Blog Monetization Strategies
So you have a blog and want to make some money from it. There are lots of different
issues to take into account when monetizing a blog. Unless you have your own product,
you are ultimately going to be making money from advertising other people‟s
products/websites/services in a variety of different forms. This e-book will mostly cover
making money from advertising and selling other peoples products using your blog.
These are a few questions you will need to be thinking about:
1. Is my readership web-savvy enough to know what is an advert and what isn‟t?
2. Is my blog a small niche blog or a flagship blog with a loyal readership?
3. How does traffic reach my blog and what do my visitors want?
4. Does my blog make me look like a trusted authority or am I more of an
5. Do my readers trust what I write?
6. Does my blog have a narrow niche topic or a broad mainstream one?
7. What countries does my traffic come from?
8. What are some keywords/categories that describe my blog?
Monetization Of A Flagship Blog Vs Monetization Of A Small Niche Blog
This may seem like useless buzzwords but I assure you it is important to understand the
different types of blog in order to make money from them. Differentiating between the
types of blog is a fundamental lesson in this e-book.
Monetization is the set up of income streams on a blog.
A flagship blog is high maintenance, high traffic blog that has its own brand. It has a
broader topic than a niche blog and significant percentage of its visitors are repeat visitors.
They visit the site to read the content, rather than searching for an answer to a very
specific question. A flagship blog receives search engine traffic as well, but because it is
regularly and consistently updated it builds a loyal following usually much larger than the
search engine traffic.
A niche blog is a blog that is updated less frequently and on a more tightly focused topic
than a flagship blog. Most of the visitors find the site via a search engine and will leave
once they have found the answer to what they want, or if they believe a link from the
niche blog will lead them to the answer. Every blog is in a niche, but for the sake of
simplicity “niche blog” has become the correct phrase to use for smaller blogs. Niche
blogs are often developed into flagship blogs by the author if they have been going well.
Web-savvy is a term here that means someone who is generally aware of advertising,
especially Google AdSense. Web-savvy readers do not click often on payperclick
advertising. An un-web-savvy is the opposite.
There are other types of blog such as company blogs and personal blogs, but their aim is
not to make money (at least not directly). Flagship blogs and niche blogs accomplish this
the most efficiently and so they are blogs that I have covered.
Essential Online Advertising Terms
? PPC (PayPerClick) is the ad platform used when advertisers pay on a CPC basis.
? CPC (Cost per click) is the cost advertiser pays for each click on a PPP ad
network. Bloggers receive a portion of this depending on the network that is used.
? ROI (return on investment) is the sales minus investment divided by the
? CTR (Click Through Ratio) is impressions divided by the number of clicks over a
set time period.
? CPM (cost per 1000 impressions), sometimes advertisers pay this way rather than
for each click (an outdated method rarely used in blogs). Bloggers receive a
portion of this depending on which network is used.
? Impressions (or page views) are number of pages viewed by visitors. For
example 1 visitor may create 2 page views if they click a link to view another
page of the same site.
? Visits are the number of times anyone has viewed the site. For example 1 person
can create 3 visits by visiting a blog 3 times in a day.
? Unique visitors are visitors from different IP addresses. This is the most
important blog statistic and often abbreviated to “uniques”
Note to beginners – If you are unsure about all the different types of blog advertising
and the various ad networks, then I recommend reading the last section on page 8 entitled,
“Guide To Networks And Different Types Of Blog Ads”, before coming back to this one.
Types Of Advertising To Use When Monetizing A Flagship Blog
A flagship blog has both loyal readers and 1-time visitors. This means as long as the
advertising matches the topic of the blog, no matter what type of advertising is used there
will always be a reasonable ROI for the advertisers and bloggers.
For example using AdSense only on a flagship blog with a loyal web-savvy readership
(worst case scenario for a flagship blog) will still make SOME money, but using
privately sold banner ads on a small niche blog will make 0.
Flagship blog monetization scenarios Traffic to the flagship blog is usually predominantly returning traffic and so the
strengths of the blog are in its content and in its brand. It‟s also important to remember
that loyal readers often Subscribe via RSS or email and only see the content, so the
content is extra important.
To take advantage that the traffic is focused on the content in a flagship blog, the most
effective way to advertise is by monetizing the content itself.
Monetizing the content can be done by:
PayPerPost ? Selling sponsored content. Using sponsored content brokers such as
(see full list ad networks later) can help you find advertisers, or advertisers to find
you. If your flagship blog is still young and isn‟t yet receiving offers for private
advertising they are especially useful. It is very important to strike a balance
between making money and damaging your readership by writing off-topic
? Promoting affiliate offers and including affiliate links in posts. Many different
Websites have an Affiliate program, where bloggers can sign up and earn a
commission on a pay-per-sale or sometimes a pay-per-lead basis. You can write
an entire post designed to sell the product and also drop in affiliate links where
relevant in other posts. Another technique is to create Pre-sell pages, which we
will look into later.
? PPC In-Content links require bloggers to insert a code snippet into their blogs.
A popular example of network that provides this is Kontera . They turn certain
keywords on your blog into temporary links to advertisers Websites. You earn for
each click through. I have found these systems can slow down a blogs loading
time but are worth experimenting with. These also do not appear to RSS or email
subscribers, but can provide a good supplemental income stream. (Adbrite is a
To take advantage of the strong brand of a flagship blog, using privately sold 125 x 125
banner ads is effective, because it is beneficial for the advertiser to be associated with
your strong brand. Being privately sold (sold by you), you get to keep 100% of the
revenue and can cut out the middleman. Because flagship blogs have higher traffic it is
worth the advertisers time to order privately like this. If your flagship blog is still young
affiliate banners can fill the spots if they are not yet sold. To be privately sold an
advertising page needs to be set up. Remember to be honest on your advertising page, but show of the traffic you have and include details about where your readership is from,
what they are interested in and why your blog is a great place to advertise. Including
testimonials from the most well known names you that advertised on your blog adds to
the chance of success with privately sold advertising.
If the traffic to the flagship blog is predominantly returning, web-savvy traffic then it
is a waste to use PPC advertising as the main income stream because there are only a few
search engine visitors and the readers know the ads are ads and they are focused on the
content. 125 x 125 banners (or any size banner) are still effective with web-savvy readers
because the brand of the advertiser is still be strengthened even if there is a lower click-
through rate. Banner blindness is an issue that lowers the CTR on banners, especially on
flagship blogs where the loyal readers are over-exposed to a banner, but for the sake of
branding banner ads are still commonly sold for a fixed monthly fee.
If the traffic to the flagship blog is predominantly returning, un-web-savvy traffic (they
can‟t tell what‟s an ad and what isn‟t) then extra monetization channels can be
implemented. It is here that PPC ad networks come into play. PPC works best where
visitors are from the search engines, or are loyal but “un-web-savvy”. If your blog
matches these criteria then PPC networks like Google AdSense are a good option.
Remember to blend the AdSense ads so they match your content to help get more clicks.
Shylock AdSense PlugIn - Only Show Ads To Search Engine Visitors
In every scenario for a flagship blog there are going to be some visitors from the search
engines that are “just passing through”. If you use Wordpress they can be monetized
using with Google AdSense by using the Shylock Adsense Plugin. This plugin lets you
control when AdSense is shown. You can choose for it to only show on posts that are a
certain number of days old, which means your loyal readers who visit the Homepage are
spared the ads.
The WP Ads plugin for Wordpress can be used to rotate banner ads.
Types Of Advertising To Use When Monetizing A Niche Blog
With a niche blog the majority of traffic comes from search engines and there are far
fewer repeat visitors. Search engine users are looking for an answer to their query. They
are not interested in subscribing (although some inevitably will if the content interests
them). They see the blog as a whole and have never been exposed to the ads before,
which means a different strategy to the flagship blogs should be used.
Depending on your plans for the niche blog you may wish to monetize to different
extremes. For example if you don‟t plan on growing the niche blog into a blog with a
loyal readership then by all means monetize it as much as possible. However, if you plan
on building a flagship blog out of the niche blog, it may be an idea to use some space for
an RSS/email/newsletter subscription widget and not be so harsh on each visitor in terms
of advertising, because it can stunt loyal readership growth.
Niche blog monetization scenarios
If you have a niche blog where the readers are web-savvy it is much harder to monetize.
My advice is to only start a blog with a web-savvy readership if you are going to grow it
into a flagship blog.
Therefore, traffic to a niche blog is likely to be predominantly un-web-savvy search engine traffic. Using PPC is a good method to monetize this type of blog. With this
type traffic you are more likely to receive a high CTR and earn more money. The most
commonly used PPC network is Google AdSense but experimentation is key to
successful monetization so it is worth trying out other networks, which I have listed later
If you have a product based niche blog then PPC networks such as TTZ Media and
Chitika are worthwhile testing.
Affiliate links on niche blogs are a great way of adding an extra income stream. On a
niche blog affiliate links can be effective if placed in the sidebar of the blog and not just
the content. Remember to use anchor texts (text visible to humans and spiders in the link)
that encourage the right people to click and take action. Less is earned from affiliate
links in the content of niche blogs because author cannot easily utilize the power of
personal recommendation, but they are a good way to diversify income streams.
Product based niche blogs can take advantage of large affiliate programs such as Amazon and eBay where there are a wide variety of products to promote. The affiliate
links can be displayed in a widget with these programs.
Sponsored posts on small niche blogs are a problem because a lot of what the
advertiser is paying for is the bloggers time to write the post rather than the exposure,
which isn‟t cost-effective on smaller blogs.
If you are interested in choosing a new blogging strategy I recommended my article,
which lists the pros and cons of Flagship blogs and niche blogs
Core Blog Monetization Lessons
Lesson 1: Diversification Diversification is a crucial lesson in business and applies very strongly with monetizing a
blog. Branching out to use different ad networks and different types of monetization
results in more money being earned and for the earnings to be more stable.
As I‟ve explained in the pages above, there are many different types of visitor to a blog
and they all need to be monetized, or persuaded to take action in a way you want them to.
They all respond to advertising in different ways because they all focus on different parts
of the blog and all want slightly different things. Your monetization strategy should be as
diverse as your readership.
Lesson 2: Experimentation There is only so much you can learn from reading about monetization. There an infinite
number of differences in blogs and so the only way to find out what works well on your
blog is by experimenting with different forms of monetization. Remember anything that
you don‟t track statistics for isn‟t worth doing. Always have tracking channels set up and
monitor the ads to find out which work and which don‟t. Mix and match until you have a
winning combination. Here is a formula I like to keep in the back of my mind when
Diversification + experimentation = successful monetization
Hopefully reading this e-book has helped you skip out a lot of the experimentation
because you now have an idea of what will work and what wont.
Lesson 3. Pre-sell pages And Resource Pages A pre-sell page is a page (not just a post) on a blog where the blog owner, who makes a
commission from each sale, recommends a certain product. Often “Resources” is a good
name for a pre-sell page because readers except resources to cost money.
This is the art of the „soft-sell‟ where more often than not the reader doesn‟t even know
he/she is being sold to.
These pages are monetized with affiliate links. I recommend searching for the highest
paying affiliate program for your product and using Amazon Associates as a back up if
you can‟t find anything great. The advantage of Amazon is its diversity in products, but it
doesn‟t pay high commissions. Of course you should only personally recommend
something you genuinely believe is the best.
There can be pre-sell pages for blogs on any topic under the sun. For example if you
have a video games blog you would need to find a well paying affiliate program where
you can recommend your favourite game or console. If you have a political blog it could
be selling your favourite politics book.
Pre-sell pages should utilize the power of personal recommendation and so work far
better on flagship blogs. They should be written in a certain style. While being personal,
they need to show why you have authority to recommend the products that you do and
that you have used them yourself. They need a reason to buy from you right then and
A smart move is to link back to your pre-sell pages where relevant in the blogs content
using well chosen anchor text to help give your pre-sell page a good search engine
When To Monetize
When To Monetize A Niche Blog With a niche blog there is very little to loose from monetizing it straight away because it
does not „stunt‟ the growth because you are not trying to keep readers on the blog. In
addition, because PPC is the primary weapon of choice with a niche blog, you do not
have to have substantial traffic to start making money.
The main factor is time management because there is no point spending time
experimenting with a niche blog‟s monetization until it has enough traffic to allow you to make a valid judgement, but it is still worth monetizing immediately.
When To Monetize A Flagship Blog Monetizing a flagship blog is a hotly debated topic and there is no right or wrong answer.
I have listed some of the arguments on either side:
Reasons to monetize later:
? The aim is to build a loyal following and all forms of monetization with
advertising involve sending readers away from the blog.
? Visitors should be directed to subscribe via email or RSS and monetizing is
diluting their attention.
? The hardest part of growing a blog is in the early months, anything that sends
readers away should not be on the blog.
? All effort should be focused on content creation and marketing. It takes time to
get monetization right and that time should not be spent until there is enough
traffic to justify it.
? Only small money will be earned at first anyway because traffic is low.
Reasons to monetize early
? Any earnings can be reinvested to boost the growth of the blog.
? Money is made straight away, which reduces the risk of not getting a return
? Readers will get used to there being ad spots and sponsored content. If monetized
later they may not like it.
? Blog could become known as a provider of good value advertising, resulting in
more offers from private advertisers later.
? Monetizing early gives you a better picture of what the blog could earn with more
This can be a tough choice, but remember if you do try monetizing early and it doesn‟t
work out it isn‟t the end of the world. The chances are your brand wasn‟t damaged
because it didn‟t really exist then.
When To Monetize A Flagship Blog You Plan To Sell
If you are planning to sell your blog further down the line then deciding when to
monetize is especially important. This is because the when selling a blog, to calculate the
price a rule of thumb is to multiply the monthly earnings by 10, so if you increase
earnings by $100 in a single month you will be able to sell for roughly $1000 more. This
e-book isn‟t about selling blogs, but there is a saying that “the big money isn‟t made until
the exit”, so in terms of making money from the sale, from monetization you implement
it is vital.
In a niche blog, where hopefully the readership isn‟t web-savvy, then monetizing the blog
doesn‟t “stunt growth” of the blog at all, but in a flagship blog where the readers are web-
savvy it can have a much bigger effect. When selling a blog the monthly earnings are the
single biggest factor that determine the price, but there needs to be 1 month absolute
minimum monthly earnings to show as proof.
Here is an example for flagship blogs with a web-savvy readership that are planning
to sell in 3 months
A blog that earned $100 in month 1, $200 in month 2 and $300 in month 3 (total of $600)
would usually sell for less than a blog that earned $0 in amonth 1, $0 in month 2 and
$400 month 3 (total $400) despite the total earnings being lower, providing the blog was
not monetized at all in the first 2 months. This is because the monthly earnings for when
the blog has been monetized are still higher.
There is no set way to do decide when to monetize your blog and this theory will change
depending how hot blogs are in the market when you sell.
Guide To Ad Networks And Different Types Of Blog Ads
Ad networks are broker sites where advertisers and bloggers sign up. The various broker
sites have slightly different systems, but the idea is that advertisers create an advert and
the broker distributes it to relevant bloggers to be displayed.
There are lots of different ways these networks can be divided and subdivided. In this e-
book I have broken them down in a way I think is most useful for bloggers.
Sponsored Blog Content Networks
The amount they pay their bloggers depends on various rankings and statistics of a blog,
such as traffic and niche. On these networks advertisers pay bloggers to write about them
and to include certain links in their blog post.
? Sponsored Reviews
PayPerClick Ad Networks
PayPerClick ad networks work by advertisers bidding for keywords. More competitive
keywords get higher bids and so bloggers in those niches earn more per click (but the
chances are they will have fewer visitors than bloggers in less competitive niches)
Some Pay Per Click ad networks such as Google AdSense are contextual, which means
they use the content of the blog to determine which ads should appear. Others, such as
Kontera, work by turning words that advertisers bid on into links to the advertisers sites.
You must be careful when picking ad networks to use because many do not allow you to
use a rival‟s ad network on the same blog. For example Adbrite cannot be used with
Google AdSense on the same blog. Breaking that rule could get you banned forever!
PPC Ad Networks (contextual and non-contextual)
? Google Adsense – The most widely used PPC network
? Yahoo Publisher Network – Yahoo‟s version of AdSense, abbreviated to YPN
? Microsoft AdCenter – Microsoft‟s version of AdSense
? Adbrite – Provides a Varity of advertising options
? Kontera – In-text links
Product Based PPC
These work best on blogs where the topic is based around products, such as a blog about
the latest tech gadgets.
? TTZ Media
? Shopping Ads (my experience of Shopping ads is a negative one).
Affiliate And Associate Programs:
The Ad networks listed above let you display relevant ads from lots of different
advertisers. Affiliate programs are when you pick the precise products you want to
promote from a specific advertiser. Affiliate programs have a very strong power on
flagship blogs due to the power of personal recommendation.
If you have a loyal readership that trusts you, recommending products as an affiliate is a
great way to make money from your blog.
Larger affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, let you create widgets where
products are displayed based on keywords or the content of your blog. You are then paid
on a pay-per-sale basis, earning a percentage of revenue of everything you sell. Affiliate
programs also work well on product related blogs, providing you can find products to
match your niche.
If you want to search for products to sell as an affiliate, Commission Junction is
„network‟ of affiliate programs, which can be used to find specific products to promote.
Making Money By Selling PageRank
Penalization from search engines that lower your blog‟s rankings can occur if you do not use the rel=“nofollow” tag in any links you sell. This does not occur with PPC links,
only permalinks that you create yourself such as those in a sponsored blog post. The
sponsored content brokers have different rules about their bloggers using the
rel=“nofollow” tag. Selling links that do not have the rel=“nofollow” tag attached is
against Google‟s policies. You should carefully consider the risks.
Alternative Income Streams – Email Newsletter On a flagship blog it is very possible to start a weekly newsletter sent out via email, using
Aweber. These emails can be monetized with affiliate programs, or used to drive traffic
to the blog, as well as help build your brand and reach in general. If you have your own
product to sell or are planning on releasing one in the future, then building an opt-in
email list is essential.
I hope you have found this free resource to be useful and I wish you the best of luck in
making money from your blog.
I will be sending out a bi-weekly (sometimes weekly) newsletter to everyone who
downloaded a copy of this e-book, to keep you up-to-date with the latest ways to make
money from your blog.
If you want further advice about how to monetize your blog I offer private consulting
sessions. Contact me for details via email or instant messenger using the information
If anyone wishes to add to this resource email me at
Subscribe to Blogging Fingers by RSS for more blogging advice from Matt Jones.
Contact Matt Jones
Yahoo instant messenger: matt608freemoney
Add me on Stumbleupon: http://matt608.stumbleupon.com
Add me on Digg : http://digg.com/users/webmatt