How easy is it to monetize a blog? Hint: It’s not. Not in the slightest.
Many of us spend a great deal of time blogging. Some of us (like me) may not have much in the way of income, so monetization seems like a reasonable step to try. But anyone who tells you that it’s easy to monetize a blog has either had exceptionally good luck, or they’re lying.
In August I upgraded to the WordPress business plan with the hopes of bringing in a little bit of extra money to supplement my small income from work. I wasn’t expecting much, which was definitely a good thing.
Ads don’t bring much money. I’ve set up ads through Google Adsense on my site. The ads that Google serves up are a mix of cost per click (i.e. I get paid when someone clicks an ad) or cost per thousand impressions (i.e. I get paid based on how many times the ad is viewed). It’s Google that makes the decisions about what kind of ads it’s going to serve up and when. I’ve made $7 and change since I started doing ads about 2 1/2 months ago. Impressive, isn’t it?
With ads that pay based on impressions, by showing more ads you can make a little more money. I decided right from the beginning that I didn’t want ads taking over my site and I was not willing to have any ads appearing mid-blog post. That decreases my earning potential, but I’m totally okay with that.
Affiliate marketing involves using special links for a merchant site (e.g. Amazon) so that if people make a purchase after clicking on your link then you get a small commission. It’s nice in that it doesn’t end up costing the reader anything extra, as the merchant has already figured that into their regular pricing.
I’m an Amazon affiliate, which I thought made sense for my site because I link to Amazon anyway when I do my weekly book reviews. Book-related affiliate links was the only thing that seemed to naturally fit in with what I was doing on the blog, and I want to stick with what’s a natural fit.
I’m set up with the U.S. Amazon site, since that’s where most of my blog visitors are from. Amazon U.S. doesn’t do direct deposit to Canadian bank accounts, so I have to get paid by cheque. The minimum amount to cut a cheque is $100, so it’ll be years before I get any money from them.
This is something I haven’t done yet. I’m signed up on a few websites that connect brands and “influencers”, and I take a peek at them every so often to see if there’s anything that would be a good fit. I’m very picky about what I’d be willing to do, and so far I haven’t come across any opportunities that interested me. I think the mental health niche isn’t as good a fit for brand partnerships as some other niches.
Having a blog shop
On the MH@H Store I take payments using Stripe and Paypal, which each take a cut, but it still works out to be cheaper than selling items through another site. What you can make this way obviously depends on what you’re selling and your marketing strategy, but regardless it’s not going to be easy money.
Using a blog to promote ebooks or other products
This isn’t directly about monetizing your blog, but it can help you get some income. I’ve got three books on Amazon, and in my case, it’s the ad campaigns I’m running on Amazon rather than my blog that are generating the majority of my book sales. My books do better in paperback than ebook version, but the paperback doesn’t make me anywhere near as much money. My second book hasn’t sold many copies, and while my first book has done well, I’m not making much in terms of take-home on each sale.
There are plenty of stories online about people bringing in a lot of income through their blogs. I suspect that for most people, the reality is much more like what I’ve experienced – trying to monetize a blog will end up bringing in little bits here and there, and that’s about the extent of it.
Earning potential is probably affected by how a blogger chooses to fit monetization into their overall strategy. Is your primary purpose to stay true to your blogging roots and continue to interact with your readers in the same type of way? Or is your primary purpose shifting from blogging to business? If business is the primary purpose, then running more ads, working harder at affiliate marketing, and doing more sponsored posts may be good choices. For me, blogging is my primary purpose, and that factors a lot into what I’m prepared to do business-wise.
Have you tried or thought about trying to monetize your blog?
Thinking about upgrading your WordPress plan? Check out the free inside look at the WordPress.com business plan, which includes plenty of screenshots so you can see what it would actually look like. It’s available on the MH@H Store.