Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips recently wrote a very good article titled When Should I Put Advertising on My Blog? at ProBlogger. Basically it was more of a survey post where he wanted to get readers’ opinion on when to monetize a blog.
In this post, I would like to touch upon the monetization possibilities at various stages of your blog’s life. Here, we are talking about money from blogs other than advertising.
When to start monetizing?
When I started this blog I actually had some ads in the form of CPM banners, content links as well as Pay-Per-click advertisements. However, the income generated was not up to my expectations – some of them not even crossing a dollar mark. Quite understandably, it was mainly due to the poor initial traffic and very high bounce rate (landing page exits). After a week or so into the release of this blog, a few good forum friends advised me to go slow on ads and I did exactly that for almost three to four weeks. The lesson learned, obviously, was not to be too greedy on day one itself . I will talk about the time points at which you can introduce various income generators, later in this post.
Major money maker categories
The following are the main money making categories when it comes to monetizing your blog.
- Pay Per Impression, Pay Per Click and Paid To Promote ads from free ad networks, in the form of banners, popups-popunders, text links, fullpage ads or content links. Some of these can be integrated to your syndicated content (RSS/ATOM feeds) as well
- Direct advertising from potential buyers with whom you deal directly where you set your prices
- Referral income – Refers to the income you earn by referring your visitors to ad networks and other money maker programs
- Affiliate networks – The revenue from sales generated through shopping links on your blog
- Review posts – Get paid to write product reviews on your blog
- BlogRoll links – Income generated by selling your blog roll links
- Sell text links – Money making opportunities by placing links to advertisers websites
A few posts ago, I talked about how you need to prepare your theme for future enhancements. There are standard ad sizes for which you need to identify spaces (parking lots!) and your theme code modified accordingly to fit them perfectly. When it comes to monetizing the ad location matters a lot and hence your theme should look tidy even after including an advertisement in the future. Usability studies and research conducted on the usage pattern of typical web application users suggest that usually most people follow a ‘F’ pattern while scanning through the web content. This essentially means that darker regions in the following picture are the hot spots for placing your ads (mainly CPC)  and the white spaces are avoidable ad areas or could be potential CPM banner areas, non-profit content etc. Needless to say, the theme has to be prepared with this picture in mind. While this is a general guidance (from Google itself) the actual throughput will vary based on your own context and theme.
Recommended Approach and milestones
There are actually no thumb rules on when and how one has to start monetizing his own blog. Though, from my experience I derived the following theory (others may differ in their approach).
Startup stage: When you have just started your blog, probably the best thing you can do is to have a single block of CPC ad such as Google AdSense or Bidvertiser. This can exist along with Content link ads such as Kontera. During the initial days of your blog, you may avoid any CPM banners  as they will occupy a lot space without giving much earnings. Affiliate and referral badges are other things that you can start with.
500+ page views per day but no Google PR: At this stage you can start introducing PTP (Paid-To-Promote) banners such as Credit Burner and low end CPM ads, still without much returns. If you have completed twenty to twenty five posts by now, you can think of applying for get-paid-to post services such as PayPerPost or BuyBlogReviews.
500+ unique visitors per day plus decent (> 3) Google PR: When you have more visitors per day and you have been rated well with Google in terms of page rank, you can start selling your links via services such as Text-Link-Ads, LinkWorth or Blog Rolled. You can also try getting an account signed up with premium review services such as Review Me However, please note that Google has started penalizing blogs (by reducing PRs) that offer sale of links as well as write paid reviews . So based on your business model, you need to take a call as to whether you need revenue from paid posts and sale of links or search engine driven traffic to monetize PPC/CPM ads. This is also a good time to start thinking about selling your ad space to directly deal with advertisers.
2000+ unique daily visitors: By now, your blog has become quite popular. You may stop using your CPC ads (Google AdSense, Bidvertiser etc) at this point as most popular professional bogs don’t use CPC advertising . You can make better revenue out of paid reviews, banner ads, own sale of advertisements at this level. Please note that this is only my personal theory (and how I am doing it so far). As a blogger, you may think differently. Please let me know your feedback on this post.