It’s relatively common for beginning WordPress bloggers to go overboard when they first start monetizing their site. Let me assure you, though, that placing ads in every nook and cranny of your blog will not yield good results. In fact, in many cases it could ruin the credibility of your blog altogether.
Sometimes less is more when it comes to monetizing a blog. Visitors do not come to your site to see ads plastered all over the page; they come to view the content of your blog. So first things first – the content of your site must take priority over any sort of monetization strategy.
Many expert bloggers that I’ve learned from over the years would agree that you should focus solely on building up your blog and gaining credibility in your chosen niche before actually putting a single ad on your blog. There’s not necessarily a length of time that should pass by before monetizing a new blog, but there should be plenty of content published on the site before you begin monetizing.
The reason for this is simple. Most ad networks won’t accept you into their program without first having a quality blog to show them. Not only that, but new blogs typically have very minimal traffic, so there’s really no point in placing ads in front of virtually nobody.
This guide will discuss how to find the right ad network, CPA (cost per action) offer, or affiliate products to promote at your blog. Each blog niche is a bit different in how it should be monetized. We’ll also discuss optimum ad placement locations, or “hot spots,” on a web page. These are spots that tend to have the highest CTR (click through rates).
I’ll also throw in plenty of tips and tricks that I’ve learned through my experiences as a blogger. I should also note that while many of these monetization strategies can be utilized by static websites, this information is aimed at optimizing blogs – specifically WordPress blogs.
There are many options available to those looking to monetize their blog, including various ad networks, CPA offers, digital products (i.e., Clickbank), text link advertising, in-picture advertising and more. I’ll briefly touch on some of the ways that I’ve monetized my blogs now and in the past.
As the biggest ad network around, Google Adsense is a quick and easy way to add relevant ads to your blog. Google offers a variety of ad formats, including text links, image banners, search boxes and RSS feed advertising.
The greatest advantage that Adsense has over other ad networks is its sheer size and number of advertisers within its network. Google is able to provide extremely relevant ads that fit well with your content, and it is all done automatically so you – as the publisher – don’t have to change the ad code or update the listings ever.
Adsense – as most of you know – pays out per click, and that can sometimes be very lucrative. There are publishers making hundreds of dollars per day with Adsense, and there are basically two keys to achieving these income levels:
You site’s keyword(s) must be a high-paying niche.
You must have a lot of traffic coming to your site.
There are several keyword tools out there that you can use to research high-paying niches in the CPC world, including the Google Keyword Tool and Spyfu – both are free to use. Typically, the niches that pay high in the CPC game are ones related to mortgages, credit cards, loans, travel, debt consolidation, insurance and others.
Please note that there is much more involved than just picking the highest paying keyword phrase to target at your site to get the highest paying clicks. However, that is beyond the scope of this article – stay tuned for that article soon!
As the king of digital products (mainly ebooks), Clickbank offers thousands of products that can quickly and easily be promoted at your blog just as easily as Adsense ads. Simply copy/paste some code into your blog and that’s it.
You can find products that are targeted and relevant to your blog’s niche, and the best part is the payout for these products. It’s not uncommon to earn 75% of the sale or more for referring the customer from your site. So for instance, if you decide to promote a weight loss ebook with a sale price of $49, you would be paid nearly $37 per sale if the payout for that particular product is 75%.
As you can see, Clickbank can be much more lucrative than Adsense, but it’s best to test both to see which one works better for your particular blog.
Commission Junction and Linkshare
Two of the best affiliate marketing options are Commission Junction and Linkshare . They both carry a healthy dose of big companies looking for affiliates to sell their products and services. Some of these companies include: Walmart, Weight Watchers, HP, Apple, Verizon, PetSmart, Macys, Symantec and the list goes on.
I would recommend signing up for both Commission Junction and Linkshare affiliate programs if you would like to test out this monetization strategy. Payouts for this type of marketing can be extremely lucrative, but it takes a lot of testing to find the right products, banners/text ads, ad locations, etc, before you begin to see any type of major revenue from these sources.
The advantage of this type of monetization strategy is that some of the biggest and most recognizable companies in the world are members of these affiliate marketing programs, so the visitors to your site will see your blog as being more reputable and respected since you’re promoting recognizable products. Believe me, this does help increase sales and conversions.
Amazon Associates and ebay Partner Network (EPN)
Amazon and eBay are two of the web’s biggest marketplaces, so promoting items from either of these sources is a great way to generate revenue at your blog. Not only is there a seemingly endless number of different products to promote using either program, but both programs offer a ton of banners, widgets, and dynamic links, and they’re all customizable. You can even set up an Amazon aStore that fits within the theme of your blog in less than an hour and have it stocked with products from Amazon.
If there is a down side to either program it’s that EPN is pretty selective about who gets accepted into their program, but that’s actually a good thing. If your blog does get accepted, you know you have a quality blog that the people at eBay see as a premium site.
Other Monetization Options Worth Trying
Kontera – In-text advertising that works well on some sites but not on others. It’s worth a try.
PicMedia – In-picture advertising that places a discreet ad within the images of your site, but the company is still relatively new; thus the amount of relevant advertising to your site may be limited.
Offervault – This site doesn’t actually pay you, but they provide you with a database of the top affiliate and CPA offers available in one place. They have a great search function that can help you quickly and easily find relevant products/offers to promote from various CPA networks. This is a great resource for people looking to monetize through CPA offers.
One of the biggest mistakes that new bloggers make when first starting to monetize their blog is not optimizing the ad placements. I can’t stress this enough; proper ad placement is vitally importantto the success of your monetization strategy.
In a nutshell, you want your ads to appear right in front of your visitors, but not in a “spammy” sort of way. Your ads need to appear natural looking and blend into your site’s design, and yet must stand out and make your visitor want to click through. This is the key to increasing your CTR.
Have a look at the ad placement optimization map provided by Google.
As you can see, the ad “hot spots” are basically the areas surrounding the content of your blog posts or pages. You’d be surprised at how high your CTR jumps just by testing out different ad placements on your site. I recommend you test different ad placements at 30 day intervals and see which ones perform the best. Remember, it’s much better to have fewer ads in optimized ad locations than having ads in every available piece of real estate your blog has to offer – less is often more.
If you find that an ad location isn’t performing well, simply remove the ad. Why have an ad on your site that is doing nothing more than wasting space? Visitors to your site are much more likely to return to your blog if they are not overwhelmed by the amount of advertising at your site.
Focus on the ad spots that are performing well and making your site the most money – eliminate the under-performing ads. It will give your site a cleaner, lighter design – not to mention give it a more reputable look. Case in point: have a look at Yahoo’s home page . It looks extremely clean and only has a couple of noticeable ads. The rest of the page is good, useful content and links. Yahoo is focusing on just a couple of ad spots and maximizing their revenue that way.
On a related note, you should test out various ad color combinations and both text and image ads to see which ones convert better for your blog. This is different for every blog, so it’s tough to pinpoint which type of ad performs better. I have found that a healthy mix of both text and image ads work best.
As far as color combinations go, it’s usually best to blend the ads into your blog’s color scheme. That being said, sometimes it’s best to use the default #0000FF color for links since that’s what most Internet users see as clickable links, and thus they’ll be more likely to click the ad.