If you haven’t experienced it, you’ve seen it.
Whether you’re a blogger or a marketer — or both — you’ve seen an audience rise up in revolt the moment someone tries to make a buck.
You’ve sold out! You didn’t disclose!
Whatever the contention, one thing is clear. Something backfired and backfired hard.
Nobody likes having to tip-toe around the fact that you’re in this to make money. Many bloggers end up groveling to their readers by low-balling prices for any product they release.
It is a real shame, too, because there are so many bloggers out there with very large audiences who find themselves incapable or unwilling to monetize by launching a product.
So, this raises a few questions:
- How do you avoid this issue altogether?
- How do you prepare your audience for your prices?
- How can you charge higher prices for your products?
Reciprocity — with a cap
All experienced marketers know about the power of reciprocity. Give a bunch of stuff away and the prospect feels more obliged to give back. Sounds great.
You can, however, take it too far.
As a young father, I’ve learned that you lead by example. If I go around cursing in front of my little girl, all of a sudden she’s going to think that’s normal. Then other parents look at me weird and that’s not much fun.
The same goes for our blog audience.
It’s about establishing a pattern. If your pattern is nothing but free-free-free, then the minute you try to make a buck, it’s like a rock thrown into a cool, calm pond. It disrupts the pattern.
On the flip side, no content marketer can pull off a steady diet of sell-sell-sell. We members of the Third Tribe know that we need to do both. We’re always looking for that perfect balance. We play in the middle ground.
With your blog audience, it is important to show that you’re here to sell as well as to provide valuable free content. That means getting out in front of your audience with an offer of some kind.
Establish a pattern of free-free-free-sell, free-free-free-sell.
Many bloggers have asked me when the right time to monetize is. I always tell them: early.
It doesn’t matter if your audience is small. You want to establish a pattern and you want to do it early in the game.
The Starbucks lesson
If all you ever offer are $7 e-books, you position yourself as a person with low-end products.
In other words, you’re Wal-Mart. And high-end stuff doesn’t usually do well in a Wal-Mart aisle.
So, should you just increase your prices?
Well, yeah! However, you’ll be able to give a powerful “reason why” if you get out in front of the objection and provide a point of positioning.
How does Starbucks get away with charging $3 for a cup of coffee? They did it by re-defining the coffee experience. Instead of walking into a fast-food joint, they’ve provided a nice communal atmosphere with music.
They don’t even have small, medium and large sizes. That’s too similar to fast-food chains and would defeat their positioning. So they borrowed words from the Italian language, and now we routinely ask for “venti” coffees, even at other coffee shops.
How can you change your positioning on your blog? Good design and professional graphics will help provide the right atmosphere. But you can do more.
Offer consulting. Almost anybody in any niche can offer some kind of consulting option on their blog. Even if you’re into underwater basketweaving, you can offer 1-on-1 help to pick just the right pond to dive into for your next basket.
Set your price a bit on the high side. Right now, you’re not really interested if anybody takes you up on it. You just want that offer out there so that (a) it shows people that not all of your expertise is free, and (b) it gives a point of comparison for determining prices for your other offers.
If you charge $100/hour for consulting, then offering a product for $97 starts to look like a bargain. After all, the buyer gets all that information for less than the cost of an hour of time. And the value is real.
Blogging with a strategy in mind
If you want to make money, you need to establish your value.
Many bloggers are great at building up traffic, but establishing their own value seems to fall by the wayside.
So do all the good social media stuff. Provide seriously awesome content. Help people like crazy. Connect with them. Interact.
But . . .
While you’re making all those connections, establish your value. Let them know you’re there to do business, and that you aren’t cheap. Do it with confidence and without apology.
When you do that, you set the stage for them to know, like, and trust you. And then the game is yours to win.