Monetizing your Blog – A Review of the State of the Art

You’ve got a blog.

You like blogging and you get a nice number of readers every day. It seems like a natural choice to monetize your blog and get something back for your efforts.

There is indeed a lot of press about people making a living from their blogs – and some people do, it’s true. There are a smaller number of professional bloggers out there who can also make reasonably significant money from their blog, part- or full-time wages.

I have a few friends that actually make a living from blogging and other social media ventures. I subscribe to their blogs, but always wondered how they draw an income until I did my homework and came up with the following tips which I thought I’d share.

Let’s face reality first… The small percentage of people who make real living wages off their blogs are almost always people who came to blogging already established as a popular, influential or powerful voice in their industry. In many of these cases, these people had a large following before they began to blog. In others, they focused on celebrity gossip and related topics. It’s unfortunate, but celebrity is the easiest way onto the money train. Today’s post is for the rest of us. So If the total audience you can possible reach is relatively small, you will never be a millionaire blogging. Size matters indeed.

So what are some of the most relevant tools that blog owners can use to make money besides Affiliate Marketing?

Banner Advertising

Banner ads have a pretty bad reputation – generally perceived to be both obtrusive and ineffective – However, the ad format isn’t limited to big publishers and well placed, properly executed iterations can make great sources of revenue.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content involves the posting of specific content in exchange for payment of some kind. Whilst especially popular among fashion bloggers, this is now common practice in many other verticals. Sponsored content can be anything from a product review to a full blown campaign negotiated directly with the advertiser. Such relationships can be initiated by retailers and their agencies who may send you samples in exchange for a review, or you can get in touch with specific brands directly to propose a campaign.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is possibly the oldest and most popular form of online marketing. It’s cheap and reasonably effective, plus it tends to be the preferred form of marketing communications for consumers. If you don’t have one already, set-up a newsletter. People who sign-up are by definition interested in your content so (within reason) send them more! Make sure your communications are consistent, regular (but not excessive) and provide your readers with relevant content.

AdWords & Adsense

Google AdSense is a program run by Google that allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, or interactive media advertisements that are targeted to site content and audience. These advertisements are administered, sorted, and maintained by Google, and they can generate revenue on either a per-click or per-impression basis.

Alternatively, one site real worth looking at is Seeking Alpha where Advertisers pay you to write content on your blog or social media property. You are compensated for exposure to your audience, often at much higher rate than you will ever get with ad sense, affiliate marketing or other display advertising. As your audience grows you are able to charge hundreds or thousands of dollars per post, but it will take awhile to get to that point.

Overall, I believe that choosing a niche that people have an unending itch to learn more about and connect with other people may be the best way to go about it. Once you are established as an authority in that niche you have numerous options to make money but the best way is always by promoting your own products and services. Whether that be an information product about your topic, physical products or even some type of service to help people it is the best way to go.

Most importantly, you need to build a fan base, or even a readership for your blog. Niche blogs are indeed the best way to make money without trying too hard. Of course, as usual, you’d have to do the work, as in everything from writing, to marketing, to product placement of your blog, to maintaining that market.

You gain more influence and star power this way, which turns into word of mouth. As your blog grows, you get better chances of reaching the top of the search engines for the keywords you want. Because honestly, it’s HARD to build a general purpose site without previous niche blogging. VERY hard. And I’m telling you from firsthand experience

None of these monetizing methods give you a bye from promoting your blog, expanding your network or doing the work to create good, relevant, compelling content. If you are already doing the work, these methods still might not bring in dollars while you have 100 readers. But, when you have 100,000 readers or 1,000,000 readers, you might be one of those few who can say they make a living at blogging.

Share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad K Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is currently President and CEO of Blackhawk Partners Inc., a private equity and physical commodities trading firm based out of New York City, Founder & President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL), Founder & Chairman of the Financial Policy Council, Member of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Forum and Former President of the Arab Bankers Association of North America.