Recently, fellow blogger Stoner on a Rollercoaster had a very non-productive experiment with running advertising on her blog, so I thought I’d write about my own experience. The short answer, though, to the question in the title is nope, not much.
So, let’s start with what the different options are to (not) make money.
One of the benefits of upgrading a step up to the personal plan from the free WordPress plan is that you can get rid of the sometimes ugly ads that WordPress may put on your site to subsidize its existence.
If you go a step up to the premium plan, you can get those ads back on your site, but this time, you can get paid a little bit for them through WordAds. And by a little bit, I do mean a little bit. You need a whole lotta people looking at your site’s ads to make any money off of them, and unless you’ve got some serious game, you don’t have that kind of traffic.
I’m not sure if Word Ads are CPC or CPM, which I’ll explain in a minute. What I do know is that you don’t have control over what shows up. So if advertisers pay for weird-looking pictures of what’s going on in your intestines, you don’t get to control that.
You can also get Google to serve up advertising on your blog through Google Adsense. I’m fairly sure that you need the business plan (or self-hosted) to set this up. Adsense gives you a lot of control over where your ads go and what categories of ads you want. You can also moderate ads, so if you see something you don’t want, you can block it.
I ran ads from Google on my site from September 2019 to May 2020, and made a whopping $26 Canadian (about $20 USD), which I may never see because the minimum for a payout is $100. Granted, I very deliberately didn’t show multiple ads per page, but still.
Adsense serves up two different kinds of ads, CPM (cost per thousand views) and CPC (cost per click). CPM is based on how many eyeballs you get ads in front of, and you need a shit ton of views to make much. CPC ads pay quite a bit more, but they only pay if someone actually clicks on the ads. And since Google knows almost everything (probably about as much as Facebook, I’d guess), they’ll know if you click your own ads and they’ll shut you down.
The big time
If you actually do get a shit ton of views, there are ways to make more money with ads. To partner with SHE Media they want you to have 20,000 monthly views, and Mediavine needs you to have the equivalent of about 60,000 page views per month. You can make more money with them, but they’re way too out of my league for me to have the slightest clue how much.
There are a lot of different affiliate programs, but I think the most common one for bloggers is Amazon. I’ve heard that business-oriented blogs can make a lot of money this way, but I think for the average blogger it probably depends a lot on how good a fit it is with your niche and your content.
For me, it seemed like a good fit with my weekly book reviews, but I was never expecting to make much from it. Because Amazon’s US affiliate program doesn’t direct deposit into Canadian bank accounts (unlike Amazon KDP, for whatever reason), I have to hit $100 for them to cut me a cheque.
I haven’t talked to anyone who’s more proactive about their affiliate links, so I really don’t know what’s realistic to hope for.
If you want to make money with your blog, advertising probably isn’t the way to do it. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, but realistically, keep those expectations low.