The important question is this: Do you want to make money from your blog, or because of it?
I don’t often agree with Bill Boorman, but when he said this, it resonated. Here’s why.
Let’s start with how to effectively monetize a blog. There are a lot of ways – and I’ll leave a giant caveat right here; I’m not an expert. I don’t do blog monetization for a living. So we’ll stick with the most common, fly-by-day ways to generate money.
- Affiliate programs like selling ebooks, downloadables and subscriptions.
- Ads like Google Adsense, adbrite, Chitika and so on.
- Box ads from networks like [find some]
- Virtual products you develop yourself.
And then there’s the drop-dead simple way you can generate business – rather than extracting money – from your blog.
- Use your blog to generate business by demonstrating worth, knowledge, and care for potential clients and community members.
One of these approaches is far more simple than the other. Any guesses which one?
Oh, and why do I care?
I avoided ads on this blog for years. It’s never been my primary focus – making money from my web presence was just never something I considered. Sure, the idea of “passive income” was appealing, but I know better – having been blogging actively for half my life, I know there’s no such thing as just setting up a website and letting the cash roll in. Even super-adified blogs need content – and in order to make more money, better content is needed all the time. Dropping in some Google Adsense boxes on a mediocre blog isn’t the answer.
That being said, if you look to the right, you’ll see some ad boxes.
No, I’m not a hypocrite – let me explain.
I have no problems with affiliate marketing or advertising on blogs – I just believe it needs to be done well or not at all. Part of where most people fall down is defining what “affiliate marketing done well” is.
Me? I’m picky about the things I support publicly. I’ve written less than half a dozen book reviews in the last year. I’ve written no movie reviews. I’ve written no software or online service reviews that contained buy-this-now suggestions (though this is going to change soon). I don’t have Adsense boxes on my blog – I did, by accident, last week, but they’re gone now because someone pointed them out. Yes, there are some ad boxes – but every one of them relates directly to something that helps me get work done online. For example, Digging into WordPress helped me make the most of Standard Theme when I redeveloped the site recently. I believe that anyone who has the interest should pick up both, and get better work done.
However – as I’ve tried to explain clearly on the About This Blog page – I’m not selling ads, I’m not selling content. Because part of my work in this space is professionally-based, it should be clear that I’m using this blog as a community tool more than anything else. Of course I want to leave myself open to making money – who wouldn’t? – and for that reason, I’ve very selectively chosen some passive programs I can expend an incredibly low amount of energy on, basing the things I’m supporting (and which have the potential to support my blog) around the kinds of tools I use to get better work done, both for myself and for clients at Modern Earth.
Need a good professional WordPress theme? I’ll recommend Digging into WordPress and StandardTheme if you’re building for yourself. However, for any kind of broad business application, I absolutely believe there’s no substitute for professional quality designs, programs, and custom-built solutions. Modern Earth has some of the best web workers I’ve ever met, hands down.
At the end of the day, you really do have to ask the question – if you’re attaching your blog to your business, how does any monetization strategy fit in? And, when it comes to brass tacks, which is more important – and beneficial in the long run? A few ads – or a few new relationships?
Image by Andrew Magill.