things and get content out faster.
One of the most important things I have done to show that there is value was to put they data out there about my website’s viewership. I posted screen shots of the Google Analytics reports, the views each video was getting from my video hosting solution, and I contrasted the different in views a Featured App review received from a non featured app review. This was important, it’s like comparing vehicles when you buy. You will spend more if there is more value in the selection. Check out my Submit An App page to see what I have done.
My website was on track to earn a projected fourteen thousand dollars in it’s first year but developers were getting restless and uneasy about having to wait 15+ days for their review to show up on the front page. With the layout I had created for featured placement on the front page there was no way to feature two apps at the same time so I decided to offer another way to get special placement on my website and use more of my front page for featured reviews.
I removed the “recently reviewed” section and added a new “Featured Apps” section that allowed me to list apps in blog view down the front page below the old “Featured Apps” section which is now called the “Featured Plus” section. My website now offered two different ways to get on the front page. The featured plus section provided much more real estate so I increased it’s price to $50 and kept the same 7 day rotation plan as before. Below that is the $25 featured app section which will list apps eight deep. Now I was able to list 8 apps on the front page at $25 each and one app at $50 each day increasing the ability to earn $250 per day should I receive that many requests. Do the math… The featured placements alone at max fulfillment have the potential to bring in over $66k a year. You can now see the issue of finding time to blog and podcast floating out the window.
My biggest issue at this time is organizing my time effectively so I can keep up with this podcast and my clients in my other businesses as a website designer and wedding photographer. I use a great app called Things for the Mac and iPhone to keep myself in order.
I have always seen live as more of a journey then a destination. This blog is no exception to that rule. In the next couple of months I may have to transform the way my blog works again to fill the needs coming at me, who knows what will come. That is what keeps it exciting. I am now getting offers to attend seminars and conferences for free as press to interview app developers and I look forward to getting to speak to developers and businesses as well.
I feel this experience has brought a lot of insight to me about the industry. I would be more then happy to answer any questions you may have, please feel free to post them in the comments section or use the contact form on my blog.
Thank you so much for reading my blog. I hope it helps you take your passion to the next level so you can share it with the masses.