4 Easy Ways to Monetize a Blog

monetize a blog

If you are looking for ways to monetize a blog or website there are tons of different affiliate programs, advertising networks, and other options you could look into.  Just because there are a lot of options for blog monetization doesn't mean you should use them all though.  My believe is that you should find what works for your blog or online business and stick with that.

Having been online for awhile these are 4 good programs to monetize a blog which I think meet a wide variety of needs for your blog or website.

  1. Amazon AssociatesHave you bought something on Amazon?  I assume you probably have since they are known as “Wal-Mart online.”  Amazon stocks a huge inventory and with their third party shipping programs offer a huge selection of products that no other online retailer can match.  This includes their massive Kindle self-publishing platform as well as MP3 and video downloads.  Chances are if you want to review a product or recommend something on your blog Amazon sells it or you can find it.  You can use Amazon Associates and link up to those products or display banner ads.  Amazon Associates also lets you built “stores” on your website.  I've found Amazon Associates has worked well for all of my blogs but especially Adam's Auto Advice.  (It seems auto products are something a lot of people order online.)  I've been happy with the Amazon Associates program and have been pleased with my reasonable earnings I have received which is why I recommend it.
  2. eBay Partner Network:  I have not had as much success with the eBay Partner Network but it is still worth a mention.  Why?  eBay is the world's largest online auction site and there a lot of different ways to use this affiliate program which could benefit your blog.  You can get paid just for sending qualified traffic to eBay and obviously get paid when users buy products through eBay.  If you have a specific hobby niche the eBay Partner Network is probably most ideal for you.  Ebay only accepts publishers with high quality content and decent traffic though.  Keep that in mind if you apply to the eBay Partner Network.
  3. Google AdSense:  Google wouldn't be the huge company it is today if it wasn't for Google AdSense and contextual advertising.  (Well technically Google AdWords, the counterpart to AdSense.)   Google AdSense allows online publishers big and small to display relevant ads to site visitors.  This means a better experience for your visitors and a higher Click-Through-Rates (CTR) for online publishers and Google, which means more moolah for everyone.  AdSense also allows you to monetize Youtube videos with contextual advertising.  Unfortunately I was kicked out of Google AdSense last year and I have no idea why.  So I would be careful of how you use AdSense and what sites you display ads on.  (Google only likes sites that are family safe.)  Since Google recently celebrated 10 Years of Google AdSense you don't need to worry about this program going anywhere.
  4. Media.net: Media.net is a Yahoo and Bing's contextual advertising program.  I won't pull any punches, it is not as good and will not earn you as much money as Google AdSense.  I was invited into this program though and feel that it is good alternative those who were booted from Google AdSense.  There is a large advertising pool bidding for keywords and you can really fine tune the colors and look of ad units.  I'd recommend giving Media.net a shot if you have decent traffic to your blog or website.  However do not rely on it for your advertising income.

Be aware any affiliate program you sign-up for you should understand the terms and conditions clearly.  I recommend reading the entire affiliate contract even though this is time consuming, painful, and probably a big hassle with all that legal jargon.  You really should if you want to avoid what happened to me with Google AdSense.

Like I mentioned before there are a ton of different advertising and affiliates programs you can choose from and these are just 4 popular ones that a lot of bloggers and webmasters use.  If you have found a way to monetize a blog that works better for you please leave a comment below and let me know.

Are Forums better than Social Media?

All the hype and rage you hear from marketers nowadays is all about social media this and social media that.  However, could it be that social media doesn't provide much useful information?

I ran across an interesting article on Social Media Explorer the other day which should make some marketers and companies rethink their social media strategies.  The report examined where the conversations about banks and the banking industry takes place online.  The winner?  Forums.

In the report they found that 90% of information about banks being discussed online is found on online forums.  Social networks accounted for 1% of the real conversations about banking. While Jason Falls, the writer, would obviously like you to purchase his report on the banking industry, keep in mind that he runs a site about social media.  If they were smart they would have thrown out the report and declared social media is the best place to market for banks! 🙂

social media

The article really got me thinking about where I go to find useful information online.  If I wanted to know more about web hosting, I go to a hosting discussion forum.  I would not turn to my followers on Twitter or Facebook since they probably don't know the answer and couldn't help me out.  Most of the time when I need technical help or I am trying to learn something new with software I do the same thing.

Posting cat memes and pictures while fun… come one, that's not useful to anyone.  Of course we all know that Singing Dogs are quite useful for the internet.  (These are my dogs by the way.)  To a certain extent social media is really more ideal for being entertained and engaged.  Something marketers are keen to capitalize on.

For a second I would think about where you get useful information when doing a Google search.  Do you always find what you need on blogs? Probably not.  Does Facebook's search engine (Bing) even work well? No. Can you find technical help on Twitter? Some places sure, but for the most part I doubt you can get technical questions answered in 140 characters or less all the time.

The current bank I have my money with I did research before opening an account with them.  Googling I found a bunch of threads, from genuine people (I hope), recommending their services and after reading these positive reviews on forums I decided to bank with them.  I have been using this bank's services for almost 2 years and couldn't be happier.  Their service and products are better than the local credit union's I was using and they have excellent customer support.

However, in all my research I didn't see anyone from the bank post on these forums or see bank reps taking part in any conversations.  Jason Falls hits the nail on the head when explaining why most marketers don't incorporate a forum into their overall marketing strategy.

marketers are petrified of them [forums]. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

This is an excellent point!  I will get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but the reality is that marketers can't have real and meaningful conversations.  Participating in a forum means you need to really respond to what people say and not feed them what you want them to hear.

A common complaint I've heard about forum marketing is that it can be a lot of work with minimal results.  While it all depends on the niche, and what forums are available in the niche, again you need to provide real value and not just be trying to sell your products or get backlinks for you site.   Let's be fair, marketing on social media networks isn't easy and takes time, work, and a lot of money.

Having recently attended BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, there was no discussion about forums, forum strategies, or how to get a community started.  The majority of the discussions regarding social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Before going to the conference though I turned to the BlogPaws Newbie discussion group to get useful information regarding the conference for new attendees.  I got a lot out of the discussion group where I learned great tips and advice about attending BlogPaws I wouldn't have gotten unless I was part of the Newbie group.  If I had gone to the Twitter or Facebook pages I really wouldn't have gotten many answers to my questions or gained as much insight into BlogPaws before attending.

Since forums have been around since the dawn of the web I guess they really don't have the coolness and ‘new kid on the block' appeal of social networks.  I also rarely hear anyone say they want to start a forum since blogging or building a website product or service is what most people want to get into.

If Social Media Explorer's report is accurate, a lot of marketers should consider what having a good forum presence can offer them and their brand.  Forums are not going anywhere and will be around until the internet dies I bet.  So if the conversations for your audience is on forums, you either should get a forum strategy or start one.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

[Image Source – Social Media Explorer]