“What are you doing with your blog? I can’t tell by looking at it how you make money. Sure you charge $400 per hour for training, but we know nobody pays those rates anymore.”
A friend of mine made these comments to me recently. I had to agree with him that I am potentially under-utilizing my blog to make money. Right now all I only promote my speaking and training and participate in an Amazon Associates affiliate program. I could be selling white papers, webinars, advertising and participating in other affiliate programs.
I don’t do those other things because they are not how I want to get paid. I want to establish my brand as a thought leader on leadership, followership, positive organizational behavior, personal branding, and social media for business so I can help others with these things through my speaking and training.
It’s true that I could also help others with these things by developing and selling white papers and webinars, and I might do that someday. But for now, this is who I am and I am very comfortable with it. More importantly, I think the folks that visit my website are comfortable with it. If I showed up with a lot of monetization on my blog, I think it would affect how they view my work. So I will think very carefully before I do any of that.
I also list my prices right up front. Some people think it’s crazy, but for me being upfront with costs is an important part of my brand. I personally HATE slick sales tactics. I want my site to say clearly “this is what I do and this is what it costs.”
Transparency is one of my core leadership messages. Just yesterday I had a conversation with an organization that was interested in booking me to speak at their national meeting in Las Vegas. When they asked me about my rate, I had to tell them honestly that when I speak for an hour in Nevada, I charge nothing. Even though they are an out-of-state group, if I charge them for my service I will be treating them differently than I treat everyone else, and that would be inconsistent with my published operating principles.
You will face similar decisions as you build your brand, especially if you blog (and you should blog!). Make sure you understand your value and strive to be consistent with that value in all your activities – both online and offline. When people find you, they need to be able to discern quickly and clearly how you want to help them address opportunities or solve problems that matter to them.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.