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Tag Archive: How to Make Money Blogging

How to Make Money Blogging: The Pros and Cons of Joining an Ad Network

We’ve talked about affiliate marketing and private advertising as ways to make money blogging. Another income stream to add to your blog is to join an ad network.

Ad networks are basically advertising brokers. You offer the advertising space on your blog and they try to sell the space for you. If they sell the space, they take a cut of the sale (usually 40-50%).

Some people love using an ad network. Others haven’t had such great experiences. Here are a few of my thoughts on the pros and cons of joining an ad network:

::Pros::

Ad Networks Require Little Effort

Instead of private advertising where you have to do all the legwork of selling the ad and setting up the ad, when you join an ad network, you do nothing but sign a contract, put some HTML code on your sidebar, and then get checks.

Ad Networks Usually Earn You More Than Private Advertising or Affiliate Ads Do

How much you make with an advertising network will vary widely. I’ve heard of people making as low as $1-$2 CPM (per thousand pageviews) or as much as $15 to $20 per CPM.

However, remember how I said last week that you could charge $0.50 to $1 per CPM for selling private advertising? Well, that’s very much on the low end for ad networks. From what I’ve researched, most people make $2-$4 CPM on average with most ad networks. If you’re just starting out selling private advertising and haven’t had enough demand to warrant raising the price, you will very likely make more with an ad network than you will with private ads.

Ad Networks Often Sell More Than Just Ads

While the revenue from sidebar advertising can be good, the revenue from other advertising opportunities is usually much better. I don’t accept sponsored posts, but I have done a few underwritten post series (such as my Christmas Gift Guide & Giveaways series).

My Christmas series paid very well and I never would have gotten that opportunity had my ad network not made the phone calls and coordinated the details to close that deal. Since they are working with multiple bloggers, they are able to attract advertisers with big advertising budgets–something I’m not usually able to do on my own.

::Cons::

Ad Networks Give You Less Control

I shied away from joining an ad network for a number of years because I wanted to have control over what ads showed on my sidebar. Every single ad network I talked to was unwilling to let me have control over what ads showed on my sidebar.

I finally discovered that Federated Media would give me a say and joined their ad network early last year. While some unapproved ads have slipped through the cracks on occasion (due to hiccups with their ad placement system), they have been exceptional about removing any campaigns immediately if I request it. From what I’ve heard, most ad networks are not always so compliant.

Ad Networks Can Be Difficult to Get In With

It took me a number of months and persistence, plus a kind friend giving me a shoe-in, before I was able to get in with Federated Media. The best ad networks often have a long waiting list and few openings.

Things to Consider Before Joining An Ad Network:

::Will they offer you a guaranteed CPM rate? Most ad networks that are actively “courting” bloggers are new or struggling. They’ll make you all sorts of great-sounding promises, but very few are willing to back those up with a guarantee in writing. If an ad network will only guarantee you pay of around $2 or less per CPM on average, you will probably do better to just stick with using Google Adsense on your sidebar.

::What are the terms of the contract? Is it an exclusive agreement that would bar you from being able to run private ads or affiliate ads? If so, don’t agree to it. How do you get out of the contract? Have these details in writing ahead of time so you don’t get stuck in some bad situation.

::Will you have control over the ads they run? If you run a blog on healthful eating, you probably don’t want McDonald’s Big Mac ads running on your sidebar. Sending mixed messages to your readership is a quick way to lose your integrity. Make sure that the ad network promises in writing to remove ads you deem to be inappropriate for your blog.

::What do other bloggers in the network think of it? One of the best ways to determine whether or not a network is right for you is to go find other bloggers who are a part of the network and ask them how it is working out for them. You might find that what the ad network reps promised you on the phone is entirely the opposite of what bloggers in their network are actually experiencing. Firsthand knowledge is priceless and could save you a huge headache.

Are you a part of an ad network? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences–both good and bad!

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Selling More Sidebar Ads

Last week, we talked about how to maximize your affiliate earnings. Today, we’re delving into a another way to make money blogging — by selling sidebar ads.

While selling sidebar ads yourself does require more work and effort, it can really pay off in the long run. Plus, it’s a great option for blogs in every genre. And if you don’t want to use an advertising network because you don’t have as much control over the ads they run (we’ll talk more about advertising networks soon), selling sidebar ads yourself allows you to have complete control over what is running on your blog at all times.

Here are five tips to help you sell more sidebar ads:

1) Make It Obvious

You know the number one reason most people don’t sell as many sidebar ads as they’d like to sell? Because they aren’t making it very obvious and conspicuous that they even offer advertising in the first place!

Most people aren’t going to take the time to dig through your site and try to figure out how to advertise on it. In fact, some people will never even realize there’s an option to advertise unless you clearly let them know you have advertising spots for sale.

Put an advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising page. This page should include details on your traffic (advertisers typically want to know pageviews and unique visitors), your demographics, a few details on your site, advertising options, advertising prices, and testimonials from former (or current) advertisers. You could do an elaborate downloadable media kit like Michael Hyatt has, or just stick with a simple page like Life as MOM has.

Whatever you do, make a compelling case for why someone should advertise on your site. Don’t be bashful; a potential advertiser needs to know clearly why advertising on your site is going to be a great thing for their business.

2) Run a Half-Priced Special

If you’re just getting started offering sidebar ads, get things off with a bang by offering a half-priced special on your sidebar advertising. Write up a post highlighting this special pricing and approach companies you’ve worked with to run giveaways in the past letting them know you are offering a limited-time advertising special.

With some effort and enthusiasm, you should be able to get at least a few advertisers to bite. And once you have a few signed up to advertise, you’ll find it’s usually easier to find more advertisers — especially if you make it obvious that you offer advertising (see point 1).

3) Offer Discount Packages

It’s great to start out with selling simple sidebar ads, but people will be much more interested in all-inclusive discounted advertising packages. For instance, instead of just selling a sidebar ad for $25 per month, offer a three-month package that includes a sidebar ad, a post write-up about the company, a giveaway from the company, and a text link in your email feed — all for the discounted price of $150 total.

If you want to take this idea a step further, put together three different package levels at three different pricing points. A potential advertiser might not want to pay for your top-tier advertising package that’s $500, but they will be more apt to go for the $150 package versus just paying $25 for a simple sidebar ad.

You can also offer discounts for advertisers who purchase three months’ or six months’ of advertising at a time. Not only will the discount appeal to them, it will save you time and effort in having to go out and secure another advertiser for that slot every month!

4) Throw in Some Extras

You know how fast food restaurants always try to upsell you? Well, you can do the same thing with your sidebar advertising — only you can do it for free! Think of other options you could throw in to seal the deal such as: a free mention of the company on Facebook, a free mention on Twitter, and/or a free mention in a blog post when they purchase a sidebar ad.

5) Keep Your Advertising Spots Filled — Even If They Aren’t Sold

Want to know one of my biggest sidebar advertising pet peeves? When people have a big blank box on the sidebar that, instead of being an ad, says “Advertise Here”.

This screams, “My advertising space isn’t valuable enough for people to want to buy so I instead have this big blank box!” That’s not the message you probably want to convey to potential advertisers.

Put the advertise tab in your header that links to your advertising information page and link to this in a small text link underneath your advertising spots, but don’t have a big blank box. If you don’t fill all your advertising spots every month, either replace the empty spots with an affiliate ad or give a free ad to a friend.

How Much Should You Charge?

How you price your advertising will depend upon many factors — your blog’s traffic, your blogging niche, where the ad will be placed, how many ad spots you are selling, and the demand. I always encourage people to start out with lowball prices and gradually move up from there.

Advertising is usually priced per thousand pageviews (CPM), so I suggest starting with $0.50 – $1 per thousand pageviews and working up from there. This means that if your blog currently gets 10,000 pageviews per month, you could start out charging something like $10 per month for a small 250×250 sidebar ad that is located near the middle of your sidebar or higher. As your traffic increases and the demand for sidebar advertising increases, you can slowly raise this price.

I’d suggest selling no more than six to eight sidebar ads maximum. If you have too many ads running, their value decreases. It’s easier for you and better for the advertiser if you have a few higher-paying, larger ads on the sidebar than a bunch of small ads all over the place.

If you’ve sold advertising on your blog, I’d love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you.

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How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Earnings with Affiliate Advertising

As I’ve been writing this series on How to Make Money Blogging, I know that many of you have been scratching your head wondering if I was ever going to get around to talking about how to actually make money blogging! 🙂 All the other posts I’ve shared will help significantly increase your blogging income, but they won’t make you a penny unless you set up streams of revenue on your blog.

And now that we’ve laid a good foundation for successful blogging, we’re ready to dive into those income-earning streams. The first — and easiest — is affiliate marketing.

For those who may have never heard the term of affiliate marketing before, it’s basically when you are paid to promote another person’s product, coupon, deal, or website. It’s typically CPA advertising — which means that you only get paid per action. In other words, a reader must take some form of action (purchase something, click through your link and sign up for something, download a coupon or ebook, etc.)

You sign up for an affiliate program (I’ll share some of my favorites in a little bit), you promote your unique affiliate link that the company gives you, and then you are paid if your readers buy the item or sign up for the item.

For instance, I promoted Amy’s Tell Your Time ebook earlier today. She has an affiliate program that offers 50% of the sales to the affiliate. Since the ebook is on sale for $2, I earn $1 for every person who clicks through my affiliate link and makes a purchase. So, if 100 people buy the ebook, I’ll make $100 in affiliate earnings.

In many cases, people have to make a purchase in order for you to earn money as an affiliate. However, there are also hundreds of other options that require no purchase. To give you an example, I’m affiliate for Coupons.com, RedPlum, SmartSource, and Coupon Network. If I post a great coupon that is on any of these sites, I earn anywhere from $0.02 to $0.80 per coupon printed (I have different agreements with each network and some pay per coupon printed, others pay a flat fee per print session per user per day).

As you can imagine, since one of the key focuses of MoneySavingMom.com happens to be using coupons, the affiliate money earned from coupons printed is one of the highest revenue earners. However, it is a win-win situation, because I’m sharing a great deal with you, it’s hopefully helping you save money and get a great deal, and then we both benefit from it.

With that background in place, here are my top five tips for maximizing affiliate advertising:

1. Don’t Compromise Your Values for a Quick Buck

Affiliate marketing can be an incredible income stream for bloggers, but there are some definite pitfalls to be wary of. You want to be very careful that you don’t just give something a great review or post about something because you’re earning something for promoting it.

I always stop and ask myself before posting something that includes an affiliate link, “Would I post about this if I were not earning a referral fee from it?”

2. Promote Affiliate Links In Your Posts Instead of Your Sidebar

I’ve found that it’s much more effective to weave affiliate links into your posts, rather than to just put affiliate links on the sidebar. If you’re already going to be writing about a site or product, check to see if they have an affiliate program so you can use your referral link.

3. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

It takes awhile to learn what works when it comes to affiliate links. Don’t give up if you try it a few times and it doesn’t work or result in any sales or click-thrus. Keep testing things out, tweaking your approaches, and learning what works for your audience.

4. Be Upfront and Honest

In the last few months, I started denoting all posts that contain an affiliate link with a simple note at the bottom letting you know that the post contains an affiliate link. This way, you know exactly what you’re getting here and when I’m getting something in return. Not only have I received a lot of positive feedback from you all about this change, it also helps to keep me accountable in what I post to make sure I truly am following my policy to have your best interests in mind.

5. Remember That Less is More

A few strategically placed affiliate links are almost always going to be more effective than hundreds of affiliate links all over the place. It’s better to wait and only promote affiliate links that really fit within your blog’s mission and purpose than to post every other affiliate deal and opportunity that arises.

Your readers trust your endorsement more if it’s not something you give as often. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, don’t promote it.

My Current Top-Earning Affiliates (listed in order of their average earnings from the past few months):

Amy has a great list of many different affiliate programs here, if you’re interested.

If you use affiliate marketing, I’d love to hear what programs have worked well for you, as well as some your best tips for maximizing your earnings with affiliate advertising.

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(Note: Some of the links in this post are my referral links. Read our disclosure policy here.)