Ten ways to make money as a blogger in Japan

Back in 2005 I started blogging with a site dedicated to knitting. Of all things. One of my not so successful business ideas. By 2006 I was pregnant with our second child and building a new house. Of course that abandoned blog was the perfect place to share photos and thoughts of that process with my family.

A year or so on life was returning to normal. Although busy with two kids I sensed impending doom - life after preschoolers and what would I do? (for work). I couldn't envisage returning to my corporate job since I now had two little kids. 

Plans for my future were born on a new blog that I launched secretly, only mentioning it to my dearest friends. I blogged everyday for several years on Blooming in Japan. It brought me a lot of opportunities.

Today I thought I'd share some of the ways being a blogger, even here in Japan, could improve your life financially. I came up with a list of ten off the top of my head to get you started. 

  1. sell advertising - I still receive emails fairly often from companies wishing to advertise on my blog or receive favourable reviews. At times I did accept reciprocal ads from fellow bloggers but it's not a path I chose to actively pursue. If your blog had a great sphere of influence then joining an affiliated network for advertising might be a good idea. Like Federated Media.
  2. product placements / reviews - similar to advertising, you agree to accept free stuff from businesses then write a (hopefully) favourable review on your site, host a giveaway or similar. I did this a few times but remember blogging was still in its early days even just five or six years ago so the opportunities for Japan-based bloggers were less. I did lots of giveaways for fellow bloggers though and this helped boost my readership which held me in good stead for some of my later ventures.
  3. sell access to your list - this is a big no-no, actively collecting names and email addresses then selling that information to interested parties (it's illegal I think) but I'm pretty sure you're allowed to send information on the behalf of third parties yourself, because I sometimes see this written on subscribe forms: "Yes, send me special offers from carefully selected third parties". Take care with this one as email spamming laws are strictly enforced and one bad email from you could seriously tarnish your reputation with your readers. Don't worry I keep your details safe from spammers if you're one of my subscribers.
  4. offer subscription access to exclusive content - if you were running a wordpress blog or a blog that integrates with e-commerce then you could easily set up monthly subscriptions for access to members-only stuff - in media this is called a paywall. You could charge readers of your blog to take their discussion to a paid-membership-required forum or private chat room. A simple 'donate' button from PayPal might do the trick then you manually email the members access to your private area on Facebook?
  5. other advertising such as Google ads, click advertising - in point number one I talked about contracting directly with interested advertisers. If you don't like the idea of dealing with invoicing and payments from companies directly you might like to run automated ads. Google ads are not hard to set up if you're running a Blogger blog as they own the company. Click ads might require more research. And also under this category, allowing affiliate advertising. My advice - keep it tight, people don't like seeing tons of ads. I find them distracting and often very ugly. Also be picky - make sure the ads relate to your blog topic and would be of interest to your readers. Two great examples of classy ad-supported blogs: Creature Comforts and Bloesem Kids.
  6. use your blog to establish authority - are you in a field or profession that requires a certain level of credibility? Could you earn more if you had influence or sway within your community? Writing a trustworthy and compelling blog could contribute to this. Google monitors this type of thing when compiling pages for its search engines so if you had 'authority' your pages could rank higher and therefore show up near the top of the search pages - a covetable position if you are in fact selling something.
  7. sell your articles - if you're an aspiring writer or journalist your blog may well be the breeding ground for some great articles, short stories, anything written. Gaining instant feedback from readers and also building up a supportive audience for when your book is published is a good monetising strategy. 
  8. sell your photography - in the same manner as the point above. If you're a photographer you may run a more visual blog using it to showcase your photography portfolio. Being in Japan you're primed to write for travel sites or even just have fun submitting to sites like TripAdvisor which rely on user-submitted experiences. You can link back to your blog so that your reviews around the net become live advertisements for you and your blog.
  9. networking opportunities - in my blogging heyday I was well-connected to a terrific group of girls who ran their own businesses. We visited each other's blogs, tweeted and even met up in person when we could. I am still great friends with many of them on Facebook. They continue to support me.
  10. business opportunities - the whole point of my blog Blooming in Japan was to launch something. I was searching for my life purpose. I founded two businesses, a bag boutique for kids and a conversation class for locals in my area. Now I have gone even bigger and established a marketing consultancy. The influence from my original blog and the friends I made through the blog are a legacy the continues to this day. I have made a lot of money from these other businesses that started from my blog. (I don't make much from this business (yet) but blogging may well be the key ingredient again as I establish this new opportunity)

If you're a blogger, have you considered ways to make money from it? or as a business owner do you consider your blog an important part of your marketing / financial strategy? I'd love to hear your views. I will give one last thought - it's a slow game. You need to be patient and build up the trust of your readers with relevant and interesting topics, pictures and presentation. They need a reason to keep coming back.