A Primer on Monetization

By | November 26, 2008

Jake and I agreed to swap guest posts, so I find myself writing for you all here at Jake’s Corner.  If you aren’t familiar with me already, I normally can be found writing at my home site of Thatedeguy.com.

One of the things that Jake and I have been discussing a lot lately as he ramped up his blogging and began really focusing on being a better blogger was the monetization of his sites.  With that in mind, I though it would be good to share some of the thoughts and ideas that we had while discussing that as well as give a quick primer on how one goes about monetizing a blog.

When you begin looking at monetizing a blog, there are essentially three ways to go about it.

  1. PPC/CPM ads.  The predominant method of monetizing and the one that is dominated by Google’s behemoth; Adsense.  It has two facets.  PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, and CPM, or Cost Per Mil.  PPC is exactly what it’s name implies.  For every click on an ad displayed on your website, you get paid.  The amounts will vary but they are usually less than a dollar per click.  CPM is a method of displaying ads whereby you get paid by the number of impressions (views) that you show the ad for.  Usually this is expressed as some amount per 1000 (1 mil) views.  Neither of these will make you rich, but can be the most reliable for the beginning blogger.
  2. Paid Posting.  Sometimes viewed as the bastard of the monetization methods, there are some bloggers who make a very nice sum of money by doing paid posting of some sort.  It can take several forms, but the most common are the paid reviews of sites/products, the paid posting of advertising material for events, programs and products, and the paid posting of links.  These usually pay as a one time payment.  e.g. $20 per post or as a subscription payment e.g. $10 per month per link.
  3. Affiliate ads.  By signing up as an affiliate to a company, they agree to give you a percentage, usually in the range of 3%-10% of any sales that you send their way.  You’ll find that many of the “A-list” bloggers are making quite a bit of money this way.  Smaller traffic blogs and websites will usually struggle with this type of monetization, but it can be a much better source of revenue as your traffic increases.

Very seldom will you find a blog or website that is only using one of the above methods.  In many cases, the owner is employing at least two of them and in some cases, all three.  One of the first tenets that you should learn when beginning a monetization strategy is to create multiple streams of income such that if one dries up, you’ve got others to help fill the void.

Some of the key things to take into account when creating a monetization strategy are the makeup of your visitors, your volume of traffic, the topic/niche of your site, and what advertising you have an issue with.

The makeup of your visitors can make a big difference in how you monetize your site.  You don’t want to try and sell a barbie to a 20 year old male geek.  He isn’t likely to buy it.  He is, on the other hand, likely to buy an iPod, a new cell phone, and just about the entire catalog at thinkgeek.com.

You volume of traffic, as I mentioned before, can make a pretty big difference in what kind of ads you run.  In my experience, PPC ads perform better for lower traffic sites while affiliate ads can perform better for middle and high traffic sites.

Much like the makeup of your visitors, the topic/niche of your site can dictate what kind of products you’ll be advertising on your site.  With PPC ads, the product is usually taken care of for you, but you still want to keep an eye out that you aren’t advertising for a Camera on a Nudist blog.  (I couldn’t help it.)

And finally, you want to be mindful of what your ads say about you and about your site.  A site that is dedicated to getting people out of debt, for instance, probably shouldn’t be advertising for Instant cash loans or payday loans.  You also want to be careful to not be advertising for something that is against your morels.  In other words, don’t sell yourself out.

In the end, your monetization strategy is only as strong as the effort you put into it.  You’ll want to revisit it often ( once a quarter ought to do ) and reassess the current situation of your site.  Perhaps your traffic has increased dramatically.  Or perhaps an unforeseen event has caused your site to become more of a camera site than a nudist site ( again, I couldn’t help it).  Your site is a fluid thing, ever changing and evolving and as such, so should your monetization strategy.

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