Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tip #15 :The Inevitable Monetize your blog post

The following are based on my own experience, and results and opinions will vary from person to person and blog to blog, so with that in mind, here are my thoughts on blog monetization. I am dividing them in three categories.


Highly Recommended


Amazon Associates (affiliate): With a low minimum for a payout ($10), and a variety of linking options, from simple text links to web 2.0 widgets and even software API, Amazon Associates is almost a must for every blog and website. The text links are simple and direct to the Amazon website which make them a lot more trustworthy. Statistics are updated overnight.

Google AdSense (advertising): A higher minimum ($100) should not discourage potential users. While it has its share of restrictions, it can be a steady money earner for your blog if you have some traffic or if you have a vertical market blog that will generate a higher click through ratio. Statistics are updated throughout the day.

Widgetbucks (pay per click): This newcomer is promising with its Flash-based widgets. One downside is that it uses Flash, which may put off some webmasters and bloggers. This appears to be ideal for product-based blogs, so if you have a consumer electronics blog it will probably do a lot better there than if you try it on a philosophy blog. Widgetbucks has a promotion running. If you sign up, you receive a $25 bonus. You get paid when you accrue $50 in your account. So you only need to accrue $25, and you will receive your first payment of $50. Statistics are updated throughout the day. They also have an affiliate program that can help you earn more. Speaking of which, take a look at WidgetBucks using our affiliate link :)

Auction Ads (affiliate): This is a shell over the eBay auctions affiliate program, providing an easier to use alternative to the webmaster/blogger. How well it does will probably depend on the content of your blog and how much time you spend creating appropriate ads for your content. It is a very lightweight program to join, so even if it won't be a big earner, it doesn't hurt to use as a fill-in the blanks, or fill-a-particular-niche type of program. Statistics are updated throughout the day. They do have a promotion where you receive a $25 bonus for signing up, and your first payment is when you make $50 or more. So you just need to generate $25 more and you get paid! They also have an affiliate program when you refer other users. Speaking of which, here is the affiliate link to Auction Ads.


Chitika (pay per click and more): This is a versatile program that offers a number of different options. The most famous are perhaps their pay per click eMiniMalls. This is a versatile program that you can use either in a primary or complimentary fashion, depending on your content, traffic and blog design. This is more product-oriented, so it's likely to do better in blogs that discuss products. Statistics are updated overnight. They also have a referral program, and you can check Chitika out using our affiliate link. As far as I know they don't have a bonus program, but they have just a $10 minimum for PayPal payments.


Kolimbo/Kowabanga/MyAffiliate (affiliates): This is an affiliate conglamorate featuring some big and some small players. One of its benefits is that the urls point directly to the retailer's website, which increases reader confidence in clicking on them. The url structure is very simple as well, another plus. Statistics are updated throughout the day. Check which retailers are listed there and if you find any that are related to your blogs, join up.


Direct Ads (advertising): If you have the time, the infrastructure and the experience, you can solicite and manage advertising campaigns on your blog directly with the advertisers. This is not an easy task especially for someone who is not familiar with the whole process. But if you are familiar with the process, or if you are brave enough and want to learn on the spot, it doesn't hurt to give this approach a try!



Recommended with reservations


Linkworth (advertising middle-man): I haven't spent a lot of time with Linkworth, so I am listing them in this category for the moment. They have blogger-friendly revenue sharing, where you (the blogger) gets 70% and Linkshare gets 30%. You can set the prices of your ads, and you have five days to decide whether to approve an ad. They also have an affiliate program. Check Linkworth out using our affiliate link.


Commission Junction (affiliates portal): This is an affiliates portal with a large number of big name companies participating, including Dell, Best Buy, TiVo, eBay, Sony, Panasonic, HP, Apple, Kodak, etc. The problem with CJ is that the HTML links generated are using intermediate urls that look spammy or junky to the web-savvy internet user. Good luck convincing those users to click on a CJ link. They also offer Javascript links instead of HMTL, but not everyone is comfy with letting 3rd parties running scripts on their websites or blogs. Statistics are updated throughout the day. I would move them to Highly Recommended if they provide direct urls to retailer websites.


Linkshare (affiliates portal): Similar to Commission Junction in many ways, their links look less spammy/junky (they point to a clicksynergy website), but web-savvy users are less likely to click on that, than a direct link to a manufacturer's website. They also offer some name brand affiliates, including Chase, American Express, Microsoft, J&R World. They have an affiliate program where you can refer other members. Speaking of which, here is our affiliate link to Linkshare. I would move them to Highly Recommended if they provide direct urls to retailer websites.



Avoid


Text Link Ads (advertising middle man): I put them in this category for a number of reasons, the most important being that someone can publish an ad on your website without your consent. Text Link Ads (TLA) gives you 24 hours to decide if an ad goes on your website. If you don't approve or reject the ad in 24 hours, it automatically appears on your site (TLA claims that their staff reviews the ad and approves/disapproves - they approve). TLA notifies you of a pending ad via email, but in my experience, emails are not sent/received every time there is a pending ad. So why is that an issue? Imagine if a gambling, betting, guns and ammo, hate speech, fringe site, bad neighborhood site, or marginal porn site decides they want to advertise on your blog. You are out of town for the day, your email server is down, you are busy with other things, your internet connection is down. You wake up the next day and you find an ad that violates the terms of all the other programs and services you are using sitting pretty on your blog. This is bad! I understand that TLA's goal is to provide advertising and match as many publishers with advertisers as possible, and that they are on the wrong end of Google's latest policies, but pushing ads down a publisher's throat like that is a bad practice!. They can easily resolve this issue by allowing the publishers to chose to have ads appear on their blog only if they manually approve them. They do not currently offer this option. Other issues: Revenue is split 50-50 between the publisher and TLA, there are no detailed advertiser statistics on their website (you have to keep track of them on your own), and more that they conveniently made confidential.

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