10 practical Monetization options for bloggers with pros and cons

Many bloggers struggle to monetize their blogs. Low traffic, not knowing different ways to monetize and not being able to find a paying party often puts bloggers on backfoot and limits their revenue potential. Even I am going through the same situation. I haven’t made much money from my blog but having in the field since 14 years I have seen different ways, experimented things and have learnt a thing or two. Summarizing my findings in this post for the benefit of other bloggers.

Below table gives quick snapshot while detailed analysis follows below.

#

Option

Details

Pros

Cons

1

Adsense/ Dynamic Ads

Google Adsense

Bidvertiser

Chitika etc

Set up once, it works behind the scene

Tiny drops make mighty ocean

Won’t work without decent traffic

Need to qualify first

Slows page loading

No support for regional lang

2

Affiliates

Sell products/ services & earn a commission- Amazon/booking etc

High value products earn high commissions

Easy to qualify

100$ cut off for payout

Often you don’t get paid because people may learn about the product from your site but buy later from somewhere else

No guaranteed revenue despite significant effort to promote

3

Sponsored posts

 

Relatively higher payouts

Selling links is illegal.

Need to negotiate individually

4

Barter deals

Promote a product/service or brand in exchange for free in exchange for a sample product/ experience

Might get to experience some product/service.

Worth if value of product/service is significant

No money involved

5

Banner ads

 

Negotiate directly with brands and display ads for a fixed tenure

Need good traffic

Clicks/conversion not guaranteed

6

Branded courses, workshops, books, speaker sessions

Celebrity bloggers conduct chargeable courses, sell merchandise etc

Can be tried after attaining good success

No one reveals full secret. Paid courses are often superficial and not really worth

7

Social media campaigns

Gain stronghold in few platforms apart from blog

Will make you eligible for non-blog promotions (like Instagram only)

Need high follower counts

8

Contribution to print

Write content for 3rd parties

Need exceptional writing skills

Good for credibility

Relationship with editors hard to crack

Low acceptance rate

Delayed payments

9

Content writing

Provide quality content for 3rd party sites/agencies etc

Some minimum cash flow if done well

Very low payout

High competition

Extensive follow up required for payment

10

Manage communities

Some people manage their own FB or WhatsApp groups/ communities and negotiate with brands

Leverage strength of the community

Community members do not necessarily honor your deals and expectations

Now let us analyse each option in a bit more detail

1. Adsense: Adsense is a Google product which displays context sensitive ads on your blog. By reading the text Google understands what type of content is there and then displays any relevant ad from its inventory matching the topic and content. Idea is readers who came to read your blog content might find the advertised product/service interesting and may click there, giving some business to brands that advertise.

  • Adsense program is good once you’ve enough traffic. In the beginning you will face following challenges
  • Acceptance: Adsense team will review your blog and decide if it is worth. Blogs with low traffic, not enough dynamic content, very new blogs etc will not qualify.
  •  Poor payout- For most bloggers, adsense revenue will be negligible. Unless you’ve a huge traffic of several lakh visitors per day, your adsense revenue will not even be half a dollar a day, so soon this may get frustrating. Thus it is advisable to work on your blog for couple of years, gain good traffic and then plan for adsense.

Be advised that Adsense has several guidelines you should comply with strong fraud detection measures. Any violation could result in a ban.

There’re several adsense alternative but they don’t may much, so Adsense remains #1 choice. Only those who don’t qualify for adsense usually try other options.

2. Affiliate Marketing:

Affiliate marketing involves selling on behalf of someone else for a commission. Booking.com, Amazon and so many large B2C companies run affiliate programs. For them it is no expense model- if you manage to sell something on their behalf you will qualify for a commission. Usually 1-2%, max 4-5% depending on various factors. If you are a travel blogger who is writing about destinations, cities, hotels you might be able to sell hotel booking to your customers. If you are reviewing mobiles and gadgets you might be able to sell some mobiles from Amazon to your readers. There is no harm trying this model as any income is good enough but keep in mind following things

  • Most affiliates will have a minimum payout cut off- like 100$. It will take months if not years to reach this amount unless you’ve lots of traffic or can market very cleverly.
  • No guaranteed payout for all the publicity you are giving. Commission only if actual bookings happen (While adsense pays for a 1000 views even if no one is buying)
  • Your reputation is at stake- if you recommend a not so good product your readers will curse you later.
  • You've to trust whatever tracking brand is providing- there could be situations where your friend says he bought something but it doesn't reflect in your dashboard.
  • You lose if people don't buy from specific link. You may have promoted a brand, but if readers buy directly or elsewhere without using your link, it doesn't count. For example I might have written about a hotel- the name of the hotel is registered in reader's mind- but they won't book immediately. 6 months later when they book, they may google hotel name, book directly on hotel website or somewhere else, without going back to my blog post, opening affiliate link. At least 5 people I know of have bought Tata cars after reading my review- but I don't have a way to prove it in a systematic way.

I have seen many people active on FB groups- if any one makes a post “Which phone to buy under 15000” these people pounce with their affiliate links. Lots of group admins ban such comments with affiliate links because they have their own links to promote. It is a battle field out there but if you can sell a few high value goods/services earning will be decent.

3. Sponsored Posts

Just like now advertising is to newspapers and TV, sponsored posts are to bloggers. Brands pay a premium to get featured on the blog, for the coverage and reach your blog can give to them. However many brands pay purely to get a link from your blog. There are two issues with sponsored posts:

  • As per Google selling links are illegal. You linking to other site is an endorsement that you trust that site. You’re not supposed to link others for money. Such links are required to be “nofollowed” or a way of saying “I am only linking, but don’t want to pass my trust to this site”- which most brands do not like.
  • Your readers will expect that a post is sponsored. Not disclosing it may eventually result in breach of trust. Most brands only want positive messaging suppressing any limitations/drawback.

There is no fixed price for sponsored posts. You might manage to find someone willing to pay 100-200 $ or more while you’ll find many who will offer 2$, 5$, 10$ or such low values. As a blogger you don’t want to overdo sponsored posts and risk your site and credibility. A few posts once a while, if the brand/topic is relevant to your readers and if content is genuine then it should be ok. Nofollow the links particularly to commercial sites.

Related: Sponsored posts- how much to charge?

4. Barter deals: 

Internet is full of these- brands will offer their product/services to you in exchange for review and publicity. There is no payment involved. You’ve to decide if it is worth for you. If the product/service you get has some real value then it might be worth, but often some brands offer what they call “exposure” which is a useless stuff- sharing your blog post on their facebook page. Unless you see some real value you should avoid barter deals.

5. Banner ads

Your blog real estate can fetch you money. While adsense is already a banner ad, you can also directly work with brands relevant to your blog’s niche and promote them on the sidebar for a fee. If you have good traffic from which several people visit the brand and a few make purchase, that is good ROI for the brand. For local brands it could be more effective to work directly with a local influencer than going via 3rd party agencies and their programs. Challenge with banner ads are the following

  • -      You can’t guarantee that your blog visitors will click on the banner and visit brand’s website
  • -      Brand owner may feel banner was wasted money as not much people visited or converted
  • -     You’ve to negotiate, retain and collect payments from brand independently.

6. Branded Courses, Books, Materials, etc

Several popular bloggers build a brand around them. They conduct paid workshops, chargeable seminars, and courses, sell books and other stuff and make money through the same. This is possible only once you reach the pinnacle or gain respectable command in the community.

7. Social Media campaigns & consulting

Besides blog if you have good standing on platforms like instagram, zomato, twitter, FB, Youtube, Tiktok etc there will be brands willing to work with you. However you’ll have to battle tons of ‘influencers’ with purchased followers for a piece of this action. Followers, views, likes, comments- everything is available for sale and most brands/PRs do not have a way to identify genuine influencers from fake. So depending on how strong is your ‘influence’ you might get some revenue making opportunity, provided you manage to get past the “barter deal” stage.

Reputed bloggers can try offering consulting services around blogging, social media and their area of expertise.

8. Contribute to print

Getting published in Print- newspaper and magazines has its own weightage, because your content goes through an editorial process and someone is endorsing its quality and sends it to thousands of readers (newspaper/magazine subscribers). But the market is small and hard to crack- there’re very few print magazines/newspapers to contribute to and each of them must be getting several unsolicited contributions from numerous writers. Thus you need to hone your writing skills, start with less popular newspapers/magazines before pitching for most reputed publications. Even then it is hard to make a living out of these- payments are often small and delayed. Unless you grow to a stage where you’re commissioned to write a story or manage several print credits a month this option will remain a dream for many.

9. Content Writing

Good bloggers are good at writing by default.Several websites and publishers need regular high quality content which they can’t write on their own. Hence content writers are sought after. But this market is very scattered and payment is poor- there is always someone else willing to work for less, so per word rates are often heavily negotiated or discounted. Plus small companies and individuals take their own time to pay, so the chase for payment is also huge. If you can get some good clients consider yourself lucky. Most reputed business pay INR 5-10 per word or more to qualified writers. Under normal conditions about 2 rupees per word is a decent pay. But most volume writers providing low quality content often write for even 30-50 paise a word or less. Unless you're disparate you should avoid under valuing yourself. You can never compete with someone who can cook up loads of content recycling what's lifted from elsewhere for a few paise per word. Working with unknown people, chasing them for small amounts is also a real pain.

10. Build and Manage large online communities

Lots of bloggers evolve from managing self to managing communities- running a forum, facebook groups, large whatsapp groups give higher bargaining power while negotiating with brands. Building strong community also takes lots of time, effort and dedication. Several tricks are also used to lure people into the community or increase engagement.

Which one has worked for you best? Do share your observations.

4 comments:

  1. I still haven't considered monetising but was thinking about adsense ..But taking into account the pros n cons I figured that I got to reallllly work on my traffic in order to make that work.. Your post is very clear and to the point in briefing about all the ways n option..thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. You can also create and promote ur own ebooks on ur blog..

    ReplyDelete

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