Anyone who runs a blog knows it takes a fair amount of time (and sometimes, money) to create the kind of interesting content that keeps visitors coming back—or to entice others to contribute to it. Getting a return on your investment can be challenging.
If you’re looking for some new ideas on how to generate revenue from your blog or website, there’s no better place to turn than to others who are running blogs, too.
Automate your affiliate marketing efforts. Many bloggers turn to programs like Amazon Associates to make money on their blogs. These programs will reward you for driving traffic to a particular marketplace by giving you a percentage of the money made from each sale. The trouble is that it can be time consuming to set up each account.
To speed things up, Brad Hines, a social media and Internet analyst who runs domain-name brokerage Bradfordhines.com, suggests joining a site such as Viglink that will help you join a variety of affiliate marketing programs in one shot.
How does it work? If you write a post that mentions a product, this service will place a link from the product’s name in your blog post to an online store selling that item; you, in turn, will get a commission on the sale if someone ultimately buys it, or something else, from the store. Signing up for the service is free, but Viglink gets a 25 percent cut of any commission you earn. “You don’t have to sign up for affiliate programs ever again,” he says.
Viglink isn’t the only company offering this type of service. Skimlinks, a competitor, offers a similar program for comparable fees.
Try sponsored posts. Joining Google Adsense is a relatively simple way to get ads placed on your site, but as your blog grows, it may be worthwhile to offer custom options.
One growing trend is to offer sponsored posts to advertisers, notes Jonathan Rick, CEO of Jonathan Rick Group, a digital communications firm in Washington, D.C. Sometimes, this is as simple as adding the advertiser’s logo to a particular blog post. Of course, you have to produce high-quality content—and have sufficient traffic—to make it worthwhile for an advertiser to want to sponsor a single post or series of posts. “Sponsored content is a laborious, time-intensive process,” Rick says, but, he notes, it’s effective. And that’s not lost on advertisers.
Add an “instant” marketplace. Ubokia, a startup based in the Silicon Valley area, will allow you to add a miniature marketplace that focuses on products in your niche to your site—without the hassles of maintaining it and policing transactions yourself. For instance, if you write about music, you might add its instruments marketplace to your site. The marketplaces can be customized, so, if say, you’re a “mommy blogger” and want to offer a marketplace selling both baby products and kitchenware, you can do it. Ubokia pays bloggers who host its marketplaces a two percent commission on sales, depositing the payments in their PayPal accounts. “We’re compatible with every blogging platform out there,” says Matt Pine, vice president of marketing at Ubokia.
Stay current. To keep pace with the constant stream of new ways to “monetize” your blog, pay attention to the programs other bloggers are using. Clifford Blodgett, who maintains blogs as a site manager at Plattform Advertising in Lenexa, Kansas, keeps up with the latest plug-in programs to monetize the sites he operates by checking out Code Canyon. “A lot are focused on e-commerce and search engine optimization,” he says.
Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist and editorial consultant who specializes in small business, entrepreneurship and careers. A former editor at Fortune Small Business magazine, she has written recently for Fortune, Money, Crain’s New York Business, Working Mother and many other publications. She is co-founder of $200KFreelancer, a community for freelance professionals, and Endhousearrest.com, for homeowners looking to sell.