When I first began blogging, whether or not to monetize a blog was a controversial topic. Only sellouts and greedy money grubbers or Internet marketers put up ads. Then folks like Darren Rowse and John Chow proved that there was serious money to be made via blogging and all of a sudden it wasn’t such a scandal. Years later, there are still a few purists who don’t believe blogs should have ads, that it somehow sullies the content, but in most cases blog ads are expected and accepted.
The blog I just sold was heavily monetized and brought in several thousand dollars per month, but I did compromise the design in favor of advertising and I’m not sure I’d go that same route again. If you’re just starting out and you’re not sure whether or not to place ads on your blog, I’ll give you a few things to consider:
Ads are ugly:
Ads are unattractive and they clutter a blog. It’s hard to be subtle with ads; if you choose click based advertising like Adsense, it doesn’t always work if it’s not in a prominent area. If you choose private or affiliate ads, they also have to be sort of obvious if you want people to notice them. You can’t post ads in the bottom corner of a blog and expect people to notice. If your sponsor has a big, ostentatious ad it could compromise the integrity of your blog’s design.
Ads only work if you take the time to know your community:
It’s hard to properly monetize a blog without knowing about the people who read your blog. For example, what types of products are they likely to buy? Do they have the income to spare? Perhaps they’re clickers and not buyers at all. Knowing your community’s wants and needs will better enable you to choose the types of advertising that will work best for your blog.
If you place ads on your blog some people will say you’re only in it for the money:
It’s funny how no one will claim how accountants or dentists are only in it for the money, but that’s why they work, right? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in blogging for the money, if that’s your goal.
Not everyone will appreciate all your sponsors:
Sometimes your community won’t feel the love for one of your sponsors. You’ll have to decide if you believe in the sponsor enough to risk losing readers, or if they’re worth the controversy.
That disclosure thing:
Affiliate ads are cool as are product reviews, but bloggers are now required to be honest about their affiliations and can’t neglect to mention a product review or blog post contains an affiliate link.
The money doesn’t start rolling in on day one:
I always recommend building traffic before considering monetization strategies. Without people, your ads won’t do a darn bit of good anyway. As mentioned earlier, you can’t properly monetize until you can guage the needs of your community. Plus, people want to trust you in order to trust your advertisers.
There are other ways to monetize a blog besides advertising:
Bloggers are trying out other ways of bringing in revenue instead of or in addition to advertising. Some are writing courses, while others are creating workbooks and ebooks. Bloggers are creating membership communities, pay to play job boards, and webinars. Tap into your expertise so you can profit as well.
If you look at any popular blog, you’ll probably notice at least one advertisement. Using advertising on your blogs can be a lucrative form of income. Just be sure to take the time to research the right types of advertising for your community. It’s no longer considered inappropriate to advertise on blogs, but it’s important to note that finding and implementing monetization strategies can be a full time job in and of itself. However, if you can earn a full time income with your own blogs, there’s no better way to earn a living.
Do you monetize your blogs? What are some of the lessons you learned?