So you rely on traffic to be the driving force of your blogging business?
Well, okay, maybe it’s not an entirely bad idea, but the fact is that building a business based on the size of your blog itself is a really difficult project to pursue.
Yet we still get the impression that it’s the only way around. After all, we constantly look up to people like Darren Rowse or Brian Clark, who appear to have built their businesses only as a result of having ultra popular blogs (far from true, by the way).
Anyway, what’s worth noticing here is that they represent a really small group of individuals – they are the rock stars of the blogosphere.
But what about the rest of us?
Are we doomed? Can we only lick our fingers and pick up the crumbs after they’ve eaten the cake?
Being completely honest with you, there was a time when I thought that we indeed are … that I indeed am.
But then I started noticing things. For instance, things like the fact that not every popular blogger makes the majority of their money directly from their blogs.
It literally seems that in every interview I read or listen to, at some point, the blogger being interviewed mentions that they run some kind of consulting business that often brings in the majority of their profits.
So in the end, turning traffic into money (I apologize for the simplification) isn’t the only way to run a blogging business, and what’s more, it’s not even the most effective way to do it. At least for the average folk (read: me and you).
Following this thought I’ve decided to try the concept for myself and start offering services in the consulting space. At first, it was a side project, but now it’s one of my main sources of income.
Here’s how you can have a go at it too.
Step #1: Blogger
Before you can start offering any types of services, you need to know what you’re talking about.
I know this probably sounds obvious to you, but I’m just saying this for the record.
I believe we really have more than enough bloggers making money by teaching people how they make money blogging. Also known as the blog-monetization-ception. Not cool.
Therefore, the first step is to blog consciously.
Here’s what I mean. There are basically two ways of blogging. You can either (1) keep publishing posts with little attention to what resonates with audiences and brings results, or (2) you can analyze everything you publish, take notes and try doing whatever you can to improve it.
The latter is conscious blogging. And conscious blogging is what builds your expertise. Expertise that you can then share with a client.
And the best part is that you really don’t need much to get started. If you’ve been creating content for more than, say, six months or so, and you know what works in terms of generating engagement then this is knowledge you can share with a client. Especially if the client runs a business that’s just getting started in the blogging space.
Same thing goes for any other activity related to blogging. Things like SEO, outreach, post promotion. As soon as you start figuring something out, you can share it with someone else in exchange for money.
So again, keep running your blog consciously, learn something new every day, and keep mastering all aspects of blogging individually.
Step #2: Consultant
This is where you can start offering your advice to other people (individually, on a freelance basis).
Let me say this again, you don’t need to be the top expert in the space to charge for advice. You just need to know something that your client doesn’t.
- Use Google or Alltop to find blogs in a niche that interests you, preferably ones where the blog itself is not the core of the business (so the blogging niche itself is out of the question).
- Reach out to the blog owners and suggest some improvements “here and there” that could make the blogs better.
If you do this two or three times (for free), and your advice is spot on then you will build relationships and some of those people will inevitably want to work with you on a more regular basis.
I know it sounds simple, but it really works. People always appreciate individual attention and tailor-made advice. So even if not all of them respond positively, some surely will.
When you do get contacted about a possibility of working together, it’s your job to play it well and turn it into a consulting gig.
First, start by crafting a good proposal. You are free to do it yourself, or consult with a friend who’s experienced in those things, but I also advise checking one of the proposal resources here (templates, samples, e-books). They’ve been prepared by professionals and are available for free. Sure to give you a head start into this.
Begin by offering consultation in areas that you’ve built some expertise in, and then expand gradually onto other topics as you grow your skills.
Finally, I feel I should probably address a common objection. This hits most people, and it hit me as well: feeling insignificant in comparison with other specialists out there.
Really, don’t feel bad about not knowing all the answers. It will only hold you back. People who know all the answers are the ones charging $1,000 per hour. If you start with $30-$50 per hour, it’s clear that you don’t have the same insights.
And you surely shouldn’t wait until you feel more comfortable asking for money. It never becomes entirely comfortable. It’s the whole secret of growing. (By the way, those who charge $1,000 per hour rarely start at that rate either.)
Step #3: Marketing Specialist
Finally, the last piece of this puzzle – becoming a marketing specialist.
The difference between a consultant and a marketing specialist is the type of services offered.
Think of it this way. A consultant answers specific questions regarding certain issues. They help solve those issues and suggest other moves that will make the situation / project even better.
A marketing specialist, on the other hand, although they can still work on a freelance basis, is someone who does their work from a bird’s-eye-view. They have (almost) complete control over the marketing aspect of a given project and handle the crucial phases of planning and sometimes execution as well.
In other words, a marketing specialist is like a consultant on steroids.
When you look at it, the process of getting a client isn’t very different. You still need to provide value up front, then send your proposal and get hired.
The core difference on your client’s part is that when they hire a consultant, they still are the ones who have to tie everything together. But when they hire a marketing specialist, what they’re actually doing is buying themselves a better sleep at night. That’s because from now on they don’t have to deal with certain areas of their business on a daily basis.
The best way to get to this final step is to gradually build up over time. Keep offering more and more services, and at some point you can finally offer to take over the whole marketing aspect of Project X.
Can this really work?
I truly believe that any blogger can shift their career towards this direction or at least generate extra income this way.
In the end, you’re learning a lot of things when you’re blogging consistently, so why not share this advice with other people?
And finally, just to give you one more argument to convince you, trying your strengths at consulting has a $0 barrier of entry. Researching and finding clients is free, and most of the tools you already have.
So what do you think? Are you willing to give it a shot and join thousands of other bloggers who have already started consulting?