Blogging is one of the most successful ways of getting your words across to multiple people at one time. A blog can be used to attract people to a website, to promote a cause, or just to share ideas with others. Learning how to monetize a blog can add another layer to your endeavor; the ability to make money doing something that you may be doing otherwise.
What Does It Mean to Monetize a Blog?
The majority of blogs are free to read, and many are even to free to publish. This means that they are primarily a means of sharing ideas and information. The very first blogs were often online journals or diaries; people who wanted to write about any topic could publish their thoughts online for others to read and comment on. Blogging has become a multi-million dollar industry, however, with many bloggers expecting – and getting – monetary compensation for the time they put in. Blogging has become such a wide-spread phenomenon that there are courses dedicated to writing blogs, as well as courses that will teach you how to build one.
Monetizing a blog can mean one of several different things, but they all boil down to one basic principle; you get paid a percentage for publishing your thoughts for others to read. There are many different ways that you can do this, and most don’t cost you or your readers anything in upfront charges that could be detrimental to your bottom line.
Keep in mind that very, very few people are able to blog successfully for a living. Learning how to monetize a blog successfully merely means that you will be able to earn something for your writing; it does not mean that you will be able to quit your job and live off your blog earnings.
In fact, a recent survey done of 266 bloggers by Type-A Parent found that about 13% of bloggers who advertized did not earn any money on their blogs, while about 30% earn less than $100 a month. Only about 1% of those surveyed actually earned a significant amount of money – $5,000+ – each month.
Of those bloggers who did successfully monetize their blogs, the majority – about 82% – do some form of networking or advertizing of their blogs to promote them.
The survey also found that some methods of monetizing were more effective than others, but this can change depending upon your target audience, how much traffic you get, and the niche you are blogging in.
How to Monetize a Blog
Ultimately, the method you decide upon to monetize your blog will be determined by several things:
- Your readers
- Your monthly traffic levels
- How often you update the blog
- Your blog layout or style
- The amount of networking you do/connections you make
Some of these methods of monetizing take time to begin earning a profit, while others will earn money from day one. The most successful methods of monetizing a blog combine a few of these techniques together, as some only earn money sporadically; combining them will give you a more consistent income stream.
Using Google Adsense
One of the simplest ways of monetizing your blog is to use Google Adsense. If you use either Blogger or WordPress as your blogging platform, you can quickly and easily turn on Adsense, which will generate small text or picture ads on your blog. You can change the position and size of the ads, including sidebar and banner ads. You can set the type of monetization to either pay-per-click or pay-per-view; pay-per-click gives you a certain percentage per ad only when someone clicks on it, while pay-per-view gives you a certain percentage per set number of page loads. If you have a very high traffic blog, for example, you will earn more money with pay-per-view, but if you only have a few readers, pay-per-click will probably earn you more.
Google Adsense generates its ads based upon what your readers have recently been searching for, as well as the keywords you use in your posts. For example, if you are writing a home improvement blog, and discuss certain types of wood plank flooring, you might get ads for similar products. A reader who stumbles on your blog after searching for plank flooring may click on the ads, because they are relevant. This earns you money.
Using an Ad Network
If you have a fairly high traffic blog, and you update on a regular basis, you may be able to get a contract with an ad network. An ad network, like Federated Media or BlogHer, places an ad or set of ads above the fold on your blog. You get paid a set amount for each impression or page load the ad widget recognizes. Sometimes, you may get an additional amount if someone clicks on the ad.
Getting an ad network contract sometimes has stipulations. You may use other ads on your blog, but only if they are below the fold. If you take sponsored posts on your blog from someone other than the ad network, they may insist that you put the post on a page that does not run ads from the network. To do this, you may have to set up your blog to have a short intro paragraph with a link for readers to continue reading the entry. This can be off putting to some readers, who may decide not to read the post.
Sometimes a company or person will pay you a set amount of money to run an ad on your blog for a set amount of time – usually about a month. The amount of money you charge for this service usually depends on how popular your blog is, and whether or not you will be reaching the target audience that the business wants to reach.
One of the most effective means of monetizing your blog is to write posts that are sponsored by another company. Sometimes these posts go hand in hand with an ad network, other times you may be approached directly by a company, or you may work with a company such as Business2Blogger that connects people for this type of service. Sponsored posts range in how much they pay depending upon the company hiring, and the amount of traffic you may get in a month. Sometimes a sponsored post may include a product or service that you need to review, or it may include a giveaway or discount code for your readers.
To get sponsored posts, you may need to demonstrate an ability to write in the style that the business wants. You may also have to document a specific number of impressions or page views per month to indicate that your blog is worth sponsoring.
If you do decide to do some sponsored posts on your blog, keep in mind that you will need to include some disclosure text either at the beginning or end of the post to let your readers know that this was sponsored material. You may also be required to include some specific words or sentences in the post, to write around a specific theme or subject, or you may be required to give your opinion after experiencing the product or service of the company that is sponsoring you.
Some sponsored posts may not pay you in money; the post may be in exchange for goods or services, such as passes to an amusement park to review, or some snacks to try. Because these goods and services are worth money, it can still be thought of as successfully monetizing a blog, even if you don’t receive actual money for your services, but receive a product instead.
One of the more subtle ways of monetizing a blog is to use in-text ads. In-text ads appear as links within the body of your text. Rather than simply being a normal looking link, however, they often have a double underline beneath them to set them apart from standard links. You get paid a certain percentage whenever someone clicks on one of the links.
Some in-text ads will also have a hover-over feature, where if someone mouses over the link, it will turn into an ad. Some readers may prefer this type of ad, as some in-text ads may fool people into clicking on them when they didn’t realize it.
If you frequently post about products that you use yourself, you may want to set up some affiliate links with companies such as Amazon. With an affiliate link, you include a link to the product you are discussing or recommending somewhere in your text. If a reader purchases the item from your link, you receive a small percentage of the sale.
Keep in mind that if you use affiliate links anywhere on your page, you are required by law to disclose this fact. Some bloggers will use a specific disclosures page to cover all sponsored posts and affiliate links at once, while others will put a disclaimer each time they are used; the choice should be based on your personal preferences, and the reactions of your readers.
Thoughts on Monetizing Blogs
Keep in mind as you learn how to monetize a blog, that some readers may decide that they are put off by aggressive or in your face monetizing. Remember to balance any sponsored posts with plenty of authentic content to give your readers a choice of what it is they are looking at. Keep your ads tasteful, and make sure that they do not interfere with the content of your blog. While it’s nice to earn some money for your efforts, remember that readers are what will earn you anything, and that your first thoughts need to be toward engaging and keeping them. Take the time to listen to reader concerns and adjust your ads or sponsored content accordingly so you don’t lose both over time.
Learn How to Monetize Your Blog
Learning how to monetize a blog successfully can be a bit of a trial and error process. Not every method is guaranteed to earn you more than a few pennies each month. You may need to adjust several times and combine methods to find that it’s worth your while. Even then, remember that the majority of bloggers that earn anything earn only less than $100 a month. And while this is a great way to fund your blogging hobby, it cannot be mistaken as a career.
To ensure that your blog is successful enough to monetize, consider taking some courses in building a profitable blog, or in transforming your blog into something that people want to read. Given enough time, you may find that your blogging pays off in ways you never thought possible.