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Success Story: How Do You Make Your Blog Pay? Eight Hints From A Profit-Making Blogger

Dec 29 2013, 10:26am CST | by

Success Story: How Do You Make Your Blog Pay? Eight Hints From A Profit-Making Blogger

Photo Credit: Forbes
 
 

Hero Brown launched her Muddy Stilettos website in 2011, after moving from London to rural Buckinghamshire and finding that reliable information on the best restaurants, walks, boutiques, hotels, day trips and events in her area was thin on the ground. Brown, formerly a magazine editor and journalist, has written for many national UK publications, so perhaps it’s no surprise that her fresh and witty take on the delights of Buckinghamshire has proved such a hit (I subscribe and I don’t even live there). What started as a project mainly for fun is now how she earns her living. Muddy Stilettos has 5,000 subscribers, 15,000 unique readers a month and 6,500 followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Muddy Stilettos may not be on the same scale as Forbes.com (yet) – but lots of us would like to profit from writing online about a topic we love. So: how do you turn your blog into a profitable enterprise?

Be your own brand

“I think of Muddy Stilettos as an online magazine. It’s well-researched, well-written and I’m constantly thinking about my readers. Lots of blogs by their nature are a kind of stream of consciousness – look at me, this is what I did, I’m thinking this today – but I come at it from more of an editorial angle. What will help my readers have a great day? What will they find interesting or funny? With successful blogs people buy into you as a person and the vision you have, and I’m always myself when I write, but I always have the reader in mind, and I think that makes a difference.”

Meet a need

“When I moved to Buckinghamshire, I needed to find out about things happening around me. Having recognised that need of my own, I then thought of all the other people migrating out of London. Like any good idea, Muddy Stilettos meets a need.”

Find your target audience

“I target a demographic that nobody else does out here. My readers are women, primarily 30-55, most have children, they are quite urbane, they have money, they want to go out and have a good time.”

Make sure your readers know they can rely on you

“The whole point of Muddy Stilettos is that you trust it to help you make the most of your free time. I visit everything myself – I never rely on press releases. Last year, Flawless and the English National Ballet did a mash-up that came into the area. I thought it was amazing and recommended it – and I was accosted in the school playground by someone saying they’d bought six tickets for the show. Those tickets were £50 each – someone had spent £300 on my recommendation so it’s really important that people can trust me. And if they trust me, they’ll trust my advertisers too, so I won’t have any advertisers I don’t think are good. I could earn more money from advertising if I was less fussy, but if I don’t keep that high quality bar, the whole reason for reading Muddy Stilettos disappears.”

Diversify

“I’ve opened a Muddy Boutique and I also have a directory up and running – they provide different strands of income from the blog. It’s important to diversify rather than just relying on advertising – with the recession, people are thinking very hard about how to use their advertising budgets. I’m planning to franchise and extend into other counties over the next couple of years. I’ve become far more business-oriented than I ever thought I would be, because I’ve found something I love and I want to make it work. Muddy has also led to other opportunities. I do blogs and Tweets for other companies; for example, a Tweet calendar every month for a big lifestyle company, which is a different income stream that’s popped up.”

Be disciplined

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I work now. You have to post regularly: every day at 8.15am, a Muddy Stilettos post is in every subscriber’s inbox. It’s very rare that I have a day off. Blogging is bums on seats: you need to have the right numbers for people to advertise with you. If people find a newsletter in their inbox in the morning, even if only half of them click on it, you’ve got them on your site. I think that’s the difference between a professional blog and someone who blogs just because they enjoy it. I started Muddy Stilettos for fun, then thought ‘I really want to do this!’ and worked very hard to get to 10,000 uniques. At that point, I was competing with local magazines and newspapers, and then I went professional.”

Support your advertisers

“For the first six months, I didn’t think about supporting my advertisers, and I lost a couple in the early days because I just left them to it. This isn’t about writing advertorials, which I don’t do, but now I’m much more active in other ways. I go and see them, make sure I know what they’re doing, Tweet them. You have to add value. That was one of the reasons I started the directory. You don’t want so many advertisers that all your writing is supporting them, you want to go out and find new stuff, but a directory is a good way to support other businesses.”

 Sort out your IT back-up

“I’m not massively technically adept. Posting is easy and that’s the important bit. Technically, the most important thing is to have someone good who you can call on and who won’t rip you off. For one project, a company wanted to charge me £60 to do a little gif, making a logo move a bit to catch the eye. I knew that quote was expensive so I called someone else up and got it done for £20. You don’t need to do that stuff yourself – but you learn how much things cost and who can do what you need.”

Like Hero Brown, global web entrepreneur Michael Bruno mentions the importance of trust in his Success Story

Source: Forbes

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