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Blogging for Fun and Profit
Writing a blog can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It is nice to provide people with useful information or interesting articles to read but if you spend a lot of time and effort on your blog then you may feel some recompense is in order. If you have built up a blog and find that you now have a decent level of traffic and an avid readership then it could be time to look at ways of turning that traffic into cold hard cash. This article will give you some tips on how to monetize your blog.
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Is Your Blog Ready?
Before we look at how to make money from your blog it is worth mentioning that many of the strategies you’ll employ for bringing in the cash will negatively affect your readership. Generally speaking people are turned off by advertising and the more pervasive the advertising is the less likely they will stick around to read your content. This is especially true of social website traffic from places like StumbleUpon or Reddit. These savvy surfers will often turn away from websites which carry too much advertising. You also need to consider how much money you will make from adding adverts. If you were to implement Google Adsense for example, which is the most popular system, then depending on your traffic and keyword focus you could find, even with several thousand visitors a day, that you only make a few dollars. In return for that money you might be putting off readers.
There is much debate on the topic but I would suggest building up a good readership before you attempt to monetize your blog is a good idea. A strong visual design and focus on great content will draw in visitors and it will also encourage more external links. Build these assets up before you attempt to make money. When you do decide to monetize your blog you can expect some negative feedback from some of your loyal readers, just explain the situation politely and stick to your guns. If you have made the decision to try and earn some money from your hard work blogging then you should commit, a half-hearted approach is unlikely to get results.
There are a couple of ways you can turn your blog into cash without scaring off readers so lets take a look at those first.
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Selling Digital Content
Alongside your free articles you could try offering some paid content. The most obvious angle here would be to create an E-book and charge a fee for it. Naturally you would need to make sure the E-book was worth paying for and it should reveal some useful tips or secrets which aren’t readily available on your blog already. You could also offer tutorials depending on your area of expertise. You could generate Podcasts and Videos and sell them via the blog for a small fee. All of these things are free to generate multiple copies of so don’t price them too highly and you’ll encourage more sales.
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If you have managed to build a genuine brand with your blog then you might consider offering branded merchandise. You could offer T-shirts, mugs and caps with your logo on them. In fact you’ll find websites like CafePress which will handle the production for you so this needn’t be difficult to set up. However it is unlikely to generate much cash unless you have a large and devoted following. You could also sell hard copies of a book, CD or DVD related to your blog.
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If your blog has built up an avid readership then you might consider using it as a CV and trying to find writing work. If you have established yourself as an expert blogger you may well be able to earn decent amounts of cash writing articles for other websites or even print publications. You could also offer your services as a consultant if you have the necessary skills in a specific field.
The advantage of the three approaches above is that you will not put off readers by doing any of these things. Naturally if you sell content you have to make sure it is worth the purchase price or you may annoy people. Selling yourself can even help to make your blog bigger and more popular especially if you can get backlinks to your blog included in the byline of your articles elsewhere.
Now we’ll take a look at some ways of bringing in cash that may have more of a negative impact on your readership. The number one way to monetize your blog is advertising.
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Ask for Donations
This used to be common practice and you will still find several blogs doing it. As for the amount they earn from this, it is anyone’s guess. If you have a large readership and you are providing quality information or services for free then the potential is there to earn a large sum in donations but because it is entirely optional it is unlikely people will volunteer cash. You can get code to add a simple donate button to your website from Paypal so it is easy to do. However you run into the first quandary of advertising in general, you want to display it prominently to encourage people to donate but you don’t want to put them off by shoving it in their faces. A donation option is unlikely to annoy your readership too much, especially if you explain that donations are a way of keeping the website advert free.
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The market leader is Google Adsense but there are various other contextual advertising choices out there. It is easy to sign up for Google Adsense and you can place units of various sizes onto your web pages with a simple cut and paste of some code. The ad units will display relevant adverts which are related to keywords in the content. The amount these adverts generate varies wildly and is based on how much the advertiser had to pay for keywords.
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You can also sell text adverts on your website and this system can work with Google Adsense or various other ad services. It is less obtrusive than the ad units, which is a bonus, but visitors may feel cheated if they click on a text ad expecting a useful link and are unaware it is in fact an advert. You can also sell text adverts directly to other websites but due to recent changes at Google I would strongly advise against doing this. People used to be willing to pay large sums for adverts with anchor text links which could potentially improve their page rank but Google now punishes websites which sell this type of advertising and you can find your website being stripped of page rank and de indexed. I was sceptical about this but it happened to one of my websites so be warned!
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You could sell large banner displays on your blog. The obvious disadvantage of this type of advertising is that it spoils the visual style of your website. However big advert campaigns from large companies are extremely lucrative and highly sought after.
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This can be a good solution for blogs looking to make money. If for example you have a blog which highlights or reviews specific products you can add a small advert to each post which provides a link for anyone wishing to purchase that product. If they click through the advert and buy something you earn a percentage. This is ideal because it is unobtrusive and can even potentially be seen as useful for your readers. The Amazon Associates program is the biggest option here but depending on what you sell the returns can be quite disappointing, they pay different percentage rates on different products.
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You can sell adverts in the form of sponsored posts on the blog. This will involve promoting a product or website and writing a post about it. You should make sure you clearly delineate these as sponsored posts so there is no deception of your readership. If you choose carefully these can fit your blog and provide a good source of income. However they are tough for your loyal readers to ignore compared to other adverts and so you might face a bit of a disgruntled backlash when you ask them to read adverts you have been paid to write.
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This last issue about how easy adverts are to ignore is an important one. If you are really serious about making money from adverts then you will find plenty of advice telling you that the best strategy is to place adverts in the prime areas of your website. You need to place them in the areas that readers look at the most such as the page header and within the body of the article. You may be tempted to place them off to the right or in separate boxes at the bottom of articles so that they don’t intrude on the content but remember this makes it easy for readers to ignore them and you will potentially earn less money that way. Placement is a matter of personal taste, there is no doubt that adverts put off a certain proportion of readers but if you are committed to making money that way you may as well go for it all guns blazing.
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Sell Your Blog
If none of these options appeal to you then there is always one last way to earn money from your blog….sell it. There are various auction websites and forums where you can advertise and sell blogs. If you have a good domain name and high traffic you may be able to command a decent fee. Some people sell blogs and the content they have written as well in which case you could expect to earn even more. The amounts you can earn by selling your blog vary wildly. There are websites which claim to calculate your blog’s worth but I wouldn’t put much stock in them. There is no inherent value to your website which is easy to calculate, it really comes down to what someone else is willing to pay.