So you’ve built yourself a blog and you’re starting to get daily visitors.
The next question is how you’re going to turn these passive readers into action-taking, profit-producing ones.
How do you monetize your blog, so as to transform all your hard work from hobby to business?
The truth of the matter is that there are a host of different ways to make money from your blog. Today we’re going to be taking a look at some of the most reliable ways to make money from your blog.
Possibly the simplest technique of all for monetizing your blog is to make use of the various ad networks.
Once you have signed up with one of these networks you simply add some code to your blog and adverts will start to show.
Depending on the network you will then make money either when people click on the ads, or sometimes just for people seeing the advert to begin with.
The reason why ad networks are so popular is that it is so simple to get started.
Assuming you have a good-quality blog with traffic coming, it is relatively easy to get accepted by these networks.
Spend just a few minutes adding the code to your site and you’re earning money.
Ad networks are far from perfect though, and many bloggers start out with them before migrating to other monetization strategies.
The reason is that the pay-outs from ad networks are relatively low, and many bloggers find they can scale up their earnings considerably by adding in other monetization strategies – or even swapping them for ad networks altogether.
Some people also dislike the idea of placing adverts on their site as they feel it looks “tacky”; they’d rather try a rather more classy way to make money from their blog.
Whatever your opinions, if you do decide to test out one or two ad networks to see what sort of results you get, the key to success is in testing different permutations. Try different networks, different ad sizes and shapes, and placing ads in different places on your blog.
In doing so you’ll be able to slowly increase your earnings, as a result of focusing on the specific combinations of networks, ads and placements that allow you to earn the maximum profit possible.
One of the wonderful things about bloggers is just what a sociable bunch we are, and how much fun it can be getting to know others in our niche. One aspect of this comes in the form of “blog networks” or “blog communities”.
Typically these networks are a loose collection of bloggers who band together in order to show strength in numbers.
Membership is typically free, though based on a set of requirements that you must meet (such as a specific volume of traffic, age of your blog, quality of your posts etc.) They are almost always niche-specific and are very rarely exclusive. This means that one may locate a number of blog networks for mommy bloggers or eco bloggers or pet bloggers and join them all.
There are a number of benefits offered to members of the various blog networks. For one, they often have a forum which can make it easier to network with others and learn from more experienced bloggers in your niche. Many also offer training such as a newsletter, webinars or ebooks that can also help you to improve and grow your blog.
Blog networks are therefore well worth looking in to – even if you don’t plan to use their monetization opportunities; simply because they’re such a great tool for building relationships within your niche.
But most importantly of all most blog networks also provide opportunities to monetize your blog that aren’t available elsewhere. Blog networks, by their very definition, offer advertisers an opportunity to rapidly infiltrate a niche. They deal with a single blog network and, in doing so, gain access to tens – even hundreds – of established blogs receiving exactly the target audience they want to reach.
Examples of the types of opportunities that become available to blog network members include products to review on their blog, sponsored post opportunities and possibly even a private ad network.
Private Ad Sales
Once your blog reaches a certain level of maturity it starts to become of value to advertisers. Either they’ll want to gain traffic from your blog, or they’ll want to improve their SEO by building links from your site.
This presents opportunities, in the form of sponsored posts, selling display adverts and so on. If we’re honest, and especially if you’re just starting out with your blog, this form of monetization may be out of your reach for a while.
Most advertisers really only want to deal with established blogs that receive a lot of traffic or are very well positioned from an SEO perspective. Unless you become a dominant player in your niche it’s unlikely that private advertisers will be interested in dealing with you simply because it’s not worth their time.
The concept of sponsored posts is a simple one; advertisers pay you to write a blog post around a certain subject, which then links to their website.
They might, for example, ask you to write about a new product they are releasing, or some special offer they have coming up.
Depending on the traffic that you receive – and how well-positioned your site is in terms of the search engines – payment can vary massively, from as little as $5 right up to many hundreds of dollars for a single post.
At the top end of the market, therefore, it is possible to make considerable amounts of money with minimal effort – after all if you’re getting hundreds of dollars per post, you don’t need to seal too many deals each month to turn a part-time blog into a full-time job.
That said, of course, there are some downsides. Firstly, as with private ad sales, it is the established, high-traffic blogs that receive most of the sponsored post opportunities. Secondly, you need to make absolutely certain if you write a paid post that you disclose this very fact. Forget to do so and you may find that you have the FTC on your back.
Lastly, be aware that Google frowns on “paid links” – it dislikes anyone who sells links on their site, which then enables other websites to manipulate the search engine rankings and increase their traffic as a result. Before you take part in any sponsored post opportunity then there are two things you need to know…
Firstly, if at all possible, aim to “no-follow” the link to the advertiser’s site. This means that the advertiser will still receive traffic from you, but they will receive no SEO benefit. This keeps you squeaky clean in Google’s eyes.
Secondly, in cases where an advertiser demands a do-follow link, do so at your own risk.
Appreciate that if Google spots such activity, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water. The end result could be a penalty against your site that ends up dropping your Google rankings and, as a result, your traffic.
So, while many bloggers still get away with such activity each month, you need to be aware of the risks and make your own decisions about whether such a monetization strategy is worth it.
For the uninitiated, an affiliate program allows anyone to send traffic to a website. Any visitor arriving there is “tagged” as having come from your site, and if the individual you sent across ends up buying a product or service on that site, you will earn a commission.
In other words, you’re basically advertising a product or service to your audience and getting paid on results – only when someone pulls out their credit card and buys.
This is an important distinction with many of the other monetization options like ad networks, whereby your visitors actually need to take an action for you to make money.
That said, many bloggers find that they are able to make far more money from placing affiliate links on their blog than they are with most of the other monetization opportunities out there.
Not only can the commissions be quite generous, but also when you effectively match the right affiliate program to the topic of your blog (and hence the subject that is of interest to your blog readers) it can be possible to create a considerable income stream.
Sadly, as profitable as it may be, affiliate marketing is arguably one of the most complex ways to monetize your blog, requiring considerable effort and experience to successfully pull off. That said, do it right and the results can be very impressive indeed.
Have you seen those ads that seem to be everywhere right now, where one content website or blog promotes the content on another?
What you may not know is that these “recommended content” areas are actually paid ads; yes, some blogs and content websites are actually paying to promote individual articles that are performing strongly for them.
What’s more, you can get involved and have these same ads appearing on your blog at the end of your posts – and earn money either when people view the ads or when they click over to the advertisers site.
The nice thing about native advertising is that it provides another opportunity to monetize your blog that doesn’t interfere with any other monetization strategy.
That is to say; you can add a block of native ads to the end of your blog posts with ease, and still carry on with private ad sales, affiliate marketing or whatever else on your site. They can therefore be seen as an “added bonus” or a little supplement, rather than the one and only monetization strategy to use.
There are a few downsides to native ads, however. For one, the content they recommend tends to be low-quality and can make your site look quite tacky. Be aware that you may find the ads showing up on your website are “tabloid quality” and links to cheesy stories about weight loss products or investment schemes. This can seriously reduce the authority of your blog.
The other factor to be aware of is that the earnings from native ads can be very low. In my experience of testing them out recently, I got far better results from ad networks than from native advertising.
You’re also going to need plenty of traffic to make some serious earnings from your blog using this monetization method. That said, as mentioned earlier, native advertising can form a useful “bonus” to your bottom line.
Product sales are arguably the most profitable way of all to monetize your blog. Why? Well with all the other methods of monetization you’re essentially the “middle-man” – selling your traffic to another company so they can make a profit.
That means they’ll always aim to pay less than a visitor is actually worth to them, with the difference being their profit.
When you have your own product to sell, though, you cut out the middle man. You earn all the profit on offer, without having to split it with anyone else.
Examples of products that bloggers commonly sell include membership websites, ebooks, software packages and so on. Alternatively bloggers may sell services to their readers such as keyword research packages or mentoring.
As you can see, there are an assortment of ways through which a blogger may opt to monetize their blog. Quite which options are right for you will depend on a variety of factors, from the niche that you’re in, to your own personal preferences.
The key, however, is to appreciate that there are plenty of ways to make money with your blog when you know where to look. All you need to do is start experimenting, and watch your income rise as a result.