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Making Money on your Blog
Part II of Monetizing your Blog/web site will go over the numerous ways of making money on your blog. If you missed part I please review it here.
There are many ways of making money on your blog. I have detailed several below. You should note that there are plenty of other sources of making money on your blog other than listed here. These are the ones that I have found to be worth the time. Feel free to let me know in the comments of ways you make money and share with everyone! These are in no particular order.
- Selling Ads
- Selling Text links
- Selling Merchandise
- Ad Networks
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Reviews
- Sponsorship for events/podcasts/contests
This is not a very popular way of making money without actually offering a service, but it can work. I have never actually placed a donation link on any of my sites. In my experience, most of the donations that work are on sites which offer a service but don’t require payment or sites which offer a free product.
The hangup most people have with asking for donations is some people feel it is like begging.
The easiest way to set up for donations is to get a paypal account. Paypal offers buttons to put directly on your site for accepting donations.
Chronicles of EMS is a perfect example of making donations work!
2. Selling Ads
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to sell ads on your site. You do need to be somewhat of an effective salesperson! I have sold ads on VAFireNews.com for several years.
Here are some lessons I have learned for selling ads:
- Stick with the accepted size ads [468x60, 160x600 or 120x600, 728x90, 300x250, 125x125]
- Stick with rotating ads. You can share the wealth of a decent spot to more than one advertiser.
- Use decent real estate. Don’t put your ads at the bottom of the page. You WANT people see the ads and click on them!
- Start out cheap to get them on board.
- Offer a free month or half price advertising.
- Offer a discount if they pay for longer terms. Give a % discount if they pay a year in advance.
- I recommend pre-payment for advertising.
- Find out what your competitors or comparable sites are charging for advertising.
- Prepare a media packet on the pricing and placement of ads.
- Offer a phone number they can call. I use my cell phone number.
- You can also use impression based sales. I have not gone to this. I have always stuck with a monthly rate.
3. Selling Text Links
Have you ever gotten an email about exchanging links? If you run a blog or web site then the answer is probably yes. Here is the deal. The company who contacted you sees a value in having a link to their site from yours. For whatever reason they want that link. Make them pay for a long period up front, otherwise they will forget or you will forget and they will get that link for free.
4. Selling Merchandise
The Fire Critic offers merchandise for sale. I admit that this is more of a marketing ploy than a money making venture. Cafepress or Zazzle offer decently priced merchandise for sale. Especially for people only ordering one item. The cost IS a little higher per item than ordering 200 shirts from the local screen printer.
- Take the time to make high quality images for use on the merchandise
- Take the time to customize the store
- Order some of the merchandise before you publicize it to ensure quality assurance!
- Don’t set the prices too high.
Sites like Lulu offer the ability to make books, calendars, ebooks, etc. as well.
5. Ad Networks (Contextual Advertising)
The use of ad networks like Google Adsense can be seen on almost every blog/web site you stumble upon. Originally (years ago), I had reservations of using this code because of the look of the link units. Once I came around I found ways of incorporating the code in a way that I was ok with. At its height I have made hundreds of dollars a month with ad networks. Google Adsense is probably the widest known ad network. PSClicks specializes in Public Safety websites.
Networks I would try:
Here are some tips:
- Make sure you are following the rules. I think google limits you to 3 ad units per page.
- Try different ad placements.
- Review the performance on various placements and stick with what works.
- The better the real estate the better the return on clicks.
- Don’t forget to put these on your rss feeds too.
CPC vs. CPM
CPC – cost per click is when you get paid per each click through. Google Adsense is an example of CPC.
CPM – cost per mille is when you get paid per thousand impressions. Burst Media is an example of CPM.
Affiliate marketing is is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts [source]. You might be rewarded by cash or other merchandise. Examples of this that work well in the Fire/EMS niche is Amazon affiliates or Chief Supply. Most affiliate programs pay out once you reach a certain amount of credit. Since I wrote a book, I use the amazon affiliate program to sell the book (I get paid royalties for the book plus a commission of selling it if they click through my amazon affiliate link). If The Fire Store ever decided to do affiliate marketing I would be the first to use it. I should make money just off that tip alone….hint hint.
7. Product Reviews
Bloggers can actually make money on product reviews. I am not referring to getting free products as that is a bonus to doing reviews. Actually, businesses will pay bloggers for reviews. Before you jump up and down, I don’t know of any right off that I have seen done in the fire/EMS field…but I am sure it happens. And no, the Fire Critic does not get paid for reviews at the time of this writing (view my terms here).
@Firemom at Stop, Drop, and Blog offers product reviews. You can view her terms here.
8. Sponsorship of Events/Podcasts/Contests
Fire/EMS related companies are beginning to understand the effectiveness of advertising and marketing through blogs like this one. Bloggers/webmasters of sites like EMS Garage, EMSEducast, and The Bravest Online are capitalizing on this by having companies sponsor their podcasts and other events. Get on the wagon!
There will be plenty more written about making money on your blog. Look for the next installment soon.
How do you make money on your blog?
What have you used? What works and what doesn’t?
If you see something you want more information on let me know. If you don’t see something that should be here please let me know. I will be happy to include it in future blog tips!
Considerations on whether or not to monetize your blog and when
As with most blog tips by the Fire Critic, this one can be used for non fire/EMS blogs and is applicable to web sites as well as blogs. This will be a multi-part posting, so feel free to comment with questions so I can answer them in the following post.
Some people are very finicky about making money, posting ads, and asking for donations on their blogs. Some love it and others hate it. I am referring to the actual bloggers here, the readers are another thing. Whether you decide to monetize your blog is an important decision and one that should not be made without proper research on best practices. That is where I come in. I hope to help you along in making the best of your blog and doing it right if/when you decide to monetize it.
“Monetizing your Fire/EMS Blog will delivered in the following installments (subject to change)
- Considerations on whether or not to monetize your blog and when
- Various monetization schemes
- Where to put your links and banners
- Best Practices and lessons learned
There are numerous ways of making money on your blog/site. Whether you are selling advertisements, placing affiliate marketing ads, asking for donations, selling links, etc. Once you decide on monetization you will have to constantly monitor each advertising solution to make sure it is working.
Should you or Shouldn’t you - Some people have decided to not monetize their blog. They are striclty against it and that is the way it is. Others want to but don’t know how. Whether you do or don’t, you want to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with the readers experience on your site.
Case and Point – FirefighterHourly.com runs one set of ads on his site by Lion Apparel. I do not know the relationship, but I do know that Jay offers kind reviews on Lion apparel. It is my understanding that the site has a lot of readers and the alexa ranking puts it right behind the Fire Critic. Therefore, I know that if Jay were to add some ad banners or links in the mix he could make decent money on his blog without really doing much more work.
Traffic - Do you have readers? You might think this is a stupid question, however I see blogs started every day and more time spent on creating and placing ads than on actual content and gaining readership. Most blog themes offer a spot or two for google adsense or another application. It is fine to utilize this spot from day one, but you might be better off placing a static image of a link to another site for now.
Case and point – FireGeezer didn’t monetize his blog for a long time and he had plenty of readers. I imagine that since going to the new platform of FireEMSBlogs.com that FireGeezer will be making decent money in ads which run on the blog. The same can be said for STATter911.com. Both sites boast some great traffic stats!
Layout – Plan ahead for monetization. When you create the design, choose a theme, or develop the look of your blog/site go ahead and plan for expansion. Don’t place the banners, but plan for where you will want them and make the arrangements to place them there 0nce you are ready. This will make a seamless transition into the realm of monetization. However, do not design a blog around advertisements, instead design advertisements around your blog.
Case and point – http://be-a-firefighter.com/ might be a great website, however there is way too much advertising going on here. The overpowering of ads distracts from reading the actual posts and probably loses return visitors.
Timeline - Develop a timeline for when you will add advertisements. Plan for several months out and decide on when you will be ready for ads. This deadline will help you crunch your time in making your blog/site the best so that when you go live with ads you are ready.
Case and point – When I started VAFireNews.com I spent the first 3-4 months working on content and design. Once I started looking for advertisers I had a pretty decent product. Those advertisers who started out early have remained with me to this day. I was not in a hurry to get ads, I wanted to make sure I had something to sell first.
Don’t get ahead of yourself - I can tell from experience that you probably will not be retiring early because of your income on your blog. If it is possible I will let you know…I am not giving up anytime soon. Unless you have some new technology or angle at taking out Firehouse.com you probably will not be laying in a bed of money by simply monetizing your blog. The main thing is to network.
Case and Point – I am not retired yet!!!
Network – Read and utilize my “Top Ten Marketing Tools for Fire/EMS Blogs and Websites”. Be sure you are capitalizing on these networking tools! (I am doing one of them by posting this link here)
Case and Point – The best thing you can have is other sites link to you. On average, I nearly double my hits on a day when FireGeezer links to me. While I doubt that I do the same for him I certainly try.
Stay tuned for more on monetizing your blog/web site. Feel free to get your comments/questions in so that I can make sure I fit in an answer in the following posts.
I will be happy to incorporate your trials and tribulations on monetizing your blogs as well. Let me know what has worked and what hasn’t!
I would like to take the opportunity to reintroduce myself and what the Fire Critic is all about. This is mostly due to the new look and feel of Fire Critic version 2.0. Dave Iannone and Chris Hebert have created a top notch contingent of Fire and EMS blogs (FireEMSBlogs.com). Of course they didn’t go it alone, the whole team deserves praise.
The Fire Critic was dreamed up a couple of years ago, although it was only acted on recently. I actually have been holding onto this domain name since March of ’08. Due to other projects, I had to continue putting it off.
The topics discussed, reason for, and point of the Fire Critic didn’t come together until I started writing. I enjoy discussing a myriad of topics and you usually won’t find the same stuff week after week. I try my best to mix it up and I really enjoy bringing humor when I can. I am sure you have caught some sarcasm along the way as well….that is me being me!
When I started this blog I figured I would pick up some followers along the way. I never thought that the site would end up next to some of the greats. At the beginning, I used some news to fill the gaps. I have moved away from news and have left that up to STATter 911 and FireGeezer among others. I will occasionally cover a topic on the news, but I am not racing to beat those guys. One thing is for sure, either Dave Statter lives in the newsroom or they moved the newsroom to Statter’s house.
I have enjoyed breaking into some stuff you might not be used to on Fire and/or EMS blogs. Most of the stuff is done as experiments to show others what works and what doesn’t. I stick with what works and scrap what doesn’t.
Some of the regular columns include:
- Monday Morning Shoutout - I send a shoutout to a blog or website that I like and think you should read. This is a highlight of mine. Any time I can help promote another blog that I am a fan of I love it!
- Tuesday Morning Job Security Check - Photos or video that I try to keep it humorous, sometimes graphic.
- Saturday Hotshot – I try to showcase a hotshot pic or vid from the net on Sat.
- Top Ten Lists - Top ten of anything I feel like.
- Blog Tips – I try to offer some assistance in making your blog better.
Some of the experimental and/or new things I am trying are:
- Fire Critic Apparel – Check it out for all kinds of apparel.You can purchase your own shirts, mugs, aprons, etc.
- Contests - I have two contests in the works now. I have already learned a lot about them! I am in talks now with potential sponsors of future contests. Don’t worry, they are getting better and better! One for a Fire Critic t-shirt (ended today) and another for a Firefighter Edition Monopoly Game (ends 11/9). In the future, the contests will not last so long. That is one lesson I have learned…The time frame set on the first one was way too long!
- Podcasts - I am entertaining the possibility of doing podcasts in the future. I am talking about a once a month type deal. I am not sure if I will pull this off, but I am interested
- Blogfest - I ran a blogfest one day where I posted every half-hour or so for a 12 hour period. I think it ended up being 26 posts. I plan on doing another one in the future.
- Product Reviews - I hope to get into more of these in the future!
Most of all, if you have something to share feel free to send it in.