Mighty Life List
Jan 27 2011

ALT Summit Presentation

So while I was at ALT Summit, I did a panel on the business of blogging with Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind and Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101. I always enjoy presenting, but something about the chemistry with those two girls made this conversation extra engaging for me.

I finally remembered to ask someone to record my presentation, but neglected to bring her a tripod. (Thanks for your forbearance, Kelly.) Here’s a slightly shaky video of my portion of the presentation:

I know a lot of you are bloggers trying to bring in a little income, so here are the main points of our entire presentation — each of us took on four tips.

Beyond the Banner:
A 12-Step Program for Successful Content Campaigns

Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind:

1. Re-invent the wheel.
Creative campaigns are fun and memorable. Consider Jason, who’s renting out his torso at I Wear Your Shirt. What do you have to offer that’s a little offbeat?

2. Test the waters first.
Before you jump into a huge commitment with a single advertiser, put a toe in the water. This way you’ll know more about how your readers will respond, learn how to price yourself through trial and error, and figure out which campaigns make you want to take a nap, and which are fun.

3. Know your professional strengths.
If you’re crappy at project management or staying on top of communications with clients, hire someone to do that for you while you produce content.

4. Less is more.
Erin likes to keep a ratio of 95 percent content to 5 percent sponsored posts. You’ll find your own ratio, but be mindful that you’re giving your readers something of value while you’re paying the rent.

Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101:

5. It’s not all about you.
Think about the sponsor, what are their wants and needs? Let that shape the program you propose.

6. Measure your digital footprint.
Remember that your blog probably isn’t your only online presence. You may have readers on Twitter, Facebook, or even a newsletter. Think of the whole package.

7. Know thyself.
If your gut tells you that an advertiser doesn’t seem like the right fit, say no. Your readers know you, and they’ll obviously be able to tell if you’re promoting something and your heart isn’t in it.

8. Disclose.
No one likes to feel misled. Let your audience know who’s paying you and for what.

And me, Maggie Mason from Mighty Girl:

9. Consider events.
Throw a party for a local boutique, host an event in conjunction with a larger conference, or start a little retreat and build from there. If you enjoy throwing events, they can be a good way to build a tighter community while you grow your business.

10. Remember advertisers are people.
People who want to give you money are not your enemies, so keep the conversation going. If you start to feel adversarial about a proposed campaign, suggest other ways to work with a brand that might be more interesting to you and your readers. Even the largest brand has a team of people behind it, people with faces and families, who care about their product succeeding.

11. Pitch to your passions.
Seek out advertisers to support the content you’re already producing by being smart about how you package it. Can you tell people what your site is about in a single sentence? Is there a memorable narrative in your life story – maybe you’re building a house, starting your life over, becoming a new parent? Focus on that when you approach potential sponsors.

12. Know your worth.
Don’t just look at your daily unique visitors when you’re pricing a campaign. Consider your ability to amplify on Twitter, Facebook, via newsletter. Think about engagement — if you have a small audience of readers who are passionate about a particular subject and will leave lots of comments, that’s valuable to an advertiser. And don’t forget to take your time into account. Your work is probably worth more than you think.

That’s it! Are you trying to figure out how to make your living as a blogger? What did we forget?