Got a blog but no cash? Today, we will see what you can do to monetize your blog!
I spend about a year being ad-free on my Blogger blog but eventually, reality caught up. I was happy to see my blog was getting—just a bit—popular, but I also put a lot of work into it. So I decided to move to a more professional-looking self-hosted WordPress and to monetize my blog. Since I would need to buy a domain name and pay hosting fees, it sounded fair.
I had read a lot about monetizing a blog. Some claimed to make thousands a month (I’d have been happy with a couple of hundreds!), some were displaying more ads than content, some were complaining about scams programs that wouldn’t pay them. Phew. Where was I supposed to start? And by the way, did I mention I’m not a marketing person, that I absolutely hate commercials and ads, and that Naomi Klein’s No Logo was my favourite book?
But I put my little red flag in my bag and investigated how I could make money. Indeed, there are several options:
- Pay-per-click programs: ads are displayed on the blog, and you get paid each time a reader click on one of them. For example, Google’s Adsense.
- Pay-per-display programs: advertisers pay to display an ad on your blog, no matter who clicks on it. For example, Project Wonderful.
- Selling link words: advertisers buy a specific keyword on your blog, which they link to their page. For example, Text Link Ads.
- Sponsored reviews: advertisers pay for you to blog about a specific product/ website. For example, Pay-Per-Post.
There are a few methods I haven’t mentioned here, such as affiliates, selling services or products because I haven’t experienced them first hand.
I was personally very much against sponsored reviews. First of all, I found that there was very little choice of products to blog about if I wanted to stick to my main theme (immigration, Canada, politics, etc.). I didn’t want to write personal posts about Canada and next thing be seen blogging about a new sweeper! I also found that sponsored reviews can easily “kill” a blog. Sometimes, the temptation is too big to write paid posts after paid and there’s no content left… I unsubscribed from too many blogs that fell into that trap.
That left me with the other options… and a few advices for you.
I signed up with Adsense seven months ago. And I’m not ashamed to say I’m very far from the $100 payout threshold. True, I didn’t put ads units everywhere (I want readers to focus on what I write… yeah, I’m that vain) but I still expected a bit more. But anyway, not that many people click on the ads and I only make a few cents each time readers do (but it’s much appreciated!). I make about $5.00/ month with Adsense… not exactly what I thought I would make when I signed up.
This is an original monetizing concept. You set up an account, display a code wherever you want the ad to be and advertisers bid to display their website on your blog. The first few months, I actually made a bit of money thanks to that system. The income was also much steadier than with Adsense… I also like the square-ad design I chose and found the ads displayed on my blog to blend in. Lately, I noticed bids slowed down.
Text Links Ads is basically a middleman between the blogger and the advertiser and they sell keywords for you. For example, let’s say you wrote a post about a trip to Paris. Someone may be interested in buying the keyword “Paris” and link it to a hotel. You will get paid for that: the price will depend mostly on your blog’s Page Rank. With a Page Rank 4, I usually sell my keywords between $10-$30 per month. There’s not minimum payment and every month, I get my money through PayPal. Text Link Ad contacts you when you have new ads to approve (you can also set to auto-approval) and you basically don’t have to do anything. It took me a couple of months to get a decent payment, but I now get a few new links every month and it adds up pretty quickly. So far, for me, it’s the best way to (no, this is not a sponsored review!).
So far, I get most of my blogging income from Text Link Ad, followed closely by Project Wonderful and Adsense.
Is there money to be made?
So, how will you do better than me? Make more money than this blog?
Well, first of all, the more traffic you get, the more likely you are to sell your ads at a premium rate. This blog currently gets about 700 hits/ day and 200 unique hits/ day, which is I guess still averages (but I’m working on that!).
Then, monetizing a blog takes time. First, you have to build good content. Yes, just signing up for a blog isn’t enough. These two-day-old blogs full of ads but still with the default “welcome” message always makes me laugh. Yeah, I wish it was that easy….! You also have to somehow master the basic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to be found on search engines. And finally, you have to investigate the best ways to make money on your blog. You can probably strike good deals if you deal with advertisers directly. For example, the Digital Point forum has a good buy, sell or trade section and so does Bloggeries. Middlemen are not always needed, but you need to invest time.
And finally, like we will see next week, each blog has a ranking. Your page rank, your back links, your RSS subscriptions, all that matter.
Moral of the story… it is possible to monetize a blog but don’t expect too much, at least at first. Some people are extremely successful and brag about it endlessly but truth is, only good blogs get rewarded on the long term and monetizing a blog can be a slow process.
Meanwhile, you will have to make sure you don’t irritate your readers in the process. Nobody likes to read sponsored reviews in lieu of a fun blog post, have to close ten pop-ups to open a blog and being forced to scan through ads to spot a post! Watch out for that… there is a fine line between a monetized blog and a splog.