Every day new blogs are created.
On average – over 2 million blog posts are written every day!
It is harder than ever to make money with your blog.
But, it can be done.
Sadly, it won’t be easy.
It will take FOCUS.
It will take RESEARCH.
It will take TIME.
Monetizing a blog is a lot of work, takes even more patience and finding the right content to promote. It is about writing amazing content (not just good – but amazing), having that content be shared and talked about and creating a community that respects you and sees you as a professional in your blog niche.
Things to think about regarding monetization
One of the biggest issues I see among bloggers are websites that are filled to the rim with ads that ruin the user experience. From overlay popups to footer slide-ins to sidebar video pop-outs – they are just too much and will make a user leave on the spot.
This is NOT the most effective way to make money. Big bloggers that have millions of visitors of followers and big brands backing them can probably get away with this – but not us small fries.
Remember, there are a lot of bloggers writing the same content that offer less frustrating experiences!
Also, when you add different ad networks you are increasing your website load time. Sometimes this additional load can place several seconds (we have seen as much as 12 in our testing) – to a page load. I can tell you, no one is going to wait 12 seconds for a page to load just to see your ads.
Is that ad network worth the visitors you will lose?
Will the money you make offset the loss of potential future brand ambassadors?
Imagine walking into a store for the first time and they greet you at the door with a big sign that says “buy this shirt at this other store” and you cannot get in to see what THEY offer. That is basically what you are doing when you are slamming them with ads when they try to walk in your door – you are asking them to go somewhere else.
What are ways to monetize a blog?
Adsense requires a boatload of traffic to generate any real money and we would not even recommend this to anyone starting out or with traffic less than about 100,000 visitors a month. Of course this will vary based on your industry since some industries pay more than others and is just meant to be a guide. I have seen sites that get that much traffic and still only make $20 or so a day.
Adsense can also be difficult to get approved for if you are a new publisher.
Ad networks are great, but they typically require you to have a certain amount of visitors or sessions to be able to be a part of their network. A good thing about some ad networks is that they will work with you closely to help you maximize your earnings – the more you earn, the more their clients earn so it is a win-win all around.
The bad side of ad networks is that you are usually required to have a certain amount of ads per page. In some cases there has been issues of websites having multiple ad spaces from a network all showing the exact same ads – which kind of looks spammy in our opinion.
Below are just a few other Ad network options – of course there are many more out there!
Mediavine is a popular option and requires 25,000 sessions a month.
AdThrive is another great option for that that have at least 100,000 page views per month.
Media.net is what is called a contextual ad network which focuses on delivering ads based on the page content. This is almost like Adsense but it is using ads from Bing and Yahoo.
Infolinks is a flexible ad network that does no seem to have a minimum requirement for traffic.
The Amazon affiliate program is probably one of the more popular blog monetization methods – and for good reason, it can make you a great income if done well.
The good parts of Amazon are the large selection of products to promote! No matter what industry you are in, there is something for everyone to talk about on their blogs – this is what makes it so popular.
Amazon is a powerhouse at converting as well. Our own websites typically convert between 12 and 30% of all clicks into a sale.
The downside is that Amazon commission rates are so low that you have to generate a lot more traffic to get to a level where you can be a full time blogger.
You can see here that rates range from 1% – 10% based on the niche you are in.
In terms of “affiliate” commissions these are very low. Let’s take pet products for example since I have a website in that niche. The rate for referrals is 8% – so if you are pushing a product that is $30 you will make a whopping $2.40.
Now to replace your income – how many $2.40 orders do you have to send Amazon’s way? A lot!
Banner Ads / Sponsored Posts
If you have a decent amount of traffic, then selling banner ads or sponsored posts may be a good opportunity for you. You can even sell links if you want to go that route.
We do sell links on our websites – but are INCREDIBLY picky about who we sell them to. We will never sacrifice our brand for money. Our rates for links go from about $50 to $500 per link. Yes, you can get $500 per link if you have an authoritative website and a post that kills it with traffic!
Coming up with your pricing is something you need to think carefully about.
Why did we charge $500 for that link?
Because we know the post is valuable and since we can probably only sell 3 links in that post (it is over 10,000 words) we wanted to be sure we maximized our revenue. We also know that the link recipient may profit off of that link to their website because of the nature of the way we offered the link.
Never underestimate the value of your post or website! If one person says no, wait until someone who values it comes along.
If you have a brand that you love – reach out to them and offer to be a brand ambassador! This will of course require a well trafficked blog and good social following, but some brands will offer great payments for stronger blogs!
What makes you unique?
What can you offer that can help people or change their lives?
Consulting is a fantastic way to generate income as long as it is in line with your blog niche. For example, in my blog for CharityPaws, I may consider starting consulting to rescues or shelters about fundraising or event planning.
Thank about your niche and what you could offer!
Probably one of the quicker ways to earn an income is writing and promoting an eBook.
The perfect income maker for just about any niche, an eBook can not only add to your credibility but can be a great way to engage a community that is interested in your niche.
Diversification Is Key
If you are not using a FEW of the monetization methods above – you are doing yourself a big disservice!
If there is ONE change you make for 2019 – it is to make sure you are using several different revenue methods on your blog.
Imagine if Amazon stops their affiliate program tomorrow? Where does that leave you.
By implementing several different revenue streams you will always have wiggle room if one of those streams dries up!
My Experiences With Monetization
Ok so who the hell am I and why should you care what I say?
Well, I have had a lot of success monetizing websites of all types – from e-commerce to blogs. I am good at SEO and that is where I get my traffic – but please do not ask me a thing about social media, because I hate it – and I suck at it!
I have been in this industry for over 10 years.
I do consider myself an SEO pro – I hate the word expert, but I am damn good at it and that is my sole focus when I build websites.
This was my first success story way back in 2008.
I had sold that website for mid-5 figures not too long after this story was published. I had heard years later the woman who bought it sadly had cancer and the site was no longer being maintained so now it is just a spammy looking website which breaks my heart.
About the same time I started a website called Cool Photo Ideas.
This was a blog that focused on all the amazing things that you could do with photos, wall inspiration, artist profiles and more. Back in 2008 there was nothing really like it and I really did very well with that website from ads and affiliate marketing. I was approached
In 2010 a photo printing company approached me to purchase the website – and offered 5 figures for it — I took it and moved on to the next thing.
I started a few e-commerce websites like outdoorplaytoys.com, outdoorcookingdepot.com and a few blogs in a a variety of niches from tattoos to kid’s bikes! Every one of these website were sold at some point.
I took a hiatus for a few years from doing my own thing when I launched 2 Dogs Media since that required all of my attention.
But now, I am back in the buy, sell and create game and hope to be able to teach some things along the way.
I currently have 6 websites (not including 2 Dogs Media) – that are solely focused on blogging/affiliate marketing. CharityPaws will be the only one I will be 100% open with as the others are bigger money makers and I cannot risk copy cats knocking me out or sabotaging my success!
Let’s Talk About CharityPaws
I started CharityPaws in 2014 as a shirt fundraising website for animal rescues. It was only a part time project and we worked with 1 rescue a month.
I did not have the time to make it a true success due to my 2 Dogs Media business – so in 2015 I stopped doing anything on it and it just sat for about 2 years until the end of 2017 when I decided to revamp it.
It ranked well for terms related to animal rescue shirt fundraising and those types of things, but there was no blog or anything to speak of.
In 2015 I added 10 posts
In 2016 I added 3 posts
In 2017 I added 27 posts
…and so far in 2018 I have added 72 posts.
As you can see, I had not put much effort into blogging until this year – well really last October is when I decided to really put effort into making this a blog!
This is still a very part time venture and I usually put in less than 6-8 hours a week.
You can see below October 2017 we had 619 visitors from organic search.
This year in October we had 3,277 visitors from organic search.
Pet Blogging As A Niche
Because I am active in the pet blogging community and know the frustrations of making money as a pet blogger are out there – I wanted to do an income diary for CharityPaws to help everyone see how you can monetize a blog.
I have already admitted that I do think pet bloggers have a bigger struggle with making money than other niches because of the limited relevancy in advertising networks, lower cost products to promote and the overall smaller search volume than some other niche markets I have made money in.
Money Making Strategies On CharityPaws
July 2018 was the first month I started thinking about making money on the blog.
I did try Adsense for a couple of months, but decided that was not an area I wanted to be in and removed it. I made a few dollars but it was so not worth it for the look it gave my website in my opinion.
I will not be using Adsense at all in the future for this specific website.
Amazon / ShareASale
I have made a few dollars of of Amazon and ShareASale, nothing fabulous of course but my traffic is still relatively low.
TIP #1: I did have one product that I sold a few of on Amazon which was getting me 4% in commissions. So I went to ShareAsale to see if that manufacturer had an affiliate program – they did. So now I link to that product on their website directly and get 15% in commission for that product.
Conversions have been a bit lower for that item, but the increased commission makes up for it.
Tip #2: Watch your traffic and clicks to affiliate products! If you are drawing in say 100 visitors to a post, but only see a handful of clicks to Amazon (or any affiliate link) – you are doing something wrong. By rewriting my copy on one post I was able to increase my CTR on my affiliate links by over 20%.
TIP #3: Never create reviews or product descriptions that do nothing but say how awesome an item or service is. NOTHING is that perfect! Visitors are looking for real honest reviews — put the bad stuff in there too! I can take 5 hours to write one product review because I am reading all the reviews on Amazon, on the manufacturer websites – I review Reddit and Quora and forums to see what others are saying.
Of course the best way to convert the most affiliate sales is to get the product and do a real review video and post! This is the singular best way to stand out from the crowd – help your SEO and improve conversions!
This is a major goal for me personally in 2019 – making the product investment is so worth it and you can raffle off the product when you are done with it which can help with social and engagement.
This came about because of a specific post I have that was bringing a great amount of traffic to a certain website that I wrote about.
They did not offer an affiliate program or anything and really felt like I deserved something – especially if they were converting sales!
I reached out to them – showed them traffic reports and talked about a deal. I advised I could easily change that post to profile another website (which of course I did not want to do since it was THEM I had worked with before and loved) that would do a deal with me – so, we negotiated a $50 per sale deal.
For 2019 my sole focus is on improving traffic so I can test some of the ad networks for income opportunities. I hope to get to 30,000 visitors per month by Spring of 2019 and 100,000 by the end of the year.
I am less focused on money right now and more focused on growing traffic and my mailing list.
I am doing this in a very specific way.
I am searching for low competition keyphrases with high traffic. There are a lot of them out there and I highly recommend Ahrefs to find them! They do offer a 7 day-trial for $7 that will help you tremendously!
These may not be posts I can monetize and are mostly informational but that is A-OK in my book – because all I care about right now is increasing traffic.
I have one specific section on my website that I am building out that I hope will make this happen faster than my Spring target. (I cannot share because I do not want anyone copying my idea – but I will release it once I get it ranking well). But if I do well with this specific idea — it will bring a lot of organic traffic!
I am also working on some “landing pages” for products/services I have found that I think can be money makers. These will not be visible in my navigation but only found via Google search results.
Why do this you ask?
Because these pages are not really inline with the niche of my blog – they are pet related but not necessarily something I would want my readers to see. These are going to be products I am promoting for the purpose of making money – so it allows me to build a revenue stream without necessarily hurting my “reputation” as a resource for animal rescues and the people that support them.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments?
Let me know what you think – or if you have something awesome to add let us know and we will add to the post and credit you!
We know blogging is hard – but so fun and so worth it if you do it right! You GOT THIS! Now get out there and make shit happen!