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Monetizing Your Online Presence, Chapter 2

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Last week, I carried on a conversation that began with Joe Jaffe announcing he would exchange sponsorship on his podcast for an iPod, about which Mack Collier wrote a thorough examination of monetization vs. value.

Today, I take a different view on the subject. One that should not be controversial but it might be provocative, based on the lessons shared.
Everyone within the blogging community that I most frequently participate in is a business person, most often involved in services such as marketing, advertising, PR, consulting, design, and web-based technologies. We are not non-profits. We work hard to earn a living. For me, that means that a piece of growing my business includes a blog. Like my web site, the blog was launched to build brand and to grow business. But those two goals do not form the foundation of the content.
I do little self-promotion and whatever branding I do primarily involves my business name and my picture, which appears in the left column. The blog is what it is. A place to offer and share free professional experiences and advice, and a place for others to join in the conversation and offer their opinions. The blog is designed as a sharing avenue for readers to grow personally and professionally. The content is not about me. It is about you. Pandering to readers also is avoided, even if it causes me to hurt my brand or my potential to get work.
Content, however, as any good marketer and writer knows, achieve my goals of monetizing the blog. Last week, I attained my third paying client who discovered my through my blogging since May. In my mind, creating an educational and a conversational blog based on quality and focused content is the "right" way for me to monetize my blog (and my web site, as well as the other blogs, books and articles that I contribute to or author). No advertising, no sponsorships, little to no self-promotion. Just straight-forward talk and story-telling.
Ninety percent of my marketing effort is tied up in my web site (where free content and advice are also offered), my blog and my writings. I think this is what Mack is getting us to think about when he asks how to share income with our readers that we make through our blogs. My answer is that we achieve value for our readers and our clients by giving away tens of thousands of dollars of consulting and business advice and experiences, and then when one of them hires us, we work our butts off to exceed their expecations.
In an effort to share here what I believe works (but you are the final judge of that), here are tactics are that I use to provide value and to market my services and build my brand:
1. Keep to the subject, which in my case is the world of business, most often centered on marketing but not always. Only on Fridays and weekends do I veer away from business talk to sharing the music I love.
2. Create weekly series that publish the same day each week so readers know when and where to find them. My current series are called "How Do You Feel About [name of company]" and "Fridays and Weekends Rock with [name of musician or band]."
3. On occasion, be provocative. Don't avoid controversy. Do avoid being argumentative. Never be rude and always respect readers' intelligence. Cam does this better than most.
4. Accept all comments except those that cross the line of respect, dignity and decency.
5. Post four to five days weekly.
6. Listen to readers and write about the topics they seem most interested in.
7. Respond to every reader comment with an e-mail and at the very least, say thank you, even if you don't respond in a blog comment.
8. Read other blogs and comment and, when appropriate, get to know them better with a personal visit or an offline conversation. CK is great at this.
9. Credit others, especially when following up on their posts or when using their ideas to create a different point of view. Use links, in other words, to help bloggers grow their readership. Toby and Valeria are generous in this way.
10. Reread every post and delete first-person pronouns as much as possible. Write about and for readers, whenever possible. (Believe it or not, this post has about half the number of first-person pronouns than the original. There still are too many, I think, but my brain hurts.)
These tactics are not thorough, of that I am certain. For example, David Armano does a great job with visual elements, and that is a marvelous way to draw in readers and to help them better understand his thoughts. What other strategies and tactics can help us continue to share but also monetize that sharing in a professional business manner?

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Lewis Green, Founder and Managing Principal of L&G Business Solutions, LLC, ( brings three decades of business management experience. L&G Business Solutions, LLC, represents his third company. Additionally, he held management positions with GTE Discovery Publications, Puget Sound Energy and Starbucks Coffee Company.

In addition to his business experiences, Lewis is a published author and a former journalist, sports writer and travel writer. His feature articles have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers throughout North America. He has taught in public schools; lobbied for organizations both in state capitols and in Washington, D.C.; delivered workshops, seminars, and training programs; and made presentations to audiences in colleges, businesses and professional organizations. Lewis also has served as a book editor with a large publisher, the Executive Editor overseeing four magazines, and a newspaper department editor. Lewis served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, where he received the Air Force Commendation Medal.

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  • by Ivana Taylor Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    I found your blog through Chris Brown's Branding and Marketing Blog and MyBlogLog. I'm so glad that I did. Your content is terrific and useful. I'm sure that I'll be back and hope to link often. Thanks

  • by Cam Beck Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    Lewis - It's only Monday and you've already made my week. Thank you, my friend... not just for the compliment, but for the overall post packed with great nuggets of advice.

  • by Lewis Green Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    Ivana, Welcome and thank you for your kind comments. Cam, Every word is true my friend. I enjoy and respect your writing style and your intelligence.

  • by Jim Kukral Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    You've pretty much laid it out perfectly. Nice work.

  • by CK Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    Great advice, Lewis. And many thanks for the kind mention. Gosh, what all do I 'get' from my blog (and through the other blogs which I participate in)? So much. I've learned more about the marketing discipline/best practices and the newest tools associated with social media. And I've met so many truly amazing people--either through my travels or while they visit NYC (and I highly recommend meeting these fine people as nothing replaces face-to-face interactions!). On the business side it does increase exposure but I think it's the new smarts I've gained--via using these extraordinary technologies--that lead to the most work for me. And it's not so much that people have 'found' me through blogging but meeting clients in need of social media expertise.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    Bravo, Lewis. I "get" it. I admit that I didn't when I first starting blogging - it was foreign and I wondered what role I could play. Now, I, like you, blog and provide Web and e-newsletter content to share expertise and learn from others. That's what I find the most beneficial - learning from one another and keeping abreast of marketing trends. Thanks!

  • by Lewis Green Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    CK, and Elaine, Great contributions! I agree that learning and sharing are unexpected benefits in that I never thought that I would belong to a community of givers by having an online presence. Man, you guys rock! Jim, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support. Thank you!

  • by Valeria Maltoni Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    I think what CK alludes to is the agility to pick up on threads, support worthy content and causes, and feel like you're part of a team. I wrote that to Tim Jackson at MasiGuy last night. When you come to a topic or subject that one member of your community is an expert at, you partner with them. That's a wonderful feeling. Many of us are also experiencing it from an audience stand point. This to me is what open source marketing means.

  • by Lewis Green Mon Jul 30, 2007 via blog

    Valeria, Excellent points! Thank you.

  • by Roger Anderson Tue Jul 31, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, As I thought about this last week I find I agree with you. If you are in business and you have a blog, you are monetizing it. You may even be leaving money on the table. I do think there are those who try to directly profit and those, like you and I, who try to indirectly profit. In the early days of the Internet it was frowned upon to directly profit from web pages or Newsgroup postings. As soon as people started to make real money a lot of that crowing stopped. The ones who complain the most are often the ones who wish they could but don't. My two cents anyway.

  • by Lewis Green Wed Aug 1, 2007 via blog

    Roger, I think youy are right: "The ones who complain the most are often the ones who wish they could but don't." There are those who don't fit that description but as a business person trying to feed my family, my job is to make money. I want to do it fairly, honestly and on a bed of values, but making money is the cause for business.

  • by Toby Wed Aug 1, 2007 via blog

    Lewis - thanks for your kind words and sage suggestions. Our industry (yes, I do believe this is an industry) grows more complex every day and with that more choices and decisions to be made from how to engage with your community to how to respond - or not - to the nth PR release that has nothing to do with the focus of your conversations. You remind us that there is a simple path to take through this labyrinth of twists and turns .. be true to your own values.

  • by James Burgin Sat Aug 4, 2007 via blog

    As an avid blog reader I find your post refreshing and clear - to illuminate the simplicity of how the law of precession works. If we share generously then it will produce returns in many (unknown) ways - including new clients. Knowledge marketing has come of age with the blogosphere - especially for bloggers who get the power of sharing their wisdom.

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