Notice how I said “Making a Living” from Blogging and NOT “Making Money” from Blogging? There’s a great distinction. I make a great living from this blog, but I do not necessarily make a lot of money from it. Today, we’ll explore the difference between the two and why you want to make a living and not just money.
In our last post we looked at all the ways to use a blog, but the one most common thing I see and hear from other bloggers is about using blogs for money. Somehow, people think that if they put up a few Google ads, they’ll rake in some extra money from their site. Not so. I have had Google ads up almost the entire time and I’ve made exactly $30. Woop-de-do! I haven’t even gotten paid yet – I don’t get that until I’ve made $100 from people clicking on my ads. So it’s not a lucrative as it seems.
The other way to make money on a site is by offering up advertising space on your own.
I do this and you can see exactly how I present it by clicking on the Advertise link up at the top. If you’d like to offer this option, I highly recommend adding one of these tabs to your menu and being very transparent about it. First, it allows potential advertisers to know that you offer advertising space. Second, you weed out a lot of spammers this way. By being clear in how you set up advertising, you provide the opportunity for high-interest, high-quality advertisers to approach your site. Third, by adding a way to contact you about this possibility, you’re providing a level of trust to many marketers. A win-win for all!
I have had great luck in being able to build great relationships with my advertisers. The purpose for my blog is not necessarily to make money, so I don’t always have a featured advertiser because I don’t put a ton of effort into this avenue. However, the ones that I have fostered a relationship with have been beneficial to both my site and to their business. This type of tab in the menu provides a great opportunity for this. You can also offer links within your site for sale at a fixed price – another great way to make some extra money.
Be careful how you structure ads on your site.
If you want your site to make money through ads, then you should be placing them at the top right sidebar, as a top banner, as a footer to each post and even possibly within posts. This certainly announces to the world that you are looking to make money through advertisements on your blog. And while that may seem tacky, it is completely okay if that is the purpose for your site. Just be aware that many people perceive this to mean that while you may offer some good content, that’s not really why you’re blogging.
Making a Living
Until now, we’ve been talking about making money from a blog by essentially creating a classifieds space. And while I have made some money this way (I think a total of $500 this year), it’s not how I’ve managed to make a living. Essentially, I have made a full time income from this website. And it’s not been through advertisements or links.
I started this blog as a way to delve into Arts Integration and Technology and how they rocked my world as an educator. I have been able to share lesson plans that were successful in begin communicating with other educators around the nation that were using Arts Integration or who were interested in it.
Because of this interest, I developed an eBook, The Keys to Making Arts Integration Work, which outlined the basic process for using Arts Integration. This got a good amount of downloads and I made some money from it – yay!
Then, I got an idea for a quarterly eZine, VIA, that would explore topics that were front and center in Arts Integration and education. I asked some of my new professional learning network that I developed through Twitter and forums to contribute. This got some attention as well and more people began following my Twitter feed and blog. My Alexa ranking was improving, as was my PageRank in Google. All really good signs.
So I took it one step further
I developed an online eClass for how to start an Arts Integration program in your school. This received a LOT of interest from my new network and the word spread. I had two full summer online classes with a lot of great learning. The word got out to the School Improvement Network who asked me to present on the topic out in Salt Lake City this past summer. I agreed and added even more people to my burgeoning network.
Have a I earned a lot of money at this point? No way. At this point, I’ve made enough money that I could go on a vacation with my family this summer. Definitely not making a living. However…
Educators in Anne Arundel County were paying attention to my presentations and online classes.
They had heard about them through several people in my network and started to really follow my work. When they had a position for an Arts Integration Specialist become available, they let me know that the position was open for application. I jumped on that opportunity, so I applied, was called in for an interview, and then a second, and after several weeks was hired for the position.
I feel honored to have been chosen for this position, because I know that there were very talented individuals who also applied. But I also feel confident that because my work was transparent through this site, it allowed me to have experiences which helped me to gain this position. I have been asked to present around this nation based on the work that I submit here. That adds something special to my resume: experience. So while this site may not make me direct income to feed my family, it does provide me with an incredible opportunity to grow as a professional, network around the country and build my experience skill-set. All of which are worth way more than any money could provide.
So before you think about “making money” with your blog, go back and really examine your life goals. Do you want to make money, or do you want to make a living? Because they are not one and the same.
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.