In Part I, I contemplated during my blog hiatus: “Do you want to be popular or purposeful?” My answer is, “I want my purposefulness to be popular.” Can you tell I’m an idealistic dreamer who wants it all?
What helped me get clarity was a comment from reader Dana who left this quote:
"Often the only way to make a hard decision is to come back to the purpose." ~David Allen
I felt like God dropped a clue in my lap because the quote reminded me to go back to my life purpose, “why am I here?” When I say I want my purposefulness to be popular I mean I want to be a source of light for the masses and be paid the value in return for the results I produce. I’m big on meritocracy and you’ll see why.
I know I’m going in the right direction; I just haven’t gotten synergistic with the path yet. And I’m okay with that, as I’m determined. For those still wondering what you’re life purpose work is, one clue, think about what rocks your world. Build upon that energy and the opportunities will start presenting themselves.
I firmly believe that you can both do good things in the world and be a millionaire. You can find yourself in a place where you are simultaneously rich in a meaningful life, and financially abundant like an Oprah or Ellen. The key to achieving this balance, I believe, is consciousness. You must be awake and authentic with yourself and your intentions. You must follow your bliss.
Let’s define “purposeful” and “popular” for the context of this post
…enrichening minds & spirits, inspiring others, and creating positivity. A purposeful blogger is motivated by a deep desire to make the world a better place. They care deeply about the quality and meaningfulness of their content because at another level they see their work tied into their life purpose.
...The idealist in me sees blogging not as a job but as a ticket to a better life. ...
Purposeful type blogs give their readers experiences like, “I always feel good when I leave this blog. I feel inspired.” At moments the blog may piss you off, but rarely, and overall you feel the blogger(s) has good intentions at the core.
…high traffic. For the context of this post, I’ll equate popular with traffic numbers as “popularity” can be subjective to a reader. A popular style blogger is more financially or spotlight motivated because high traffic = more revenue. They may or may not care about the depth of their content, and they are not so concerned on whether their work has life purposeness attached to it.
Popular blogs are not always positive in fact some get high traffic purely because they are controversial, provocative, or are antagonistic. Being a popular motivated blogger is not a bad thing, it is just more ego driven than spirit driven, if I may be New World for a moment.
Ideally, most bloggers want to be popular traffic wise in the millions because it enables you to achieve heart-thumping things like a six figure income or even selling your blog for millions of dollars like Treehugger who sold to Discovery Communications for $10 million or Celebrity Baby Blog who sold to People for an undisclosed amount but you know it had to be in the millions because their traffic is in the 7 million range.
Purposeful and Popular (PP) is…
…the golden ideal, at least to me. This is where you are both creating content that is high quality, helping and inspiring others, and is getting millions of page views.
The idealist in me sees blogging not as a job but as a ticket to a better life. Earlier when I mentioned “for the masses,” you can see why I am naturally attracted to the internet and blogging; you get immediate interaction with people, access to a worldwide audience, and low barrier to entry. Blogs give you so much potential, it’s absolutely riveting!
How your decision to be popular or purposeful will affect who advertises with you
The primary way most bloggers make money is via advertising through ad networks like in the female niche BlogHer Ads and Glam Media. When your traffic starts to hit the big time, there are premium ad networks like Federated Media where companies like Crate & Barrel will pay higher CPMs and have bigger campaigns. From FM, Glam, and BlogHer, you won’t see the “punching monkey” or “Lose 10 pounds in 3 days” ads like Google Adsense or some of the lower paying CPM networks carry.
Bloggers like ad networks mainly because it is easy. You slap code on your blog, and login to your revenue report to see how much you made. That’s it. You can focus on content creation which is what you love in the first place, and let someone else handle the business side. A complimentary option to use with an ad network is selling direct advertising bypassing the middleman (ad network) using a service like BlogAds. The BlogAds route does require effort on the blogger to sell their own ad inventory.
The higher money making blogs make the big bucks via millions of page views enabling them wider access to higher CPM direct sales. Or, they can negotiate better % split terms with an ad network. The more profitable bloggers also diversify their revenue streams like selling eBooks, partake in affiliate marketing programs, create paid subscription material, offer consulting, create their own blog network like b5 Media, Gawker Media, or Sugar Inc. or they put on events in the physical world like what BlogHer does with their conference every year.
This is how your answer to the “popular or purposeful” question will impact your money making potential on your blog
Ideally the high profile brands like a Target, Nike Women, or Pottery Barn want to advertise on blogs that are both purposeful and popular because a purposeful blog has desirable brand attributes that the advertiser wants to associate their brand with, and, is popular with millions of eyeballs because that means more ROI (Return on investment) for them.
Purposeful but little traffic
If you are a purposeful blogger and have wonderful brand attributes but little traffic, neither you nor the big name advertiser is going to make much money or ROI. As well, you could be wonderfully purposeful on your blog but your topic might be too controversial or not mainstream enough for a higher CPM paying advertiser like the topics of feminism, your personal life, or a blog like friend mamaVISION who is doing fabulous work to help girls get out of the Pro-Ana “lifestyle”, and at her peak was getting equivalent traffic numbers as BISJ, yet the strong eating disorder theme could be a tough sell. mamaV does not use advertising, but if she did, you could see where she faces some challenge.
Now, millions of uniques does not always equate to higher ROI for the advertiser because there is quality of traffic to consider as well, but most advertisers are focused on numbers versus the quality of that unique more because that’s what is easier to grasp. For example, BISJ does not have traffic in the millions per month (yet), but the majority of our readers are other fit bloggers who look to the BISJ as a source of authority and influence within the fit/health niche. Those fit bloggers influence their own audience. If you want to have a better bargaining chip, you have to start positioning your blog as an influencer of other influencers.
Popular but not high quality purposeful
So you think, “Well, if I just get millions of page views, then I’ll be golden.” Well, that is not necessarily true either. If you look at a blog like Perez Hilton, he gets something like 15 million page views a month which is any advertisers dream but look at the ads on Perez’s site. They are mainly the “punching monkey” or “Lose 10 lbs in 3 days” type ads. Or, they are ads promoting TV shows like Denise Richards’ E reality show or popcorn horror flicks. Why? Look at the quality of his content, and his image.
In a similar boat, Jezebel gets around 450,000 page views a day, (I dream for those kind of numbers) and yet what kind of ads do you primarily see on their site? There is lots of American Apparel. They do get some premium advertisers but their content is a bit too racy or provocative for the more mainstream bigger paying advertisers. I’m even trying to remember when the last time I saw a makeup ad like from a Revlon, MAC, or Cover Girl?
...It is more important to me to stand for quality than to take ad dollars for things that are inconsistent with my message. ...
Jezebel has better quality standards than Perez, but something I hear most often about Jez, myself included is, “I have love/hate feelings about that blog.” And, they like that. Something to note about the Jezebel writers is that part of their compensation is pay based on traffic goals, so there is financial incentive to hit the popularity note more than the purposeful note. If they can nail both in one post, brilliant, but if you notice that is an exception more than a norm thus the polarizing love/hate. But that is part of their brand image, and it works for them.
The Rocky of blogs: Purposeful and Popular
This is the group I want to be in, the double punch purposeful & popular blogs like The Pioneer Woman who not only has wonderful content and the most amazing pictures, she is pulling in over 7 million page views/month. Federated Media handles her advertising, and so you’ll see top quality brands on her site.
Then there is my favorite blog, ProBlogger. In the last 2 years, every single time I have gone to that blog which is practically every day, I leave feeling good, and I learned something. Darren is a wonderful example of an influencer of influencers and a good role model to aspire to. Darren uses multiple streams beyond advertising to make his money, and he is one of the owners of blog network b5 Media.
Another PP packed blog that carries both top quality ads and “punching monkey” ads is I Can Has Cheezeburger (lolCats) This blog is currently #9 in the Technorati 100, and I don’t know anyone even if you dislike cats who doesn’t leave that blog feeling like you had a great belly laugh. I really do laugh out loud every time I go see those silly cats and their captions. I Can Has Cheezeburger is more of a community content blog than the creative work of one or more staff bloggers.
I could be making more money if it weren’t for my high standards
Now in the niche of Fit/Health blogs, I could be making more money than I do but what has limited me in one sense is having high standards. Sounds crazy I know, but this is why. I will not accept advertising for:
- Diet Pills
- Unrealistic or unhealthy weight loss products like “Lose 10lbs in 3 days”, Hoodia, or that Wu Tang whatever Tea that has been all over Google AdSense.
- Weight Loss Programs. The exception so far has been Weight Watchers because they at least teach you to eat foods in the real world, you’re not dependent on their foods to achieve your goals, and they promote support groups.
- Exercise equipment that pushes spot reduction, or I know is just useless.
- Cosmetic surgery centers. I’m not opposed to the concept of plastic surgery, I just don’t necessarily want to advertise them.
Now, there are loads of these types of ads to make serious money from, and many of these types of ads pay higher CPMs or better affiliate marketing cuts, but they don’t fit in with what I stand for, so I pass them up. It is more important to me to stand for quality than to take ad dollars for things that are inconsistent with my message.This choice goes back to wanting to be purposeful or popular as well.
At times, some of these types of ads have showed up on BISJ, and that is because they came via one of my ad networks, and I did not know they were coming. Believe it or not, bloggers in many cases have little control over what appears in their ad inventory from the ad networks, but I hope to change this one day. (Yes, dropping hint) This is one reason, you see less Google Ads on BISJ because I got tired of chasing down the “Lose 10lbs in 3 days” and Hoodia ads.
And yes, on a more trivial level, I care very much about the style of the ads that appear on my blogs. Metaphor wise, I try and avoid the punching monkey ads at all costs because it's like putting cheap shoes and costume jewelry on a beautiful Chanel suit. I'm sure Tim Gunn would agree.
Things are shining brighter
So, here you have a better picture on Blogonomics in the Lifestyles category. There is plenty more to add, so please feel free to chime in, but at least it’s a starting point to give you an idea of some things you face as you choose to make money from blogging, and things I think about all the time.
During my blog hiatus, I did get an answer to my question, and because of that it led me to a new opportunity which I believe is a wonderful fit for me. The hiatus also gave me better clarity on what I need to do with BISJ, Noshtopia, and Thriving Media. Don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging. You can’t get rid of me that easy!