Wednesday, 31 August 2011

101 Ways to Monetize Your Blog Without Irritating Your Readers

Blogging is big business these days, with some bloggers reporting six-figure or even million-dollar incomes. There are a number of ways that these bloggers earn such large paychecks, and the best know how to do it in a way that won't scare off readers. Check out 101 ways that you can earn money from your blog and learn strategies for using these tools and methods in a way that's reader-friendly.



Merchandising
If you're a well-loved blogger, there's a good chance that your readers would like to show their support. Give them what they want and make money by taking advantage of merchandising opportunities.
  1. CafePress.com: This perennial favorite makes it easy for you to put your blog's logo on shirts, bags, coasters and other items.
  2. Self-Published Books: If your readers like your content, they may want to have something they can own offline or even share with friends. Create a book with self-publishing services like Lulu, and you'll earn profits even without a huge book deal.
  3. Printfection.com: Design and sell custom products with Printfection.com.
  4. Hard-Copy Content: Create a CD-ROM "book" with cleanly organized content that can be accessed offline. You can take things a step further and sell subscriptions for future updates to the system.
  5. GoodStorm: Like CafePress.com and Printfection.com, GoodStorm is a nice way to create and sell your own merchandising products.
Paid Content
Paid content is a good monetization method for bloggers that regularly offer useful information — especially if this information helps others make money. As with all monetization methods, it's all in the approach. Don't create misleading previews of content that requires a membership to read in full. Rather, devote special sections of premium content to readers who are willing to pay for the information.
  1. E-Books: Whether it's a compilation of your best tips or a new idea altogether, an e-book is a good, reader-friendly way to package content.
  2. White Papers: Like e-books, white papers are a smaller, more technical version of your content.
  3. Phone Calls: Sell one-on-one phone calls for advice and other consulting through Ether.
  4. Miniguides: If you've just run a particularly helpful series, package it up into a miniguide.
  5. Tutorials: Gather your knowledge and compile it into a tutorial that relies upon your expert advice.
  6. Members-Only Sections: Whether you're providing access to published items or just ad-free content, make sure you're delivering a product that your readers are willing to pay for.
  7. TextMarks Inc.: Charge readers to get text-message alerts about your content through TextMarks.
  8. X-Events: Project physical events online and create revenue by charging admission, attracting sponsors and selling subscriptions to future events.
  9. Podcasts: Podcasts may be a novelty to your readers, and many of them are probably willing to pay to be able to hear your entries on the go.
  10. Videos: Like podcasts, videos are value-added extras that readers may be willing to pay for.
Begging
It never hurts to be straightforward about earning money from your blog. Ask your readers for donations — in a polite way, of course — and the ones that truly value your work will likely be more than willing to help support your ongoing success.
  1. PayPal: PayPal's system allows you to place a donation button on your blog.
  2. Amazon Honor System: Like PayPal, the Amazon Honor System allows you to accept online donations.
  3. Mailed Checks: Of course, good old U.S. mail works just as well. Provide readers with a P.O. box that they can mail donations to.
  4. Buy me a beer/coffee: Asking for donations in the form of a beer, coffee or other special item allows readers to reward you with something tangible.
  5. Amazon Wish List: Although it's not cash, asking readers to buy you items from your Amazon Wish List will save you from having to buy things yourself. Again, they'll feel more rewarded knowing they've given you something tangible.
Opportunities
Becoming a successful blogger means becoming an expert in your field. You can use this status to earn money through opportunities, while increasing the value you provide to your readers.
  1. Writing Gigs: By showcasing your writing talents on your blog, you've provided a living resume to any blog network or news site that might be interested in hiring you.
  2. Seminars and Workshops: As an expert, you can invite readers to visit with you in person for seminars and workshops.
  3. Bloggers for Hire: Get yourself hired to blog for a corporate Web site.
  4. Blogger Jobs: Like Bloggers for Hire, Blogger Jobs can connect you with sites in need of a blogger.
  5. Go Offline: Take your blogging skills offline as a columnist in a newspaper or magazine.
  6. Guest Blogging: Fill in for fellow bloggers as a guest writer for a nominal fee or just future reciprocation.
  7. Job Board: If you're an industry leader, set up a job board that your readers can use to hire or be hired for positions in your field.
  8. Create a Radio Station: With a radio station, you can feature podcasts, sell showcase spots to budding artists and even sell audio advertising.
  9. Consulting: If you've found success as a blogger, you probably have a lot of knowledge to share about mastering both the Internet and your field. Freelance as a consultant and get paid for sharing what you know.
  10. Speaking: Your blog can get your noticed by industry leaders and can land you speaking engagements at conferences and meetings.
  11. Book: A number of popular bloggers have landed lucrative book deals.
  12. Interviews: Share your knowledge on a new medium and go on radio or TV interviews.
Offline
The benefits, monetary and otherwise, of writing a blog extend well beyond the Internet, particularly if you operate an offline business. Take advantage of these benefits using the following methods.
  1. Market Your Services: Your blog is a great forum for marketing your business. Post about current promotions, new interests and other business-building information.
  2. Create a Voice Behind Your Business: A blog is a great way to grow your business through personal dialogue. By presenting yourself as a friendly authority, your business becomes more approachable.
  3. Deepen Customer Relationships: Beyond providing a friendly voice, a blog can help you connect with customers. Link to their blogs, write about their interests and give them special attention in your writing.
Ads
Ads are generally the bread and butter of bloggers. However, they're also the most likely to irritate readers. To keep a happy balance, focus on relevance and make sure that you're not overloading your blog with too many ads. It should go without saying that you should absolutely not use every single one of these ad programs, either. Rather, pick a handful and rotate them until you find what that works the best for your blog.
  1. Yahoo! Publisher Network: Display contextual ads on your site via the Yahoo! Publisher Network.
  2. ValueClick Inc.: You'll get quality advertisers, support and advanced technology from ValueClick.
  3. Tribal Fusion: Tribal Fusion's impression-based ad service focuses on targeting and optimization.
  4. eXelate Targeting eXchange: This program relies on delayed ad cookies.
  5. Clicksor Inc.: Clicksor focuses on contextual ads that can be presented in a number of different ways, such as text, graphics and in-line links.
  6. Indeed: Post job listings from Indeed and get paid.
  7. Chitika eMiniMalls: Promote products through interactive merchandise kiosks and provide both relevant content and comparative shopping to readers. You'll get paid per click.
  8. AdSonar: Attract advertisers and build relationships with them individually through this platform.
  9. ExpoActive: Get freedom, from specific ads to style, with ExpoActive.
  10. AdVolcano LLC: Using AdVolcano's platform, you can design your ads, set your own prices and screen your advertisers.
  11. eXelate Targeted Links: Pick and choose the advertisers you want on your site with this program.
  12. grokAds.com: Set your price and choose which advertisers to accept with grokAds.com.
  13. Adify: Get editorial control and high-value advertising on your site with Adify. You can even set your own prices.
  14. AdBriteInc.: Using AdBrite, you have the option to approve and reject ads that will appear on your blog, and you can even use it to sell directly to your own users.
  15. BidVertiser.com: These ads are highly customizable, and you have the option to block any ad you don't want displayed on your blog.
  16. Blogads: Get invited to this exclusive network of bloggers, and you'll have high-quality, relevant advertising on your blog.
  17. Casale Media Inc.: Get high-quality advertisers and control with Casale Media.
  18. DoubleClick Inc.: DoubleClick offers differentiation and lots of solutions for publishers.
  19. BlueLithium: Get great ad targeting, selective partnerships and better ad performance with BlueLithium.
RSS Ads
A more specialized advertising method, RSS ads give bloggers a way to monetize feeds. Most readers generally react to RSS ads the same way they do with regular ones, so if you stay relevant and limited, it should work out just fine.
  1. Pheedo Inc.: This RSS advertising platform offers interactive triggers and video options.
  2. Feedvertising: A part of Text Link Ads, Feedvertising embeds ads in your RSS feed.
  3. CrispAds: This blog-focused ad network allows you to place ads directly into entries so they'll show up both on your site and in feeds.
  4. FeedBurner Inc.: FeedBurner's ads are embedded in RSS feeds,and feature high-quality advertisers like Discover Band, Best Buy and Comcast.
  5. FeedM8: FeedM8's service makes your blog ready for mobile content and embeds mobile-appropriate advertising.
Text Ads
Text ads are one of the the most reader-friendly type of ads you can serve. Their small size and text-based nature makes them less offensive and in-your-face than graphic ads. Try out these services to put this type of subtle ad on your blog.
  1. Vibrant Media: Vibrant Media's ads are in-text and completely user driven.
  2. Google AdSense: Ads from Google are the most popular and often the most profitable source of income for many bloggers. They're relevant to your content, and many blog readers expect it, so you're not likely to run into lots of negative feedback.
  3. LinkAds: These text ads come with lots of control.
  4. PaidTextLinks.com: Sell links on your site and retain editorial control over what's posted with this service.
  5. One Monkey Inc.: You can host highly targeted, text-based ads and earn a great percentage of revenue with One Monkey.
  6. Kontera ContentLink: ContentLink turns relevant keywords within your content into a hyperlink ad.
  7. Text Link Ads: Text Link Ads' simple, nonintrusive ads are a good choice for many bloggers.
  8. TAGword: Select your ads and set your prices with TAGword.
  9. LinkAdage Auctions: Sell text links through private online auctions with LinkAdage.
  10. LinkWords: LinkWords offers pay-per-click revenue embedded in your content, highlighting keywords that are relevant for advertisers.
  11. Textlinkbrokers.com: Get unobtrusive, small link ads, as well as a steady monthly payout that doesn't depend on traffic from Textlinkbrokers.com.
Sell Your Own Ads
Self-advertising is a method that trumps all others in terms of reader friendliness. By selling your own ads, you'll get complete control and will be able to determine the method of ad serving that your readers respond to the best.
  1. Individual Advertisers: Your advertisers should be ones that your readers will genuinely be interested in. Solicit ads from major, respected players in your industry for the best results.
  2. Actively Sell Individual Advertising: To attract advertisers, let it be known that you're looking for them. Put links on your site, contact potential advertisers directly and post on industry message boards.
  3. Create a Media Kit: Make it easy for advertisers to buy from you. Create a kit that includes your rates, ad policies, demographics, traffic, testimonials and contact information.
  4. Offer Free Ads: To get things started, seek out competitive companies in your niche and give them free ads for a specific amount of time. This will get other companies interested in advertising with you.
Affiliate Programs
Most bloggers end up dropping product names at one point or another. Whether it's software, books or trinkets, you're probably linking to them for free. Affiliate programs offer a way to profit from your name-dropping, often without changing much more than the URLs you point to. Keep affiliate programs reader-friendly by sharing only products that are truly relevant to your discussion and not going overboard with the quantity.
  1. Amazon Associates: Amazon Associates earn up to 10 percent in referral fees for revenue made through blog links.
  2. Chitika ShopCloud$: With ShopCloud$, you can list popular products in a tag cloud format.
  3. WidgetBucks: These shopping widgets offer popular products, lots of relevance and plenty of customization.
  4. LinkShare Corp.: LinkShare's affiliate program will hook you up with programs for companies like Apple Inc., Dell and Disney.
  5. zanox: Set up a zanox online shop, choose your products and earn a percentage of every sale.
  6. uSuggest LLC: Suggest relevant products to your readers and get paid for doing it.
  7. Chitika RPU: If you've discussed a product in a post, make money by putting a link to the product at the end of your text.
  8. Auction Ads LLC: Place relevant eBay auction ads on your site to earn money.
  9. Recommendations: If you're a fan of a particular product or service, why not ask them directly to pay you for linking to their site?
  10. Commission Junction Inc.: You can promote a wide variety of products through Commission Junction, so you'll be able to find something that's relevant to your readers.
  11. Chitika Linx: Chitika's Linx identifies keywords in your blog's content and links them to paid product listings.
  12. shareasale.com: Sign up with this network and choose which merchants you'd like to promote.
  13. ClickBank: Through ClickBank's program, you choose the products you want to promote.
  14. iTunes Affiliates: Keep your readers up-to-date on new releases and earn a commission on revenue with the iTunes Affilliates program.
Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts often rub readers the wrong way, usually because they're blatant cash grabs, but it doesn't have to be that way. Use these methods and programs that allow you to carefully pick and choose what you'll write about. That way, you can stick to products and services that are relevant to your readers and that you truly support.
  1. ReviewMe: Pick and choose your ReviewMe posts and earn up to $200 for each.
  2. PayPerPost Inc.: Use PayPerPost to earn money from writing about the sites, products and services that you support.
  3. Payu2blog.com: Sign up with this program, and you'll get above-average pay, as well as a steady stream of work.
  4. Self-Sold Paid Reviews: With paid reviews, the key is to be selective. You shouldn't accept every offer that comes to you, and if you have nothing nice to say about the product or service, don't bother. Be sure to offer an opposing view as well so your readers know that you're not just blindly supporting the highest bidder.
  5. SponsoredReviews.com: Review items in your own tone and as critically as you'd like with SponsoredReviews.com.
  6. Blogsvertise: When you get an assignment for Blogsvertise, you'll just put three links in a blog entry. This is a great way to make advertising look natural and unobtrusive.
  7. Smorty: Choose your subjects and get paid weekly with Smorty.
  8. Solicit Book Reviews: Another way to get something from your blog through reviews is to take on books. You'll get them for free while providing a valuable service to your readers.
Other
These are just a few more ways you can monetize your blog in a reader-friendly way.
  1. Sell Your Blog: If you've put a bunch of work into your blog and it has great stats, get a lump-sum payday from a buyer.
  2. Shareapic.net: Host your photos with this service, and you'll get paid for the number of views they get. That means that you can publish them on your blog and get paid every time someone reads a post with one of your Shareapic.net photos on it.
  3. Scoopt Words: Sell your content to mainstream media with Scoopt.
  4. Use Your Blog to Create a Mailing List: If you sell products, you can use your blog to generate a mailing list of people who are interested in buying from you.
  5. Vizu Corp. Answers: Host polls on your site. Visitors will enjoy sharing their opinion, and you'll earn some extra cash.
The original source of this article is InsideCRM.com, part of the Focus network of sites.
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How to Make Money From Your Blog

StevePavlina.com was launched on Oct 1st, 2004.  By April 2005 it was averaging $4.12/day in income.  Now it brings in over $200/day $1000/day (updated as of 10/29/06).  I didn’t spend a dime on marketing or promotion.  In fact, I started this site with just $9 to register the domain name, and everything was bootstrapped from there.  Would you like to know how I did it?
This article is seriously long (over 7300 words), but you’re sure to get your money’s worth (hehehe).  I’ll even share some specifics.  If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later.
Do you actually want to monetize your blog?
Some people have strong personal feelings with respect to making money from their blogs.  If you think commercializing your blog is evil, immoral, unethical, uncool, lame, greedy, obnoxious, or anything along those lines, then don’t commercialize it.
If you have mixed feelings about monetizing your blog, then sort out those feelings first.  If you think monetizing your site is wonderful, fine.  If you think it’s evil, fine.  But make up your mind before you seriously consider starting down this path.  If you want to succeed, you must be congruent.  Generating income from your blog is challenging enough — you don’t want to be dealing with self-sabotage at the same time.  It should feel genuinely good to earn income from your blog — you should be driven by a healthy ambition to succeed.  If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to earn income from it.  If, however, you find yourself full of doubts over whether this is the right path for you, you might find this article helpful:  How Selfish Are You?  It’s about balancing your needs with the needs of others.
If you do decide to generate income from your blog, then don’t be shy about it.  If you’re going to put up ads, then really put up ads.  Don’t just stick a puny little ad square in a remote corner somewhere.  If you’re going to request donations, then really request donations.  Don’t put up a barely visible “Donate” link and pray for the best.  If you’re going to sell products, then really sell them.  Create or acquire the best quality products you can, and give your visitors compelling reasons to buy.  If you’re going to do this, then fully commit to it.  Don’t take a half-assed approach.  Either be full-assed or no-assed.
You can reasonably expect that when you begin commercializing a free site, some people will complain, depending on how you do it.  I launched this site in October 2004, and I began putting Google Adsense ads on the site in February 2005.  There were some complaints, but I expected that — it was really no big deal.  Less than 1 in 5,000 visitors actually sent me negative feedback.  Most people who sent feedback were surprisingly supportive.  Most of the complaints died off within a few weeks, and the site began generating income almost immediately, although it was pretty low — a whopping $53 the first month.  If you’d like to see some month-by-month specifics, I posted my 2005 Adsense revenue figures earlier this year.  Adsense is still my single best source of revenue for this site, although it’s certainly not my only source.  More on that later…
Can you make a decent income online?
Yes, absolutely.  At the very least, a high five-figure annual income is certainly an attainable goal for an individual working full-time from home.  I’m making a healthy income from StevePavlina.com, and the site is only 19 months old… barely a toddler.  If you have a day job, it will take longer to generate a livable income, but it can still be done part-time if you’re willing to devote a lot of your spare time to it.  I’ve always done it full-time.
Can most people do it?
No, they can’t.  I hope it doesn’t shock you to see a personal development web site use the dreaded C-word.  But I happen to agree with those who say that 99% of people who try to generate serious income from their blogs will fail.  The tagline for this site is “Personal Development for Smart People.”  And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), smart people are a minority on this planet.  So while most people can’t make a living this way, I would say that most smart people can.  How do you know whether or not you qualify as smart?  Here’s a good rule of thumb:  If you have to ask the question, you aren’t.
If that last paragraph doesn’t flood my inbox with flames, I don’t know what will.  OK, actually I do.
This kind of 99-1 ratio isn’t unique to blogging though.  You’ll see it in any field with relatively low barriers to entry.  What percentage of wannabe actors, musicians, or athletes ever make enough money from their passions to support themselves?  It doesn’t take much effort to start a blog these days — almost anyone can do it.  Talent counts for something, and the talent that matters in blogging is intelligence.  But that just gets you in the door.  You need to specifically apply your intelligence to one particular talent.  And the best words I can think of to describe that particular talent are:  web savvy.
If you are very web savvy, or if you can learn to become very web savvy, then you have an excellent shot of making enough money from your blog to cover all your living expenses… and then some.  But if becoming truly web savvy is more than your gray matter can handle, then I’ll offer this advice:  Don’t quit your day job.
Web savvy
What do I mean by web savvy?  You don’t need to be a programmer, but you need a decent functional understanding of a variety of web technologies.  What technologies are “key” will depend on the nature of your blog and your means of monetization.  But generally speaking I’d list these elements as significant:
  • blog publishing software
  • HTML/CSS
  • blog comments (and comment spam)
  • RSS/syndication
  • feed aggregators
  • pings
  • trackbacks
  • full vs. partial feeds
  • blog carnivals (for kick-starting your blog’s traffic)
  • search engines
  • search engine optimization (SEO)
  • page rank
  • social bookmarking
  • tagging
  • contextual advertising
  • affiliate programs
  • traffic statistics
  • email
Optional:  podcasting, instant messaging, PHP or other web scripting languages.
I’m sure I missed a few due to familiarity blindness.  If scanning such a list makes your head spin, I wouldn’t recommend trying to make a full-time living from blogging just yet.  Certainly you can still blog, but you’ll be at a serious disadvantage compared to someone who’s more web savvy, so don’t expect to achieve stellar results until you expand your knowledge base.
If you want to sell downloadable products such as ebooks, then you can add e-commerce, SSL, digital delivery, fraud prevention, and online databases to the list.  Again, you don’t need to be a programmer; you just need a basic understanding of these technologies.  Even if you hire someone else to handle the low-level implementation, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.  You need to be able to trust your strategic decisions, and you won’t be able to do that if you’re a General who doesn’t know what a gun is.
A lack of understanding is a major cause of failure in the realm of online income generation.  For example, if you’re clueless about search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll probably cripple your search engine rankings compared to someone who understands SEO well.  But you can’t consider each technology in isolation.  You need to understand the connections and trade-offs between them.  Monetizing a blog is a balancing act.  You may need to balance the needs of yourself, your visitors, search engines, those who link to you, social bookmarking sites, advertisers, affiliate programs, and others.  Seemingly minor decisions like what to title a web page are significant.  In coming up with the title of this article, I have to take all of these potential viewers into consideration.  I want a title that is attractive to human visitors, drives reasonable search engine traffic, yields relevant contextual ads, fits the theme of the site, and encourages linking and social bookmarking.  And most importantly I want each article to provide genuine value to my visitors.  I do my best to create titles for my articles that balance these various needs.  Often that means abandoning cutesy or clever titles in favor of direct and comprehensible ones.  It’s little skills like these that help drive sustainable traffic growth month after month.  Missing out on just this one skill is enough to cripple your traffic.  And there are dozens of these types of skills that require web savvy to understand, respect, and apply.
This sort of knowledge is what separates the 1% from the 99%.  Both groups may work just as hard, but the 1% is getting much better results for their efforts.  It normally doesn’t take me more than 60 seconds to title an article, but a lot of experience goes into those 60 seconds.  You really just have to learn these ideas once; after that you can apply them routinely.
Whenever you come across a significant web technology you don’t understand, look it up on Google or Wikipedia, and dive into it long enough to acquire a basic understanding of it.  To make money from blogging it’s important to be something of a jack of all trades.  Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”  That may be true, but you don’t need to master any of these technologies — you just have to be good enough to use them.  It’s the difference between being able to drive a car vs. becoming an auto mechanic.  Strive to achieve functional knowledge, and then move on to something else.  Even though I’m an experienced programmer, I don’t know how many web technologies actually work.  I don’t really care.  I can still use them to generate results.  In the time it would take me to fully understand one new technology, I can achieve sufficient functional knowledge to apply several of them.
Thriving on change
Your greatest risk isn’t that you’ll make mistakes that will cost you.  Your greatest risk is that you’ll miss opportunities.  You need an entrepreneurial mindset, not an employee mindset.  Don’t be too concerned with the risk of loss — be more concerned with the risk of missed gains.  It’s what you don’t know and what you don’t do that will hurt you the worst.  Blogging is cheap.  Your expenses and financial risk should be minimal.  Your real concern should be missing opportunities that would have made you money very easily.  You need to develop antennae that can listen out for new opportunities.  I highly recommend subscribing to Darren Rowse’s Problogger blog — Darren is great at uncovering new income-generating opportunities for bloggers.
The blogosphere changes rapidly, and change creates opportunity.  It takes some brains to decipher these opportunities and to take advantage of them before they disappear.  If you hesitate to capitalize on something new and exciting, you may simply miss out.  Many opportunities are temporary.  And every day you don’t implement them, you’re losing money you could have earned.  And you’re also missing opportunities to build traffic, grow your audience, and benefit more people.
I used to get annoyed by the rapid rate of change of web technologies.  It’s even more rapid than what I saw when I worked in the computer gaming industry.  And the rate of change is accelerating.  Almost every week now I learn about some fascinating new web service or idea that could potentially lead to big changes down the road.  Making sense of them is a full-time job in itself.  But I learned to love this insane pace.  If I’m confused then everyone else is probably confused too.  And people who only do this part-time will be very confused.  If they aren’t confused, then they aren’t keeping up.  So if I can be just a little bit faster and understand these technologies just a little bit sooner, then I can capitalize on some serious opportunities before the barriers to entry become too high.  Even though confusion is uncomfortable, it’s really a good thing for a web entrepreneur.  This is what creates the space for a college student to earn $1,000,000 online in just a few months with a clever idea.  Remember this isn’t a zero-sum game.  Don’t let someone else’s success make you feel diminished or jealous.  Let it inspire you instead.
What’s your overall income-generation strategy?
I don’t want to insult anyone, but most people are utterly clueless when it comes to generating income from their blogs.  They slap things together haphazardly with no rhyme or reason and hope to generate lots of money.  While I’m a strong advocate of the ready-fire-aim approach, that strategy does require that you eventually aim.  Ready-fire-fire-fire-fire will just create a mess.
Take a moment to articulate a basic income-generating strategy for your site.  If you aren’t good at strategy, then just come up with a general philosophy for how you’re going to generate income.  You don’t need a full business plan, just a description of how you plan to get from $0 per month to whatever your income goal is.  An initial target goal I used when I first started this site was $3000 per month.  It’s a somewhat arbitrary figure, but I knew if I could reach $3000 per month, I could certainly push it higher, and $3000 is enough income that it’s going to make a meaningful difference in my finances.  I reached that level 15 months after launching the site (in December 2005).  And since then it’s continued to increase nicely.  Blogging income is actually quite easy to maintain.  It’s a lot more secure than a regular job.  No one can fire me, and if one source of income dries up, I can always add new ones.  We’ll address multiple streams of income soon…
Are you going to generate income from advertising, affiliate commissions, product sales, donations, or something else?  Maybe you want a combination of these things.  However you decide to generate income, put your basic strategy down in writing.  I took 15 minutes to create a half-page summary of my monetization strategy.  I only update it about once a year and review it once a month.  This isn’t difficult, but it helps me stay focused on where I’m headed.  It also allows me to say no to opportunities that are inconsistent with my plan.
Refer to your monetization strategy (or philosophy) when you need to make design decisions for your web site.  Although you may have multiple streams of income, decide which type of income will be your primary source, and design your site around that.  Do you need to funnel people towards an order form, or will you place ads all over the site?  Different monetization strategies suggest different design approaches.  Think about what specific action you want your visitors to eventually take that will generate income for you, and design your site accordingly.
When devising your income strategy, feel free to cheat.  Don’t re-invent the wheel.  Copy someone else’s strategy that you’re convinced would work for you too.  Do NOT copy anyone’s content or site layout (that’s copyright infringement), but take note of how they’re making money.  I decided to monetize this site with advertising and affiliate income after researching how various successful bloggers generated income.  Later I added donations as well.  This is an effective combo.
Traffic, traffic, traffic
Assuming you feel qualified to take on the challenge of generating income from blogging (and I haven’t scared you away yet), the three most important things you need to monetize your blog are traffic, traffic, and traffic.
Just to throw out some figures, last month (April 2006), this site received over 1.1 million visitors and over 2.4 million page views.  That’s almost triple what it was just six months ago.
Why is traffic so important?  Because for most methods of online income generation, your income is a function of traffic.  If you double your traffic, you’ll probably double your income (assuming your visitor demographics remain fairly consistent).  You can screw almost everything else up, but if you can generate serious traffic, it’s really hard to fail.  With sufficient traffic the realistic worst case is that you’ll eventually be able to monetize your web site via trial and error (as long as you keep those visitors coming).
When I first launched this blog, I knew that traffic building was going to be my biggest challenge.  All of my plans hinged on my ability to build traffic.  If I couldn’t build traffic, it was going to be very difficult to succeed.  So I didn’t even try to monetize my site for the first several months.  I just focused on traffic building.  Even after 19 months, traffic building is still the most important part of my monetization plan.  For my current traffic levels, I know I’m undermonetizing my site, but that’s OK.  Right now it’s more important to me to keep growing the site, and I’m optimizing the income generation as I go along.
Traffic is the primary fuel of online income generation.  More visitors means more ad clicks, more product sales, more affiliate sales, more donations, more consulting leads, and more of whatever else that generates income for you.  And it also means you’re helping more and more people.
With respect to traffic, you should know that in many respects, the rich do get richer.  High traffic leads to even more traffic-building opportunities that just aren’t accessible for low-traffic sites.  On average at least 20 bloggers add new links to my site every day, my articles can easily surge to the top of social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, and I’m getting more frequent requests for radio interviews.  Earlier this year I was featured in USA Today and in Self Magazine, which collectively have millions of readers.  Journalists are finding me by doing Google searches on topics I’ve written about.  These opportunities were not available to me when I was first starting out.  Popular sites have a serious advantage.  The more traffic you have, the more you can attract.
If you’re intelligent and web savvy, you should also be able to eventually build a high-traffic web site.  And you’ll be able to leverage that traffic to build even more traffic.
How to build traffic
Now if traffic is so crucial, how do you build it up to significant levels if you’re starting from rock bottom?
I’ve already written a lengthy article on this topic, so I’ll refer you there:  How to Build a High Traffic Web Site (or Blog).  If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later.  That article covers my general philosophy of traffic-building, which centers on creating content that provides genuine value to your visitors.  No games or gimmicks.
There is one other important traffic-building tip I’ll provide here though.
Blog Carnivals.  Take full advantage of blog carnivals when you’re just starting out (click the previous link and read the FAQ there to learn what carnivals are if you don’t already know).  Periodically submit your best blog posts to the appropriate carnivals for your niche.  Carnivals are easy ways to get links and traffic, and best of all, they’re free.  Submitting only takes minutes if you use a multi-carnvival submission form.  Do NOT spam the carnivals with irrelevant material — only submit to the carnivals that are a match for your content.
In my early traffic-building days, I’d do carnivals submissions once a week, and it helped a great deal in going from nothing to about 50,000 visitors per month.  You still have to produce great content, but carnivals give you a free shot at marketing your unknown blog.  Free marketing is precisely the kind of opportunity you don’t want to miss.  Carnivals are like an open-mic night at a comedy club — they give amateurs a chance to show off their stuff.  I still submit to certain carnivals every once in a while, but now my traffic is so high that relatively speaking, they don’t make much difference anymore.  Just to increase my traffic by 1% in a month, I need 11,000 new visitors, and even the best carnivals don’t push that much traffic.  But you can pick up dozens or even hundreds of new subscribers from each round of carnival submissions, so it’s a great place to start.  Plus it’s very easy.
If your traffic isn’t growing month after month, does it mean you’re doing something wrong?  Most likely you aren’t doing enough things right.  Again, making mistakes is not the issue.  Missing opportunities is.
Will putting ads on your site hurt your traffic?
Here’s a common fear I hear from people who are considering monetizing their web sites:
Putting ads on my site will cripple my traffic.  The ads will drive people away, and they’ll never come back.
Well, in my experience this is absolutely, positively, and otherwise completely and totally… FALSE.  It’s just not true.  Guess what happened to my traffic when I put ads on my site.  Nothing.  Guess what happened to my traffic when I put up more ads and donation links.  Nothing.  I could detect no net effect on my traffic whatsoever.  Traffic continued increasing at the same rate it did before there were ads on my site.  In fact, it might have even helped me a little, since some bloggers actually linked to my site just to point out that they didn’t like my ad layout.  I’ll leave it up to you to form your own theories about this.  It’s probably because there’s so much advertising online already that even though some people will complain when a free site puts up ads, if they value the content, they’ll still come back, regardless of what they say publicly.
Most mature people understand it’s reasonable for a blogger to earn income from his/her work.  I think I’m lucky in that my audience tends to be very mature — immature people generally aren’t interested in personal development.  To create an article like this takes serious effort, not to mention the hard-earned experience that’s required to write it.  This article alone took me over 15 hours of writing and editing.  I think it’s perfectly reasonable to earn an income from such work.  If you get no value from it, you don’t pay anything.  What could be more fair than that?  The more income this blog generates, the more I can put into it.  For example, I used some of the income to buy podcasting equipment and added a podcast to the site.  I’ve recorded 13 episodes so far.  The podcasts are all ad-free.  I’m also planning to add some additional services to this site in the years ahead.  More income = better service.
At the time of this writing, my site is very ad-heavy.  Some people point this out to me as if I’m not aware of it:  “You know, Steve.  Your web site seems to contain an awful lot of ads.”  Of course I’m aware of it.  I’m the one who put the ads there.  There’s a reason I have this configuration of ads.  They’re effective!  People keep clicking on them.  If they weren’t effective, I’d remove them right away and try something else.
I do avoid putting up ads that I personally find annoying when I see them on other sites, including pop-ups and interstitials (stuff that flies across your screen).  Even though they’d make me more money, in my opinion they degrade the visitor experience too much.
I also provide two ad-free outlets, so if you really don’t like ads, you can actually read my content without ads.  First, I provide a full-text RSS feed, and at least for now it’s ad-free.  I do, however, include a donation request in the bottom of my feeds.
If you want to see some actual traffic data, take a look at the 2005 traffic growth chart.  I first put ads on the site in February 2005, and although the chart doesn’t cover pre-February traffic growth, the growth rate was very similar before then.  For an independent source, you can also look at my traffic chart on Alexa.  You can select different Range options to go further back in time.
Multiple streams of income
You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket.  Think multiple streams of income.  On this site I actually have six different streams of income.  Can you count them all?  Here’s a list:
  1. Google Adsense ads (pay per click and pay per impression advertising)
  2. Donations (via PayPal or snail mail — yes, some people do mail a check)
  3. Text Link Ads (sold for a fixed amount per month)
  4. Chitika eMiniMalls ads (pay per click)
  5. Affiliate programs like Amazon and LinkShare (commission on products sold, mostly books)
  6. Advertising sold to individual advertisers (three-month campaigns or longer)
Note:  If you’re reading this article a while after its original publication date, then this list is likely to change.  I frequently experiment with different streams.
Adsense is my biggest single source of income, but some of the others do pretty well too.  Every stream generates more than $100/month.
My second biggest income stream is actually donations.  My average donation is about $10, and I’ve received a number of $100 donations too.  It only took me about an hour to set this up via PayPal.  So even if your content is free like mine, give your visitors a means to voluntarily contribute if they wish.  It’s win-win.  I’m very grateful for the visitor support.  It’s a nice form of feedback too, since I notice that certain articles produced a surge in donations — this tells me I’m hitting the mark and giving people genuine value.
These aren’t my only streams of income though.  I’ve been earning income online since 1995.  With my computer games business, I have direct sales, royalty income, some advertising income, affiliate income, and donations (from the free articles).  And if you throw in my wife’s streams of income, it gets really ridiculous:  advertising, direct book sales, book sales through distributors, web consulting, affiliate income, more Adsense income, and probably a few sources I forgot.  Suffice it to say we receive a lot of paychecks.  Some of them are small, but they add up.  It’s also extremely low risk — if one source of income dries up, we just expand existing sources or create new ones.  I encourage you to think of your blog as a potential outlet for multiple streams of income too.
Text Link AdsAutomated income
With the exception of #6, all of these income sources are fully automated.  I don’t have to do anything to maintain them except deposit checks, and in most cases I don’t even have to do that because the money is automatically deposited to my bank account.
I love automated income.  With this blog I currently have no sales, no employees, no products, no inventory, no credit card processing, no fraud, and no customers.  And yet I’m still able to generate a reasonable (and growing) income.
Why get a regular job and trade your time for money when you can let technology do all that work for you?  Imagine how it would feel to wake up each morning, go to your computer, and check how much money you made while you were sleeping.  It’s a really nice situation to be in.
Blogging software and hardware
I use WordPress for this blog, and I highly recommend it.  Wordpress has lots of features and a solid interface.  And you can’t beat its price — free.
The rest of this site is custom-coded HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL.  I’m a programmer, so I coded it all myself.  I could have just as easily used an existing template, but I wanted a simple straightforward design for this site, and I wanted the look of the blog to match the rest of the site.  Plus I use PHP and MySQL to do some creative things outside the blog, like the Million Dollar Experiment.
I don’t recommend using a hosted service like Blogger if you want to seriously monetize your blog.  You don’t get enough control.  If you don’t have your own URL, you’re tying yourself to a service you don’t own and building up someone else’s asset.  You want to build page rank and links for your own URL, not someone else’s.  Plus you want sufficient control over the layout and design of your site, so you can jump on any opportunities that require low-level changes.  If you use a hosted blog, you’re at the mercy of the hosting service, and that puts the future of any income streams you create with them at risk.  It’s a bit more work up front to self-host, but it’s less risky in the long run.
Web hosting is cheap, and there are plenty of good hosts to choose from.  I recommend Pair.com for a starter hosting account.  They aren’t the cheapest, but they’re very reliable and have decent support.  I know many online businesses that host with them, and my wife refers most of her clients there.
As your traffic grows you may need to upgrade to a dedicated server or a virtual private server (VPS).  This web site is hosted by ServInt.  I’ve hosted this site with them since day one, and they’ve been a truly awesome host.  What I like most about them is that they have a smooth upgrade path as my traffic keeps growing.  I’ve gone through several upgrades with them already, and all have been seamless.  The nice thing about having your own server is that you can put as many sites on it as the server can handle.  I have several sites running on my server, and it doesn’t cost me any additional hosting fees to add another site.
Comments or no comments
When I began this blog, I started out with comments enabled.  As traffic grew, so did the level of commenting.  Some days there were more than 100 comments.  I noticed I was spending more and more time managing comments, and I began to question whether it was worth the effort.  It became clear that with continued traffic growth, I was going to have to change my approach or die in comment hell.  The personal development topics I write about can easily generate lots of questions and discussion.  Just imagine how many follow-up questions an article like this could generate.  With tens of thousands of readers, it would be insane.  Also, nuking comment spam was chewing up more and more of my time as well.
But after looking through my stats, I soon realized that only a tiny fraction of visitors ever look at comments at all, and an even smaller fraction ever post a comment (well below 1% of total visitors).  That made my decision a lot easier, and in October 2005, I turned blog comments off.  In retrospect that was one of my best decisions.  I wish I had done it sooner.
If you’d like to read the full details of how I came to this decision, I’ve written about it previously:  Blog Comments and More on Blog Comments.
Do you need comments to build traffic?  Obviously not.  Just like when I put up ads, I saw no decline in traffic when I turned off comments.  In fact, I think it actually helped me.  Although I turned off comments, I kept trackbacks enabled, so I started getting more trackbacks.  If people wanted to publicly comment on something I’d written, they had to do so on their own blogs and post a link.  So turning off comments didn’t kill the discussion — it just took it off site.  The volume of trackbacks is far more reasonable, and I can easily keep up with it.  I even pop onto other people’s sites and post comments now and then, but I don’t feel obligated to participate because the discussion isn’t on my own site.
I realize people have very strong feelings about blog comments and community building.  Many people hold the opinion that a blog without comments just isn’t a blog.  Personally I think that’s utter nonsense — the data just doesn’t support it.  The vast majority of blog readers neither read nor post comments.  Only a very tiny and very vocal group even care about comments.  Some bloggers say that having comments helps build traffic, but I saw no evidence of that.  In fact, I think it’s just the opposite.  Managing comments detracts from writing new posts, and it’s far better to get a trackback and a link from someone else’s blog vs. a comment on your own blog.  As long-term readers of my blog know, when faced with ambiguity, my preference is to try both alternatives and compare real results with real results.  After doing that my conclusion is this:  No comment.  :)
Now if you want to support comments for non-traffic-building reasons like socializing or making new contacts, I say go for it.  Just don’t assume that comments are necessary or even helpful in building traffic unless you directly test this assumption yourself.
Build a complete web site, not just a blog
Don’t limit your web site to just a blog.  Feel free to build it out.  Although most of my traffic goes straight to this blog, there’s a whole site built around it.  For example, the home page of this site presents an overview of all the sections of the site, including the blog, article section, audio content, etc.  A lot of people still don’t know what a blog is, so if your whole site is your blog, those people may be a little confused.
Testing and optimization
In the beginning you won’t know which potential streams of income will work best for you.  So try everything that’s reasonable for you.  If you learn about a new potential income stream, test it for a month or two, and measure the results for yourself.  Feel free to cut streams that just aren’t working for you, and put more effort into optimizing those streams that show real promise.
A few months ago, I signed up for an account with Text Link Ads.  It took about 20 minutes.  They sell small text ads on my site, split the revenue with me 50-50, and deposit my earnings directly into my PayPal account.  This month I’ll make around $600 from them, possibly more if they sell some new ads during the month.  And it’s totally passive.  If I never tried this, I’d miss out on this easy extra income.
For many months I’ve been tweaking the Adsense ads on this site.  I tried different colors, sizes, layouts, etc.  I continue to experiment now and then, but I have a hard time beating the current layout.  It works very well for me.  Adsense doesn’t allow publishers to reveal specific CPM and CTR data, but mine are definitely above par.  They started out in the gutter though.  You can easily double or triple your Adsense revenue by converting a poor layout into a better one.  This is the main reason why during my first year of income, my traffic grew at 20% per month, but my income grew at 50% per month.  Frequent testing and optimization had a major positive impact.  Many of my tests failed, and some even made my income go down, but I’m glad I did all that testing.  If I didn’t then my Adsense income would only be a fraction of what it is now.
It’s cheap to experiment.  Every new advertising or affiliate service I’ve tried so far has been free to sign up.  Often I can add a new income stream in less than an hour and then wait a month to see how it does.  If it flops then at least I learned something.  If it does well, wonderful.  As a blogger who wants to generate income, you should always be experimenting with new income streams.  If you haven’t tried anything new in six months, you’re almost certainly missing some golden opportunities.  Every blog is different, so you need to test things for yourself to see what works for you.  Failure is impossible here — you either succeed, or you learn something.
Pick your niche, but make sure it isn’t too small
Pick a niche for your blog where you have some significant expertise, but make sure it’s a big enough niche that you can build significant traffic.  My wife runs a popular vegan web site.  She does pretty well within her niche, but it’s just not a very big niche.  On the other hand, my topic of personal development has much broader appeal.  Potentially anyone can be interested in improving themselves, and I have the flexibility to write about topics like productivity, self-discipline, relationships, spirituality, health, and more.  It’s all relevant to personal development.
Pick a niche that you’re passionate about.  I’ve written 400+ articles so far, and I still feel like I’m just getting started.  I’m not feeling burnt out at all.  I chose to build a personal development site because I’m very knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate about this subject.  I couldn’t imagine a better topic for me to write about.
Don’t pick a niche just because you think it will make you money.  I see many bloggers try to do that, and it’s almost invariably a recipe for failure.  Think about what you love most, and then find a way to make your topic appealing to a massive global audience.  Consider what will provide genuine value to your visitors.  It’s all about what you can give.
A broad enough topic creates more potential advertising partners.  If I keep writing on the same subtopic over and over, I may exhaust the supply of advertisers and hit an income ceiling.  But by writing on many different topics under the same umbrella, I widen the field of potential advertisers.  And I expand the appeal of my site at the same time.
Make it clear to your visitors what your blog/site is about.  Often I visit a blog with a clever title and tagline that reveals nothing about the site’s contents.  In that case I generally assume it’s just a personal journal and move on.  I love to be clever too, but I’ve found that clarity yields better results than cleverness.
Posting frequency and length
Bloggers have different opinions about the right posting length and frequency.  Some bloggers say it’s best to write short (250-750 word) entries and post 20x per week or more.  I’ve seen that strategy work for some, but I decided to do pretty much the opposite.  I usually aim for about 3-5 posts per week, but my posts are much longer (typically 1000-2000 words, sometimes longer than 5000 words, including the monster you’re reading right now).  That’s because rather than throwing out lots of short tips, I prefer to write more exhaustive, in-depth articles.  I find that deeper articles are better at generating links and referrals and building traffic.  It’s true that fewer people will take the time to read them, but those that do will enjoy some serious take-away value.  I don’t believe in creating disposable content just to increase page views and ad impressions.  If I’m not truly helping my visitors, I’m wasting their time.
Expenses
Blogging is dirt cheap.
I don’t spend money on advertising or promotion, so my marketing expenses are nil.  Essentially my content is my marketing.  If you like this article, you’ll probably find many more gems in the archives.
My only real expenses for this site are the hosting (I currently pay $149/month for the web server and bandwidth) and the domain name renewal ($9/year).  Nearly all of the income this site generates is profit.  This trickles down to my personal income, so of course it’s subject to income tax.  But the actual business expenses are minimal.
The reason I pay so much for hosting is simply due to my traffic.  If my traffic were much lower, I could run this site on a cheap shared hosting account.  A database-driven blog can be a real resource hog at high traffic levels.  The same goes for online forums.  As traffic continues to increase, my hosting bill will go up too, but it will still be a tiny fraction of total income.
Perks
Depending on the nature of your blog, you may be able to enjoy some nice perks as your traffic grows.  Almost every week I get free personal development books in the mail (for potential review on this site).  Sometimes the author will send it directly; other times the publisher will ship me a batch of books.  I also receive CDs, DVDs, and other personal development products.  It’s hard to keep up sometimes (I have a queue of about two dozen books right now), but I am a voracious consumer of such products, so I do plow through them as fast as I can.  When something strikes me as worthy of mention, I do indeed write up a review to share it with my visitors.  I have very high standards though, so I review less than 10% of what I receive.  I’ve read over 700 books in this field and listened to dozens of audio programs, so I’m pretty good at filtering out the fluff.  As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a great deal of self-help fluff out there.
My criteria for reviewing a product on this site is that it has to be original, compelling, and profound.  If it doesn’t meet these criteria, I don’t review it, even if there’s a generous affiliate program.  I’m not going to risk abusing my relationship with my visitors just to make a quick buck.  Making money is not my main motivation for running this site.  My main motivation is to grow and to help others grow, so that always comes first.
Your blog can also gain you access to certain events.  A high-traffic blog becomes a potential media outlet, so you can actually think of yourself as a member of the press, which indeed you are.  In a few days, my wife and I will be attending a three-day seminar via a free press pass.  The regular price for these tickets is $500 per person.  I’ll be posting a full review of the seminar next week.  I’ve been to this particular seminar in 2004, so I already have high expectations for it.  Dr. Wayne Dyer will be the keynote speaker.
I’m also using the popularity of this blog to set up interviews with people I’ve always wanted to learn more about.  This is beautifully win-win because it creates value for me, my audience, and the person being interviewed.  Recently I posted an exclusive interview with multi-millionaire Marc Allen as well as a review of his latest book, and I’m lining up other interviews as well.  It isn’t hard to convince someone to do an interview in exchange for so much free exposure.
Motivation
I don’t think you’ll get very far if money is your #1 motivation for blogging.  You have to be driven by something much deeper.  Money is just frosting.  It’s the cake underneath that matters.  My cake is that I absolutely love personal development – not the phony “fast and easy” junk you see on infomercials, but real growth that makes us better human beings.  That’s my passion.  Pouring money on top of it just adds more fuel to the fire, but the fire is still there with or without the money.
What’s your passion?  What would you blog about if you were already set for life?
Blogging lifestyle
Perhaps the best part of generating income from blogging is the freedom it brings.  I work from home and set my own hours.  I write whenever I’m inspired to write (which for me is quite often).  Plus I get to spend my time doing what I love most — working on personal growth and helping others do the same.  There’s nothing I’d rather do than this.
Perhaps it’s true that 99 out of 100 people can’t make a decent living from blogging yet.  But maybe you’re among the 1 in 100 who can.
On the other hand, I can offer you a good alternative to recommend if you don’t have the technical skills to build a high-traffic, income-generating blog. Check out Build Your Own Successful Online Business for details.
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My Top 7 Blog Monetization Methods

In response to Chad Randall’s post detailing his 7 Levels of Revenue for your Blog I’ve compiled my own ranking list of what I consider the best methods to make money from a blog.
This list reviews my preference starting from the best to the least effective monetization methods I have implemented on my blogs. Note the list is entirely representative of my experience and I believe what monetization methods work depends heavily on the topic you blog about and consequently the type of reader you attract. This is why, as you will see, my list differs from Chad’s, although I do agree with him that AdSense is at the bottom of the heap.
The important thing is to test and find out what works best for you. Don’t assume because something is best for someone else’s blog that is the case for all blogs.

1. Recursive Affiliate Income


If you are on my early notification list for Blog Mastermind you already know why I love recursive affiliate income. Affiliate marketing is great because you sell something and you don’t have to deliver any product or provide customer service. With commissions as high as 75% you can run an online business that never produces anything, all on the back of affiliate marketing.
Recursive programs are the best type of affiliate program. When you sell a continuity product – something people pay for on a regular basis to maintain their membership – you are also paid an affiliate commission on a regular basis. If you build up enough recursive affiliate sales you can secure a stable income source.
As an example, I don’t just recommend programs like StomperNet because they are great products backed by real experts (which StomperNet is), but also because they have recursive affiliate programs. When a person signs up under my affiliate ID I make a commission every time they are charged to maintain their membership.
In your case you might have to look around to find relevant continuity products with affiliate programs to promote on your blog, but it’s well worth it.

2. Direct Ad Sales

Chad called this fixed monthly sponsors, which is exactly what I do as well and I agree with him, it’s a fantastic way to monetize a blog. There are no middlemen to take some of your profits and you can maximize the return on investment of your advertising inventory.
I’ve been selling banners off of my websites for eight years and it’s always been a consistent earner. Lately text links have become more popular, but it really doesn’t matter what the format is, it’s all about providing value to sponsors. In my experience I’ve usually had a small handful of sponsors who remain regulars and buy my ad inventory on a repeat basis. They see the value in this advertising medium and I appreciate the regular source of income.
If you don’t have one already, the first step for attracting sponsors is to set up an advertise page. Take a look at my advertise page as a good simple example to follow.
If an advertise page doesn’t translate into sponsors, and this might be the case if your blog is small or new, you will need to be proactive and look for sponsors yourself. I did this many years ago on a hobby site about the card game Magic: The Gathering. To locate sponsors I found all the most prominent online retailers that sold the game and emailed them to see if they would be interested in sponsoring my site. The end result was one advertiser coming on board and sponsoring the site for four straight years and others coming on for many months at a time.
I have always sold ads on a per month basis, but you can do per impression (CPM) or per click or even per lead. I once tried per-click for banners but unless you charge something ridiculous like $1 a click you don’t make much. Banners are simply not good for direct traffic in my experience and are better used as combination branding/exposure tool to associate your company in the minds of the people in a certain industry. That way, when they do come to decide they need something that your company provides, thanks to seeing your banners everywhere, they remember you as a provider of that product/service (in other words – effective branding). But I digress…

3. Text-Link-Ads.com Brokering Service

Text-Link-Ads is a very well known text link broker that connects advertisers with publishers who are paid to place text links on their site. The Text-Link-Ads service acts as the middleman company, taking a cut of the revenue in exchange for sourcing the sponsors for you.
From a blogger’s perspective this is a very low-maintenance monetization method. You install the plug-in, assuming you are a WordPress blogger, add a line of code to your theme template for where you want the text links to appear and then sit back and let Text-Link-Ads do the work. It’s been a proven income source for me now for many months, and while it’s not a massive return, a consistent $500-$700 a month is nice to have.
For smaller bloggers Text-Link-Ads is still an option, just don’t expect to earn a significant return or sell all your ad inventory until you increase your traffic and pagerank.

4. One Time Affiliate Income

Affiliate income takes position number four on my list too but the difference to recursive affiliate income is that this time I’m talking about products that pay out once, each time you make a sale. In this case the money isn’t quite as dependable as recursive programs since you need to keep selling in order to generate revenue, however some products have large payouts and just one sale can make it worth while.
I find there are two types of products that have sold well for me as an affiliate. The once-a-year big events like conferences and workshops, which pay out commissions ranging from $100 – $1000 depending on the cost of a ticket. I don’t usually sell many of these, but with such a high commission just one or two ticket sales can be enough. About two years ago I promoted Perry Marshall’s conference which cost $2000 to get into and he paid a $750 affiliate commission. I only sold two tickets, but that $1500 was more than I had generated in the previous year of blogging.
The other good seller is staple products, things people in my industry eventually buy. Most industries have a seminal book or a service you can’t do without (for example web hosting) and if you review these products and mention them now and then you usually can sell a few on a regular basis. Perry Marshall again makes a good example again, with his $49 Definitive Guide to Google AdWords ebook, a solid repeat seller since if you intend to do AdWords campaigns you must have this book.
No doubt in your industry there are must-have products or services that you can review and recommend as an affiliate, just make sure the margins make it worthwhile. Try the Clickbank catalog if you are stuck for affiliate products to promote or just think back over the last few purchases you made online related to your blog topic and see if there is an affiliate program for them.

5. Paid Reviews

I’ve almost stopped doing paid reviews recently, but I still think the ReviewMe service is a great way to start earning from blogging. In previous months it has been a consistent $300+ income source, but frankly I’m moving away from income sources that require output from me directly to generate. Since you have to write the review to get paid it’s far from the kind of passive or near-passive income sources I prefer, even if it does pay out $125 per review in my case.

6. Google AdSense

Google AdSense has never been a favorite monetization strategy for me. It forces you to focus on increasing pageviews and thus AdSense displays in order to earn more, which is a labor-for-income relationship, which I try and avoid. The payments are very low and unless you blog in certain product categories even high traffic sites earn peanuts.
That being said, AdSense is fantastic on sites that have user-generated content and thus traffic, because you can set it up and let Google handle the optimization. There’s almost always a higher-paying method to monetize, but sometimes the simplicity of AdSense is appealing.

7. Miscellaneous Programs

There are many other options, including ad brokering services like Chitika, BlogAds, AdBrite, AdVolcano and Blogkits. Some of these I briefly tested but did not like their system or my current monetization methods pay more.
Again, these options might be fantastic for your blog but you won’t know until you try. However in almost all cases, if you sell ads directly to sponsors you make more, it just might be harder to manage and initially procure the sponsors, especially for small and new blogs.
As I’ve said many times before, I suggest you not think about monetization for the first few months of blogging, or until you get to at least 100 visitors a day, preferably 500. Once you hit that first milestone, slowly roll out some monetization tests, perhaps starting with an affiliate promotion to your readers in the form of a product review and then work your way through the list above to see what works best in your case.
If you want coaching with the blog monetization process please consider joining my mentoring program, Blog Mastermind.
Yaro Starak
Blog Monetizer
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Top 10 Blog Monetization Strategies, Ranked In Order

You want to make money with your blogging efforts. But, how? Which method is the best one?
In this article, I outline what I believe are the top 10 ways to monetize a blog site. And I’m also going to do my best to rank them in order of workability.

1. Membership Programs

The “freemium” model is a huge and growing trend in online income right now. You provide a lot of quality content for free to your audience, and you provide a premium-level program to those willing to pay for it. You charge a monthly membership and that provides continuity and a steady income stream.
Any blog can be turned into a “freemium” business model, and I outline it in more detail in my report, The Future of Blogging Income. Download it for more details.

2. Information Products (Of Your Own)

The selling of knowledge is HUGE. If you build up your position in your market, you can then sell quality information to that market. This can take the form of e-books, audio, videos, or all of the above. You can package them up or just sell them digitally. If you author the product yourself (recommended), then you keep 100% of the profit.

3. Services/Consulting/Coaching

Another great way to make money with a blog is an indirect one. Use the blog to build reputation. Build a brand and build an audience. Then, you make your money by directing that attention into offline services, consulting and/or coaching. This can be quite lucrative. The drawback is that you are, again, trading time for money. So, it is only scalable up to a point.

4. Speaking Gigs

If you become well known as an expert in your niche, you can turn that into speaking gigs which you get paid for. Chris Brogan does this with his blog. Whether he makes money directly with his blog or not (I honestly don’t know), I know he gets paid to speak at various events.

5. Product Sales

If you have a physical product line to offer, you can use the blog as a face for your online store. Sell whatever you want. For example, if you are an artist, you can use an online store to sell art pieces and a blog to build up audience and a following.

6. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing is a great way to build up your income. You offer the products of others to your audience and get paid when they buy it. In fact, any time you recommend a relevant product or service to your audience, check to see if they have an affiliate program. If so, sign up and use your affiliate link. After all, if you’d recommend it to your readers anyway, you might as well make a little cut if they happen to buy.

7. Direct Ad Sales

Banner ads and in-text ads are another popular way to make money. In fact, it is usually the first method you think of. However, if you’re going to go this route, selling the ads directly will result in more cash in your pocket. As I mentioned in my video evaluation of Jim On Light, make a media kit for your blog. As for pricing, I would recommend you shoot for twice your eCPM from Google Adsense. Why twice? Because that’s what Google is charging (they take half).

8. Banner Advertising

OK, if you don’t want to sell your own ads, you can obviously still run network advertising from a variety of different sources. Personally, I am using Adsense, Kontera, IDG and a little bit of Tribal Fusion.
You can also direct sell ads and use network ads as filler for unused inventory. It is done all the time.

9. Paid Posts

Yes, you can get paid to review products and sites on your blog. Sites like PayPerPost and ReviewMe are popular options. I’ve seen some blogs sell this option directly. When doing this, it is important to disclose the fact that it is a paid review. It is also important that you maintain your integrity and never give a positive review unless you’re really feeling it.

10. Job Boards

Some sites (like ProBlogger) have job boards. It does work for some sites, however it probably won’t work for a majority of blogs out there.

11. Build It & Sell It

OK, I’ve thrown in an eleventh one as a bonus. :)
You can build up a blog, build an audience, then turn around and sell the thing. In fact, some people actually buy blogs which are dead or are vastly underutliized by their owners. They’ll then put their marketing skills to work, build the SEO backlinks, build the readership. Then, they turn around and sell it at a profit. It can work. I’ve never done it myself personally, but I’ve read of others who have.
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Enjoy your live with evernote

Hello and welcome to our Evernote Showcase post! You could say: “why create one in the first place? Isn’t all the information publicly available already?” and I can say that yes, it is. The difference is that by showing you how we currently use it, it might give you ideas to organize your information in a much better way. Yes we love Evernote THAT much! Let’s take this one step at a time though.
Evernote is a multiplatform application for note taking. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it really is. It can change:
  • The way you work
  • The way you organize and retrieve information
  • The way you cooperate with peers
  • The ability to become 10 times more organized
evernote family shotWhile the word ‘multiplatform’ is quite a mouthful, it really is important when it comes to personal or work information.
Evernote applications work for the following operating systems and devices: Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Mobile. The ability to always have all your notes with you is probably the most important feature us freelancers need.
all my evernote devices
Every platform has different features, so let’s take a closer look at what we can do with each one.

Evernote for Mac

Evernote for mac main menu
Evernote for Mac (and for Windows) is the Full application when it comes to features. It’s usage is simple. You create folders on the left hand side of the screen, then organize all your different types of notes notes in them. This helps keep them separate and easy to distinguish. For example, I have a Personal folder for my own stuff, folders for specific projects and others accordingly.
The application itself is very easy to use and the speed of doing things is amazing. You can drag and drop an image , a pdf or part of a web page into a new note and automatically have it saved.
evernote syncEvery few minutes the application automatically syncs with the server so that everything is uploaded and updated, making you able to access the same information from any computer or smart phone. And when we want to make a new note and instantly be able to look it up from another device, all we have to do is manually sync it.
Evernote has a rich editor for mac or windows , though not for mobile devices. Let’s see how the mobile version makes up for the lack of features…

Evernote for iPhone

evernote for iphoneEvernote for iPhone has additional features as it’s mobile.

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evernote-iphone-4
The first option is obvious and it is to add a new Text Note. The Snapshot option is handy because it connects to your camera and makes it very easy to share pictures you just took. The great thing about it is that you can share the location where the picture was taken from, inform someone on your whereabouts, or a give a visual of a meeting point.
evernote-iphone-2
evernote-iphone-5
Third and fourth options are the Camera Roll and Voice recorder. Camera Roll does exactly the same thing with the Snapshot feature, but with an image already existing on your file. Voice Note on the other hand, lets you take voice notes, store them and make them available to all other devices. I can’t stress how much I love this feature! I know that when I have a good idea, I’ll be able to instantly record it without the need to type a note. (My iPhone typing skills are not that great!).

Evernote for iPad

ipad main screeniPad always make things look prettier and therefore we can expect the same thing from the iPad version of Evernote too! Everything can be organized according to the folders that we have created and expanded with the pinch of our two fingers. The only thing that’s missing from the  iPhone version is the snapshot feature, for obvious reasons :)
Other than that, it’s a breeze to use and to view all the notes you’ve taken.
All the above seem “cool”. But why is Evernote a game-changer?

Evernote’s amazing features

Image recognition – This one’s a killer! When you upload an image to Evernote, it automatically gets in queue for image recognition. The amazing thing is that it has the ability to recognize words and numbers from scanned images. So, for example, you can scan you phone bill,  type any key word, like you name or phone number and Evernote will automatically draw up images that contain those key words. Neat huh?
Spotlight-like Search – Mac users know what I’m talking about, but one of the best features of a mac computer is the spotlight. When a file gets copied to or created on a mac, it automatically gets indexed. When we search via the spotlight, we can see all the PDFs, documents, and pictures that have the file name we want. The same thing happens with Evernote and it’s really fast! When you search for something using the program, it will search all your notes, PDFs and also images that might contain that keyword in them.
Sharing between accounts – This feature is amazing for collaboration of colleagues. After you create a folder in Evernote, you can specify who can have access to it. When you share it with someone else, that person is able to see the folder and get the latest notes you want to share, on their shared tab. One addition I would gladly welcome is the ability to move a shared folder I have to my main folders tab so I can pay more attention to it. Plus the iPhone versions should have a way to display the shared notes too. I’m sure they’ll add it soon!
Notes from email messages – If you’re on the go and you want to remember something, you can send an email to your own personal Evernote address and it will be added as a note to your Evernote application. This one’s a must for people who are always on the move and want to keep track of what they should remember.
I really feel I could talk for hours about the amazing Features of Evernote but I would love to move to the next part which is:

How we specifically use Evernote on our day-to-day collaboration.

Since we use Evernote everyday, especially for collaborating with our team members, I thought it would be a good idea to show you the most common ways in which we use it, for our daily Business life.
Let’s start with the setup: We have one account that is premium due to the fact that I love the offline use of the app with my iPhone. Our copywriter uses the same account. While this can be mind boggling some times, it’s very helpful for the time being, because we’re in constant collaboration and to synch back and forth is very easy with one account. The programmer of the team has his own account and uses it on his MacBook. I share the Task folder with him so he can see what our current tasks are and at the same time his mobile Evernote is logged in with my account. So let’s take a look at what we use it for!
Folders for Projects: We have created one folder for each one of our main projects, then some more general ones. This way we can add notes to each folder and immediately the other person knows what it’s for.
Post ProofReading: When I write an article, I upload it to the appropriate folder on Evernote. When the copywriter checks it and makes adjustments, she writes READY before the note title. Then when I post it, i remove READY and write DONE. We might keep or delete the note after that. Attention: Only one person should delete notes to avoid confusion (except if a note is in a personal folder, in which case it’s not up to you to decide when they might no longer need it).
New post Guidelines: Our team started a website/quest to find out the best WordPress themes on the Internet. Since we are on the look for new themes all the time, it’s a good resource for us when we want to find a theme for a new project we might undertake. When I see a good looking theme with good options, I just take a screenshot and add it to Evernote, together with the title. Then i add the preview, download and buy now links, together with the main benefits of using this theme. After that, our editor takes the information, gathers further info and compiles a post on the site with everything a visitor might need to make an informed decision about whether or not they like the theme. It really has helped us automate our posting process.
Task Completion: Since this isn’t not a one-man-show and each one of us is an expert on something different, we need to collaborate and give tasks to each other. We have created a To Do Folder so when we want someone to do something, we add their name to the title. For example “[Angel] – Finish the Evernote Post”. Inside the note we add additional information that will help the other person finish the task. It’s an ideal solution, but only if it’s used by all members of the team and with frequent intervals (you don’t want to block the system by synching at the same time). We thought this would be better than just sending an email, because with Evernote all members can provide info and let’s face it, email is a huge time spender. We don’t want to be looking at our emails 50 times a day.
Registration Information: Especially for products we have purchased, we add a post with the serial numbers and all the necessary information needed in order to find them again in the future.
So… Do you need more proof that an application can enhance and simplify your business life? Go and download evernote straight away! I am sure you can think of many ways that you can use Evernote to simplify and sort out your day-to-day tasks and save yourself from information overload. If you have any suggestions, please tell us in the comment section.
Ps. This was not a paid post, nor are we getting any financial benefits from writing it. We just love Evernote THAT much!
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