Blogging for Money: Top 4 Reasons Why Your Blog Isn’t Making Any

Blogging for Money

Around a year ago I posted How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps. In that post, I gave five easy steps toward making money blogging. In this post, I’m going to look at it from the other side. So you are already blogging for money, what are the most common reasons why your blog isn’t making any of that green stuff?

1. You Need More/Better Content

Engaging, high-quality content is key for any blog. Write from the heart and pick topics that will be of interest to your intended readers. Don’t just write about what you want to say, also think about the reader and about what they might want to learn or hear about. It has also been found that sites with more content do best. If you are only blogging once a week, try stepping up the number of posts that you publish. It’s unfortunate, but two medium quality posts tends to outperform one high quality post.

2. Your Site Isn’t Search Engine Optimized

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a requirement at this point. The days of SEO being a science are over and now it’s more of an art. If you use WordPress, the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast is a good place to start. The Yoast Plugin will get your site optimized but getting quality backlinks from other sites is just as crucial.

3. You haven’t Done Enough Promoting

It’s pretty common to think that you can put up a website and instantly get tons of traffic. Even after having been through it before, everytime I launch a new website, I can’t help but think that this site is what everyone is looking for. The reality of it is that there are close to a BILLION websites out there. To get web users to take notice of your site takes some serious effort. Don’t know how to promote your blog? Check out our recent post, How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps.

4. You Need a Better Monetization Strategy

To be a monetarily succussful blogger, you need to know online advertising. The AdPlugg service makes it all a lot easier. Also check out these posts:

Have any questions or other items that you think should be included in this list? Post them into the comments section below!

Best Affiliate Network? Our Top 4 Compared

Recently we were asked “which is the best affiliate network?”. We’ve used all of them and in this blog post I’m going to make both an affiliate network comparison and give some opinions as to which ones are best and which ones you should use.

Affiliate networks are advertising networks that connect advertisers with publishers. The publishers promote the advertiser’s sites and products and in exchange get a commission on any traffic that they refer to the advertiser. Different programs earn the publisher different commission rates. Commission rates vary but are typically around 5-8%. You can use AdPlugg to manage and serve all of your affiliate network ads.

Here are our top affiliate networks:

1. Amazon Associates

amazon-associates

Amazon Associates is a great affiliate network to get started with. Amazon Associates allows you to promote specific products or Amazon in general. If one of your readers clicks a link to Amazon on your site and then buys something from Amazon, you receive a commission. It doesn’t matter what they buy, it could be the product that you were recommending, a competing product or something else entirely. Amazon’s commission rates work on a sliding scale – the more business you bring them (per month) the better the percentage is. The commission rate starts at 4%.

2. Rakuten LinkShare

rakuten-linkshare

LinkShare is different from Amazon as it is an affiliate network made up of a number of affiliate programs. Each affiliate program is from a different advertiser and works similarly to Amazon. Any publisher can sign up with LinkShare. Once you’ve signed up, you can apply start to apply to the different programs. Whether or not you get approved will depend on whether the advertiser likes your site and on how picky they are. LinkShare has a really nice interface and programs from some major retailers such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.

3. ShareASale

shareasale

ShareASale works almost identically to LinkShare but offers a different selection of advertisers. Many of the advertisers cater to smaller niche markets. Some examples include Gymboree (childrens clothing) and One Kings Lane (furniture). I find the LinkShare interface nicer and easier to use but ShareASale includes some good programs that are worth the extra effort.

4. Commission Junction

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CommissionJunction has had a major presence in the Affiliate network space for a while now. They have some of the best technology (most features) but it can be more difficult to use than the ones mentioned above. Commission junction has a lot of middle sized retailers such as the Gap and Toys R Us.

Conclusion

Each of the above affiliate networks is free to join and each have different pros/cons. Which is the best affiliate network for you will depend on the Advertisers that you are looking for. The best way to see which advertisers are part of an affiliate network is is to go ahead and sign up. Once you have an account you can see which advertiser programs they have and apply to them. If you don’t like the programs or don’t get accepted, you can close (or just abstain from using) your account.

As previously mentioned, all of your affiliate ads can be managed using AdPlugg, so sign up for a bunch of them and rotate them. Then remove the ones that aren’t making money.

Have any comments or know of other affiliate networks, add them to the comment section below.

Blog Income – How to Maximize

blog-income

Blog Income is easily one of the most crucial factors for measuring the success of any blog. To realize your blog’s full potential you need to:

  • Maximize the quality and frequency of blog content – Produce lots of quality content for your readers to read and for the search engines to index.
  • Maximize blog traffic – Efficiently and effectively promote your blog (see How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps).
  • Maximize blog income – Read on…

Blog Income Maximization

The goal of blog income maximization is to earn as much as you can from each unit of ad “inventory” on your site while keeping your site free of ads that might be off-putting or annoying to your readers.

To maximize your blog income, you need to look at all possible sources of income available to your blog. These potential sources of income include:

  • Display Ads
  • Text Based PPC Ads (Such as Google AdSense)
  • Affiliate Ads
  • Paid Links
  • Sponsored Posts

NOTE: See How Do Bloggers Make Money? for more details on the above blog income sources.

To maximize your blog income you’ll want to utilize all available channels and always go with the best paying channel (when you have a choice). You’ll also want to try to keep mindful of the user experience (UX) and keep your ads beneficial to the user and tasteful.

You’ll quickly find that display ads pay the best. Furthermore display ads where you’ve sold directly to the advertiser pay the best within the display ad channel (versus network ads).

So in general, to maximize your blog income you’ll want to sell as much of your ad inventory as possible to advertisers who will run targeted display ads on your site for a premium price. Ad inventory that hasn’t been sold directly can be filled with ads from other channels/sources. Our recent blog post, How to Get Advertisers for Your Blog – 4 Steps, teaches you how to get this type of advertiser.

Once you get the advertisers signed, you can manage and serve their ads with AdPlugg (it’s what AdPlugg was designed to do!). If you have AdPlugg Pro, you can then generate reports to send to your advertisers to keep them happy and excited to continue advertising with you.

Have questions or want to share what you did to maximize your blog income? Please use the comments section below.

How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps

how-to-promote-your-blog,png

Overview

So, you’ve started a new blog…or you have an existing blog that hasn’t achieved as big of a readership as you would like. Well, in this post I’m going to show you how to promote your blog and grow your readership through five easy steps.

It should come as no surprise that most of these techniques involve social media. Social Media is a great way to be heard by a large audience. If you present yourself and your content effectively to the various social channels, you can drive large amounts of traffic to your blog. So let’s get stated…

1. Share Your Post on Facebook

Facebook is a great way to promote your blog. After you’ve published your new blog post, copy the url and open your facebook account. Just paste the url into the status update box and press the Post button. Facebook will automatically create a nice looking post including a picture (make sure you use pictures in your blog) and teaser text. This post will go out to all of your Facebook friends. You’ll be amazed how many of your friends will take a look and each like you get will promote the post to all of your friends’ friends.

2. Share Your Post on Twitter

Another great social platform for promoting your blog is Twitter. To promote your blog post to twitter, past the title of the blog post along with the URL. Also include hashtag keywords such as #football or #weddings, these hashtags will help your post be seen by more people.

3. Pin it on Pinterest

You should always have pictures in your blog post and if they are interesting, your should pin them on Pinterest! This is especially true if your blog targets women readers (68% of Pinterest users are women). There are some great plugins that put a “Pin It” link on all of your images. These plugins are usually free, easy to install, and make it easy for people to pin your stuff. You should also try to make and include infographics in your blog post. Infographics are very popular on Pinterest and are sure to get lots of pins. Lastly, you should pin all of the images in your post yourself to help get them started.

4. List Your Blog on Bloglovin

Bloglovin is a popular blog post aggregator. It allows people to follow your blog but also helps you promote your blog and makes it easy for people to find it. Getting your blog listed on bloglovin is free and easy to do.

5. Promote Your Post through Paid Services

If you have a budget that you are working with, you can pay to promote your blog post on major sites such as CNN and Mashable. Services such as Outbrain and Taboola allow you to pay to have your blog post show up in an “Around the Web” listing on major sites. This will quickly get you readers but can be very expensive.

Conclusion

So hopefully now you know how to promote your blog and increase your readership. If you have any questions, comments or other ideas; please post them in the comment section below.

How Much Money do Bloggers Make?

how-much-money-do-bloggers-makeHow much money do bloggers make? At AdPlugg, we work with a lot of bloggers – helping them to achieve monetary success with their blogs. Earlier this year we wrote about How to Make Money Blogging. In this post, we stated:

Did you know that it’s not uncommon for advertisers to pay $300 per month for an inch tall ad on the side of a blog. Get ten of those and you are making $36,000 a year to blog.

But how much money do bloggers make as a whole? How much on average do bloggers make? In this post we are going to work to provide some answers. As of today, AdPlugg has features for serving and managing ads, but does not yet have billing features. Once we do, we plan to offer anonymous statistics regarding average revenue etc. But for now, we’ll just report on what we know from experience and what we were able to find through research.

In 2010 Technorati published a study reporting that 36% of bloggers reported some sort of income from their blogs, most often in the form of ad revenue from display ads. A similar study from Technorati, published in 2009 reported the mean annual income from advertisements at $42,548. Does this mean that you can start a blog and instantly make $42,548 per year? Not really. Here are the major contributing factors to how much money your blog can make:

  • Subject – A blog about luxury cars may have a better earning potential than a blog about ant farms.
  • Audience Size – How many readers you have is directly related to how much you can earn. Advertisers won’t pay much for ads that only get in front of a couple of readers.
  • Influence – Becoming an influencer drives up the price of your ads. Advertisers will pay more to be on a blog that is a trusted source of information for their market.

Additional insight can be gleaned from the fact that $42.8 Billion was generated in online ad revenues last year (see U.S. Online Ad Revenues Hit $42.8B, Surpass Broadcast TV) and close to 20% of the web runs on WordPress.

Most bloggers start out blogging on the side and eventually switch to blogging as their full time profession. How much you can earn is up to your blog (see bullets above) but a well run blog can probably expect to bring in anywhere from $10k per year to upwards of $100k per year. If your blog becomes a runaway success (think mashable.com, gizmodo.com, huffingtonpost.com, etc) it can earn millions in ad revenues. Stay tuned for more as we work on surveys and reports to get the how much money do bloggers make? question answered more scientifically.

How to Get Advertisers for Your Blog – 4 Steps

How To Get Advertisers

Overview

Back in April we posted How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps. That post walks you through everything that you need to know to get started making money blogging, with Step 6 being a brief introduction on how to get advertisers for your blog. In this post we are going to elaborate on that topic ( as promised ;) ).

As we mentioned in the How to Make Money Blogging post, it’s not uncommon to make $300 per month per ad for a small spot on your blog. And with 10 of those, you could be making $36,000 per year to blog! In order to get advertisers for your blog, your blog needs to have great content and a decent amount of traffic. We touched on this in Step 5 of the How to Make Money Blogging post and will expand upon it in a future post. For now, let’s assume that you have a quality blog that gets a decent amount of traffic.

As with most things, it is very uncommon to have someone just approach you and hands over cash. Every business needs to sell their products or services. Just as your advertisers need to promote their products or services in order to grow sales, you need to promote and sell your advertising services in order to increase your blog’s revenue. Setting up a blog about cars and waiting for Ford to email shows great optimism but is realistically not a very strong plan. You need to go out and get advertisers to be successful. Especially when you are just starting out. How you do this is similar to selling most products or services.

Step 1: Prospecting – How to Find Advertisers for Your Blog

How to get advertisers for your blog
Finding advertisers for your blog is the first step. In a traditional sales funnel/cycle this step is called “prospecting”. Here are some ways to find prospects:

  1. Find blogs similar to yours and see which companies are advertising on those blogs.
  2. Think about what products or services your readers might be interested in based on what your blog is about.
  3. Think of the products or services that you’ve blogged about in the past.
  4. Think about keywords that you target for your blog. Search for those keywords using Google and see who is advertising for them.
  5. Use Google Webmaster Tools to see what terms your blog is ranking for, then search for those terms in Google to see who is advertising on those keywords.

Note: If you are in the top 10 for a keyword that has a lot of advertisers on Google you can often use this as a major selling point to close the prospect. More on closing below.

It’s a good idea to stay organized. Store the prospects that you have discovered in a spreadsheet or better yet, use a CRM system such as SugarCRM.

Step 2: Contacting – Reaching Out to Your Prospects

These prospects are considered “cold”. This is a sales term meaning that they have not been contacted before. At this stage, your goal is to find the contact info of the person who makes decisions regarding advertising (“the decision maker”). This can often be done by reaching out to the company by phone or email.

Step 3: Presenting – Make Your Pitch

Once you have found the contact info of the decision maker, you need to present them with a proposal and typically an advertising rate card. With a quick Google search you can find examples of both.

Step 4: Closing – Seal the Deal

If the decision maker is interested (“hot”), you need to close the deal. This could involve having them sign a contract or just having them send you their ad and a payment through PayPal. Plan to follow up regularly to get the deal closed. Their are lots of good closing techniques but a particularly good one is to offer them a discount and let them know that it is only good until a fixed date (Friday for instance).

Conclusion

You now know how to get advertisers for your blog. This process can be fun and exciting. Don’t get discouraged if at first you don’t succeed; there are tons of great advertisers out there. Keep in mind that Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe. Just keep adding prospects and working through the steps.

Have questions or comments? Please add them to the comment section below.

How to Increase Revenue Through Ad Targeting

how-to-increase-revenue_money-target
In this post I am going to show you how you can increase revenue through ad targeting. Ad targeting is the concept of showing ads based on certain sets of criteria. That criteria could be based on the user viewing the ad such as their location or browser or the criteria could be based on site variables such as the page or location on a page. In this post I’m going to be talking about the latter. Specifically, how to increase revenue to your blog by employing page targeting, zone targeting and placement targeting.

Using the AdPlugg Ad Manager you can set your ads to target different ad zones. Ad Zones are regions or locations on your page such as the “top bar” or “right side bar”. By breaking your site up into zones, you create different opportunities for advertisers. For instance if you previously only had ads across the top of your site, you could add a right sidebar ad zone and a footer ad zone thereby increasing your “ad inventory”. Having and selling more ad spots will of course increase your revenue.

Page targeting allows you to choose which page (or pages) on your site your ads display. While zones and zone targeting allowed us to increase our ad inventory, page targeting allows us to break our existing ad inventory up.

Placements are how you can really take advantage of a parsed and organized ad inventory. First you break your layout up using zones. Then create placements for different combinations of pages and zones. For example, you could break your site up into the following placements:

  • A premium placement at the top of the right sidebar
  • A placement for the topbar on the home page
  • A placement for the topbar on secondary pages

All of these placements can target different advertisers with different advertising budgets. This will allow you to sell more ads by having ad space available for a wider variety of budgets. It will also allow you to maximize the ad revenue that each spot on your site can generate.

In this post I’ve explained how to increase revenue through ad targeting. Basically we’ve increased the number of customers that you can sell to and maximized the selling price for each spot on your site. Sign up for AdPlugg today and start increasing your revenue by putting these strategies to work. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to the comment section below.

U.S. Online Ad Revenues Hit $42.8B, Surpass Broadcast TV

Online AD$In a new report released by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), revenues of online advertising blew past revenues of broadcast TV for calendar year 2013. According to the report, in 2013, online ad revenues reached $42.8 billion while ad revenues from broadcast TV came in at $40.1 billion.

The 2013 online ad revenues were 17% higher than the landmark 2012 revenues of $36.6 billion. The $40.1 billion figure was just for “broadcast” TV mind you. Online ad revenues had already surpassed the revenues of cable TV. TV as a whole, however, still outweighs online advertising by a considerable amount. In 2013, broadcast and cable TV’s combined revenue came in at $66 billion. Still the report marks a considerable milestone as online ad revenues surpassed a major traditional advertising channel.

The online revenue making opportunities for advertisers and content providers continue to grow. AdPlugg and other services are making it ever easier to earn money online. The AdPlugg service allows content providers to easily manage, track and serve ads to their site’s readers. This gives the content providers the ability to earn revenue and gives advertisers a way to target the content provider’s reader-base.

Many blogs have a very specific reader base. For instance a blog about green weddings in New York may be the best advertising outlet for a vegan caterer based in New York. AdPlugg makes it possible for both the blogger and the caterer to form a mutually beneficial and profitable relationship. In addition, these types of advertising relationships allow the blogger to keep their ads relevant to their readers’ interests, maintain their site’s high quality appearance with non-spammy ads, and often provide their readers with help finding vendors that they are genuinely interested in.

While advertising relationships such as these are small compared to the billions earned each year by Google, they offer very lucrative opportunities to small businesses. In a recent post, How to Make Money Blogging, I talked about how easy it is to turn a blog into a considerable or even primary source of income. As more and more people spend more and more time online, these opportunities look set for continued growth.

What do you think about this post? Will online ad revenues surpass all of TV? What about the slow merging that seems to be happening between TV and the web? What about mobile? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps

How To Make Money Blogging

Introduction

Did you know that it’s not uncommon for advertisers to pay $300 per month for an inch tall ad on the side of a blog. Get ten of those and you are making $36,000 a year to blog.

Are you ready to start making money blogging? Maybe you’re just kind of thinking about it and want to know what it takes. Well it’s actually pretty simple. In this blog post, we are going to teach you how to make money blogging in six easy steps.

Step 1: Pick a Topic and a Domain Name

The first thing that you want to do is to pick a topic for your blog. Your blog can be about anything that you want. You should pick a topic that you are knowledgeable about but you definitely don’t need to be an expert. In fact, leaving some room for other people to offer their expertise is a great way to spark discussion and get more people to comment. After some thought, let’s say that you decide that you want to start a blog about pugs.

Next you need to pick a domain name. To make things easy we are going to get our domain and our hosting account (step 2) from the same provider, HostGator. To find a domain name, just go to hostgator.com and click on Domains. Use the search to find an available domain name. After searching for a bit, you find pug-hugs.com and decide that it’s the one! Don’t get it just yet though, we are going to do that in the next step.

Step 2: Register your Domain Name and Get a Hosting Account

In this step we are going to get a hosting account and register the domain name that we picked in Step 1. We are going to do this with hostgator.com

  1. From hostgator.com, click on Web Hosting.
  2. Since this is going to be a new site, you can choose their entry level Hatchling plan.
  3. After selecting the plan, you will be taken to their order wizard. Enter the domain name that you picked in Step 1 into the “Enter Your Domain Name Here” field.
  4. Pick whichever other options that you want, enter your billing info and click Create Account.

And with that, pug-hugs.com is born! You should shortly receive an email from Hostgator with the details of your new website!

Step 3: Set Up WordPress

HostGator makes it incredibly simple to install WordPress. Here are the steps:

  1. HostGator will have sent you an email with a link to your control panel. Click the link to go to your control panel.
  2. Log in and then go to QuickInstall (it’s under Software/Services).
  3. From QuickInstall, click WordPress (it’s under Blog Software).
  4. Enter your email, a title for your blog (in this case “Pug Hugs”) and your first and last name. These settings will be used to automatically configure your blog.
  5. Press the Install Now button and WordPress will be automatically installed and configured.
  6. When the installer finishes, click the provided link to go to your new WordPress site.
  7. Add wp-admin to the end of the url (example: www.pug-hugs.com/wp-admin) to go to and log into the WordPress administrator panel (your password will have been emailed to the email address that you provided to QuickInstall).
  8. (Optional) From the WordPress administrator panel, choose a theme for your site.

Step 4: Install AdPlugg

Next we are going to install the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin. The AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin is one of the easiest ways to put ads on your site.

  1. From the WordPress administrator, click Plugins and then click the Add New button.
  2. Search for “AdPlugg” to find the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin.
  3. Click the Install Now link to install the plugin.
  4. Go to www.adplugg.com and Sign Up for a free account
  5. From inside the AdPlugg ad manager, create an ad and upload an image. Hint: you can find an image for your first ad by going to images.google.com (search for “your ad here”).
  6. Back in your AdPlugg account, click Download and then Access Code and get your access code. You are going to use your access code to tie your AdPlugg account to your WordPress site.
  7. Back in the WordPress administrator, Go to Settings and then AdPlugg and enter or paste in your access code
  8. Still in the WordPress Administrator, go to Appearance and then Widgets and drag the AdPlugg widget into your sidebar.
  9. You should now see your ad on your WordPress site, woohoo!

Step 5: Start Blogging and Promoting

Now you need some content. Write about anything that you want. For our first post we are going to write a welcome message to our readers.

  1. From inside the WordPress admin, go to Posts and then Add New.
  2. Choose a title for your post, how about “Welcome to Pug Hugs!” and then type a welcome message to your readers.
  3. When you are done, click Preview to make sure that your post looks good.
  4. Once you have proofread your post and are happy with it, click Publish to publish your post to your site.
  5. Write new posts as often as you can to keep your site fresh with new content.

The quickest way to start getting traffic to your blog is to tell your friends and family about it. Send everyone in your email contacts the link and post a link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Step 6: Find Advertisers

Once you’ve got some good content and are getting some traffic, you are going to want to find some paying advertisers. Some good strategies for finding advertisers is to:

  1. Find similar blogs to yours and contact the companies that are advertising with them.
  2. Think about what your readers might be interested in buying and contact companies that make or sell those products. For our pug-hugs.com example, we might contact dog food manufacturers and pet supply stores. We’ll start with the small online pet supply stores that are likely looking for inexpensive advertising options.

Stay tuned…we plan to write more about how to find advertisers in a future article.

Conclusion

You’ve now learned how to make money blogging and in six steps you’ve built a small online business. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and get busy blogging!