One of the things I’m most frequently asked about is monetizing a blog. When I started to notice the trend of questions coming my way I found it odd because I seldom blog about earning an income or monetizing blogs (advertising). For the most part, I have left that to the “make money online” bloggers as they seem to be able to do a better job in that conversation than I do.
But, since the questions have come my way I thought I’d sit down and not only share income strategies but also give you some of my thoughts on each opportunity.
Before we jump into this, in the effort of “full disclosure,” some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to sign up with a particular company because of this post, I’d appreciate it if you used my link. Otherwise, no worries.
Once you have made the choice to monetize your blog, you need to know that there is no right or wrong way to monetize. Everyone will have a different method, strategy, and way of doing things. We all mix up the company/companies that we choose to use and the effort we put into monetization. While this post will cover a wide range of opportunities, it really is important that you pick what will work for you, your blog, and the visitors that you get.
In this post, we’ll cover the following options for monetizing your blog:
- Banner Advertising
- Textual Advertising
- Product Advertising
- Text Link Advertising
- RSS Advertising
- Sponsored Posts
- Sponsored Links
More and more it seems that this is the most popular form of advertising.
My Thoughts on Pricing
Everyone that comes to you for banner advertising will do so for different reasons. Because of this, there should be some things you take into consideration when choosing how to price out your banner advertising spots.
- How many banners will you have in one area?
- Will banners be rotating?
- Will you be using the no-follow attribute on links?
- Do you have traffic that will click on banners/links?
- What is your PageRank?
- What is your Alexa Rank?
It’s only my opinion that the more banners you have in one area, the less you charge for them. If you choose to rotate banners in a single position, the charge should be even less.
Whether you choose to use the no-follow attribute is up to you. If you are using it, take your traffic into consideration because an advertiser would be buying from you because of the traffic that you have, not because of search engine optimization factors (SEO). If you have traffic that has proven to click on banner ads and you’re going to serve them up with the no-follow attribute, spike the prices by all means.
Your site is worth it.
However, if your traffic is low and your planning on adding in no-follow, keep the prices reasonable to the traffic that you do have. And if you’re getting less than 50 unique visitors per day, reconsider the no-follow attribute to drive in more advertisers to jump start your income.
PageRank and Alexa rank we’ll discuss later on as they deserve some serious thought and attention when it comes to advertising.
Choosing a Service
Banner advertising can be done privately or through many services. Be sure to research out the options and if you choose to go with a company, make sure you read everything they have — especially their price structure. Know before you go in how much of your ad revenue is going to be taken from you by the company.
Some good options:
My Thoughts on Placement
Your content should take center stage but if you’re going to be serving up banner ads, consider placements that do both your advertisers and your visitor’s justice. Frequently bloggers choose to place the majority of their banners above the fold (this means everything you see on your site prior to scrolling).
Remember too that your sidebar is not the only place that ads can be seen. Try out between posts on your index, search, archives, and category pages. And there are many ways to make these placements so that they’re all different to maximize your earning potential.
Don’t go overboard. Quality advertisers that will last are worth it — and so our readers. Consider everyone and most importantly never trick a site visitor into clicking on a sponsored advertisement!
There is a wide range of banner sizes, most of which seem to work really well in different areas of the of a blog.
The 125×125 banner by far is the most popular. Typically shown in sidebars, they’re the right size to get anywhere from 4 to 6 banners in on a sidebar without being too overwhelming for readers. Other than 125 banners, there are the large leaderboard banners that are 728×90. And of course, there’s everything in between. For more banner sizes, see standard banner sizes.
Textual advertising is usually served up automatically by different companies. The ads are sometimes called “contextual” and are usually marked with a double underline.
I very much place this in the “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t” category. Each market, readership, and niche is different. And while I wouldn’t choose to put this type of advertising on my sites or blogs, it very well may work for you.
Some of the more popular places to pick up this kind of advertising is through Kontera and LinkWorth. Whatever you do though, be sure to monitor the textual ads that you’re getting. You don’t want these companies to pick up keywords in your post and display an ad that is not appropriate the audience that you have.
Advertising specific products are not going to be right for everyone. Really, when you’re blogging about blogging, they are few options. Unless, of course, you’d like to purchase the ProBlogger Book. So, before jumping your blog into the world of product placements, consider what niche you’re in and if you have something to sell.
- Recipe blogs could do great with kitchen appliances and tools.
- Mommy blogs could do great with all items for kids.
- Sports blogs could do great with sporting equipment.
- You get the picture.
There are two places that I have seen that seem to work well for product placement — at the end of a post or with a sidebar widget of many products.
Really do your research with these to see if they work for you before settling on this option. Not every blog can sell a product to earn some cash and you may find that even though product advertisements are right for your blog, they just don’t perform as well as other advertising options. You don’t want to sell yourself short!
Text Link Advertising
There are multiple forms of text link advertising but in this section, we’re not going to talk about text links in posts.
Finding text link advertisements to place on your site can be in the form of both advertisings with a company or private sales. Advertisers seem to be keen on text link advertising because they can choose the anchor text associated with their link for the best SEO option for their company.
To sell text link advertisements, choose a good place within your sidebar and make sure they’re relevant to give both advertisers and readers the most bang. There would not a be a huge benefit to advertisers or readers to have links on your site that are not related to your niche.
Additionally, you’ll need to consider similar factors that are considered with banner advertisements but the most common questions you’ll get about the text link advertisements that you sell will again deal with the no follow attribute as well as alt and anchor text.
Before jumping into this world, consider all factors — including Google which we’ll discuss in just a bit.
Aside from companies who help you sell text links and private text link advertising, there are also many services like Google AdSense and Bidvertiser. I’ve chosen to skip conversation on these services because they’re over talked about and I’m trying to provide a different perspective.
As we find more and more ways to increase RSS subscribers, it only seems logical that we would try to monetize this portion of our site. Especially when we offer full-text feeds and tend to have a lower click-through rate to our blog from RSS readers.
Your pricing for this advertising, above all, should be how many RSS subscribers your blog has. Consider that someone is not going to pay you top dollar for exclusive RSS advertising when you have 50 readers.
Be upfront about your subscribers and allow advertisers to use measurements for your RSS subscribers to decide if your pricing is right for them. A great tool for both publishers (you) and advertisers is Feed Analysis at BlogPerfume. However, for this to work you must first turn on your awareness API and be using FeedBurner to measure your RSS subscribers.
Use this tool to consider how many RSS subscribers you have, the rate of growth for your RSS subscribers and measure your subscribers against the visitors to your blog.
I would strongly recommend that you only offer RSS advertising to one person/company and price your placement in a way that accommodates for the exclusivity that you’ll be giving an advertiser.
This is a highly debated option that certainly isn’t going to be right for everyone all of the time.
If you plan on taking sponsored posts, I recommend the following:
- Stay on topic in your niche — don’t post something that doesn’t make sense.
- Disclose somewhere on your site that you do take sponsored opportunities.
- Always be honest about the site or product that you’re reviewing — if you don’t like it, say so but be constructive.
- Write quality — just like you would any other post. Don’t give it a half-assed attempt just to get paid.
As someone who used to write sponsored posts, as well as occasionally purchases, sponsored posts, quality is the biggest key to earning the most amount of money here. Those who have written a sponsored post for me and has done an exceptional job will certainly get hired again.
The most popular companies to work with for sponsored posts are Pay-Per-Post.
I believe, more than any other type of advertising method, the biggest risks are involved with sponsored posts. Google has made it very clear that it is against their webmaster policies and that they will remove toolbar PageRank for those bloggers who write sponsored posts without using the no-follow attribute. More on Google later…
The good thing about sponsored posts is that they are a great source for monetization. The payout usually very quickly and are typically quick and easy to write. Especially if you stay within your niche and focus on how you can provide valuable information to your readers through the types of sponsored posts that you review.
Typically sponsored links are found within posts but the post isn’t written specifically for the link like they are with sponsored posts.
The most noted place to find sponsored links is with PayU2Blog. However, the downfall here is that you are assigned links and not given the option to choose. Therefore, you must find a way to include any link to your niche.
As someone who once worked for my blog, I can tell you that I would find it quite difficult to incorporate Catholic medals and disposable adult diapers into my niche. And those are honestly links I was given to post.
On the other hand, there are many advertisers who will happily privately pay to have their link incorporated into articles that you have already written. This is a good thing because it requires no work on your part and the posts are typically off of your index page and well past what your regular readers are checking out. It’s win-win for all parties when you can work out this kind of sponsored link opportunity.
The Google Factor
It’s becoming more and more well known that those who choose to participate in the world of sponsored posts and links are losing PageRank. Google does make it clear in their webmaster guidelines that they prohibit the activity of sponsored links and will, therefore “punish” you by removing the toolbar PageRank from your site.
Some bloggers have lost all of their PageRank, some bloggers have just lost a portion of their PageRank.
The double edge sword here is that advertisers will pay more to bloggers who have higher PageRank. While some advertisers will purchase based on traffic, the majority of advertisers are purchasing for the SEO benefits associated with advertising.
You can, of course, escape the Google factor unharmed by using the no-follow link and in which case, you’re selling your traffic, not your SEO benefits.
While some bloggers have chosen not to care about their PageRank and others do, consider this when choosing how you will monetize your blog. If your PageRank is a huge factor for you and something that you use as a measurement of your hard work, from experience I can tell you that it’ll hit you right in the gut when you lose rank. So be careful and consider what may or may not happen with Google based on your advertisements.
It really isn’t any secret that the large majority of people believe that Alexa Rank is useless. And by all accounts, I’d really have to agree. Yet TargetMeet, which covers many niches and age is not so old.
However, advertisers just can’t seem to get themselves away from using Alexa as a metric to decide what your blog is worth. Or better worded, to use it as a tool to measure if your prices are reasonable.
While I wouldn’t have Alexa be one of the biggest things you consider when choosing how to price your advertising, certainly understand that advertisers are going to look at this factor. And, I cannot walk away from this topic without mentioning that there are certainly plenty of ethical ways of lowering Alexa rank that you can try.
What are your thoughts?
OK, you’ve made it this far. Are you monetizing your blog and have I given you something new to think about? Have you found something that is great for monetizing your blog that you care to share with us? I’d love to hear your thoughts!