One of the most common questions people ask me is how I make money from the internet and believe it or not most of them laugh when I tell them what I do for a living. The perspective of writing on a blog, that most associate with just a hobby, doesn’t sound as a source of money for many, but as most of you already know blogs can make money and a lot! It’s not as easy as it sounds though, a lot of wannabe blogger entrepreneurs start up a blog, copy/paste or terribly write a few articles, put a pile of adsense code and call it a day; some actually expect to make money.
Blogging requires a lot of dedication, work, long hours and a keen sense of writing, so like any other online entrepreneur activity it’s no easy task. But that’s not nearly enough, although you many have excellent content, you need to let people know you exist. Remember the common phrase “time is money?” well in the online business “traffic is money” and a good blogger has to know how to drive visitors and publicize his blog, in order to gain a profit. I don’t mean to be discouraging but fact is blogging, at a high level, is not really for anyone. Remember this, when seeking to make money online, there is no such thing as a “quick buck,” most of the time you have to work your way to the top and trust me when I say it truly is a long road to follow, a road many go astray and abandon, due to it’s high competition and required dedication. I myself had moments, in my beginning and initiating period, when I wanted to quit, but when I read other successful blogs that managed, through their hard work and dedication, to earn thousands of dollars a month, I was instantly motivated to go on.
Blog for you and your readers, not for money
One of the most common mistakes money blinded bloggers do is they start a blog in popular niche, usually tech or gossip, and start writing just for gaining money off of it. They usually last 2-4 weeks, before they quit, after they get discouraged by the 2.36$ in their Adsense account. Be smart, if you’re starting a blog with the intention to make some money off of it, do yourself a favor and write about what you’re good at, doesn’t matter what niche, or else you’re early enthusiasms will burn out pretty fast and so will your blog.
Thing to keep in my mind when building a blog for money:
- Put your content and readers before everything else, that includes any money making schemes you may have. If you don’t respect your readers, how can you expect they’ll respect you ?
- Don’t monetize your blog with any kind of networks or affiliate programs from the start. Some people think it’s ok to start right from the beginning with your blog monetized, thinking “you never know when someone clicks a ad.” While that may be true, you’ll be loosing a lot of potential faithful readers in the process, the fact is a lot of people (including me) don’t like ads and will cause a few to believe they’re being used. This all depends on how good your content is and your respective niche, generally I’d recommend you start your monetizing your blog when you reach something like ~500 unique visitors a day.
- Don’t exaggerate with advertisement. People get really turned off by ads, but even more get really disgusted when they’re hit with ads after ads, when trying to read one of your posts. Master the art of subtle and profitable ad placement, and you’ll be just one step away from making a whole lot of money.
- Traffic, Traffic, Traffic. A few lines above I told you how traffic equals money, well if you want to many a decent buck on the internet using your blog you need to build a lot of traffic, that will eventually convert into affiliates, buyers, subscribers, ad clickers etc. Keep in mind though, not any kind of traffic will do, it’s imperative you drive targeted traffic to your blog, that’s actually interested in the content you provide, and thus most likely to stick around, actually read your work and click your ads. The best targeted traffic comes from search engines, PPC campaigns and niche referrals.
Ways to make money from your blog
We’ve discussed some points to keep in mind when monetizing your blog, now it’s time to actually learn how to actually turn your blog into a cash cow. Here’s a few ways to do it:
- Contextual AdvertisingThis is the most common used form of advertising worldwide, and there’s really no surprise here, considering it’s so easy to implement and use. The king of contextual advertising is without a doubt the now infamous Google Adsense program, that since it’s first seen the light has been the leader of PPC networks.What you really have to do is just make a account and add their ad code and you’re all set to roll. Thanks to it’s contextual essence, it will targeted ads driven by your blog’s content, so if you have a blog about diet recipes , then Adsense will display a link with the latest exotic greek food. Other contextual advertising networks you could try are Yahoo Publisher Network, Chitika (excellent for tech blogs), Clicksor, AdSonar or Adbrite.
- Visual Advertising In the past the most common way to advertise on websites was through ad banners, that came in all shape in sizes and they’re very popular today too, only they’ve evolved to greater lengths with flash animations and stunning artwork, some are just a pleasure to watch. Although their CTR (click through rate) is a bit lower, they provide a good alternative for those of you who find PPC not their liking. If you find it hard to close private banner deals with approaching clients, then you could apply for positions at CPM based ad networks, like:
Buds Ad Network
24/7 Real Media
Mamma Media Solutions
Ad pepper Media
- Direct Advertising This is my favorite way of selling advertisement, as I get keep 100% of my revenues, so with direct advertiser-publisher agreements you’re sort of cutting the middle man down. So you can sell whatever form of advertisement you want, from text links to banners. Lately popular among blogs, have become the so called standard “125×125 ad blocks,” they provide cheap advertisement for the advertiser and occupy a limited space for the publisher. You can see such block on popular blogs like ProBlogger, John Chow or Techcrunch. Keep in mind though, to be successful with direct advertisement you have to take in consideration the following points:
- Obviously you have to have a high-traffic (2-3k uniques a day), well established and professionally design blog, before you can even think about selling direct advertisement.
- The next step would be to create a separate “Advertise” page on your blog, in which you’ll post your visitors demographic (where they come from, spoken languages etc), level of traffic (unique users, page impressions, time spent on site etc.), your ad placements, your paying rates and of course your content information (e-mail, mobile phone number, instant messaging). A example of advertise page can be found here.
- When first starting direct advertisement plans, you’ll notice that there’s no one interested. What you have to do is break the ice and contact advertisers in your niche, don’t go for the big fish from the start, go to small and medium sized companies and present your case and tell them what they’re missing out.
- Text Link Advertisement This is another common form of advertisement for blogs. Basically you just sells links to advertisers, who buy them for traffic (few really do) and their SEO value (most do). To be successful with text link advertisement you need to have a really search engine friendly blog, with high positions in SERPS and Page Rank. Be careful though Google doesn’t like people who try to abuse their system and will most of the time bash those who sell links. The best link sale websites are AdBrite and .
- Review ProgramsIn the past year a popular choice for bloggers, and advertisers alike, to make money or respectively to promote their products, is to turn to paid review posts. What you basically do, as a blogger, is receive the review request from paid review networks like Pay Per Post or Review Me (they of course will take a commission, so I’d advise you consider direct review deals), and post about the advertisers website. You’ll have the liberty to state your own opinions, good or bad, about the respective website or product and will probably be required to include a few links. I myself don’t use this form of revenue at all, I find it to be a unethical income and prefer not to get involve with it, but that’s just me I know a lot of people who make 99% of their income from paid reviews.
- Sale Your Product Although this may fall more into the internet marketing stuff, a blog can really help you pitch your product, whether it’s a piece of software, a e-book, a DVD etc. you can use your blog as a excellent promotional instrument to drive sales.
- Affiliate Sales You can never go wrong with retro, or in this case with the former most used form of online revenue: affiliate marketing and sales. It’s so easy to use, even a monkey could get the hang of it, just post your affiliate link when writing a post a similar subject to the respective product in the link, and if someone buys it you’ll get a commission, this makes them excellent revenue solutions for review posts.The most commonly used affiliate programs are those from the giant retail store Amazon and the king of percents and sales Commission Junction. What makes revue from affiliates so awesome is the fact that you can publish a post and still get some money from it, even after months and months. Here’s a solid example: I wrote a post about a book several months back on a friend’s blog (with my affiliate link :D) and it managed to rank very high for a specific term, so high it was getting about 10 sales per month, even for this month, landing a clean 50$ in my pocket, each month for virtually a one time 2 hours of work. Awesome?!
- Flipping BlogsThis has lately become a widely common practice in the blogosphere, especially among popular blogs. Flipping blogs basically means to sells ones blog for a amount of money or in exchange for other service, some people make a decent income out of it, by building blogs over a short period of time and selling them at their peak. Selling your blog, although it may seem unthinkable for some, can be quite profitable, for instance just recently Blogging Fingers got sold for 6500$ and it’s just a six months blog, with mediocre stats (only 200 subsribers), or CashQuests who got sold for a whooping 15.000$, the most recent blog to sell is Blogtrepeneur, that’s also certain to sell pretty well. So you see there’s a lot of money to be made in flipping blogs, and although the authors of the above blogs haven’t had in mind building their blogs to sell them, from the very start, it doesn’t hurt to think outside the box and start “cash out” blogs. A good way to to build cash out blogs is to start a new blog each month and hire someone to write on it daily, this way you’ll have a whole network of blogs to sell, but this implies a lot of managing skills and long term investment. Read more about the above principle at DoshDosh.Find your blog’s selling price can be a real delicate tasks, it depends on a number of factors like PR, SERP positions, traffic, subscribers, monthly income and of course the respective niche; the make money online blogs in example sell very well. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when building blogs for flipping:
- Look for a unique design from the very beginning, it will help you sell it a lot better, as you’ll get to toss it into the final price at a oversale.
- Build a lot of traffic. As your blog will be brand new you won’t be able to drive to many visitors to it, but with the help of social media and especially bookmarks, you’ll be set. Try each month to make as much traffic as possible until you reach a stagnating point.
- Raise your RSS count. A lot of potential investors will look at a blog’s RSS subscriber numbers, to see if a blog is established and authoritative enough. Raise the number to up to a decent 3 figure number and you’ll be all set.
- Try to build a decent monthly income for your blog, through all means of monetization, concentrate your efforts on this. Have a look at the other points listed in the article to get some ideas on how to make money off of your blog. The larger the income the larger the selling price will get. One time sneaky tip from me: sell links, reviews, banners whatever over a higher period of time, so that although you’ve actually sold advertisement for a few months, but you’ll be paid on the spot, thus you’re respective month’s income will skyrocket (it works very well). Try this kind of push in your blog’s last month under your administration.
- Sell it at the right moment. This is particularily important as it will help you save more time and sell it at the maximum price. This most propitious moment to sell is when you find your blog’s growth stagnates, from all points of view. As my friends down at the stock market like to say: Sell! Sell ! Sell!
- RSS Advertising When someone will read your posts through his RSS reader, you design and thus all other advertisement displayed on it, will become redundant. For a long time people wrongfully neglected this great opportunity to gain a bundle of cash, especially if your a well established with a large number of subscribers (over 1000), but recently a lot of feed advertising networks have sprung up providing more revenue options for the blogger. The most common RSS ad networks are ones from Feedburner, Text-Link-Ads (Feedvertising), Pheedo and the Yahoo Publisher Network. Read more about how to properly promote and monetize your RSS feed at this excellent article written by Maki.
- ConsultingThis is definitely not for anyone, but if you’re famous enough and considered a true authority in your niche you can really cash in, through consulting clients in your domain of expertise. A SEO specialist in example charges a few hundred dollars per hour just for teaching you how SEO works or SEO ninja techniques. If you feel that you are good and famous enough, then write a “Consulting” page where you’ll lay down testimonials, you’re past work, awards, your charges etc, basically a blogging resume that potential clients can relate to and you’re bound to be hired eventually.
- Merchandising You can sell T-shirts, coffee cups, stickers etc with your blog/company’s logo and thus you’ll both make some money and off-line promote your website. Obviously this is only for the big guns, with a large and dedicate readership. As a example check ProBlogger’s T-shirt shop.
- Donations I know a lot of you are think asking for blog donations seems like begging, but you should twice before saying that. Think of it like the reader is expressing his appreciation for your work and what better way to motivate and encourage you to go on with your posts and work, then giving you some well deserved cash. Be careful though, don’t over react with the whole donations thing, keep it at a really subtle level and keep in mind donations don’t really work in all fields of activities. If you really want to make money via donations then you should consider the following:
- Don’t bug your readers with donations requests, if they feel like contributing they’ll do it, if not they simply won’t, don’t exaggerate with it, it’s just gonna cost you potential readers.
- Give people a reason to donate. Studies show that by providing people a reason to actually do something in general, will increase that increase the respective domain’s activity by as much as 200%.. Or in our case just asking readers for a small donations can some times do the trick, but as said above don’t stretch it. Put a small Pay Pal donate in your sidebar with a small text right above or bellow will suffice. You could go to greater extremes and put a donate request at the end of every post, a small paragpraph like “If you like my posts, then please consider donate a few dollars to support my effort,” will do well. Remember the Buy Me A Beer plugin, that every blogger seem to use a while ago? Well although it’s not as popular anymore I’d definitely recommend to use it, it’s a lot more friendly to ask someone to “join you” for a pint of beer or a coup of coffee.
- To actually make a decent amount of cash through donations you need a really loyal following, first time readers will definitely not give you even a penny. Repetitive users, that read your blog at a regular basis and that know a lot of about you through your about page, will consist your bulk of donors.
- If you’re already monetizing your blog with other means, chances are you’ll get a low amount of money though the donation service. If you’re page is full of advertisement and you’re asking for donations to support your blog, most people will think of you as a hypocrite and cause them to think less of you, diminishing your authority. A blog that has absolutely no form of advertising, such as the one you’re reading now, is sure to make a steady flow of $. Donations are definitely not a option for medium and large sized monetized blogs.
- Host fund raisers during a period of time. If you’ve got a large and loyal readership and decide to organize a regular (let’s say a year) fund raiser, then you’ll definitely cash out. Be sure to keep them really rare, people don’t like to be asked for money for the same thing twice.
Well that about covers all the major online money making opportunities you could ask for when trying to monetize your blog. But remember whatever programs or networks you use it all eventually comes down to content, make remarkable, unique and regularly updated quality posts and the people shall come, with their money that is…
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