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I’m in a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers, and these groups have varying levels of bloggers. There are people who are just getting interested in blogging, and there are others who make six (and even seven) figures from blogging. There’s definitely a huge range!
Something that I find most valuable in this group is when people are transparent and willing to share their tips for success and monetizing a blog. I’ve always felt so blessed by our success with blogging, that it feels almost selfish not to share some of my own tips. I feel like I’ve learned so much about blogging over the past three years (and, of course, I have so much more to learn), and I appreciate learning from others.
While I don’t particularly feel it necessary to divulge our income in income reports like many bloggers do (I really enjoy those – I just don’t feel super comfortable putting our finances out there for the whole world to see!), I thought I’d share a few of the ways we have monetized our websites and what has been most successful for us. Awhile back I shared a post about the different ways to make money blogging but here I hope to go a little deeper into what works best for us right now (and what we’re hoping to do next!)
Advertising – about 50% of my income
A large portion of our income comes from advertising. While sometimes I see debate on display advertising, here’s my thoughts on it – the content I provide my readers is free. I believe that with something that I spend so much time on, I should be compensated for what I’m doing, and display advertising is one of the best ways to do that. It allows me to keep providing content for free to my readers but justify the time that it takes to run a blog (because there’s so much to it – writing the content, photography the content, promoting it, promoting other bloggers content…the list goes on!) There’s advertising everywhere, and I honestly have gotten less than 10 complaints about ads during my 2.5 years of blogging (there’s ad blockers for people who really hate it!) < /end rant>fa
Anyways, I’ve done a lot of different methods for advertising, and I’ve yet to find the most perfect combination. I’ve managed my own ads, used companies that manage my ads, native advertising, text ads, mobile ads…I’ve pretty much tried everything! While I’d love to go back to managing my own ads someday (right now is just not the time with a baby coming in a few months), what I’m doing right now is doing fairly well (some affiliate links are used in this post – I endorse all of them 100%.)
For my desktop ads, this is what I do:
- I used AdThrive. Basically, they manage all of my desktop ads, and they take a cut of it. It’s around 20%, which I *try* not to think about, but I do feel like I make a decent amount of money on my desktop ads. They require that you have at least 100,000 pageviews before they will manage your ads, but I’ve overall been pleased with their customer service. They recently announced that if you have a separate mobile ad network (more on those in a moment), they will not work with you (which, I have issues with), but I was grandfathered with my contract, and for the time being, they are still allowing me to just use them for desktop ads. Another company that manages ads like this is The Blogger Network. I used them for a time, and I wouldn’t be opposed to using them again. But I do feel like AdThrive makes me more money than they did. I’d say AdThrive makes up about 30% of my ad revenue.
- Media.net is a company that I use to monetize on some of my most searched/popular posts. I wrote about how to make more money with your popular posts using Media.net awhile back. Currently I’m not making a ton of extra money from them, and that’s probably because I need to readjust the posts that are being monetized, but there are times where I make $10-15 a day using their ads on my popular posts.
- Native Advertising is a newer form of advertising, but it basically works to integrate with the flow of your website as much as possible. Sometimes, people don’t even know these ads are actual ads. I’ve been using TripleLift since last year. While their revenue is really low right now, during third and fourth quarter I made quite a bit. I just have one ad unit at the bottom of my posts on Clarks Condensed, and they are always very high quality ads. I know other people have them inserted in between posts, but since I don’t use a typical blog format to display my posts, this doesn’t work as well.
For my mobile ads, I have been using PadSquad since last July, and for the most part, I’ve been very pleased with them. They make up about 60% of my ad revenue, and they perform very well. It sometimes takes a bit of customization and working with their employees to get the site just how you like it, but I highly recommend them. Their ads can be a bit more aggressive than some ad companies, but honestly, I don’t think it’s bad. They create a custom mobile website for you which serves mobile and tablet friendly ads. Be sure to say that Katie Clark referred you if you check them out. There is no limit on the number of pageviews you have to have, so I’d get set up right away (especially since mobile friendliness is now a Google ranking factor.)
Sponsored Posts – About 40% of our income
Sponsored posts can be a great source of revenue. This is another one of those topics of debate in the blogging world, but once again – I don’t have any issues doing sponsored posts. Some of my most popular posts have been sponsored – I think the key is just being transparent and authentic with them. I’ve become very picky about what companies I work with and what I promote, and I work hard to make sure my sponsored posts are organic as possible!
I wrote a post awhile back about a variety of different sponsored post companies that I’ve worked with. In recent months, I’ve really started working either directly with companies and just a few select sponsored post companies. I think the best place to make money is directly with a company, but if you aren’t comfortable or are unsure about working directly with companies, sponsored post companies can really help. Here are the top two that I enjoy working with. These both encourage creativity, have awesome opportunities, and they pay according to your traffic – not just a set fee.
Affiliate Marketing – About 10% of our income
Since we moved from Utah, we took a big hit in our affiliate marketing efforts. You see, we were mainly use Amazon, but Colorado is one of several states banned from having affiliates. It’s kind of ridiculous (but I’ll write a post about that another time!) Because of that, I’ve been struggling to make sure affiliate marketing brings in the money it was. Truth be told, Amazon may not have had the highest commission rates, but people seem to trust buying from Amazon a whole lot more than other websites!
Anyways, we’ve been slowly converting Amazon links to links from other websites, and I’ve been learning a lot more about affiliate marketing. I know bloggers who make six figures from affiliate marketing, so it’s definitely a good place to be. With affiliate marketing, make sure you can honestly promote the company. Don’t just sign up to be an affiliate because you think you can make a sale. Here’s where we make the most:
Escalate – This affiliate network offers a variety of different affiliate links – many of which are for coupons. However, I’ve been able to be very successful using the variety of survey companies they work with. I usually get 2.50-4.50 per signup for different survey companies, which can add up quickly. I get paid monthly from them, and it’s been pretty consistent.
Linkshare – This is the network where I am an affiliate for both Walmart and Best Buy through. I’ve converted a lot of my old Amazon links to Walmart links, and while I don’t make nearly as much as I did from Amazon, the cookie length is longer, and I do make sure money.
Mom’s Affiliate – I just recently started working with Mom’s Affiliate, but I really like them so far. They cater toward blogs that have more “mom” related material on them, and they also offer some sponsored post opportunities. Browsing through their affiliate opportunities, I’ve gotten some excellent ideas for posts, so that’s been helpful. I highly recommend signing up.
Impact Radius – I am an affiliate for Target through this company. I don’t make a ton from Target, but I feel like it might be more advantageous to be an affiliate for them during the holiday seasons.
Groupon – Groupon is a great place to be an affiliate
ShareSale – ShareaSale has tons of different companies that you can be an affiliate through. Personally, I’ve been most successful using Craftsy, PicMonkey, and Checkout51 through them. However, they have companies like Zulilly and Gymboree, hosting companies, Shutterfly, and more. Often when I am searching to see if a company has an affiliate program, they are doing it through ShareaSale, so I recommend signing up right away so you can just apply for those programs when you find them.
Commission Junction – Commission Junction also works with a lot of well-known companies. I use the Jo-Ann’s affiliate program through them, which is my top money maker, but they also have a lot of other companies. Like ShareaSale, I’m always seeing companies using CJ as their intermediary for an affiliate program, so it’s worth it to sign up, because I’m sure you’ll use them eventually!
Hosting Companies – I make some affiliate income from being an affiliate for BlueHost and Black Chicken. BlueHost pays a flat $65 commission with any new signup, and RFE pays a small commission each month a person is active with their company. I personally like RFEs model, since, overtime, you can make a decent amount. Many hosting companies have affiliate programs. I will say, please don’t sign up for all of them, or just for the ones that make the most commission – just to make a sale. Make sure you can honestly back the company and promote them to your readers.
Affiliates for other bloggers – Many bloggers offer ebooks, ecourses, print books, etc. to their readers. And quite often, these bloggers will offer an affiliate program for other bloggers to promote their content. Often when I promote another blogger’s content, they offer around 50% commission, which can really add up. So if you have bought a product from a blogger, be sure to check and see if they have an affiliate program!
So, there you have it – the most successful ways we’ve monetized our blog, Clarks Condensed (some of these methods I’ve used on this website as well.) Hopefully it helps you figure out a good direction for your blog! Let me know what has been the most successful methods you’ve used to monetize your blog!