10 Ways to Monetize Your Blog

I’m co-leading a discussion session at Wordcamp about Monetizing Blogs, so I thought I’d also touch on it here with a post about 10 Ways to Monetize Your Blog.

First, I should preface this discussion by saying you first need to seriously evaluate whether you want to work at monetizing your blog. Steve Pavlina has a very thorough post that goes over what’s necessary to really do this well, and why the majority of people who try end up not generating significant income.

Second, you have to make sure that making money from your blog directly is your goal. For example, for this blog direct income isn’t my goal. I didn’t have ads at all untli recently, and the only reason I added them was to use the ad network management application I’ve been working on called RMX Direct. It’s quite possible that your blogging goals may just to network, write about something you’re interested in, or serve some business purpose that isn’t direct income generation.

With that out of the way, let’s get started:

1. Contextual Advertising

Surprise, surprise. Advertising is easily the most popular blog monetization tactic, mostly due to it being the easiest thing to implement. Advertising comes in many forms, and contextual advertising is the most popular due to Google Adsense and it’s general success with blogs and niche sites.

I’m going to assume everyone reading this is familiar with it, but I think it should be mentioned that too many bloggers assume that Adsense is the best solution for their blog. For some blogs and topics it works great, for others, not very well at all.

My advice is to not limit your blog to one ad network or just one form of advertising. Other contextual options include the Yahoo Publisher Network, Chitika, Clicksor, AdSonar, and others. It’s not easy to manually test all these though if you’re shuffling ad tags around and randomly allocating your impressions to them, using a ad network management tool like RMX Direct can help you manage, evaluate, and control your various ad networks.

2. Display Advertising

As I mentioned above, contextual networks aren’t always the best solution for blogs. In some cases there aren’t enough advertisers in niche topics, and in others the users just isn’t likely to click. In this case, you want to be working with ad networks that provide CPM display advertising. This means you get paid something for every ad viewed, opposed to only getting paid per click.

Just like with contextual networks, it’s important to use multiple display ad networks to get more variety from your ads, to not let any one network control your inventory, and to make sure you’re earning the most amount of money possible.

3. Targeted Advertising

The most desirable form of advertising is having companies that wish to pay good rates to advertise on your blog directly whether it’s text or image ads. Many bloggers feel that this is a pipe dream, but I speak from experience from running a wakeboarding blog for many years that you can make solid income from targeted advertising without having insane amounts of traffic.

There are a number of key things you have to do though in order to get this type of advertising:

  • Have a blog with leading content in your niche and a professional design
  • Create a “media kit” which is essentially a page on your blog that explains that you take targeted advertising, what your rates are, demographics of your users, your traffic levels, examples of the types of ads people can run, testimonials from any companies that have advertised with you, and a phone number and email address they can use to get more information.
  • Have obvious “Advertise On This Blog” links in key places on your blog.
  • Give a company or two in your niche free or very low-cost advertising in order to get the ball rolling. When advertisers see their competitors or companies similar to them advertising, they get the idea that it’s available. If all they ever see is Adsense ads, they might not realize it’s an option.
  • Be willing to be creative to help your advertisers achieve their goals, and lower your price to get the deals.
  • Provide statistics and results to your advertisers. Use an ad server like RMX Direct, phpAdsNew, or something similar which has the ability to create reports per advertiser.

Once you’ve set your blog up properly, start approaching companies in your niche who will want to reach your traffic. You don’t need to go after the biggest companies, there are many small companies who are looking to get better results from the web, and they might not even know about your blog. You don’t need to be an ad sales professional, you just need to present your case well on why they’re missing out if they don’t advertise on your traffic. Make it easy on them to work with you, help them create ads, help them determine what sizes to use, and work with them to make sure they get the results they need. It seems like hard work at first, but after you get a solid base of advertisers going, it’s a great source of income and it starts to streamline.

4. Text Link Advertising

Another somewhat unobtrusive form of advertising is using services like Text Link Ads or Adbrite to sell text ads directly to companies. This is pretty low effort and often doesn’t take up too much space on a site, so it’s easy to implement and try out. It should be noted though that you need significant traffic for it to be a big source of income.

5. Affiliate Links

One of the older web monetization methods is still as good today as it’s always been. If you’ve got a blog in a specific area, there’s a very large chance that there are companies out there that sell products or services your users are interested in. You can earn some nice income recommending or linking to those products.

Amazon.com is probably the most common affiliate merchant used by bloggers, but I’d advise finding other unique merchants who may pay better and be more specific to your topic. Amazon is always there as an option, but you’re more likely to get more help from the merchant if you go with a smaller company.

Another nice thing about affiliate links is that they fit well with quality content. Reviewing products and services for your users is valuable content, and if you can make money off it as well it’s a great combination. A word of warning though that you shouldn’t change your reviews or be biased due to the fact you can make money off a referral.

While traffic also helps for affiliate links, it can sometimes be an easier way to generate income without high traffic levels like advertising requires. As an example I did a review of a web analytics application a couple of years ago, and this blog had very little traffic at that point. I referred two sales through that review though that still earn me $150 a month every month two years later.

6. Selling Your Content (Ebooks, Videos, DVDs)

If you’ve got great content, another option is to package it and sell it. There are numerous bloggers who have created ebooks and even real books based on their blog content and made great income selling them. You can also expand to infoproducts like videos, DVDs, audio CDs, and printed books on demand.

This can take some significant work and it requires great content to actually sell, but it can be a nice income stream that lasts a long time.

7. Consulting

Depending on your topic and your level of expertise, you can sell consulting services. If you’re a web analytics expert, you could offer web analytics consulting services on your blog for an hourly fee. This takes very little work to setup beyond creating a page outlining your services, getting a standard contract, and having a way to take payments from companies. Again though, it just takes a little bit of effort to let people know that consulting services are available.

8. Donations

Not quite as common as it once was, it used to be fairly common for bloggers to ask for donations on their blog through Paypal or some other service. This only works if you have a dedicated userbase, and a large enough number of users that their donations add up. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re also putting a lot of advertising and other monetization methods on your blog. You’ll come off as a bit too greedy in that case.

9. Selling Products

Besides infoproducts, you can sell real products like t-shirts, bumper stickers, clothing, or whatever other kind of merchandise makes sense for your topic. Companies like Goodstorm, CafePress, Lulu, and others make it easy by creating the products based on your design and letting you set up a shop. There is no risk to bloggers, which makes it a great opportunity.

10. Selling Your Blog

Perhaps the most extreme of the blog monetization methods, but it can be lucrative! If you aren’t attached to your blog and are willing to part with it, you can usually find a buyer for it. Your blog must be pretty good, and have a level of traffic worth buying, and it really helps if you already have some income streams going for it. Blogs usually sell for 12-24 times monthly revenues, and there are numerous places you can sell them like eBay and the Sitepoint Marketplace.

Conclusion

It definitely takes some work to monetize your site well, and having good traffic really helps out. Work on building a blog with a solid userbase, and you should be on your way to generating income using any of the methods above. Good luck, and please share any blog monetization experiences you have in the comments.

Update: I was pointed to a similar post by Darren Rowse at Problogger.net that is also a recommended read on the subject of making money from your blog. He mentions many of the same things, and has a couple I didn’t mention as well.

  • http://www.52reviews.com Eric Allam

    What about donations or tip jars? I always liked the idea of micropayments, giving a blogger a couple of cents for a good post or something like that. if hundreds do the same it could add up in the long run. What do you think?

  • http://www.lunametrics.com Robbin Steif

    How about just making sure that your contact information is there? I am dying to advertise on some embedded Linux blogs but a) have had a hard time finding them outside of the big players and b) when I find them, I often can’t find any contact information at all. Not even an “About Us” with an email address. Since you are the advertising man, maybe you will send me some ideas? In fact, anyone is welcome to write me and tell me about their embedded Linux blog where they need some advertising dollars. It can even just be a blog about uClibc or cygwin. steif at lunametrics

  • http://www.conversionrater.com/ Pat McCarthy

    Eric – Yeah, donations is listed above, and for certain blogs with dedicated readers, I think it can generate some income. I think micropayments may need more time, but simple small Paypal donations can work.

    Robbin – That’s exactly my point on the Targeted Advertising! Most bloggers don’t include contact information or even let people know in any way they’ll take advertising. One evening spent making a page that you accept targeted advertising can lead to good earnings, even if your blog isn’t large.

  • http://www.buildyourownbusiness.biz David Bain

    Excellent post. I’ll come back and refer to this one again and again. Keep up the good work! I wrote a post that may be of some interest to people trying to get more visitors to their blog: The 9 step plan to Internet Marketing Success.

  • http://www.lunametrics.com Robbin Steif

    Does this mean that you aren’t sending me any advertising ideas (ways to spend money?)

    Robbin

  • http://USuggest.com dale

    USuggest.com allow the bloggers to make some extra money through recommended products directly from within their blogs, and hopefully directing their readers to the some online retailers. As such, the respective blogger would receive a commission from any sales generated through referrals!

  • John

    good blog, this is a great write up on how to increase monetization of websites. keep up the good work.

  • http://www.theupstair.com irawan

    Nice article here, too bad I did not find it before

  • http://www.fitforfreedom.com Marco

    Keep up the good work. I´m going to test each of your recommendations right away.

  • http://spaceofinfluence.blogspot.com lady influence

    nice post!

    about yahoo publisher, chitika and clixsor, they have tougher requirements before a website is accepted in their program. Your website must have been established already plus the high daily page view and impressions requirement. I think these programs will not work in new blogs/websites.

  • http://www.flexta.co.uk Sephen Jones

    Hello

    I am surprised that premium-rate SMS is not in your Top10 tips!

    Regards

    Stephen Jones
    http://www.flexta.co.uk

  • Brian T

    I think this is new, another easy way to monetize your feed
    http://jayadrathsingh.blogspot.com/2007/07/feedm8-mobilize-motonize-your-feeds.html

  • http://crack-scjp.blogspot.com/ John McCoy

    Very informative article indeed? Can you recommend some advertising networks similiar to adsense?

  • http://www.sellfreebusiness.com Jacob H

    There’s a new Pay Per Play Audio ad launching in Feb 2008 that you can use to monetize your blog as well.

    http://www.sellfreebusiness.com

  • http://www.liquidagora.com/forums/index.php Liquidagoracom

    Nice advise! Thank You

    http://www.liquidagora.com

  • http://www.the-homepage-movie.com/?rx=1000002 mario-p

    there are new forms of affiliate programs (blog for money, etc.) such as the one on http://www.the-homepage-movie.com which can be used to quickly make money with a short blog entry.

  • http://mintblogger.com Rajeev Edmonds

    I think selling own products on the blog is for few chosen ones who have mastered that art of blogging and have reputation in blogosphere.

  • http://blogg.io/blog/ Claudia D’Arcy

    There are now new programs created to recognize the importance of Bloggers and pay them for their time without corrupting their ethics. Blogg.io is one of them connecting marketers, who want their information relased into the blogosphere and are willing to pay for it, to the influential bloggers who deserve to be reimbused for their time.

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  • http://finaltabledonkey.blogspot.com Ross

    I have a blog and I think the niche is pretty solid. Except that I don’t get the readership I thought I’d get. Too bad for me…

    Maybe I’ll start with another blog.

  • http://www.Lazy2Work.com Prasad

    Nice Article!
    I have recently started my blog and I am waiting on building enough posts before I start monetizing it. I will use this article as one of my guide.

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  • http://profitbiztools.com/blog toroz

    very good articles, I hope you post another similar article about monetizing blog. great job.

  • http://www.savingtoinvest.com Andy

    Great infomation. Thanks. Now to find the best option for my site.

  • http://www.speak-tome.com Ted Murphy

    I’ve started a new way for a blogger to make money — direct payment from the audience on a per-minute basis.

  • http://easyonlinemoney.typepad.com eckhart Jimenz

    in my opinion clickbank review products that are related to your niche, for example if your blogging about health, make a video about a certain product and how you use it, people are always looking for a solid review site. some were they can build trust. review type blog have made the most money for me if done the right way. And i say if done right because there a lot of niche marketing going around and a lot of people get trick into buying certain but if you can create trust, your most likely to sell more than others at niche marketers you would have created a souce for your reader and 98% they will look for your guidance before making any decisions.
    hope this helps
    http://easyonlinemoney.typepad.com

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  • http://nft-dawnlight.blogspot.com fajar

    thanks u so much
    its help me so much as a newbie blogger

    btw … if you don’t mind
    i would like to rewrite this article but
    in a different language (Indonesia)
    don’t worry… i will write if the original / English version from here and give a link

    if you don’t want me to do this
    please email me soon coz i’m translating it right now
    thanks before…

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  • http://social-masters.com/blog/how-to-get-a-girlfriend Get a Girlfriend

    I would like to keep my blog clean of adverts as there is quite alot going on already and do not want it to become cluttered. The idea of having donations appeals to me because it reflects on how good your work is. The better it is the more donations. Also using it to sell my own products sounds like something i would love to do. Would feel like a real achievement.

    Thanks very much for the ideas.

  • http://blogetize.blogspot.com/2009/02/yahoo-answers-monetization.html monetize

    look like I need to increase the traffic first before I can monetize it, thx for the tips

  • http://www.ilgur.com Keith

    This was a very good post. I have some popular blogs that I’ve started to monetize, and I’ve done ok. I would like to do more, and your post helped a lot to give me some new ideas.

    Any chance of getting this post updated? Any new commission opportunities that you might know about that would make great additions to this post?

    Great work!

  • http://globalamericanmedia.com/ Global American Media

    I just signed on with your RMX Direct and all I can say is what a great idea! Thank you.

    This service solves so many problems for me. I recommend it to anyone who wants to take advertising on their blog/site to next level.

    Norman Christian Hoffmann
    The American Illuminati

  • http://globalamericanmedia.com/ Global American Media

    I might add Commission Junction and Adsense are an easy way to fill up your site and create some bidding for your advertising.

    I’ll keep you posted.

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  • http://techypunky.com Adrian

    thank you for posting this. it’s a really good help for the bloggers.

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  • http://postpartumillness.com Lucy

    Great post as a newbie blogger this was very helpful.

    Lucy

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  • http://scelfl.com Insurance Quotes Articles

    Hello,
    very nice post, thats very useful.
    but can you specific the urls of the each blog monetizing program..??

  • http://dailyjobalert.blogspot.com Singapore Part Time Jobs

    Nice article.
    Google adsense is by far the best advertisement network for obvious reasons. But, the problem is that publisher can easily get banned for fraud BOMB CLICKS maliciously carried out by competitors.

  • http://www.kkunal.com Kunal

    nice and good post.
    but its really hard for the new websites to get into a ad program as clicksor, chitika and adsense have become really hard to get approved.

  • Tamra

    extremely helpful for a new blogger that needed to find out why so many people were inquiring about my monetization strategy…thank you!

  • Danielle

    I always enjoy reading the different tips and things that people do to monetize there blogs…http://mommadssocialmediamarketing.blogspot.com/

  • Ginger

    I manage a small gossip website, and we were having trouble getting in touch with the bigger ad networks. But then I read some blogs about Altitude Digital Partners, and so I thought I would give them a try. They really helped to monetize our website, and they work directly with the ad networks and other publishers. They got us the best deals on CPMs and the most revenue. I would recommend them to anyone!

  • http://www.instantstoresonline.com/ build e commerce website

    typical holiday that you need not to ignore is xmas season. if you are running online store, better to stay in focus.. xmas season is not a holiday for e commerce store.

  • http://www.facebook.com/omthoke Om Thoke

    There are many more Ways to Monetize Your Blog – such as sponsored posts, and selling ad space, selling links on images through Adbrite. Today, it’s really easy to make $1000 as a blogger :)

  • http://nichpakaich.com/ Nichive

    I agree to this statement

    contextual networks aren’t always the best solution for blogs. In some cases there aren’t enough advertisers in niche topics, and in others the users just isn’t likely to click.

    For bloggers with strong social bond, especially; there’s no way I’m clicking one of the contextual ads showing up on one of my friends’ blog, and that’s for sure.

  • http://www.careersense.com.au Cindy Yang

    Always great to come across some good ideas and a fresh perspective.. thanks for sharing Pat

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