Friday, March 7, 2008

Monetizing My Blog: A Closer Look At the Options

I've gotten a lot of feedback from readers lately to the effect that they want to see me posting here more frequently--every day, preferably. I'd love to do that--I think it could have all sorts of benefits for my blog--but I have to give my paying clients first priority on my time. So for right now, this blog has to be a part-time deal.

Of course, if this blog became a paying client itself, that could all change.

As part of my 2008 Big Blog Overhaul initiative, I'm looking into ways to monetize. Some of these monetizing techniques could have an effect on the design I choose. I'm also aware that some are more annoying than others, and I don't want to drive readers away. Personally, I feel that great content more than makes up for ads--but I'm not the only view out there. So here's an overview of the monetization techniques I'm considering--and their pros and cons, as I percieve them.

Using your blog as a platform to sell information products. This is my favorite so far. I love the idea of selling e-books on my writing blog, and I've already got some outlines hammered out. The pluses include the fact that an e-book can promote your business as well as making you money in sales; and I can see all sorts of nifty ways to market one. It's also not horribly intrusive or cheesy like some other methods can be; and they help people. The drawback, of course, is that it takes time to write an e-book--and it's not something I can have finished by the time my new site is launched.

Google Adsense. I've already got Google Adsense up on this blog; it's in the top right-hand corner. So far I've made a grand total of $0 from it (come on, people, help me out! Let's see some clicks!). Anyway, I realize I should play around with it a little more--experiment with putting it in different places; mess with the font size or headline color--and I've been woefully neglectful of that. But I've spoken to several bloggers who've told me they don't get much more than a trickle from Adsense anyway. I'll probably put it in my new design somewhere, but I'm not counting on it being a major revenue source.

The donation button. I've seen a few blogs--Inkthinker and Freelance Writing Gigs come to mind--that have donation request links. I'm not sure about how much money this brings in, although I heard on ProBlogger that this guy actually got to quit his job and blog full-time through his donation revenue. On the one hand, I like the idea of readers contributing to keep a blog going. On the other, I'm a little squeamish about asking for money, and I've heard some readers say it's tacky. Still, I'm willing to try it.

Selling advertising space. Some blogs--Men With Pens, ProBlogger, and quite a few others--sell advertising space on their blogs for a monthly fee. I like the idea of this--it seems like more dependable income than something like Adsense, which pays per click. But I'm a little nervous about too many graphics cluttering up my blog and making things run more slowly.

Selling my blog posts. I've already started making some money from my blog by selling my posts to other publications (thanks to Susan from The Urban Muse for the tip!). The upside is that it's not too hard once you find buyers--you've already written the articles, after all. The downside is that you still have to put some time into finding publications, crafting queries, and all that. It's not passive.

I realize I'm only scratching the surface here--I could do other things such as become an affiliate for Amazon or for another product I really like (Peter Bowerman has an affiliate program for his Well-Fed Writer series, I've noticed). There's also text link ads and other advertising programs. It's so much to sort through--and I only have a certain amount of space on my blog.

So now I'm throwing the question over to you. If you're a blogger, how do you make money from your blog? What's worked for you on this list--and what hasn't? Is there anything I'm missing here? And for all readers: what methods of monetization do you like the least--or the most?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,
I made my way over here from Penelope's blog and brazencareerist.com . I am no expert on blogs or their source of potential revenue but will give you my take on two ideas you have listed. I wouldn't bother with Google's AdSense for two reasons - time/cost benefit and the abuse and criticism concerns (see Wikipedia for some thoughts on that - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense . The donation button has possibilities if properly and honestly worded. There are people who would be willing to 'donate' to your blog content if they felt the content would either be improved (since you could devote more time to it) or they just felt the existing content merits a donation. Just my thoughts.

Mark W.

Dawn said...

I use three: textlinkads, blogher, and blogads.com. I make just about a hundred bucks a month. So not enough to retire on but enough to justify my blogging efforts. None of them use click throughs, which I think never make anyone any money.

John Lockwood said...

The way I've always made money blogging in the past is 1) Blog about something I can sell and 2) Do it often enough that the search engines find my blog for that keyword and 3) Integrate the blog with a site where people can find out more about what I'm selling.

Adsense has not been profitable for me though I've tried it. I've made maybe $100 per year or so with it, partly because I haven't wanted to give it space on blogs that are doing well otherwise. Maybe I could get it up to $1,000 per year if I worked at it, but that's still not much compared to the revenue from using a blog to sell, I think.

I like your idea of selling information products. To me Angela Booth and Brian Clark are two good examples of bloggers who have that business model pretty wired.

Patricia Robb said...

I have noticed that Google AdSense is sometimes blocked from my blog. For instance, when I open my blog at work, the AdSense is not there and because I blog about work-related topics, most of my readers probably access my blog while at work and if a lot of workplaces are blocking it, I am wondering about the usefulness of having it. So far I have made .14 cents on it.
I have tried the Donate button, but felt weird about asking for money. It made sense to me though because you spend a lot of hours blogging and trying to write relevant posts and people seem to enjoy them and want them every day, but alas I've found no one wants to pay to keep you on the air. I will be interested to see how you incorporate it (if you do) onto your site.

Patricia
http://secretaryhelpline.blogspot.com/

Susan Johnston said...

Hi Jennifer,
I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Adsense and Amazon affiliates haven't really worked for me. Someone emailed me asking about my thoughts on donation buttons, so I'll be blogging about that soon. I'm sure curious which site you chose for reprints, and I can't wait to see how the other items work out for you.
Susan

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Mark: Yeah; I've heard some bloggers making real money from adsense, but I haven't and I've heard many more say they don't make money from it at all. If there's anyone out there who does make money from it, I'd love to hear what they're doing differently.
The Donation button is something I might just throw up to see what happens; I'd love to hear from bloggers who use it successfully.

@Dawn:I've been thinking about Text Link Ads and blogads too. $100 a month isn't huge, but it's better than nothing!

@John: That's something I haven't mentioned--I've landed a few clients who have found me through my blog, which is definitely a good way to monetize. I'm planning to redo it so that my site and blog are on the same wordpress template and it's a bit more coherent; maybe this will help me sell my services a little better.

@Susan: I'd love to see your take on the donation button. I've sold several blog posts to Absolute Write, and I'm planning to look around for more sites and publications that would want the type of thing I write.

Jesse Hines said...

Jennifer,

I saw the link you put up to Peter Bowerman's affiliate program and immediately checked it out and signed up.

We'll see how it works, but it was simple, and those are books that I would recommend anyway--might as well see if I can make some money from it.

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Jesse--yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking. I'd probably tell people to buy those books no matter what, so why not sign up? Let me know how it goes!

@Patricia--hey, you've done better than me with the adsense. And the donation button is definitely a possibility, although one I'm not 100% sure about yet.