Your blog has picked up a decent amount of traffic, enough to make you wonder whether you could actually make money from it. And what’s one of the best ways to make money from a blog? Advertise.
That’s the conventional thinking. But when I posed the question to a bunch of freelance writers and bloggers over on LinkedIn, I didn’t get the answers I expected.
Some bloggers happily put ads on their blogs and earn some level of revenue from it. But many said it wasn’t worth the time or trouble. They believe there are better ways to make money from a blog – read on to find out what they’re talking about:
Advertising Has Been Good to Me
The consensus of bloggers who like advertising is this: if you’re going to put ads on your blog, Google AdSense is the way to go. According to Google, when you sign up for AdSense, the service matches ads to your site’s content, and you earn money when visitors click on them.
AdSense “is the simplest and quickest way to start selling advertising on your blog, says JaWar, an Atlanta entrepreneur, author and keeper of multiple blogs on music and making money online. Just how much ad revenue you generate depends on how much traffic your blog gets, and that depends on how well you’ve used search engine optimization so search engines find your posts, he says. If your blog becomes very popular you may even consider selling advertising spots on it directly, he says.
Robin Capper attracts enough advertising on his computer-aided design and personal blogs to cover his blog hosting costs, and the remainder he donates to Kiva, a person-to-person microloan service, saying “It maybe enough to change someone else’s life.”
Melanie Stone Perry has never put ads on Mistress of the Dorkness, the blog devoted to CAD technology she’s written since 2005. But Perry’s starting a new blog (it’s not up and running yet so I won’t share the URL) she hopes will reach a wider audience. On that, she’s taking the advertising plunge. She’d like to duplicate “non-annoying” ads she sees on other blogs.
James Burchill, a Web marketing and social media expert and blogger with a print publishing background, favors advertising. But he eschews AdSense in favor of acting as his own advertising sales rep, offering select advertising opportunities at varying rates. “A small site with a loyal following can generate the publisher hundreds of dollars a month in simple ads,” Burchill says. The money may not be enough to quit your day job, “but if you had a network of these?” Another advantage of advertising: well-done ads show your bog isn’t just a hobby, he says.
If you choose to advertise, stick with it. Lubna Kably, a tax consultant and newspaper columnist in Mysore, India, put AdSense on her blog but forgot the password and then didn’t bother to take the old stuff off the site. Oops.
Sell Something Else
Writers are better off using their blog to promote something they’ve written such as a book or e-book, says Owen Linderholm, editorial director for a San Francisco online media company. “Better still is to use the site to promote yourself, your writing and your editing. That could result in lots of business that is worth far more than the advertising ever could be,” Linderholm says.
Frank Derfler, author of 22 technical books, used AdSense on his blogs Mostly Flying and Great Guy Books and signed up for Amazon.com’s Affiliate Program. Bottom line: “Revenue started out very low and is presently sitting at darn near nothing,” he says. “If (people) want to buy from Amazon, they will go to Amazon to buy.” Bloggers are better off developing their own thing to sell, whether it’s a craft item, information or something in multi-level-marketing. “It will have better return on your investment,” he says.
One blogger who followed that path is Andrew Ian Dodge, a freelance writer and game designer whose Dodgeblogium blog mixes heavy metal music with heavy metal politics. Dodge used to put ads on the site “and they were bloody useless,” he says. Now the only ads he runs are of his own book and music CDs.
UPDATE: I should have made this point before. If you use WordPress.com, you cannot put advertising on your blog unless you pay for the VIP service, which costs $500/mo. and is mainly used by national media companies and big-name bloggers. However, you could include advertising if you had a blog on a Web host of your own choosing and downloaded the free software from WordPress.org. You can use AdSense on blogs hosted by Blogger.com. You can ads from several ad networks on blogs hosted by TypePad.