Today, I’m going to tell you how to earn money blogging like Sweetie and Geek do. We started our amateur blog a half a year ago and have explored several different methods to earn money to support it. While we still have a lot to learn, I decided to summarize what we have learned so far. I will add more information as I learn more and get more experience.
There are three main monetization methods we have tried so far. Advertising networks, Affiliate networks, and Paid content. There are other methods that some blogs use (like donations, subscriptions, and pay-walls). But, these three are the best for amateur bloggers that are just starting out.
Being part of an advertising network gives you small amounts of money when people view ads on your site and larger amounts if those readers interact with the ads (click on them for example). These ads come in the form of text or display where the “display” ones tend to have images or even animation. Usually you select a spot (or spots) on each page where the ads will appear and then the actual ads are selected by some kind of algorithm or behind-the-scenes bidding process. The money you make will tend to be directly proportional to the amount of views your content gets. Here are three networks that are appropriate for amateur bloggers.
AdSense is a good way to earn money on your content via display ads. AdSense is easy for beginners to use because they always match the ads to your content and the interests of your targeted audience. So, you don’t have to spend time figuring out just the right advertisements to go with each article. However, you will not be approved by the AdSense team if your site is still under construction or you do not have much original content on the site. So, make sure you have a few articles and other essential pages setup before you request approval. AdSense’s has a $100 threshold to cash out money. So, don’t expect a check the month you start.
Sovrn works the same as AdSense but with a lower cash-out threshold ($25). Unfortunately, it takes more time to earn money using Sovrn’s ads than using Google AdSense. This is partially because Sovrn does not always have enough ads to fill all your slots. For this reason, I advise you to use multiple Advertising networks if you use Sovrn. This way you will not have ad-free pages when Sovrn’s inventory is low. We used Sovrn and Adsense together and they worked well.
Affiliate networks are more work than ad-networks but can be much more profitable if your readers are also consumers of products and services. With affiliate networks you manually place appropriate links to your affiliates in and around your content. For example, if you talk about your favorite movie you might want to link to an affiliate that sells it on DVD. You do not get paid for views or clicks unless the person who does the clicking actually buys something. Then, you either get a percent of the purchase price or a fixed reward (depending on the affiliate). Like advertising networks you need to earn a minimum amount of money before you will be paid.
Amazon’s Affiliate network is great if your blog mentions products of any kind. You can use their link-builder tool to create an affiliate link for just about any product on Amazon. These links are very valuable to your users as well since they often want to buy (or at least check the price/availability) of the things you talk about in your blog. This network is quick to setup, but they will close your account if you don’t send them enough traffic in the first few months. So, I would recommend that you wait to use this network until after you have enough content and readers to sustain it. The minimum payment threshold for Amazon is $10 via Direct Deposit or Amazon.com Gift Certificate. You may also choose to receive a check as a payment method; however, Amazon will deduct $15 processing fee from all checks they send you.
Escalate Network is an affiliate network for Family Friendly blogs. Their payout threshold is the lowest among affiliate networks $25. They also accept blogs of all sizes, which is great when you are just starting out. Unlike big affiliates such as Commission Junction you can get very personalized attention at Escalate Network. I once had the co-founder answer a support email.
You can sign up for Escalate Network here:
FlexOffers is another affiliate network that accepts small and medium sized blogs. FlexOffers has tons of products and service advertisers such as Express, Expedia, Kohl’s, Macy’s, JC Penny, you name it. If you have posts about products or services you can always find relevant advertisers to include, earning money with your blog. The FlexOffers Payment threshold is $100.
Often a company will want to get the word out about its product or service in a more detailed way than a regular advertisement can support. To handle this situation they will pay bloggers and other media types to create content related to the product or service. This can be a lot of work because often the blogger must research or use the thing they will be talking about before they can write about it. Also, companies will typically only work with you after you can prove you have readers via an Alexa rank or Klout score or something.
Blogdash is a great program to connect businesses with bloggers. Instead of putting advertisements on your site you can get paid to create posts that promote businesses and services directly. If you are a good blogger and have a good, interesting site, you will be contacted by many businesses on Blogdash. Payment is made via Paypal directly from the business you worked with. I have had nothing but good experiences working with businesses on Blogdash. The payment is fast and fair, too.
Izea works similar like Blogdash. The program matches bloggers with businesses to promote products and services. Every day you get offers that match to your site and you can place a bid on each, then each advertiser can choose the bloggers they like among all bidders on their campaign. This allows you to monetize subjects you were planning on talking about anyway. Also, bloggers that are just starting out can potentially be selected because they bid lower. All transactions are mediated by Izea which has a minimum cash-out threshold of $50
Share with us if your know about other ad, affiliate, or content networks that worked for you when you started blogging.