If you are anything like me, then you think of each subsequent thousand of monthly visitors to your blog like it is your child getting one year older. After all, we devote a large portion of our time to the content we create. Exactly like with children.
I remember when a blog I was writing for had passed the five hundred visitors barrier, so it was like my kid reaching 6 months of age. I was so proud and kept thinking to myself that this is a ten times bigger audience than at any poetry slam I’ve ever attended.
But let’s drop the blog-as-a-child metaphor for now, otherwise the next thing I’ll say will sound uncomfortable.
I want to talk about how to monetize your beloved blog and how to track its performance.
What does monetizing your content mean?
People who visit your content are invaluable sources of not only encouragement and appreciation but also of potential ad money.
Let’s say you write about gaming. More precisely, about gaming equipment and accessories. Your audience consists of people who are likely to spend money on their hobby. And for them, you are a kind of authority.
Can you see the opportunity laying here? 61% of online consumers have made their purchase based on a recommendation from a blog. That’s a bigger portion of a very sizable pie.
Ways of monetizing a blog
There are several ways you can approach this topic. Either way, it all comes to your audience purchasing a product they have learned about from your site and you gaining a commission from that purchase.
The two main ways of promoting a product on a website are affiliate links and ads.
Think about any “Top new gadgets” or “Best Father’s day gifts” articles you may have read. They most probably contain affiliate links.
Affiliate links come from affiliate programs that many companies choose to run as an additional sales channel. In gaming, the biggest players such as Razer, Logitech or Nvidia have their own programs.
Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- You register for an affiliate program.
- You get the affiliate link for a product or a whole store.
- You put the link inside your content organically.
The point is to direct your audience from your content to a store via this link. You may want to make a disclosure that you may earn a commission based on purchases made from your blog.
You know how ads work. They are these
- Nice 🙂
- Informative 😲
- Shocking 🤯
- Emotional 😥
- Funny 🤣
- Eye-catching 🤩
- (pick one)
images or videos that surround the text, pop over it or blend with it.
Ever wondered who puts ads? Brands, product owners? Marketing agencies? Content owners themselves?
All of them may, and some more.
Generally speaking, you can do this on your own, or have some other people do it.
Advertising on your own
If you know the industry that you write about, know the products and brands, you can look for the offers to promote on special platforms, called affiliate networks. They aggregate offers from people that want them promoted somewhere.
With an offer comes an offer link and some creatives. You then include these creatives on your content page with offer links hidden under them.
That is it.
You don’t have to invest any money, you are not risking anything. You now are a content creator and an advertiser: be proud of it!
There are people that specialize in advertising various products on the web. You can have them do the job for you and get paid just for letting them use your advertising space.
It works like this:
- You sign up to an ad network as a publisher.
- You define what kind of ads you want displayed.
- You install a small piece of code on your website for the ad to be displayed.
And again, that is it.
Once you do all this, your web page will be kind of available for rent in an ad network platform. Advertisers will pay you, minus the ad network commission, for each ad click or ad view. You don’t have to do anything. Just wait for that sweet advertising money.
Advertising looks easy, doesn’t it?
It is, if you don’t count on big profits. More on that in the paragraph about tracking.
Tracking means learning about your audience. You may think that you already know the people that visit your blog. You may even feel close to them when you engage in a discussion in the blog’s comment section, and it may be so. Or you use Google Analytics or social media analytics tools to learn about people coming to your blog.
Still, you should know more about people who click your ads because they are the ones who will bring you money.
To be profitable in advertising, creativity, intuition or random chance isn’t going to cut it. You need solid, detailed numbers. Especially if you advertise on your own or use affiliate links. Fine-tuning your ad delivery is the key to success.
What are trackers?
Trackers are platforms that count each click and a variety of characteristics attached to it.
They are the magic 8 balls that can give you actual answers. Just a firm, metaphorical shake and you can get answers such as these:
“The majority of people who click your ads are iPhone users, so maybe don’t show ads for smartphone gaming pads that work only with Android devices?”
“There are a lot of people coming from Canada, do the products you promote even ship to Canada? No? How’s that working for you?”
Ok, your Magic 8 Ball of a tracker is getting a little grumpy. But it still has a point.
“Who purchases a $2,000 gaming laptop while using a carrier connection? This is a serious decision that is usually made at home, so aim this ad at people who use WiFi connection and thank me later”.
“Everyone clicks your ad, no one buys a product. It’s like your ad writes checks that your product can’t cash. Think about it”
You get the idea. They add science to the whole equation.
And unlike 8 Balls, trackers don’t require magic to work.
How do trackers work?
A tracker goes between an ad on your page and an offer. When someone clicks an ad on your page, a tracker records it and quickly directs them to an offer page. The whole thing takes milliseconds.
There are a lot of trackers out there, and the majority of them do things similarly. You can compare trackers with each other on this page. Whichever you choose, put it to a good use and monetize your blog.
It may be difficult for you to try and turn your passion project, that many blogs are, into a money-making business.
After a blog reaches several thousand visitors per month, the blog-as-a-child metaphor no longer works. It is your work now.
But earning money does not have to mean that the passion is out of the picture. Earning money may be one of the best sources of motivation and signs that you are producing valuable content. If people trust you enough to spend some money on the products you advertise, then they actually trust you.
Michał Schindler is a content manager at Codewise, focused on various aspects of digital marketing, with a special consideration for affiliate marketing. He has a wide background in social studies and medicine. Currently, he writes for the Voluum blog, where he helps people meander through the exciting world of online marketing.