There are many reasons that may compel you to generate revenue from your blog or website. It could be that you need capital to operate (pay for hosting, promote site, build content, increase traffic … the list endless), you need to pay yourself from the work you put in, and so on.
Personally I needed revenue not only for the reasons I have highlighted above but also I needed money to start, experiment, and run a successful business, to invest as I had earlier alluded to you and many others reasons. In regards to my blog, here is how I generated revenue:
- Affiliate Marketing
Making money through affiliate marketing is what I initially started with mainly because I had no personal products to sell and my blog a small traffic. My conversion rates ranged at 0.5% - 3%. So in every 1000 visits, I could sell zero to 30 products.
Affiliate marketing is basically promoting other people’s products on your site for a commission. The two types of products I promoted on my blog were those that offered tier commissions and those that paid per subscription. I had two reasons for targeting the two types of commissions:
- Tier commissions were going to keep me earning in the long term even after I had sold my blog or during dry months (where sales were down).
- Direct sales kept me going in the short term as they were hot money. I mean direct sales offered higher commissions per conversion and I could only be paid once for each sale unlike the add-ons on tier commissions.
Tier commissions were easier to promote and offered great conversion rates. Basing strength on economies of scale, one could earn huge in future without work as long as the business you promote continues to exist. Below is an example of a 2-tier commission program:
Assume an affiliate program where you get paid a commission if you refer a person to join a service, then a further 10% commission on future purchases by that particular customer or maybe 10% of their future earnings.
This implies that, if you refer 100 customers and they refer 100 people each generating a total of $100. Suppose your commission for each referral is $5 per customer, you will earn a total of 5 by 100 (which equals $500) in that given time. Then now add the tier commission of 100 customers times 10% of their revenue/expenditure that is: 100 customers times (10/100 of $100) which equals $1000. In total you would have earned $500+$1000 = $1500 in that month.
Assuming that in future you do not make any conversions, depending on the affiliate terms you would still earn $1500 less $500 which is the one-time referral commission you get paid per sign up. So in a nutshell, if you never ever get any sign ups again in the future and assuming that your initially 100 referred customers maintain a revenue or expenditure of $100 each month it means you will still earn 10% of what they spend or earn depending on the terms of the affiliate program you joined. You will still earn in this case $1000 every month without work.
And that is how a tier commission works. I acknowledge that I may have exaggerated a bit or undervalued the revenue potential in the example above, but it was just an example. What you earn solely depends on your conversion rate and the program terms I love affiliate marketing to date. It helped me a lot in developing my sales and marketing skills I use today. It is hard and can be sometimes frustrating due to competition but when you do it right, you win big. After six months, my blog was generation around $1000 a month with affiliate tier commissions, all without work, making Jack a jolly boy.
This I must admit to me was a surprise. I guess having a target audience and quality content eventually pays. When I started blogging I never imagined that I could make money endorsing or launching products. This attributes to progress made on my blog to this extent that people and popular internet brands could trust me to endorse their services and products. It showed my reputation was up there with the top.
From my blogs I could make several hundreds of dollars daily just to endorse products when they became available. Mainly endorsements targeted a mention on my prime pages, or a new post to spread the word about their new or existing products/services, and sometimes just to share their links on my social media pages.
I did not have to make a sale to be paid with endorsements. Neither was I required to record new sign ups or referrals for affiliate tier commissions. Even though such endorsement opportunities did not come in daily, they paid well when they came. I also did not need to write endorses and have them posted on my blog permanently except for some few mentions through links. In most cases after the endorsement period was over, I was free to pull the ads or promo posts down. Even as I did this, striking a balance between having a useful and quality content for my users and making money of my traffic was a top priority. I noticed endorsements sales trickling in after the fourth month and it steadily kept growing.
With my email lists, I could only endorse, launch, or promote products only once or twice a month. I do not like to engage or appear to engage in spamming activities. I don’t know why companies liked this strategy and paid more for it. I also did not try to promote affiliate products using email marketing. So I will not speculate on the CTR (Click through Rates) or conversions.
I charged around $300 to &800 per email marketing campaign to my over 25,000 active mail list. I had to thoroughly evaluate a product before endorsing it. My audience was and still remained my most valuable asset on my blog.
Now to the social media world and few things I noticed. When you are active on social media, you will notice that your new posts reach represents around 60% of your followers. And somehow the following increases by each post.
I knew how to navigate the social media space well especially Facebook and Twitter and this made pages vibrant and even easy to monetize. I got bombarded with offers regularly from different websites, blogs, and companies, individuals … who wanted me to share something on my social media pages in exchange for money. I had a fairly large following. I used to post things like four times daily, and I could charge around $80 to $300 per sponsored posts on my social media pages. However sponsored posts had to be related to my blog’s niche and I only posted then once in every three days. Mainly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays since these were peak days for me mostly.
Maybe I used to get paid less or more, I don’t care really. Money wasn’t my drive, useful content and keeping my audience looking forward to something from my blog was the goal so if I made money on the way, the better. I also ensured that I negotiated a discount on products exclusive to my social media followers to keep them happy and engaged.
I can say that by the fifth month, my blog was thriving. I could have now sold it this was my plan. However in the meantime, I still needed to learn more from the experience. Learning was better than earning. I wanted to have more experience.
I would recommend that everyone with a website or blog to always use this method. When you promote affiliate products you are actually developing other businesses and not yours and also the profits in the long term are much lower. If you sell your personal products, your chances of making a larger profit are high. You may leverage your audience to start a small business or partner directly with an established business to resell their services/products.
Starting big with a weak foundation is the basis of many startup failures especially in the early stages of development. Recent surveys show that many businesses fail in the first five years, and only slightly above 10% of the startups remain in business after 10 years. There are many factors that can be attributed to such failures but I think it’s mainly due to a poor foundation upwards. On my blog, I used to sell my own personal products and services; I largely dealt in computer software and hardware products. The software was from a side business I had started and I used to resell the hardware products.
It is challenging to sell products that require shipping and what have you due to the due diligence involved. I would recommend using Amazon, eBay… for example to handle the payment and shipping part for you at a fee.
If you have no personal products to sell, you can always find different items on Amazon, Commission Junction and the likes that you can sell.
I must start by saying that I did not like using Ad Networks on my blog; reason being they created a bad user experience and the earnings were not that much compared to what advertisers were bound to reap from my traffic. It’s a 50-50 gamble depending on a site’s content and niche though. To some it’s the best way to monetize a website/blog and to some it is not.
I recognize that many people are obsessed with generating revenue with advertising networks. I would say that if your site does not have useful content to monetize, use Ad networks.
Since I was going to sell my blog anyway, I had to implement a few ads from AdSense. Apparently since many blog buyers are obsessed with it. An AdSense approved site that makes money fetches more in the market. I guess people want some sense of security in terms of revenue with little work. Many people find it very hard managing other web monetization methods; I understand that it sometimes can be challenging.
On the fifth month that I TRIED using AdSense on my blog, I made around $700. I did not add AdSense to all my content, just some pages but I somehow experienced a substantial decline in revenue elsewhere on my blog. You can also blend your AdSense Ads with other Ads from different AdSense alternatives like Popcash, Chitika, and Bidvertiser. That’s it; next I will show you how I sold my blog.[...]