Effective Ways To Monetize Your Blog

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2011-09-1430

Before you start shopping around for a trusty web host for your brand new site, evaluate these opportunities to see if blogging is worthwhile to pursue. Are you doing it for money or for fun? If you’re doing it to see if you can turn in a few bucks while you do something enjoyable, then try these guidelines for monetization.

I turned to this ProBlogger article when I first started running a website, and I found that it neatly summarized the different ways of monetizing your blog. I’ve been trying a few of the suggested avenues here for fun to see what would click, and over time, with some amount of experimentation, I was able to grow my revenue. So allow me to elaborate a bit on this comprehensive list by Darren Rowse to see what avenues are available to us and which ones I’ve applied and tried!

What Are Some Income Streams for Bloggers?

#1 Employ Direct Advertising Programs

There are a great many ways you can advertise through your blog. Some options include:

Google Adsense, BlogAds, Chitika’s Ad Network, AdGenta, CrispAds, SocialSpark, Casale Media, TextLinkAds, AdBrite, Tribal Fusion, ValueClick, Burst Media, Bidvertiser, Kontera (I’m not a fan), among others.

This is just a sampling! I actually started with AdSense and for the first few months, the results were paltry, as you can expect. You may start off with an average click rate of 1 per thousand visits, and if your page impressions are minuscule, it follows that AdSense on your pages would be nothing but… minuscule. You can always try out other ad campaigns to see what works for you.

#2 Seek Sponsorships

Once you’ve got an established blog with good traffic, it’s not uncommon for businesses to come knocking on your door. These companies are looking to directly advertise on popular blogs. These advertisers are most interested in “quality, targeted traffic” that will be interested in their product or service, so you’ll need to be very aware of your readership and who visits your site.

We have been fortunate to have had occasional advertisers inquire about ad placements on our site. In some cases though, you need to have an impressive amount of traffic in order to earn the stripes required to be part of an exclusive Sponsorship Inner Circle. For instance, Federated Media Publishing (at FederatedMedia.net) will only sponsor your blog if you are an influencer, and goodness knows that influencers don’t grow on trees. The kind of sponsorship that may be more accessible to average sized blogs involve sponsored reviews and promotional posts that a site like SocialSpark.com (IZEA) offers.

#3 Go For Lead Generation Via Affiliate Programs

As far as affiliate programs, some of the more popular choices have included Commission Junction, FlexOffers, Commission Soup, Clickbank, PepperJam and Amazon. Some of these choices may have come and gone, and some may be doing a better job for webmasters than others, so before signing up, do your research! Retail based affiliate programs are great, especially if you or your extended family love to shop online. Here’s a disclaimer: I’ve added many of these networks to my contact list.

#4 Create Your Own Products and Digital Assets

There are a lot of other opportunities beyond standard direct advertising and affiliate programs that you can try as well. Some bloggers create their own products, or what Problogger calls “digital assets”. To supplement your revenue (or it could be your main source of blog income), you can look into creating tele-seminars and courses, or create a series of e-books, which will tap your creative skills.

Don’t be too surprised if one day, some kind of e-book springs forth from this site — well, only because my father has authored a book and is raring to get his book published somewhere. Anywhere.

#5 Look Into Revenue Sharing Opportunities

How about freelancing for other sites? There are opportunities such as blog networks, that allow bloggers more ways to make money via blogging — you’d do this by presenting yourself as a writer or blogger for other sites. Revenue models vary as well, and can be done as a form of revenue share or you can be salaried, paid by the hour or even paid per word or length of article you write.

Check a freelancing job board or ask around and inquire within your circle of blogger friends to find out if anyone is hiring. You may even decide to explore partnership opportunities or joint projects with writing colleagues.

#6 Entertain Commercial Blog Writing Jobs

There are many commercial sites that offer writing gigs to good bloggers. Many commercial sites are now approaching popular bloggers to write for them. There’s a pretty healthy demand for experienced bloggers out there. So as blogging becomes a popular way to promote a business, there is a rising demand for bloggers and blog editors to support commercial blogs.

This is wonderful for interns, graduates, students or even career shifters — especially those in the liberal arts fields. This could be a stepping stone for those who seek to make a career in the business they are blogging about.

#7 Pursue Internet Marketing and Other Publishing Jobs

Then there are other more unusual set ups that may involve bloggers getting writing jobs in areas that are not in the blogging arena. Would you be interested in writing for a newspaper and becoming a journalist? Would you write a book and become a novelist? Or what about becoming a magazine editor, copy writer, advertiser, SEO professional or even internet marketer? As a blogger, you are able to wear many hats, and the skills you learn can be transferable in so many other realms.

#8 Bring Up Donations?

While this is not as effective as other ways to make money, you can probably try it out. Paypal makes it easy for bloggers to set up donation buttons on their sites. These act like electronic tip jars for bloggers, but does it work? Some full time bloggers have actually tried them out with some success. The more popular you are and the stronger your community, the more effective this option can be for you. Problogger mentions a blogger named Jason Kottke of kottke.org who was able to become a full time blogger by virtue of this particular method to making money. I have some doubts about this though, because this is a very tough way to sustain a livelihood online. I think of the donation button as only a supplement to the other monetization strategies you already do as a blogger.

An update on Jason Kottke’s fundraising: he has quit actively doing it but the jar’s still there in case you’re feeling generous. Not a bad idea especially since web publishing does take money and effort to run. It probably won’t hurt if your cyber-begging is inconspicuous and subtle ;-) .

#9 Flip Blogs

What in the world is this and why would anyone do it? Since blogs (or domains) equate to cyber real estate, it’s no surprise that some enterprising folks have turned to blog flipping in order to generate cash. Someone may want to buy a blog because they think they can spruce it up and do a better job with monetizing it, so they’re more than happy to take your property off your hands. But this may not be for someone who’s emotionally invested and rooted in their own little piece of the net. You’d less likely flip your property if you feel that your blog is an extension of yourself or if you use it for creative expression. But then again, anything has a price!

#10 Sell Merchandise

Would you sell stuff? At one point, this was one avenue that showed me some promise. I was pleasantly surprised at the feedback and reaction that my online anime store received. Back then, I had a great partnership going with my brother to make this work. However, we’ve since shifted gears and I’m now pursuing other more traditional approaches to blog monetization.

#11 Become A Consultant Or Speaker

If you are a blogger who writes about stuff you are an expert on, then this could be an avenue for you to consider. Though this may be more applicable for subject matter experts who seek to educate and provide information, it could still work for someone engaging, enlightening and who has the gift of gab and the ability to offer themselves, their ideas and opinions. Oh yeah, and who likes to be around people. I very well could try this one day, who knows! :)

And here’s my final tip — you may notice that link selling was not included in this list even though it happens to be a lucrative scheme for many blogs. Well, I believe there are good reasons for this. If you’re looking for a sustainable way to make money online, don’t do it via text link ads. Why? Because search engines hate it and there are possible penalties if you are caught. Depending on how you do it, you might run afoul of webmaster guidelines. So if you’re contemplating going down this road, be careful.

Created September 16, 2006. Updated September 14, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

mond April 25, 2007 at 6:25 am

Another great way to monetize your blog traffic is to add free chat and earn money on revenue sharing.

living off dividends October 29, 2007 at 5:12 pm

what about direct sponsorships?

Jeremy Day October 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Hi,

Great blog you have here. I am enjoying going through your archives. I have added a link to your site on my site. Keep up the great work!

Cheers,
Jeremy

isabelle newton November 18, 2008 at 9:13 am

There are a lot of ways to make money online, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can spend 2 hours a day for a few months and make millions. It takes a lot of time and effort (just like everything in life) but is worth it if you persevere.

Money with clickbank December 9, 2008 at 10:33 am

Nice list of ‘money makers’ you’ve got there. It is very comprehensive but perhaps I’d like to add offline consulting? Since you’ve got a blog already, you could help offline companies set up blogs too!

futurewalker January 25, 2009 at 9:53 pm

In fact, there are a lot of ways to make money with our blog, but not much that people know about. But something important to give highlight is focus. We only need to focus one or two ways to really get money from our blogs.. or we may get nothing at all.

Michael March 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm

You know, I think I’ll have to revive my old blog for this. You have some great tips here. Thanks.

Russ August 9, 2009 at 3:19 am

One of the easiest ways to make money with your blog is by sticking an adsense ad on it. Sure, it won’t be much, but it will be money. I personally do not like using adsense, because I’d rather make affiliate commissions, or just sell my own product. I feel like I’m giving away a click that could have potentially have been a sale for me.

Silicon Valley Blogger August 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

@Russ,
I understand your feeling about Adsense vs affiliate channels. The thing is, Google Adsense is easier to install and do since you can write about anything and still be able to monetize this way. However, remember that when going the Adsense route, it would be important to use the proper keyword, site optimization and ad targeting techniques to get the best results. If you’re new to the online business world, then in order to get relevant ads to display on a page, you will need to stay on topic. Always write for your readers and not for search engines. You can also use “ad section targeting” to help you target your readers properly with the right type of advertising.

I remember when using Adsense was quite a novelty for me: I considered even my puny Adsense revenue quite exciting (talk about cheap thrills)!

Franco August 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Yeah, as long as the majority of the content is relevant to the keywords you’re after…Your adsense ads should show up.

Ruri August 16, 2009 at 9:11 am

In my experience, Google Adsense needs time to crawl our site. The more visitors we have, the google crawler will come sooner. It means you need more visitors to get more relevant ads. Please note that the Google Adsense crawler is different than Googlebot.

Norma August 16, 2009 at 11:53 am

It always seems it is a cart and horse situation with Adsense – get better ads and more people will come, but you need the relevant ads to earn money with a new site. I have been pretty pleased so far with Adsense on the few sites I have and I am adding it to other sites as i build them now.

Kaiser Mangampo September 1, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for sharing this information. In my case, I’ve been earning from my blog through Adsense, Text-Links-Advertising and paid Blogpost. I tried affiliate programs but I am not successful. I guess I need to try others ways to monetize my blog and see if it will work for me.

Bloggers Payback October 11, 2009 at 5:13 am

Fantastic article! I’m always looking for different ways to monetize my blog. This is something that is so important if you are/planning to make money blogging. I am certainly bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks!

Albie March 6, 2010 at 6:16 am

A great way to monetize a blog is to use it as a resource which establishes your credibility in the market you are in. Start to build an email list (offering a free report or short mini course works well to encourage subscribers). Then build a relationship with this list. Then offer them affiliate products as well as great free content. This works well but takes time.

Anthony Godinho June 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Great tips and ideas you’ve covered in this post to monetize one’s blog. I’ve tried Ad Sense, Amazon Associate and a couple affiliate programs. Like you said, you have to give it some time and more importantly remain consistent. One great blogging platform I’ve found that shares its Ad revenue with its users is SQUIDOO – it also incorporates other monetizing modules like Amazon, eBay, CafePress, Zazzle, Orbitz, and many others.

John June 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I’ve just started looking online for business opportunities. I think the most important factor of a good opportunity is being able to duplicate what someone else is doing. I have found several people whom I think I could work with and several who are just out for themselves. I have seen this guy Robert J Murray who seems very fun and genuine.

MartinX November 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I love to make some money online but you got to put in a lot of time, effort and patience to see web traffic and sales conversion to be successful.

Make Money Review January 17, 2011 at 1:19 am

I would suggest that another great way to make money online is to do some reviews. At least for me it worked. I want to emphasize that the reviews must be truthful and not written at random as I often see on blogs. Do you agree?

Silicon Valley Blogger September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

@John,
You mentioned that you can find success by simply duplicating what someone else is doing. I think that the days of following a fixed formula for making money online are now over. These days, you will be rewarded for high quality and “unique” work. But if a formula exists out there that is still working, let’s hear it! I would be curious to hear what is working for you.

@Make Money Review,
I think readers can see through a bad review. I agree that a genuinely good review is one that is substantive and comprehensive. Not everyone can do a good job on covering a product or service.

TLA Fan September 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Wait a sec. Why are you hating on text link ads? Most blogs I know are only alive thanks to TLAs.

krantcents September 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I am just starting to monetize the blog. I’ve gone with direct advertising and sponsored posts so far.

Briana @ 20 & Engaged September 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I’m considering doing a few of these things, including making my own products and flipping sites. Hopefully I can make it into a lucrative business.

Personal Finance for Teachers September 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm

This was an awesome and very detailed article! As I was reading, I kept trying to think of a method that you might have mentioned. Every time that I thought of one it was the next one on the list!

I look forward to more.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I thought I’d like to add a bit of humor to the comment thread by sharing some opinions about Adsense. When you start with Adsense, don’t be surprised if you aren’t making that much money right away. It all depends on your traffic and how targeted they are to your ads. I’d like to touch on this question a little:

How Much Are You Making With Adsense?

Here was how I initially felt about my Adsense earnings: admittedly, my returns were insignificant for a period of time when I first started (I’m doing better now, thanks). After all, it’s pretty hard to make consistently good money on the web. So in the first year of running my blog, I joked that the following people and things probably rake in more money in a day than my Google AdSense account did in a month:

So how are your Adsense earnings holding up?

Jane December 15, 2011 at 1:18 am

This is hilarious, SVB! Perhaps the winds of change will visit and those who are just starting with their sites will eventually earn more than the nose balancing guy…

D600 December 15, 2011 at 6:18 am

O well, at least u should be able to pay for hosting……!

Silicon Valley Blogger December 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

I would like to suggest one way to improve your Google Adsense monetization results — attend a Google Adsense In Your City meet up, where Adsense representatives review your site and offer suggestions for improvement. I have attended one of these talks held in Walnut Creek, CA, and I found it helpful to meet with Adsense and Google+ employees as well as other local publishers.

Lazy Man and Money December 16, 2011 at 7:23 am

How are things now?

Silicon Valley Blogger December 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Well after doing this for so long, my daily Adsense earnings probably MATCH what these folks make in a day. Not bad? ;-)

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