Turning your blog into a profit center. It sound like a dream, right?
We’ll continue to talk more about these things here on SocialMouths, hopefully you can benefit from them.
In this post we’ll take a closer look at what I call a perfect setup for your online income powerhouse, in other words, the tools you need to run your blog as a business.
Notice that I don’t include advertising or affiliate programs as ways of blog revenue, it’s because I talk about blogging as part of a marketing strategy for business rather than becoming a full-time blogger.
One thing I will mention before diving into the list is that while none of these applications are free, they are very affordable. And since we’re already in the subject, I will also say that I do love the whole “Free” concept BUT (uuuh… the big “but”!), when we’re talking about our business, and I will assume we want to be successful at it, we should be open to invest.
So I’ll include the cost of each service and at the end of the post we’ll add it to see how much we need to spend in order to turn your blog into a true profit center.
Disclosure: None of these companies has asked me or pay me to review their products or services. It would be nice… but they didn’t.
Let me put it this way, an email list is a list of people that have said “Yes, I like you and want to know about your updates, events or products”. My preference at the moment is Mailchimp but there are also other products like Aweber, MyEmma and others.
When you’re shopping around for a system to handle your email marketing, you need to consider things like how it integrates with your blogging platform, what kind of metrics it offers, if you can connect to Google Analytics, etc.
Cost: With Mailchimp you can manage lists of up to 1,000 subscribers for $15/month
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is not always necessary, let me explain. If you sell a quick check out product such as an ebook for $24.99, people come to the site and pay for it then maybe you don’t need to capture any data other than what you get on an email subscription.
Now, if you provide services as a freelancer, let’s say web design, copy writing or life coaching, then it is important to establish a stronger connection with your prospect or client. This requires more information than a name and an email.
SalesForce can capture those leads right from your site.
Cost: The “Group” package which includes basic sales and marketing for up to 5 user costs $25/month per user.
Not much to say about Paypal other than you MUST have it, like it or not. It’s been a while since Paypal became an online standard for payment processing, even if you had your own merchant account, Paypal should not be ignored.
Cost: Since you pay a percentage for each transaction you run, I’m not adding a monthly charge here. We’ll leave it open.
E-Junkie is one of those “behind the scenes” kind of application. Some of you might not even know it. What it does is help you sell stuff online. It is an excellent tool if you are selling digital (downloads) products such as an ebook or an mp3 recording. It protects your file by being downloaded multiple times and it hides your url so it is not visible to the user.
You can also use it to redirect traffic to your own page if you want to host the file to download. E-Junkie also works for tangible products.
2 more things, it’s very cool that it makes Paypal part of its ordering process and lastly, you can manage affiliate programs for your products.
Cost: If you have 10 available products, e-junkie will cost you only $5/month including 50 MB of storage and 100 daily checkouts. You gotta be kidding me!
Email lists are usually very limited since we usually capture a simple name and email address. Flowtown takes that information and pulls all the social profiles affiliated with that address.
Don’t take this lightly, in my opinion this is pretty powerful, you just went from having an email address to a full profile that allows you to search and filter subscribers by different criteria. AND, having the opportunity to connect on different social networks with that person that just gave you his/her email address, that’s building community right there.
Two more cool things about Flowtown, first, if you manage your email lists with Mailchimp, you can now integrate Flowtown to add muscle to your plain mailing database. And second, the integration of Klout in their system so you can actually tell how influential your contacts are.
Cost: Flowtown packages start at $17/month and you have to add 4.5¢ per import OR, you can “pay-as-you-go” 5¢ per import, 250 emails/month, which means you’ll be paying $12.50/month. This is just ridiculous…
You might be thinking what do surveys have to do with turning my blog into a profit powerhouse. Remember how for the last couple of years we’ve been talking about how social media is a 2-way channel? a dialogue rather than a monologue? Well, bloggers are changing dramatically and are becoming more and more engaging with their audiences. Technology also allows us to push the envelope and get more creative.
The concept of crowsourcing is huge, your community is now telling you what they want, with detail. We just have to listen. Tools such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo make it very easy and affordable to take those conversations with your reader and kick it up a notch, now you can ask questions directly and the best part of all is… your reader, prospect or existing customer loves being asked!
Cost: For $16.67/month, SurveyMonkey gives you an unlimited account, that means you can setup as many surveys as you want with as many questions as you want.
Pretty cool stuff here. Unbounce helps you build landing pages, track your traffic and conversion, run A/B tests and set up your own domains. They also have some pretty kick-ass templates that you can just grab to customize or you can create your own from scratch. You can run several campaigns at the same time.
This is a great tool for lead generation.
Cost: You can check it out by using the Free package which offers 200 visits/month, after that, the Basic package offers 500 visits for $25/month and it doesn’t show any Unbounce branding on your pages.
8. Google Analytics
Don’t you feel like it does matter what we’re talking about, Analytics is always mentioned? Well, the application is pretty powerful and we probably use only a small fraction of it. When you’re running a profit center, besides measuring your visits, your bounce rate and all that stuff, you also want to track conversion.
The good thing about Analytics is that you can seamlessly integrate it with other platforms, for example, you can connect it to e-junkie to know each time a person bought your ebook or, you can track ROI on all your Mailchimp email pieces going out.
The truth is that Analytics is pretty powerful and you should commit to learn more about it no matter what you do online. Cost: AND… it’s Free!
So how much is your profit center?
Let’s see, we have…
- Email list management and marketing for $15
- Customer Relationship Management for $25
- Payment processing (open)
- Ordering process and downloadable files for $5
- Subscriber visibility, demographics, location and social profiles for $12.50
- Online surveys for some kick-ass, crowdsourcing product development for $16.67
- Landing Pages for $25
- And web analytics of all kinds for $0
Our monthly cost to handle business online like true ninjas is $97.17!!!
Ok, so you’re not very impressed… let me share this with you, about 7 years ago I spent $70k on a web-based CRM that is now obsolete, around the same time I purchased a $60k phone system that is now worth $2k, if I wanted to hear my prospects opinions I would have to organize a focus group for a couple of thousands to get bullshit results, I paid around $20k for a static website that the only interactivity it had was the contact form and, believe or not, I never got to know any of my customers, hell! I barely had their location!
Let’s just leave it there, you don’t want to get me started with mailing lists… what is this water coming out of my eyes?
What are your thoughts? are you using any of these tools or maybe different ones? What are your suggestions if you already have some experience or what are your questions if you are barely jumping in the water?