A lot of people blog, make Youtube videos, or maintain a social media account for fun.
Over time, you might find that you've accumulated a substantial following.
Once it gets to a certain point, you'll probably want to start thinking about your options for monetizing the account.
Having a pre-existing audience puts you ahead of the game.
Creating a following and promoting your content are the hardest part, so if you've already got that covered, you're in good shape.
Regardless of what kind of content you create, you'll have several options for monetizing.
Advertisements are the traditional way to do this, although it's not necessarily the most lucrative source of revenue.
There's also affiliate marketing, infoproducts like ebooks and webinars, and premium subscription content.
In a recent interview with Social Media Examiner, Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi explains how you can turn your passion into cash.
Types of Revenue Models
I ask Joe how you generate revenue after you establish your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or other publishing outlet.
Joe says that after you build a loyal audience in a specific niche, there are 10 different revenue opportunities.
Traditional companies generally think about only some of those opportunities such as selling products or services, keeping customers longer, increasing their yield, or selling different products.
However, when you also think like a media company, there are five additional media-type revenue-generating activities.
For example, you can sell advertising on your site, create a sponsorship deal, launch a conference or event, or sell premium content.
With Digital Photography School, Darren Rowse created a multimillion-dollar site by selling ebooks, courses, and post-processing presets to photography enthusiasts.
If your audience loves you so much and you can’t figure out a way to generate revenue, ask for donations.
ProPublica, an independent news site focused on investigative journalism, generates some of its revenue from donations from people who want to keep it going. People donate to Charity Water because their stories are so good.
You can also sell an ongoing subscription to content, just as CMI sells a subscription to their training program and we have the Social Media Marketing Society.
I ask how people can begin using Joe’s model without becoming overwhelmed by all of these ways to monetize content.
Joe advises that you don’t do everything at once.
Try one revenue model every six months and start with the lowest-hanging fruit. That’s generally some type of sponsorship.
To get a sponsorship, you first need to have a decent audience size.
For example, Joe took about two years to grow his list to 10,000 people before he started to monetize.
When you’re ready to look for a sponsor who wants to reach your audience, do a Google search on the keywords that fit your audience to find people who are buying pay-per-click advertising or those in your niche doing promoted posts on Facebook.
Then put together a sponsorship package.
After you start advertising sponsorships, look to your audience for the next thing.
Talk to them. Read their emails. Figure out what’s missing in your industry.
Is there a gap for an event of some kind?
Is there a gap where people would pay for premium content in a subscription or ebook?
Is there an opportunity to ultimately sell a product or service because your audience loves you so much?
People wondered how BuzzFeed was going to monetize because it’s hard to sell advertising.
Tasty created a custom cookbook and sold more than 100,000 copies in the first three months.
Tasty is now launching One Top, a hot plate you can hook up to your phone. This company knows their audience.
Joe suggests aiming for a field goal. Don’t go for the touchdown yet.
Then after you start one goal, you can go on to the next one and the next one. Before you know it, you have four or five revenue streams and you’re a multimillion-dollar company.
Listen to the show to hear how Joe’s approach is much easier to scale than creating a blog to support speaking and book sales.
You can learn more about how to monetize a blog in the full podcast over at Social Media Examiner.