This is probably the question I get asked the most, either by nosy types who seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone how much money they earn, or by newer bloggers wanting some advice. It’s also one of the biggest areas of The Blogcademy and certainly the section that garners the most discussion.
So today I’m sharing some ideas on how you might want to monetise your blog. But I’d caution you to just take these ideas as hard and fast rules. The great thing about being a blogger is that there are no rules or restrictions on what you can try to make an income. Blogging is all about forging your own path, coming up with your own ideas and going your own way. So think of this article as a jumping off point for starting to dream up your next light bulb moment.
Diversify your income streams
The most important thing to realise is that, as a blogger, it is imperative to diversify your income streams – the classic don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Having some form of advertising in place is usually the first port of call for anybody wanting to monetise a website, but what if businesses and brands decide that they don’t want to have blog ads any longer? If the bottom does fall out of digital advertising, you don’t want this to be the only way you pay your rent.
While I don’t think you should stretch yourself too thin or have too much going on (it can be difficult to keep up with and confusing for your readers) at least three or four revenue streams, in my opinion, would be advisable.
This is how I handle all the adverts on Rock n Roll Bride. So basically if someone wants an advert on my site, they email me directly about it and we take it from there. The main reasons I do it this way and not through a third party like an ad network (see below) is because a) I can have complete control over who is represented on the site and b) I don’t have to give anyone else a cut of the profits!
I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs if how my advertising systems work in this article (you’ll have to come to The Blogcademy for that juicy info!) but needless to say it’s the way that works best for me.
There are hundreds of ad networks representing widely varying types of advertisers and placing them on a plethora of different niches of blogs. But, in a nutshell, they takeover a space on your site (usually in the sidebar and of their own specified size) and fill it with adverts from the brands that they represent. The great thing about working with an ad network is that they have the connections with bigger brands that you might not, and once the ads are live there is very little work that you need to do. The downsides are that they take a cut of the profits and you can’t have complete control as to what ads might suddenly appear on your site.
You get paid per click. I hear the average is about $2/CPM (cost per thousand impressions) but it varies depending on the type and size of advert as well as the traffic of the blog. Some of the networks also limit the impressions that ‘count’ to a specific country – so for example if you were working with an ad network based in the US they will only pay out from the impressions made by your blog visitors based in the United States.
Now lets say that hypothetically your blog gets 20,000 page views a month and you had three adverts on your site. At $2/CPM that would make you a whopping $120 a month… hardly enough to live off. These types of adverts also often take up a lot of valuable real estate on your blog’s sidebar so clearly if you do choose to go down this route it can’t be your only source of income.