10 Ways To Make Money Blogging

I have seen a lot of BS artists come and go, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one who compares to guy named Jim F. Kukral. Here’s a guy with a weblog ranked 439,979th on Alexa, writing an e-book called “Blogs To Riches” and charging $47 a pop for it, when NOBODY is getting rich blogging with the possible exception — if your definition of rich is loose enough — of Andrew Sullivan.

So let a blogger who averages more than 6000 daily uniques per weekday, has an Alexa rank of 35,487, and 20 advertisers currently, give you a little primer about making money via blogging. I may not have any fancy marketing degrees, but then again, I’m not going to charge you $47 to read this post either.

First off, if your primary motivation is to make money, don’t bother with blogging. That’s not to say that you can’t make money blogging, but most people don’t and it usually takes a long, long, time to make any serious lucre even if you do. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, among political bloggers, I’m going to **guess** that there are maybe 4 or 5 political bloggers right now who could scratch — and I do mean scratch — out a living based solely on advertising revenue (Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall, Daily Kos & Atrios). Out of that group, to the best of my knowledge, only Sullivan is really raking in what I think of as big time money with his huge fundraisers. Over time, the blogs getting that kind of traffic and therefore getting those kind of advertising opportunities are going to continue to grow, but for now, the numbers are small.

But, let’s cut to the chase and talk about ways to make money blogging.

Amazon: I’ve tried selling Amazon products before, but really wasn’t terribly impressed with them. For the amount of space you end up giving them, you just don’t get enough of a return to make it worth it. In my opinion, you’d be better off putting ads in the same space. However, other people like Oliver Willis who really push Amazon in individual posts may get better results. If you’re going to use Amazon, that’s the way I’d recommend that you go.

Banner Ads: I actually have a waiting list for my banner ads and they’re very popular with advertisers. But, do keep in mind that they’re fairly large ads and can slow down your page loading time. Also, the click-through rates tend to be much lower than most people think. Usually somewhere around .5% – 1.5%.

Blogads: Personally, I chose not to do Blogads because I felt comfortable with the advertising I already have set up. However, I’ve heard a lot of good things about them, they’re selling a lot of ads, and a quite a few top notch blogs use them. I think for a lot of people, Blogads are probably a good way to go.

Button Ads: I’m not sure why button ads have never really caught on in the blogging world because they’ve been around for a long time. Personally, I made more money on button ads last month than on text and banner ads combined. Furthermore, because I keep the size small (2 kb or less), 10 button ads load in the same amount of time that 1 banner ad does. So I think button ads are good way to go for bloggers.

Donations: Over time, I really haven’t made all that much money off of donations with the exception of a $150 that someone chipped in once. Otherwise, I’ve only irregularly received small dollar amount donations. Other people may take in more than I do, but I wouldn’t count on making a lot of money this way.

Charging For Content: It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to make any money charging for content because there is so much great info out there that you can get for free. Unless you can offer your readers something they cannot get elsewhere, they’re just not going to pay you.

Just to give you a personal example, the only online service I pay for is Totalfark and I’m chipping in a grand total of $5 a month to get access to a truly vast amount of offbeat & easy to overlook links that I can’t find anywhere else. The truth is that very, very, few people are going to pay even $5 a month for the content of your blog because they can get the same info from other free sources.

Freelancing: As your blog builds up a reputation, you may get an opportunity to make some money freelancing for the A-list political mags out there that pay for content. However, while I have absolutely no doubt that those sorts of opportunities are going to increase in the future, right now, there are just not a lot of bloggers getting paid for columns. For the overwhelming majority of political bloggers, this is not something you can look to as a source of income yet.

Fundraisers: Andrew Sullivan has had incredible success with fundraisers, but he’s an exception to the rule. Not that there haven’t been some other people who’ve had success raising money for limited reasons (I.E, contribute money because of crisis X or I need a laptop so I can do X,Y,Z), but I’m not sure the average person is going to make a mint with a fundraiser. But, I guess it can’t hurt anything but your ego — if you have very little money donated — to try.

Pop-Ups/Pop-Unders: You get paid more for hosting pop-ups/pop-unders than any other type of advertising — however, it does come with a price. It can delay your page load time and it can really annoy a lot of your readers. So much so that you can lose a significant amount of traffic. That’s why in he past I have turned down ad agencies that have offered me a pretty good rate for pop-ups.

Text Ads: I originally got the idea of text ads from the classified ads on Fark. I like the concept of having cheap, rotating, ads that allow you to pull in people who otherwise might not be able to afford advertising.

I do expect this form of advertising to catch on over time as well. All people will need to do is move their permanent links to a separate page, and then slide the text ads in. If let’s say Glenn Reynolds dumped his permanent links and put up 20 text ads a month in their place, how much would people pay for them? Keep in mind that I pulled almost 200 hits off of my Reynolds permanent link yesterday and if there were less names on the list, it would undoubtedly lead to more traffic.

I hope this post has been helpful for all the bloggers out there looking to make a little extra dough.

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