Following one from our blog “How To Make A Profitable Blog in 2017” This guide will take you through every option you have when it comes to monetizing your blog.
Sure, many of us write for the pleasure of it, but that’s not going to pay the bills! Why you’re here and why most people set up blogs, is to make an extra side income from their efforts.
But what is the best way to monetize your blog? We would all like to make as much money from our writing as possible, but the key to a successful blog is striking the balance between monetization and user experience.
A site that’s full of adverts is not going to make your readership want to spend much time reading. Think how frustrating it is when you click onto a webpage and you’re just getting into reading when a pop-up appears. You try to X out and another window appears. Frustrated you close it all down including the page you were initially reading and go back to your search to find a page that actually allows you to read the content.
Most of us are guilty of this and for good reason. Good monetization methods don’t take anything away from the user experience. Sure, a reader will see the ads but they won’t stop them from getting through the site and if they like what’s been shown on the ad, they’ll click.
The same thing can be said for being overkilling it on ‘sales’. How would you feel if you just met someone and straight away they started to sell you something? Not very impressed I bet. What reason would you have to buy from them? Where’s the relationship? A good salesperson knows that the key to closing deals is building a relationship that is built on trust. Once that has been accomplished deals are much easier to land, providing you’re offering a good product that gives value to a customer.
The most important aspect of a successful blog is to always think from the end-users point of view. Why are they here? What are they trying to learn/accomplish? It’s only by keeping your readers front of mind can you hope to achieve the success you set out to.
With that being said, we’re going to look at 3 different monetization methods in detail and you can add in a user-friendly way. We’ll also list a bunch of others that might work well for your specific type of blog. It’s true that there are other methods you can apply, but these will drive your readers nuts trying to get through your page!
When it comes to advertising, there are a few different methods to pick from. The first we’ll look at is using an advertising network.
Advertising networks are companies that connect advertisers with publishers. The most successful and most used is Google Adsense, however people use others such as Media.Net (Yahoo & Bing). In my opinion, it’s best not to look past these two for contextual advertising. Ideally you want to secure an Adsense account as you will find they pay out the most, have almost a 100% fill rate, and serve high quality ads. If you’d rather a second option then Media.Net should be the network you go to next as they’re almost as good.
A word of warning here. As your blog grows you will get a lot of emails from various advertising networks promising major payouts. If you do a little digging about the company that has contacted you, you’ll often find people talking online about how they don’t pay out, the fill rates are low, or that the adverts are bad quality – sometimes even containing malware. This is not all other advertising companies, but make sure you do your research before hosting adverts on your site. Remember a high quality user-experience is essential.
As Adsense is the first choice for most, they have pretty strict terms and conditions you need to adhere to. It’s worth reading through them and making sure you fully understand the rules to save yourself getting your account removed in the future. For instance, you can’t display ads on pop ups, you can’t have more than three visual ad units and link units per page, you can’t have ads right next to each other, and most importantly, you can’t influence people to click on your adverts.
Google’s algorithms are very advanced and if you think you can game the system, you’ll find out pretty quickly that’s not the case and lose your account.
In terms of what state your site needs to be in to get accepted onto Adsense, there is some criteria you’ll need to make sure is in place before you’ll get approval. These are listed on Google’s terms and conditions, but the major issues are as follows:
- You content needs to be high quality and original
- You’ll need to have 20 pages of content or more on your site
- There needs to be a high text to image ratio on pages displaying adverts
- Your site cannot contain reference or be based on adult themes
- You need to be getting at least a minimal but steady amount of traffic, about 500-1000+ unique visitors a month
This list is by no means all-inclusive but if you adhere to the points above and your site offers values to visitors, you should receive approval.
The biggest question people ask is what to expect in terms of earnings. This greatly depends on the topic and niche on your website as cost per click depends on what keywords are prominent on your page. If you’ve read our guide on setting up a profitable blog, you’ll see that keyword research is of huge importance when setting up your blog for this exact reason.
Using the Google Keyword planner, you can see what areas are the most profitable. It’s important to find a niche that has a high CPC on its keywords as this determines how much money you can expect to make through adsense. Certain niches are more profitable than others and if you blog is not listed among them, Adsense will be a waste of time for you.
The following graphic by WordStream will give you an idea of the best niches for making money on Adsense:
Keep in mind that this information is readily available to anyone after a quick Google search so you can expect competition to be fierce in these niches.
With that being said, earnings will depend on a number of factors. Your niche as mentioned above, the amount of traffic you get to your site, and the placement of your ads. Each area can make a massive difference to your advertising income.
On average, people’s CTR (click through rate) is about 1%, however, that can be higher with well targeted traffic.
Page CTR = Clicks / Page Views
For example, if you received 1 Click from 100 Page Views, then your Page CTR would be 1%. (1/100*100=1%)
Now if your cpc is $1 per click then you could expect to make $1 from every 100 page views (at 100% bounce rate which your site really shouldn’t be at!)
So if you had 1,000 visitors you would make $10 based on the above example.
Take some time to do some research on your topic, find the CPC on your keywords (these aren’t set in stone and are usually lower than what’s listed) and work out what you could be making on a CTR of 1% based on your current traffic levels. Once you’ve done this you can decide if Adsense is the way to go for you.
Selling Your Own Advertising
Another big aspect of advertising is to manage it yourself. This involves creating a professional media pack and reaching out to companies to see if they’d be interested in advertising on your site. Again, this works well in expensive niches where you can offer a price that’s competitive to Google.
So say your website is based on Insurance, you can see from the above graphic that the top CPC is $54.91. Insurance is a very competitive niche, so Insurers will be paying a lot for each click on Google Adsense. If they’re advertising on a site and we apply the average CTR of 1% they could be paying as much as $549.10 for 100 clicks or 1000 page views.
This leaves you with a lot of room to put together a competitive package for advertising. You could set up packages based on your daily traffic, even going so far as offering a website takeover where an advertiser has the option to buy all advertising slots on your website for the day.
Based on the sector CPC, the content of your blog and the amount of visitors you get, you can create attractive packages for advertisers.
The drawbacks here are it takes more work to get advertisers on board and you will find it very difficult to get a full fill rate. To combat this you can apply for an adsense account and have those adverts running on the days you don’t have your own advertisers.
You’ll need to be established and be able to prove your traffic for this to work, but many blogs find it to be very lucrative indeed.
Affiliate advertising is thrown around on the internet a lot as a way to make a lot of money quickly in a short space of time. Basically, you are advertising someone else’s product and making a commision each time a sale is made. Some people think they can just throw up a link or an ad, sit back, and watch the commission’s role in. This simply isn’t the case.
Going back to the point we made at the start about trying to sell something to someone as soon as you meet them, it’s important to note this is going to be a real turn off for your visitors. The best affiliate marketers take the time to provide great content and advice for their readers before recommending high quality products that will add value to them.
Note we said high quality! Never recommend or try to sell something you haven’t used your self and didn’t find any value in. This is one of the quickest ways to ruin your reputation online.
When finding affiliate products to market there are a couple of ways to go about it. The first is by looking at affiliate networks such as:
These work as the middleman between advertisers and publishers. Commission rates will vary from about 4%-60% depending on what network you use, the advertiser, and the products you’re selling. The benefits of using these networks is having a huge range of advertisers and products available, and being confident you’ll be paid providing you hit the minimum thresholds.
You don’t have to use affiliate networks, however, in fact many companies choose to set up their affiliate links privately. You might come across a product or service that meets your viewers needs and think this will be the best option and in many cases the products you find might be a better fit. This can be seen for hosting providers for example who usually set up affiliate campaigns privately.
The only drawback here is in some cases you might find trouble with payment with lesser known companies. Do your research first on the company and their affiliate programs. The chances are if someone has been burned, they’ll be giving out about it somewhere online.
As discussed, affiliate marketing works well when relationships have been built. If you’re writing in a specific sector, say hosting or IT for example, you can write reviews or recommend hosting to your readers based on your experience. Your website is based on the topic after all and if you’re writing useful information then your readers are going to trust what you say. However, if you have this type of website and are trying to sell weight loss packages to your readers, they’re going to be pretty confused!
Make sure your product is high quality and relates to the niche you are in. In takes time but by building your reputation, email list, and traffic, you can earn large amounts with affiliate marketing.
Selling products on your store allows you to enter the world of eCommerce. If you’re worried about managing payment and driving traffic to your site, you can sell your products on third party stores, such as Amazon, Ebay, Etsy etc., allow them to process payments and simply advertise your own products for sale on your website.
This method can be useful for people starting out but it’s important to remember that you’ll have to pay fees to the other websites for selling your products. Along with this, you’ll still be responsible for handling inventory and shipping unless you sign up for Amazon FBA. If you’d like a solution that handles all of this then check out our guide on How to Sell on Amazon.
If you want to sell a few products on your own page, there are different areas you can explore. Firstly, we’ll mention ebooks. If you have a lot of content on your site you might already be fairly close to having an ebook written that you can sell. For more information on this check out our guide on How to Self-Publish.
Digital products work well and if you’re a subject matter expert then there are many ways in which you can format this. Books, courses, audio etc. What’s beneficial about this is you can make your product available as a download, not worry about shipping, and never run out of stock.
If you’re thinking about selling physical products from your own store, then you’ll need to find a product that fits in well with your niche. You’ll need to take into account shipping costs etc and decide if you want to sell nationally or internationally.
For all these products we’d recommend selling via WooCommerce. This is an add-on to WordPress and works really well, is easy to set-up, and will integrate with payment methods. Taking payments through paypal will alleviate a lot of your, and your customer’s, worries about secure payment. It’s also very visual and a lot of themes will allow for WooCommerce so you won’t have to worry about your store looking different from the rest of your site.
Other Monetization Methods
Ok, so we’ve looked at three methods in a lot of detail. The following are other options that work well depending on what your website is all about. Take a look through the list and start thinking about what would add value to your readers.
Services such as consulting or coaching can work really well online. If you have experience with business or marketing, there is always demand for good online mentors. Even some other businesses do quite well on this route. For example, i’ve seen holistic sites offer tarot reading services, dating sites offer relationship coaching, sporting sites offering sports psychology sessions etc. If there is a service that works for your business and you’re qualified, or prepared to get qualified, then these services can generate a lot of income.
Audio advertising is new to the game of digital advertising but it’s one of the fastest growing areas. Here, when someone visits your site an audio advert will begin playing as soon as the page loads. You have to keep in mind that some visitors will not enjoy this at all depending on where they’re viewing from. However, if your site could get around this (being audio based, translation, languages etc.) then this type of advertising can work very well. On top of this, you can run them along other adverts without penalty.
Video advertising is another area which is rapidly growing. Youtube is generating a tonne of income from it and it’s going to be the natural path for many social networks going forward. Snapchat will decide to monetize eventually and with facebook running out of places they can place adverts it makes sense they’ll begin adding adverts to their autoplay videos.
So, where does this leave you? If you produce video content then you can add adverts to yours. With Youtube, this is as simple as ticking a box to allow adverts. The more views you get, the more you make. With the way things are heading, not moving into video could be a costly mistake for anyone planning on making an income online.
Online learning is a rapidly growing part of digital, particularly for people looking to pick up specific skills in a short space of time. Again, if you’re a subject matter expert or have skills that others would like to learn, this can be a big earner for you.
There are options here as to where you sell your courses as well. Marketplaces such as Udemy have a huge amount of traffic but you sacrifice end price and there are often limits and discounts in place which mean you have to sell your courses very cheaply. Teachable, is a good option as it allows you to host your courses while charging a fixed monthly fee which rises based on how many features you need in place. Of course, if you have WooCommerce installed you can save your course as a download, but this takes some of the interactivity away from it.
Membership sites can be tricky to grow but knowing how many subscribers you have allows you to have a firmer grasp on what your monthly income would be. A membership site hosts content that is exclusive for members only. You might have a forum in place, exclusive and in-depth content, webinars, courses etc. that provide good value in return for your subscribers monthly investment.
The key here again is high quality and making sure the user feels they are getting more than their money’s worth. Often a membership site will fail when people don’t have a great experience and post about it online. Potential subscribers do some research on you and are met with these reviews.
Directories have been around for years and they are still useful for companies to be featured on, particularly if they’re sector specific. For one, it can be a great source of permanent advertising for a monthly or yearly fee and drive traffic/customers to their website. Secondly, if your site has a good reputation then it can be a wise investment in terms of a backlink.
There are different types of directories but usually you’d be advertising businesses and services relating to your niche. However, things like job boards can also work well and if you get a lot of traffic to your site then job posts will usually sell for a lot more than a directory listing. Again, think about your business and whether this would be the right fit for you.
This should give you a good understanding as to the ways you can monetise your website. Remember, it’s a gradual process and if you go in thinking you’re going to be making a ton of money from the onset, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Usually, a site will combine more than one of these methods to capitalize on the amount of money they make. You just have to make sure you pick the right combination for your business and make sure it doesn’t affect the user experience. If it adds to it then it’s a bonus and you’re going to find that you do a lot better because of it.
High Quality, Great Value. This should be your mantra and at the core of everything you do for your business. By keeping to these standards your reputation is going to grow and people will begin to recommend you and link to your site. This natural traffic builds trust and is a far better alternative to paid advertising. Don’t be upset if things don’t seem to be working. Test, analyse, and roll out. Most campaigns only become successful on this basis and if you keep re-working, you’ll eventually find the recipe that allows your blog to make the best return on your time.