Tonight I’m hosting a conversation about monetizing your blog and what that means and why it’s important for us to decide what standard we are going to set when it comes to the brands that we’re creating.
Few people think of their blog as their brand, but I think it’s about time. Anyone in the world can start a brand, it just takes a lot of time and effort, and a ton of work to make that brand matter to other people. I know this because I’ve been blogging for twenty-two years. The difference between now and then is that in my past blogs it was more about the experience of writing and sharing my stories than it was about creating “brands.”
The longest blog I had before this was SynDenial.com which I took down when I started LoudMouthBrownGirl.Com, now it may seem silly to throw all that work away and you’re right, it absolutely was, but at the time I didn’t want my past stories of life working in the church to color what I am doing with LMBG, so one had to go, in a very real way it was about saying goodbye to my former self and hello to my new and future self.
Closing that door was hugely important, but when I closed the door to SynDenial and opened the door to LMBG I had no idea what I was doing. At the time I just wanted to get my thoughts on the record. LMBG didn’t become a “brand” until I attended my first festival as the Loud Mouth Brown Girl Faerie.
She’s all part of the brand, she wears a crown of roses in different colors, she smokes a pipe, bong, or joint, and she dances around handing out love letters to anyone and everyone who looks like they may need one, kids and adults alike.
Here are some steps to help you monetize your blog so that you can move forward with the brand you want to create in the world.
Assess Your Skills
Each of us as writers, bloggers, creators, and brand ambassadors, have skills and talents that are equitable, and so knowing what you’re capable of is half the battle. Make a list of all the things you know how to do, love to do, and want to learn to do. For instance, I want to learn how to do marketing, so I got a job doing exactly that so I can learn how to reach out to companies and offer to sell my services.
Know Your Brand
The mascot for this website is clearly the Loud Mouth Brown Girl Faerie, and copies of her likeness are coming soon. She’s a beautiful powerful soldier woman, who knows her worth and isn’t afraid of what people think of her. She smokes pot and blesses those in need with love letters to lift their spirits when they need it. If a love letter finds you it means that you’ve been blessed by the Loud Mouth Brown Girl Faerie who is sending you strength and hoping to inspire you to believe you can get through any challenge that comes your way.
She is a pioneer of strength, and the embodiment of female empowerment, she represents women specifically who are Creole, Black, white, and everything in between. She comes in many shades and has many sisters from across the globe, but most see her as a caramel brown woman with wild curls, charcoal brown eyes with blue rings around them, and brown faerie wings.
Sometimes she’s skinny, sometimes she’s not, but she’s always absolutely proud of who she is. I created this mascot by basing it on myself. Now, I’m not saying you have to dress up as your mascot, (I do,) but you do have to have an idea of who the person behind the screen is reaching out to. I reach out to those who need help, who need to know how to keep going when life just keeps throwing shit. I know who I am writing for because I started by writing for myself. Women who understand me, appreciate my writing because they have similar issues.
Build or Join as Many Networks as You Can
I’m a part of several business groups, podcasting groups, blogging groups, writing groups, as I can get my hands on. These people have the knowledge, A LOT of knowledge and they are giving it away for free. This is money you don’t have to spend later to learn on your own. The way they work, who they know, there’s one woman I’m intimidated to reach out to who has a reach of over 7.5 million people, purely because of the work she does. She’s amazing, and I am eager to be like her one day, so I listen to everything she says and I take as much information as I can possibly get my hands on. Every chance I get to meet with these groups is another chance for me to promote my brand and let people know I exist.
3-5 Years Into Blogging, You Should Write A Book
Yes. I said it. If you have three to five years of writing your blog, you should be working on a book. Building a brand, such as a blog or a social media presence, is all about evolution. People will read your blog forever because they want to know all the details of your story. Because you’re interesting, informative, funny, relatable, but in five years when they’re going on with their lives, what are you doing? What are you doing to keep your audience coming back? Some people say you need to write 10 books to be considered “successful” and maybe that’s true but start with one. Take all your experience, your hidden stories, and throw paint at the wall to see what comes out. One essay, one photo, one moment at a time, that’s how you get started in writing a book.
5 Years In, You Should Have Sponsorship
This month’s worth of essays is being promoted by SexDolls.com because I absolutely love this company and its mission to bring sexual pleasure to the masses. They paid me $500 for links to their website l posted in a dedicated post you can find here. I’ll also be doing a one-hour episode for my podcast Stay Lifted Sis coming in the summer of 2022, about the website. I’m excited because this means that when people come to my website they know I’ll do everything I can to promote them. At five years in if you’re not looking for sponsors for your work then why are you even doing this? Yes, I know that some people consider blogging “too sacred to sell,” but I love doing this, more than I love breathing, and I need to eat. And get stoned. $500 is a bit expensive, but they’re a big company and they can handle it. I set my pay scale here because I want bloggers to demand more for the hard work we put into our content.
Hire a Publicist at 5 Years
Five years is a relationship, and it’s about that time that you’re going to want to think about hiring someone to help you get your message out there. It’s great that you’re going to events and handing out prizes, collecting donations, and selling stuff, but if you want to be world-famous, you’re going to need help. Hiring help is a really great way to do this. Expect to spend $300-$3000 a month for this service depending on who you go with.
Hire a Marketing Company
A lot of online marketing is networking, but sometimes our networks can only expand so much before we need help. There are tons of great marketing companies that angle themselves directly toward influencers who understand the business of promotions much better than I am. They have wider networks because they work exclusively with influencers and content creators and they can also help get your message out there. A publicist’s job is to get you gigs, a marketing company is out there trying to spread the word about your name and brand. Both can come in handy. Expect to spend anywhere between $1500-$5000 a month for this service in some cases.
Create One of a Kind Items
I’ve been searching for “that exclusive LMBG” item for years, I haven’t found it yet, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t found yours. If you found your totem for your website, if you have found your “spirit creature” or miracle inspiration, share that with the world. If it’s associated with your website, it will sell if you work hard enough, because people will want to support your work.
Spring is formally known as TeeSpring is a t-shirt and accessories company that provides you the ability to create shirts and other marketing gear that you can sell to your fans, followers, friends, and family, but be aware it’s hard to sell t-shirts online. Sure there’s no overhead, but it can be really creatively hurtful to spend hours designing shirts only to have no one buy. Solution? Get out there and sell, go to events, talk to people, promote your stuff online every day all day. At LEAST five times a day.
Everything you do with your brand matters. People may be uncomfortable that I have no shame in associating with a company that provides sexual pleasure for consenting adults, but here’s the thing. Loud Mouth Brown Girl is about mental health and sex is a part of our mental health, and so it makes perfect sense that in being ready and prepared to start talking about sex again, I would work with such a company.
But you have to do what works for you, some companies may want nothing to do with you because you talk about sex, rape, trauma, or healing, but others will and those are the ones that are going to invest in your brand.
I would say that in my first year I spent nothing on making t-shirts and about $600 writing and designing the love letters that I used to hand out to brand the website, but I also think that in the last five years, I’ve probably spent about $3000 finding different ways to promote this website. I would expect over the next three-five years that number will rise exponentially. I need to find ways to get that money back, so here’s my final tip.
All of this takes work, but in the end, when I’m sitting on my private island, it will all have been worth it. Expect tears, expect trauma, healing, and the folding of all of that into the work that you’re creating, but when you’re creating write as if you’re writing to yourself, others will see that and they’ll reach into it because they want to do the same. We are bloggers, but we are also storytellers, crafters of the written word, respect that and all will follow.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall