This is in response to Sarah’s excellent
Rants From the Geek Lab: Improving Your Blog.
The questions hungry bloggers want to know: How do I make money from my blog, should I put ads on it, how much traffic to I need to make money?
The short answer is: you are asking the wrong questions.
First, pageviews aren’t the most relevant issue to selling ads.
If you are considering ads, the issue is does your topic lend itself to ads? Would a business want to advertise on your blog? Do your readers click on ads?
I have two sites that get decent traffic (not blogs). One gets 250K pageviews a month and I make about $1400/month on it (it’s about half-monetized to its potential right now I think).
My second site gets twice the pageviews. And I’ve never made more than a few dollars a month in clicks on it. Why? Different audience, different mindset.
The first site is a hobby site, it’s about how to make jewelry. The ads are for jewelry supplies and jewelry. Both of which my readers are interested in. And, when they are in “hobbyist” mode, they are also in “shopping” mode.
The second site is a free wallpaper site. It’s nice, high quality photos, but still…it’s free stuff. Hardly any relevant ads are available (when I tried that I had to keep screening out the ads for actual wallpaper). And nobody is in a shopping mood. They want their free wallpaper and that’s it. They aren’t browsing around looking for opportunities to spend money. They are looking for something pretty, they find it, and they close their browser.
And that’s fine. I have that site because I like purty pictures. I don’t expect it to make money (although I do explore various ideas now and then because money is always nice, and if I come up with a way to monetize it, I’ll let you know).
Your ability to sell ads on a blog depends more on what your content is and what kind of traffic that brings – not how much.
If your blog is about digital camera reviews – well gee, you’ve got a lot of ad options. If your blog is about postmodern gender dynamics, good luck. Maybe you can sell ads for textbooks for grad students. =)
A blog can be highly trafficked but fundamentally not ad-worthy from the perspective of ad buyers. And that’s your customer, if you are trying to sell ads.
Personally, I have 3 blogs, but I don’t plan to make money directly from them at all. I have a separate business, that pays my bills, and I blog for fun. I plan to write ebooks maybe at some point, try that out, I there is potential there if you market it well and it’s info people think they need. But monetize my blogs themselves? I think it would be pointless.
Second, ads may not be what you want to sell.
Most blogs, mine included, are better suited for being a vehicle to build awareness of your personal brand – which you can then use as a platform to sell products or services that you’ve developed. Not ads.
Ads will only work for a small percentage of blogs that are about real-world topics that are well researched and thoughtfully presented to be useful. Hobbies, product testing – those will work for ads. Anything that’s personal opinion and commentary is not going to be very lucrative unless you are well known enough that your opinion is taken as an endorsement. And it takes a lot of work to build up that kind of reputation.
Most of the time, ads dilute the personal brand that a blog is such a great vehicle for building.
If you are going to spend the kind of time/effort it takes to build that reputation, I think it makes more sense to develop your own information products as your primary business model. These kinds of products are an extension of your personal brand – it makes sense, they go together. Endorsements and partner deals (recommending each others info products) can be a supplement.
There is a lot more profit in this than selling ads. Ads are essentially selling other people’s products, which means you get just a small percentage of the revenue from the sale. It makes more sense to me to make your own products and sell those. You can make a heck of a lot more profit for less work, if you learn how to write good sales copy.
The bottom line: if you are asking the question “How can I make money from my blog?”, you need to back up.
The question to ask yourself is: “What business am I in – what is my business model?”. When you answer that, you can then ask “How could my blog help build that business?”.
In short, making money is about thinking in terms of business, and blogging is no different.
So think about your business. What business do you want to be in? Do you want to create content to sell ads…or do you want to create content to sell yourself? Or do you want to use your blog to promote something else that is your main business? Getting clear on this will help you make any decision about how you present and position your blog and whether ads are appropriate.