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The Myths Of Monetizing Your Blog

Many people wonder how to make money blogging.

I started blogging on April 22nd of last year and I just reached my 100,000th visit with around 200,000 Web pages viewed (e.g. each visitor is looking at two articles I’ve written).

Since I started my blog I’m amazed how many people have asked me:

“Can you make money from blogging?”

Indeed, one of the reasons I began my blog was to study the different monetization models used to make money from blogging.

I’ve looked at two ways to monetize my blog so far:

  1. Advertising (through Google AdSense) and
  2. Affiliate marketing (mainly through Amazon’s Associates program and some through Zazzle)

Two Myths of Monetizing Your Blog

Myth #1: You Can Monetize Your Blog Through Google AdSense Ads

If you want to make money with a blog through selling AdSense, you’re going to have to have a lot of traffic…a LOT of traffic.

You can expect to make a CPM of $.25 to $1 in selling your ads through AdSense, according to my own numbers, and those of friends of mine.

What does CPM mean?  CPM stands for cost per thousand (this is an advertising term as in an advertiser is willing to pay $X in cost per thousand of some audience metric (readers in magazines, viewers in TV, etc.) — interestingly, on the Internet the metric is page views.

For example, when I say that you can make up a $.50 CPM on a blog, I am saying that an advertiser (in this case many advertising bidding through Google’s AdWords system) is paying you $.50 for every 1,000 “page views” that your site generates.

So, back to my blog…if I were to receive a $.50 CPM, I would make:

  • $.50 for 1,000 page views
  • $5 for 10,000 page views
  • $50 for 100,000 page views
  • $500 for 1 million page views

So, if I were to have put Google AdSense ads on my site since I began, I would have generated a total of around $200 (The $1CPM ($.001) times 200,000 page views = $200).

Myth #2: You Can Monetize Your Blog Through Affiliate Marketing

A second way people try to earn money blogging is through affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is just another form of selling ads: you put a link on your blog promoting another company’s product.

The difference is that you ONLY get paid if a person clicks on the affiliate marketing ad on your site and then buys a product from the site (the affiliate marketer) they then visit.

For example, I joined the Amazon Associates program (arguably the largest of its kind) and I include links to many products sold by Amazon (mostly books I review) here on my blog.

If someone clicks on my Amazon link, and they visit Amazon and buy any product (not just the one I linked to) during that visit, Amazon will pay me anywhere from 4% to 8% based on the volume of sales I help them generate.

In the year I’ve been testing out monetizing my blog through Amazon affiliate links, I’ve sold 51 products for Amazon, generating $1,048.31 in sales for them and $50.02 in commissions for me.

Basically, I’m making around $1 for every Amazon product I help sell — I’m converting .05% of my visitors to becoming a customer.

I could move that conversion number up to .25% immediately if I put more affiliate links up.

This .25% conversion number is fairly common for a content-oriented Web site like mine (and like most of the blogs of the world).

However,  if you had a Web site that was focused exclusively on commerce (as opposed to advice like I do), I estimate you could move your conversion up to 2 or 3% of visitors buying something.

So, in total, I’ve learned that making money blogging (Google AdSense and Amazon’s Affiliate Marketing Program) has been very tough: I’ve generated just a couple hundred bucks from the 100,000 visitors who’ve come to my site in the last year.

Don’t Fret: There Is Some Good News About Monetizing Your Blog

So, we covered the tough part. For your blog to make money, you’re gonna need enormous traffic.

But in addition to enormous traffic, there are many other ways to earn money through your blog. Here are some:

  • You Can ByPass Google AdSense — You can acquire much higher ad rates if you increase your traffic to the 100,000 visitors per month level and beyond (in my estimation, you could sell ads yourself for $1 to $10CPM at that range. That’s up to 20X as much as you’d make from AdSense!
  • You Can Earn Higher Affiliate Commissions — You can earn 100X+ higher affiliate commission fees than you get through Amazon by doing some research on what types of affiliate marketing offers would be most relevant to the content that you write about (for example, the relationship advice company I work for will pay $15 or more to you if you generate an ebook sale for us.)
    • Go search “affiliate marketing offers” on Google or visit AffiliateTips where as of right now some poker sites are offer more than $100 if your blog generates them a customer. That would be about 100X higher than the $1 commission I’m generating for each book I’m helping Amazon sell.
  • Endorsed Relationships — This is a new term that a few of us have been using lately. It’s the same concept as your putting up an affiliate link but in this case you go directly to the company selling a product you believe in and you write up an endorsement of it. Steve Pavlina writes in his book Personal Development for Smart People that he selectively chooses certain products to promote through his super-popular blog (only ones he believes in) and sometimes receives a share in the sales for it (some of you may recall that Steve Pavlina used to monetize his blog through AdSense).
  • Sell Your Own Product — You can earn even higher amounts of money if you sold your own product (e.g. if you were to write a book or manufacture some product that you sell directly through your blog). You have to figure out what type of product would be of value to your audience but if you did figure out how to create such a product (a book, ebook, audio or video program, piece of art, software, etc.) cost-effectively, you can generate much higher amounts of money through your blog that way.
  • Collect Email Addresses & Market To Them — You can often charge higher CPMs for emailing advertisements than you could for selling the same ads on your Web site. It’s not unheard of to charge $25 CPMs for sending out an email promotion to your list (that would be $25 for every 1,000 people on your email list).

I hope these tips on monetizing your blog were helpful.

I’ll be writing in the future about effective ways to monetize your blog or Web site and, as always, welcome your input.

If you like this article, you may also like MySpace & Other Examples of E-CPMs.

6 Comments

  • http://robdkelly.com/career-advice/3-simple-steps-to-help-you-pursue-your-passion/ 3 Simple Steps To Help You Pursue Your Passion | Rob Kelly

    [...] The Myths Of Monetizing Your Blog [...]

  • Gbokei

    Great,I like  your website,i’ll bookmark it.
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    Yes Rob. Your tips are helpful. Thanks

  • http://www.myzquietreviews.com zquiet

    I have looked into Adsense a few times but the numbers always add up as you have summarized Rob. Lots of work with little return. Even so I do know of people who make serious money with it.
    Thanks Rob. Article gave me food for thought.

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