Check out my new guide for starting your blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.
Somehow it looks like I missed covering this week’s topic. Considering how many e-mails I get about this, I don’t know how that happened.
If you’re new to this series, check out some of the previous blogging tips posts:
- Choosing the Best Blog Web Hosting Sites
- Importance of Link Anchor Text Variation
- Top 10 Common Mistakes I See New Bloggers Making
- 10 Recommended WordPress Plugins For Your Blog
- Google PageRank, Not Just About Links
- Blog Link Building – Not All Links Are Created Equal
- Importance of Blog Networking
- Effectively Using Keywords On Your Blog
- Optimal Blog Keyword Research for SEO
How You Can Make Money From Blogging
Some people may start out blogging specifically to earn some side income. Other people start a blog only to later find out that they could be profiting from it. Either way, the money isn’t just going to fall into your lap. You’ve got to put a plan in place and see it through.
To help you get started on making money with your blog, here are some monetization methods you may want to consider using….or in some cases, steer clear of.
Once upon a time Google AdSense was the best and easiest way to make good money from a website or blog. Eventually the gravy train fell off the rails as Google changed their terms to give publishers a much smaller piece of the pie. Mmmm gravy and pie. Oops, where was I? Oh yes, Google getting greedy and taking advantage of bloggers and website owners. Ok maybe they were actually making up for excessive click fraud with people faking clicks to make extra money.
Regardless, AdSense simply isn’t what it once was. Google is giving publishers less money per click, but the bad press and the decreasing ad effectiveness has led to reducing their AdSense budgets. As advertising spending goes down, so does the AdSense income for publishers.
Somehow despite how far downhill it has gone, I frequently see bloggers pushing AdSense in several prime ad spots. For a fraction of what an advertiser would pay for those spots, those bloggers are accepting cents to send traffic away from their blog. In my opinion if you’re accepting so little for those prime ad spots, you’re selling yourself short. Why not just try to keep those visitors on your blog if the click price is going to be that low?
Verdict: Possibly worth promoting early on for a bit of easy money. Would be worthwhile for a blog in a less profitable niche with minimal affiliate options and direct advertisers.
Think AdSense snuck in as deceptive links within your content. At least with AdSense you can ignore their ads if you want to. InfoLinks get up in your face with text links scattered all over your pages. That might not be so bad, but they show up in some rather awkward spots like headings, in your sidebar, in your footer and generally exactly where you wouldn’t naturally insert links.
If you thought the AdSense income was low, you’ll be shocked by the prices that InfoLinks pays for clicks. Now compare that to the price that direct advertisers would pay for those kinds of text links. You’re sending away traffic practically for free. Is it worth deceiving your visitors for that chump change?
Verdict: Only worthwhile if you’re desperate to make next to nothing. Think the frugalists that wash sandwich bags and patch holes in socks.
These are the ads that you get paid based on pageviews rather than actual clicks. These do tend to be ads for big companies and the ads do usually look appealing. Again though, the money is not worthwile for most blogs.
I admit I am prejudiced against CPM ads as I blog in the financial niche. With the amount of money you can make from direct advertising and affiliate ads, CPM ads are just wasting ad space in this niche. When I get offers for a few dollars for a thousand page views, I generally don’t bother replying. Again it’s just way too low to be getting paid to send visitors away from your blog.
That being said, if you can generate a lot of traffic and you’re not focused on a particular niche, it is worth considering. You’ll need a LOT of traffic to do well with this approach, but sometimes you don’t have other options. In that kind of situation you would be best off doing some testing between CPM ads and something like AdSense.
Verdict: Don’t bother if you’re in a profitable niche. It might be worth trying if you can’t do well with AdSense or other kinds of ads, especially if you’re not niche focused.
These days this is the more controversial way to make money from a blog. This is because the advertisers generally want the kind of ads that will help their search engine rankings. Meanwhile Google doesn’t want it to be possible for companies to buy search engine rankings…unless they are paying Google for search ads instead.
I for one don’t think Google has any right to tell people what kind of ads they can have on their blogs. When a search engine has such a massive monopoly, they do have the power to set such rules. So really you do have the right to sell this type of ad, but then you risk getting in Google’s bad books. Taking chance with the biggest potential source of traffic may be playing with fire.
While the majority of direct advertisers are looking for text link ads, some do want graphic ads instead. As far as I know, these are acceptable to Google. You can also sell ads using the nofollow link attribute to be completely safe, but be sure the advertiser actually agrees to it.
Verdict: For many bloggers the money you can earn from direct advertising is too good to pass up. It’s your call whether the risk is worthwhile.
This monetization method holds a special place in my heart as I have had some success with affiliate promotion in the past. It’s like selling a product or service yourself without all the hassles of actually selling direct…stocking products, answering phone calls & e-mails, processing payments, after-sales support, reputation management, etc. Just ride the company’s coattails and benefit from their existing popularity and name recognition.
You’ll find that many blogs start out going after the low hanging fruit such as AdSense and direct advertising. Eventually most seem to transition into affiliate promotion. There is just so much more money to be made without the risks. Those blogs are usually strong enough to get decent search engine rankings. So they can benefit from trying to convert extremely relevant traffic rather than trying to pitch products to your regular visitors. Promoting affiliate programs early on most likely won’t earn you much at all. Obviously people specifically looking for something are more likely to make a purchase compared to someone who just likes reading your blog.
With affiliate marketing there are a wide variety of affiliate networks you can join to find suitable products to promote. For the finance niche I suggest you look into Commission Junction, Flex Offers, Credit Karma, Credit.com and Bank Rate. The established networks tend to offer the highest payout rates as they have the high volume to negotiate with advertisers. You can always go back and forth with multiple networks to try to get the highest rates.
Verdict: Definitely profitable if your blog has lots of traffic or strong enough SEO to rank well. Might be worth avoiding early on as it usually doesn’t well with minimal traffic.
This is a strategy that I have yet to attempt myself. I have seen numerous bloggers go this route though. It’s smart to offer your own product rather than relying on 3rd party companies that can interfere with your business. This is especially true for digital products like eBooks that can be sold without any kind of processing work required. When you’re selling your own product you don’t have to worry about a 3rd party changing prices, removing products or changing their terms and conditions.
Eventually I will likely try putting together an eBook myself. It would be a lot of work, although I know some eBooks are simply a compilation of previously published content all bundled together. If I were to take the easy route, it’s more likely that I would just give away the eBook for free to help build up a mailing list. If you know how to make money from a newsletter, using an eBook to increase subscribers very well could be more profitable than just selling it on its own. Within an eBook you also have the ability to promote affiliate products. If you are able to do this successfully, there’s even more reason to just give away the eBook for free.
You do have to be aware that marketing an eBook will take a bit of hustling. You’ll want to get in touch with all of your blogger friends to convince them to help promote the eBook. Perhaps you’d want to offer it as a prize in some giveaways for extra exposure. You might consider creating your own affiliate program on a site like ClickBank to try to recruit other people to promote your eBook in exchange for a share of sales generated. Another good idea is to get your eBook formatted to include on sites like Amazon. The trick on a site like that is doing what you can to get customer reviews for your eBook.
Verdict: A solid option at any stage of the game. Could be used for direct income via sales or for indirect income via affiliate links and/or newsletter subscriptions.
Here’s another monetization strategy that you could offer anytime, regardless of how established your blog is. Personally though, I suggest you wait until your blog is a little established first. That way it won’t be too much of a distraction from all the marketing and content writing that you should be putting into your own blog.
Generally it is most common to see bloggers offering blog specific services. This includes things like staff writing, blog commenting and virtual assistant work. People with specialized skills can do especially well with offering their services for things like blog theme design, logo design, marketing services and blog SEO analysis. You could try being more creative and offer a service that may not be directly related to blogging but may still be useful to bloggers.
If you’re going to offer paid services, you will want to try to get positive testimonials and people sharing your service by word of mouth. So be sure to put your best effort into doing that work. You could offer a lower price early on while you build up your reputation. You can post your service on a classified sites such as Bloggers Classifieds or on various forums. Again try to get your blogger friends to help out by mentioning your service on their blogs or on social media.
Verdict: Can be profitable if you have time to spare, but many people would prefer a more passive blog income source while they focus on building up their own blog. Still it may be worth adding in for diversification.
Realistically this is the area where my blog has helped me the most financially. Successfully running a finance blog played a big role in landing a website marketing gig for a finance company. I did have a lot of prior experience, but recent experience in a similar niche probably sealed the deal. Running this blog also opens up future employment opportunities for various company blogging and social media based positions.
I have also seen numerous bloggers leverage their blog writing to become a staff writer at some very reputable publications. This is an especially strong option for bloggers who have a serious passion for writing. You can pursue something like this without worrying about aggressively marketing or monetizing your blog. In fact, a clean ad-free blog could actually make it easier to land such positions.
By building connections within the blogging community, you might even get referred to a suitable job. This may be a little tough unless you are willing to relocate, but local bloggers could help out in that regard too.
Verdict: This will probably be the least used way to make money from your blog in this list. It could very well be the most rewarding for those who take advantage of it.
Selling Your Blog
For most bloggers there comes a time when you just don’t want to or cannot continue blogging. If you’ve put enough work into your blog it could be a valuable asset to potentially liquidate. Sure you could earn more if you kept the blog going, but that isn’t always possible. Rather than just letting your blog collect dust, why not sell it to someone who can keep it going while also getting a nice chunk of cash.
There are 2 classes of blog buyers. The first class is only interested in how much your blog has earned, usually within the last 12-18 months. These buyers only care if your blog has been proven to be profitable. Some of them may be more skeptical of income generated from risky activity like selling text link ads. The second class is more concerned with the future potential of your blog. They will base their pricing on stats such as PageRank, Alex Ranking, Domain Authority and monthly unique visitors. Buyers like that have confidence in their abilities to turn a decent base into something profitable.
In some cases selling your blog can be extremely profitable. The top level finance blogs can sometimes sell for 6-7 figures. For that kind of payday it can be tempting to cash out and move onto some other project. I’m sure many bloggers have this kind of sale as a long term goal for their blog. Personally I’d probably be more likely to just shift into outsourcing the majority of the work and milk the blog income long term.
Verdict: You might be disappointed by offers you get when your blog isn’t well established, but if you’re going to stop blogging anyway, get that money! Selling after your blog is very well established could make all of your work worth the time and effort.
So there are a number of ways you can make money with your blog and these are just the more common methods. Remember that every blog is unique. You’ll want to test different monetization methods to find what works best for your blog. Be willing to give new strategies a chance if you hear that it is working well for other people.
What monetization methods are you currently focused on? Do you have plans to shift to any other methods in the future?