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Monetization Strategies For Blogs And Content Sites

Whether or not you want to call it a blog, social media content production results in an influence platform, not a passive advertising doormat.  For most new media content producers, that’s the difference between doing this part-time and going pro. Assuming that’s your goal, you want to make the most out of the platform you’ve got. Here are a few ways to maximize the potential of your influence platform in 2009:

1. Direct Sales

As has been said many times, it's ideal to have something to sell directly to your audience. Even better is to sell something your audience has directly or indirectly told you that they want to buy.

Many businesses fail in social media because they've developed an audience that doesn’t necessarily want what they’re selling. From this, they wrongly assume social media audiences won’t buy. If you already have an audience but have nothing to sell, you have an advantage. You get to watch, listen and learn what your tribe wants, rather than attempting to force something on them they don’t really want.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Almost as good as having your own product or service is to sell someone else’s stuff on commission. In fact, it’s a good idea to see what your audience will buy via affiliate marketing before you've committed to developing your own product or offering your own service.

One key to successful affiliate marketing is active influence. Choose a product or service that’s perfect for your audience, and one that you have no problem standing behind 100%. Then try to become an advocate without becoming annoying. Smart affiliate marketers convert their vendor partners into the sponsors of their content, or into the content itself by way of tutorials and other educational content that communicates the benefits and helps people buy.

3. Integrated Sponsorships

Along the same lines, if you plan to seek fee-based sponsors for your site, treat them like true patrons, not passive advertisers. This means you have to seek out sponsors you are genuinely passionate about, and then communicate that very passion to your readers, watchers, or listeners. This is where your influence platform can truly benefit a sponsor, and make it worth it to them to pay you more.

Another good way to integrate a sponsor into the fabric of your platform is by creating interactive promotions in which your audience participates. Whether it be a contest or a discount or a special bundled deal, remember… what’s in it for them matters way more than what’s in it for you.

4. Network Marketing

The network marketing industry has really grown-up from the dubious early days and become a legitimate marketing model and multi-billion dollar industry. Applied online, it’s just a tiered version of affiliate marketing. And as with affiliate marketing, you’d better have faith in the product or service if you’re going to become an advocate for it. In fact, unlike most affiliate programs, you’re very often required to use the product in order to promote it under the network marketing model. Good old content marketing removes the discomfort of personal pitching and amplifies distribution across the planet, and that’s too powerful to be ignored.

A lot of the promotional advocacy discussed in this article may cause hand wringing and teeth gnashing among traditional marketers. The mass-media model trumpeted a separation of editorial from promotional in a futile attempt at “objectivity,” and now that seems to be falling apart in the online space, especially with social media.

Before mass media, people marketed their wares directly to one another in a social context. Some people were considered honest and trustworthy, and some people were considered shills and charlatans. Others were revealed to be criminals and con men.


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