In the “good old” days, it was very easy to make money from your blog. Back then, advertisers were willing to pay you for every person that clicked one of their links on your site (known as CPC or Cost Per Click programs), and there were also a glut of CPM (Cost Per Impression) programs.
This was a golden time to be a webmaster. Especially when you consider that attracting visitors and getting those clicks/impressions was incredibly easy. But of course, times change. Those methods were exploited. Hackers discovered that they could set up automated programs that delivered a regular stream of clicks and impressions, generating different IPs for each one and making the sponsor believe they were getting value for money.
These days, there are many systems in place to stop this behaviour. Advertisers are more diligent and the industry has changed. But many of those changes are for the better. On the surface, making money may seem like an impossibility, but it’s easier than you might think.
Before You Begin
Loading your site with ads as soon as it’s launched is a costly mistake. It’s understandable that you want to take advantage of every visitor that clicks onto your website, but there are more disadvantages to this than there are advantages. Google doesn’t like sites that have more ads than content. After all, no website user enjoys being bombarded with ads, and Google tries to be as user friendly as possible.
So, by all means look into the right marketing for your website and keep this in mind for the future, but don’t do anything just yet. You won’t be missing out on much, because your blog will be lucky if it gets more than half a dozen visitors a day to begin with. And this sort of traffic would not generate much revenue anyway.
Once you have a few dozens articles on your site, and once the visitors are beginning to roll in, then you can consider banner ads, affiliate networks, etc., (discussed below). Many webmasters avoid posting any ads until they have made it to the top of Google for their chosen keyword, as it is much easier to make it this high up the pecking order without affiliate links and banner ads.
Loading your site with ads as soon as it’s launched is a costly mistake.
Cost Per Impression/Pay Per Impression Programs
Although they are not as common, you can still earn money by displaying banner ads, pop-ups and text links. The problem is, to make any decent money you need to be generating a lot of hits, and you’ll also be alienating many of your readers by forcing annoying ads on them.
You will typically be paid per 1,000 impressions, albeit usually no more than a couple of dollars. So, if your blog is generating 100 hits a day, then over the course of a month you can expect to earn between $5 and $20, depending on the network.
Below is a list of CPM networks. These will display an array of ads and they all pay based on their own unique revenue models.
Advertising.com: As an AOL owned company, Advertising.com have a lot of clout behind them, so it’s no surpise that they claim to monetize over 2 billion impressions every day. They work with many large sites and tend to be very selective as a result.
Vibrant Media: Another large network, Vibrant claim to help you create ads that deliver more engagement and give you more value for money. You will need to be turning over a lot of hits to make this worthwhile though, and they may reject you if you are not.
Axill: This is a smaller network. It is growing fast though and it has attracted a number of high profile members. With Axill, your blog will stand a better chance of being accepted and you may also find that it’s easier to make money.
CJ Blog: This is a long established affiliate network, one that connects you with thousands of brands and websites. There are many ways that you can make money here, not just CPM.
BuySellAds: This is one of our favorites. It is simple, yet it works with many big websites and it is a useful network for both advertisers and publishers. You tell them how many hits your site is getting and how much you want to charge for a day, week or month’s worth of impressions, and they’ll find the clients willing to pay you. This is actually a good place to discover just how competitive this market is and how much you can expect to earn for your impressions. On the Marketplace you can see that 1,000 impressions can be bought for as little as $0.10 on BitTorrent, which has billions of impressions and attracts people of all interests, and as much as $5 on Hemming’s Motor News, which has millions of impressions and is very niche.
Who Should Use CPM
Sites looking for a secondary revenue stream General content sites Sites attracting 10,000 visitors a day Sites with high bounce rates; low quality visitors
Who Should Avoid CPM
Niche sites Sites with only targeted visitors Sites with very few visitors
Cost Per Impressions are usually the preferred method for advertisers on a budget, as they enjoy the idea of getting their product in front of a large number of people while paying very little for the honor. But the truth is that everyone is accustomed to ignoring ads, and there are also many people using ad blockers. For every 1,000 impressions, half of them will not see the ad (either because of a blocker or because they are accustomed to ignoring them) and the others will see it repeatedly. Once you factor in the chances of any of those viewers actually being interested in your niche, you’ll be lucky to have 2 people from that 1,000 who respond to your ad.
Cost Per Click/Pay Per Click Programs
At the outset of this chapter we discussed the early days of online marketing, a time ruled by high paying impressions and clicks. Well, while you get much less for your impressions than you used to, you can still get a very respectable amount for a click. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, the technology employed by many CPC programs makes it very difficult to cheat them. Secondly, a single user will only be recorded once, unlike the old days when it was possible for one user to record many clicks.
Cost per Click programs are still one of the best ways to market a product online and they are also one of the best ways to make money advertising those products. Think about it for a moment. Let’s imagine that you are a professional language tutor and you own a website advertising Skype lessons for $100 an hour.
If you choose the “Cost per Impressions” model to advertise your business, you’ll be putting your services in front of a lot of people, but very few of them will be interested in learning a second language. Of the ones that are, the chances of them clicking your ad, being willing to pay $100 an hour and being ready to learn, are very slim.
If you choose the CPC method, and if you use Adwords in particular, you can choose which keyword to target. So, you can set a price of $0.50 for every person that searches for the keyword “English as a Second Language Lessons” and clicks onto your website. Not only are these people looking for your service, but they’re probably ready to sign-up for it when they find it, making this by far the best value form of online marketing.
And what’s good for the client is good for you. Because if you run a website that discusses language lessons, you can use Google Adwords to earn a share of that $0.50 for every person you send to that website.
what’s good for the client is good for you
Who Should Use CPC
Sites with a broad appeal Sites with targeted users Sites with an average to large number of followers Sites with average to high quality visitors
Who Should Avoid CPC
Niche websites Sites with very few visitors
There are many CPC networks out there, but Google Adwords is the best. You will need to apply for membership here, but providing your site does not contain any forbidden content (gambling, porn) then you will be okay. The beauty of Adwords lies in its simplicity. You just need to install the Google Adwords code where you want their banners to show, and they’ll do the rest. They will show targeted ads to each individual user, and when they click on those ads, you will be paid.
Alternative CPC Networks:
Media.net: If Adwords is the king of Google advertising, then Media.net is the king of Bing and Yahoo advertising. This network is vast and its reach extends to where Adwords just doesn’t go. In August 2016, this company was acquired for close to $1 billion in what became the third largest tech deal ever. That alone should give you an idea of Media.net’s size and reach.
7Search: This offers highly specific, tailored advertising for publishers and it offers advertises a great way to sell targeted ads. It focuses on smaller search engines as well as larger platforms and its customers include some of the net’s biggest companies, including Netflix, AutoTrader and eHarmony.
TVLMedia: Tailored advertising is also the theme of the day here. This platform works on a Real-Time Bidding model (known as RTB for short) and offers some advanced monitoring and analytics.
Chitika: This is a straight-forward platform. You don’t need to sign any contracts or make any long-term commitments. They use that as their USP, although in truth, many of their rivals work in the same way. The Chitika network is quite expansive and it’s worth considering as a secondary network. But it doesn’t come close to Adwords or some of the others mentioned above.
Bidvertiser: This is great for publishers seeking to get their message out there as it allows them to focus their ads on a specific location, a specific channel and a specific keyword. For the advertiser it’s not as good, but it’s still worth considering. And if you can’t get verified on some of the other networks, it might be your only option.
Leads (Affiliate Marketing)
Lead marketing, like CPC and CPM, has been around since the dawn of online advertising. But like the aforementioned programs, it has changed a lot since then. You can find these programs on some of the CPM and CPC networks mentioned above as they often go hand in hand.
Instead of being paid per click or per impression, you’re paid a percentage of the website’s profits. If someone clicks an ad on your site and from that ad they purchase a product or a service, then you will be entitled to a share of the profits. In the early days, it was hard to profit from such programs as it was hard to keep track of those clicks. If someone clicked through and made a purchase immediately then you were okay, but few shoppers make purchases so quickly. Many will click-off, only to return hours, days or weeks later when they have made up their mind. To counteract this, modern lead generating programs will plant a cookie in that user’s computer as soon as they click the link. Depending on the particular program, that cookie will stay for months or even years.
One of the most popular Cost per Lead programs is Amazon. Everyone loves and trusts Amazon, and most of us are happy to use them. So, we don’t think twice if we see a product we need or like being advertised on another site. The problem with Amazon is that the percentage they offer is low, and with the average Amazon shopping basket at just $30 to $60, you could be making just $5 per lead.
Amazon can’t offer a lot because their margins are so low. But if you focus on sites that sell something with a high mark-up, sites that have a low turnover and need outside support, then that rate goes up. Share trading companies like Plus500, for example, offer as much as $500 for every paying customer you send their way. While on BullionVault, you can earn a percentage of every trade that a customer makes. The average customer may only spend a few hundred and may only generate around $30 for your coffers, but if you refer a big trader then you could make $1000s from a single lead.
Gambling sites work in a similar way, in the sense that it only takes one high-roller to boost your income tenfold. Of course, Google hates gambling links and you could harm your rankings if you place too many of these on your website.
Google have taken a hard-line on link building, and as a result, affiliate marketing seems to have taken a knock from both sides. But the truth is that the Google algorithm seems to be sympathetic with this revenue model. It sees it as a viable way for publishers to get the message out and for advertisers to earn more. If you use it properly and sparingly, and you don’t start filling your site with affiliate ads too early on, then you will be okay.
Cost per Lead programs have their uses, and some website owners build their websites around them. For instance, if you create a website based around share trading, then you can signup for an account with Plus500 and use “Plus500” as one of your main keywords. If you create enough content on the subject and if that content is good enough and specific enough, then you can ensure that the majority of people who click onto your site are doing so to learn more about Plus500.
This means that the majority of your visitors are ready to sign-up to that company, and if your site is the one that convinces them to make the leap, then you could be the one to pocket the $500 commission. These sites will typically get an average of just a few hundred hits a day, but because their visitors are so targeted, they can still generate a 5 figure revenue per annum.
Of course, not all lead programs are high paying. But what you lose in quality, you gain in quantity.
Who Should Use CPL
Sites with a niche, targetted following Sites with a small number of quality visitors Sites that are struggling to grow
Who Should Avoid CPL
General content websites Websites with a broad appeal
In CHAPTER 7: SEO TIPS, we discussed guest posts, and how essential these are to building your online presence. But if your site is successful, if you have a good DA and PR (the latter of which is no longer visible to you) then other webmasters will want to put their link on your site.
It works in the same way. They provide the quality content, they pay the money, and in return you get an article and a payment. By the time your site is worthy of such offers, you will have made plenty of similar offers yourself, so you should have a good idea of just how much a post on your website is worth.
You will also have a firm grasp of what you should and shouldn’t post, but just incase:
Reject proposals that don’t include the actual article.
Check that the article is original using Copyscape.
Make sure the article will be an exclusive, and check Copyscape again a few weeks after posting to double check.
Do not let anyone include links to gambling sites, porn sites or any other sites that Google does not look fondly upon.
Insist on 1 paid link per article (some posters work for many clients and will look to cram several links into one article, collecting half a dozen commissions but only paying you once).
Insist on targeted, niche content that will rank well and is at least 800 words.
Ask them to post on social media. The extra exposure wouldn’t hurt and if your site is big enough, they’ll do anything to win your favor.
Do not edit it yourself. If it’s poorly written or riddled with mistakes, point this out and insist that it is edited by a professional before it is submitted again.
Get the money in advance.
Don’t overdo it and don’t rely on guest posts with low quality links for all of your content.
A lot of guest posters will come to you, but you can also go to them. You can use sites like Upwork, Guru and Freelancer to find brands looking for guest posts. You can also advertise on gig-based platforms like People per Hour, and on more specialized platforms. This is discussed in more detail in CHAPTER 12: RESOURCES.
Sponsored content is somewhat similar to guest posts, although it’s more about the exposure and the endorsement than the link. You can make a lot of money this way, and for some sites, it’s where most of their revenue comes from. Buzzfeed is the perfect example. You’ve probably seen their Sponsored Posts yourself and you may have even entertained the idea of paying for some of these to boost your blog or business.
But these sponsored posts are not one-off articles. They are part of a broader campaign, one which aims to get the brand’s message out across the entire Buzzfeed platform. That’s why the spend on these campaigns can run into the millions of dollars, and it’s why Buzzfeed won’t even entertain your brand unless you have at least $100,000 to spend.
Now imagine being on the receiving end of that. Buzzfeed have brands queuing at their door, eager to throw money at them in exchange for a few articles and social media posts. If your site becomes just as big, then you can earn your share of that money. But even if not, there are small brands with smaller budgets that still need exposure, and they will pay you to post about them, to write about them, and to review them.
The only way to make this happen is to grow your blog, and to become well known in your niche. Once you make it that far then the sponsors will come to you. Just make sure you include a contact address for all media and advertising queries.
Once your blog begins to grow, there are a number of things you can do to increase your revenue. Don’t get too caught up in these ideas just yet, as they won’t work this early on and will only slow you down. But by all means come back to this later on, or use them as an incentive to grow your blog.
If you believe Youtube stars, big brand ambassadors and social media gurus, then videos are the future of the internet. They’re already here of course, but some are predicting that everything will be presented in video form sooner or later. It might sound far fetched, but a few years ago the idea that more people would access the internet using their phone than their desktop was equally far fetched to some, and now desktops seem to be a thing of the past. So, if you want to get on the bandwagon, then look to create a Youtube channel alongside your blog and look to embed the videos in your blog. It’s not easy to create a successful Youtube account. But if you already have an established blog, then it’s a great way to build your channel and to start the ball rolling. It’s worth bearing in mind that a single viewer on your channel will typically return more than a single reader on your blog.
They may seem a little dated, but forums are still popular. Reddit is one of the biggest sites on the internet, and it’s based on a forum. The same goes for many other popular websites. A forum is not only a great revenue stream (thanks to the sheer number of people who visit and remain) but it’s also good for SEO. After all, you have endless content being created without your assistance, and all of this content is being indexed and picked up by Google searches. Not convinced? Ask Google a question about fitness and/or bodybuilding, and see how many results you get for Yahoo Answers (based on a forum) and bodybuilding.com (a forum with over 13.5 million members). You will need a popular site first, and that site will need to have good content that people want to discuss. But once you reach that point and create your forum–a very easy process using scripts like VBulletin–your site, your revenue and your brand will grow exponentially.
They may seem a little dated, but forums are still popular
Selling Your Blog
If you want one lump sum, then you could of course just sell your blog. It doesn’t matter what the content is, if you have a blog that is well placed in the search engines, has a lot of content and is making money, then there will be a market for it. There are upsides and downsides to this. You won’t always get what the website is worth, and there’s really no way of knowing exactly what it is worth either. We will discuss this at length in CHAPTER 10: SELLING YOUR BLOG..
It’s quite astonishing to see what some of the world’s biggest blogs can become. Many bloggers and vloggers have become celebrities in their own rights, selling autographs, getting book deals and arranging events for fans. They sell merchandise that their readers/viewers are more than happy to buy and show off to the world, and they endorse products and they receive a fortune for doing so. Even if you do not attain celebrity status, if your blog is a big deal in your chosen niche, you may still be booked for events, you may still get a book deal or even a TV deal. It may be hard to believe, but we live in an age in which someone can attain celebrity status, and all of the perks that go with it, just because they have a large Twitter following.
Blogs can make money from hundreds of different ways overall, such as advertising, product sales, affiliate leads, guest posts, etc. Chances are that if you have any decent traffic at all coming to your site, you can probably make some money off of it. Check out our “Revenue Stream” section for a deep dive into how blogs make money.
Are blog sites profitable?
Yes! Blogging can be a highly profitable business, mostly because there doesn’t have to be any big overhead or inventory costs associated with the business. For just a few bucks a month, you can have a website and hosting, and be generating advertising money at 99% profit margins!
When do blogs qualify for Adsense?
You can qualify for Adsense when you have a steady enough traffic flow (+100 visits per month), and qualify through their application process. You’ll have to present your site to them, and get validated as a legitimate publisher before they’ll accept you into the program.
What blog platforms support Adsense?
Most major blog platforms will support Adsense in their themes. WordPress for example has many plugins available that can make placing your Adsense code very easy, anywhere on your site.
What blogging sites pay you?
There are some more premium blogs out there that will pay you to write, but before you can get paid, you’ll have to get accepted by them first, and have some decent knowledge or expertise first. Check sites like Upwork for writing and blogging jobs.
Which blog site is best for earning money?
The blog site that is best for making money is one that focuses on a subject that many people like, and will consistently spend money on. If you get enough traffic for any site, it can start generating some revenue. But the ones that make the most money are focused on topics that people regularly spend lots of money on.
What blog makes the most money?
There are many blogs out there that make millions per year, but one of the top ones in the blogging category is the Huffington Post.