Today’s guest is Katie Hornor from The Blog Connection and we will discuss how Katie built her business through monetization of her blog and things you should know when doing the same.
Katie Hornor is a popular author, online business coach, mentor and international speaker whose forte is #Course Creation and Curriculum Development, followed closely by RelationshipMarketing.
The founder of TheBlogConnection.com, she is better known these days as “The Movement Maker” and is also the author of over 40 self-published books, including three Amazon best sellers.
In today’s episode you’ll learn:
- How do you monetize a blog?
- What are Ad Networks and Affiliate Links?
- Is revenue from blog enough for people to make a living?
- How to attract thousands of visitors to blog?
- What kind of services and products you can offer through blog?
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, this is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by today. I’m Josh Patrick. My guest is Katie Hornor. Katie is the founder of theblogconnection.com. Today, we are going to be talking about how we can monetize blogs and how we can take that monetization. And you might be surprised at monetizing isn’t just making money off your blog. So, instead of me wandering on about this, let’s bring Katie on and we can start talking about blogs.
Hey, Katie. How are you today?
Katie: I’m great, Josh. Thanks for having me on.
Josh: So, Katie, you moved to Mexico and you were doing missionary work down there. And for whatever reason, that seemed to went away and you had to make a living. And it appears that you chose blogging as a way to do that. Am I correct?
Katie: Yes. That’s right. We actually still do mission work to some extent. We have a local coffeeshop ministry here. But we have found that our businesses have offered us a greater reach for both our ministry and been able to provide an income to keep us here.
Josh: So how did you decide that blogging was the right thing to do? And how did you figure out how to make money out of it?
Katie: Well, our initial business idea was to create a homeschool curriculum for Spanish speakers but I knew that, in 2012, the online world was still a little bit of an un claimed territory for most Hispanic countries. And so, we needed a way to make income now while we were growing that business. And so, we started Paradise Praises, an English homeschool blog, at the same time that we started our Spanish Lemonhass homeschool company.
Josh: When you started a blog, did you think you were going to monetize it from the beginning?
Katie: Oh, absolutely. That was the point [laughs].
Josh: Okay, so how do you monetize a blog?
Katie: Well, the first thing we did that brought in income was that we published our own book. We published, first, on Amazon through the self-publishing with CreateSpace and Kindle. And then, we were eventually able to offer that through own shop, on the store, as an ebook download. And we started creating educational resources that way and offering them for sale everywhere that we could. So that was the initial way to monetize. And then, eventually, we added in things like Ad Networks, and affiliate links, and services as well.
Josh: How does that work? First of all, what are all of these things? Let’s start there.
Katie: Staring with ecommerce or digital products, this is just simply a way that you can offer a download in exchange for payment on your website. And so, you would set up a shopping cart and attach your files in the right way and people are able to log in and choose what they want and pay – Paypal, credit card or whatever, and then receive their download of that ebook. Essentially, it’s a pdf document.
When you get into Ad Networks, these are companies like AdSense that we know of is the most popular probably, through Google, which doesn’t pay off a whole lot but it’s great for starting out. And then you go into Amazon CPM ads which pay by the number of impressions or the number of people to your website or other ad thrive and other ad companies that want to place advertisements on your site. And that can become a way to bring in income.
And then affiliate links means I am affiliated with another company or product that I have a special link that I use to recommend their product. This has to be disclosed to your people in your blogpost, or your social media, or wherever you’re posting this link. But when you sell something through that link, you receive a commission. It doesn’t increase the price for the buyer, but you get sort of a token thank you of the price for having promoted it. And it helps them, ultimately, in their marketing. And so, affiliate links for either small companies, friends of yours who have products to sell or big companies like Amazon and brand names have affiliate programs that you can participate in. And then, ultimately, the services. Offering a service to people through the platform that you have grown on your blog.
Josh: With an affiliate link, I know that if I do an affiliate program with somebody, let’s say I’m a gigantic internet person and Jeff Walker signs me up to do his product launch formula. He’s going to pay me 40% of the gross. When you do an affiliate linked on your blog, how much money do you get? Let’s say I’m sending you some place for a $99-product, how much of that do I get?
Katie: It depends on the product and the program. If I have an affiliate program for my own product, I can set the affiliate commission as high as I want. It may be 10% for a really high-dollar product. It may be as much as 50%, or 60% or, in some cases, 70% or 90% depending on the relationship in a particular program and campaign.
Josh: Okay, so it appears to me that to monetize a blog and— first of all, who’s your blog written for? I know that you have a membership program. Who’s your blogging school aimed at? Let me ask you that.
Katie: Okay. Our blogging website is bloggingsuccessfully.com and theblogconenction.com is our membership program. This is aimed at people, primarily women, who already have a blog and want to grow that message. They want to get it out there and actually start earning an income. It’s not a hobby anymore. Now, I need it to start paying for itself, to start paying some of my own bills. And so, we take those women with the things that they already have in place and their message and teach them the strategies they need to better promote the things that they’re doing to better incorporate affiliate links, to create better email funnels or sales funnels that bring people through to get their products and things like that. Some of them even go so far as to get into creating their own courses or digital products and we teach them how to do that.
Josh: I’ve had a blog for— I don’t know, 10 or 12 years now, and I probably get a few hundred readers when I first put it up. And over the course of time, maybe get up to 500 or 600 readers which certainly isn’t enough to make any money for anything. What are the ways that you get people to actually come– thousands of people to come and read a blog? Does it have to be a topic that’s just your topic? Is it something which is more— I think, there’s more readers than there is for my topic.
Katie: Yes. Topic is important. And it doesn’t have to be general. A lot of people think I need to reach everyone when, really, you need to hone in your specific people that you’re trying to reach. The more specific you can be, the easier it’s going to be to get to those people and to create the fans that will come back. But then, there are also traffic-driving strategies that you would use such as posting consistently on a certain day of the week. And the, the following day, consistently sending that email to your subscribers, letting them know that you’ve posted a new post. And so, the day you post, you may get traffic just from people knowing that you post that day. The second day brings in the email people who need to be reminded. And then, throughout the rest of the week, you’re sharing on social media and driving people in that way.
You may also network. Networking is huge when you’re growing a blog and growing your traffic because you want to be sharing things that others are creating that are also relevant for your audience and increases your own appearance of being an expert in that field but you’re also giving. And those people are going to give back then, by sharing your stuff with their audience, in return. So those affiliations and alliances between others who serve the same people you serve are also very important.
Josh: When you say network, I think of going to a chamber mix or shake hands and drink too much and do bad things. I think that when you’re saying network, you’re probably referring to social network networking?
Katie: Yes. In my case, especially being in Mexico and not being able to go to any networking event there is, it’s social networking. For the most part. You are creating friendships and relationships with other bloggers and business owners in your space that serve the same people you serve. And you are socially promoting their things.
Josh: Am I going to assume that this is mostly done on Facebook?
Katie: It can be done mostly on Facebook but there’s a lot of social networking that can also be done on Twitter, and Instagram, and Pinterest and other things as well.
Josh: Okay. I’m not an Instagram or Pinterest person so [laughs]. I have enough time with three networks. I don’t need five. Speaking of that, I’m assuming that your bloggers who are starting out, and anybody starting out a blog, you probably want to focus on one network first. Would that make sense?
Katie: Yes, it does. You don’t need to be on every network if your people aren’t there. And so, it’s important to focus in on the one where your people hang out online and grow there first. And then, maybe, add a second or third one later. But I don’t think anyone can realistically manage a well‑knit community on more than three social media.
Josh: Do you manage your community yourself or do you have a community manager that works with you?
Katie: I manage my communities myself. The groups that I have on Facebook are managed all by me. I do have VAs from time to time that help with pre-scheduling things for pages and different promotions but most of the conversation is managed by me.
Josh: And how much time do you spend doing that, let’s say a week?
Katie: I spend probably a couple hours a day in my groups during the week because that is a big focus for me. That is part of the membership. It’s an exclusive Facebook group for those people. That’s where they’re coming with their questions. That’s where we have discussions about getting them over the next hurdle or whatever it is they’re trying to figure out technically, to take the next step in their business. And so, for me, that is a big part. Others may not spend as much time there but I do spend several hours a week.
Josh: What percent of your income actually comes off the affiliate links on your blog versus your information products that you sell?
Katie: It fluctuates. And that’s another reason that it’s important to have multiple streams of income because you may have a large affiliate promotion that only happens twice a year and you may get 80% of your income from that promotion this month. Whereas, other times of the year, especially right before Christmas, if you’ve got gift products or anything like that, you’re going to have a larger income from products that you sell. If you have courses that are only open a couple of times a year, again, whenever that happens, that income from that income stream is going to go up. And so, after a while, you start to see the patterns of what time of year, what works better, and you start to expect that and be able to kind of average things out a little bit better. But a lot of those blogging income streams tend to be up and down with the seasons.
Josh: On an annual basis and, you know, I know this has been a little bit— I’m not asking you for dollars, just percents of revenue. On an annual basis, what is the percent that comes through your blog directly and the percent that comes through your other products that you sell?
Katie: I would say that our membership and our coaching experiences probably provide about 50%. And then our affiliate links and our products provide about another 50%.
Josh: And when you say products, are those products that you sell?
Katie: Books. Yes, books and courses that are not the membership or the private coaching experiences.
Josh: Okay. So that books and courses versus the affiliate links, how much– are they 50/50, 25/30, 25/75?
Katie: Affiliate income is probably larger. I would say maybe 65/35.
Josh: Okay, so essentially your affiliate income appears to be about 35% or 40% of your total revenue.
Josh: That’s a reasonably good number. Is that enough for people to make a living on or do they need to supplement with other stuff?
Katie: It really depends on what they need. And all of your sales, whether your selling your own product or whether you’re selling an affiliate product, you have statistics of how much of a reach you need in order to get that amount that you want or that dollar amount that you have in your head. And so, growing your email list, growing your social media reach – all of those things help you to reach that. It’s really hard to say, without knowing more specifically what someone’s budget is, how much of that they could realistically earn with what they’re doing. You’d have to know all of their numbers, in that, to predict it well.
Josh: What I’m hearing you talk about is one of the things that near and dear to my heart which is having metrics—
Josh: –otherwise known as a dashboard. I’m assuming that you’re a very metrically-driven business. In other words, you’re looking at your numbers very carefully and you make business decisions based on what your metrics are telling you.
Katie: If you’re a good business, you do that. Yes [laughs].
Josh: Well, you know [laughs].
Katie: The numbers talk. The numbers talk.
Josh: I like to pretend that we all have good businesses. How is that?
Katie: [Laughs] A lot more people than we think tend to fly by the seat of our pants. And that’s really what changes you from a hobby blogger into a business blogger is when you start paying attention to those numbers.
Josh: By the way, that’s what changes you from a hobby business into a real business when you start paying attention to your numbers. The thing that’s really interesting about the numbers that you’re talking about, none of those numbers are actually on your profit and loss statement. They’re actually things that you know that if you measure and you pay attention to and you move them up to the right, that will help make your business better.
Josh: I’m assuming that some of these metrics are predictive about what’s going to happen in your business in the future. I always recommend to folks that when they’re putting numbers together, which is part of my whole systemization of a business, that you really want to focus on the numbers that are predictive of what’s going to happen tomorrow, way more than what happened yesterday.
Josh: At least, that makes some sense to me. What I’m hearing you say is that becoming a monetized blogger is actually a whole lot more than just blogging.
Katie: Oh, absolutely. People think blogging is just writing and putting it out there, and money trickles into your bank account magically somehow. There’s a whole lot more that goes into it [laughs].
Josh: Yeah. Well, it seems to me that your blogging actually supports your other businesses more than your other businesses support your blogging.
Katie: We have the blogs, and we have the curriculum, and we have the courses. And all of those combined, is able to fund then our ministry, for the most part, and the other things that we do. And so, it’s all a part of it. If you didn’t have the blog to start with, if you didn’t have that platform, then you wouldn’t be able to go on to offer those courses or to offer the coaching experiences or the products that you have.
Josh: All right, the blog basically proves that you’re an expert at what you’re doing.
Katie: Yes. It gives you that platform.
Josh: And, by the way, if you happen to have a brick and mortar business, all the things that Katie is telling you about are just as applicable for your brick and mortar business as it is for an online business. The truth is, an awful lot of us have brick and mortar business and we’re not taking advantage of these wonderful things that she’s telling us about to help make your customers a little bit stickier. So, Katie, can you talk a little bit about this, how a blog and a membership site and courses, they help make your clients stickier which means they love you more.
Katie: We’d like to say, we create loyal fans.
Yes, when you have a blog, you can— like you said, Josh, express your expertise. You get to share your connections with other people. You get to highlight other people who also have a voice in that space and show that you’re well connected. You can share the information.
Everything is searchable online these days. It’s getting more and more video-searchable, more and more voice-searchable. And so, if you have information to share about your product or the solutions that you offer to your people, having a blog is essential for those people to be able to find that information.
And then, by offering the membership program, a way for them to connect on a more personal level with your product or your service or your brand, gives them the feeling of belonging. And that’s what everyone is searching for these days. And now, they get to belong to this company and this product that they love and be a part of it. And so, memberships can offer things like extra information, an extra product. They can offer previews or pre-access to things that are not available to the public yet. They can offer insider things.
Josh: This is something I teach people about memberships, especially in the brick and mortar space. A membership is a wonderful way of helping use up your excess capacity. My favorite example of that, believe it or not, are ski areas. You don’t realize this but Vail Corporation which is the largest ski operator in the world, they have made a profit before the first snowflake falls in the year because they sell— I think they’re up to about a million season passes. That’s $600 per thing which is $600 million they’ve collected before they turn the first lift on during the year.
Katie: Fabulous, isn’t it?
Josh: Well, it’s a membership.
Josh: I mean, a season pass is a membership because if you buy a season pass, they give you discounts and they have special events for the season pass holders. They start making you feel like you’re part of the family. A well-run ski area with their seasons pass takes some season pass and creates a membership out of it.
Josh: I have a client that owns a carwash. They have what they call the unlimited which is you pay X amount a month and you can wash your car as many times as you want. Now, I’m trying to talk them into seeing what other services can they bundle into that membership and make it into a real membership and not just an unlimited pass to wash your car. If you have excess capacity, it’s not just about filling that capacity up, it’s about how can you use that excess capacity to make people part of your tribe.
Katie: Right. To make them feel special.
Katie: To make them feel heard.
Josh: And in the online space, we all know about that because that’s what you have to do if you’re going to build an online business. But if you have a brick and mortar business, you can use the same sort of things that the online business does.
I have a security company and part of owning a security company is you monitor their alarm systems. Well, what else can they do for those customers they’re monitoring and probably charge them a little bit for that will make them raving fans and loyal customers forever? Those are the questions that I’m encouraging folks to ask as they go through this.
Katie: Right. It’s those customer service kinds of things that set you apart from the next person.
Josh: I agree 100% with that.
Hey, Katie, unfortunately, we are out of time. Can you tell folks how to find you again? And if they want to contact you and talk to you, can they do so?
Katie, thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
And I have an offer for you, too. Actually, January, it’s not that recent now, but I published my first book. It’s called Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. It’s a business parable. There are several ways of getting it. You can go to Amazon, obviously, and buy the book there or get a Kindle there. Or, if you want to go to my website, www.sustainablethebook.com, I have two bonuses for you: One is, you get to have a 20-minute conversation with me. Some people will say, “Well, what’s the big deal about that?” The big deal is I will guarantee you’re going to get at least one piece of take home value that you can use in your business after we get done. And the second is, I wrote a 37-page how-to guide with the book. The reason I wrote that was because in a parable, you don’t go how to do stuff, you talk about the issues in a story form. Some people might want to implement some of the things that we talk about and this is a how-to to do that.
This is Josh Patrick. We’ve been with Katie Hornor today. We’re at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.