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How Do You Make Money from a Blog? A Beginner’s Guide to Internet Advertising


This is the first post in a series on How to Make Money from a Blog. The second article is How Do You Make Money from a Blog? Affiliate Advertising for Bloggers.

Most of the regular readers of this site know quite a bit about making money from a blog - some of them more than I do. But when I talk to people outside of the blogosphere, the most common question I am asked is, “I don’t understand how you make money at blogging, how do you do it?”.

The short answer is: Advertising.

The long answer is: There are so many kinds of internet advertising and different programs & networks that a person new to blogging or web publishing can get rapidly overwhelmed with the idea of learning more about it.

A Breakdown of Major Internet Advertising Models for Blogs

Most advertising options open to publishers (bloggers) fall into three main categories:

Affiliate Advertising

These are text links and/or banners you add to your site, which pay the publisher if a sale is made on the merchant’s site.

Even the newest of websites can get accepted into most affiliate programs run by merchants.

If an affiliate ad is targeted well to the site visitor’s interests, affiliate advertising can pay quite well.

It might take you a while to figure out how to target ads well. Until then, you will be basically running someone else’s ads for free.

You can’t control a shopper’s experience on someone else’s site, so you could work hard to send well-targeted visitors to a merchant’s site, only to have the sale fall through due to any number of ecommerce missteps they could make along the way.

Best resources to get affiliate advertising on your blog:

CPC (Cost Per Click) Advertising

These are text links and/or banners you add to your site, which pay the publisher if a site visitor clicks on the ad.

CPC ads provide a bit more consistent income than affiliate ads.

You are paid simply for the fact that you sent a visitor to a merchant, whether or not the merchant makes any money.

AdSense is the leading CPC advertiser, and ad-blindness is only getting worse.

Despite promises of AdSense riches, a very high percentage of publishers never make enough money from AdSense to justify a continuation of displaying their ads.

Best resources to get CPC advertising on your blog:

  • Chitika

CPM (Cost Per Impression) or CPT (Cost Per Term) Advertising

These are banners you add to your site, which pay the publisher for every time the ad is viewed on a page, or for a set period of time (i.e., per month).

These ads are the most profitable, because the publisher will get paid as long as they continue to display the ads.

These ads provide the most reliable and stable income; nearly all major internet destination sites make their money from CPM advertising.

You have to have a fairly established site and following in order to be an attractive option for advertisers. Benchmarks usually start around 500 unique visitors a day or 25K page views a month.

Most merchants won’t even look at a site under 1 million page views a month, which is quite out of the range of most blogs (including this one!).

Best resources to get CPM or CPT advertising on your blog:

Next week, we’ll start to discuss how to use these different advertising methods effectively on your blog. For now, I’ll leave you with a short list of commonly used internet advertising terms so that you can start understanding the terminology as you do more research.

Internet Advertising Glossary

Above the Fold
A phrase used to describe all of the information visible on a page without scrolling down.

Ad Network
A company that works with multiple advertisers and to match them with smaller publishers. They offer a great deal of value in connecting independent publishers with large companies. Usually they have built automated systems to make it easy for advertisers to screen potential ad placements, and for publishers to leverage a mass audience to connect with large income opportunities.

Ad Rotation
The process of rotating ads in a single spot on a web page. This can be tracked and adjusted to give more impressions to better performing or more important advertisers.

Ad Server
A software program installed on your hosting company’s web server that delivers, regulates, tracks and sometimes automatically optimizes advertisements on your site. They can also be set up so that advertisers can have access to their own statistics and can upload new ads on their own.

An ad industry slang term for the actual ad that is seen by a site visitor – used as a noun, rather than an adjective. “Can you send me the creative for this ad campaign?”, meaning the actual banner, or the text used in the ad.

Cost Per Impression – An advertiser pays a certain amount of money per 1000 ad impressions.

Cost Per Click – An advertiser pays a certain amount of money for every ad click.

Cost Per Acquisition or Action – An advertiser pays for every sale or lead that was generated from their web site. Also generally known as PPL (Pay Per Lead) and PPS (Pay Per Sale)

Conversion Rate (or Ratio) – The difference between how many times an ad was clicked or viewed vs. how many times that click or view actually turned into a sale, a lead, or a desired action (like a subscription).

Click-Through Ratio – The difference between how many times an ad was viewed vs. how many times an ad was clicked.

Serving ads to only a certain geographic area or population segment

This is a somewhat intrusive but highly effect ad format, in which a full page advertisement is loaded in between two pages of content.

Pay Per Click – Usually refers to search engine advertising, the sponsored links that appear when you do a search. These advertisers pay for each click they get.

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    On September 20th, 2007 at 3:20 pm, lornadoone said:

    Aaaaallll Riiiiiighhht.

    This is the blog post I’ve been waiting for nearly a year to read. Thank you for simplifying things. I have been so overwhelmed by the choices and complex information that I’ve not even tried most things. Yea for making things understandable!

    On September 20th, 2007 at 5:52 pm, Israel said:

    very informative. thx for the simpleness.

    On September 20th, 2007 at 6:18 pm, Kelvin Kao said:

    I’ve read about a lot of these things before but this is a good summary. My favorite part is actually the list of acronyms (especially how it’s CPM instead of CPI).

    On September 20th, 2007 at 6:38 pm, Jenny said:

    Hi, Wendy! Great info here.

    I wanted to let your readers know that BlogHerAds accepts blogs with all traffic levels - we welcome excellent bloggers of both sexes and all genres who have been blogging for at least 90 days, and who update at least twice a week.

    Thanks for the mention!

    On September 20th, 2007 at 6:47 pm, Alpesh Nakar said:

    Good one! What I really would like to read if it ain’t already here -

    1]private advertising - what does it take to approach, what comprises a medit-kit

    2]how to use open-ads :-)

    On September 20th, 2007 at 7:51 pm, Michelle at Scribbit said:

    Thanks for this explanation, I’m redesigning right now and plan on incorporating ads.

    On September 20th, 2007 at 8:05 pm, Aruni said:

    So far I like BlogHer. It’s easy. They have nice, tasteful ads… I have tried Text Link Ads but have not seen anything come of it yet and I’ve had the code up for a month or so now. I’ve also had Amazon relevant ads and although I’ve seen some clicks…there have not been any conversions. I’m thinking I’ll remove the Amazon ads and make room in my sidebar for something else.

    As Alpesh mentioned, it would be good to know how to pursue direct advertising or do you just wait for them to come to you? I wonder if there is a portal you can list your blog as being a blog interested in being approached by direct advertisers… hmmm.

    On September 20th, 2007 at 9:27 pm, Windyridge said:

    I just got started in this and your site is a great help! Thanks!

    On September 20th, 2007 at 11:50 pm, Suzie Cheel said:

    How timely, I have been skirting around the edges of this and with 3 blogs to monetize this is fantastic.
    This looks like this will be another great contribution you make to those of us still on a learning curve
    Thank you

    On September 21st, 2007 at 7:12 am, Char said:

    Wendy - great job pulling together such a comprehensive guide - this will soon be an eMoms classic.

    On September 21st, 2007 at 11:01 am, Jon said:

    Do you recommend a platform like openads to manage all of these programs?

    On September 21st, 2007 at 11:26 am, Easton Ellsworth said:

    Excellent primer, Wendy! One tip I’d give anyone just starting out in this arena is to remember the supremacy of person-to-person relations. If you can get somebody on the phone and engage them in a friendly, positive manner, that can be ten times as effective as a string of emails or even an automatic signup as an affiliate or whatever.

    Oh, one more tip, too - IT TAKES TIME AND EXPERIENCE to learn the ropes of this. It’s important and necessary to read all you can about Web advertising … but it’s also necessary to pound the digital pavement and, well, fail some.

    I’ve been immersed in the quest of driving ad revenue to a large network of blogs (Know More Media) for more than six months now, and I have made a ton of mistakes … but I’ve also learned a ton and a half in the process.

    On September 21st, 2007 at 11:36 am, Wendy Piersall said:

    Thanks everyone and yes, Easton, I always try to remind people that it takes 1+ years to start seeing results from your efforts.

    Alpesh and Jon, I plan on covering that stuff later in the series - so stay tuned! :D

    On September 22nd, 2007 at 12:13 am, Shiraz at Downline Attraction blog said:

    Good stuff.

    One thing I would add to “making money” with blogs is adding opt-in forms to build a list. We all know one of the best ways to market anything is to capture people’s info, and follow-up with them over time using an autoresponder.

    On September 22nd, 2007 at 6:13 pm, emily michel chan said:

    How about affiliate program? i just read about it on mashable!

    On September 22nd, 2007 at 6:21 pm, digitalnomad said:

    I sure wished someone could come up with some news income streams besides Adsense and TLA, Affiliate Marketing, etc….don’t you?

    Whomever does will make a killing.

    On September 23rd, 2007 at 6:35 pm, Karen Putz said:

    Wendy, what a great post– very informative!

    Mentions on other sites...

    1. Essential Links for Your Blog Foundation | The Tao of Blogging to Wealth on September 20th, 2007 at 6:57 pm
    2. This Week In SEO - 9/21/07 - TheVanBlog on September 21st, 2007 at 7:33 pm
    3. How Do You Make Money from a Blog? Affiliate Advertising for Bloggers - eMoms at Home - The Internet Home Business Blog for Moms & Dads on September 25th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

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