10 — Monetize
While making money with this blog isn't my primary goal, it's still nice to have a little extra income from a hobby project. In this last chapter I'll discuss different ways to monetize a blog. I want to start by stressing once more that if money is your primary goal, you can be sure your blog will suffer from it: content should always be king.
Probably the worst way to monetize your blog are ads. While they are easy to set up, they also:
- are blocked by many clients,
- are often irrelevant to your audience,
- pay very little compared to other monetization options.
If you're starting out though, ads are pretty much the only option you've got. I started playing around with ads after a year or so, and only managed to make 5 - 10 USD a month. It's a nice way of covering hosting and DNS costs, but that's about it.
Ever since my blog started to grow in popularity though, ads became a little more profitable. With 4-5k users per day, I now earn between 50 and 80 USD per month using ads. That means I can buy a pizza now and then, maybe sometimes a game for my wife and I to play on the Nintendo Switch.
To make something clear: 50 USD a month extra for doing your hobby is great, I'm very thankful for that. I just want to be clear about how difficult it is if your goal is to make blogging into your full-time job. Since I don't want to do that, I'm perfectly fine with just a little extra.
There is one sidenote to be made though: the CPM rate of ads (cost per mille, the amount you earn per 1000 impressions) will highly depend on the niche you're in. The reality is that blogging about programming and web development (like I do) has a very low CPM rate. You could make lots more money in other niches like travel or food blogs, but those are often much more competitive as well. This means that you'd need to spend a lot more time and effort in growing your blog.
So while ads are a nice way of earning a little extra with your blog, there are better approaches, especially when you're in the tech niche.
Sponsors are a much better way of monetization. Dedicated sponsor messages have the advantage of not being picked up by ad blockers, but can also be hand-picked and curated, meaning they'll often be much more relevant to your audience.
Finding sponsors isn't easy though: you need to provide them value as well. That means that you probably need at least a few thousands impressions per day if you really want sponsoring to work. If you think your blog is ready for sponsors, you could do some research on similar blogs to find out which companies might be interested in ad placements on your blog.
The downside of sponsors is that sponsors can always cancel their contract. Most companies probably won't commit longer than a month or two at once. If you manage to keep a good relation with your sponsor, and if they are happy with the results of their ad, there's potential for them to stay longer. But you'll always be dependent on others to ensure any income.
Getting pricing right is a difficult one: how much do competitive blogs charge for sponsor messages? How much is the sponsor willing to pay? If you're already running ads you could start by doubling the price of your current monthly income, and grow it over time.
Don't be afraid to ask your sponsors for genuine advice. If they have been in the business for a while can tell you about their expectations, which is a valuable learning experience for you.
# Selling your own products
The final option, and probably the most work, is by making and selling your own products. While making and selling your own products can be very lucrative, there's also a significant risk associated with it: what if you spend days upon days building a product that turns out not to be a success?
Christoph Rumpel wrote about such an experience a while back: his product turned out to be not as successful as he'd wanted. You really need to calculate in the risk of your product failing.
When you start using your blog as a platform to promote your products, it suddenly becomes more than just a blog. You have become more than just a writer. I'm not familiar enough with product selling to give you trustable advice, entrepreneurship is a job on its own. Your blog can be a great stepping stone towards this goal, but remember it won't be an easy path
- Remember that content is king, also when monetizing your blog
- Ads are an easy and reliable way to earn a little income
- Sponsors pay more, but you'll need to manage them yourself
- Selling products can be the path to financial success, but be careful about the risks that come with it, especially if you need to invest lots of time.
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