“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Great quote, but not entirely true.
Zerothreetwo makes money, but don’t think it doesn’t come without lots of hard work.
Work means waking up early every morning to write. Even when the last thing I want to do is write, I write. Every morning.
Work means finding the right supplier for our merchandise. Brainstorming designs and looking through samples. Then eventually shooting the lookbooks and delivering the items to our stockists.
Work means planning everything to the tee. Every blog post is edited and plotted on the editorial calendar days before it needs to be released.
Work means finding the right people to work with.
Work means handling the accounting for all these aspects and complying with government regulations. Yes, paying taxes.
Confucius should have said, “Choose a job you love, and you will work harder than you’ve ever worked before.”
If you thought you were going to start blogging for easy money, let me stop you right there. It’s not easy. Part of the challenge for Zerothreetwo was coming up with a plan on how to even make money. There was no model to look at. We didn’t know any other blogs that were doing that.
Plenty of people don’t make money from their blog. That’s totally fine. But if you want to grow, that means you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time on your blog. It will mean staying up late at night, working weekends, and saying no to your friends. Sacrifices will be made.
Making money makes the sacrifice easier.
There’s nothing wrong with doing something for fun. If you have no plans in earning from your blog, feel free to skip this chapter. There are many things worth doing for the sake of doing. Blogging happens to be one of them. But if you want to explore ways to monetize, this chapter is for you.
In this post, I’ll explain how blogs make money and show you how Zerothreetwo does it.
When we first started Zerothreetwo in 2011, almost right away we noticed traffic on the site. We were giddy and amazed by the response. Usually when you launch something, nothing happens.
That’s when we started talking about advertising. The Social Network had just come out and it seemed like easy money (naïve, I know). A few problems cropped up very quickly.
Local companies weren’t willing to spend on advertising on the internet. It was 2011 and many companies didn’t even have a Facebook page. Today, it’s different. There are a good number of companies that see the value of aligning themselves with online publications.
Initially, we were thinking of just slapping on Google AdSense and letting it run on automatic. Unfortunately, to earn a decent living off this, you needed to have traffic in the millions. A million people is a huge number.
Selling advertising for your blog has its own set of challenges and is a wide ranging topic. We’ve broken them down and have recommended resources that you can read to dive into the subject.
Banner ads – These are the ads that you see while browsing through websites. Most Google AdSense ads are banner ads. Once you click on them, you are likely brought to a landing page for the product or service being marketed. How to Get Started Selling Advertising on Your Blog is a good place to start so you can implement selling ads on your site.
Sponsored posts – These ads typically look like a regular blog post and, in many cases, come in the form of a sponsored tweet or Instagram photo. This is our preferred mode of advertising as it gives value to the readers as well. Are You Being Conned? Fair Sponsored Blog Post Rates and Best Practices Guidelines is a comprehensive post on the topic.
Those are two main aspects of advertising for blogs. If you are curious and would like to know how much we charge, just send us an email.
Think of affiliate links as a way to earn money from recommendations.
You bought the best puppy dog stuffed toy in the world. You love it so much and want to tell the world about it.
You happened to order it from an online store that has an affiliate program. Apply to that program then they’ll give you instructions on how to use an affiliate link.
Write about the best puppy dog stuffed toy in your blog and use the affiliate link to link back to the online store.
Each affiliate program is different, but there are a few rules of thumbs to live by when using an affiliate program.
(1) Truly support the product. Don’t just recommend products because they give high commissions. Readers can smell a faker a mile away. Build trust with your readers.
(2) Readers need to know that they are clicking on affiliate links. It could be as simple as a short message in the bottom of the post that says, “Some of the links in this page are affiliated links. At no extra charge to you, we earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.”
Look at the websites that have transactions and do a quick Google search. Here’s an example, “Lazada affiliate program”
For more on affiliate programs, Smart Affiliate Marketing Strategies is a good place to start.
Sell your own product
This is our preferred way of monetizing. It has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are you control what you are selling. The product is as good as you make it. The disadvantages are, well, you control what you are selling. The product is as good as you make it.
Two Kinds of product
(1) Digital goods – Typically you find digital good sold in the educational, marketing or services space. These can range from ebooks, apps, seminars, etc.
(2) Physical goods – Uhm… I hope I don’t need to explain what physical goods means. Ex. Shirts, coffee mugs, food, etc.
You could fill a whole book talking about the different kinds of digital and physical goods. I’ll keep it simple. Generally with digital goods, you don’t have to deal with inventory, suppliers and fulfillment. You can even enjoy a margin of almost 100% since it doesn’t cost anything to duplicate a digital good. But digital goods aren’t tangible and thus don’t have the same emotional impact as physical goods. With physical goods, it’s the exact opposite. Inventory, suppliers and fulfillment can be a pain. But in the end, if you have a good product, people will love it and maybe even share it on their social media accounts.
A quick look on how Zerothreetwo decided to get into the clothing industry
In 2011, it became clear that monetizing significantly through advertising was a pipe dream. Along the way, one of our readers sent us an email saying he wanted to interview the guy behind the brand called Nick Automatic. Before that email, we’ve never heard of the brand. We were always looking for content so we said yes. When we published the interview, our traffic spiked. Little did we know, there was a budding independent clothing line scene in Cebu. That’s when we decided to try our hand at selling shirts.
In one of our Email Exchanges, we wrote in more detail about selling shirts in Cebu. It was called Art in this City is Frustrating. If you are interested in selling shirts, that’s a peek into what we did.
For selling online, we’ve been using Shopify. The platform has made it really easy to setup an online store at a minimum monthly fee. Their blog continues to be a gold mine of information for anyone who wants to get started.
BONUS: If you are looking to open a physical retail shop, Shopify’s The Insider’s Guide to Succeeding in Retail was very helpful.
It’s likely you have plenty of skills that are important to marketers. You may know how to write well, take a good photograph, understand the basics of an effective social media account, or know how to garner and cultivate an audience. These are all different skills needed for marketing in today’s digital landscape.
Companies value these skills. It’s not a stretch to think that you can parlay that into a consulting service. Maintaining a successful blog is the perfect school for marketing in the 21st century.
Zerothreetwo, unbeknownst to most of our readers, offers social media management services or content creation for local companies. A good chunk of our traffic and sales comes from the content created and posted for social media. This means we’ve learned how to do it well and have developed a few rules and tactics for each medium.
Consulting assumes you have abilities that people can pay for. Blogging alone isn’t enough, but the skills you learn through blogging and a little extra education on your end, can go a long way.
It doesn’t end.
Our challenge for Zerothreetwo was finding ways to monetize through our platform.
A blog itself isn’t a business.
Think of a blog as your own personal soap box. It gives you something to stand on and earn an audience. The challenge is finding ways to take advantage of that attention to monetize.
Making money through blogging is not easy. Most bloggers do it for fun and zero money. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone making a living from their blog. It’s not impossible, but like running any business, you’ll need plenty of hard work, an appetite for knowledge, and a little luck.
On the next…
Next week, the final chapter of the Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide talks about where people go wrong. What are the most common blogger mistakes? Are you one of them?
PS – If we missed anything or if you have any questions or if we should elaborate more on something, feel free to send us an email.