4 Ways To Make Money From Your Blog Content: A Case Study

As a business owner and entrepreneur you have learned the lessons and developed expertise that has made you successful. That expertise has value for your peers. Sharing your knowledge and passion can position you as a thought leader in your industry and create opportunities and win and secure  new clients. This expertise can also be turned into content that can create a new and additional revenue stream that can be extremely lucrative.4 Ways To Make Money From Your Blog Content A Case Study

A lot of companies “don’t get” corporate blogging and the value of content and those that do have found the benefits to far outweigh the investment. Corporate bloggers world wide every day are publishing great original content that in most cases they don’t earn a cent for and wonder if it is worth the effort.

One company that does get it is a software company 37signals who took its own experiences as a web startup and published them on their corporate blog and monetized that over 2 years into a $750,000  revenue stream by publishing and then repackaging it.

To provide some perspective they published a blog as part of their company called “Signal versus Noise” where a lot of their ideas originate driven by the creative process of writing an article which crystallizes their thinking.

How did they do it?

Step One:

They post articles which generate traffic. They make money off the traffic by running Deck ads in the sidebar.  (They make a few thousand a month off  “The Deck” ads.)

Step Two:

They bundled up the best blog posts about their software development philosophy and turned it into a PDF book called “Getting Real”. They sell the PDF for $19. (They have made a few hundred thousand dollars from the PDF)

Step Three:

They take the “Getting Real” PDF and turned it into a paperback at a print on demand publisher Lulu.com. They sell the paperback for $25 and they make a few thousand a month on royalties. (The paperback is currently ranked the 4th best seller on Lulu)

Step Four:

They took the content from “Getting Real” and produced a “Getting Real” conference series. They hold a few conferences a year and made about $50,000 per conference. 37signals has produced about 5 of these conferences.

So if you add this all up:

  • $100,000 on The Deck ads
  • $350,000 on the “Getting Real” PDF
  • $65,000 on the “Getting Real” paperback
  • $250,000 on the “Getting Real” conferences (before that they were called Building of Basecamp).

Total $765,000 over a few years off the same content repackaged in a variety of ways.

This content was simply about insight and ideas about how they run their business.

So there it is, over $750,000 from Blog entries, PDF, paperback, and conferences.

How could you adapt this model to your industry?

Image by thinkpanama


  • http://www.burtchiropractic.com Eduard Burt, D.C., MUAC

    Simply awesome. These guys made 3/4 of a million from reusing their content over and over again in a different format. So far I began to offer my free eMagazine to my visitors in exchange for their email address. The rest I will comment on in about 8 months from now. This is going to be a year since the inception of my blog. Grat Post Jeff.

  • http://arewethereyet-thejourneyitself.blogspot.com Eve @arewethere

    Wow, you make it sound so simple. Sounds like a great plan of action.
    Glad I came across this post!

  • http://www.businessesgrow.com Mark W Schaefer

    Great write-up Jeff. Hope you will be getting rich soon too. : )

  • http://www.ouritalianholidays.com Italian Holidays

    I agree – you make it sounds so simple, but then I guess the idea is. It’s just that we get in the way of ourselves. Having said that, I’m inspired by the post. Thank You.

  • http://blog.esimplestudios.com Gabriele Maidecchi

    That’s a great example of a very well planned blogging strategy.
    Of course not everyone can apply it, but I am sure it could inspire many people to at least plan something similar.
    The main lesson out of all this is understanding the value that lays in your content. Content isn’t static, and written to be forgiven, but it can be re-adapted and re-invented in new shapes to maximize your money income chances.

  • Win

    37signals and their products are the sort of company and software that don’t make it to the front page of a newspaper because they are “boring”. But it is this simplicity and “just work” philosophy that works for them (and in life in general).
    Thank you for your insightful post. I’d love to hear more about 37signals.

  • http://www.SocialEnergizer.com Lynn Rasmussen

    I love when simplicity and hard work WORKS! Great article, Jeff. Thanks.

  • http://www.publishermedia.com PublisherMedia

    They certainly have learned how to squeeze the turnip. It’s always good to “re-sell” the same story vs coming up with new ideas every day.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks for the comment Jody. Increasing traffic to a blog as well as increasing its subscribers is very often one of the main goals of of a blog.

  • Anonymous

    Great article. And, it is hard to invision my brand new little blog (tabletproductiv.tumblr.com) scaling anywhere near 37signals. At the end of the day I just want to produce good, relatively original content and watch viewership and content grow. The hard part initially will be writing good content, the next part will be promoting the content so that people find my blog. Looks like I am still working on step 1!

    Thanks for the post.

  • Anonymous

    Jeff, you took my breath away with this post. I was just wondering myself, how do others make money with blogging? Now, I don’t mean piddly pennies… as a blogger, I made a mere $15 the first time I put my foot into the monetizing waters. Sound ridiculous? It wasn’t. I promoted a conference to my email list, and with an embedded code, anyone who signed up represented a few bucks in my pocket. Much as this was a good exercise, it was a poor man’s path… I was never going to get much income unless my mailing list grew, or I became my own conference-producer. But I have rejected quite a few folks who have come to me with this or that request (of course, the pot being sweetened by paying me to do it). Your article puts some meat on the bones of what success can look like. One suggestion: you’ve failed to mention that 37signals was not just any company, i.e. not a stand-in for your neighborhood start-up. Seth Godin has plugged that firm in his books, in his blog, etc. That doesn’t mean they are not deserving, just that they have a great halo of light around them — and more opportunity to make $$ from that — as compared with most. To see my side of the trenches, http://www.mojo40.com will show you a bit more what the uphill battle looks like.

    • Pulin

      I really like to make money from my writing.Love to work from home.Do you have any idea since you have gone through that way!please help.thanks

      • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

        Thanks for the question. The key steps are:
        Start a blog, create great content relentlessly, build tribes (followers) on the major social networks, then monetize via premium content such as ebooks and online training.
        Hope that helps.

  • Andrew Healey

    Great post, Jeff. Time to start writing.

  • http://learnit2earnitwithlynn.com Lynn Brown

    A wonderful success story that only supports how important good content is, but also to be consistent with your blog. And all those blog posts can certainly add up to a very nice ebook on kindle or amazon. Thanks Jeff for sharing.

  • http://deuci.com/ Jeffrey Lin

    just finished reading @37signals Getting real. Personally, their content works because it’s a quick read, to the point, and has personality. They talk a lot about keeping it unique. Keeping it “you.” I think people who try to blog “professionally” and follow too many “Best practices” end up being a generic hogwash of those best practices and lose their voice in the process. And generic things can’t command a premium.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    I started writing about 2 times a week when I started but if you want to get serious traction for your content then you need to write or create content on your blog about 4-5 times a week which is what I do now. You also need to build tribes and followers on your social networks and share with them constantly both your content and other people’s content that adds value to your networks. I share my content I have built up over the last 3 years about 80 times a day but I don’t repeat those tweets for 6 days using socialoomph professional,

    • Pulin

      Thank you so much Jeff.

  • Nancy Fox

    Jeff, these are 4 simple but effective ways yes. But, you have to give this some context. 37 signals already had a platform (meaning eyeballs, fans, and regular readers). They had a huge mailing list so a 19 pdf or a 25$ book turning into $415K mean thousands and thousands of sales. Their list must have been immense.
    This can be very misleading for solo entrepreneurs. They see these big dollar signs and think it can be done pretty quickly.
    Who else helped 37 Signals promote? Seth Godin? Who else?

    Context is everything.

  • http://twitter.com/SpringSteve Steve Spring

    Jeff, thanks for another great post. How do you manage to provide so much excellent content so often. Do you ever sleep? Anyway, thanks again and keep the flow of great material coming.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Steve. Yes I do sleep but not much :)