This is the sixth in my series on Blog Monetization Options. Previous Parts: Part I - Pay-Per-Click Ads, Part II - Affiliate Ad Widgets, Part III - Affiliate Offers, Part IV - Paid Links, Part V - Paid Reviews
In this series of articles we’re looking at the monetization options that a small time blogger has for building a steady income of $100 to $200 a month. This installment discusses do-it-yourself methods where you don’t use an agent to find money making opportunities. We’ll be looking at selling your own ad space, creating a blog store, selling your services and building a blog to resell.
Sell Your Own Links and Ad Space
Cutting out the middleman does mean more profit for you but it also means you have to do the work of finding advertising clients. If you’re brand new and don’t have a reputation you may think this method impossible. While you do have to establish yourself by building some traffic and subscribers, you don’t have to be a blogging superstar to bring in some cash.
First, you have to pick a good price based on your traffic level and subscriber base. I’d recommend undercutting what an advertiser would pay through an agent. For example, if the agent would sell your text link for $10/month, you charge $6. You’ll probably make more money for yourself while offering a client a substantial discount. Finding the ’sweet spot’ may take some trial and error but if you research well ahead of time this shouldn’t be much trouble.
Secondly, find clients. To do this you’ll need to advertise them on your site, contact prospects or do a combination of the two. The strategy here is to build an ongoing sponsorship relationship with the client where you can have monthly payments rolling in from them with little effort on your end. It’s simple salesmanship to do this.
Don’t forget that you can also use this method to monetize your RSS feed as well. There are several plugins around that you can use to inject ads into your feed without making changes to your actual posts.
This, of course, has the same drawbacks as using a broker when it comes to the Google paid link crackdown. However, you can be a lot more sneaky about how you do it when you’re on your own and, if you’re willing to risk it, you may be able to fly under Google’s radar. You can also be up front and say that you nofollow paid links.
Create Your Own Store
In many niches it’s possible to create your own mini-storefront for products that have a synergy with your blog’s topic. This is an extension of the affiliate offers that I mentioned earlier. The difference is that instead of just running a generic ad, you have a feed that shows actual products much like a catalog. In some cases you can even place a full blown pre-generated store on your site.
Here are a few examples of how this can work. Let’s say you have a men’s humor blog. You might add a side store that sells herbal supplements for men. Or you might have a site that deals with raising children. For it you might build a store that features kids clothing or educational toys. If you review movies, a DVD feed might be what you want.
If you go this route you want to design your blog where you drive visitors toward buying from your store and not somewhere else. This means eliminating other forms of advertising, including Adsense. You don’t want your visitors leaving through ads for competing offers.
Sell Your Services
One service that just about any blogger with sufficient writing skills can offer is a paid review. The overall strategy here would be the same as what you would use for links and ads. Finding clients may be a little tougher but bear in mind there are probably many struggling ecommerce sites in your niche who would be willing to spend a few dollars to get some links and buzz. All you have to do is find them and prospect them.
Another way is using your blog as essentially an advertisement for services you perform outside of the blog itself. For example, my VB Notebook for .NET blog brings me regular offers to do short term work in this area and I don’t even advertise that as a service on the site. If I were to begin advertising them aggressively, I’d get more offers than I could handle.
What service should you offer? That depends on your skill set and blog niche. I’ve seen a number of bloggers offering to create 125×125 ads recently for a small fee, particularly those for the EntreCard system. Creating logos, tweaking WordPress installations or writing complete themes, doing SEO campaigns and so forth are also commonly offered. It doesn’t even have to be a technical skill. Simply find something you’re good at that people want to buy and craft your blog to pull people toward your service offer.
Flip Your Blog
If you don’t plan to keep a blog for the long haul you can engage in a build-to-sell strategy. With this method you build traffic and promote your blog within it’s niche just like you would normally. Typically you would get it to a PageRank of 3 or 4, a decent Alexa score for the niche, have it monetized to some degree and have at least 100 RSS subscribers. When the moment arrives, put it up for sale. While you probably won’t get 4 or 5 figures for it like some bloggers recently did when they sold their blogs, you should be able to enough to fall within our stated goal in this series of $100-200 a month for your trouble.
The nice thing about this strategy is that, since you aren’t planning to build it long term, you can have several blog properties in play at once and thus generate the steady income.
Of course, this strategy isn’t for everyone and typically won’t work well with personal blogs or domains that use a person’s name.
That’s all for this series on blog monetization. If you have any feedback on this article or any of the others please leave me a comment.