10 Ways to Extend Your Blog
There are many different challenges that bloggers face. Continually growing, adapting, and improving your blog is a significant on-going challenge. While all blogs attempt to provide useful content and to connect with readers, sometimes there is a desire and a need to go further. The motivation could be to provide more for readers, to help standout from other blogs in the industry, to bring in more money, or simply for a new learning experience.
In this post we’ll look at 10 different things you can do to extend your blog. Of course, you won’t want to attempt all of them with your blog, but see which ones fit best with your goals and with your audience.
1. Email Newsletters
Blogging and email newsletters have a lot in common. In both cases you’re providing content on a consistent basis to subscribers, and trying to increase your reach by offering content that is interesting and helpful for those reading. It may seem like having an email newsletter is overkill if you’re already blogging, but building a newsletter list can be a great way to extend your blog.
The newsletter will give you another method of staying in touch with your audience and you’ll be able to include content that you want to be accessible only to your subscribers. If you already have the traffic coming to your blog and an established reputation with your audience, building a newsletter list can be much easier than it would be without the blog.
We recently started our own newsletter, and so far it has been a great way for us to reach those who read our blog and want more, and we’re able to include brief announcements, news, and links that we aren’t able to post on our blog each week.
For managing a mailing list we use and recommend MailChimp. It includes all the necessary features (and more) and it’s free for lists with less than 2,000 subscribers. AWeber, Get Response, and iContact are other popular options.
In terms of monetization possibilities, email newsletter present many of the same opportunities as blogs, including selling ad space, promoting affiliate products, and selling your own products.
2. Sell Products
One of the biggest benefits of blogging is that it allows you to connect with your readers as you build a reputation and trust from your readers. Of course, in order to accomplish this you will need to provide the type of quality content that readers are looking for, but successful bloggers are constantly proving that the platform is ideal for this purpose.
Once you have established yourself as a leader in your niche or industry through your blog, a natural and potentially lucrative extension is to create and sell your own products. Info products like e-books, training videos, and webinars are popular types of products for bloggers to offer, and they are in demand with blog readers. Info products are great for bloggers because they are relatively easy and cost-effective to create, delivery is instant and inexpensive, and the products take advantage of the reputation that you have built through your hard work.
In addition to info products, other types of digital products are ideal as well. For designers there are all kinds of possibilities for selling downloadable digital files. At Vandelay Premier we sell products like textures, vectors, icons and Photoshop files.
Many bloggers are intimidated by the thought of setting up e-commerce on their blog, but there are some simple options out there. We use and recommend E-Junkie, but other options include FoxyCart, Cart66, and ClickBank.
3. Offer Services
In addition to, or instead of, creating and selling your own products on your blog, you could also offer services. Consulting is one of the most common services offered by bloggers, in part because it fits in naturally with the goal of becoming recognized as an expert through the blog. When you have established yourself and developed the trust of your readers, it’s likely that some of them would be interested in hiring you for consulting services.
Another reason that consulting is so popular is because it can work in such a wide variety of industries. Regardless of what you are blogging about there is probably some way that you could help others through consulting or advising. But consulting certainly isn’t the only possibility, the options are unlimited. Try to identify the problems and challenges that your readers are facing, and think about how you can use your knowledge, experience, and expertise to help them.
Selling services doesn’t need to be complicated. You’ll need a page on your website or blog that explains the types of services that you offer, and you’ll need to provide a contact form or some other way for people to get in touch with you. Having some testimonials or examples of work that you have done in the past will help with convincing readers that you can help them too.
4. Membership Area
Having a membership area is a common way to monetize a blog. Not only will it allow you the possibility to bring in more money from your blogging efforts, but it will also give your readers an option to get more out of your blog if they are interested in going the extra step to pay for the membership. It will allow you to reach a core group of readers in a more intimate and private setting, and it gives the members a chance to tap in to your expertise in a way that they cannot through the blog.
Membership areas often provide inforational products or content to members, either through video, audio, or written content. Membership areas can also provide other types of content and/or resources, such as sites for designers that offer new downloadable files each month.
5. Job Boards
While major job search sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder account for the majority of job searching and online job listings, niche job boards can be extremely useful for those who are looking to hire as well as for those who are looking for jobs. If your blog has a targeted audience of readers, employers who are looking to find qualified workers in your industry or niche will often have better results by advertising there as opposed to a general job board that targets job searches of all kinds.
Job boards can also help you to earn some extra money while providing something that is helpful to visitors and employers. Niche job boards often charge employers for listings, or perhaps just for a featured listing that is shown above free listings. Setting up a job board doesn’t have to be as complicated as it might sound. If you’re using WordPress the options include WPJobBoard plugin, Job Board theme, Job Roller theme, and JobPress theme. For those who are not using WordPress, other options include JobPress, JobCoin, and Indeed.
Adding forums to your blog will allow readers and visitors to communicate with each other on a wide variety of topics, and they won’t be restricted to communicating only on the specific topics that you cover in your blog posts. Forums can be very useful for visitors, as long as the forums are active, and they can also help you to encourage repeat visits and increase pageviews.
Forums can also be an excellent option because they can be useful in any industry or niche, especially if there are not already other popular forums that many of your readers use. Active forums will require some work and maintenance on your part to monitor the activity and to participate when possible, but the users will do the majority of the “work” by interacting with each other and building up the usefullness of the forums.
7. Premium Content
Adding premium content to your blog can be done with or without requiring a recurring membership. If you’d rather not deal with the membership model and the need to consistently put out new content in order to avoid losing members, you can offer premium content where visitors can choose exactly what they want to pay for, with no recurring fees. Some blogs offer tutorials or other types of content where readers can pay a few dollars to view the content. This model could be used with just about any type of content, as long as it is something that your readers would be willing purchase.
Cleeng helps bloggers and publishers to collect micro payments in exchange for premium content. Cleeng works with all types of content like text, video, audio, and images. They have a plugin for popular CMSs like WordPress and Drupal. Clickserv is another option for collecting small payments for premium content.
Depending on the type of blog that you have, adding a niche directory may be an option. If you are offering services from your blog you probably will not want to launch a directory of other service providers, but for some blogs it will be a good fit. An example would be a blog that covers topics related to fitness adding a directory of personal trainers that could be searched by locality.
Adding a directory to your blog could be for monetary purposes if you charge for listings, or it could be free and strictly to provide a helpful resource for your visitors. Whether you charge for listings or not, a good directory could still be useful to visitors either way.
9. News Section
Adding a news or links section to your blog can help to keep the site up-to-date and can help to give the blog a more community-oriented feel. In the design niche there are a number of blogs that have a section where other bloggers can submit their links to be considered for posting in the community news section. Some examples include CSS Globe and Design Modo.
10. Facebook Fan Pages
Facebook’s popularity is so high that any blog can benefit from having a Facebook page. But if you want to go a step further you can make your Facebook page more useful to visitors by offering free content to your fans, or even by selling products directly from Facebook.
In effort to attract more fans, many bloggers are offering an incentive for people to “like” their Facebook page. Our own Facebook page is an example. We have 10 premium resource packs that can be downloaded from the Facebook page by people who have liked our page, and there is a welcome tab that greets visitors who aren’t currently our fans to promote the offer.
If you’re interested in opening a store directly on your Facebook page, Highwire’s Social Store is a free app that allows you to sell items on Facebook without dealing with the code.
What’s Your Experience?
If you’re a blogger, have you attempted to extend your blog? If so, what have you found to work well for your own situation. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Published June 16th, 2011 by Steven Snell