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Best Blogging Business Model

Best Blogging Business ModelBloggers are often consumed with the tasks of delivering great content, and building relationships with their audience in comment threads and on various social sites. 

That’s important, of course, but not when the overall purpose of you blog is not clearly defined. 

While there can be many purposes for your blog, let me share what I believe is the best blogging business model for most bloggers.

Listbuilding

Many bloggers work for months, even years, on maintaining their blogs without ever having a clear business model in mind.

There are various business models that a blogger can choose from, but it’s important to choose one and stick to it.

Otherwise, your blog is really just a hobby, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Now, of those bloggers who are determined to build a business, the majority are convinced that listbuilding is what it’s all about.  I won’t argue with that.  Listbuilding IS what it’s all about for most bloggers.

Keep in mind, though, that listbuilding is only a means for building a following.  It is not, in and of itself, a business model.

I have worked with more than a few bloggers who were quite successful at building pretty substantial lists, but who still had no clear definition of their overall business model.

Having a huge list of subscribers who have opted in to your list to reciever your offer for a free this or that, does not mean that you have a successful business.

Converting your subscribers into buyers, customers, team downlines and clients means you have a business.

Engagement

The reason that so many bloggers are not able to mold their subscriber lists into a business, is that they don’t understand the purpose of having a list.

Whether you have 10 or 10,000 people on your list, the goal is to build engagement with your subscribers.

When I work with bloggers that already have an email list in place, I find that they usually “work the list” in one of three ways.

  • They deliver valuable content in their messages, consistently and selflessly. The problem is that they can’t bring themselves to ask their subscribers to make a purchase, join their business or become paying clients.  Either they are too timid to ask for the sale, or they don’t know how to do it, or they don’t know what to sell.  This group usually convinces themselves that they are taking the high road, by being helpful and caring instead of “pushy” or “salesy”.
  • This group know what to sell, how to sell and they never stop selling.  One email after another offers their subscribers a “great deal” and something they absolutely “must have”.  The problem here, is that they rarely offer any real value to their subscribers.  People end up unsubscribing, reporting them as spam, or just ignoring their emails.
  • This group try to offer nothing but value, but get discouraged because they can’t profit from that strategy.  So, in frustration, they email strings of promotional emails asking everyone to buy everything all the time.  When this strategy fails (as it always does), these folks usually put their email marketing strategy on the back burner, and send one or two pointless emails a month just to so they can “maintain” their list.  And, of course, this strategy doesn’t maintain their list, it just renders it irrelevant.

The reason that these list management strategies don’t work is because they almost never emphasize engaging with subscribers in an authentic manner.  They make virtually no attempt to build relationships.  Even when they are sending streams of pure value, it’s not usually done in an engaging way, but only as a means to brand themselves as an authority or leader.

Building and managing a list are critical marketing activities for bloggers, but they do not constitute, in and of themselves, a business model.

The Best Blogging Business Model

I’m not going to talk, in this article, about the variety of business models bloggers can develop.  I’ll tell you what I consider to be the best one.

Simply stated, this is the “continuity community”, often referred to as the membership or subscription model.

Bloggers deliver content within niches.  It might be health, personal development, car racing… anything at all.

The single best way to integrate your readership into your business, in my opinion, is to get them to join you in something that is rooted in continuity. 

I know people who teach their readers how to read Hebrew, how to invest in gold coins, or how to reduce cholesterol through lifestyle choices. 

These are all very different specialties, but they have one thing in common… they create and disseminate their content on an ongoing, perpetual basis. 

They invite their followers to become paying subscribers to this group, which delivers content continually and receives subscription payments on a continual basis.

Building a business with a continuity subscription model has many great advantages over other business models.

  • You typically have members pay to be in the group on a subscription basis.  That means they pay you on an automatically recurring basis, be it monthly, quarterly or whatever.
  • You don’t have to keep “selling” to your members, you just have to deliver what you promised.  Then you make it your business to over-deliver.  Ultimately, you exercise every opportunity to build deeper engagement with your paying subscribers.
  • You don’t need a humungous list.  People with a list of 1,000 subscribers can build a very loyal, long-term continuity community.  If only 10% of those subscribers became paying members at $35 per month, you’d have a monthly income of 100×35, or $3500.  If you charged $20, you’d make $2000, etc.  That won’t make you rich, but it would certainly be a prosperous business model that most bloggers would be pretty happy with.
  • The membership subscription is just the beginning.  The longer someone stays in your member group, the more likely they are (if you’re working your “engagement” strategies) to buy your higher end products and services.  Maybe they pay you for personal coaching, or they register for your 8-week advanced training course for $497.  The possibilities are clearly endless.

Driving traffic, SEO and listbuilding become secondary business strategies.  While most bloggers spend almost all their time trying to get traffic and build a list, these activities become only secondary once you have an ongoing, paying continuity community. 

Your primary activity becomes delivering great value to people who are already paying you for it, and converting them into increasingly valuable and trusting customers and clients.  When you focus on making your continuity community great, other people will join in via word of mouth and social media chains. 

Continuing to market and build a list is not nearly as important at this point.  You don’t abandon those strategies, you just don’t make them primary concerns any longer.  And you don’t worry about having a huge list, just a totally dedicated, trusting and responsive one.

I believe that this is the most feasible business model for most bloggers.

They already work within a tight niche, and should know the problems that most people in their niche have.  Build a continuity community around solving those problems, and your blogging takes on a whole new meaning, and becomes a the focal point of a thriving business.

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What sort of continuity community could you create?  Have you ever thought of it?  What obstacles might hold you back from putting what I call the “Best Blogging Business Model” into practice?

I’d love to see your comments, and appreciate you sharing this article on your social sites.

David Merrill 101
I'm an Internet Marketer and Online Marketing Coach. My students learn no-nonsense, power strategies and techniques to build solid blogging and internet businesses. David Merrill+

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35 Responses to Best Blogging Business Model

  1. Nile May 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    I remember being reamed a while back for not building a list and just relying on my feed. Imagine how many people I probably lost because I hadn’t even had a list to build.

    List building is definitely important. I’ve been able to connect more with my subscribers because of it.
    Nile´s last blog post ..Google Cautioning About Using Guest Blogging As A Crutch Is Not New News

  2. David Merrill 101 May 5, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    Listbuilding is the backbone to any online business. This is certainly true of continuity communities, since they are best developed as back end offers to your List subscribers.
    David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Best Blogging Business Model

  3. Marquita Herald May 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Oh great timing David because this is exactly what I’ve been working on! My books and courses for members have been doing well but now that my new blog is up and running I wanted to take it to the next level and this type of membership program is what I decided on. Great to have some experienced validation!
    Marquita Herald´s last blog post ..Redefining Mother’s Day For Those Who Dread the Holiday

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      It’s definitely the best way to create and maintain engagement over a long period of time with a closely knit community. It seems like a perfect fit for what you’re doing on your blog, Marquita.

      Best of luck with it!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  4. Leslie Denning May 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi David. I’m glad to read this, because this is exactly the direction I’m moving. You’ve laid this out very nicely. I absolutely love writing, which is why I’ve moved into information and affiliate marketing. It’s an opportunity for me to learn, as well as a way to help other people and make money. As usual, enjoyed this post.

    All the best,
    Leslie
    Leslie Denning´s last blog post ..Add Images to Your Posts from These 5 Free Sites

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      If you can take anything you’ve learned, that you’ve got a natural talent or passion for… then present it to a group of followers on a regular basis… that’s the best business model for bloggers, IMHO.

      I’m sure you’ll be great at it, Leslie.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  5. Monna Ellithorpe May 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi David,
    You have shared some great ideas and suggestions today. I have finally started building a list and have some ideas on keeping my writing group engaged all of the time.

    Thanks again and have a great day. Monna
    Monna Ellithorpe´s last blog post ..All WordPress Plugins Are Not Equal or Good For Your Blog

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

      If you’ve got a list started, Monna, that’s the first step in building an ongoing subscription based community of followers.

      It’s the next level to move your list toward, or, another way of saying it is that it’s a perfect “back-end” to your sales funnel.

  6. Mark May 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Outstanding David!

    You have really laid out a solid potential business blogging road map for any serious blogger, looking to go to the next level.

    But they don’t want to spend the 18 months or more, trying to figure out what to do! Thanks!

    Will definitely share this excellent content!
    Mark´s last blog post ..Whenever You Run Out Of Fresh Creative Marketing Ideas Do This!

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      You are so right, Mark. Thanks for making this point.

      A membership community can be built virtually overnight. It doesn’t require anything more than a few people who want to learn something from you. Then, just take it on 🙂

      Hope to see you there, soon! Let me know if you need any help. You know I’m here for you buddy.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  7. Shelley Alexander May 12, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    David, You have really provided some valuable advice in this post! I have heard over and over about the importance of having a email list but if you don’t know what to offer this list to provide value to them and to get them to buy your offerings it doesn’t help you. I am going to look into possibly offering a subscription membership site. I know some other bloggers in my field that are doing really great with their membership sites.Thanks for the info!
    Shelley Alexander´s last blog post ..Essential Oil Remedies For Treating 10 Common Health Ailments

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      I think this would be a great move for you, Shelley.

      I drove past a nursery (for plants) the other day, and it had a blackboard outside with this written on it… “Workshops every Thurs. Night. Grow you garden right”.

      That’s all there is to it! Only you can do it online via teleseminar, webinar or whatever fits your skillsets (and fancy).

      It gets exciting!

  8. Rachel Lavern May 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    This is a great model David. I have head that, in most cases, it is easier to create continuity programs than it is regular, one-time products. I love the ideal of enjoying the peace of mind of having a more predictable/recurring income.
    Rachel Lavern´s last blog post ..Leverage Your Time for Profit

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      On one of your recent blog posts, you talked about having a monthly theme.

      That’s pretty much the blueprint for a continuity program.

      Just tackle theme for the month or week or whatever you’re model is based on, and give the training and info they signed up for. In fact, you can even coordinate that theme across your entire business…. your blog, your videos, your fan page and even your email list. Keep it all congruent and you’ll build your membership from many angles, and you don’t need to have different content for all those different platforms.

      Keep in touch as you progress, Rachel. I’d love to see you make it happen.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  9. I.B. Nosey May 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    So I’m the odd kid out here. LOL While “Nosey” is my brand/vehicle/character, my purpose is (hopefully) to make him popular and as well known as Barney the Dinosaur (or some such famous character). I’m using him to a) not only help others (authors), but b) trying to make money by bringing attention/focus to my books.

    My questions is — newbie here: what is this list? It’s not the “followers” of a blog? Even then, how does one make a soul commit to become a follower?

    This advice sounds excellent, but, I admit, far over my head, but I’d like to learn!
    I.B. Nosey´s last blog post ..I.B. Nosey and the Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop

    • David Merrill 101 May 16, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Your list, Nosey, is your email list. You ask people to sign up to receive your emails, and then you deliver them… related to your niche, of course.

      Your list may be developed on your blog via an optin offer and form (see mine on the right sidebar, here). So some of your followers could come from your blog, others from social media platforms or even paid ads.

      It doesn’t matter so much where they come from as long as (1) you find a way to build your list and (2) you truly give them value once they’re on your list. Once that relationship is good, then you might move them toward joining a subscription community where you give them even more, better or deeper information, entertainment or whatever it is that you’re promoting.

      Give those souls sincere value and caring, and they’ll be only too happy to follow you wherever you lead them. But make it real, and from the heart… otherwise it all collapses (I’ve seen that far too many times)
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  10. Martin Dean May 17, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    Great post David. I fall into the category of good content. You’ve certainly given me something to think about to move my business forward.
    Martin Dean´s last blog post ..Procrastination

  11. Gregory Bowen May 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    Hello David…..You have a lot valuable information here….I personally started Blogging because I wanted to brand myself …..Then I found out that I love writing….Blogging has helped tremendously ,( for one)It has helped me grow my social media, and helped me learn to engage others without necessarily knowing them personally, other than on line….Thank you David for some good advice ….I will be re thinking a few things concerning my Blog….Smokey
    Gregory Bowen´s last blog post ..So Whats Up With Cinco De Mayo Anyway?

    • David Merrill 101 May 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

      There’s lots of good reasons to blog, Gregory. You’ve mentioned several of them here.

      To build it into a business requires taking things a step further and connecting with your readers at a deeper level. That means, you need to get them to trust you. That usually means you need to give them great value. Once that happens, you’re in a position to ask them to join you in some sort of a group format where they’ll be able to receive even more value, and on a consistent basis.

      Sounds like you’re on your way.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..What Does It Cost To Run An Online Business?

  12. Sue Bride May 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi David
    I was one of those hobby bloggers for some years. The whole concept of blogging, social media and online community fascinated me, as soon as I got connected to the internet. My blog started off sharing what I was learning and there was so many new things to learn about.

    I did not need the income from it at that stage but I do now..Then came a whole new learning period for me about how to market my self, what to earn from and where to find my market. As you say building a business takes different skills and a different sort of relationship building.

    Thanks for clarifying the different stages of fostering and maintaining this relationship. It helps me define where I need to focus my efforts next.
    Sue Bride´s last blog post ..Best Free Social Media Sharing Tools

    • David Merrill 101 May 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      I’ve worked with a lot of people who have particular difficulty marketing themselves. It does take a switch in focus from building up a content-centered blog.

      When you start engaging with your readers and followers, rather than just giving them valuable content, you begin moving into the realm of building a business.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Get The Best Email Marketing Results

  13. William Amis May 25, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    David, once again you are making us create images to focus on.

    Everyone, who is serious about even sharing thoughts. You have to know who and how to interact with them. That, is how simple a list building project is. Yet, most should understand. If you established a company or create a business. You must continue to add to your list, without an end.

    Think of it as filling a hopper. If you, do not cultivate those you have. Then continue to keep adding more people in your members. You will soon feel what we all have at one time. Reduced members and no understanding how it came to be.
    William Amis´s last blog post ..Dream, Imagine and get it done!

    • David Merrill 101 May 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback, William.

      You certainly know more than a little about building a relationship-centered business. As you point out, it really is a never ending progression of engagement. Focus on that aspect of your business must be primary for progress and growth.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Get The Best Email Marketing Results

  14. Leanne Chesser June 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    I’ve seen some really great membership communities and it’s definitely what I want to do in my business. I agree that it’s one of the best business models, for sure. I don’t want to create the type of membership where only some new content is delivered on a regular basis, though. I want to create a membership where members get access to all my stuff that I’ve already created (courses, e-books, etc.). Plus, I want to provide a forum/group for discussion and provide additional info/support through monthly calls or webinars. There are a couple of really good ones like this that I’m learning from.
    Leanne Chesser´s last blog post ..How Being You & Living Your Purpose Impacts Your Business

    • David Merrill 101 June 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      Sounds like you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, Leanne.

      It’s a great road to be on, but certainly not without its challenges. I’d love to hear how it’s moving along from time to time.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Everything Big Is Small Again

  15. Dexter Roona June 3, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    Hi David, very nice article, my site is still in transition as i move it over to a much clearer direction, your right it is all about engagement, building a list is only half the job, it is keeping those list members with relevant engaging content that’s the secret

    regards Dexter
    Dexter Roona´s last blog post ..Triberr Beginners Guide And Tutorial

    • David Merrill 101 June 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      If you understand that building a list is only half the job, Dexter, then you’re definitely on the right track. Keep it moving forward… each and every day.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Everything Big Is Small Again

  16. Mi Muba June 17, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Hi David
    This is first time I visited your blog. It’s really awesome, especially its contents are awesome.
    It seems so monumental to learn blogging business model but you explained it here with just two points.
    Get loyal customers base and keep engaging them. Never let them feel you forgot them. Keep touching them by providing value to convert them for your next sale.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post which refresh my earlier experiences about business blogging. You are doing a great job.
    Mi Muba´s last blog post ..How to create money making infographics?

    • David Merrill 101 June 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks for the visit, and for the vote of confidence, Mi.

      If you keep providing great value to your visitors, far more important than converting them into one-time buyers, you’ll convert them into your loyal followers for a very long time.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Everything Big Is Small Again

  17. Nathaniel Kidd June 22, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    David,

    What a great roadmap and it is one I WILL follow. I have struggled with the whole list building concept as I do not want to blast my list every day but instead I want to over deliver in value. What you have done here is provide me with a roadmap “Continuity Subscription Model” that I will work very hard to follow. All I need to do now is put the pieces in place and offer what I know my subscribers are in need of. Thank you so much for this article.
    Nathaniel Kidd´s last blog post ..Things You Should Never Pay For With a Credit Card

    • David Merrill 101 June 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Putting “the pieces in place” is what separates those who learn “HOW TO” make their blogs profitable from those who actually “DO IT”.

      Get organized, Nathaniel, know what you need to do on a daily basis, then put it consistently into motion. Good luck with. Let me know if you need help along the way. It’s not easy, but it certainly is exciting!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Everything Big Is Small Again

  18. Justin July 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Hey David! This is an excellent post, what I find is that these excellent strategies all are branded as business models (and rightly so) but I have a hard time applying the information to my situation.
    My blog is purely a hobby, but I would love to share my hobby with as many engaging readers as possible. While I am not selling anything at this point in time, would these strategies be easily adaptable to hobby blogging?
    – Justin

    • David Merrill 101 July 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      Absolutely, Justin.

      Hobby blogging is based on attracting folks to your blog, not to sell them anything, but to share things with them, or teach them something about the hobby you are your readers share an interest in, etc.

      Actually, blogging as a business or as a hobby typically involves all the same strategies… attract people to your blog, ask them to join your email list so you can keep in touch with them on a regular basis, maybe even build a more formal community of like minded folks. Maybe you meet routinely on Skype or a G+ Hangout or whatever.

      The point of departure between hobby bloggers and professionals is just one thing. Hobby bloggers don’t try to sell stuff, professional bloggers do. It’s only one difference, but it’s a big one. Your entire “business model” or “hobby model” pivots around this central issue.

      Thanks for stopping by, Justin.

  19. Joan Harrington March 7, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi David,

    Tons of value packed in your post! Really enjoyed these tips 🙂 Great post!
    Joan Harrington´s last blog post ..How To Be A Webinar Boss

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