Making money from a blog is not quick and it’s not easy.
Let’s get this clear from the outset.
Often it can take years of consistent effort, quality content, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to even get noticed and achieve a reasonable level of traffic.
And only when you’ve got a good level of traffic, then you can start to monetize your blog.
Without strong traffic, a blog is worthless.
And unless you’re selling a high-ticket item as part of your monetization and have a really strong degree of credibility to be able to effectively sell your high-ticket item, then paid traffic such as Adwords and social ads just aren’t going to deliver you a positive ROI (Return on Investment).
Think about the model – if your main form of monetization on your blog is advertising, and you are using advertising such as Adwords or Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site, aside from the dilution of this traffic (not all traffic will convert or click on your ads), then you’re using some of the most expensive and competitive advertising platforms to drive the traffic that will generate revenue from your less competitive, niche advertising platform.
Rarely does this approach ever stack up financially.
So your first step towards monetizing your blog is to master SEO – so you can maximise the free traffic your site receives, and boost your chances of achieving profitability.
Now, SEO is too broad a subject to breach in this post – I want to talk about the ways you make money once you have the traffic that SEO delivers, but if you’re at the stage where you don’t yet have the traffic to your blog, then I’d highly recommend checking out backlinko.com – Brian Dean, Backlinko’s owner, has some amazing, free SEO guides on how to boost your organic traffic and it’s a very useful resource for learning how to build your free traffic.
You’ll also need to learn about keywords, and the Long Tail Pro tool is the best out there for keyword research. Check it out if you want to get serious about your blog’s SEO.
Now, if you are already in a position where you have a good level of traffic to your blog – here’s some great ways to earn some money from that traffic.
Google’s very own ad program – you link into their huge network of advertisers, they display their advertiser’s ads on your site (wherever you specify), and you get paid a percentage of the revenue that Google generates from each click on those ads.
People I know have experienced varying levels of success with Adsense – some love it, some hate it.
I have personally found that your success with the program depends on 3 factors:
1. The level of traffic your site receives and therefore the size of the audience your ads are exposed to
2. The competitiveness and average Cost-Per-Click in your site’s niche
3. Your placement of Adsense ads on your site
For optimum conditions and the highest probability of success, you should be looking to use Adsense if your site receives a strong level of traffic (I’m talking 5-10k unique visitors per month upwards), your niche has a strong CPC (I would regard a competitive niche as anything with an average CPC over £3-4), and you should look to position your ads so that they blend well into your existing site structure and don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
To expand on that final point, I only ever use text-based Adsense ads (no graphical banners – these just make it obvious that they are an advertisement), and in particular I’ve found click-through on the ‘Ad Links’ type ads to be the highest and thus generate the highest level of income.
The highest performing Adsense ads I’ve ever used are ones that sit right below (or above) the main website navigation menu. Google will show topics in these links that make it look like part of your navigation menu, and visitors will click on it as such.
An example of this approach can be seen below on my niche site www.pizzaovenhub.com:
Pizza Oven Site
Some might view this as a little sneaky – but it ultimately leads to a result for both the visitor and the site owner – the visitor gets to see content related to the ad they clicked on and expressed interest in, and the site owner benefits by being paid for that click through.
You can never be totally underhand with Adsense ads anyway since the ‘AdChoices’ link always shows at the side of these ads, making it clear that these are still adverts.
BuySell Ads is a platform that allows advertisers to sign-up and pay to advertise on your website – usually buying banner space at a monthly rate set by you and the BuySell Ads platform.
It has a plugin available for WordPress sites so you can sign-up for an account, install the plugin on your blog, and you’re away – adverts will show initially with an ‘Advertise Here’ link, which will guide people through the sign-up process on BuySell Ads. Then once you have a few sign-ups, your ad block will be filled by your advertisers’ ads.
The beauty is that the display and removal of ads according to allocated and paid-for slots is all automated by the BuySell Ads platform, so there’s no manually recording dates of when adverts need either renewing or removing from your site, and the initial sign-up process is also fully automated, so there’s no manual invoicing involved.
The BuySell Ads platform also gives potential advertisers an idea of potential monthly impressions on each ad space according to data it collects over time on your site, so they can see the value and exposure level they would be receiving from an advert.
The other benefit is your ads will be featured on the BuySell Ads marketplace, so the potential advertiser doesn’t need to directly visit your site to find that your website is available to advertise on.
Again, this works best on very high traffic sites – since the exposure for advertisers is transparent, and they can see the estimated traffic their banner will receive, if your site has low-volume traffic, it just won’t be worth advertisers’ while signing-up, nor yours, since you won’t be able to charge a great deal for so few impressions.
If you’ve ever followed Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog, you’ll see from his income reports that affiliate recommendations can be highly lucrative for bloggers – FYI, last month he earned over $80,000 in affiliate referrals.
And it’s just a case of telling someone about something you support or endorse, and providing the affiliate link – it’s that simple!
Again, this works well with high traffic sites, given you will have potential to refer more people and therefore earn more, but it works equally well for lower-volume traffic sites operating in very specific niches, and affiliating with high-ticket items.
Provided the affiliate program you sign-up for is %age based and not a fixed fee per referral, then you could refer a sale for a $5,000 item and earn 50% affiliate commission on this – that’s why this could work well to monetize lower-volume traffic sites. Provided you have the niche focus and the credibility within this niche to convince people to purchase high-value items and services, then this can be a very smart way to make a good deal of income from very little traffic.
Plus, if you’re dealing with high-ticket items in your referrals, and working on a %age, it becomes much more viable for you to explore paid-for traffic such as Adwords, BuySell Ads as an advertiser, and much more – to deliver even more traffic and more affiliate income.
Amazon stores are great.
Because you aren’t just limited to earning an affiliate income to the items in your actual Amazon store.
To give you a rundown, an Amazon store is something you build on your own site, usually on a dedicated ‘shop’ page within a niche site or something similar, and you offer a select set of items from the Amazon platform within this shop.
People then complete their purchase on Amazon (so no need for you to hook-up a payment processor or have an SSL certificate on your site), and you earn a percentage of whatever the customer spends with Amazon.
The beauty of this is, whenever someone clicks on your store – even if they don’t complete a purchase there and then – a cookie is placed on the visitor’s browser, which means, even if they go back to Amazon a couple of weeks later to buy something totally unrelated to what they were looking at in your store, you will still earn an affiliate commission from this sale. That’s why it can be so lucrative!
We have an Amazon store on one of our niche sites related to tea (artisan, loose teas typically) – but we found on our income reports that we were earning income from totally unrelated items like vegan shoes, and sex toys!
Digital products are great for bloggers to earn an income from their blog.
Usually, a blog is centered around a particular niche subject, and is designed to provide information to people that are seeking it. So what better way to compliment this than to build a paid-for, downloadable ebook or course, that will allow your visitors to purchase and learn more from you.
Sure, it’s a lot of work in the early stages building the content, designing the cover of the course or book, and so on. But once it’s built and the payment process is set-up, all that remains is to promote it to your subscribers and link to it in existing and new posts on your blog.
It’s effectively an automated way to generate income, and also to maintain the lion’s share of the sales you make.
This is one huge difference that selling your own product, on your own platform, brings in comparison to being an affiliate or a publisher for advertising programs – your margins are much, much greater, since the only cost associated with making the sale is promotion and payment processing fees. You are not dictated minority percentages by a huge platform like Amazon or Google, who take the bulk of the revenue your site delivers for them.
With your own product, you’re in charge.
This is a great approach if you have a strong subscriber base (that you can announce the launch of your product to) and high traffic levels.
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