So You Want to Make Money? Syndication, Monetization and Affiliate Programs for your Blog #beabloggers

bea bloggersA bunch of panelists in this session, all moderated by Scott Fox of Lots of ideas on how to monetize a blog in this session. Here are some highlights:

Ron Hogan, founder of

He gave the “Big picture”

won’t make a lot doing a bloom blog. You can make “beer money” – small amounts of money.

Thinks that most categories are already covered, and people gravitate towards established blogs

Rita Arens – senior editor of

charge for reading time – at blogger book club, they pay for reviews. There are over 250,000 books published each year, and all those authors are looking for attention.

Have to use disclosures – say if someone sent you the book.

Thea James – co-founder of The Book Smugglers

sweat the small stuff: they use the blogads network for ads. Mostly book ads that are tailored to their content.

also use affiliate programs like Amazon Affiliates.

Sarah Pitre – founder of Forever Young Adult

build community through social media to drive visitors and page views.

started a store – tshirts, stickers – made them a decent amount of money.

Also found a company that sponsors them. They get server space and help them build a community.

Amazon Affiliates – people feel comfortable with Amazon, and have probably used them – so it’s an accepted link. An independent bookstore like Powell’s isn’t as well known, so people might not feel as comfortable clicking that link.

Other thoughts (don’t remember who said what here):

They don’t use Google Adsense for the most part

claim that you don’t have control over content

claim that you don’t have design control

me – none of those were correct … but whatever :-)

another panelist corrected that (thanks!)

No one’s making money through syndication (no one on stage, anyway).

If you blog for someone else (i.e., Huffington Post) – you are building an audience for someone else. If you quite and start blogging somewhere else, you won’t necessarily ba able to take that audience with you.

Attracting traffic:

Stumbleupon – can work well. Try to stand out.

My Experiments with Ads

Walt Crawford is thinking about clickthroughs and ads, and mentioned me as an example of someone using ads on my blog. And it’s true – I do! I’ve been meaning to write a post about my adspace experiments, and here’s a great opportunity to do it (ie., because I’m thinking about it again after posting a comment to Walt’s blog).

Why am I using ads on my blog? I started using ads as more of an experiment than anything – it was a part of the whole web thing that I wasn’t very familiar with. I held off for a long time, because I thought that putting ads on my blog would somehow water it down, or somehow feel like “selling out” … or some other nefarious deviant-like behavior.

Then I realized I was being silly, and curiosity just got the best of me. So I jumped in.

Here’s what I do right now:

  • I use Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate ads.
  • I put google adsense in posts. I’m using a plugin for those. I use the WhyDoWork plugin for the in-post ads, because it does a really cool thing – it lets me turn on ads after a post is 7 days old. So you regular readers generally don’t see those, but visitors from a search engine might see them.
  • I also turned on adsense in my rss feed, using a link-up between adsense and feedburner (those, you might see once in awhile).
  • I sometimes us an Amazon Affiliate ad. I put those in my most popular posts, or when I’m talking about something that’s sold on Amazon, like a book or a microphone.
  • I also use pre- and mid-roll ads on my videos.
  • Oh, and I have recently been playing with Google Adwords.

Combined, I’m making around $5-600 a year off those. Not much, but then again, it pays for my website and for my pro accounts on services like Flickr.

Here’s what I’ve discovered in my adspace experiments:

  • It’s a completely new language and set of tools. I still need to make time to figure it out more, but I’m learning about things like ad impressions, CTR (clickthrough rates), RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), CPC (cost per click), and CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
  • Amazon Affiliate ads can be funny. Some months I’ll make nothing, and other months … well, I think someone clicked the Amazon ad to read about the product, and then decided to do their monthly shopping – while still under my affiliate link. ‘Cause people are buying things that I haven’t mentioned!
  • Another thing with Amazon ads – their “link maker” includes a bunch of link wording that ends up making their ad … well … look really cheesy. So I just grab the underlying affiliate link, and make my own text or image link.
  • I rarely see a check from the ads, but I turn those ads on primarily because I love the service – I figure if they get a little bit of money from my silly videos, then yay! I’ve helped keep their service alive.
  • Adwords – that’s just weird. I received a couple of those “$100 free Google Adwords” cards and a nudge from someone using them, so I have very recently been playing with them. I made an ad for “Digital Experience” and pointed to my book. Possibly a couple of people have bought the book because of that… but otherwise, I don’t think adwords are for me.

So – that’s what I’m doing. Should more librarians be playing with online ads? Let me put it this way – any library out there a bit cash-strapped lately? If you have a well-visited site with good content, you can potentially supplement your library’s revenue streams. That is, if you know what you’re doing. And I know that some ILS systems include an option of a “buy it now” button that points to Amazon via an affiliate ad – why not use those?

If nothing else, ads are part of the modern web, and those of us building sites should at least experiment a bit – otherwise, we’re like a carpenter who refuses to experiment with a nail gun because it seems, somehow, likes it’s cheating.

pic by quickonlinetips