Ignoring a cash cow?

May 10, 2011 · 20 comments

My blogging income is about as consistent as Lindsay Lohan’s sobriety. Yesterday was awesome. I negotiated two deals, which netted me $1,000. Unfortunately, not every day is like yesterday. In fact, most days I don’t earn money blogging. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I don’t remember what I made my first year blogging, but I believe it was around $2,000. Last year I took in about $4,500. And this year I anticipate bringing home $6,000-ish. Not bad when you consider my annual blogging expenses hover around $300.

Here are the primary ways us bloggers earn money blogging…

Adsense

By far the most popular way to earn money blogging is Google Adsense. I ran Adsense ads for two years, but recently removed them (did you notice?). I was only earning about $50/month from the ads and to me the ugliness of the ads, coupled with the less then stellar return they provided, wasn’t worth it. The only people that should use Adsense (in my opinion) are people that can earn hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month from them. For us smaller bloggers, we’d be FAAAAR better off selling private advertisements in the areas our Adsense ads reside. Don’t sell yourself short and give your ad space away.

Private ad sales

Each week I receive two or three requests from people wanting to advertise on my blog. About 80% of these requests are ignored because the compensation offered is too low (something like $10/month for some spammy looking link). But every once in a while a legitimate advertiser reaches out and we strike a deal. My rates often fluctuate, but I sell simple text links for around $50/month and banner/widget space for around $125/month (prices are obviously dependent on a wide variety of factors like size, location, # of links, etc). I have no idea if I’m overcharging or undercharging these advertisers since so few bloggers actually discuss their rates publicly. Yeah, I’m calling you other bloggers out.

Paid posts

The idea is simple. An advertiser will pay you $100 (or more) to post some super lame article they’ve written about credit card debt, solar panels, or some other thing you care nothing about. I’ve never accepted one of these offers. To me, a hundred dollars is not worth boring the crap out of my readers. You guys come here to read MY articles, not posts someone else wrote and paid me to publish.

Sponsored Posts

This is my favorite way to earn money blogging. The content of the article itself is not at all influenced by the advertiser. Instead, I simply put a little comment at the end of one of my articles that says something like “Today’s post was sponsored by XYZ company.” I can earn anywhere from $50-$200 for allowing a sponsored post.

Affiliate Advertising

I don’t do this, so I can’t really talk much about it. Basically you sign up with an affiliate network, they put ads on your site. If someone clicks on an ad and buys (or signs up for) whatever the advertiser is selling then I get a commission. I have no idea how profitable affiliate networking is for a blog my size. I’m flirting with the idea of testing one out. I’ll keep you posted.

If I had to grade my blog monetization efforts, I’d give myself an “F”. I’ve never actively sought out advertisement deals. Every dollar I’ve made is because someone (or some company) approached me first. While it’s cool that I can make nearly $6,000 a year without any marketing efforts, it does make me wonder how much money I’m passing up by not being more aggressive. Could I be making $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 per year?

It’s definitely possible, but at this point I don’t have the desire to find out. I’m pretty sure that makes me a horrible business man, but oh well, Ninja’s aren’t obligated to follow typical business guidelines. As proven by this random dog/baby picture I’m going to include for no other reason besides the fact that I can…

If you blog, how invested are you in the monetization aspect of it? What means do you take to make new deals? Am I the only one that thinks Adsense is kind of a rip off (meaning low returns for the size and location of the ads)?

If you don’t blog, was this article completely boring to you? I’ve wanted to write about blog income stuff a handful of times, but didn’t want to alienate my non-blogging buddies.

p.s. If you’d like to buy my blog I’ll gladly sell it to you for $50,000… or a 24 pack of Dr. Pepper :)

1 Kyle

I don’t make money directly off of my blog traffic and advertisements. However, a big bulk of my clients are long term blog readers, so in a sense, my blog basically started my business and continues to be the foundation.

2 CommonCents

I don’t make any money off my blog. Nor do I expect I ever will. It would be nice I guess, but not the reason I started blogging. Thus if it never happens, that’s cool with me!!

3 Money Beagle

I’ve just started generating some income from Money Beagle and so far it’s gone well. I’m pretty much still in the same boat as far as learning the ins and outs.

4 Daisy

I had adsense and because I thought they were tacky, I only had a few ads. They only brought in like a penny a day.

I switched to wordpress and I want to start selling a bit of adspace.

5 Rafiki

I recently started blogging so there isn’t any income but as far as it goes, I take your stance in regards to blogging income. I don’t worry about it nor do I think I ever will. On top of everything I still use a blogspot address(I’m considering a custom domain soon but haven’t gone forward with that as yet) so the only form of advertising I am allowed is adsense and the way it looks that may never bring in any income with that.

I didn’t get into blogging to earn money anyways so that’s why I take your stance. If the opportunity presents itself then I would gladly take it though.

6 Rafiki

Oh and since you mentioned you removed the adsense, I also notice you removed the thousand dollar baller badge. What’s up with that Ninja?

7 Ninja

Going for a “cleaner” look. Removed all badges and whatnots. Maybe I should re-add the Thousand Dollar Baller button though, didn’t think anyone would care :)

8 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

I feel basically the same way you do about Adsense, but until I get some legitimate private ads to replace it, then I’ll stick with it for the time being. I have had more success with restricting Adsense ads to images only – I guess people are more likely to click on small shiny objects than text.

I don’t currently have any private ads, but I would WELCOME them with open arms. I want to work with people who want to work with me. I was under the impression that rates would be set via CPM. See http://web.blogads.com/adspotsfolder/blog_advertising_menu

I don’t do paid or sponsored posts as both cause me to question the influence of the sponsor over the writer.

I do have affiliate ads. I use Flex Offers and Commission Junction. Flex Offers has been a much easier assimilation than Commission Junction. If you are going to try it out, I recommend Flex Offers over Commission Junction.

9 Joe C Skrizel

i would like to start blogging but worry about the time commitment and start up infrastructure, costs etc., and keeping my identify a secret…

10 slug | sunkcostsareirrelevant.com

Privacy is doable. Just buy the privacy features on the domain name you purchase and don’t promote your blog to your friends or refer to identifiable information in your blog. The vast majority of people are not going to try to figure out who you are (unless you you’re targeting them with negative posts :-). However, one of the best ways to build readership is to be you and write highly relatable personal posts. For those of us who are anonymous, this is more difficult, but it’s achievable.

11 Austin

After 2 months of blogging my AdSense “revenue” is at…. 20 cents. Whoop-de-freakin-do. I’m definitely not looking to quit my day job any time soon to blog full time, but if it started to look promising that the blog was going to “take off,” I think I’d be more proactive about getting some revenue generated. Thanks to PDITF I get quite a bit of traffic! :)

Austin

12 Ryan

Whoa we pretty much wrote about the same thing today! Get outta my head, Ninja! :)

I’d probably give myself a D or C in how hard I’ve tried to monetize. I have a few affiliate links to companies I like – Mint and ING Direct mainly. I’m surprised Adsense wasn’t working out – I only make around $15 a month with it, but I’ve heard it really starts to build up. Private ad sales are my bread and butter though. I haven’t been contacted recently though, so IDK what’s up with that!

13 Susan

Love the illustration! You’re right on “over-advertising”. Depending on your niche you can make more through private ad sales.

14 Sustainable PF

We do about as much as you do. We do take some paid posts however but we have quite a set of guidelines that must be adhered to – including quality – before we’ll post it. And the articles have to fit our site. So when we get:
– The Best Hybrid Vehicles, or,
– Increasing Consumption Threatens the World with Ecological Debt, or,
– Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Credit Card Number

We post it. The article is quality, or can be tweaked to be quality – sometimes when we have writers block or lack of time, we’ll take the $100+ and post a quality piece. Some of these have gotten great conversation on our site.

15 Daniel

I think one reason bloggers don’t talk about it a lot is we’re afraid of google penalizing for mentioning *text links* (!) It’s kind of a secret and nobody wants the big G looking down on us. I’d grade myself a B+, I look into every lead and have started to branch out a lot, but I don’t think I’ve reached my potential. I think we have a huge opportunity to collaborate and make thousands of dollars extra. I think we’ve shared some contacts in the past. Good luck!

16 Barb Friedberg

I’m quite curious about others and appreciated your disclosure today. I make a bit on a few banners, text, and sponsored posts. I am passionate about sharing my personal finance and investing knowledge and expertise, and I like to be compensated for my time.

17 youngandthrifty

Thanks for sharing all the “deets”! I think Adsense takes time for the money to come in regularly… I remember last year, I was very excited to get $35 a month, and a few months before that, I would be excited to get $0.10 a month. The thing I like about it is that the ads are always different, and sometimes its nice to see something different on the page. That being said, I actually enjoy watching commercials on TV so maybe I’m just weird!

18 Crystal @ BFS

I post my blogging income at the beginning of every month, so yes, I monetize, lol. I started blogging just for fun, but now I’m growing it into my full time job by next year. Last month I made $2100. The month before (March) was AWESOME at $3700. February was around $1500 I think and most months before that were $400-$800 except for my first 4 months ever (February-May 2010…I think I made like $400 combined).

You pretty much described the ways to make money from advertising, which is at least 80-90% of my income right now. But I also staff write for 5 other blogs now and run the advertising for other blogs too. Pretty soon, my blogging services should be bringing in as much as advertising. Woot!

PS I only am making $40-$50 a month from Adsense now (way less for the first year…like $112 total), and am seriously thinking about cutting them too. If nothing else, I think I’ll just leave the Adsense block on my posts older than 5-7 days and remove the block from my sidebar…

19 Sass

I’m a complete and total newbie — and make no money whatsoever. However, that’s really okay with me. I’m a single Mom with one full time job and another part-time job. Blogging is just a hobby, or outlet for me. I do find it interesting to see how people can make it into a full time job though. For me, though, it will continue to just be a hobby. And I think that’s okay.

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