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.