When I started this blog two years ago I had no idea where it will lead me – I just wanted to have a place where I would share my interior design musings, ideas and inspirations, as well as meet and communicate with like-minded people. When time passed I really became addicted to blogging and couldn’t spend even a day without looking at my dashboard or writing a new post. I started to think whether I could turn my hobby into a full time job. I am still on the way to do it, however my blog has already started to bring me a permanent income. Here are the steps which I made to monetize my blog:
1. SWITCHING TO A SELF-HOSTED BLOG
My first step was switching from free blogging platform wordpress.com to a self-hosted website (wordpress.org). The reason for that was the fact that wordpress.com doesn’t allow you to monetise your blog – you can’t place any affiliate links or banners. In that sense you can compare WordPress.com with a rented apartment, where you don’t have any permission even to paint the walls if you like, while WordPress.org will become your private residence, where you are free to do whatever you want. When I made decision to move, the next question for me was which hosting provider to choose. I did a little bit of research and stopped my choice at Bluehost following recommendations from WordPress itself.
Today almost 10 months later I can confidently recommend Bluehost to anyone. They provide amazing 24/7 support and you can contact them via email/ chat online or call. Once I changed something in my Theme.php file, and then my whole website was down completely. With trembling hands I called to the Bluehost support team and they fixed my problem within a minute!
2. PUTTING TOGETHER THE MEDIA KIT
The next step was to create my Media kit, which I was thinking to send to potential advertisers and sponsors. I highly recommend to you to prepare one, as soon as you decide to start monetizing your blog, so when potential sponsors will contact you for collaboration, you already have all information in your hands. Things to be included in Media Kit:
- General information about your blog which will explain to advertisers why they should choose you among thousands of other bloggers. Include such selling points as amount of loyal followers, your statistics (monthly unique visitors + page views), information about your audience – country of origin, age, sex. This information needs to convince your potential sponsors that your blog is the right choice for them.
- Advertising options you plan to have and costs: banners, sponsored reviews, sponsored guest posts. Often people find it a little bit hard to find out how much they should charge for an AD space on their blog. One thing for sure – it should definitely correlate with the traffic you have. I did a little bit of research before I figured my formula. Thus, I charge $1 per 1,000 page views each month. So, for example, if your blog has 25000 page views per month, than your add banner should cost $25. I also have set difference prices for different AD banner locations – I charge more for for the banner above header (as this one usually gets more clicks) and a little bit less for the banners on my sidebar.
- Terms & conditions – describe the payment options, review time for the posts, your responsibility and rights.
- Contact info – website address, address, email, telephone number.
If you still having difficulties composing your Media kit, contact me and I will send you mine as an example.
3. FINDING ADVERTISERS & SPONSORS
Once you have figured out how much you should charge for your AD banners, comes the next question – where to get them? There are several options to find advertisers for your blog. The first one is to do it via various AD Networks – these are basically the middlemen between advertisers and bloggers. Here is the list of some of them:
Secondly you may contact the companies directly and ask them about whether they want to be a sponsor for your blog. It does make sense to select those companies which are relevant to interior design fields – designers, furniture manufactures, textile companies and so fourth. Your advantage will be that you offer them exposure to the most targeted audience.
Thirdly – signing up with Google Adwords. This is one of the most famous and popular AD network, which pays per click. The advantage – you don’t have to search for the advertisers, Google does it for you. Disadvantages – you can’t control which ads appear on your blog and despite context selection, sometimes they don’t really match your theme. Another con – their cost per click is very low, so you have to have hundreds of thousands of visitors per month to earn decent money with them.
4. PLAYING AROUND BANNER SIZE AND THEIR POSITION
Once you get your first banners, you need to decided where you should place them on your blog to get the maximum revenue from them. Usually the ones which are placed somewhere inside your articles are the ones to get the most views, however for many readers (for me as well) it is very distracting. That’s the reason I decided not to do it on my blog. I started with side banner ads, but then after changing the design of my blog I had the possibility to insert a horizontal banner above my header – only by doing so I was able to increase my revenue with Google adsense by 100%. So play around with your banners, their size and position and decide which is the best for you.
5. SPONSORED REVIEWS
Many companies prefer this kind of marketing for their products instead of simple ads. There is a reason for that – people are more likely to click on in-text links, then on the banners. How to find sponsors? The first thing you need to grow your blog. Once you grow your audience and traffic you will notice that many companies would contact you asking to write a review about their products. “Build it and they will come”…. When you start to get first inquires, make sure that you only select those, which you personally like (so it will be very easy for you to write a review) and those which refer to interior design field.
What if nobody contacts you? There is a secret tip I can share to get sponsors for your blog. ASK them directly. It is amazing how many opportunities we loose, just because we are afraid to ask. So prepare your pitch letter, make the list of companies, which potentially would be interested in your proposal and start contacting them! Some tips about writing a pitch letter:
- Tell them how you find them – if you are already following each other on Twitter or Facebook it might be a good point to start conversation.
- Make a compliment about what they do – it is not flattery, as you are only going to contact the companies that you sincerely like!
- Describe what kind of article you want to write about – give them an idea, how their products will be featured in the most beneficial way.
- DO NOT mention price in the first letter! Only make a proposal when their reply. However DO mention that it will be a sponsored review so they will not get the idea that you want to do it for free.
6. SETTING UP AN ONLINE SHOP
Blog can be a fantastic opportunity to set-up an online shop and sell there the products you personally pick and like. This can be anything – from flea market finds to your own designs and your books. For example in my online boutique I sell unique home decor objects and gifts created by local artisans and artists around the world. On other blogs I’ve noticed shops consisting entirely of affiliate links – bloggers just pick the products they like and receive commission when somewhen makes a purchase.
7. SIGNING UP FOR AFFILIATES
Following my previous point I want to mention another way you can earn money from your blog – singing up for affiliate programs. There are many home decor stores and furniture companies which offer them- what a fantastic opportunity for interior design bloggers! Among them are such giants as Amazon.com and One Kings Lane. Because I am not a resident of US, I couldn’t be accepted in many of them, however I successfully work with Amazon.com.
Now when I have opened all my cards, I wanted to mention that many people think that bloggers shouldn’t earn any money from their blogs. I don’t know why but they have this perception that we have to spend several hours per day creating useful and interesting content and then publish it absolutely for free. I personally see nothing wrong when other people have ads, affiliate links and sponsored links on their blogs – at the end of the day, it is my decision whether to click on them or not. Also I am not loosing anything if I click, while other person can earn a living with it. However, I want to hear your opinion as well:
- First of all, do you think it is OK, if blogger earns money from his blog?
- Secondly, if yes, what are the ways you use to monetise your own blog?
If you want to have your blog, but not sure where to start, have a look at this very useful and resourceful e-book which will help you to make your first steps in the fascinating world of blogging .
Blogging is only one tool of effective marketing strategy for your interior design business. Want to learn more? Check out my book:
© L’Essenziale Home Designs, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anna Kovalchenko and L’Essenziale Home Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Interested in Interior design? Check out my eBooks: the first one is about history of interior styles, second one is about marketing your interior design business and getting more clients: