One of the key ideas behind being an Authority Blogger, or “Content Marketing”, is that you put out lots of educational material that ordinarily people would be willing to pay for.
How do you turn that free stuff into profit?
The thing is, while we KNOW this works, a lot of people get stuck on the HOW. They put out tons and tons of free material and never quite reach the “getting paid” part.
I was toying calling this post “Thriving With a Delayed Profit Business Model“, because really, at some point you do need to get paid, and hopefully make more than your costs so you turn a healthy profit.
Let’s take a look at how this approach helps you, where it goes wrong, and investigate how that getting paid part works …
Giving to Get
Being generous with your knowledge, ideas, experience, and advice is the cornerstone to the Authority Blogger strategy. It’s not just about writing on a blog either, although that is of course hugely popular now.
Consider public speaking, being interviewed, writing books, and podcasting as other complimentary approaches also.
When you share your content this way, you get to …
- Attract attention and increase visibility – People have a reason to listen to you, other than hear your pitch.
- Differentiate from the competition, build brand and reputation – By giving helpful tips and stories you separate yourself from the pack and stand out.
- Build an audience – As more people get to hear about you and from you, and find you useful, they will want to hear more.
- Grow a connection – In networking and in your audience, people will want to be more connected to you because they see your value.
- Establish trust and credibility – People can see how you can be valuable, and can try out your work. Your content establishes proof.
- Encourage sharing – When people like what they see they will share, tell friends, and give you testimonials.
- Educate the prospect – The more informed your prospects are, the happier and more confident they are in taking action.
- Turn leads into customers – … Which leads to more prospects becoming customers, with less “selling”.
Where Delayed Profit Goes Wrong
As I was putting the finishing touches to this article, Apple announced their new iPad Mini tablet computer. It’s going to compete with the Kindle Fire, which is $130 cheaper. A lot of people are complaining about that price gap.
Thing is, Apple is running their device business differently to Amazon. Apple makes a healthy margin on every gadget sold, Amazon does not. In fact, Amazon makes littler or nothing per device sold. Both are in the business of selling devices that consume media, but to gain market share and get more people into their ecosystem, Amazon is giving away the razor and selling the blades.
Loss-leaders and freebies can be fantastic, it’s not like Amazon is hurting particularly, but they can also kill your business if you are not careful.
It’s one thing to grow an audience and gather insights before developing your offering, quite another to just be losing money. Consider the amount of cash tech startups burn through while looking for a business model. That is a gamble that does not always pay off.
The problem is, if you are not making money on the “front end” (the razor), then you have to make money on the “back end” (the blades).
Many direct advertising campaigns make a loss based on the marketing costs and the low margin of the initial sale, but make it up on the lifetime value of a customer. I have a product where affiliates get 100% of the sale price, but I pay things like PayPal costs, so I actually lose money when I pay the affiliates, but enough of my customers go on to buy more things that I come out ahead long term. You have to know your numbers. If the lifetime value drops, or the advertising costs go up, you can quickly find the math breaking down.
A lot of bloggers don’t even get that far – we get into the free rut. You do have to break out of it eventually. It’s a comfort zone. Blogging is hard work, and only ever giving stuff away can lead your audience to assume you are not in business at all. When you finally do start to suggest they pay money you can get a lot of push back. I have been there! Just remember there are always going to be people who think everything you do should be free, but there will also be people who are willing to pay a fair price for your work too.
Turning Your Free into Profit
As you will be painfully aware, it is possible to wrap all this free content in ads and make some money. The more traffic you get, the more money you can make. That’s not my preferred priority, however. I am not very keen on getting paid to send people away!
I’m not keen on working for tips either. There are better, more congruent approaches that enhance your visitor experience and lead flow, rather than hurt it.
Check out Pat Flynn. He writes epic posts like his podcasting tutorial, and instead of charging for it, he makes a TON of money through affiliate links to things like Aweber and web hosting. Why? Because his content attracts people who grow to know, like and trust him. They take his advice.
Obviously the majority of Authority Bloggers go beyond affiliate commissions and develop their own products and services. It doesn’t take many sales of your own coaching or online course to completely dwarf what you can make from ads on the average blog.
If you can attract an audience of people who want to hear from you, who have a problem you can help solve, and especially if they are willing to invest in the solution, then you do not need anywhere near the traffic or content output to be more profitable.
Back when I was a computer programmer, I discovered this by accident. I was putting out tutorials and tips to help people in the programming community. To begin with it was just easier than repeating the same answers, plus it was helpful to me to have my notes somewhere easily accessible. I started writing for communities like ASPAlliance and ASPToday.
A weird thing started happening. People started asking how they could pay me to help them out, teach their team, fix their code. I didn’t make any pitches, they just started enquiring. Of course, when I did start offering my services, more people made enquiries. Had I continued in the programming world I could have made a very healthy and fun living traveling the world and providing that training.
The key is to have an offer that the people you are attracting want to pay for, and to tell people about it. Let people know that you are in business and how you can help them.
Giving free content is a great way to get noticed and establish yourself in your niche, but don’t get stuck in free mode. Share solutions that people can invest in, things that will truly help, and are set at a fair price. Ignore the naysayers who think you should give everything away, and be as charitable as you like after you have paid yourself and your family!
When you focus on the people you can most help and who are most motivated to take action, then you can get paid for all the free work you do, and everyone wins 🙂