Ten Tips I Learned from BlogHer’s ‘Your Blog As a Media Company’ Session

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Jaden Hair | SteamyKitchen.com | @SteamyKitchen | jaden@steamykitchen.com

Kathryn Finney | SimplyGoodMedia.com | @KathrynFinney | kathryn.finney@simplygoodmedia.com

The following tips were from a very insightful and helpful BlogHer ’12 Pathfinder session. Based on the notes, I’ve summarized the session down to these ten very important tips that every blogger should know.

I. Invest in your skills:

The more skills you have, the more valuable you are. I invested in my skills. It was hard to learn all of those things. Lynda.com taught me how to use Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, and software. I learned to be on television by mimicking and mirroring the people I really adored and connected with on television until I developed my own style.

II. Traffic is money:

The New York Times might not be paying you for your content. I have a formula of what every visitor is worth to me. I look at how much traffic that link will bring, and multiply it by what each visitor brings it. If it’s more than I would charge to syndicate my content, I would allow them to syndicate it for “free.”

III. Be scalable:

Be scalable, to be able to make money, you have to be searchable and flexible. Searchable has more to do with finding content on your site than with SEO. Make it very clear that someone can search for or click on a category or tag. Make it easy to find.

Flexible is the most important. The information you provide is viewable on a computer, laptop, smartphone, iPad, television. Is your content flexible enough to go between the formats?

Invest in SEO and learn it yourself. The ROI for SEO is significant. SEOMoz.org has a ton of resources to help you. Learn to do it.

Kathryn’s Tip: Yoast is a really good free plugin that tells you if your SEO data is good.

IV. Commerce:

The goal is to have multiple sources of income.

Jaden’s tip: If I had a brand new blog, I’d rather use that same space and advertise some of my other popular posts. My goal is to get more traffic, more readership. If I’m only going to make $10 a month, I would rather people explore my site more.

Kathryn’s tip: You can make money in advertising, you have to have scale. Like Jaden said, if you’re right at the beginning, you may want to focus more on increasing your traffic.

V. Another way to earn is through affiliate programs.

Such as Amazon, Commission Junction, Google, Linkshare, ShareASale.  In order to make a significant amount of money from affiliates, you have to have readers who are really interested in buying or scale. If you sell a $100 pair of sneakers, you may only receive $5 for that. In order to make a significant amount of money, you have to have a lot of people buying.

Be really careful with affiliate programs before you reach a certain scale because you might be giving away free advertising, especially if you just have a banner up. – Kathryn

VI. How do you know when you’ve reached significant scale?

Do not look at page rank. It’s not assessing traffic to your site. It’s assessing who’s linking to you. You’re reaching enough scale when you’re making enough money to support yourself.

When you buy an URL and start to blog, that’s considered the date of first use. If you have an email where you were discussing in detail about your blog. It’s a legal murky area, but the date you first posted anything, the date you bought your URL, etc, that’s the date of first use. That can apply for trademark. You do have some protection. Don’t think you have to spend $5,000 to trademark something.

Useful Tools for Tracking and Demographics

VII. Quantcast

Gives the exact demographics as Google Analytics and you can see college education, gender, income, etc… Quantcast is a good tool if you’re actively seeking sponsorship. The numbers are accurate.

VIII. Alexa

Alexa only measures tracking for visitors who have the Alexa toolbar. If you have a lot of visitors reading from mobile, you won’t get any of that Alexa data or ranking.

Look in your Google Analytics and see what people are reading and do more of that.

IX. Invest in your logo.

You can pay $99 at 99Designs.com. Have a logo and a professionally designed site. (Pretty cool website)

X. Tips for people who’ve been blogging for less than 5 years? Where to go from here?

Read Chris Guillebeau’s book: The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. It’s awesome, awesome. It’s about how to transition from being an employee to work for yourself.

Seth Godin says in Linchpin: Make yourself indispensable in your current job. Kick butt at one very specific thing. Be so indispensable that they have to give you what you want. Tell them you want flexibility to work from home.

Another book recommendation is The Lean StartUp by Eric Ries.

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