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By jiathong on August 22, 2016
Last time, I got into considerable detail about achievable ways to monetize your blog by selling products.
Products require an extensive infrastructure, an understand of supply and demand, and considerable resource management to master.
Going to this effort can yield huge results, but it’s a long game and there is risk involved.
This time, I want to help you monetize your blog without the need for products. This will help you establish a second stream of income through your website by leveraging your audience and content in a different way.
Namely, that means making the most of the quality and value of your content to other businesses, your audience, and yourself.
I’m going to give you the three best ways to monetize your blog, again ranked in terms of their relative difficulty, so you can start to develop that all-important income stream after all your hard work developing an audience.
There’s even better news for those who dare take on products – a lot of these approaches can be synthesized into a product-selling blog to create even more revenue, or simplify the way that revenue is generated.
So, on with the show:
There are two main ways you can make money by placing ads on your site, and each has its own merits. These are Cost Per Click and Cost Per Impression.
Because Cost Per Click gives a definitive means to track lead generation and conversion, you’ll get more money from CPC in principal. This does mean however that you have a stake in the quality of the ad – a worse add will get fewer clicks, and less money to you.
However, Cost Per Impression means the optimizing of the ad isn’t your problem, and you get paid up front. The difference is, because the advertiser takes on all the risk, the amount you make per impression is much lower than per click.
There are a number of great tools out there for writers to use to create high quality ad placements.
Some prevent click fraud and audience baiting, others just stop you from using other platforms (like those listed here) alongside it.
What’s more, ads in search results must use Google Search.
All that said, Google negotiates the price for you, and you can be paid per impression, click, or action (lowest to highest paid respectively).
This means, if you’re confident you can sell, you can set to action for the highest yield.
A keyword will appear double underlined and when users hover over it, a small rollover ad will appear with details on the product or service.
This is the most ‘harmless’ way to action your content, but you get 70% of the revenue from each click, with InfoLinks taking 30%. That’s the cost for ease of use.
This means it takes a little more time to get running, but it pays via PayPal (after you’ve earned $100 or more) and comes with a dedicated account rep who will make it their business to help you maximize your earnings.
You need to be a little more entrepreneurial here, but it’s a common practice, and arguably the least invasive of all the options.
• Free – it costs nothing to join any of these platforms, so in that respect there is never any direct financial risk to joining an ad platform. Equally, a sponsored review is one you’re paid to write, so no harm done there.
• Easy – they are designed to be as easy and intuitive as possible. It’s a pretty simple premise to grasp, and you can make small modifications to existing content in order to include ads.
• Quick – If you don’t have time to create the advertisements themselves, PPC is perfect as the provider does it for you.
• Multiple Sites, One Account – If you run multiple sites aimed at different niches of your main audience, you can syndicate campaigns to every one of them from one account, keeping it simple.
• Customised Looks – you have just enough control to make sure ads don’t stick out like a sore thumb, by matching the colors, fonts and more to what your site is already using.
• Paid for Passion – if you love a product anyway, getting paid to write a positive review about it isn’t a hardship.
• Lack of Control – Ultimately, Google is in control of the ads, and they’re at the mercy of who’s paying to advertise. That means you don’t get to pick what you show your audience, and that can discourage that audience, losing you a revenue stream.
• Reputation – Your reputation is based on your authority, and poor ads can undermine that authority and harm your reputation.
• Paid To Leave – You only get paid when your ad is clicked, and that means you earn a few cents for someone to leave your site.
• Ads Slow Down Your Site – Ads slow down your site because they always load first. This means people can lose patience with your site and blame you for preferencing your advertisers over their experience.
• Shilling – With sponsored reviews, people often believe that the money came first, and you’re paying hollow lip-service to an advertiser. This can affect your credibility if handled badly.
Timothy Sykes and Perez Hilton are the two biggest individuals making money from selling ads, at $1.8m and $5.4m respectively.
The Huffington Post blows every other blog out of the water at $28 million. The important thing to note is that their topics are ‘get rich quick’ ‘celebrity gossip’ and ‘news’. You don’t get more broad or evergreen than that!
If you are:
• Looking for a low-commitment option
• Adept at weaving keywords organically into compelling copy
• Happy to give up a little space and speed on your site
And if you have:
• An actively engaged audience
• A basic understanding of optimization
• A topic that has a wide range of products and services associated with it
Then hosting ads could be the simplest and best way for you to start earning money.
This particular method means you’re getting paid for content you’ve already created, and that you were going to create anyway.
On that basis, it’s the simplest possible way to earn money from your content.
That said, getting people to pay that money is a little more challenging, because there’s nothing else offered.
This means your content has to be of the best possible quality, and be of real, tangible benefit to readers.
What’s more, you need to be able to set up, manage and process payments.
Fortunately, this can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
· Complete Creative Control – you don’t have to sacrifice your content to match advertisers’ agendas, and you don’t have to treat your audience as a resource to be sold.
· Carrot On A Stick – using a subscriber system allows you create a veil that allows people to see some things but not all – the promise of secret wisdom is one of the most powerful marketing tools of all time.
· Actioning Fans – If you have already established a reputation among their readers, they may have been waiting for an opportunity to reward you. If you command their respect, they would prefer to pay you than third parties.
· Conversion Anger – If you create a paywall behind which previously free content is now made premium, you risk angering your audience and turning them against you. You need to manage the conversion artfully.
· Fewer Levers – A paywall, subscription or donation is binary – people either do or they don’t. While subscription levels are possible, they’re not popular. This means it’s hard to up-sell customers and increase their lifetime value. The focus therefore needs to be on more, not on high quality, users.
· All Problems Are Big Problems – If a physical product is defective, it usually only affects one person. If your site goes down, all your subscribers are affected simultaneously. You need to deliver great experience, speed and reliability when people start paying to use the site.
Paywalls for blogs are too recent an innovation for hard data, but a huge number of newspaper websites are now creating paywalls to recover the money lost from the death of print sales.
This suggests a growing trend toward the standardization of paid-for online content that bloggers can bandwagon.
If you are:
• A top-level content creator
• A creative or original thinker in your field
• More innovative than your competitors
• Prepared to lose some audience to gain more money
And if you have:
• An area you’re a leading expert in
• Regular, sustainable content that can’t be found for free
• An exclusive community of members
• A great relationship with your audience
Then this could be the strategy for you.
You’re here right now because you’ve created a website with good traffic and a regular audience and you want to know how to convert that into money.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the very fact you’re here right now means you have all the tools to do that – by selling those same skills you’ve developed to others.
These can include:
From getting a domain, installing CMS to adding templates and customizing the menus, these can now be done by any layman without the need to have a background in IT or programming.
But the thing is, a lot of folks don’t know that, or just don’t have the time or willingness to go through the documentations. This means that building website for others using CMS is a lucrative business on its own.
All you have to do is go through the process for them and add the expenses (hosting, theme, plugins etc) into the final bill.
Show them your metrics and traffic and you have an instant sales pitch.
Think stuff like creating logos, tshirt prints or caricature design. This works especially well if you’re an established artist with arts in your blog serving as your portfolio.
Your readers already know your level of quality and it’s always better than trusting some random dude from Fiverr.
Selling services online is very close to how it’s done in real life, only the medium is different. This means:
• You Are The Product – A personal brand is a powerful thing, so as long as you’re a positive, proactive person with enthusiasm for your subject matter, your charisma can be your most powerful sales tool.
· The Work Is Done – In most cases the work needed to start consulting is already done. Most readers are happy with deliverables, but service customers want your process. You had to go through the process and optimize it anyway, so offering it as an IP is the next logical step. Same goes for skills like writing and design.
• Easy Incentives – You can offer your existing audiences, such as your email subscriber list, preferential rates on services and give them discount referral codes to encourage them to pass your name on to their networks.
• Intangibles – Many of the benefits you can infer on people don’t follow strict metrics like SEO does. This means it’s important for you to structure your work with people – tell them what they’ll get, give it to them, and show them they’ve got it.
• Time – Because you’re outsourcing yourself, you will have to work harder, for longer to keep both your site (which gets you customers) and their work.
• Expectations – Some people want a magic bullet. Others have no idea what they want. You need to satisfy all of them. This can take some time and commitment, so you have to be good at people skills.
• Levels – You need to reach the highest level in order to be able to continue your relationship with clients and up-sell them to your other services. Being one step ahead means you can only get paid once. Stay five steps ahead.
Sam Dean funds his dreams consulting nine months out of the year at Expert360.
Belle Beth Cooper writes for HuffPo and others, giving away a little knowledge for free to up-sell her consulting and app services.
Wil Reynolds is an SEO expert who turned his understanding into a Seer Interactive.
If you are:
• Confident in your unique selling points
• Really able to help other people
• Patient in dealing with others
If you have:
• High level skills
• Deep understanding
• Demonstrable experience
Then this could be the path you take to fortune and glory.
So, we’ve covered the three best ways to sell products and the three best ways to monetize without them.
From these, you should now have a comprehensive understanding of what is required, in terms of tools, personality traits and expertise, to achieve each one of them. What’s more, you should have been able to identify where you already ticked the most boxes.
This will give you the biggest possible head start.
There’s an old proverb: Don’t put your ladder up the wrong wall. Basically, this means you’ll waste your effort climbing to the top if you haven’t chosen wisely where to start climbing.
Right now, your website and your audience are your ladder. These articles should mean you won’t put that ladder up against the wrong wall.
Updated: 5 October 2022
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