How I Monetize My Blog
Some of you who visit my site may have noticed the new advertisements appearing above the content. I figured now is the time to talk a bit about monetizing my site. I’ll state right now that this isn’t meant to be a tutorial, so don’t get your hopes up fellow bloggers. It’s more of a disclosure.
Disclaimer: First I want to say something about the ads you see and whether I suamepport them or not. Honestly, unless I specifically write an article about the product, service or site, I can’t recommend it. I have ads in specific places (see below), and those have paid for space on my site. If you find them valuable, then let me know, and if you don’t, also let me know.
I started this site back in June 2006 with my first post “Is Running Really a Bonding Activity for Couples?“. I really had no plans for the site (and still don’t), and was just writing as a hobby. In the summer of 2007, things changed and I started to make, in my eyes, serious money from affiliate and link sales.
In December, I grossed more than my day job for that month. Granted, that counts checks cashed that month, which came from sales from two months prior and for 12-month contracts paid up-front. I don’t expect to have those months regularly. In fact, I don’t budget any income from our sites (including Building Nutrition), and anything from the sites goes into savings, investments, towards debt or is donated to charity. We aren’t buying any plasma TVs or going on long vacations with this income.
I still treat this site as a hobby rather than a business, which is probably why my writing style hasn’t changed yet. I’m not trying to optimize the site for advertisers or search engines. Instead, I’m still optimizing the site for my readers by continuing to write articles that I think interest you (which tend to be about my stupidity and lack of patience).
First, let’s talk about my expenses. It’ll be a short list. Basically, the main expense for the site is a yearly fee of about $120 with Dreamhost, which I mentioned in my 50 Tips for New Bloggers article. They’ve treated me well and have loads of free, one-click installs for things like WordPress (which this site runs on), Joomla (which I’m toying with for some other sites) and even an image gallery, which I use for our personal site.
In addition to site hosting, I also pay $60 per year for a PO Box, which I just got last month. That’s so all you crazy people can mail me stuff without knowing my home address 🙂
Lastly, I have non-recurring expenses like happy hours (aka Networking) with fellow bloggers. Actually, I can’t think of anything else that I charged specifically for our sites this past year, but I’ll find that out during tax time when I look at my records. So overall, I pay $180 per year to maintain this site and have a mailing address. Oh, if you wanted to know, I do all the site code myself (it’s that easy, but time consuming sometimes).
I’m not going to say the specific amount I’ve earned on this site in the 18 months it’s been up, but I will put it this way: if I count the amount of time over the last year and a half that I’ve spent researching and writing articles, updating the site, working on monetization and networking, I’ve probably made a comparable $8-9 per hour wage. Granted, I didn’t make any money for the first 6 months, and that’s when I spent the most time figuring this thing out, so that skews the numbers a bit. Now, I spend about 1-2 hours per night working on the content, site design and networking.
Now, here are my income sources, in no particular order:
- Google Adsense – Right now, I only have a single adsense unit on the actual article pages, and only to the right of the content. I really don’t make much from this source each month (like around $50, give or take). I could just drop adsense, but it’s easy money with no maintenance.
- Text Ads – Text link ads are a big no-no in Google’s eyes right now, and a number of big (and little) bloggers canceled all text link contracts on their sites when Google decided to fire a warning shot about them a couple months ago. However, I still accept certain ads, and you’ll see them over in the “More Sites” sidebar item. I have 3 sources for text ads:
- TextLinkAds – This site has a plugin that automatically ads text ads wherever I add their code (which is in the More Sites area). I have these links only on the homepage now, and currently have 6 ads sold.
- Linkworth – I haven’t done much business with this site until recently. I have 3 ads in the More Sites area, and you’ll find them because they have plain text following the text link. These links are homepage only as well
- Direct Ad Sales – I’ve actually been inundated with requests for ad sales in the last month, and have made a few big sales that helped push my December total up. For all you advertisers who haven’t heard back from me yet, I apologize! Any text ad not of the first 2 are of this type and are also homepage only.
- Image Ads – This is a new thing. In December, you saw an ad for Prosper.com in the sidebar, and now you see an ad and a placeholder ad above the content. For the longest time, I wanted to keep the site clean, but I decided I wanted to diversify my ads more. I do have editorial choice of the images shown, and if it’s just too bad or distracting, I’ll say NO. Usually, though, the advertisers are willing to make adjustments, and I’ll even do a mockup for them if needed.
- Amazon Affiliate Sales – I used to have “Recommended Products” in the sidebar, but I wanted to use that space for something else. Now, you’ll only see Amazon product links within the posts when I recommend a product.
- Credit Card Affiliate Sales – I pondered for a couple months when I was first invited to be an affiliate, but I decided that I could recommend the cards with disclaimers and let you, the reader, decide if you’re truly ready and prepared to have that card. Last year, almost half of my earnings were from CC referrals.
Well, that’s all the ways I make money off this site. Some methods are better than others, and each have good months and bad. Like I said, it’s still a hobby for me, not a business, and I’d like to keep it that way.
I will say that the money is nice, but I still won’t let advertisers control my content. I say the ads stay on the perimeter and my personality stays in the content. Period.