In the recent past, the question of what a bloggers product should really be has been the subject of many blogs.
Before now, the generally accepted business model for nearly every blog was the paid advertising model where you create a blog that aims to make money through selling ads and possibly promoting affiliate products.
Like I mentioned in my post detailing the lessons I have learned in 4 year of blogging, this model has really become a highly competitive one. But beyond just being highly competitive some bloggers actually see this model as wrong one.
They reason that a blog which runs on this model is simply treating the readers as their products, i.e. build a large following of readers and then look for an advertiser to pay you for placing ads. In this, they reason that since the advertisers pay you based mostly on the numbers of readers (traffic) you have, the readers are therefore your main products which to them is unethical!
Then, others believe that selling ads on a blog is basically a wrong approach and that you MUST have your own product as a blogger if you truly want to make money blogging!
However you look at it, all of these arguments may be correct but unfortunately rather than help, many budding bloggers have become confused about what next steps to take in their blogging journey.
In this post my aim therefore is to help clear the fog this may have caused.
Don't See Yourself Simply As a Blogger, See Yourself as a Business!
I don’t know what brought you into blogging. But one thing I know is that a good number of those who read the webincomejournal.com are here because they want to make money with their blogs. For these ones, my advice is:
"Approach your blog as a business right from the word go. Instead of just seeing yourself as a blogger, see yourself as a business!"
This approach does not only help you to set your target audience right from the beginning but also help you to define what to offer. Unfortunately, many of the blogs out there can really be classified as “Just another WordPress Blog” and nothing more.
Recommended: How to Build a Business and Not Just a Blog!
Now, there are 3 basic requirements for any business to succeed online, which are:
1. A product that has value in itself.
2. A platform through which you can effectively communicate that value; and
3. Visitors who want what you're selling
A careful look will reveal that the main issue is the #1 requirement, a product that has value in itself and I think this is the reason why many bloggers are concerned about product creation.
Your Product Most Times Depends On Your Business Model!
For any blogger to really understand the issue of product creation, he/she will need to know what business model he/she is running or intends to run. Truth is, there are different business models you can choose from to make money online. These models basically can be classified into the following:
Model #1 - Free or Open Access
This is mostly found in businesses promoting digital content. Everyone has free access to the "product" without first giving anything for it in advance. The product offered may be in the form of text (like on your blog), video (like on Youtube.com), audio, software, or any other digitally deliverable goods or services.
Model #2 - Restricted Access
Unlike the free access, this model aims to get something in advance from the person wishing to acquire the product. This "price" paid in advance could be something as simple as your personal contact information (physical or email address) which gives the product provider a way to deliver the content to you. This model is mostly common with physical goods but can also be used in delivery of free subscription content or digital information products.
Model #3 - Paid Access
This one is quite obvious. You have to offer money before the "product" is delivered. This could be seen in operation in membership based content delivery systems, and of course, in nearly every other online business where either a physical product or digital product is being sold. Unfortunately, because this model asks for the money before the "product" is delivered, many only see this as the only true business model where a product is truly involved. But this is far from the truth.
Now, take a look at these 3 models and you will discover that as a blogger, you can easily use any of them in making money with your blog. You could pick any of these business models or combine two or even the three!
But, How Do This Help You With Your Product As A Blogger?
Here are my suggestions:
1. Threat Every One of Your Posts as a Product
As you do know I’m an advocate of valuable content (remember, content is not king, but value is!) This is actually what you should do with every one of your blog post. Threat it as a product and make sure it offers value to the reader. Simply regurgitating other people's content on your blog in other to keep it updated will not help you. Your blog readers must see and get value from every post published on your blog. By so doing, even if you want to charge for your content, people will be ready to pay for it.
2. Focus On and Listen To Your Readers
No matter what others believe, my belief is that your readership is your target market and not your product! You must aim to provide value for them every time. But you cannot do this except you listen to them to know what they want.
But how do you listen to them?
Go through the comments on your own blog with your "ears to the ground." Read other blogs in your niche but instead of just skimming through the posts and jumping in to post a comment, read each post with your mind wide open to pick up the frustrations and challenges exposed in the posts and comments. Do this over time and you'll be able to provide more value on your blog which will boost your brand and subsequently, bring you more business.
3. Make Your Blog an Online Real Estate
One thing about real estate properties is that they have a way of growing in value with time. You should aim therefore at turning your blog into a valuable property by continuously proving value with your content. One way to do this is to answer questions being asked by your target market. Most of these questions may be pressing issues while others are just trivial ones. No matter what they are turn your blog into a digital platform that answers those questions and with time your blog will become an online real estate - a property whose value will increase over time.
4. Package Your Knowledge and Skills for Sale
I see the blogger as a vastly skilled individual. From what I have seen across the blogosphere, it is clear that a blogger who can create valuable content or provide a professional service to clients and does it well can definitely create a product of their own. And so, once you have been able to build your personal or business brand, your target as a blogger should be on how to package your knowledge and skills for sale.
Your product as a blogger depends largely on the blogging business model you have chosen. But you shouldn't wait until you have created a particular "product" before you consider yourself to have a product as blogger.
Your "product" should start with every post you publish on your blog. Remember, there are many who are charging a fee to have access to their content because that is the business model they have chosen. If however, no one will be ready to give you money for the content you are publishing on your blog right now, creating a "product" will not bring you that eureka!
Start today, position yourself not just as a blogger but as a business and starting from there, give value to your target market and the issue of creating a product will resolve itself.
Over to you: There you have my thoughts about this issue of, what is your product as a blogger? Now is your turn.
Do you think monetizing your blog with third party ads is a wrong model?
Do you agree that except you have created a “product” then you do not have a “product” as a blogger?
Share with us in your comments below